Our interviews editor is Will Bray, with regular contributions from Søren McGuire, Maurice Hope and Alan J Taylor.
Texan singer-songwriter Ronnie Fauss has been on the A-UK radar for a few years now. His debut self-funded EP back in 2008 announced a strident new talent on the Roots Rock scene, and he’s followed it since with several outstanding EPs of original songs, and also a country covers collection.
LITTLE MISS OHIO FARM GIRL, LYDIA LOVELESS SETS OUT TO SHOW TEXAS ISN’T THE ONLY PLACE YOU NEED TO BE FROM TO PLAY HARD-DRIVEN AMERICANA
On Loveless’ current album (Indestructible Machine), her second I hear hints of Kelly Willis filter through. Such is the spontaneous rush of bubbly, infectious energy on some of the songs. It is hard to believe Lydia is barely out of her teens when you catch her live on stage, so in control is she. When I saw her she only had her husband, Ben Lamb on upright bass there were no nervous glances or doubts in her mind. She was up there and loving it. In fact her encore ran not for one or two songs but four, so happy was she up there and wanting to entertain.
THE MASTERSONS — BLUES, COUNTRY ROCK POP GUITARIST CHRIS MASTERSON AND HIS WIFE, ELEANOR WHITMORE A CLASSICAL TRAINED FIDDLE PLAYER TAKE TIME OFF FROM WORKING WITH STEVE EARLE TO GO ON THE ROAD AS A DUO…
Chris Mills was a key figure in the 'No Depression'/alt.country movement of the late 1990s and is a much respected Indie musician and songwriter. He now divides his time between his home in Brooklyn and regular work in Norway, where he tours a show about protest songs.
As Quiet Loner, Matt Hill is a previous winner of Americana-UK's album of the year (2004) and is about to release ‘Greedy Magicians’ a new album of protest songs that he recorded live in a Salford church.
The two musicians have been friends since they met in 2000. In an Americana-UK exclusive the two songwriters discuss politics and music.
Bands formed around brothers are hardly anything new in the music world. Yet the success and longevity of a group forged around such unique family ties can have rather mixed results. For each Everly brother, there’s The Kinks. For every Bee Gee, there’s the Gallaghers. Creativity and harmonious kinship don’t always appear to go hand-in-hand.
Why is North Carolina-born and raised singer-songwriter Tift Merritt and her long time collaborator and husband, Zeke Hutchins now living in the Big Apple, New York City? What is the attraction and why not Nashville or her home state?
October 1st sees the release of her fourth studio album, her debut Bramble Rose in 2002 set the ball rolling followed by acclaimed efforts, Tambourine (2004) and in 2008, Another Country with See You On The Moon, 2010 her other studio record.
With tour dates partnering Mary Chapin Carpenter and Josh Ritter this summer, Stateside Merritt has most certainly kept herself busy and now she is about to go on the road in support of Traveling Alone (Yep Roc) as she goes out to garner more fame.
The UK festival scene is well upon us. A season of large mud pools, excessive sunburn (we can only dream), and people taking sneaky trips around the back of hedgerows in order to avoid the queues for the portaloos.
Yet many are questioning whether the UK festival is fast becoming a dying breed. Poor sales caused by high-ticket prices, rising band costs and an overly burdened market, have led to many festivals being cancelled or postponed for the year.
One mainstay that shall be going ahead is the Cambridge Folk Festival. Started in 1964 by political activist Ken Woollard, the event has attracted international artists as diverse as Paul Simon, James Taylor and Joe Strummer, and it still goes on strong today. Americana-UK spoke with the festival’s current organiser, Eddie Barcan, to discuss how the festival manages to remain so fresh and exciting, how it keeps going in these dark days of recession, and who would play at his ideal festival.
