One of the most exciting things about music is the discovery of a new band or artist and this is what ‘The Dirty Dozen’ is all about.
This is a relatively new area to Americana-UK dedicated to highlighting newer artists that our writers have stumbled across whilst trawling the clubs, pubs and mountains of records in our office. ‘The Dirty Dozen’ is 12 set questions that will have the ‘where, who’s and why’s’ that will give more than just an introduction to these undiscovered gems. This is not a ‘pat on the back’ or A-UK ‘helping out’ but simply because there is so many fantastic new comers to the Americana umbrella that we have been left with no choice but to create a section to cope with the sheer volume. In true Americana-UK fashion we will cover as much and broad a spectrum as humanly possible, undoubtedly you’ll find something to add to that dusty ol’ record collection and gig calendar here.
Rackhouse Pilfer are a stomping Americana /roots band based in Sligo in the wild North West coast of Ireland. They democratically shared the dozen between themselves ensuring we "have a nice mix of answers..."
and they are:
Leon Mooney - Vocals, Guitar & Harmonica.
Fiachra Cunningham - Vocals, Fiddle & Dobro/Lap Steel .
Leslie Jones - Vocals, Mandolin & Guitar.
Mark McGovern - Vocals, Tenor Banjo, 5-String Banjo, Guitar.
Willie Kelly - Vocals, Guitar, Drums.
Duane Gallagher - Vocals, Double Bass.
From Shoegaze to pastoral folk, Anne Marie Almedal takes time to answer aUK's Dirty Dozen before the release of her new album Memory Lane next month.
Americana Uk's 'Dirty Dozen' was developed as a quick Q&A with new bands. This is normally done via email but, when one of the bands has come all the way from Kentucky for their first shows it would be rude not to meet up with them, so here is a slightly expanded 'Dirty Dozen.
‘Smouldering country-tinged alt-rock’ is how Bethia Beadman’s music is described on her website. Raised in the fair city of Bath, she began writing songs in her teens before studying Theology and Sanskrit at King’s College, Cambridge. Following this she based herself in London where she studied sound engineering.
This is what Americana Uk's Dirty Dozen is all about; giving a bit of exposure to to young, exciting, hardworking, Emmy Lou Harris interview loving musicians! Here's Will Miles condensed down to twelve questions and twelve answers.
"Straw Bear formed slowly over a number of years, like sedimentary rock or a bad habit." They seem to have formed something of a BBC habit recently with a live session for Tom Robinson coming up next month and played by Bob Harris last week. Singer Ian Ray dragged himself away from Auntie for a moment and got down and dirty with aUK.
Sukhdeep Krishan, or Sukh, is a Manchester based folk tinged singer/songwriter based in Manchester. He has just released his self written, self performed & self produced début album ‘Kings’ which received 8/10 here on americanaUK “Doctor by day, musician between patients, ‘Kings’ is Sukh’s musical prescription” That’s right – his day job is a doctor!
Scowlin’ Owl, a four piece all female folk band started by ex Turnstile Junkpile co-founder Nina Lovelace, are “low on twee but high on drama and vocal harmonies”
Over the past year this young band from Newcastle have started to cast their net somewhat wider than the Geordie shores they inhabit. With an E.P. (Teepy Eepy) and their debut album (Money Isn’t Everything) under their belt they took their old time Americana sound around the country gaining rave reviews while Marc Riley on Radio 6 took a shine to them.
No stranger to wide open spaces, Robert James Selby has been drawing inspiration from the fells and dales of his native Yorkshire since he could escape out of the house. A schoolboy in thrall the our finest Romantic poets, this Byronic youth soon took the path of the troubadour and headed off around Europe, discovering Baudelaire and Rimbaud, bunking down on couches during the day and plying his trade in various dens of iniquity at night.
Italy’s number one roots rock band, over the past four years Lowlands have made a considerable name for themselves, touring Europe and working with such notable musicians as Green On Red’s Chris Cacavas, Tim Rogers of Aussie rockers You Am I and American fiddler Amanda Shires. Yet this didn’t stop the band imploding last year at the end of the long and intense tour in support of their breakthrough album Gypsy Child.
