Saturday, 15 May 2010

Nicky Swann CD Review

Classy country –emotional and heartfelt
Influenced by Carole King, Janis Joplin and Paul Weller, Devon born singer/songwriter Nicky Swann is a devoted performer who blends together folk, country and blues to create poignant songs about a range of emotions. Nicky has supported many top acts including Corrine West and Megson and is a regular performer at the Dartmouth Music Festival. Nicky’s new album features eleven original songs, one cover and a new arrangement of a Welsh poem All Through The Night. The album was recorded in Cornwall and features Bethany Porter on cello and steel player Alan Cook. The songs on this album have a particular theme – love and death, hence the title MATCHES AND DISPATCHES. The album gets off to an amazing start with the classy song Little Bird. Nicky has a very traditional sound and style; this is echoed in the range of instruments used to accompany Nicky’s vocals. Hold On has a slight jazz/blues feel. This is an up-tempo song with a delightful summery vibe. Crash And Burn is a rocky country/pop song in the style of KT Tunstall. Nicky’s vocals seem to suit all kinds of musical styles as this album demonstrates perfectly. Long Time is a gentle slow song. Angelic vocals, limited backing and carefully crafted lyrics make this song sound magical. You Got Me Boy sees Nicky joined by Rick Foot on double bass and Bethany Porter on the cello. This song drifts along nicely. A lovely blend of country/pop. I Wanna Hold Your Hand is a terrific cover of The Beatles classic song. Nicky turns a once up-tempo lively sing-a-long song into a dreamy country/folk song completely different from the original. Tuesday’s Lament is a slow song with emotive lyrics. A sad song sung brilliantly. Everything is a slow pop infused song. Amy’s Waltz is a classic country/folk song featuring Olivia Dunn on violin. Striking and evocative, this is a truly wondrous song. One Step Up is a rousing country song with a catchy beat whilst In Too Deep is a glorious slow country song. Wheels Keep Turning has a touch of Mary Chapin Carpenter about it. A lovely slow country song, which again features Olivia Dunn on violin. Every so often upon listening to Nicky’s varied vocal range Rosanne Cash comes to mind. All Through The Night really allows Nicky’s vocals to shine. It is a slow moving song, which once again has a strong country feel. This album is really classy and jam packed full of sublime songs. A must for all music fans!

Check out these reviews (by me) on the Maverick Magazine Website

Check out these reviews (by me) on the Maverick Magazine Website:

Bobby Kirl – Bobby Live

EB Reece – Big Time Stuff

Mandi Layne & The Lost Highway – Drunk In Love

John Nathaniel – Overdrive

Jodi James – This Fire

Good Lovelies – Good Lovelies

Michelle Turley – Dance With Me Tonight

Vicky Emerson – Long Ride

Doghouse Roses – How’ve You Been (All This Time)

Tami Rene Ghost Town CD Review

A great album if you like country music infused with a big dash of pop/easy listening
Tami Renè’s debut album GHOST TOWN mixes a range of musical styles and sounds together – the end result is a striking highly polished album featuring twelve enjoyable tracks. All of the songs on the album were arranged and produced by Randy Thorderson. The CD’s cover shot is stunning as are Tami’s vocals throughout the album. Tami’s musical influences include Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Beatles, John Denver and Dan Fogelberg. The album gets off to a flying start with a breezy pop/easy listening song Aqua Eyes. Tami’s vocals are strong and captivating. There are touches of Olivia Newton John in Tami’s vocals. Taboo is a rockier song with heavier instrumentation and a slightly modern country vibe running through the chorus. Randy Thorderson joins Tami on backing vocals. Fountain sees the mood slow slightly. This is a highly polished pop infused song. Artists such as Sarah Sadler and Linda Ronstadt come to mind here. Witch Doctor has quite heavy musical backing. This song blends jazz with pop/easy listening. New Moon Night is a slow ballad. This song is about love and Tami’s vocals reflect that in the way that they ooze passion and romance. Faith Hill would not be out of place singing this song. This is the first of the really amazing stand out songs on this album. Right On Track is a punchy country/pop song with a fast beat. Shania Twain comes to mind on hearing this song. This is one of those songs that makes you want to get up and dance. What If is a song about forgiveness and love based around the events of 9/11. An upbeat song with a catchy hook. The lyrics are simple but effective. This song has a pop/country flavour. The title song Ghost Town isn’t a cover of the old hit by The Specials. This is a modern upbeat song with great lyrics, which are worth a close listen. Spring Fever has a Latin feel provided by the lovely guitar work. Lovin’ This is the second amazing song on the album. A slow ballad with luscious vocals. Tami’s vocals and the style of song bring to mind Charlene and her hit song Never Been To Me. Dirt Road has an old style country jazz feel. Paint Me brings the album to a close and is the final outstanding offering of the album and perhaps the best. This is a gorgeous ballad that really gets under the listeners skin. Tami has a seductive voice, which begs to be listened to. This is a great album if you like pop/easy listening flavoured music with more than a hint of country thrown in for good measure.