LAURIE LEWIS —FIDDLER, SONGWRITER, VOCALIST, BAND LEADER AND PRODUCER
In honour of Bill Monroe in what would have been his 100th year California based folk, bluegrass country fiddle player, vocalist and singer-songwriter Laurie Lewis put out the album Skippin’ And Flyin’ last year. Like all other albums she has recorded it is a top-drawer effort. Lewis started her musical career as a member of west coast bluegrass folk country ensemble, Good Ol’ Persons and has since recorded a long line of albums. Initially she was with Flying Fish before it was taken over by Rounder then Hightone and now her own Spruce And Maple label. An wonderful band-leader Lewis embraces the idioms listed above without any breaks or feeling she is more than another; to the degree she defies any one category other than having a great affinity to bluegrass music.
NASHVILLE SINGER-SONGWRITER, BAND MEMBER OF ROBERT PLANT’S BAND OF JOY, HIT SONGWRITER, RECORDING MUSICIAN and a bunch more….
Kentucky-born and now living in Nashville, Darrell Scott is one of those people who seems to shine like a star in a dark sky at anything he does. For once again has come up with yet another splendid album (LONG RIDE HOME). A maker of concept records, Scott this time has this time focussed on his early life, his rural, country (as in home an music) upbringing. It is something he has been working on for a few years. It is nothing for him to have more than one or two concepts run alongside another before he decides on the one to run with and release first.
Three years ago, Sons of Bill blew us all off our feet with their second album One Town Away. The Virginia-based band (yes, three of them are brothers, and yes, their dad's name is Bill) sounded like R.E.M cranked all the way up to 11, and sang songs about cool stuff like Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle and AM radio, while never afraid to dip into more serious subjects, such as high school shootings and kids their age caught in the dark shadows of Bush's America. Now they're back with Sirens, their most ambitious album which Americana UK's reviewer gave a 9 out of 10, and one that will surely take them to new places, way beyond the conventional borders of country rock. We caught up with lead singer James Wilson again for a chat about album funding, working with your heroes, and going back to the good old days of record making, which - in this case - is not about the 60's.
Matt Hill aka Quiet Loner is going all political for his third album. Mark Whitfield caught up with Matt to talk about his album plans, his new residence in Derbyshire, and exactly what he might do if he met David Cameron.
We’re trying to talk to the movers and shakers of the Americana world this year, the promoters, label owners and everyone who is responsible for bringing the music we love to the forefront. John Cleere is a man who is well and truly submerged in music and has been for many years, a founder and organiser of the Kilkenny Roots Festival and he took some time to chat to A-UK about this year’s line up
History has shown that bands formed around romantic couples can be a productive, if at times a hazardous occupation. Whilst the relationships behind Arcade Fire and Jenny and Johnny are currently creating an exciting musical output, the likes of Richard and Linda Thompson, Sonic Youth and even ABBA have demonstrated what can happen if it all goes horribly wrong.
Step forward Bowerbirds, a group formed by the couple Beth Tacular and Phil Moore. When not touring, the pair dwell in a half built cabin within a North Carolina forest, singing songs berating man’s destruction of the environment. Some might say the couple were asking for trouble from the outset.
After early success with their brilliant debut ‘Hymns for a Dark Horse’, the follow up ‘Upper Air’ would almost destroy the band. Yet out of the turmoil of a broken relationship and a life-threatening illness comes ‘The Clearing’, the groups most dynamic and personal album to date.
In a highly candid interview, co-founder Beth discusses the chaos that led to the new album, her relationship with a fellow Bowerbird, and the band’s love for a life lost in the wilderness.
It’s been an exceptional year for Dawes. Releasing records, touring Europe and the States, rubbing shoulders with legends and having your songs littering just about every U.S teenage based TV show. It certainly seems like the foundations have been laid for a very positive future.
Americana-UK caught up with frontman Taylor Goldsmith after a string of UK sold out dates where we could talk about their busy schedule and backing some of the biggest names in Americana.
