PRB Presents: Guadalupe Plata + Beast With a Gun @ NAC 15 June 2019

The third consecutive gig night of the week meant I was feeling a tad weary but also excited to see Guadalupe Plata back in Norwich again. They played an unforgettable gig for Punk Rock Blues in a Jug Jaw’s Beat Club night at Bedfords Crypt about three years back (Boy do we miss those nights!)  They also played Red Rooster a couple of years ago but seeing a favourite band at the NAC is always special, especially when it was announced that the mighty Beast With a Gun were supporting.

Beast With a Gun

At first it didn’t seem like it was going to be a particularly large gathering but suddenly, from out of nowhere, the place just suddenly filled up. I think it’s these light evenings that are throwing our gig clocks out of whack.

Beast With a Gun

However, walking into a very dark hall just as Beast With a Gun took the stage was quite exciting, I’m used to seeing them in tiny underground spaces but wherever they play they always deliver. Here they were loud, fresh, funny and very much on form. I enjoyed the set immensely. You can get hold of their recent EP here.

At about 9:30pm it was time for Guadalupe Plata but it was still light outside! No worries, they soon brought the darkness.  Red stage lighting isn’t usually my favourite but in the case of trio Guadalupe Plata I don’t think anything else would do to accompany their demonic form of brooding gothabilly which has a cinematic quality to it at times.  The guitar, drums and bass (washtub bass and cigar-box bass!) create a powerful and ominous sound which is quite hypnotic and compelling.  Some of these songs would be perfect in soundtracks.

Guadalupe Plata

Watching them was fascinating, just three of them with the drum kit right up front. The bassist Paco started on washtub whilst sat on a flight case … he almost looked like he was fishing into the very depths of Hell itself. Then later moving onto the cigar box bass and getting the most incredible tones before mid-song perfectly catching a maraca tossed over from the drummer Carlos and shaking it vigorously into the mic as singer-guitarist Pedro continued his vocals. I think most of us absolutely loved them. The audience was an interesting mix with just about everyone who was at that Jug Jaw’s gig in the Crypt also back again, plus those who heard through word of mouth, Beast With a Gun fans, and those simply curious from the descriptions, and who wouldn’t be? Washtub bass, electric guitar, drums, cowbells, maracas in some dark and demonic rockabilly, psychobilly punk blues but also with the essence of Spain itself. Fascinating stuff.

Guadalupe Plata

Guadalupe PlataGuadalupe Plata

Wonderful band and absolutely lovely people too. I came away with yet another vinyl album I can ill-afford but I don’t regret it after one of my most enjoyable gigs of the year.

Guadalupe Plata + Beast with a Gun

Saturday 15 June 2019

TICKETS >> http://bit.ly/GuadalupePlataNorwich

“Guadalupe Plata” (2018/19) is, in the group’s own words, “a new attempt to go further and beyond, in our crusade for regression and the idea of creating our own personal “Gris Gris”” – the record that dominated the tour van on their last tour of the UK. “Our idea was to get closer to the ceremonial, the sacred and the ritual sounds of our country from one end to the other, the different folk musics, the music that is made in backyards with whatever instruments come to hand, or to accompany the various ritual “fiestas” that take place all over Spain” – some deriving from or referring to Catholic rite, many clearly pre-christian, or unchristian. “So we chose to delve into the sound of the wash tub as the main bass sound, a drum amplified by the minimum number of mics so that it would sound as natural as possible and an electric guitar plugged directly into an amplifier, no intermediaries that would disturb the peace in the monastery. We dared to add some new instruments to the mix in some songs, such as a bottle of anise, a beat-up bandurria and some sounds made by old doors, in order to add a little bit of flavour of deep Spain”. All these rustic elements, an old harmony guitar, stinking of incense, bottles of anise, the omnipresent bass wash tub, the spectral sounding drums, are in stark contrast with the huge plasma screen tv where they plugged the Nintendo Switch during the recording recesses.

The record was written, recorded and mixed through 3 weeks and a half between April and July of 2018 in La Mina (Sevilla), unusually for Guadalupe Plata. Compared with the previous 4 albums, which just required 3 or 4 recording days, this new album took weeks. Mostly because it was written there, on the hoof, getting carried along in the moment. But also, the possibility of adding sounds, as the grinding doors, made the recording longer than expected. I remember, during the third week of recording, calling Mark Kitcatt, chief of Everlasting Records, to tell him that everything was going great but that we needed a couple of extra days. He asked “if we thought we were My Bloody Valentine”. I didn’t quite understand but I laughed nervously. Just as well, on the 25th of July I got a text from the producer, Raúl Pérez, saying: “I’ve neutered the last 10 arrangements Perico (guitars, voice) wanted to add. we just finished the album”.

The final result is 12 songs where you can find the classic Guadalupe Plata sound but also their immersion into other wastelands such as corraleras, clueca, waltz and secret rhythms. there are also two remarkable homages: one to their patron saint, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (“Oigo Voces”), and the other to an old friend from Úbeda, “Corral”, to whom at last they fulfill their promise of dedicating a song with the lyrics he suggested: “Corral, corral, why do you scare girls? Don’t know, don’t know”.