Vanessa Peters Gig Review

Vanessa Peters kick started the UK leg of her current tour with an amazing show at The Beehive in Swindon. Vanessa was joined on guitar and backing/harmony vocals by Manuel Schicchi from her group Ice Cream On Mondays. It was a real race against time for Vanessa and Manuel who had travelled from Italy that morning. Vanessa performed songs from her latest album as well as songs from her back catalogue of albums. Vanessa had never performed in Swindon before but following the warm reception she received from locals she seemed keen to return next year all being well. Vanessa mixed new songs from her album SWEETHEART, KEEP YOUR CHIN UP with older songs from her albums LITTLE FILMS and THIN THREAD .She also threw in a few classic covers including a stunning version of the Dolly Parton song Jolene. Vanessa put her own stamp on the song, giving it a deeper, darker feel. Vanessa’s performance of the title song from the new album Keep You Chin Up was breath taking and really allowed Vanessa’s delicate vocals to shine. Vanessa and Manuel performed a rousing version of Good News from the new album along with The War, The Next Big Bang, Medals and Austin I Made A Mess, also from the new album. Other highlights included a stunning version of Little Films, from the album of the same name and Fireworks also from the LITTLE FILMS album. Vanessa was asked to sing something from the THIN THREAD album and picked Gone, a lovely slow song with splendid lyrics. Vanessa chatted in between the songs telling the audience what the songs meant to her and the inspiration behind them. Vanessa and Manuel did two sets and then due to the eager applause from the audience two encores, which went down a storm. Vanessa is a warm, friendly person and this was echoed throughout the evening. The evening ended on a real high with Vanessa performing a cover of the Travelling Wilburys song Handle With Care. The audience got involved singing along with the chorus. It was one of those nights that you just did not want to end.

Gig Review Stephanie Lambring and Morgan Myles

The audience at The Beehive in Swindon on Wednesday, 11th March were treated to not one but two attractive and very talented female singer/song writers. Stephanie Lambring with her soft yet strong vocals, perfect for sad beautifully written songs, and Morgan Myles with her powerful voice ideal for singing Americana/blues infused songs went down a real treat with regulars at The Beehive. Morgan’s powerful vocals could easily lend themselves to a large venue but she seemed happy enough playing in a small public house. Stephanie had a good write up in Maverick magazine and as a result I was keen to see her perform live. Stephanie and Morgan took it in turns to take to the floor, with each doing twenty minute sessions before swapping over. This went on throughout the night keeping the audience highly entertained. Morgan started off the evening with a set of songs including Just Lost Me, the first track off of her excellent album Milestone. Stephanie who has a quiet voice, which makes you want to sit up and listen, delivered a polished rendition of the opening track from her 2008 album release Lonely To Alone entitled If I Know. Later in the evening Stephanie performed the title track from her album, which Bob Harris played on his country radio show last year. After listening to her performance of this song and others she performed on the evening it is easy to see why Bob Harris is so enamoured with her. Stephanie’s delicate vocals lend themselves well to emotional/emotive songs and this was reflected in the songs she entertained The Beehive audience with. Stephanie sang other songs from her album including Tonight and If I Could. Morgan performed more of her own songs as the evening wore on. Blending the two styles of singing together worked perfectly and allowed both singers to showcase their singing and song writing talents. Stephanie did a lovely rendition of the Sara Evans hit Suds In The Bucket, which went down a treat with the audience. Morgan covered the Janis Joplin song Take Another Piece Of My Heart and Kris Kristofferson’s Me And Bobby McGee. Both singers were friendly and mingled with the audience chatting and signing autographs. Morgan’s mother had come over with them – she was in charge of selling their CD’s, which she seemed to be doing an excellent job of and at a reasonable price. At the end of the evening both ladies shared vocals on their version of Sweet Home Alabama. A fitting end to a lovely evening where two new talents were discovered and enjoyed. So after listening to an evening of fine music it was time to head home with my two freshly purchased CD’s in my pocket. I really hope that both girls get the chance to return to the UK soon.

