We don’t get too many chances to do book reviews, but I’m absolutely insisting on doing this one. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Twilight” is the work of our very own contributor, and friend for longer than either of us can remember, Steve Jenner. The central premise of the book is very simple; the golden age of rock ’n’ roll, for a variety of reasons, is over and we’re now witnessing what my friends who still live Up North would call its last knockings. I’m not going into that in detail, because I’m hoping you’re going to read it for yourself and find out.

Besides the basic premise, what Steve has done is collected a series of reviews written during his lengthy odyssey to try to catch as many of the bands that we have loved over the years while we still have the opportunity. Sometimes the attempt to catch the bands has only been partially successful; in the period between buying tickets for Steely Dan and seeing the show, Walter Becker (one half of the partnership) died and the show had some of the feel of an upbeat memorial. The artists reviewed cover a diversity of musical styles and range from global megastars to not-even-a-hit-in-the-UK. It’s a perfect cross-section of the music that is only rock ‘n’ roll (but we like it). Some of the reviews have appeared here in the past; some haven’t and I’m hoping we’ll see more in the future.

Don’t get the idea that this is a favour for a mate. We only feature bands, gigs, albums, singles and even books on MusicRiot that we love and we want to share with the world. The other thing is that Steve can write; no argument on that at all. Here’s an example from the book and my favourite intro to a review:

‘My mate can drink 3 pints of lager through a straw in less time than it takes to boil a kettle.

According to some, this makes him a ‘legend’.

Brian Wilson is regarded by many as a ‘genius’.

I would argue these labels have caused problems for both men and have probably influenced their behaviour and probably not in a good way.’

Steve has also given credit to some unsung heroes; the actual venues hosting these events. The final section of the book is a series of short pieces about the places these bands were seen in, ranging from the Foxlowe Centre in Leek to the O2 in Greenwich and all shapes and sizes in between. Part fact/part personal opinion, it gives real feel for ambience of these buildings.

Writing’s a skill; you can learn, you can make yourself better. The unique qualities that make this a standout piece of work are Steve’s knowledge of his subject (trust me, most of this stuff is in his head) and his sheer enthusiasm for all aspects of music. Passion, knowledge and skilful writing combine to create a little gem that you won’t want to put down.

And I was almost too modest to mention that I took the cover shot; almost.

Exactly a year ago we published an interview with Gilson Lavis about his second career as an artist, running parallel with his day job as drummer with the Jools Holland Rhythm & Blues Orchestra (and let’s not forget Squeeze, where he got his first taste of fame). The interview concentrated on the upcoming exhibition of his artwork at the Salomon Arts Gallery in New York; a year later it’s time for London to play host to his evocative images. If you missed the interview, here’s a quick recap (with a few examples of Gilson’s work).

As Gilson’s musical career developed, he made use of his leisure time on tour in a constructive way; instead of the usual rock ‘n’ roll recreations, he went back to drawing and painting using the material closest to him; musicians. The day job (particularly with Jools Holland’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra) gave him the opportunity to see of the world’s greatest musicians at close quarters and he’s made the most of it, creating some fabulous works of art that he’s now exhibiting and selling. In addition to the personally-observed pieces, there are also pieces created from photographs of performers as diverse as Ray Charles, Tony Hancock and Jimi Hendrix.

So, back to 2018 and Gilson has a London exhibition, Gilson Lavis: From Drums to Canvas”, at the Karma Sanctum Soho Hotel from July 5th to August 12th. It’s a must-see event, but don’t take my word for it, here’s Gilson’s take on the exhibition: “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to show some of my artwork at the Karma Sanctum Hotel in Soho. The ethos of the venue and the subject matter I focus on in my paintings combine superbly well. A great venue and a great privilege. I can’t wait !”

My advice is to get down to the Karma Sanctum to see this exhibition; apart from the unbelievable quality of Gilson’s work, you never know who you might bump in to admiring their likeness. And if you bump in to Gilson, say hello to him; he’s a lovely guy and he has a huge store of music business anecdotes.

 

We try to do one festival a year here at Music Riot. Last year it was iconic Isle of Wight Festival; this year we’re staying a bit closer to home with a visit to Cornbury Festival in Oxfordshire. We took several factors into account before making the scientific decision to opt for Cornbury this year despite the stiff competition from the plethora of festivals across the UK, from the boutique to the behemoth. So, what do you think swayed us in the direction of Chipping Norton for this year’s summer outing?