The great Dan Stuart is among us again. The voice of Green On Red and one half of the fabled bar band Danny and Dusty Stuart barnstormed and howled his way into our consciousness as part of the burgeoning California post punk roots movement back in the eighties. A bunch of young bucks, Green On Red crawled from Tucson to L. A. and released a crop of albums that owed as much to the sixties sound of The Seeds as it did to Hank Williams. Always teetering on the edge they fell over it when the band imploded with Stuart keeping a low profile for several years afterwards. Successful reunions of Green On Red and Danny and Dusty around 2006-7 saw him in fine fettle but again he retired from sight until now. Teaming up with Sacri Cuori who are very simpatico Stuart returns in the guise of Marlowe Billings on his latest release. Delivering a set of songs that may be autobiographical (although as with much of his mythology it’s cloaked in layers of mystery) his voice remains strained and compelling, second only to Jeffrey Lee Pierce. Who is Marlowe Billings and what is his relationship with the mysterious author of the Treasure of The Sierra Madre? Who knows but it sure is rewarding trying to figure it out.
Five years in the making John Murry’s solo debut, The Graceless Age is world’s away from the startling World Without End, an album of murder ballads and gloom laden tales he released with Bob Franks in 2006. With a warm and at times lush sound the music is in stark contrast to the pessimism and grim acceptance of fate contained in the lyrics.
Produced by Tim Mooney the news of his tragic and untimely death just as the album was released cast a dark shadow on what should ultimately be seen as a triumph and a tribute to Mooney’s perserverence with the occasionally tempestuous Murry. As it stands The Graceless Age is a fitting memorial to Mooney and Murry’s best work to date.
Home recording in the early hours can be a tricky art. What can sound brilliant to the sleep deprived mind at three in the morning, can turn out to be something awful come the next day. Luckily The Last Dinosaur are a band who have got this method perfected. Following the success of their first album ‘Hooray! For Happiness’, a record created entirely in the wee hours, the band are now working on their follow up back in the comfort of their own home. Americana-UK caught up with Jamie Cameron, one of the band’s protagonists, for a quick Dirty Dozen.
For Fear The Hearts Of Men Are Failing hail from San Francisco and play what might best be described as string band music with a punk sensibility and an anarchic sense of fun. As they say of themselves ““For fear the hearts of men are failing” is a lyric from an old timey country song. It feels full of existential angst. It also sounds fucking metal! This combination aptly describes the sound of our band. We are fucking ridiculous.” That song of course is The Carter Family’s No Depression which eventually gave its name to a magazine and via Uncle Tupelo revived the Americana scene.
Their first album, City Music scored a 9/10 review on Americana UK and after a successful Kickstarter campaign they’re back with their new release ”TheWonderful Clatter,” as disrespectful and as much fun as its predecessor.
He maybe a veteran of the Americana scene through bands like The Guthries, but Gabriel Minnikin is a man stepping out alone. With a unique gravelly voice born out of the depths of Nova Scotia, Minnikin has just released 'Parakeets with Parasols', an album described in some quarters as 'Tom Waits meets The Wizard of Oz'. Americana-UK caught up with the Manchester-based musician for a quick Dirty Dozen
Mike Ferrio re-jigged his previous line-up of Tandy following the passing of friend and fellow musician Drew Glackin to form Good Luck Mountain. This new project is now well under way with a fantastic record under his belt, we caught up with Mike for a Dirty Dozen.
Delivering their own take on psychedelic tinged folk with influences ranging from Jefferson Airplane, Fairport Convention, Kate Bush and Shirley Collins and the various Albion Band permutations Glasgow based Two Wings are poised to release their debut Love’s Spring on Tin Angel Records later this month. A set of lengthy perambulations packed with fine guitar work and featuring the unique voice of Hanna Tuulikki it could well have been released on Harvest Records back in the seventies. However it’s best seen as a continuation of the works of the likes of Joanna Newsom and Tuung. Guitarist Ben Reynolds took some time out to answer our Dirty Dozen.
No, we’re not featuring British waterways all of a sudden but in fact a Canadian band. Having just finished a string of UK dates and releasing a new album, Americana-UK caught up with Riverseven frontman Michael Bongertman for a ‘Dirty Dozen’.