State Of Undress Gig Review

From the first song of the evening Ain’t Nothin’, from their album - CAUGHT IN THE ACT, the good crowd at The Beehive new they were going to be well entertained by State Of Undress. Hailing from Dorset, State Of Undress is a country/folk band who are hugely popular in the UK. The band consists of Alan Rose on guitar, Malcolm Windett on bass, Keith Fletcher on drums and two young ladies – Samantha Jane on fiddle and backing vocals and Charlie Rose on main vocals. Charlie gave an energetic performance throughout the evening, going down well with the crowd that steadily increased in numbers as the evening wore on. By the end of the evening the pub was jam packed full of people. Throughout the evening the band sang songs from their forthcoming EP, which is out in July, including a song entitled Mudeford Mood. The band did an excellent cover of the popular Waterboys hit song Whole of the Moon, which had the crowd singing along. Most of the songs performed were written by the band including Red Waters, Ghosts and One More Shot. The band told the crowd that One More Shot will be released as a single in June. They performed a rousing version of Morning Glory, which featured Keith on African drums, some nice guitar work from Alan, some excellent bass from Malcolm and fiddle from Samantha. The band certainly had a knack for working the crowd and was thoroughly entertaining for the whole of the show. During the first half of the show they performed a song written by Malcolm Windett called Love Detectives. This saw the band members getting into character to act out the song. The band are big fans of The Waterboys and performed another cover of one of their songs called Fisherman’s in the second half of the evening. Towards the end of the second half the band handed most of the crowd shaky eggs, hence the bands nickname The Shaky Egg Band, or tambourines so that there could be a certain amount of audience participation. Making as much noise as possible the evening was rounded off with something of a party atmosphere. Ideal as it was St George’s Day! The band was well received at The Beehive and was encouraged to perform a couple of encores. Everyone left the pub happy and on something of a high, looking forward to the bands next visit to the pub hopefully in September. The band is due to perform in the area again in June at The Fox and Hounds in Wroughton.

Gig Review Southern Tenant Folk Union

Thursday, 10th April 2008 saw a return visit to The Beehive in Swindon for the Southern Tenant Folk Union. Having seen the band on their last visit to Swindon I new that I was in for a real treat and I, like the rest of their fans, was not to be disappointed, in fact this show surpassed any expectations I had. The band really seems to be on the up at the moment and is finally getting the recognition it so rightly deserves.

The band gathered themselves around the old fire place in The Beehive and settled themselves in for a long night of music. A large crowd of fans, who had come from far and wide to see the band perform an unplugged set featuring songs from their two albums, packed the small venue. Although The Beehive is quite a small venue it attracts a wide range of artists from all fields of music and from all corners of the globe to play there.

Until the very end of the show the only amplification the band used was for the microphones but by the end of the show microphones were abandoned – giving the crowd a well deserved treat. Live music at its best – one hundred percent unplugged, completely raw and fresh.

The Southern Tennant Folk Union’s latest offering – Revivals, Rituals and Union Songs is already receiving high acclaim in magazines and is rising fast in the specialist album charts. After performing several songs from this new album on the night it is easy to see why. Two songs from the new album that stood out for me were – Back To Front and Changeling Child. The later was written by Frances Vaux about a relation in Australia and as she described the story behind the song it took on a whole new meaning for me.

The band performed All You Need To Know from their self-titled first album to rousing applause from the audience. The audience were also treated to a fine version of Uncle Pen. Throughout the night fans witnessed some outstanding banjo and fiddle playing.

The band was keen to involve the crowd and to make them part of the whole occasion. All members of the band are warm, friendly and approachable – signing autographs and stopping for a chat.

The evening raced by and all too soon it was time to go home. It was a delight to see the band again and to be treated to such an entertaining show. I look forward to seeing them again and hope their latest album continues getting the attention and praise it so rightly deserves. It would be great if the Southern Tennant Folk Union band could become a house hold name!

Sarah MacDougall Gig Review

Sarah MacDougall last appeared in Swindon as part of the Atlantic Crossing tour. Sarah went down a storm when she performed her solo set, so much so the people of Swindon were keen to get her back to perform once again. Many people turned out to see Sarah perform at The Beehive this time around and she did not disappoint her eager fans. The audience were treated to a fine evening’s entertainment. Sarah was accompanied by Timothy Tweedale, who is a fine Dobro and trumpet player. The sound of the Dobro worked well with Sarah’s slow songs and blended in with her guitar playing. She sang songs from her new album ACROSS THE ATLANTIC. Sarah performed the title track from that album, which worked well with the soft trumpet playing of Timothy Tweedale. Sarah also performed Cry Wolf from her new album as well as Ramblin’ and Hundred Dollar Bills, which is a song about the poor on the streets of Vancouver. Sarah involved the audience as much as possible throughout the evening. Sarah blended in a few songs from her previous album HEADED FOR THE HILLS including the catchy song Pain Reliever, My Old One Speed Bicycle and the very popular Cold Night. Cold Night is a beautiful song that really shows what a fine singer/songwriter Sarah MacDougall is. Sarah was friendly throughout the evening, chatting with members of the audience. Her current tour is taking her all over the place from Devon to Glasgow. She is also doing some shows as the support act for Po’ Girl. All in all it was another fine evening from an extremely talented and pleasant lady.

Sam Holmes and Phil King Gig Review

Regulars at The Beehive in Swindon were given a real treat on the 17th of September when not one but two local artists performed there. Sam Holmes from Cheltenham and Phil King from Bristol literally blew the regular Beehive crowd away with their collection of songs.