If we were to compare this new record with their previous album, at first sight, we could find a couple of common denominators: again, we recorded it at La Mina studios, even though we warned Raúl that we never record twice in the same studio; we ended up nostalgic for his swimming pool and the Cuban food served at the cantina where the studio is placed. Also, we returned to our connection with Chile, through Sebas Orellana from La Big Rabia leading an immersion into his country’s folklore in “Lo mataron”, adaptation of a traditional song (“El afuerino”), that Roberto Parra (1921-1995, Violeta Parra’s brother) made popular.

The cover, made by Paloma Almagro and Pedro De Dios, is an acrylic painting whose style is inspired in Mexican votive offerings (“ofrendas votivas”). In it, the band recall a visit to the “Pantano del Tranco”, the Tranco Swamp, in Jaén, to eat, celebrate the end of the recording and mastering sessions, and pass the afternoon of September the 12th with some friends, and the decisive help given by the patron Saint of Úbeda, the virgin Guadalupe, in preventing the theft of their instruments by some demons while the members of the band were out in the middle of the swamp, on a pedal boat excursion (the video accompanying the first single “Corraleras de veneno”, by the Mexican design studio Pneuma, goes deeper into this remarkable event).

I’d like to finish with the first conversation I had with Paco Luis Martos (bass, guitars) when we just got to La Mina, as typical of Guadalupe Plata as the other elements already detailed. “So, Toni, Why have you come to the studio?”, he asked. “So you wouldn’t ask me why I haven’t”, I told him.

Toni Anguiano, Guadalupe Plata’s manager”

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The Hempolics @ NAC 14 June + Shane’s Shenanigans @ The Reindeer 13 June 2019

Thursday night was this month’s Shane’s Musical Shenanigans at The Reindeer, one of my favourite regular events in the city. This month was doubling up as the album launch for Yellowhammers who were headlining.

Shane had already just started when I arrived, performing with a number of his friends as the Olinski Ornitholigist Onsomble, he and the band were on fine form.

olinski onsombleolinski onsomble

Next on were another of the new names on the Norwich musical scene playing just their second gig but my first time seeing Floral Image.  I was quickly won over and convinced that they are onto something with a lovely, dreamy psychedelic sound inhabiting a world somewhere inbetween The Doors and Air. Very impressive, assured and promising set from these guys who I shall definitely look out for again, they are ones to watch.

floral imageFloral Image

Next was a relatively rare gig from Lucille and the Seals, although they did recently play a support slot at the Birdcage that unfortunately clashed with my heading to Cambridge to see the amazing Aldous Harding, an artist I was not at all surprised to discover is also a favourite of Lizzy’s, during a brief chat after the set. It was lovely stuff as always from Lucille and the Seals and I enjoyed seeing them again.

Yellowhammers delivered a strong and interesting set once again and I had no hesitation in picking up a copy of the new album, getting mine on cassette no less.

YellowhammersYellowhammersYellowhammersYellowhammers

yellowhammers

Shane’s monthly shenanigans featuring Yellowhammers album launch. A psych-art-rock explosion of avian proportions with support from:
Floral Image: inordinately accomplished psych-indie newcomers who have already garnered BBC Radio 1 airplay with their debut single and are set to besot Norwich over the coming months.
Lucille and the Seals: ethereal dream pop with an alt-country edge featuring former Organisms Lizzy Burt and Joe Quinn.
and
Olinski Onsomble: Shane O’Linski‘s unfathomable genius in action.

A marvelous event not to be missed.

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Shane O'Linski

The Hempolics are a great band with strong Norwich connections and sold out their last date at the NAC and also played a terrific set at the Forum last summer which went down a storm so it was a bit of a surprise to find the hall on Friday was not exactly full but that must be down to the massive number of gigs taking place on the same night. Nevertheless, there were plenty enough here to make an atmosphere and they all danced throughout. One of those lovely gigs which one could (and did) totally lose yourself in. I love this band and the deliciously laid-back vibe they create, everyone else here very obviously felt the same way.

The Hempolics

There’s a new album on the way, which I am pleased about as I had just about all the records on their merch table already. From the previews they gave us onstage it’s going to be a good ‘un.

“The Hempolics are the best band in the UK–but nobody knows it yet…’ – Maxi Jazz (Faithless)

‘Real vintage lofi reggae inspired soul music for the 21st century city scape people’ – DJ Vadim

‘Great summer vibes. Puts a smile on my face. And amazing live too!’ – Eliza Doolittle

‘The best thing I’ve heard in ages. Best new reggae band on the planet’ – Chris Hawkins, BBC6

The Hempolics are out to put those organic rootsy vibes back into music; with their fat radio-friendly hooks, bumping sound system bass and a wander lusty, ineffably real sound all of their own…

Over years of recording top international talent The Hempolics enigmatic leader, Grippa Laybourne, has been carefully honing his own masterpiece and selecting a gang armed and dangerous enough to execute it. Their debut single Serious on the Reggae Roast label caused an instant stir, hitting number one in the 2010 UK reggae charts and was playlisted on Massive Attack’s BBC takeover. Their latest releases have maintained success with a sync to the worldwide trailer for new Coen Brothers and George Clooney film ‘Hail, Caesar!’ and latest single Me Love To Sing has been playlisted by BBC6 Music with support from Steve Lamacq, Lauren Laverne, Rodigan & Don Letts.

