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 »

Steve Howe is, of course, the lead guitarist in Yes.  Although Yes were one of the main targets of the punk wars way back in the Seventies, the band has remained incredibly popular, despite line up changes and their own internal conflicts.  Even the sad passing of pivotal member, bass player Chris Squire, has not daunted them and the band will be setting sail once more, quite literally, as they headline their annual Cruise To The Edge cruise ship festival in February next year.  More »

Furnace Mountain are a four piece bluegrass band from northwestern Virginia.  Dave van Deventer on fiddle and vocals, Danny Knicely on fiddle, mandolin and vocals, Aimee Curl on bass and vocals and Morgan Morrison on bouzouki and vocals bring a modern twist to some old songs and tunes while providing plenty of their own. More »

Every now and again I go out at night and see a band that reminds me exactly why I go out at night to see bands.  The Stray Birds are one of those.  More »

It is rare for me to go to a gig specifically to see the support act but I made an exception for Fraser Anderson.  I had reviewed Fraser’s excellent album Under Cover Of Lightness earlier this year and has remained a regular listen. When I found out at the last minute that Fraser was gigging, I was determined to attend.   More »

Female electro poppers Marsheaux took their name from a portmanteau of the first syllables of their first names: Marianthi and Sophie.  Hailing from Thessaloniki, the girls moved to Athens to form the band.   Steeped in electronic pop music from the likes of Depeche Mode, The Human League, OMD, Soft Cell, New Order and Sparks, the girls have worked  to bring their own personality to their influences over the course of four previous studio albums and during this time  Marianthi and Sophie have also carved out a parallel career as remixers, reworking tracks by Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani, Kylie Minogue, Depeche Mode and Moby.  More »

Okay, I’m going to put this right out here.  I’m guilty.  I suspect I might be guilty of something that we may all be guilty of but I’m not going to use that as an excuse.  I’m guilty and I’m going to make a full confession.  So, here goes.  More »

Roy Harper may well be rock’s least well-known legend. The only non-band member to have sung a lead vocal on a Pink Floyd song (Have A Cigar from Wish You Were Here), he is also the subject of a Led Zeppelin song (Hats Off To (Roy) Harper).  David Gilmour, Paul And Linda McCartney and Kate Bush have guested on his albums and Bush, Peter Gabriel and This Mortal Coil have covered his songs.  More »

You may not have heard of the Crescendo festival that takes place each August in the beautiful French tourist resort of Saint Palais sur Mer in the Poitou Charente area of France, but it’s possibly the best organised festival I’ve ever attended and is in an absolutely magnificent setting on the cliff tops looking out to sea. There are very good campsites within 600m of the festival site, great restaurants and bars and the festival itself is safe, clean and attracts brilliant bands under the broad umbrella that is progressive rock. We visited first a few years ago when Hawkwind were headlining the Saturday night and this was sadly the last gig that their keyboard player Jason Stuart would ever play before he died. More »

In a former existence, Edinburgh’s Summerhall art space was a veterinary college.  Tonight’s gig is located in The Dissection Room and its tiled walls, linoleum floor and viewing gallery create a certain unsettling atmosphere that turns out to be quite appropriate.  Normally a standing venue, we’ve been provided with extraordinarily uncomfortable plastic chairs to sit on.  This is also apt as feeling uncomfortable is something of a theme for tonight’s entertainment.  More »

Amtrak’s Texas Eagle train runs from Chicago to Los Angeles, covering 2,728 miles and taking  just under 67 hours to complete its journey.  Tonight Billy Bragg and Joe Henry are showcasing a set of songs that they recorded when they took that trip together in March this year. More »

When Rickie Lee Jones toured her Pirates album in 1981, she comfortably filled Edinburgh’s 3,000 seat Playhouse Theatre.  Tonight, The Queen’s Hall, at less than one third of the size, is somewhat less than half full.  The lack of seat sales is undeniably disappointing but is perhaps unsurprising. Jones is an uncompromising musician who has followed her muse through a variety of musical journeys but has never gone out of her way to court the mainstream – her sole chart single hit, 1979’s Chuck E’s In Love, struck a chord with the record buying public without bending its LA boho jazz style to the fashions of the day.
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Forty years have passed since the summer of 1976, that long, hot summer when punk’s adrenaline rush threatened to sweep away anything and everything that threatened to get in its way.  The Sex Pistols were punk rock’s leading lights and singer Johnny Rotten was punk’s poster boy, although whether the band were a credible threat to the establishment or simply puppets – the punky Monkees –  of manager Malcolm McLaren’s situationist art project has become a moot point.  “Ever had the feeling you’ve been cheated?” sneered Rotten to an audience  the Pistols reached the point of self destruction.  I’ve never been too sure whether he was addressing the audience or himself. More »

Nikki Lane’s 2014 album All Or Nothin’ fused country songwriting with Spectoresque Be My Baby drums, glam rock handclaps and Muscle Shoals electric piano.  Tonight, there are no drums, no piano; just Nikki and her Fender acoustic with back up from special guest Jonathan Tyler on guitar and harmonica but Lane’s rock and roll attitude shines through. More »

Spizzenergi are remembered principally for two things: their 1979 single Where’s Captain Kirk?; the first single to top the UK indie chart where it remained at number one for seven weeks, and their tendency to change names at the drop of a hat.  Starting as Spizzoil, lead singer Spizz went on to lead a variety of line-ups as Spizzenergi, Athletico Spizz 80, The Spizzles, SpizzOrwell, and Spizz And The Astronauties amongst others.  More »

Craig and Charlie Reid have come along way since they signed off the dole in a bleak benefit office on Edinburgh’s west side and signed onto the government’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme, with which they helped to fund the first six months of their musical career as The Proclaimers .  Ten albums, a musical and a film based on their songs, and a track in the Shrek soundtrack later, they are playing the second of two sold out gigs on their home turf, there’s a pre-Christmas buzz in the Edinburgh air and a palpable sense of excitement in the auditorium.  More »

Last night 89 people lost their lives because they went to a rock concert in Paris.  Tonight, I’m at a rock concert and my thoughts, along with everyone in the audience, I suspect, are with that Bataclan audience and their families and loved ones.  Nils Lofgren has opened his shows on this tour with Too Many Miles, a song that he wrote in 2003 and that he describes as being about his personal demons, but tonight the lyrics – “There’s been too many fights in the name of love, there’s been too many tears and too much blood” take on a particular resonance.  More »

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