Well, let’s start with the headliners; UB40, Alanis Morissette and Squeeze. They’ve all enjoyed single chart success and critical acclaim and each of them has survived through several decades in the music business; four decades each in the case of Squeeze and UB40, and Squeeze are still knocking out great new tunes as if the last forty years never happened. Look a bit lower down the bill and you have all the reasons why anyone who loves music should be going to Cornbury.

There’s great music to appeal to all ages and tastes, from the reinvented P.P. Arnold and the evergreen Mavis Staples and Jimmy Cliff, through the nineties dance of Stereo MCs right up to the London Americana of the superb Danny and the Champions of the World. And, if that wasn’t enough, don’t forget that Cornbury has the poshest loos on the festival circuit; when you reach a certain age, that’s really important.

If all of that hasn’t convinced you, Caffe Nero have a stage at the event where you can get great coffee and see absolutely loads of upcoming talent. We’ve already heard many of the artists playing on the Caffe Nero stage over the last couple of years; you could spend the entire festival there and hear nothing but fabulous music. See you down the front.

Cornbury Festival takes place between Friday July 13 and Sunday July 15.

It came as quite a surprise three years ago when Henrik Freischlader announced his retirement from performing. Fortunately for fans of great guitar playing it was less of a retirement and more of a sabbatical. 2016 saw the release of the album “Openness”, a tour with the trio format and Henrik Freischlader was back. So what does 2017  have in store for us? Well, quite a lot actually, with the fun in the UK beginning with three gigs on the “Blues for Gary” tour, a tribute to Henrik’s hero Gary Moore, where he’s supported by Gary’s former sidemen, Pete Rees and Vic Martin and joined by Moritz Meinschäfer on drums. The three UK dates are: 

Under the Bridge, Chelsea – Friday July 28 

The Tunnels, Bristol – Saturday July 29 

Maryport Blues Festival – Sunday July 30 

But that’s not all, after downsizing to a trio format in 2016, Henrik’s gone in the opposite direction this year, unveiling the Henrik Freischlader Big Band with singers Linda Sutti and Joanne Kasner, Moritz Meinschäfer (drums), Armin Alic (bass), Dániel Szebényi (keyboards), Marco Zügner (saxophone), Harrisen Larner-Main (guitar & vocals). With Henrik, that’s eight people on stage and a huge amount of talent. 

They’re coming to the UK in September for six dates and this is something you really don’t want to miss. Catch them here: 

Band on the Wall, Manchester – Tuesday September 19 

Robin 2, Bilston – Wednesday September 20 

ABC 2, Glasgow – Thursday September 21 

The Flowerpot, Derby – Friday September 22 

The Borderline, London – Saturday September 23 

Komedia, Brighton – Sunday September 24 

Do yourself a favour and try to catch one of these shows; you certainly won’t regret it. 

walled-garden-001[1]You know how I feel about festivals, yeah? Let’s just say that in general, I’m not a fan; too many people, bad sanitation and overdraft-inducing prices for food and drink. Walled Garden promoters Mel Fordham and Gardie Grissell have cottoned on to the fact that there are people out there who love music but don’t like squalor. The Walled Garden festival has a capacity of 2,000 (about the capacity of most the venues on the O2 circuit), beautiful acoustics and it’s part of the Brightling Park estate in East Sussex with a variety of camping options including the inevitable glamping.

The festival bill has an eighties/nineties bias and includes ABC, Embrace, Howard Jones, Jennifer Paige, Beverley Craven, Toploader and many more spread over three days (Friday 14 – Sunday 16 July) and you can find more information here. Me, I’d be there on the strength of ABC and Embrace (and Howard Jones is still pretty good live these days) and the beautiful setting.

rachael-scrollerYou might not have heard about this, but today is the first day of Anti-Bullying Week. You might wonder what that has to do with a music website, so I’ll tell you. The incredibly gifted singer-songwriter Rachael Sage (who we interviewed a few weeks ago) is supporting the anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label by donating the proceeds of her latest single to the charity.