With their amazingly eclectic forthcoming album sounding swelled by guest appearances from various international talents such as Maxi Jazz and Paolo Nutini – to name a few – The Hempolics have been brewing up a musical storm. The album entitled ‘Kiss, Cuddle & Torture Vol. 1’ has been recorded in back to basics fashion throughout the bedrooms and home studios of the band producing an infectious mash-up of Reggae, Electro, Hip-Hop, Dancehall, Rock and Pop. Although the weather out might be dull London-side it’s strictly sunshine vibes, resplendent with huge hooks and festival-friendly choruses.

Take your eye off The Hempolics at your peril. Ital business!”

 

It was a chilled out and healing end to an emotional day when our gig-amigo and good friend Adam had his funeral but this was the sort of gig he’d have enjoyed too. Rest easy, Adam.

 

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Mondatta Funk Explosion + Mengelmoes @ NAC 9 June 2019

Born out of a coming together at a recent Reindeer session of Lady Dove’s Funk Club it was decided to get Mondatta Funk back together for a ten-year reunion gig. The Norwich Arts Centre was booked and they duly sold out and packed the place out. A real Norwich occasion with so many familiar faces in the audience and the bar, many dressed to the nines for this celebratory and triumphant gig. Lady Dove’s Funk Club itself returns for its next instalment at The Reindeer this Thursday (20th).

mondatta funk explosion

Lauren Dove of Mondatta Funk

Mondatta Funk Explosion

Mondatta Funk Explosion

Support came from Mengelmoes, a new-ish Norwich band who I have heard much about and who have been making waves but this was my first time catching them. I’m a bit late to the party. They certainly play with the right spirit and have a lead singer who is a tremendous and charismatic frontman. The crowd loved them.

Mengelmoes

Mengelmoes

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After a 10-year hiatus Mondatta Funk are back! Join an extra special party with the Mondatta Funk Explosion – ten-year reunion special. Original music influenced by artists such as Sly and the Family Stone, Marva Whitney and James Brown.

Starting as a modest four-piece, Mondatta Funk could regularly be seen tearing up venues from 2005-2009, completing their run with two sell-out Explosion performances as a 13-piece band, complete with percussion, horn section and the then Stihouettes ( now Voxettes). High energy, big sounds and a neatly sewn in pocket, Mondatta Funk had Norwich funk fans jumpin’ at the celebrated Norwich Arts Centre.

Lead singer Lauren Dove ( The Dove and Boweevil Band) along with former bassist Kieran Brennan have recently set up local jam night ‘Lady Dove’s Funk Club’ due to a gap in the jam band scene. It was at the jam that the former Mondatta Funk members played together again for the first time since 2009.

With any 10 year reunion the expression ‘go big or go home’ comes to mind and so it is with great pleasure that we are bringing back the whole Explosion line-up. A host of talent for one night only. Featuring celebrated Norwich guitarist Mark Howes (aka Boweevil, The Vagaband), bassist Kieran Brennan (Polymer 5) and drummer Chris Griggs ( Groovapolitan). Other familiar faces include The Voxettes (Johanna Heron, Ruby O Callaghan, and Laura White), Simon Jarrett on congas and sax (Speedometer), Andy ‘Mojo’ Robinson on keys and Sam Bramley on trumpet ( Killamonjambo). We welcome back from the original line-up, Oliver Jarvis who continues to be a prevalent session horn player in London as well as jazz and soul singer and leader of Suffolk Soul Singers, Andi Hopgood on Baritone Sax. Hailing from the US, special guest Joe Mcglohon on tenor sax. A recent addition to The Dove and Boweevil Band and whose CV includes Reba McEntire’s and Government Mule he is a welcome extra spark to the line-up. Go and buy yourself a brand new bag, Mondatta Funk are back in Norwich.

After the gig I made my way to the Louis Marchesi Crypt for the second installment of Long Swords, an eclectic mix of psych, prog, space and krautrock happening on the second Saturday of each month, which means it never clashes with Cave In, two Norwich regulars which complement each other rather well.

long swords

A couple of weeks earlier I caught some of the acoustic music put on by Milly Hirst at the Spiegeltent festival gardens, both in the tent bar area and the Spiegeltent itself to close the festival. It included a most welcome return by the wonderful Phoebe Troup after almost a year away. I love Phoebe’s songs so much, she’s one of my absolute faves and I was beyond happy to hear her play once again. I also caught great sets by Chad Mason, Andrew Taylor and Kimberly Moore with Alfie Carpenter.

phoebe troupandrew taylor

 

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Wooden Shjips + Gnoomes @ NAC 3 June 2019

When Wooden Shjips’ name appeared on the Norwich Arts Centre listings I was quite excited to spot it and immediately marked it on the calendar, I was even more excited when it was recently announced that regular visitors to Norwich, Gnoomes were added to the bill, making it more like a double-header gig for me.

gnoomes

gnoomes

gnoomes

It felt like half of Norwich’s gig-goers were at Red Rooster over the weekend and if any of them were feeling as knackered as I was then it made things all the more impressive that the Arts Centre was once again totally sold out, on a Monday.  Luckily I’d heard that Gnoomes were onstage at 8pm and with my bike off the road I bussed in and just made it in time.