With her soft delicate voice, reminiscent of Jewel, Sam Holmes performed a number of self penned songs some freshly written and hot off the press and others which feature on her self titled demo album. Sam sang songs written about her parents as well as a song called Charlie which was written about ‘a lady of the night’ and how unhappy she looked when Sam first came across her. Sam effortlessly weaves together a clever blend of folk, pop and modern country giving her a unique and quite beautiful sound. Sam gave a rousing performance of a new song called Parade, a definite hit for the future as well as a superb rendition of a quirky number called Fool For Love. Sam’s voice has a wonderful dreamy quality about it yet she still manages to get the message contained in her songs across to the audience. Sam performed a fantastic folk song based on a traditional playhouse song, called The Drowned Lover. Her singing talents really shone out whilst singing this sad yet rather lovely number. Sam gave the song plenty of emotion and a style all of her own. There were echoes of Kate Rusby or Bill Jones in the room when Sam performed this song.

As the evening wore on more and more people appeared at The Beehive all anxious to hear Sam and Phil. With both artists receiving plenty of rapturous applause.

Phil King was outstanding vocally and in his ability to play the guitar. A truly wondrous man! Phil’s music is hard to pigeon hole as it covers such a vast array of styles. On his quieter heart felt numbers he sounded similar to James Morrison yet on his rowdy foot tapping numbers comparisons could be made to Hal Ketchum or Delbert McClinton and on his blues/jazz numbers I felt I was listening to a guitar wielding Jamie Cullum. It was this exciting mix of styles and sounds that made Phil’s music both thrilling to listen to and so memorable because you never know what is coming next. Phil performed a number of tracks from his debut album Leaves as well as some new material. He gave a brilliant performance of a song entitled – Orion as well as a heart felt performance of a slower number entitled Smiling Eyes. Phil has real charisma and it oozes out of every pore when he is on stage performing. On completion of his second set of numbers The Beehive crowd begged wildly for more and more they got in the form of another loud foot taping number.

Both artists have yet to make the big time but surely with quality songs and performances like this it cannot be long before someone out there spots them and propels them into the limelight. Both artists have bags of talent and sound great live. Definitely worth catching if you get the chance!

Amy Wadge Gig Review

Amy Wadge was back at The Beehive in Swindon on the 30th September after a long hiatus. Amy thought that it was at least six years since she last played at the pub, but she has been back to Swindon during that time playing at The Arts Centre on three or four occasions. The audience gave Amy a warm welcome as soon as she kicked off her opening set with the song These Are The Days from her album BUMP. There was a real buzz in The Beehive and the enthusiastic audience that had gathered to see Amy play clapped and cheered throughout both sets. Amy played a mixture of songs throughout the first set including Always and USA? We’ll Wait and See, from her excellent album NO SUDDEN MOVES. Amy has such a strong and powerful voice for someone so small. Amy switched between guitar and keyboards during both sets. One highlight of the first set was a song called Tell Her from the album BUMP. A short break and Amy was back with the second set and her amazing song Free Fall, which is one of Amy’s trademark songs and a hit with her fans. The rest of the evening saw Amy perform songs from her previous albums as well as new songs from her forthcoming album. Amy performed a great song, which relates to the work she does with prisoners called Clean as well as her forthcoming single Hold Me, which will be out on the 2nd of November. This was an excellent song that should do well for Amy as a single. Amy performed Breathe from her first album release WOJ. A lovely song that went down a treat with the audience. Amy also covered a song by The Smiths that was well received by The Beehive audience, then after just a few more songs it was sadly time for the evening to come to an end. Amy’s fans in the audience were not going to let Amy escape the stage that easily so after a lot of clapping, cheering and shouting they were treated to a few more of Amy’s songs. After the show Amy was only too happy to sign posters and CD’s and chat to members of the audience. Everyone at The Beehive was thrilled to see Amy back there playing so it wasn’t long before Amy was being given an open invitation to return there and play any time she wants to. All in all this was an excellent evening of music and entertainment from a very talented singer/songwriter and really nice person.

Karen Pendley and Lonnie Spiker Gig Review

The Beehive in Swindon was more like I imagined a Texas bar might be when Pennsylvania born singer/songwriter Lonnie Spiker and North Carolina native and veteran fiddle player Karen Pendley played there on the 16th of October. Their excellent blend of western swing and honky tonk songs really brought The Beehive to life. Lonnie and Karen performed a selection of Bob Wills’s songs including a fantastic version of Faded Love, which allowed Karen to do a lovely solo on the fiddle. Lonnie’s style of singing reminded me of the late Faron Young. As the evening progressed Karen and Lonnie mixed together songs of their own with songs by more well known and established artists. Highlights of the evening were a fine version of Ian Tyson’s Some Day Soon and the old Elvis Presley hit Fool Such As I. Lonnie was enthusiastic and extremely funny throughout the evening and both artists were keen to oblige the audience with any requests. Lonnie and Karen performed an amusing version of Merle Haggard’s Working Mans Blues, blending in new words to suit the occasion. The audience appeared to really enjoy Karen and Lonnie’s style of singing as by the end of the night people were up dancing and singing along. Lonnie and Karen continued on until eleven forty-five, mainly due to the fact that they had received so many requests for songs and were trying franticly to fit them all in. The audience were having a wonderful time and really getting into the spirit of things, not wanting the evening to end at all. Overall it was a highly entertaining evening full of fun and good music. I would recommend you catch these two amazing artists if they come to a venue near you.