There are many characters in and around the music industry which have become the pillars of society. These people come in all kinds of forms - promoters, label owners, venue owners, management, agents, radio show hosts and journalists. It’s some of these folk that Americana–UK will be talking to over the course of this year, hearing what the guys on the ground have to say and providing more of an insight to what goes on in the world of music.
We’re starting with our brand new range of interviews with one of the UK’s finest promoters, Jay Taylor. Based in Manchester and running a very successful ‘Ruby Lounge’ we caught up with Jay for a chat about his past, present and future.
2012 marks 100 years since the birth of legendary songwriter and political provocateur Woody Guthrie. In many ways it seems almost appropriate that this milestone should be reached as global institutions disintegrate around us and protestors are taking to the streets of cities across the planet.
To mark the centenary in more customary ways, a number of projects and performances have been planned. One of these is New Multitudes, a new album of Woody Guthrie lyrics put to music written and performed by Americana stalwarts Jay Farrar (Son Volt), Anders Parker (Varnaline), Will Johnson (Centro-matic) and Yim Yames (My Morning Jacket).
Tim Stokes met up with former Uncle Tupelo front man and project leader Farrar on a sunny January day in west London to discuss the new album, the band’s first live performance at Celtic Connections, and the life and times of the great folk troubadour Woody Guthrie.
Lincoln Durham is a very interesting young man from the States, a one man band musician with a rasping voice and a very raw and rootsy new record, ‘The Shovel vs. The Howling Bones’. This is a very fine record that dives deeply into traditional southern American folk music, it’s earthy and has integrity. There’s no doubt that Durham will be a common feature in the U.K in the near future. Americana-UK took some time to talk to the debutant.
Fountains of Wayne have been around for over 15 years now and in that time have had a certain reputation from one particular song, yet their move to the Yep Roc label has heralded a change in direction which appealed to Americana UK Editor Mark Whitfield’s ears so much that he went to chat to Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger before their recent London date about the new record and what influences might have affected it
Simone Felice isn’t the only exciting thing happening at Reveal this year but also Boo Hewerdine and Brooks Williams have nailed themselves together almost like some kind of super group duo to release a brand new record. Sounds like they should be wearing masks and capes! Both have glittering and extensive careers, established musical pedigrees not to mention song writing credits. Can you have too much of a good thing? Of course not! Americana-UK snapped up the chance to talk to the dynamic duo.
Some artists stay around forever, they might collaborate from time to time, form new bands for one-off albums or tours or gently glide through their career flying their own flag high. Waits and Dylan jump to mind immediately, Neil Young and maybe Conor Oberst with his many guises. Who else will stand the test of time? Is Simone Felice one of those artists? Let’s face it. It’s probably looking that way!
Felice is certainly a man of strong spiritual charm, charisma (anyone who’s seen a live performance would agree I’m sure) and has already pioneered two of the biggest names in recent Americana. There is a new run of videos featuring ‘Hey Bobby Ray’, ‘New York Times’ and ‘Top Of The World’ which play on Felice’s character, and well worth a watch, almost portraying himself as a musical soothsayer or wandering shamen, either way it’s very endearing. Is this just part of the performance or more of a way of life? When someone’s music is as homegrown and natural as his, you’d think he was the real deal! But don’t be fooled, underneath this hippy exterior is a man with ambition and an intention of being around for a very long time.
Americana-UK got to ask Simone Felice a few questions about his already nomadic career and hopefully find out what makes him tick.
Breakaway solo projects seem to be a norm these days for frontmen and one that might not have necessarily been expected is of Craig Finn. There’s no doubt that Finn has taken his own style to ‘Clear Heart Full eyes’ and leans away from The Hold Steady but not too much, this still has everything that a die-hard fan would desire and have come to expect from Finn. Doesn’t the saying go something like? ‘You can take the boy out of The Hold Steady but...’ Americana-UK managed to grab just a few minutes with Mr. Finn to try and find out why he decided to step out on his own.