gnoomes

Gnoomes – from Perm, in Russia – are not only a great band but exceptionally lovely and warm, attentive people too. They’ve played Norwich at least four times to my knowledge and I first saw them headlining the NAC in 2016. They were excellent and after the gig I purchased their album Ngan! on vinyl and they all kindly signed it. I missed their visit the following year as it clashed with Red Rooster but they returned once again in 2018 and took the roof off the Playhouse Bar, of all places, with a terrific set alongside support Painted Heathers. Once again they had a new album (Tschak!) which I duly purchased and was amazed when as they were signing it noticed that they had remembered me and dedicated the incription to me by name without my even having to ask, impressive memories they have, or what!  I was really moved by that.

gnoomesgnoomes

So, having arrived just in time I quickly made my way to the front and was immediately impressed by their huge and impressive sound, so powerful with the expanded line-up and the Norwich Arts Centre acoustics. A full 45 minute set absolutely flew by in a mesmeric storm of what many called shoegaze but Gnoomes afficionados know it to be their own brand of what they call stargaze, which is a much better name, mixing psych with some strong and insistent krautrock creating a lucid dreaming feel. This waking life. The guitars are loud and exciting, mixed with effects, synths and incredibly precise drumming. They sound fuller and louder and heavier than on previous visits. The set flowed brilliantly with songs often merging into one another before they closed with a blistering, re-arranged and shortened version of the 16 minute epic Roadhouse, the song that first brought them to my attention. They’ve got a really exciting live edge and the crowd loved it. Established Gnoomes fans and first-timers alike.

I noticed they all took up their positions in the hall for the Wooden Shjips set so I left it until after the gig to visit their merch table. A good five minutes before they took to the stage the main auditorium was packed (and very hot) for Wooden Shjips.  Too hot and cramped for me and my tired, achey legs so I spent much of the gig listening from the sidelines, a lot of the time with my eyes closed, just losing myself in the music. It was worth watching too though as the whole of the hall was bathed in psychedelic lights and projections which were as hypnotic and immersive as the music, which was a mix of experimental drone, fuzz and krautrock with soft vocals floating along with it all with a strong hint of Spiritualized.  I heard mention that they didn’t engage with the audience much and while I get that I don’t think it was that kind of gig, this was all about being totally submerged in the music and letting it carry you wherever, banter would have probably broken the spell. For me, this gig carried on the musical trip nicely following on as it did from my last set, The Budos Band at Red Rooster on Saturday night.

wooden shjips

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The NAC barrier was up and the place was rammed but all I saw from the crowd was a sea of backlit, nodding, shoegazing and stargazing heads. Overall this was another immersive and enjoyable gig of welcome musical escapism. Wooden Shjips didn’t completely make me forget my aching bones for the full ninety minutes but Gnoomes certainly did during their 45 minutes and I enjoyed them immensely.  I loved both bands but although their music isn’t a million miles apart they were in some ways quite different. Gnoomes’ set had a bite, visceral energy and immediacy about it that really grabbed and excited me whereas Wooden Shjips was more head music boosted by those stunning visuals.

wooden shjipswooden shjipswooden shjips

By the time I made it to the merch table the last vinyl copy of Gnoomes’ new album MU! (they are so impressively productive!) was just being sold but once again I was greeted by name and given hugs and a poster (printed by Print to the People), and they then told me they had seen one of my photos on the cover of the menu at the Grosvenor F’ish Bar when they were choosing their meal earlier. They are so attentive, warm and friendly.  Someone’s download card had fallen out of the sleeve in the NAC foyer and they even made sure they located the owner of the album and reunited them with it. The following day I headed to Soundclash Records and finally got my own copy of MU! It was only released on Friday (through Rocket Recordings) and Gnoomes had already sold out of their tour copies until they get another batch. I love Gnoomes and hope they’ll be back in Norwich again next year, or sooner.

 

“San Francisco’s enigmatically named Wooden Shjips play a minimal, droning kind of garage band-influenced psychedelia with a noticeable ’60s Krautrock influence.

Almost unintelligible vocals slip beneath the waves of throbbing minimal rhythms while fuzz tone guitar and shrieking organ freak-outs jump to the foreground and draw you into their primal vortex. It’s not a sound that everyone will love, but one that resonates deeply with former (and present-day) heads and hippies.

When bandleader Ripley Johnson put the band together in 2003 he wasn’t interested in playing gigs or becoming famous. His intention was to find a group of non-musicians and create music with them.

The idea was that untrained players would have a brand new outlook on what music is and bring something fresh to the table, perhaps a blend of the often noisy trance rock of the Velvet Underground and the frenetic mania of the one-hit wonder garage punks of the early ’60s.”

 

 

 

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Red Rooster Festival 30 May-1 June 2019

The Red Rooster Festival continues to go from strength to strength, growing, adapting and evolving and somehow each year topping the achievements of the previous year. Those Rooster organisers don’t keep still and I was happy to be back for my sixth Red Rooster. That’s all of them.

red rooster 2018

As is traditional, the festival opened on the Thursday evening at the main stage and as well as the music, the area on periphery of the big top also became a social meeting point as people arrived after setting up camp and wandered down.  I saw countless Norwich friends and familiar faces but what is also lovely is that I also saw a number of friends from around the country who I only see at Red Rooster, which in many cases is where we met. It’s that kind of festival, relaxed and not too big. It is very friendly with enough of a musical theme that everyone has plenty of bands to look forward they share that common bond.  It’s not without its variety too with the outstanding Budos Band headlining the festival itself, a band so different they may have caught some off-guard but that is to Red Rooster’s immense credit, it would be easy to play it safe and predictable but it’s a festival strength that they keep looking for something new and different with the occasional surprise to keep us on our toes.  Kudos to Rupert Orton of PRB Presents for this booking and pushing the boundaries.  For Thursday though we had a warm-up dj set from The Smoking Guns ahead of live sets from Treetop Flyers, William the Conqueror and the extremely lively Low Cut Connie, a bizarre concoction of Lux Interior meets Jerry Lee Lewis frontman antics.

