We reviewed The Danberrys’ third album “Shine” in April this year and Allan was pretty keen on the album. The band’s name comes from a contraction Dorothy Daniel and Ben DeBerry and they’re based in Nashville. Here’s a piece of trivia for you – the person playing guitar, trombone and tuba on “Shine” is Neal Pawley (originally a native of Sheffield)  from one of Allan’s favourite bands, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (and Johnny’s Americana outfit, The Poor Fools). Here’s the Danberrys’ positive takeaways from the year of the COVID:


The Wood Brothers – Ryman Auditorium 2/14/20

Little did we know, this would be the last live concert we would attend in the year 2020. It was Valentine’s Day and we received a last minute invitation to join a wonderful couple for the concert. Our friends Stoney and Susan, who own the amazing Purple Onion restaurant/music venue in Saluda, NC, called us & said they had two free tickets to a concert we had wanted to attend but had procrastinated too long in buying tickets before they were sold out. Hooray! We usually don’t do much on Valentine’s Day because the restaurants are always obnoxiously packed & we’re never too keen to participate in overly-commercialized holidays, so this was quite possibly the best Valentine’s Day in the books. The Wood Brothers ALWAYS bring it but with this being the tour closer at the Ryman in their hometown, it was an extra special performance. 

The 8 O’Clock Howl

At some point early on in the pandemic, some East Nashvillians decided that we should join in on the 8 o’clock howl that was also happening in other cities. For the entire summer if you happened to be outside at 8pm you could hear thousands of people howling. It was reminiscent of the uniquely Nashville custom in which entire bars break out into song together, and it brought a sense of community and quirky artistic ridiculousness back to the hard-hit neighborhood. Howling with a bunch of strangers is predictably cathartic.

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Live Streams (duh)

On the night of March 2, a deadly tornado came through middle Tennessee. The famous Five Points area as well as other areas in East Nashville were heavily affected. Less than two weeks later, live music event cancellations began following the COVID 19 lockdowns. Things in our neighborhood changed very quickly. The transition to virtually no social interaction and no gigs was just plain scary. And weird.

Thankfully, the music world quickly adapted and did the best we could with what was available. Soon we were watching others perform online, and not long after we began playing our own livestream shows. We had never done livestreams before, so there was a definite learning curve along with lots of awkwardness at first. But it was totally worth it. It’s undeniably cool to be able to play for people all over the world at the same time. The interaction and comments from fans and friends to the simple task of wrapping wires at the end of the show brought back a much needed sense of normalcy and connection. There has also been a silver lining in our personal music consumption – artists we’ve never seen live and thought we maybe never would are now easily accessible. We’ve been getting glimpses of rehearsals and other behind-the-scenes-type content from artists we love. It’s been so inspiring to watch the creatives being creative with the limitations of lockdown. We hope the livestreams are here to stay.

Gilmore Girls

This show saved our sanity. Mostly because it’s not serious at all, and we had a full 7 seasons of 20+ episodes plus the 2016 four episode re-boot to watch. It started off as a fun and light-hearted way to pass an hour or so in the evenings and turned into a quest. We had to finish the whole thing before quarantine ended. This was our all-important task. Stars Hollow was a magical reprieve from the reality of the pandemic. The story lines never gave us anxiety or nightmares, only joy and laughter. Thank you Lorelai. Thank you Rory. And most of all, thank you Kirk.


Our daughter, Ollie Grace, was 10-months-old when COVID 19 hit the U.S. She had just taken her first steps when the world went into lockdown. She graduated from infant to toddler in May of 2020, at the height of the pandemic. Ollie is definitely not a chill baby. She’s smart & active & demands a ton of attention and constant entertainment. Raising such a tiny human is challenging in any environment, but the pandemic took away the life-blood of any parent’s toolkit: playdates & social activities. We had to be creative. We bought a tow-behind baby carriage for the bikes. We went on long hikes in and around the parks and lakes of Nashville. We bought a plethora of plastic backyard water toys. Focusing on her – watching her grow into a walking, running, talking personality of a person over these months – has been the joy of our lives. We comment to each other constantly that she is the reason we haven’t gone crazy with boredom and anxiety during the pandemic. And the pandemic also afforded us the opportunity to be with her almost every single moment of her first months of life. More silver linings.


The Southside Johnny gig Commandments; they’re important, and you should always abide by them.

1st Commandment – Watch the support band. In my experience of, ahem, one or two Southside gigs, the support is always worth watching and Curse of Lono had been on my radar for a few years. Most of the audience followed the 1st Commandment and made the early start to catch Curse of Lono doing their second Southside support tour.

