Rainbow Girls – American Dream, new album

Two bits of news are always the cause of excitement. One is a visit from those Californian Rainbow Girls, and the second is a new recording from them. Last week in Norwich we were blessed with both, touring the UK for the first time in a couple of years they also had copies of American Dream – their third album – for sale at the gig, ahead of its official release in November.

 

rainbow girls

The gig itself was an absolute gem, living long in the memory of all who were there as they once again charmed us and amazed us with the quality of their playing, singing, harmonising, and songwriting … not to mention their unique stage presence and personalities.  Without losing any of their charm this is a quite different album, whereas on the first they were a five-piece, the second a quartet, they are now a trio and once again the development and evolution of the band is incredible.  This is a slower, more sombre set of recordings, which they funded and recorded themselves in their own home, the songs breathe and the messages are loud and clear.  Perhaps the one track on the album that most links to the Rainbow Girls of a couple of years ago is Can We Keep This Love Alive, which was in their live set as a new song at that time.

rainbow girls

 

America is going through some extreme and alarming changes at the moment and the Rainbows have a lot to say about it, being three girls who absolutely live and breathe music, it is in their every fibre, so they are writing and singing about what is on their minds, raising awareness as they do so. Song for Standing Rock being a fine example of that but there are other topics which our own media are failing to cover which they spoke about during their set last week so once again it falls to artists to raise awareness of what is really taking place.

rainbow girls

 

They should be very proud of this album, it’s a mature work of folk in the tradition of storytelling, feelings and social commentary which is beautifully played, featuring some slide guitar on the likes of Something I’ve Been Meaning to Say. Some songs featuring nothing more than gutar and their heavenly voices. American Dream is haunting and sublime.  Others have some more instrumentation, such as Do Not Go Gentle Into That Dark Night which includes cello, plus violin and upright bass (from a couple of “Old Soul Orchestra” members).

 

rainbow girls

 

Another highlight closes the album, the aforementioned Can We Keep This Love Alive, in full band format with the Girls playing guitar, bass, keys and guests on drums, trumpet, saxophone, trombone.  This is a great album, the latest on their always upwards trajectory.

 

rainbow girls at eaton park 8 edit

American Dream by Rainbow Girls is available on their tour date ahead of its official release in November when it will also be available online.

 

 

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Slim Cessna’s Auto Club @ Waterfront Studio 19 September 2017

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Slim Cessna’s Auto Club are a band who had gone totally under my radar until earlier this summer, and judging by the sparse attendance the gig also missed the attention of many others too.

 

There happened to be a gig in the main room on the same night; The Jesus and Mary Chain with support from Brix and the Extricated, and outside the venue there was a very different atmosphere from the previous night’s excitment and massive queue ahead of the Sparks gig, with a handful of people arriving early to await entry to two distinctly different gigs under the same roof.

 

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“This is How We Do Things in the Country” – if Gogol Bordello were from Denver and played country this is surely how they’d have sounded …

 

The Waterfront can be a dour, soulless venue with sometimes surly security but once you negotiate the lottery of their “attitude” from one or two the gigs are usually cracking and the atmosphere can be great.  Upstairs in the studio something incredible was about to happen.  After an opening solo support slot from local punk legend Dan Allen of Ducking Punches the mysterious Slim Cessna’s Auto Club took to the stage and the small crowd of 50 or so edged closer, an exclusive club of those “in the know” who’d seen the band before and a few others, like myself, whose curiosity had been piqued.  They featured pedal steel, upright bass, double-neck guitar, drums, two banjos and two singers.  The double-necked guitar featured a scratchplate with a hologram of the Virgin Mary and Jesus!! Obviously the rest of the night was wonderfully dark and strange entertainment, as visual as it was musical.  Somehow the size of the crowd only seemed to make it feel more special as the band still gave it everything and there was a sort of celebration of oddness, outsiders gathered together in a special group, and it did indeed suit the venue.  In some weird way there just being a select few made it more special and darkly celebratory. Slim Cessna’s Auto Club are only playing a handful of UK dates … there were around fifty very lucky people here who saw their Norwich show.

 

 

I’m not sure if Norwich will deserve a return visit after we failed to fill the Studio but if they do come back don’t make the same mistake of missing out again … everyone there will almost definitely come back for more.  I hope Slim Cessna’s Auto Club won’t hold it against us, it’s just unfortunate that even on a Tuesday night this still clashed with at least two other major gigs in the city (JAMC, plus The Rails at NAC), and came the day after the sellout Sparks gig.