David Celia Gig Review

David Celia made a welcome return to The Beehive in Swindon on Tuesday the 2nd of December. David, who has played at The Beehive on numerous occasions, entertained the audience with his own unique blend of roots, rock and jazz flavoured music. For his latest visit David brought a long a three piece band, which, added an extra dimension to his set. The evening began with a rendition of a song called Dry Spell, which went down really well with the audience. David performed songs old and new on the night including Faker Baker, from one of his earlier releases and Cactus and Best Thing Ever from his latest album. David Headon provided excellent arrangements for these songs. One new song David performed was called I Tried, which featured Joan Besen on keyboard and vocals. I Tired was a pleasant song that is likely to be featured on David’s next album. The evening continued with some more songs from David’s previous albums. Throughout the evening the audience were treated to some great rocky guitar playing as well as some brilliant harmonising on vocals. It is hard to fit David Celia’s music into any one pigeon hole as his music is so varied in style. David always gets a good audience whenever he performs in Swindon and this visit was no different, even though it was bitterly cold outside. David appreciated the warm and enthusiastic welcome he received and so to reward those who had gathered at The Beehive to see him he played for three hours before being forced due to time to bring the evening to a close.

Daniel Goodman Gig Review

Sometimes you listen to an album and love it but when you see the artist live they are a grave disappointment, not living up to expectations. I fell in love with the music of Daniel Goodman after hearing his self-released album and was really looking forward to seeing him perform live at The Beehive. It was Daniel’s second appearance at the pub, having gone down a storm on his first visit at the end of 2008. I, like Daniel’s other fans, was not to be disappointed. The evening was filled with deep meaningful music that begged to be listened to. Daniel’s songs are like poems set to music, each one captivating and enthralling. His voice gravely and strangely seductive seduces the listener making them want to hear more. Daniel performed all bar one song off of his acclaimed debut album Such a Fine Day and Other Days as well as slipping into the mix a couple of covers by artists such as the great Richard Thompson. Daniel’s opening set consisted of twelve songs. Although numbers were not great at the start of the evening by quarter to twelve when the gig ended the pub was packed full of people clamouring to hear him sing. Daniel played his trusty guitar throughout the evening as well as the harmonica. It was a very acoustic evening! Daniel performed a rousing version of his blues infused song The Super Superficial Man. Lively and entertaining the song went down well with regulars at the pub. Other songs performed by Daniel included Such a Fine Day, the title track from his album, Free to Love, The Lady and The Ship and Nightwatch. It was interesting to hear Daniel’s songs live; it gave them a new dimension. They seemed to come alive when performed unplugged in a public house setting. There was high praise for Daniel and his music from listeners at the gig. Most commented on his style of music and his extraordinary talents as a singer/songwriter. Daniel has gained a devout fan base in Swindon. Other songs performed on the night included a heart rendering performance of Keep a Place for Me. This is a really sentimental song that tugs at the heart strings. Daniel said that he doesn’t often play the song live as people say it is too sad. Personally it is my favourite off the album and with the current climate – soldiers fighting all over the world, I think it is very fitting. Daniel sang a song entitled Steps, not on his album. A great song with superb lyrics. He rounded off the evening with Miner’s Tale. This is another song he doesn’t perform live that often but his Swindon fans requested it so he willingly obliged. All in all a wonderful evening of top quality music performed by a delightful man who is busy trying to make a name for himself in the world of music.