Low Cut Connie

Low Cut Connie

The Tree Top Flyers

The Tree Top Flyers

William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror

Not being an early-bird by nature I was nevertheless up quite early on Friday morning but that was due in no small part to the early morning sunshine causing intolerable heat in my tent though I didn’t really mind as it meant I was in good time for the 10am Friday morning opening of the Little Red Rooster stage. Bigger than before and with excellent sound with a much larger PA than the earlier years of the festival. Glasgow’s Martha Healy started the day off in lovely style, I enjoyed her set a lot, gorgeous Americana to ease us into the day and a smile that lit up the site. Her anecdotes bounced off with her band partner between songs were a delight too.  A quick dash to the food court followed for a light breakfast and then I headed back to see Lisa Redford play, fresh from a recent EP launch for The Edge of Love and one of a number of Norwich artists at the festival along with the Delta Beltas, The Mighty Guevaras, and Hank Jd Sleek (who was bringing his Borderline to the Howling Woods DJ tent). Other DJs there were Wendy May, Dean Chalkley, Joe Harvey Whyte, and Andy Weatherall!

red rooster

Lisa Redford

Lisa Redford

Martha Healy

Martha L. Healy

Although I had seen William the Conqueror the previous evening it may have been because I was stood outside of the big top marquee and not immersed myself closer to the stage but hearing them on the Friday morning at the Little Red Rooster stage was a revelation. I was totally captivated by the songs and was following the impressive Dylan-esque lyrics closely. This was superb songwriting. Copies of the their CDs were all quickly snapped up at the end of the set so they clearly impressed many others too.

William the Conqueror

William the Comqueror

There was a nice mellow vibe around this stage and I enjoyed further sets from Lucy Kitt, Ireland’s excellent The Southern Fold playing their first gig outside of their homeland, as well as a solo set from Carson McHone who was also playing with her band on the main stage a bit later. I very much enjoyed The Southern Fold who had an Americana sound that included elements of gospel, a couple of songs reminded me a bit of the much loved Hope in High Water. I’ll be checking them out further for sure. I wonder if they know Of the Clay, who have recently relocated from Norfolk to Dublin.

carson mchone

Carson McHone

the southern fold

The Southern Fold

For the Friday the Little Red Rooster stage was curated by Sunny Ozell in association with the Americana Association UK (AMA-UK) “to have 50/50 gender balance on line-ups by 2022”.

 

Lucy Kitt

Lucy Kitt

The evening line-up for the main stage on Friday was most enticing and I was especially looking forward to Dale Watson and His Lone Stars but before that I caught sets by Jarrod Dickenson and the superb Black Eyed Dogs (featuring Ethan Johns) who played a sumptuous set that sometimes put me in mind of Neil Young but included a sublime cover of Gillian Welch’s Revelator, which was followed of course by the second set from Carson McHone who seemed a lot happier with her band than she seemed on her own on the Little Red Rooster stage earlier when she was understandably weary after forty days on the road.

Black Eyed Dogs

Anyone who has seen Dale Watson and His Lone Stars before makes a point of not missing him when the chance comes around again and people were securing a spot near the front well ahead of set time.  When compere Paul Preston Mills introduced him there were loud cheers and the party really started.  His band are excellent and Mr. Watson is just the consummate entertainer. Engaging, witty and with fantastic songs in the pure old tradition.  He came up with the term Ameripolitan to describe the authentic style of real Americana and this is exactly what he delivered. Some of my favourites were played including Call Me Insane and the brilliant singalong of I Lie When I Drink, plus a cover of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, not to mention his jingles for Lone Star “… the only beer that whitens teeth“!  He even spotted Hank Jd Sleek in the crowd toasting him back with his own can of Lone Star, a nice moment. This felt like a headline set and I didn’t really want it to end but after an hour or so which absolutely flew by it had to finish. I made sure I got my vinyl though and was pleased to have it signed by Dale himself.

 

dale watson

Dale Watson and his Lone Star

Dale Watson and His Lone Stars

Dale Watson and His Lone Stars

Dale Watson and His Lone Stars

Dale Watson and His Lone Stars

Dale Watson and His Lone Stars

Dale Watson and His Lone Stars

Nick Lowe headlined Red Rooster a couple of years ago and was back this time with Los Straitjackets, who were all masked.  Nick had the crowd in his hand, and mid-way went offstage for a while as Los Straitjackets played a short surf set before being rejoined by Nick and we were treated to some gems such as Cruel to be Kind and Love Starvation.

Nick Lowe with Los Straitjackets

Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets

Nick Lowe with Los Straitjackets

Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets

I hung around the main stage afterwards, catching up with some friends and listening to Wendy May‘s dj set which had a welcome nod to The Clash. It wasn’t to be the last time they cropped up during the weekend either.