 

You can read my fuller review of the gig on the Outline pages.

 

Post-gig walk back through the city.

 

 

Many thanks to Outline Magazine.

 

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Sparks @ Norwich Waterfront 18 September 2017

It’s been a very long wait for me to finally see Sparks perform live for the first time, well over forty years in fact. 20 years since their last visit to Norwich for a UEA gig I was inexplicably absent from, and so when this Waterfront gig was announced I made sure I was online and ready the minute the tickets went on sale. It isn’t often I do that but Sparks are no ordinary band.  They produced the first single I ever owned in This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us and all the memories and emotions associated with that, and the first album too. One day in 1974 Sparks appeared on TOTP looking and sounding like nobody else, their different-ness appealed and the next day everyone at school was talking about it, especially Ron’s stare. I followed the single’s progress up the charts every Tuesday during lunch-break on my tiny transistor radio as the Top 40 was announced, in the days when everyone had a radio and nobody had a mobile phone. Then, on a holiday trip to France to visit family in the mid-seventies when I was about ten my French Uncle wanted to buy me a present and asked me to choose any album I wanted from the record section at the supermarket near Calais shortly after meeting me from the hovercraft.  I chose Kimono My House and both these records are still with me to this day.  I loved Sparks and so did my younger brother, we had a big, shared musical bond with Sparks like no other band seemed able to create.

 

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So it was that we both went to the Waterfront for our first gig together since 1986 and Big Audio Dynamite (supported by The Chiefs of Relief).  I felt weirdly nervous about this gig, perhaps because of the weight of excitement and anticipation I was feeling but when Sparks posted on Instagram a picture of their arrival at Norwich Station the excitement was soaring and I was at The Waterfront early, shortly after 7pm. There was already a sizeable queue which was nothing compared to what it was twenty minutes later, one of the longest queues I have seen here … there was a LOT of anticipation for this sellout gig and everyone wanted to bagsy a decent view.  I only have a handful of “crapcam” phone snaps for this write-up but here goes:

 

 

Support came from Mister Goodnite who – it later transpired – is Sparks’ own second keyboard player.  Slightly off the wall he performed songs to some records of instrumentals and I wish I knew the origins of these songs, whether they are vinyl finds from thrift stores he put words to or what, the music was like obscure 70s soundtracks, or B movie background muzak, and his lyrics were amusing and clever. Think Vegas lounge, a crooner singing to his own record collection.  Slightly bonkers and gloriously strange and different. His short set got people in the mood.

 

Just after 9pm, to a really warm and heartfelt welcome, Sparks came bounding onstage all in nautical stripes, Russell looking every inch a French cabin boy and launched into a magnificent What the Hell is it This Time, from the new album Hippopotamus, which Russell proudly declared was by the band currently sitting at number 7 in the UK album charts on the first date of the UK tour.  I have this album, having pre-ordered the vinyl some months ago and love it as much as Kimono My House and Propaganda already. Seeing them on the BBC coverage of the 6Music Festival in Glasgow some months ago it was not a case of waiting for the old hits, the new material is every bit as strong and standouts from it played in the Waterfront set included Edith Piaf (Said it Better Than Me), I Wish You Were Fun, Missionary Position, and of course the wonderful title track itself.

 

 

Interspersed throughout the set were some older favourites and the standard throughout the night was top notch with a truly excellent band complimenting Ron and Russell, having the energy and sound I have always loved about the band to a tee.  First goosebumps moment was Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth, and to hear such songs as At Home, At Work, At Play, My Baby’s Taking Me Home, Propaganda, When Do I Get to Sing My Way, Number One Song in Heaven, Amateur Hour, the goodtime swing feel of I Wish You Were Fun and, gloriously, This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us.  I almost cried, I am sure some did.  They played just about everything I could have wished for. Greedily, I tried thinking afterwards about some personal faves, omissions that could have made it into the set, Get in the Swing and Hasta Manana, Monsieur, for sentimental reasons were about all I could come up with. But I wasn’t here just for nostalgia as I adore the new material too, and they got the balance right playing everything, old and new which all gelled together perfectly. They played songs that I did not even dare to dream for, I am so happy!  We even got to see Ron get up from his Roland piano – renamed “Ronald” – for some dancing to wild cheers during Number One Song in Heaven. Just about the perfect band, proud of their strong new material but not bored of their older hits either, they played everything with equal gusto.

