Despite having penned the title song of Ireland’s biggest-selling album, A Woman’s Heart, and releasing more than a dozen albums over the last couple of decades, Eleanor McEvoy is still something of a well-kept secret. Over the last few years she has become increasingly appreciated in audiophile circles for the recording quality of her albums, with one hifi magazine awarding its Album Of The Year accolade to three of her releases. More »

St Cuthbert’s Parish Church has seen a few things in its time: infamous body snatchers Burke and Hare were regular visitors to its churchyard, the watchtower built to protect against them and other “resurrectionists” still stands; Sir Thomas De Quincy, author of Diary Of An Opium Eater, and John Napier, inventor of the logarithm, are just two of the notables interred in the churchyard; St Cuthbert’s was also where Agatha Christie married her second husband.  I’m willing to bet though, that in all of its considerable history, tonight is the first time it has witnessed a thirty three piece brass band and a young lady with an assemblage of synthesisers. More »

In 1980, the weekly music paper Melody Maker declared Talking Heads’ Remain In Light album to be its Album Of The Year, citing its innovative African rhythmic influences as a key part of the album’s appeal.  Two years later in the summer of 1982, rival paper NME was featuring four-page articles about African bands such as King Sunny Adé And His African Beats and Orchestra Makassy who were, quite rightly, causing a bit of a stir with their respective albums Juju Music and Agwaya.  Now, some 37 years after the release of Remain In Light, London Astrobeat Orchestra have taken  Talking Heads’ back catalogue and mixed it up with the musical styles of West Africa to produce something really extraordinary. More »

It’s not easy being a support act.  You have thirty minutes to make an impression.  On a good night, ninety five percent of the people in the room won’t know who you are, will have never heard any of your songs and have probably only turned up early to secure a decent seat for the main act.  Tonight, making an impression was something that Fraser Anderson only needed to worry about for around three minutes.  From that point in, spines were tingled and hearts were touched. More »

Bathed in blue stage lights, with the ageing pipes of an old church organ looming impressively over them, Cúla Búla towered over the crowd upstairs at The Quays on a stage built at least seven feet off the ground. More »

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the idea of rock stars in their seventies seemed ridiculous; rock and roll was a young man’s (and occasional woman’s) game.  The boring old farts that punk had come to blow away in 1976 were barely in their thirties, and the punks themselves are now pensioners.  Over the last few years I’ve seen some tremendous gigs from septuagenarian rockers: Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth in Gong, Bryan Ferry, Roy Harper, Al Stewart – all turning in performances that belie their years.     More »

Martha Wainwright is a songwriter.  Her father, Loudon Wainwright is a songwriter.  Her mother, Kate McGarrigle was a songwriter.  Her brother, Rufus Wainwright  and half-sister Lucy Wainwright Roche are songwriters.  Her aunts, Anna McGarrigle and Sloane Wainwright are songwriters. Her cousin Lily Lankin is a songwriter.  There is a picture developing here; although not so much a picture as a family album.  The Wainwright family have, in fact, recorded several family albums; writing songs with, and about, each other – often with a devastating honesty, sometimes using words as weapons to wound.  Her parents’ marriage and divorce is well-documented in song. When Martha spent a year living with her father, at a time when she was a self-confessed difficult teenager, he wrote a song called I’d Rather Be Lonely.  Martha responded with a song of her own entitled Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole. And yet, it has been said that the the only offence that can be caused in the Wainwright family is to write a poor-quality song.  Songwriting is in Martha’s bones and she is clearly her father’s daughter; she shares his smile and she does that weird kicky leg thing when she sings, just like he does.  Fortunately, she hasn’t inherited that other weird thing he does with his tongue; Rufus got that particular gene. More »

The brilliant Scott Wainwright at this years North West Audio Show at Cranage Hall in Cheshire. Feel free to subscribe to our Hifi Pig Television You Tube channel. Full report on the show to follow shortly. 