A raggle taggle crew from the Borders, The Dirty Beggars are a five-piece band now based in Glasgow who have been gigging like hell recently. Only pausing to record their fine debut ‘Bite The Bullet’ it has been receiving some rave reviews from among others The Guardian and even The Daily Express! Obviously something has gone seriously wrong here as guys this age are supposed to so consumed by video gaming that they rarely venture out and all communication is done via social networking. Fortunately for us they do get out and about in order to deliver their unique take on bluegrass and all things Americana.
This is a story of a young Welsh lad who went to the mountains and discovered himself as a musician, obviously being Welsh he carries a voice bred from the valleys too. Yes, Tomos Lewis is out of the very contemporary mould, very much of the moment and not afraid to show resemblance of his self-proclaimed musical influences. It’s artists like this that the Dirty Dozen is here for, so Tomos Lewis….
This Canadian seems to be keeping some illustrious company these days and when he’s not recording with Levon Helm, he’s touring most of the known world. Artists don’t come as hard working as Matt Andersen or maybe as privileged to have Garth Hudson making a guest appearance on your album!
Visits to the UK are a rare occurrence for Texas Tea but when they’re here it’s certainly worth tracking them down. With their stripped back, spooky, country style, the Australian duo have a couple of albums out already and another brand new instalment on the way. We tracked them down for a ‘Dirty Dozen’.
London in a very busy place and when it comes to bands and music we’re often really spoilt for choice. Some might say that emerging talent struggles in the city because it is so saturated but every now and then something claws its way up to the surface to surprise us all. So, here comes Straylings, a gothic, country duo with a haunting, earthy new record about to be released, Americana-UK caught up with Oliver Drake for a Dirty Dozen
There are probably a lot of you out there who attend your regular, local Americana/alt. country nights and this is a name that is becoming a common site on the bill. Richard Warren keeps himself to himself but seems to be everywhere, a gothic country blues, one man band who is cropping up at all kinds of venues from The Barbican to the seaside village pub. We tracked Warren down and threw him a ‘Dirty Dozen’.
Fresh from his triumphant appearance on the Jools Holland Hootenanny show Pokey LaFarge took some time out to answer our Dirty Dozen questions. He then produced what is certainly the longest list of musical influences to feature so far. But then he is very much true to his roots to the extent that his next release may well be a 78 rpm record. Pokey and the band return to the UK in March.
Tell us about yourselves and what you do?
Well for starters let’s get out of the way that I’m from Texas, based out of Dallas and I write and sing songs that come out in the form of some hybrid of folk and country and americana. Oh, what the hell – It’s alt-country, no reason to shy away from it.
Some might find it unusual for a girl born and bred in Seattle to end making country music but this is exactly the case with Zoe Muth and her Lost High Rollers. Recently out this year was ‘Starlight Hotel’ and not only a massive hit with A-UK’s very own Lynne Pettinger but also Bob Harris. Zoe and co. are now fully prepared to hit the UK hard in January with a tour top to bottom and Ireland so we thought we’d track her down for a ‘Dirty Dozen’.
Most A-UK regulars will be familiar with the wonderful Rebecca Pronsky. Since bringing us her sound she has been talked about quite a lot around our site not to mention critics all over the globe. Pronsky’s new record ‘Viewfinder’ is out and shaking it all about, what a superb record it is too. It was our absolute pleasure to catch up with her albeit very briefly to answer a ‘Dirty Dozen’.
This is exactly what the ‘Dirty Dozen’ is for, bringing you bands and artists like Skylark Song. A fantastic folky, rootsy duo from the northeast that are clearly making a name for themselves, no doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more about this band in the near future and seeing them all over the country.
Alive Records is a fantastic niche label from the other side of the pond, probably made more famous from signing bands like Two Gallants and The Black Keys in the past not to mention a string of smoking hot alt. blues bands. It is certainly a rarity for Alive to snap something up from outside of the U.S but they have with the pair of Welsh brothers that are Henry’s Funeral Shoe.