 

James and the Ultrasounds are a band from Memphis who I absolutely loved when they played a memorable Gluttonous Mutt gig at Halloween last year in the tiny Louis Marchesi crypt in Norwich.  At 6:15am Memphis time and 11:15am Rooster time they kicked off proceedings on the main stage in glorious, noisy style with some melodic garage rock ‘n’ roll that quickly woke everyone up and drew them in. They went down a storm.  I was looking forward to a catch-up with James but there was a huge queue for merch (which pleasingly cleared the lot) but I had a chance to chat with him later on which I was happy about.

james and the ultrasounds

James and the Ultrasounds

Saturday was a really packed line up with The Mighty Guevaras on the small stage straight after and then an absolute highlight of the whole festival, French trio Howlin’ Jaws, somewhere slap-bang inbetween Dr. Feelgood and The Stray Cats.  I’d seen these lads several times over the festival as they were camped near my own tent and for the duration they always looked the part and were very cool. They didn’t need to dress up to go onstage, they always look like that! Their energy, passion and love of what they do transmits powerfully and they connected strongly with everyone. Their rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly show was terrific stuff and will live long in the memory. Please bring them to Norwich, Rupert!  They sold every item of merch they had too, which may give an indication of how much they impressed people. Powersolo and Oh! Gunquit also followed here at the main stage with some wildness (somewhere inbetween The B52s and King Kurt, if you can imagine such a thing) that included simultaneous trumpet playing and hula-hooping before Errol Linton mellowed things out a bit with some beautiful reggae-tinged blues and there was even a jam set from a Joe Harvey Whyte and friends, (including Jose and Tris of The Vagaband) at the food court.

Oh! Gunquit

Oh! Gunquit

the howlin' jaws

Howlin’ Jaws

howlin' jaws

Howlin’ Jaws

jesse dayton

Jesse Dayton

Jesse Dayton was another festival highlight for me, the real deal who has worked with some of the greats. This was outlaw country rock ‘n’ roll with punk spirit at its finest and I absolutely loved it. Opening with Daddy Was a Badass we quickly realised this was going to be special. Fantastic stage presence and great songs, this was another set that flew by and included The Way We Are and the exceptionally titled I’m at Home Getting Hammered While She’s Out Getting Nailed and some great stories between songs peppered throughout the set. It closed with a cover of The Clash’s Bankrobber, “I saw The Clash when I was 14 and it changed my life. I cut my hair short and at school the next day I told my jock teacher to ‘Kiss my ass!‘ ” Jesse Dayton is also a badass and was just fantastic.

It was back to the blues after this with Cedric Burnside before hopping over to the smaller stage to catch Rob Heron whose solo set without the Tea Pad Orchestra put me strongly in mind of a Geordie Jimmie Rodgers, and J.D. Wilkes and the Legendary Shack Shakers whose extraordinary set shaking the Little Red Rooster shack is now already legendary, amazing to see a set like this on the LRR stage.

powersolo

Powersolo

Then it was time for New York’s Budos Band, housed on Daptone Records.  They may not have been what everyone was expecting but I had been looking forward to them a lot and they did not disappoint. They did remark “We aren’t a honky tonk band and you may not be here to see us but you are here and we thank you!”  It was music unlike anything I have heard live before and was truly special, 70s instrumental psychedelia mixed with afrobeat, Ethiopian funk, amazing bass and heavy rock riffs in something utterly unique in its otherness. Every bit as fantastic as I hoped it might be. When PPM came back on he was obviously blown away by it too, suggesting we dial the helpline “0800 WTF!” Truly astonishing. The tent was not as full for their set as I was expecting but those that were there were captivated and big respect to Red Rooster for booking them. They weren’t to everyone’s tastes, it must be said, but those that got them and dug them reeeeaaaly loved them. It was unforgettable.

 

A memorable weekend of music and the weather was warm and glorious throughout – at least we thought so, may of the artists from the South couldn’t quite understand our reaction saying “This is what it’s like at 6 in the morning back home!” while we all sweltered.

low cut connie

Low Cut Connie

Once again the festival vibe was lovely, everyone seemed happy and the music was great. I love the relaxed nature of the place and it was summed up during the Budos Band set when something caught my eye. During a quiet spell the bar staff simply got up and danced on the bar itself!

People chilled, some swam, many danced, the kids were happy and safe and so were the dogs, one of whom even sported dungarees and a neckerchief!

red rooster

The site itself is gorgeous and the stage and camping areas seemed remarkably clean throughout. With plentiful recycling points there was no excuse for litter anyway but as soon as the music finished on the main stage for the night I noticed people out clearing the discarded cups and cans at 1am so that everything was pristine for again for when events kicked off again the following morning. Lots of choice for food with vegetarians and vegans also catered for. Bikes, games and facilities for children, a lake and river to walk alongside or swim in or even boat around in a pedalo swan! All under the watchful eye of lifeguards and refreshingly low-key and chilled security. Toilets in the main music area were also plentiful and frequently cleaned.

One of the biggest and most noticeable improvements was the much better PA and stronger sound from the expanded Little Red Rooster stage which at times had huge audiences, notably when JD Wilkes and the Legendary Shack Shakers closed it on Saturday night.  There’s a bit of bleed from the main stage at times when set times overlap but the large hay-bale buffer helps enormously and the new PA more than holds its own.