Daniel Goodman and Adam Levy Gig Review

Daniel Goodman’s latest gig in Swindon was a real show stopper. It was Daniel’s third trip to The Beehive and most definitely his best to date. Daniel was accompanied by acclaimed musician Adam Levy, who is best known for his work with Norah Jones. It was Adam’s first trip to Swindon but hopefully not his last. The pair dazzled the crowd with a mix of fine songs and brilliant guitar work. Daniel performed songs from his album SUCH A FINE DAY AND OTHER DAYS as well as a selection of new songs, which are to be featured on his forthcoming album. Daniel performed a rousing version of his blues infused song The Super Superficial Man, which went down a real treat with the music fans who had come a long to see Daniel and Adam perform. This song gave Adam a real chance to show off his musical skills. Adam’s guitar work was breathtaking and really brought the whole show to life. The pair performed a stunning version of Nightwatch, a popular song from Daniel’s first album. The pair also performed one of Adam’s songs –Washing Day, with both Adam and Daniel taking turns on lead vocals. Adam and Daniel’s vocals worked perfectly together; the end result was a lovely collaboration between the two men. The whole evening was jam packed with beautiful lyrics and delightful music. This was an evening for real music lovers who like high quality songs written from the heart. Daniel introduced some of his newer songs to the audience including True Loves Eyes, a slow but still lyrically powerful song. He treated the audience to a glorious version of The Golden Road, a song that starts off slow and builds up into something rousing and powerful. Adam’s guitar work on this song was just exquisite. Daniel also introduced another new song called Turner’s Tale. Turner’s Tale is a powerful song about Nat Turner, an American slave who brought about the rebellion in Virginia in 1831. It was obvious from Daniel’s performance of the song that it is a subject very close to his heart and a song he is very fond of. It is clear from watching Daniel live that he puts his heart and soul into everything he performs. Daniel treated the audience to a cover of a Bob Dylan classic Girl From The North Country. There are so many similarities between the vocals of Bob Dylan and Daniel Goodman; it was kind of eerie listening to Daniel covering this song. Regulars at the pub encouraged the pair to sing a song by Simon and Garfunkel, with one lady commenting that the pair’s voices had much in common with the famous duo. Time seemed to rush by and before long it was time to call it a night and sadly head off out into the cold.

Jeff Arundel and Courtney Yasmineh Gig Review

Swindon music lovers were given a real treat when Jeff Arundel and Courtney Yasmineh came to play at The Beehive. It was the first time either artist had played in Swindon but both went down a storm with the crowd that had gathered to see them perform. Jeff Arundel opened for Courtney Yasmineh doing a half hour set of amazing songs. Jeff’s music was captivating and really engaged the audience. His music blended blues with an organic/acoustic sound. One song Jeff sang, Elmwood Place from his 1993 album release COMPASS, really stood out from the crowd – it was about going to back to the house you were brought up in many years later. The lyrics were so poetic and the song was just beautiful. Jeff may have been the opening act but I think the people of Swindon could have easily listened to his music all night! By the time Courtney took to the stage the Swindon audience were really fired up. Courtney was joined by Rob Genadek on drums and John Lehmkuhl on electric guitar. Courtney performed songs from her 2009 album release BEAUTIFUL LONELY as well as a couple of covers and one quirky new song. The audience loved Courtney’s vibrant up tempo music as well as her slower delicate songs. Courtney did a wonderful rendition of Beautiful Lonely really bringing the emotive song to life. She also did an amazing version of Stones, which starts off slow then explodes into quite a heavy number before slowing right down again. Courtney treated the audience to a blistering version of the popular Nanci Griffith song Hard Life. John Lehmkuhl’s guitar playing was stunning and so beautiful to listen to, at times he sounded like a one man version of The Shadows. Courtney performed other songs from her album including Stars (which featured a solo by John Lehmkuhl, which was out of this world), Seven Times As Lucky, Part I Like and Luna Moth. Early on in her first set Courtney performed the rousing song Daydrunk, the song went down brilliantly so much so that people were up dancing. To end the evening having had so much praise for the song Courtney performed Daydrunk once again. Courtney’s encore featured a thrilling version of the classic song I Don’t Wanna Talk About It. Courtney put her own stamp on this well known and much covered song. Courtney made a lot of new fans in Swindon after her polished performance at The Beehive. By the end of the evening there was already talk of a return visit next year.

Blackheart Gig Review 2

With a new album out later this year (hopefully late September/October) Chrissy Mostyn and Richard Pilkington, otherwise known as the British duo Blackheart made a welcome return to The Beehive in Swindon on the 3rd of September. A lively and extremely enthusiastic crowd braved the damp and rather windy weather to see the duo, giving the gig plenty of atmosphere and excitement.

Blackheart performed songs from their current album – Indigo, as well as new songs just written, whilst on tour in Ireland, and songs from their forthcoming album. Chrissy Mostyn’s voice is soft and gentle yet when she wants to she can belt out a song and give it plenty of power and rich emotion. Richard is an excellent guitar player and showed off his skills on several occasions throughout the night to rapturous applause from the audience. On one occasion Richard did a solo instrumental number, which had the audience going wild – clapping loudly and stamping their feet in time to the music. It was absolutely brilliant.

Blackheart performed a wonderful version of the title track of their current album Indigo as well as a highly charged performance of Unlike Water also off their current album. This song has some wonderful harmonising it in between Chrissy and Richard. In-between the songs Chrissy and Richard took it in turns to explain why the songs were written and the inspiration behind the lyrics. Although many of their songs are written about sad often depressing issues like bereavement and suicide they still seem to be uplifting and full of hope. The duo sang a new song about someone who had tried to end their life as well as a song written about their time in Ireland.