 

 

This sincerely was one of the most emotional, celebratory and triumphant gigs I have ever experienced, it doesn’t get much more special than this and the band were clearly feeling it too. There were moments after taking their bows where they were just taking in the scenes and love from the crowd which was enveloping them like a caressing wave. This was a very special night indeed with prolonged cheers and clapping, for several minutes both band and audience were saluting and thanking each other.  What a night, so beautiful and special and fun. The music was absolutely fantastic too of course, twenty songs over the course of about ninety minutes or so of pure magic. Isn’t music incredible?

 

 

I think he did this with everyone in the first few rows  but making eye-contact with Ron and his infamous glare was also a powerful experience, like connecting with a wise owl, a higher being who was seeing into my soul and knew exactly what I was feeling and what the gig meant to me.

 

sparks

 

sparks

 

I feel I should also thank California, that’s two gigs now in the space of five days from Californian bands that have just been beyond brilliant, after Rainbow Girls visited last week. Oddly enough Sparks also follow the same route from Norwich to Newcastle for their next date of the Hippopotamus Tour.  As for the Waterfront, the gigs keep on coming. Tuesday 19 September they host The Jesus and Mary Chain with support from Brix and the Extricated (featuring former Fall members), whilst upstairs in the studio will be Slim Cessna’s Auto Club.  Norwich: Music City, UK.

 

 

Terrific, joyous atmosphere in the Waterfront for this gig, and spot-on sound too.  A concert elevated above simply being great, this was on another plane. There was so much love in the room, the band tight and enjoying it and it wasn’t just about hearing the old classics, songs from the current album are already the new classics and the Mael brothers are clearly having a lot of fun with fire in their belly and an abundance of love and passion for what they are doing. It’s clear to see. Sparks’ time has come around again and they are more than ready. Sensational band and a sensational night.

 

It’s almost impossible for me to put into words what this gig meant to me … there are not many opportunities at my age to hear the first record I ever bought (well, my Mum bought it for me: This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us, 1974) performed live by the people who composed it … and in my home city … and look right into the eyes of Ron Mael while it is being played (of course I blinked first) … and in the company of my brother at a gig together for the first time in over thirty years. Tonight was all kinds of special, thank you Sparks, you can have no idea how much tonight meant to me … and my brother … plus you played everything we could have wished for and were amazing. New songs making a fantastic soundtrack now just as the older ones soundtracked our childhood. Two brothers in the audience watched two brothers onstage perform absolute magic. It means so much, thank you.

 

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Rainbow Girls + Hot Raisin @ Eaton Park Cafe 13 September 2017

Day One of Rainbow Girls UK Tour 2017.  I seriously don’t know how they do it but I’m damn glad they do.  Less than twenty-four hours after taking off from San Francisco, fifty-two hours without sleep, a customs guitar panic moment at Gatwick, hiring a rental van, driving straight to Norwich and even then enduring a 45 minute search for the Bicycle Shop’s Eaton Park Cafe (“We even saw a man on a bicyle and thought surely he’d know where the Bicycle Shop was … “), but once in and soundchecked they played and charmed and wowed us as they always do. Post-storm England was looking typically wet and autumnal but that may even have been a welcome sight to them after parched California, though the sun did appear in Norwich at about the time they did. Rainbows were even spotted in the sky, to announce their arrival.

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Old souls with youthful spirit and energy. It’s two years since their last UK tour and they have been much-missed here but very busy in their home country, touring, writing and recording.  There’s lots to talk and write about in America at the moment, some of it we are well aware of and some of it less so, which makes these songwriting statements all the more important and relevant.   It’s a three-piece Rainbow Girls tour this year, without Savannah’s drums and percussion but this pared-back sound means travel is lighter, and more importantly, the subtle format and sound is even more effective at getting the message of the songs across.  Not that the sometimes weighty subject matter covered lowered the mood, it just raised awareness and this was a vibrant and positive gig with lots of laughter and participation too.  These are talented musicians, artists and poets and they need to express themselves and get their message across. They succeed in doing this gloriously and always strike the right tone, the set is always melodic and subtle and multi-layered.