Although the music was the main draw for most the weekend was also about the social side of things with friendly faces everywhere it was great to just hang out and chat with like-minded people. Red Rooster have created something quite special with a wonderfully laid-back vibe. The atmosphere was chilled, friendly, sociable and happy. In what I think is at least the third year in succession the festival sold out, with capacity growing a little year on year this one had about 6,000 though personally I would not want it to get too much busier and lose its intimacy and so much of what makes it special.

The first person I saw in the city a couple of days later saw my Red Rooster t-shirt and came up to me and said “Great festival!”  Yes, it is. Sums it up perfectly.

Highlights for me: Dale Watson and His Lone Stars, Jesse Dayton, The Budos Band, Howlin’ Jaws, James and the Ultrasounds, Black Eyed Dogs, William the Conqueror (2nd set), The Southern Fold, JD Wilkes and the Legendary Shack Shakers, the weather and the friendships.

Thanks again Red Rooster.

oh gunquit

Oh! Gunquit

black eyed dogs

Black Eyed Dogs (feat. Ethan Johns)

bl

Black Eyed Dogs

jarrod dickenson

Jarrod Dickenson

paul preston mills

Compere Paul Preston Mills (PPM)

 

james and the ultrasounds

James and the Ultrasounds

howlin' jaws

Howlin’ Jaws

cedric burnside

Cedric Burnside

james and the ultrasounds

James and the Ultrasounds

jesse dayton

Jesse Dayton

The Budos Band

The Budos Band

The Budos Band

The Budos Band

Low Cut Connie

Low Cut Connie

Low Cut Connie

Low Cut Connie

The Budos Band

The Budos Band

The Southern Fold

The Southern Fold

William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror

Carson McHone

Carson McHone

Oh! Gunquit

Oh! Gunquit

PPM

PPM

 

@RShashamane

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PRB Presents : Daddy Long Legs + The Mighty Guevaras @ NAC 17 May 2019

This has been a busy and classic week of gigs after Fat White Family and Aldous Harding, so consequently I felt quite fatigued as I made my way to the NAC but that quickly melted away with the sight of so many familiar faces for yet another sold out gig with PRB Presents bringing a welcome return of Daddy Long Legs with local support from The Mighty Guevaras.

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Some sold out gigs at the Arts Centre feel fuller than others and this one seemed particularly rammed, or maybe the bar was just especially popular with this crowd. Anyway, I sought a bit more space in the actual hall a good ten or fifteen minutes ahead of the opening set of the night from The Mighty Guevaras. It’s been a while since I saw them and I was really impressed by their sound and their set, a mix of covers and originals in a swamp blues, hill country blues style opening with an R.L. Burnside song and excitedly noting that they are on the billing at this year’s Red Rooster Festival, as is R.L. Burnside’s grandson.

the mighty guevaras

the mighty guevaras

It’s only about 18 months since Daddy Long Legs played the tiny Crypt at Bedfords on their previous visit to Norwich but word of mouth from that and their reputation after a couple of storming sets at Red Rooster meant they have built a sizable following in Norwich and the NAC was rammed.

daddy long legs

Daddy Long Legs

They are a terrific live band and came on in fine style to a rapturous reception, opening with them all at the front of the stage, including the drummer who brough a drum to the front. There was even something of a moshpit going on pretty quickly as Daddy Long Legs steamed their way through a very hot and sweaty, characterful set of an hour and a half or so. The drums (and even the stage floor), played with maraccas and drum stick was punchy and deep, the guitar superb and the evangelical Brian Hurd, Daddy Long Legs himself, just amazing on blues harp and vocals, remarkably sometimes at the same time! The crowd adored them and the set was a good mix of old live favourites and a selection from their new album  Lowdown Ways, produced by Jimmy Sutton of JD McPherson. I couldn’t resist getting a copy on white vinyl at the end of the gig.  PRB Presents did it again, with another storming night and we still have Guadalupe Plata and Starcrawler yet to return this summer … both of them incredibly also played at Bedfords Crypt a couple of years ago at previous PRB nights.

Daddy Long Legs

Daddy Long LegsDaddy Long LegsDaddy Long LegsDaddy Long LegsDaddy Long Legs

 

“Brooklyn, NY-based trio DADDY LONG LEGS—Brian Hurd (vocals, harmonica, guitar), Murat Akturk (slide guitar), Josh Styles (drums, maraca) will make their Yep Roc Records debut May 10 with Lowdown Ways, their third studio album.

Produced by Jimmy Sutton and engineered by Alex Hall (JD McPherson, Pokey LaFarge, Jake La Botz) at Hi-Style Studios in Chicago, the album features 12 original compositions with songwriting contributions from JD McPherson and Sutton. A new direction from their first two studio albums (released by Norton Records), Lowdown Ways sees the boys widen their sonic horizons with field hollers, gospel, Cajun, and Mississippi Hill Music, coupled with their renowned supercharged, harp-driven R&B bangers.

The first single, “Mornin’ Noon & Nite,” premiered at WFMU. The track is now available at all streaming services.

Frontman Brian Hurd describes “Mornin’ Noon & Nite” as “a Hoodoo Stomper in the vein of John Lee Hooker and is about one’s pure, savage lust for his or her lover.”