The hard rockin’ garage blues duo have already seen great success with their first record ‘Everything’s For Sale’ which has taken them extensively around Europe earning them a fierce-some reputation for their explosive performances. Thankfully, the boys were in town recently and I managed to catch up with Aled to answer an A-UK ‘Dirty Dozen’.
These four fellas from Chicago have been making records for sometime now and it would seem their reputation is building steadily too. Already they have graced our shores for a string of dates not to mention their constant touring of the States. Impressively they have been saddled next to some of America’s biggest hitters in the past few years so we thought a A-UK ‘Dirty Dozen’ would help learn a little more about these young rockers
A random residency in Nashville and discovered on the streets of London, those are the background stories of what bands are made of. No different for ahab (I don’t know about the lower case ‘a’ but it seems to be the way they like it) who are storming their way up the ranks of Americana heavy-weights. You will find them currently on tour with Bellowhead but here is what ahab’s Callum had to say when he answered our Dirty Dozen.
Born the only son to Jeremiah, a Baptist Preacher, and Susannah, a keen painter, young Jim was often the centre of attention within the family – inheriting his parents’ passion for expression via art and discussion. After buying a guitar and notebook, Jim started to write down whatever popped into his head. He worked in a local book store to pay the bills, and he performed his songs and told tall tales in local taverns for beer and peanuts. Jim took his guitar and songs on the road and by the end of the following year he declared that he planned to sit down and work on new material. We caught up with Jim and for a ‘Dirty Dozen’.
Tell us about yourselves and what you do?
“I guess you could safely say, that we are more of an event than a band! . . . A bunch of 'Americanists' who get together once or thrice a year . . . at tree felling events. . . A collective of wild, restless troubadours who delve deep in the woods, chopping down trees and courting the song fairy . . . Made up from a raggle taggle collective of folk from various bands . . . Expect banjos, chainsaws, lumberjacks, washboards, drinking and musical mayhem with lots of fun!”
Ben Folke Thomas has played pretty much every pub and club in London over the last couple of years. If you’ve been around in town then it is very likely you have come across the young Swede. His traditional finger picking guitar style and heart breaking vocals create a majestic ‘old time’ sound which has now seen him signed to the wonderful niche label Bucketfull of Brains. Surely Ben has plenty of plans for the next twelve months so we handed him the ‘Dirty Dozen’.
Banjo led Americana, what more could you possibly want? The Edinburgh band is fronted by a female duo which collide two different banjo styles and sets it aside with their tender harmonies. There is a very intense tour schedule ahead for them but we managed to catch them before it kicks off for a quick ‘Dirty Dozen’ with Debs and Clare.
Billy Barratt and David Vincent front this London based, Americana hybrid of a Rock ‘n’ Roll heart and an Americana foundation. It seems we’re seeing this more often with the younger generation of bands, especially UK acts where they are combining genres and mixing it up, throwing some ideas out there and being creative. Is this because they’re more open to suggestion and influence? Is it because they’re all looking to be different? Or, is this just simply how music progresses? None of this really seems to matter to Billy Vincent, the band are clearly doing what they love. Having been the talk of London’s Borderline this year and now with a release imminent we thought it would be a great time for a ‘Dirty Dozen’.
This is exactly one of the reasons why we decided to start ‘The Dirty Dozen’, to highlight bands like Three Blind Wolves. The sort of band that is sneaking through the ranks and undoubtedly be very much talked about in the near future. Obviously we’ll be expecting to take some kind of credit for this services we provide, something along the lines of…‘I first read about that band/artist on Americana-UK ages ago’.
I must admit that I take personal responsibility for this ‘Dirty Dozen’. I first saw Three Blind Wolves at The Dublin Castle in Camden about a year ago, absolutely superb. This is a heavy Americana band with a rockin’ country vibe but with all the roots of good old fashioned British folk. ‘Sound of The Storm’ is a tough little number to find but well worth it when you do, this will appear on a certain writers top 10 this year for definite.
London based four piece Scoundrels have just begun the early stages of their career, new album and plenty of excitement after returning from a trip to Louisiana. Was a trip to determine self discovery and influence? Not sure. But judging by their recent video there certainly seemed like a lot of sitting on verandas and drinking on the Mississippi had been done. We tried our ‘Dirty Dozen’ on Ned.