rainbow girls

First up though was a support set from our own Hot Raisin, also playing as a trio of Tory, Mary, and Luke, their set was all original material this time, including a couple of newer tracks which have become firm favourites of mine already.  Both Luke and Mary were sporting new guitars, they sounded absolutely fantastic. I thought they played flawlessly and Mary’s playing was just sublime. Much credit to Chad and Phoebe for their part in the great sound too.

hot raisin

hot raisinhot raisin

I’d only previously seen the more regular acoustic lower key summer gigs at Eaton Park Cafe before, with musical accompaniment for diners. A great and beautiful space it is always enjoyable to visit but although some of the inevitable chatter of some of the other events was to be expected it’s nevertheless annoying when wishing to listen to the quieter more subtle performers. This first proper ticketed gig at the venue (I think it sold out too) had an atmosphere which was a different kettle of fish entirely, a proper paid gig without dining tables, great attention to sound detail, and of course the return visit of the Rainbow Girls who are absolutely adored in Norwich.  So there was quite a sense of musical *occasion* about this one which is a good thing, a packed out Eaton Park Cafe full of attentive music fans who were also really up for it and noisy in the right places.  Openers Hot Raisin went down really well and Rainbow Girls blew the roof off!

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It was dark and atmospheric – Bicycle Shop style mood candle lighting – and opening with a powerful Song for Standing Rock the Rainbow Girls played to absolute perfection, whilst also making it seem effortless.  Not only does this format highlight the lyrics and messages of the songs but also plays to the strengths of their stunning, tight harmonies.  One, sometimes two guitars and always three voices gathered around the single condensor mic this was really special stuff and we all knew and felt it too. The power of the words with this playing and delivery caused goosebumps and a welling up of the eyes at times but then they could balance the mood with something like a cover of the Velvet’s Stephanie Says and not only that but get the crowd to sing their part too … and the audience also did it pretty well!  Vanessa’s heart remained intact with everyone doing her wished for fist pumps on the “It’s so cold in Alaska” refrain.

rainbow girls

I’ve them ten times now and loved the Rainbow Girls from the very first moment I saw them in that infamous gig they referred to at the Ten Bells some years back and they always blow me away but tonight … well, this was something else again, the ‘less is more’ effect of this format totally bowled me over and 52 hours without sleep … it’s hard to imagine how it could be any better but if it can be, those seeing them once they have caught up on their rest are in for an absolute treat!  They are just born to play, they live and breathe music and it is a joy to behold when they play. No matter what subject they are covering (or how tired they are!) they play with passion, sincerity and enthusiasm, the feeling always comes over.

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rainbow girls at eaton park 8 edit

There were only one or two songs from the previous albums, all the rest were from new album American Dream (which they have recorded themselves at home – “You can hear the refrigerator!” – their third album, officially released in November) or the sessions for it, all of them just superb.  I bought myself a copy of the new album (and a t-shirt, designed by the amazing Caitlin) and look forward to playing it lots over the coming days, weeks, months and years.

Falling into the British mindset I was concerned for them having played their first gig of the tour on the very day of their arrival and following that with a drive to Newcastle for the second but these are California girls who think nothing of a 14+ hour drive let alone four, and although touched by our concern think we need to widen our horizons a bit! 😀  Judging by other amusing comments we probably also need to widen our roads some too!

They have a great connection with Norwich but such is their manner and charm they must surely make friends everywhere they go … and new fans of their music too. Tonight the music ended with the crowd begging for more, and getting it, and even the Rainbow Girls wanted to finish with just one more, a superb cover of The Chiffons’ One Fine Day (nice synchroncity as it’s a favourite in one of my recently created playlists).  A truly special gig, I was savouring every second.  All the songs moved me and their natural ways between songs charmed me all over again.  All power and much love to them, they have things to say and are getting the message across in the best of ways, there’s such passion, sincerity, honesty and purity to what they do and a lot of joyous moments too.

rainbow girls

rainbow girls

Oh how good it was to see Rainbow Girls again, especially on the same billing as Hot Raisin.  I’ve missed their special presence, energy, humour and music so much … I felt a bit reluctant to part at the end of it all but I won’t say my goodbyes because I know that I’ll be seeing them again.

Rainbow Girls continue their tour with a gig in Newcastle tonight (Thursday), whilst on the same evening Hot Raisin head to the Burston Crown for a double-header with Turf Club Racebook.