When asked by Village Voice “What is DADDY LONG LEGS?,” Hurd answered, “Rock and roll salvation through the spirit of roots and blues.” While influenced by the likes of Son House, Captain Beefheart, Howlin’ Wolf, MC5, and Dr. Feelgood, their sound personifies garage rock and punk with a contemporary raw twist performed in their own brand of supercharged R&B.
Since forming in 2010, the band has released two studio albums, a live album and two 45s on Norton Records. Their last album was 2015’s DADDY LONG LEGS Rides Tonight. The band has toured with Jon Spencer, Hurray For The Riff Raff, The Sonics, Nikki Lane, Nick Waterhouse, amongst others.

Lowdown Ways is now available for pre-order. The vinyl LP arrives on limited edition opaque white vinyl.”

Daddy Long LegsDaddy Long LegsDaddy Long Legs

… and some footage I just found on YouTube:

The NAC currently has a 40/40 fundraising campaign to raise £40,000 to unlock a £499,000 grant from the Arts Council for its regeneration. You can help by donating an extra £1 when buying a ticket, or at the Arts Centre itself in one of its collection jars, or by clicking here. Or even buying a 40/40 ale at the NAC bar at a gig where £1 will go to the fundraising.

 

@RShashamane

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Norwich: Music City, UK

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Aldous Harding @ Cambridge Junction J2 16 May 2019

When I first chanced upon the music of Aldous Harding a few years ago – probably through KEXP’s excellent YouTube channel – I was immediately captivated by a unique artist.  I soon purchased her album Party which was certainly among my favourite albums of that year and had been hoping to catch her live ever since.  Alas, there was no Norwich date on this tour but when I was told she was performing in Cambridge this was too good an opportunity to miss.  The same thinking for many of us from Norwich it would seem, as having made the short walk from the train station to the venue I spotted a number of familiar faces, with Norfolk photographers being particularly well-represented, though none of us were here to photograph, it was all about hearing Aldous.

60346150_2162827433771105_2156730055458291712_o

The venue itself was a lovely surprise. This particular gig was housed in the smaller J2 space of The Junction, usually all-seated for this one the seats on the floor were taken out bringing the capacity up to about 350. Needless to say all tickets for this were snapped up long ago.

 

Support was from Melbourne’s Laura Jean. I missed the first part of her set but was enjoying what I did catch, despite the constant yabbering from someone at the back until the first person to crack told him to go outside and talk. Inwardly, we were all applauding him for that. It wasn’t especially loud but when everyone else is silent and trying to enjoy the beautiful music it was irritating.

No such chatter for the headline set from Aldous Harding though.  The lights dimmed and the background music stopped and then … for some moments … nothing. Time seemed weird as nothing happened and the tension grew but then we heard a door close backstage and the band came on, followed by Aldous Harding herself who takes pauses, and potential awkward silences and turns them into an art form. It’s powerful stuff before she has even played a note.  There’s something about a room full of people all in total silence … and then the songs happen. We soon know we are party to something special and taken on a personal journey. It’s several songs into the set before she speaks and that is a request to have some light on the audience so that she can see us. This took the intensity and intimacy to another level and I doubt there was a single person in the room who did not feel her stare and make eye-contact at some point.  We are well-used to respectful and attentive audiences but I have never known such a hushed and rapt crowd as this, we were transfixed and it was only after the gig that we realised we had just been in some sort of hypnotic spell, it was spellbinding stuff.

aldous harding

For the most part she was sat playing guitar with a couple of songs performed at the piano and a finale where she kept the beat with a cup and a drumstick. A cover or two, including Gerry Rafferty’s Right Down the Line, one or two songs from Party but the majority of the set was from new album Designer, a copy of which I picked up from the merch stall, on gold vinyl no less.

Some footage here from fluffytoy77 on YouTube:

It was a quite remarkable set from this amazing artist, there may not be much in the way of chat but it does not matter as she has such presence. A thoroughly captivating musician who got an incredible ovation from a hugely satisfied and entertained sold out crowd. This was magical, powerful and very special, her voice is so incredibly versatile too. That’s now three outstanding though totally different gigs in the space of a week for me, starting with Gladboy at NAC and Fat White Family at The Waterfront.

aldous harding

All of her videos are works of art too, bringing some very welcome Bowie-esque theatre and otherness to the medium.   Aldous Harding is most definitely one of the unique and distinctive characters who is always interesting, being herself and true to herself. Quite special.

It’s worth another mention of the venue too, this was my first visit to The Junction but I don’t think it will be my last.  One enters the venue into a very relaxed foyer area with a cafe vibe, bar and box office, it’s a bit like a cinema foyer but without the popcorn.  I immediately felt at ease here because it reminded me of Norwich Arts Centre as it was so friendly and relaxed. It’s good when we can comfortably enjoy the time before and after sets as well as the music itself. Gigs are of course all about the music and energy between performers and audience but when the crowd are put at such ease and actually made to feel welcome by friendly venue staff it makes all the difference and that is what elevates the gig into something even more memorably enjoyable, and this was certainly an unforgettable one. This whole gig experience was just a joy and it was lovely to bump into Norwich friends too. Big thanks to Andi Sapey for giving me a lift back to Norwich afterwards.

“New Zealand singer / songwriter, Aldous Harding, has been wowing audiences around her native country for years with her original ‘gothic folk’ music. She’s known for her sinister torch songs with a charismatic combination of wit and quiet horror. She comes from the same dramatic realm where Kate Bush and Scott Walker reside.”

Another piece of footage from the gig found on YouTube by El Tuco:

@RShashamane

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Norwich: Music City, UK

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