Chrissy and Richard performed a song written to mark the sad death of Chrissy’s niece. This was a beautiful tribute and a real tear jerker. They also performed a song, which has been specially written for a tour they are appearing on as special guests of Jared Osmond of the Osmond family. This is clearly something they are looking forward to. Several other new songs touched on the subject of faith in one way or another. The forthcoming album looks to be a big hit and a sure fire winner if these new songs are anything to go by.

The duo performed rousing versions of favourites like Wonderland and 0204, written about the duo’s home towns as well as a memorable performance to finish off the evening of 94 years – a song written about the passing of Richard’s father.
Overall this was an entertaining and highly charged evening of good quality music that saw Chrissy and Richard at their very best. It was just a shame that the evening had to come to an end as the audience would have loved to hear a few more hours of songs from the duo.

Blackheart Gig Review

On a bitterly cold December night a few days before Christmas, that might explain a smaller than usual crowd at The Beehive in Swindon, I ventured out to see Blackheart.

Blackheart are a duo from Lancashire duo – Chrissy Mostyn and Richard Pilkington.

Once the show started the cold weather outside was soon forgotten. They performed a good two hour set featuring songs off of their CD – Indigo and new songs from their forthcoming CD. Their music is a blend of folk, roots and Americana. Both were keen to chat and talk about their music. I found them friendly and appreciative of the support towards their music.

Chrissy has a lovely voice and with Richard on guitar, mandolin and vocals their voices harmonise perfectly together.

One of the new songs they performed was called ‘Thank God You Found Me’. I hope that appears on their new CD as it was a brilliant track. I purchased a copy of their Indigo CD on the night and it is great – full of brilliant tracks. My favourite track on the CD was the title track. Definitely worth a listen.

Once again it proves that we have some excellent singers and writers in this country, it is just a great shame that they do not get more air play on radio stations over here. Blackheart deserve to do well and deserve to have their music played on all radio stations in the UK – country and non-country alike.

Once the show was over it was sadly back out into the cold.

If Blackheart appear anywhere in your area I would recommend going to see them as I do not think that you would be disappointed. They are an excellent duo and highly talented.

Atlantic Crossing Gig Review

Wednesday, 11th June saw an exciting show at The Beehive in Swindon. Atlantic Crossing saw three top young Canadian singer/songwriters performing solo tracks from their own back catalogues as well as playing guitar, harmonising and singing background vocals on each others songs. The trio consisted of Melisa Devost, Corbin Murdoch and Sarah MacDougall.

Corbin Murdoch had a voice reminiscent of the late Johnny Cash combined with the legendary Bruce Springsteen. His songs had a strong country feel tinged with a slight hint of blues. Great guitar work and powerful vocals proved that he is someone with enormous talent and a force to be reckoned with in future years. As the evening progressed Corbin’s vocals began to boom across the room.

It wasn’t a huge crowd that came to The Beehive to see the Atlantic Crossing show but it was certainly an appreciative crowd who clapped and cheered loudly at the end of each song.

Melisa Devost was on her second visit to The Beehive – a welcome return for her Swindon fans. Melisa’s voice is powerful and unique in sound infusing country, blues and gospel into her music. Melisa performed songs with her guitar and with no instrumental backing at all. The unplugged songs Melisa performed really stood out from the crowd stunning the audience into complete silence. Melisa has a great passion for music and this can be seen in abundance in her poignant lyrics. Melisa performed a touchingly beautiful song written for her friend who had suffered from cancer as well as a section of other songs from her album – Capacity.

Sarah MacDougall was mesmerising and gave a truly blinding performance. Her first visit to Swindon went down really well with the audience who raved over her magnificent vocals and delightful songs – many of which were full of quirky lyrics about life as it is today. Sarah sang a rather jolly song called Pain Reliever that had both Corbin and Melisa joining in on background vocals. Sarah sang songs from her 2005 album – Headed for the Hills including a touching performance of the albums title track. She also included songs from a new EP created especially for the Atlantic Crossing tour. Sarah’s songs mixed traditional country with a dash of folk resulting in a phenomenal sound.

The evening ended all too quickly with all three singers joining in with a rendition of an old Leonard Cohen song rearranged by another Canadian singer/songwriter called Kent McAlister. A rousing end to a truly remarkable evening. All three singer/songwriters were exciting and showed much potential and hope for the future of Canadian music. This was certainly one of the best shows I have seen in ages!