Well done to Eaton Park Cafe and the sound team, this arrangement can really work as a serious new music venue. Thank you Rainbow Girls, Hot Raisin, Chad, and Phoebe, my new favourite gig of the year, which earned a deserved standing ovation. It was a total delight. Can hardly believe we are able to still enjoy them in venues of this size, they are total stars in our eyes and the rest of the world may catch up at some point. Brilliant multi-instrumentalists, great songs, the tightest harmonies I have ever heard, a message to spread, highly charismatic and charming and just the loveliest, most wonderful warm people … what more could anyone want. Absolutely fantastic.

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’til next time Rainbow Girls, and that one fine day when I see you again …

rainbow raisins

Hot Rainbow Raisins?  Raisin Girls?

rainbow girls and hot raisin

*UPDATE*  –  The following evening I had the pleasure of seeing Hot Raisin again in a double-header with the excellent Turf Club Racebook at The Burston Crown.  A terrific traditional pub with a similar ethos to The Stanford Arms and likewise a commitment to supporting quality live music, especially local acts, and giving them the respect and care they deserve.  I’ve made a few previous visits to this place for the likes of Hope in High Water, Hello Bear, and Hot Raisin but I don’t just go there to see bands with names beginning with H, so thanks to the kindness of Alison and Mark offering me a lift it was good to see The TCRB again.  Tory and I immediately exchanged knowing smiles when we spotted we were both proudly wearing our new Rainbow Girls t-shirts from the night before.  The Raisins were playing in the same trio format as that gig with a similar setlist but managing to squeeze in a couple more of the newer ones they ran out of time for on Wednesday.  I’m really liking these a lot, Read Your Mind, Conscious, Midnight Gremlins are proving to be really catchy earworms that I find myself humming during the day.

It has to be mentioned that Billy does a fantastic sound here, always “on it” the bands sound every bit as sweet as you could wish for and the bar is well equipped with PA and monitors.  Graham was equally impressed and gave a nice compliment and thumbs up to Billy, and to Geoffrey for the invitation.  For the most part the set was played as a five-piece but with a segment in the middle where Graham played solo. Alas, The Turf Club Racebook have no physical EP as yet but they do have some recordings ‘in the can’ and from the number of times I have seen them play I have plenty of the songs in my memory, one of which being “Well, Yeah” which they closed their excellent set with here.

turf club racebook

hot raisin

Tory with “those red and green demons either side of me … “

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the turf club racebookthe turf club racebook

billy at burston crownturf club racebookturf club racebookturf club racebook

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The Psychedelic Furs + The Lene Lovich Band @ The Waterfront 11 September 2017

This Waterfront gig was originally scheduled for the UEA LCR, the switch coming as something of a surprise, especially as there were still a handful of tickets on the door, because I bought mine the morning they went on sale having never seen the Furs before.  Mind you, it felt pretty full and very hot and sweaty by the time they came onstage.

 

It sounds like another age but when I first started going to gigs other than the UEA etc. Norwich still had that heady, rich aroma of chocolate and beer wafting around the city … I feel quite nostalgic thinking about it. The brewery has gone and the chocolate factory is now Chapelfield Mall but in the early 1980s when I first stepped into the legendary Gala Ballroom the first thing I heard pumping through the PA was the DJ’s choice of The Psychedelic Furs’ India.  I suddenly felt like I was in a film walking into this dark venue for the first time, amazing haircuts everywhere and the Gala having its own strong aroma of beer and hairspray and Crazy Colour hair dye.  I have no idea who I went to see that time but I do clearly remember the Furs being played, that’s the impression they made just on vinyl.  I never got to see them back in the day but yearned to hear India et al. performed live. 

 

 

No camera for me this time, just a few crapcam phone snaps from a few rows back and a lot of fun hearing some classic songs.

 

Lene Lovich was someone else whose records I owned but never got to see so her support slot was an added bonus for me.   She came onstage around 8pm with her band and was absolutely brilliant.  Big eyes, big hair, and huge voice, she has lost none of her charisma, chatty, smiley, faintly bonkers but just sensationally good. I’d love to see a full set. Her band are excellent and the songs are even punkier live with heavy bass and drums, plus super guitar and keys but most of the time attention was on the captivating Lene.  I really loved this set and so did everyone around me.  There was even a shout from someone in the front row of: “I’d forgotten how good you are!”  which was taken in the right spirit.