 

The first time I saw Robert Cray was on The Old Grey Whistle Test in the early 1980s. Actually, that’s not true.  The first time I saw Robert Cray was when he played bass in the soul review band Otis Knight And The Days who featured in the National Lampoon’s Animal House film that was a cult hit  several years earlier.  It would be many years before I would discover that it was Cray who played that part in the film so I don’t suppose that really counts.  Back to The Old Grey Whistle Test then.  Cray was being touted, with some justification, as the next big thing in blues guitar music.  Presenter David Hepworth joked that he was only 19 but in truth Cray was closer to 30.   Cray will be 64 in August this year but even now he could easily pass for someone 10 years younger. More »

“Sometimes it seems unimaginable that you were ever any other way” sings Al Stewart on his song Carol.  Sometimes it seems unimaginable that Stewart could have been anything other than a singer/songwriter.  Moving from Glasgow to Dorset  as a child, he went on to  buy his first guitar from future Police man Andy Summers, took guitar lessons from a teenage Robert Fripp and on moving to London, shared a flat with a little-known songwriter by the name of Paul Simon. More »

‘Cause he’s got a voice that’d make Tom Waits go “damn man what did you do to yourself?!”, you can’t understand a word James Leg sings. More »

Alongside their regular albums, The Unthanks have released a series of “Diversions”; albums that focus on a particular theme or style.  The latest of these is How Wild The Wind Blows – The Songs And Poems Of Molly Drake.  Molly was the mother of legendary folk-rock singer songwriter Nick Drake and actress Gabrielle Drake.  Molly wrote her songs and poems purely as a form of self-expression, they were never intended for public consumption.  However, in response to Nick Drake’s enduring popularity, a selection of her songs recorded at home by her husband in the 1940’s was released as a limited edition album.  Now, with the support and assistance of Gabrielle, The Unthanks are bringing Molly’s songs and poems to a much wider audience. More »

“We’re not a tribute band; we are the real deal” says Tony Visconti about Holy Holy.  Given that he, in his role as David Bowie’s long-term producer,  and his band-mate, Spiders From Mars drummer Mick “Woody” Woodmansey, probably have more experience of working with the glam-era Bowie than anyone else alive, that is no hollow claim. More »

Eye liner running in sweaty smears down his cheeks, Razmo spasms like a preacher possessed by forces unknown. With octave-hopping vocal gymnastics he spits his lyrics (‘if I was an alligator, I’d be so snappy in conversation’) like a circus performer spits fire. The keyboardist hops from foot to foot, a joy-struck imp on a hot tin roof, all the while bassist Sebastian leans against the wall of The Thomas House’s basement venue, coolness made man. More »

A photo of Sinatra alongside Davis Jr and Dean Martin adorns the walls. The wallpaper is patterned with the Statue of Liberty and James Dean. Where you’d expect to see a domesticated rockabilly band or an alcoholism-riddled crooner onstage in this schlock ‘Merica-themed venue, there will soon be three of Ireland’s finest bands treading the boards underneath the cheap chandeliers. More »

Hifi Pig’s James Fleming heads up to Dublin and the salubrious surroundings that are The Workman’s Club to see and speak to Strength NIA. More »

It’s been twenty years since Madeleine Peyroux released her debut album, Dreamland.  Although the comparisons to Billie Holiday that dogged her initially have lessened, they haven’t totally evaporated either.  Peyroux does share a certain smokey tone with Holiday along with the ability to warp time with her phrasing, stretching vowels beyond breaking point or shoehorning syllables into the smallest of spaces with an ease that baffles belief.  Peyroux also shares Holiday’s ability to know a good song when she hears it;to inhabit it completely and make it her own.  A good song needs a good songwriter and tonight Peyroux will take songs by songwriters such as Tom Waits, Lennon & McCartney, Stephen Foster, Allan Toussaint, Leonard Cohen, Linton Kwesi Johnson  and Willie Dixon and turn them inside out. More »

Cambridge Folk festival has announce the first names for the 2017 festival.  More »

I only came across Sarah Jarosz a couple of weeks ago when I heard her excellent cover of Bob Dylan’s Simple Twist Of Fate from her album Build Me Up From Bones but I quickly fell in love with both the track and the album.  A quick Google revealed that she was playing here and so I had to go see her. More »

I hadn’t heard of Ezra Furman prior to last year’s Perpetual Motion People album which I described as my album of the summer.  I’m glad to say that its appeal has not waned and it still gets regular plays. I haven’t heard much about Ezra since the album’s release either, so I was quite surprised to learn that his gig here at The Liquid Room had sold out and I’m very grateful to Ezra’s management company for supplying a ticket at the last minute.  I was even more surprised to see that once Ezra and his band The Boy-Friends hit the stage that the majority of the audience were word perfect with not only the songs from Perpetual Motion People but with his earlier material as well.  More »

Every year Hifi Pig is invited to the Conservatoire de Musique at Saint-Brieuc in Brittany, France for an evening of jazz presented by the association Jazz Angle. It’s always an entertaining and well attended evening and, as relative newcomers to Jazz, it always throws up something new and unexpected that we’ve not heard before…and this year was no exception. More »