Ron Trueman-Border Gig Review

A less than usual crowd turned out to see folk, roots and blues singer Ron Trueman-Border at The Beehive on Wednesday, 28th April. Ron has a reputation as an excellent singer/songwriter creating beautiful songs that rake up a whole range of emotions. Ron’s talents as a songwriter and singer were most definitely on display as he performed with his guitar and harmonica. He started the first set with Romeo And Juliet a great song from his AMERICAN GHOSTS album. He continued with Whiskey And Beer, a song that went down well with the crowd and Tears Over My Bones from his 2004 album, with Felicity Greenland, called INNOCENTS ABROAD. The first set continued with two songs from Ron’s BREAKING HEARTS ALBUM - Black Eyed Sally and a nice slow song Old Man Of The Sea. Ron completed the first half of the evening with a protest song called Tearing My England Down and the very good Peter Green from his 1997 album UNREQUITED, which was reissued in 2000 with bonus tracks. Ron spent the interval chatting with the gathered crowd. The second half was even better than the first. Ron performed another selection of songs from his many albums including Drunk, the excellently written Angel Of Mercy and One Last Round. After two hours of fantastic music Ron brought the evening to a close with a bluegrass flavoured song called Diamonds (In My Own Backyard), which is featured on his 2002 live recording with Paul Sirman - GHOSTS LIVE – ROUGH & READY. The evening was a real treat for fans of acoustic music. Ron has been on the music scene for many years; after hearing him perform live it is easy to see why.

Luke Jackson - The Birds Don't Sing Around Here Song Review

Once again Luke Jackson has carefully crafted a lyrical masterpiece with his new song The Birds Don’t Sing Around Here. With each new song Luke manages to amaze me with his brilliance, a brilliance way beyond his years. This is a sentimental song about war and how even when it is over the mental and emotional costs are still great and long lasting. Luke conjures up a story, with his strong lyrics, that is bleak, emotional beyond words and heart breaking. As the lyrics play out Luke takes listeners on a roller coaster ride of emotions. This song contains sadness and misery, which Luke portrays with ease. Towards the end there is hope, it is as if the sun is finally bursting through the darkness. Luke’s vocals rise and fall throughout the song adding depth and atmosphere. This is a striking song worthy of a close listen.

Maslow's Songbook by Odi Album Review

Glorious vocals bring this stunning album to life
Claire Odlum better known as Odi is an Irish singer/songwriter whose music combines folk, acoustic, pop, rock and indie. Odi played her first gig three years a go, since that time she has supported Eleanor McEvoy, Brian Kennedy and Seth Lakeman as well as playing gigs in Ireland, the UK and Germany. Odi has already been tipped as one of the top five artists to watch in 2010 by MySpace/Vodafone. Dave Redfearn joins Odi on vocals, guitar and piano. Odi’s musical influences include Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Elbow. Odi’s debut album MASLOW’S SONGBOOK was recorded with producer Karl Odlum, who has worked with the likes of Fionn Regan. Odi’s vocals blend together an upbeat version of Dido with the strong vocals of Dolores O'Riordan. The album opens with Red Light an upbeat slightly rocky folk number. The vocals are strong and engaging and the melody is catchy. Something Beautiful is a forthcoming single. This is an enigmatic song full of magical vocals, which enthral. Odi effortlessly blends folk with pop; the end result is a really classy sound. Real To Me has a gentler more acoustic sound. The vocals here are haunting and packed full of emotion. Make It Better is a glorious song with delicious vocals. This song sees Odi in fine form with her vocals seamlessly blending a mixture of Tracy Chapman and Vanessa Carlton together. The backing music adds atmosphere and depth. Leaving My Love In New York sees the pace pick up a little. This is a more dramatic edgy folk/pop song. One In A Million has a very organic sound. I’m Done has a slight blues feel and an up-tempo beat. You Can’t Have It All is a vibrant folk/pop song backed with uplifting music. You Win But You Lose is a charming song with delicate vocals. Odi’s vocals have a slight touch of Carly Simon about them on this standout number. This is a striking folk infused song. Mariposa is another song, which really showcases Odi’s beautiful vocals. Here her vocals are warming and quite enthralling. This is a song that fans of good quality modern folk and country will enjoy. Lonely Ballerina leads nicely into the final song on the album Maslow’s Love Song, running at slightly over five minutes; this is a fantastic song to end the album on. Glorious haunting vocals, a little reminiscent of Tori Amos, give this song drama and character. This is an album bursting with top quality vocals and strong songs. One listen will never be quite enough!

A Superman EP by Odi

Intoxicating, haunting and gorgeous
Released in 2008 A SUPERMAN is a stunning five track EP from Irish singer/songwriter Odi. The title track, A Superman, is a rocky pop song with edgy vocals. Odi’s vocals remind me greatly of Sian Evans from Kosheen. This is a strong fiery song. The music is dramatic allowing the song to build and build until it reaches a haunting climax. This is one of those songs you will want to hear again and again. What You Deserve sees Odi in a quieter mood. The vocals here are gentle and haunting, reminiscent in style of Dido. There is a lot of passion and raw emotion oozing out through Odi’s velvety vocals. Tears And Wine is a slightly more upbeat song with a gorgeous acoustic sound running through it. Once again the vocals are the highlight. Crawl has more of a rock/pop feel. This is a catchy song with a really strong sound. Leaving My Love In New York is an intoxicating song with rich heartfelt vocals. This song is moody and delicate again with a touch of Dido about it. SH