 

 

 

The changeover for the Furs seemed to be taking forever because it was so bloody hot in the Waterfront but was only the standard 30 or 40 minutes or so … that’s what comes of staying in the same spot so as not to lose the vantage point!  As the band filed onstage, I really got a sense of what presence they have. Brothers Richard and Tim pulling poses and shapes and plenty of smiles too.  Richard Butler is a legendary frontperson with an iconic, unique voice which doesn’t seem to have lost anything … and he even seems to share Bowie’s winning smile as well as some hard to explain John Lydon-esque characteristics!  For the first few numbers (and the encore) they were also joined by original guitarist Roger Morris.

 

This being a “singles” tour the set spanned their entire career. Probably most famous for Pretty in Pink, which isn’t actually one of my favourites of theirs, it did sound magnificent live.  I though especially enjoyed We Love You, Dumb Waiters, Mr. Jones, and the two songs they performed for the encoure, Sister Europe and the sensational India itself. It was a pleasure to see a band of such stature play, and perform with such passion and sheer joy.

 

 

It struck me about midway through the gig that other than “Thanks” and “Ta” there was barely anything spoken between songs, but oddly it did not feel that way.  They are so hugely charismatic that they were communicating and engaging in other ways … and looking like they were having a fantastic time doing so.  It did feel surprisingly intimate and the Furs belong to an elite music club of having vast amounts of presence … theatrical gestures, abundant smiles, engagement with the crowd … and their huge sound. The whole band tremendous and clearly loving the gig as much as the audience.

 

An excellent gig, the Furs are slick and professional but also warm and fun. Playing and performing flawlessly, with an awesome back catalogue, they are true legends in my book.  The revelation for me however was just how superb Lene Lovich still is and what a great back catalogue she has too, she left me wanting more.  I do hope she will play a Norwich gig again, I know she has some connections with the city so fingers crossed.  The night as a whole was a great celebration of bass-heavy post-punk done quite brilliantly.

 

 

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Rainbow Girls to return to Norwich

In something of a dream line up with the beloved Rainbow Girls playing in Norwich again after an absence of a couple of years, they will be supported by our own Hot Raisin, who will be playing as a three-piece (Tory, Mary & Luke).  The Rainbow Girls shall also be playing this one as a three-piece of Erin, Caitlin and Vanessa. I really missed them not being here last year but totally understood their need to play some dates at home in California as well as beyond in the States.  They have played many festivals and done a tour of house concerts, and also recorded a new album which they shall be touring thanks to James at Blue House Music.

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The sound for this tour will be more acoustic and folky – obviously without drums this time but will of course feature their incredible harmonies and beautiful songs …. and their uniquely special positive energy.  The gig takes place at Eaton Park Cafe on Wednesday (13 September) and tickets are available. I am delighted that Hot Raisin will be supporting, I have a feeling both bands will adore and respect each other very much.  I certainly adore both bands.

Rainbow Girls is a collaborative of songwriters, multi-instrumentalists, vocalists, and California natives who’ve spent the last 4 years touring Europe and the US as a rock n’ roll band but who’ve recently returned to their folkier roots, embarking on a house concert tour across America. 

This new trio version of the band (Erin Chapin, Caitlin Gowdey, & Vanessa May) highlights their rich harmonies, ageless songwriting, and soulful, bluesy sound at its rawest form.

The ladies came together at an underground open mic in Santa Barbara, CA in December of 2010 and spent the following summer busking and couch surfing around Europe. Since then they have released two studio albums and toured the US and Europe extensively. https://www.rainbowgirlsmusic.com/

Video Links:
American Dream: https://youtu.be/s7-W6rZrgho
Folksinger’s Contract: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFtPA_UgweA
Song for Standing Rock: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNhC_ukuKTs

“The name Rainbow Girls is misleading. With a name like that it is easy to assume this troupe is an easy-going, mandolin-plucking, sundress-twirling, but the Rainbow Girls are something distinctly unique and wildly more varied than a typical band; voices that occasionally sound more like Carolina Chocolate Drops than sweet-natured California coast girls; other times belting into jazzy riffs, and then shifting gears to a Country & Western lament.” Phil Busse, The Source Weekly