2nd Commandment – To reinforce the 1st Commandment, the support band(s) always get the same level of sound and lighting support as the Jukes.

3rd Commandment – Get to the venue early. You have been paying attention, haven’t you? The support band(s) are going to look and sound great. Trust me. Curse of Lono played at a ridiculously early time but a bunch of powerful songs (“Valentine” was a standout) delivered by a locked-in rhythm section (Neil Findlay and Charis Anderson) while Felix Bechtolsheimer’s vocals were underlined by Joe Hazell’s creative guitar lines and the keys of Dani Ruiz Hernandez. It’s a big sound it’s hugely appreciated by the gathering crowd. That’s another band on my ‘to watch’ list. Which leads me to…

4th Commandment – Show your appreciation for the support band(s). Jukes followers are fiercely loyal, but they’re music fans and if a band is good and gives it a bit of wellie, they’ll get right behind them. Which meant a great reception for Curse of Lono.

5th Commandment – Expect the unexpected. Bear with me while I digress. 42 years ago I saw the first incarnation of the Steve Gibbons Band touring on the back of their Top 10 hit “Tulane”. I was a fan. I got the band to autograph the lyric sheet of my copy of “Any Road Up”. I discovered Steve Gibbons at about the same time I discovered Southside Johnny. And the unexpected bit? Two days before the gig I discovered that the latest incarnation of SGB had been added to the bill for the Empire show. Which, added to the fact that ‘Our Man Oop North’, Steve Jenner, had reviewed a Steve Gibbons gig in Leek for us a few weeks ago, added an extra layer of weirdness.

The band played in the way that you would expect professional musicians with a few miles on the clock to play. They were tight and assured, allowing Steve Gibbons to get on with what he does best. And he’s still got the voice; the man is his seventies and he can still do it on the big stage. It was a relatively short set featuring original material, covers of rock ‘n’ roll classics and, of course, some Bob Dylan. It was a bit of a strange experience hearing “Watching the River Flow” covered in the same style I’d heard it covered 42 years earlier. And then it’s time for Jukesville.

6th Commandment – Ignore the setlist. It’s a standing joke with band and fans. The only reason it’s there is to give the fans at the front a chance to gamble on how far the band get down the list before taking the scenic route (usually two or three songs, if you ever want to place that particular bet).

7th Commandment – Prepare to be entertained. This is a phenomenal bunch of musicians. They deserve to be namechecked individually. The Asbury Jukes are: Tom Seguso (drums), John Conte (bass), Jeff Kazee (keys), Glenn Alexander (guitar), Chris Anderson (trumpet), Neal Pawley (trombone), John Isley (sax) and Southside Johnny. And let’s not forget Joe Prinzo and Hood who hold it all together. I haven’t mentioned vocals because they all can, and do, sing. Check out the harmonies on “Walk Away Renee”.

8th Commandment – Show your appreciation. These guys are seriously good players. As an ensemble they build a solid platform for Southside to deliver his honey-over-gravel vocal, but everyone gets at least one solo during the set and Jukes fans show their appreciation of the solos in the same way the audience in a jazz club would. And it’s always well-deserved.

9th Commandment – Expect the unexpected (I know, but it’s worth repeating). The band doesn’t know what’s coming next, so why would the audience? There are some songs that you would expect to hear every time (“The Fever”, “I Don’t Want to Go Home” and probably “Walk Away Renee”) but the rest of the set’s up for grabs. Southside has a huge back catalogue to choose from and the band has a phenomenal repertoire of covers to call on, so the set includes seventies classics like “Love on the Wrong Side of Town”, “This Time Baby’s Gone for Good” and “Without Love”, “Cadillac Jack” and “Woke Up This Morning” from the blues album and “Spinning” from “Soultime”. Throw in the covers; “Ride the Night Away” (J Geils Band) and the Willy DeVille song “Mixed-Up, Shook-Up Girl” and you’ve got a great night.

10th Commandment – It’s all about the band. In Johnny’s opinion, this is the best incarnation of The Jukes (watch out for the interview in a few days) and the partnership with Jeff Kazee is a huge part of that. Both have superb voices and the combination of Jeff’s high tenor and Johnny’s rich baritone is a thing of rare beauty. And that’s before we even get to the quality of the playing.

And that was Friday night at Shepherd’s Bush Empire; I can’t think of a better way to spend a Friday.

There was a fleeting reference in the interview I did before the soundcheck to retirement. You never know if any given Jukes gig is going to be the last you’ll see, so make the most of it. Next time they’re in the UK, I’ll see you down the front.