The single, “I Don’t Believe It” has been taken up as an anti-bullying anthem following the online success of the video featuring eleven-year-old Kaci King, three-time national dance champion who contacted Rachael on Facebook after hearing her songs. The video and the song are both superb, so why not buy a great song and feel good about yourself because the proceeds are going to a good cause?

And have a look at the video as well:

02) Dean OwensOne of our Riot Squad favourites has been incredibly busy this year. Dean Owens has playing gigs around the country, solo and with his band The Whisky Hearts, but that’s just the start of it. He’s been in Nashville recording a new album with his old collaborators Will Kimbrough and Neilson Hubbard and playing some gigs. The album’s well on the way to being ready and he’s launched a crowdfunding appeal on GoFundMe to cover the costs of travel, recording and accommodation costs. Have a look at the GoFundMe page and see if you think you can pitch in with a few quid; every bit makes a difference.

But that’s not all. He’s been producing the second album for his Drumfire Records label-mate Ags Connolly (who hasn’t exactly had a quiet year himself) and putting together a deluxe edition of his previous album “Into the Sea”, with four new songs, “Alison Wonderland”, “Cotton Snow”, “Forgotten Shadows” and “Keep Me in Your Heart”. And still only a tenner.

You can catch him live before the end of the year in the following places:

Sunday October 30                          Green Note, London

Friday November 18                       The Live Room, Saltaire

Sunday November 20                      The Maze, Nottingham

Friday November 25                       Drygate Brewing Company, Glasgow, (with The Whisky Hearts)

Friday December 2                          The Tolbooth, Stirling

Saturday December 3                    The Weem Inn, Aberfeldy

Monday December 12                   Traverse, Edinburgh (with The Whisky Hearts)

And there’s a new single, “Virginia Street”, out at the moment:

wille-the-bandits-col-5mb

Here’s one for the guitarheads in London and the Southeast. The highly-respected and dynamic blues rock power trio Wille & the Bandits will be bringing their powerful live show to The 100 Club on Friday October 28th.  The lineup is Wille Edwards (Lead Vocals, Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Electric Lap Steel, Weissenhorn and Dobro), Matt Brooks (Six String Electric Bass, Five String Double Bass, String Arrangements and Backing Vocals) and Andy Naumann (Drums and Percussion) and just one look at that list of instruments tells you that this is about serious musicianship.

The band has been praised by people who know their music, including Joe Bonnamassa and Bob Harris and their album “Steal” (Featuring Don Airey on three tracks) will be out soon on Jigsaw.

Watch the live video of “Virgin Eyes” and you’ll see what all the fuss is about:

 

archive-x-scrollerNot so much a review, more of a heads-up. This is one to watch out for; it’s “Some Ungodly Hour”, the debut album from ArchiveX. It’s a melting-pot of his musical influences pieced together over a period of three years with help of a variety of musical collaborators. The variety of styles means that it’s almost impossible to pigeonhole, but the press release  calls it ‘Soul-Ambient-Electro-Roots’, so let’s stick with that. The album was inspired by a period spent singing with the a well-known San Francisco gospel choir and, although the aim wasn’t to make a gospel album, the choral style had an enormous influence on the overall sound and contributes to the impact of one of the two lead tracks, the gospel-house “Drink the Water” (featuring Dr Kucho).

The album’s second lead track, “Hard Times” is a cover of the old Ray Charles blues and the two songs together give some idea of the variety of influences. There’s also a remix package in the pipeline for future release.

The album’s released on Friday September 30th.

You can have a look at the trailer for the project here.

Billy walton Magic MomentsIf one of your favourite bands is about to record their fourth studio album, wouldn’t you like to have a peek inside the studio to see what’s going on?  I certainly would.  Well, the Billy Walton Band is about to go to work on their fourth studio album, which is being produced by legendary drummer Tony Braunagel with keyboard player Mike Finnigan helping to fill out the band’s sound, and the guys will be releasing video footage documenting the progress of the album (and probably lots of studio mayhem).  If you’re a fan of the band, you can get links to these videos, as soon as they appear, here on MusicRiot.  Make sure you don’t miss out; like our Facebook page and you’ll be notified as soon as the clips go live and we’ll tell you about all of the other great new music we’re reviewing as well.  Does that sound good to you?