“Just occasionally one comes across a band for the first time who truly move, excite and lift one so totally as to get absolutely caught up in the moment and the music… They play with soul, spirit and energy, are talented and versatile musicians, have beautiful voices and write stunning and catchy songs. On top of this they are all terrific people with a great attitude and positivity who clearly adore playing and just want people to hear and enjoy their music too.” Richard Shashamane, Norwich Blog

“The Rainbow Girls describe themselves as ‘rock n’ roll, folk, world, Americana, funk, psychedelic (and) alternative.’ That’s a start. It’s far from the whole picture, though.” Brian McElhiney, The Bulletin

HOT RAISIN:
Combining roots Americana, retro infused Indie and Folk, Hot Raisin will transport you to a place of dreamy melodies and arrangements that are good for the soul.

On Sunday I caught Hot Raisin once again, playing in that very same format of a trio at the fantastic Stanford Arms in Lowestoft.  I often describe them as my anti-depressants as they never fail to lift my mood.  It was a lovely atmosphere in the Stanford with a good sized crowd, friendly as ever, and David nodding away to the music at the sound-desk and even somehow finding the time to cook up a delicious dish for the interval between sets.

hot raisin at the stanford arms

Lots of new songs featured plus some mighty fine covers from the likes of Nancy Sinatra, Dolly Parton & Norah Jones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Gillian Welch, and Britney Spears!

#thesea #sea #coast #suffolk #instamood #lowestoft

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#birds #seagulls #instamood #endofsummer #coastaltown #lowestoft #suffolk #clouds #cloudstagram #sea

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On a train through the middle of beautiful nowhere #norfolk #norfolkbroads #landscape #instamood #cloudstagram #clouds

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I always enjoy my visits to the Stanford and love what David is doing there, he is a huge fan and supporter of local music, and runs a quite brilliant pub.

On the train journey back to Norwich I received a text from Shane O’Linski informing me that Andrea King was playing at The Plasterers, and I arrived just in time for her second set, which was beautiful and delicate as ever.  It’s hard to believe she has only been playing guitar for four years and even harder to imagine her not playing as she is such a natural and the effect I feel from the songs is of an empathic soul gently soothing the souls of others, or at least expressive to the extent that the listener feels the emotion of the song on a deep level. Beautiful.

andre king

Straight after this I made my way to Platform Twelve for Peter T’s Sunday Social Sessions as he was playing his set.   It seems it was a fantastic night from what I heard about the sets I missed earlier but I did catch some magic, from Peter of course, as always, and a real surprise set of a duo version of The Thinking Men to close the evening, playing like this for the first time.  This was brilliant stuff actually, think Nick Cave singing the blues!

the thimking men

For some reason there was only about a dozen people left by the time they came on but it was a treat to hear this set up. They have a gig coming up on Saturday at OPEN to coincide with the release of a new EP, some of which they played here. Support from Das Fenster, and Ghosts of Men.  This will obviously be a much bigger, louder affair but I do hope they play the duo format again some time.

peter t

all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2017

@RShashamane

http://www.rainbowgirlsmusic.com/

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http://www.bhmusic.co.uk/

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https://www.ents24.com/norwich-events/eaton-park-cafe/rainbow-girls/5051175

http://www.facebook.com/hotraisinmusic/

https://hotraisinmusic.bandcamp.com/releases

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Norwich: Music City, UK

Posted in Andrea King, Hot Raisin, Peter T, Rainbow Girls, the thinking men | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Morganway + Hot Raisin + Ginny Dix @ NAC 7 September 2017

Ever since I heard about this gig earlier this year it was one I was excited about and looking forward to, a superb line up for the aptly titled “Morganway Presents Roots Rock Americana at Norwich Arts Centre”, with stellar support from Hot Raisin and Ginny Dix, of course the gig sold out well before the night.

 

morganway

 

It was Ginny who opened the evening at 8pm and the auditorium quickly filled as she played at the piano, her voice quite stunning, powerfully creating a moody dreamscape soundtrack.  I’ve seen her a number of times both solo and in Chalky Seas and have always been impressed by her voice but this was the best yet, for me, and great to hear her in this NAC setting which suited her songs well.

 

ginny dix

 

I probably had as much adrenaline rushing through me as Hot Raisin ahead of their support … I was feeling genuine excitement ahead of seeing them and hearing them all together on the Arts Centre stage for the first time.  They certainly didn’t disappoint, their short set absolutely whizzing by and they sounded every bit as punchy and glorious as I expected, visually accompanied by a lovely rolling projection playing behind them. It truly was a thrill to hear the likes of Captain, Later, Embrace Me, Track and Field, Wolf in Me Skin, Whiskey Ginger in this setting and I think they made a lot of new fans here. Also, charming and lovely as ever between songs too and looking very cool, all of them all in black. I absolutely love Hot Raisin.

 

*UPDATE*   It has just been announced that, in something of a dream line-up for me, an acoustic Hot Raisin will be supporting my beloved Rainbow Girls from California, who after a two-year absence are returning for a UK tour, the first date of which will be in Norwich, where we know they have an amazing connection. It takes place this time at Eaton Park Cafe on Wednesday and will be a pared-down set from a three-piece Rainbow Girls. I cannot wait!

 

Hot Raisin also play the Stanford Arms at The Burston Crown the following day, and before all that a Sunday afternoon slot at the excellent Stanford Arms in Lowestoft. They also have a support slot to the Revelation Brothers at OPEN on the 22nd.

 

hot raisin at nachot raisin at nachot raisin at nachot raisin at nac

 

 

 

Headliners Morganway seem to take a giant step of progress each time I see them and are a professional, powerful and tight outfit but also friendly, warm and engaging too. Coming on to an intro tape and launching into Let Me Go their huge, spacious sound filled the room, and there were more cheers when Yve bounded onto the stage.  What an amazing front person she is, animated, in the moment, energetic, charismatic and with *that* voice. New-ish number Frozen in Our Time, with its Woodstock-esque Joni intro is my new favourite Morganway song.  My goosebumps highlight moment of the night. In my mind it is their masterpiece (thus far) and they should be extremely proud. It shows the band’s progression and collective talent superbly.  How do you follow a belting and rousing version of Jolene?  With an absolute gem like Frozen in Our Time. The band were joined by the excellent Rory Hill on bass who is a fine addition and all them played a blinder and clearly having a great time, which is always so good to see. It’s one of the things I love about Morganway, and Hot Raisin too for that matter.

morganwaymorganwaymorganwaymorganwaymorganwaymorganway

 

 

 

 

 

It was a wonderful atmosphere in the NAC with the packed crowd as engaged and enthusiastic as the band.  A number of new songs were previewed which will probably be on their album which they have just finished recording and which will be released next year.  There were also live favourites such as My Love Ain’t Gonna Save You, the covers of Dancing in the Dark and Jolene (stunning), and Devil’s Canyon finishing with a storming encore of Hurricane.  This had all the feel of a triumphant homecoming gig, which is of course what it was after a successful summer of high profile festival slots, increasing national recognition, and an Apple Tree Session for Whispering Bob Harris. A set now so strong there isn’t even room for Stand in Your Way … if there is any justice then big things could await Morganway, they certainly deserve it and have everything and are firmly established in the Premier League of East Anglian bands.  Their sound is big and they can fill any sized stage with it but crucially, they also resist overdoing things so the songs have space to breathe giving them that massive sound … they know when “less is more” and the space is as key as any of the sounds.

morganway

 

Morganway’s next Norwich show will be in a pared-down format at OPEN on 10 November in support of the delightful Worry Dolls. I’m looking forward to this one already. Tickets here.

 

gihot raisin at nacmorganwaymorganwaymorganwaymorganway

 

What a great gig and atmosphere with so much positive energy and love, all three acts were the best I have seen them. There was such a magical presence that I even noticed a feather float down from the NAC roof onto the stage during Morganway’s set. One of my favourite shows of the year and these were all local artists.

 

hot raisin at nachot raisin at nachot raisin at nac

hot raisin at nachot raisin at nachot raisin at nac

hot raisin at nac

 

 

Big thanks to all the artists and Norwich Arts Centre.

 

all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2017

@RShashamane

http://www.morganway.co.uk/

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http://www.hotraisin.com/

http://www.facebook.com/ginnydixmusic/

http://www.norwichartscentre.co.uk

 

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Norwich: Music City, UK

Posted in Best gigs, Ginny Dix, Hot Raisin, live music and dance, morganway, Norwich Arts Centre, Yve Mary B / Morganway | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment