Thursday, December 19, 2019

Single Review - Big Man, Small Town - Alan Finlan

It’s that time of year when the big guy with a beard comes and gives us gifts.  No, not Santa, Alan Finlan, with his new single Big Man, Small Town.  Following on from his first single release Whisky Eyes, this track has a much grittier feel to it and takes Alan in a slightly different direction

From the guitar licks to open, to Alan’s vocal over the slightly heavy instrumentation the song appears to be auto-biographical – thinking about where your career and life is taking you and what steps you need to take.  Fresh back from Nashvillle where he got the approval of William Michael Morgan you can sense that this is probably on Alan’s mind!

Big Man, Small Town has that edge to the sound that feels like a live performance, easy to sing along to, especially with a drink in hand!

As we start to think about next year’s festivals, we start to picture artists on stage, and this is one song that is sure to sound great at any live gig, backed by a big rowdy band!

Big Man, Small Town, the new single from Alan Finlan Music is available to download and stream now from all major platforms.

Find Alan on Facebook and in a small town looking to leave….

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Single Review - That Girl - Emily Lockett

After a busy summer appearing on a range of line ups and wowing the crowds both inside and outside the inaugural British Country Music Festival Singer Songwriter Emily Lockett is back with a new single That Girl.

As a female performer of Pop Country, the comparisons with Taylor Swift are almost inevitable, but although there is a mid-Atlantic twang underlying Emily’s voice, she is no tribute act, although the inspiration is obviously there.

This comparison can lead us neatly into the message behind the song.   This is a coming of age song, Emily is stating what kind of girl she wants to be – and she wants to be herself. The message is delivered in a very confident way, the track has a very positive feel from the instrumental opening, reflected in the words and the delivery.  Emily is telling herself how she wants to be, essentially singing to herself in her reflection, reminding herself that

life is short and I don’t want to waste it

Considering her age, at a point in her life with her musical career growing, and moving on this song could probably not be timed better in a personal sense, and after such a high profile summer also well timed professionally

With pep talks and songs like this, it won’t be long before we are all hearing Emily when we are  “listening to the radio too loud”

That Girl, the new single from Emily Lockett is available to preorder now and download/stream from all major platforms on 13 December

Find Emily on facebook, online and in front of a mirror, reminding herself...

Friday, December 6, 2019

Single Review - Wildfire - Lauren Jane

Liverpool based artiste Lauren Jane has released her latest single Wildfire. Much of Lauren’s work is based on real life – as good Country and Country influenced music should be!  Wildfire tells the tale of a relationship that has burned brightly but now burned out, but rather than sounding bitter, Lauren sings this as someone who is accepting the reality and is moving on.  Lauren possesses a beautiful voice with a bit of fight in there!

The song itself has a gentle introduction with the guitar plucking and then a stunning voice creates a very visual picture. Drums increase the intensity and you can hear the fight reflected in Lauren's voice.

This is a beautifully produced song, the instrumentation and effects serve to highlight Lauren’s voice, the tempo accentuates the emotion and the words certainly tell us the reality of the story

Just like wildfire spreads, this song grows on you and you can't help but tap along to the beat. 

Wildfire, the new single from Lauren Jane is available now to download from here and you can find Lauren on social media or her own website

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Gig Review - Comeback Queen Album Launch - Sam Coe

Breakfast on Friday morning with Sam Coe was interrupted by her constantly checking the iTunes charts – totally understandable as her album had launched and hit Number 3 in the country charts, behind Luke Combs and Lady Antebellum

Keen though she was to check the chart position, sales aren’t the be all and end all for the album (although much appreciated!) Sam is more keen that people enjoy it, and that people come to her shows to hear her music.  Clearly performing her music is what is most important to Sam.

The album launch itself took pace the previous night at the very historic Epic Studios in Norwich.

The evening opened with local singer songwriter Breeze Redwine with her country influenced brand of rock, singing with her acoustic guitar and a backing track.  Ags Connolly was up next on a line up that reflected the excitement of the evening.  Ags brings a real Country feel, with his Oxfordshire burr, his self-deprecating humour and his beautifully honest songs. He doesn’t have many “happy2 songs, but even his downbeat songs feel uptempo!  The Fatherline then too to the stage to really warm up the crowd ahead of the main event.  A very experienced band for one so new – on only their fifth gig together. Tim Prottey-Jones showed the power and range of his vocals as well as his great stage presence, accompanied by Rich Watson and Steven Marks

And so to the main event. With the album 9 months in the making there were some understandable nerves in the green room, but Sam swept onto the stage and powered out that songs from her new album.  Excited to have backing singers for the first time (and more excited that they did the backing singers dance!) Sam effortlessly switched between guitar, keys and just singing. Her vocal range and power is stunning and she utterly filled the room with music. The album itself is a showcase of Sam’s talent and influences, and this launch paid testament to that and more.

Each track was introduced with a little story. We learned that the beautifully atmospheric In The Moments was the track that gave birth to the album, that Concrete was inspired by the TV series Chernobyl and that Bonfire was written on Bonfire night 2018!

Sam was joined on stage by another artist from the Ginger Dog label – Vincent Knight – on guitar, Sam sat at the Keyboard for them to duet on a cover of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game, which allowed Sam to demonstrate the absolute purity of her voice and the notes hit all four corners of this former TV studio

Simon James, label mate and close friend not only played lead guitar but performed one of his own songs giving Sam the chance of a quick break “To drink some more prosecco”.  In reality, while most singers would have taken the opportunity of a costume change, Sam instead took some quick photos and then prepared her latest toy – her white Gretsch which she brought on stage.

Saving the best till last, the show ended with the title track and Sam’s personal anthem Comeback Queen, but there was more.  As the band came off, the comeback queen came back for one last song – a solo rendition of Merry-Go-Round to end the night.

Comeback Queen is a stunning album, with many musical influences showing off Sam Coe’s obvious talent as a songwriter and performer. The launch evening was the same – a fabulous showcase full of talent from start to finish, and very fitting for such a piece of work

Available to download and stream now, we will be hearing a lot more of this album  and of Sam Coe across 2020 and beyond

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Single Review - Stay - Jade Helliwell

After an incredibly busy year touring, receiving awards and encouraging other musicians in her role as a Road To The Main Stage ambassador, Jade has  collaborated again with Jess Thristan on her latest release - Stay.

For the country fans it’s a good old fashioned cheating song; however this one is written from the perspective of the cheater!   Jade explains that she wanted the listener to be able to relate, this song explores the emotional dilemma of falling for someone else, and the guilt that follows. 

In her own words
Its different from anything I've released so far so I hope people will enjoy the storytelling style of that's the part of country music that I love

With a beautiful piano opening, we instantly hear Jade's voice. The rise and fall of her voice explains the situation. There's both clarity and emotion in her voice that takes you on the emotional roller coaster. 

Beautifully held notes add the tension - as well as demonstrating the power of Jade's vocals.  A dramatic finish, the music fades out and I can't help but wonder what happened to these individuals. 

We can't find the fault in this song and a reason for you not to get it!

Stay, the new single from Jade Helliwell, is available to download and stream from Friday 29 November on all major platforms.

Find Jade on facebook and her website 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Single Review - Lonely - Danny McMahon

After a busy summer of festivals, Danny McMahon has returned to the studio and is releasing his latest single Lonely this Friday 

We are used to Danny having big openings to his shows and singles, and this song is no different, although this time whilst a big intro, it isn’t a heavy one, with a nice use of guitar establishing the melody line. Danny’s voice comes in to start telling the story, and the mix is spot on with his vocal not overpowered by the instrumentation.

As the emotion of the song builds so does the music, with a heavier bass line coming in, but dropping away for the emotive line “Baby can we do this one more time?”

Danny himself says of the song
The lyrical theme is reflective of what has become a very desperate situation that someone cannot get out. The listener could relate this to any current scenario they are going through.

Whilst the theme of the song is a downbeat one, the overall vibe is quite powerful and positive, suggesting that whatever situation you find yourself in, don’t give up!

In addition to his festival appearances, Danny has been collecting awards and nominations galore making for a very successful 2019 which is ending with the “Make Mine Country” tour across the UK alongside Stevie O’Connor and Elliott Joseph. 

Lonely, the new single from Danny McMahon is available on all platforms on Friday 22 November

Catch Danny on social media or on tour now

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Gig Review - Country In The Afternoon November 2019 - Half Moon Putney

After the success of the first Country in The Afternoon, Cumbrae Promotions treated us again to a mini festival of music, in the iconic venue in the corner of South West London.  The back room with its classic red drapes has hosted many a famous name over the years and is a promoter’s dream since everything needed for a live gig is already in situ including the branded drum kit.  

The twelve thirty to five thirty event is perfect for the winter months, no late-night commute although lots of people will hang around to grab a bite to eat from the bar and if lucky have a photo opportunity or chat with a couple of the artists. However, this year with its incredible line up, Sunday saw people arriving as the venue opened. 

The two days provided something for every type of country music lover imaginable. Gavin had done an amazing job in selecting and balancing the acts.

Day 1 – the Northern take over (Dublin is North of London so Silverball Country is sticking with its description of the day!)

The day was opened by Blackpoolian Emma Moore showing the power of her voice, no stranger to opening after the British Country Music Festival.  Whilst Emma is very humble and acknowledges the talent of others, (especially those that have influenced her music, the 90s powerhouse of country women), she not shy when it comes to giving her opinion – but honesty is what county music all is about right! (We agree Emma).  Although Emma referred to her missing band a few times, this girl doesn’t need a band - her voice and stage presence filled the room. Mixed in with her strong and powerful vocal there was a slight twang and her lyrics are captivating. Emma finished her set in her traditional way with ‘Trouble’, letting the crowd know they could pick up their tall, dark and handsome T-shirts from the merch table.   Emma hung arrive for the rest of the day, friendly chatting away, singing along and even a little bit of dancing at the side of the room. 

Up next were the Jaywalkers, an Americana band from Chester who Gavin discovered at Buckle and Boots.  Sadly Jay, their lead singer was suffering from a cold, something that was pointed out by her partner and mandolin player Mike as she poorly attempted to hide her tissue.  Jay, in good spirit, used this opportunity - with her voice approximately 2 octaves lower than normal - to deliver a show stopping, “where did that come from” Johnny Cash number.  To allow Jay’s voice to rest the trio moved on to an instrumental number which highlighted how they blend the bass, mandolin and fiddle in perfect harmony; the room was transported to the deep south, perhaps Burnt Chilli Creek, the title of one of their songs. As they moved through their set list, we learnt that Mike writes most of the songs from everyday encounters, but discovered more about the group dynamic – the girls had no sympathy for the mandolin struggling with the temperature difference between the stage and the dressing room; its his own fault for having 8 strings, as they both only have 4 and were perfectly fine!  Lucy also had no choice about passing picks back and forth as she had chosen to stand in the middle. 

Next came the Irish Duo, The Remedy Club made up of husband and wife Kj McEvoy & Aileen Mythen. The pair are old school country with an understandably Celtic vibe. The pair played at the 2018 Millport Country Music Festival and still aimed to keep Gavin happy by playing one of his favourite songs.  The pair have been busy in Nashville recording their new album and a new single is expected early next year.  They joked that their music was out there somewhere on digital platforms, which they didn’t really understand but hoped we would.

The room become a little fuller during the final interval, as Gavin warned us to be ready for the force of nature that is Stevie O’Connor.  

Recent Entertainer of the Year award winner Stevie O’Connor was Saturday’s headliner. His band was already in place as he made his way on stage. Surprisingly he opened with a quiet (as least for him) number and said hello before he brought the party with a quick switch from guitar to the banjo. The foot was stamping, the sound grew louder, and he invited the crowd to sing and clap along.  Country Road, lyrics that include ‘waiting on Willy’ and ‘country women make good lovers’ are always going to be crowd pleasers but we saw a more sentimental side with his tribute to the late Amy Winehouse.  Emma More was invited back on stage to perform ‘She’s on Fire’ and the two really did give a great performance dancing along together. Once Stevie thought the crowd was woken up, in his words it was time to go nuts!  Only Stevie could drag 3 ladies on stage to be his backing dancers, get away with wiggling his bum, sticking out his tongue and repeatedly lunging into the crowd.  The crowd was in rapture with everyone singing and dancing along. 

Nobody wanted to go home, but there was the promise of more to come tomorrow as we shuffled out of the room.

Day 2 – Sensational Sunday  

Francesca quickly realised that once you found a space you better stick in it as there was no room to spare in the venue, thus the new tradition of leaving your boots as a place marker was born!  

London based O&O opened with their full band for their first time playing together in London: Jake Stanton, Ash Millburn & Joe Cruise; following a beautiful typed up setlist, something that would not be seen as the day progressed. Orian and Obadiah took turns to talk to the audience, introducing themselves and explaining their history. We were treated to both new and old material and were asked to sing along with one of their choruses. This was a lively set with Orian, dancing around on the stage, it seemed that they were having as much fun as the crowd as their drummer had to call time. 

Next up was Gary Quinn, but having recently received the award for male vocalist of the year it was felt that he needed a bigger introduction than that which could be delivered by Gavin.  The crowd went wild as William Michael Morgan did the honours. Gary opened with a Chris Young cover which quickly turned into his own song, one that many would agree would be great for Chris to sing. We heard the tales of the many Nashville artists that Gary has worked with and how his songs came about, and of course how Kenny Chesney and Ed Sheeran beat him to using the title ‘Tip of My Tongue.  The audience was fully engaged and responded with humour to his questions about being in love.  Gary admits that music can be cheeky, I wonder what Gary thinks while sings some of his songs as there is a cheeky grin on his face. He left the crowd with a question: Am I a boob, bum or legs man?  The answer he would reveal to anyone purchasing a CD.  Gary may have been on his own on stage, but his presence filled the room. 

A trend had been set; it was Megan Louise that introduced the female vocalist of the year, Kezia Gill onto stage.  Kezia admitted that she didn’t come down to the Big Smoke (London) very often, she couldn’t afford the parking but was humbled to be there. Her songs included a dedication to her husband Lloyd for their anniversary and the tear jerker ‘Local Man’s Star’ for her dad. To complete the set, her 3 loves (husband, dad, and Johnny) she had to put in her Johnny Cash number.  The surprise of the night was that Kezia had asked her younger sister, Rosie to sing with her on stage.  Yep, they are a musical family like the Von Trapps and we all agreed that Rosie should sing professionally.  Kezia hoped everyone would remember her name, written on her guitar strap as nobody gets it right and would like her on Facebook - it’s all about the likes.  A high energy set, with Kezia playing both the guitar and keyboard.  She looked and sounded amazing as always and I think she definitely got one or two new fans. 

Headlining was the man that people had travelled for – American artist  William Michael Morgan. There is no mistaking his black stetson and the scarf he was given by fans up in Glasgow.  He also pointed out the pins (badges) he had been given; if he had the pin, he was in, that’s the ways it works, isn’t it?  William gave thanks for O&O whom he had just met, his little buddy Gary and Kezia who “sings her arse off”.   Despite a few songs written on the back of a menu, which manged to get stuck to his foot and therefore seen by all, William asked the audience what they wanted him to sing. We were treated to new material, so new he forgot some of the lyrics to Brokenhearted along with classics: Talking to A Girl,  Missing and Beer Drinker. 

Another treat of the evening was when Megan Louise was invited onto stage to duet with him and given the compliment of being too young to be that good!

William finished his set with the song that started everything off: I Met A Girl. He thanked the crowd for the love that they had shown him and country music and hoped we would receive the same welcome in the States. He left on a humorous note, disclosing to Gavin he had danced with his daughter Fiona at the BCMAs; but it was all her fault and she’s bigger than him. He promised to be back soon, perhaps bringing his buddy Trent Thomlinson with him, who co-wrote Lonesomeville.

So, get your tickets now as he will be headlining Buckle and Boots in 2020!

Silverball Country

Friday, November 15, 2019

Album Review - Comeback Queen - Sam Coe

When we met Sam Coe for a chat recently, she told us all about her forthcoming album, her solo project “Comeback Queen”. This doesn’t mean she is ditching her long shadows, more that she has built up a collection of songs, written on the piano at her music school which are more suitable for a solo album.
Supported by Kevin and Abi at Ginger Dog records, Sam has now finished and released her new album, and it is clear that she is excited to share it with the world.  The first single from the album Hard Time showed that Sam had gone – in Francesca’s words - “dark and sassy”, a description that Sam particularly likes.  The rest of the album is in a similar vein, in that it has allowed Sam to explore some other sounds.

That exploration is immediately evident on the opening track Comeback Queen.  Opening with a moody keyboard intro, a build from the Hammond organ, introduction of guitars, the bass line, this track really builds the expectation, you can almost see Sam walking down stage to deliver her whispering, dusky vocal.  With this opening, Sam has established herself as a musical diva as much as a Comeback Queen.

The Hammond organ is present throughout the album and is very much in evidence in Bonfire – a slow, measured song with Sam’s vocal over the organ sounding awesome, and the organ itself provides such a great counterpoint to the soaring voice.

The musical style varies across the album, showcasing a range of influences, from the rapid almost staccato Devil Don’t Care which drops into a 60s vibe, to the honky-tonk piano style in Concrete which summons an image of Sam draped across a baby grand in perhaps a Chicago speakeasy. This feels like Sam at her most playful.

In The Moments and The Truth both strip back the tempo and the arrangement so that we can once again focus on Sam’s voice- very measured in The Truth, powerful but almost plaintive in In The Moments, which is a stand out track on a stand out album.

Cruel brings back Sam’s huskier voice and raises the tempo, while Safe and Sound is Sam and piano in true singer songwriter style
Burnt Out features great instrumentation and soft backing vocals, but highlights why Sam chose to do a solo album as a project, and whilst she sounds great with her Long Shadows, songs such as this highlight her vocal and performance range, and her classical training

Comeback Queen is an album of many styles and is a wonderful journey through some of Sam’s varied influences.  Merry Go Round is more of a nod to her country background, with just a guitar as backing whilst Hard Time is the Dark, Sassy side to Sam, and was an inspired choice as the first single, announcing as it does that solo Sam is here, and that the album is something different.

It is clear that Sam has enjoyed creating this body of work, and you will certainly enjoy listening to it. Very well produced by Ginger Dog Records, it is perfect listening for the long dark nights ahead - put it on, sit back and enjoy.

Comeback Queen, the new album from Sam Coe is available from 29 November, with the album launch at Epic Studios Norwich on Thursday 28 November. 

With a great album and a great support line up, it will be a fitting and fun evening!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Gig Review - Buckle & Boots presents ‘It’s Your Round’ – Birmingham, 11th November

Buckle & Boots managed to bring together into a small room in the Sunflower Lounge, central Birmingham the amazing talents of:

·        William Michael Morgan (“Willy”/WMM)

·        American Young (Jon & Kristy)

·        Gary Quinn

·        Lewis Brice

Using the “round” style that is popular at the award-winning annual country music festival, just outside Manchester, each of the artist takes turn to sing a song and tell the audience more about it.  However, it is hard to keep a good musician down and you will see they all support each other and play along to each other’s songs. 

Lewis probably set the theme of the night with his first song: Best Ex Ever.  A popular topic continued by the others which could have quite happily seen this tour renamed ‘The Ex’s Tour’, strictly for those over 18.

This is a group that has spent time together; some are old friends going way back and there are several writing combinations within the group. History combined with the tiredness of touring, made for a night with slight lower barriers, lots of banter, back handed compliments and the odd risky remark.  The Jack Daniels may have also played a part too; obviously there to help Kristy work through her cold (nobody would have noticed she was under the weather, giving 100%) but she reported on Jon’s enquiry that it had made everyone in the audience look beautiful and they had doubled in number.

Kristy flipped her violin on its side and plucked it guitar style for Point Of View - a quirky little song where the duo sang about each other; basically, Kristy likes to talk and Jon's too cute to stay mad at.  This was very fitting in the relaxed atmosphere and took the banter to a heightened level. As Gary explained in his introduction to Bumpin Into You, that his downfall were five foot four brunettes, the biggest laugh of the night went to WMM’s comment “if they were five foot five, they would terrify you!”.

No country gig would be complete with a redneck reference, and of course these guys didn’t disappoint - they referred to the family tree so close there were no branches.  Kristy in perfect melody followed on from Gary’s song with the line “that’s my cousin!”.

Earlier in their tour, the boys ganged up on Kristy and gave her stick for how much she talks and what she says; she was fighting back tonight. She told the crowd Jon’s major was in line dancing, a comment stemming from WMM’s offer for the audience to dance along in the small space just in front of the stage. We might have given him the wrong impression by creating a line dancing routine to his song Missing. 

We have to thank Gary for looking after the group and WMM for his honesty. After losing a pick borrowed from Gary, he leaned across and whispered to Jon “have you got a spare pick?” His response, “no I borrowed one from Gary”. He leaned further and whispered the same question to Lewis, resulting in the same response “I borrowed one from Gary”. There was a period whilst Gary and WMM shared a pick but finally gave in and told the audience what happened, asking if anyone had a spare pick. Luckily Dee D James was in the audience and could assist!

Gary told us that the current trend in Nashville was to write songs about what's happening in the moment.  I think everyone could relate to the songs sung, there were a couple of requests made earlier and honoured; it was nice to hear WMM sing The Chair – originally by the King, George Strait.

With the round over, there was one last treat in store, a group rendition of Friends In Low Places. Then in true Buckle & Boots style the artists mingled with everyone at the bar. 

Buckle & Boots (Karl, Laura & Gary) - thank you so much for bringing some of your best performances from this year out on the road. You have magically recreated your festival feel but made it winter friendly, namely, suitable for the indoors. Nothing has been lost in the atmosphere, the friendliness, the drinking and above all an amazing music experience.

When Silverball Country met...Lewis Brice

Having spent time with Lewis while he was at Buckle & Boots in the Summer and during this, his second visit to the UK, we took a few minutes pre-show to find out a little bit more about him and his career.

Starting at the beginning, Francesca asked where Lewis found his love of music

I grew up in a musical family – Mom had a group called the Lewis sisters and they taught my dad to sing. Music has transcended down the family, my brother sings, even singing in the car 5 years old to Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville and growing up singing in church, so from a young age I’ve always loved music and after moving to Nashville I knew this is what I’ve got to do

As a solo artiste, when writing a song – who do you turn to, to say whether the song cuts it?

I turn to myself. If it sticks to me then I definitely want to cut it. I’ve written 1000’s of songs. When I go to a room to write, I’m writing for the song that comes out that day

Lewis has a rather well-known brother in Lee Brice so we asked about the dynamic there – how much support does Lee give you?

I get a lot of support from him, we work together all the time. He has been my executive producer, we write together, I go on the road to shows with him. It’s a help/help thing, and he is a little further on than I am so I use him as a sounding board

When Lewis played at Buckle & Boots it was his first visit to the UK, this tour has been his second – so we asked what he thought about the UK and the UK country scene

You guys are absolutely amazing, everyone is so nice and you are all really into the music we are playing and the venues have been so intimate so the listeners that have been there have actually listened to the music and are fans and a part of it. Its been a great experience both times I have been here and I hope I can keep on coming back – you guys are absolutely amazing

Having seen Lewis perform a stunning act headlining at Buckle and Boots, and also playing intimate gigs – which is the real Lewis Brice?

I’ve done both my whole life, I cut my teeth doing acoustic shows I feel really comfortable doing those, but I really get off doing the full band show when I can run around, I have a lot of energy to give out there and I try and give out all the energy I can get back, its kind of a mix between the two, because if it is just me and my guitar I’m still running around playing as hard as I can.

With all this experience playing and being on the road, what would Lewis consider to be his dream venue?

I’ve never played there, but Red Rocks in Colorado. Its just a majestic venue, and that drives you to do what you are doing

So with two visits under his belt, and a clear love for the UK and UK listeners, Francesca asked on her own behalf, and on behalf of all fans of Lewis Brice - When is your UK tour?

This is the last time playing in the UK this year, but maybe setting something up for next year, hopefully in the spring.

We’ll hold you to that Lewis!  You clearly love the UK, and we all love you too – hurry back!

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Gig Review - American Young & Lewis Brice - Olympic Studios

If you only associate Cumbrae Promotions with the fabulous Millport Festival each year, you are missing out on some incredible events on a slightly smaller scale – although certainly not smaller quality!

The latest offering from Gavin and Christine was an “Intimate Nashville Songwriters Round” in the beautiful and historic Olympic Studios in Barnes, SW London. In order to fit everyone in, it really did give it an intimate feel, everyone was in touching distance including the artistes, with 3 rows in a semi circle around the microphones. There was to be no crowd movement during the set to sneak to the bar. Everyone had to move together and mind the cables leading to the poor sound guy squeezed down the side of the bar.

The artistes on the bill were quite a choice too – frequent visitors to the UK American Young alongside their close friend Lewis Brice on only his second visit to the UK, following his appearance at Buckle & Boots earlier this year.

The setting seemed to really suit American Young, although they are quite comfortable headlining a festival stage, the intimacy really brought out Kristy’s violin playing and Jon’s almost delicate vocal, much of the time moving away from the microphone so we could hear them in their purest form.  Next to them Lewis managed to deliver a big stage performance whilst standing still!  Even in this small room, Lewis showed that his style is capable of filling a room without overpowering it.

Rather than a traditional round, all three, whilst alternating the lead, were clearly having a fun time jamming together, joining in with each other’s songs and swapping banter – mostly at Kristy’s expense with some good-natured teasing from the boys flanking her.  We were treated to a real mix of new material, older songs, favourites, unreleased material and covers.  Jon in particular seemed incredibly relaxed from the start, enjoying a glass of pinot noir whilst waiting for everyone to arrive and this set the tone for the whole evening.

The setting and the atmosphere felt we were part of a casual jam session not at a concert, there were no set lists, confusion over who was singing next, at least on Kirsty's part as she would start a story and Jon would interrupt, Lewis happy to go with the flow and wait. There were forgotten words, a little retuning, drinks passed forward and glances outside the room where Kirsty ‘s son Jesse was watching.

It seemed natural, a chat you have with good friends,  that Lewis sang a brand-new song and asked our opinion on whether he should record it. The answer was a resounding yes!

Kirsty said Lewis was the 3rd member of American Young, it was clear they knew each other well, Jon and Lewis frequently write together and therefore perfectly fitting to hear a smooth  rendition of “Just the Two Of Us” which then became “Just the Three of Us”.

Twice it was suggested that the singing had come to an end, but nobody wanted to leave; even Kristy called for an encore. Apparently not something artistes should do but absolutely fine with everyone so more songs were sung including slightly imperfect but utterly wonderful encore of Hotel California

Truly an intimate, unique and entertaining night of music, an unmissable event.  Cumbrae Promotions – you’ve done it again, thank you!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Gig Review - Kyle Park - The Islington

Missing Texas already, Francesca took a gamble and decided to head to The Islington in London to hear Texan Kyle Park sing for the first time on his first UK performance. 

We understand country music to be 3 chords and the truth, so I suppose we must love the honesty when Kyle confessed that all his songs were from the heart but, they might not always be true. 

With Kyle’s own country favourites including Roger Miller, Merle Haggard, George Jones and George Strait; you could describe Kyle’s style as “old school”, but sadly there was no fiddle in the room or even the swing band he is associated with at the Colorado Music Festival. Kyle filled the space with his own presence, oh and that of a beer and a few whiskey shots on the side table; perfect props for Smoke And Beers

There is a religious element to his music that we have come to expect from the US. Kyle explained that his song Rio, had both a spiritual and rodeo message – sometimes you just have to go with the flow. The chorus of Don’t Forget Where You Come From: “Pray out loud, make your parents proud and don’t forget where you come from” says it all.   

You couldn’t ask to meet a nicer guy, on or off stage. The audience was treated to Kyle’s newest single – Every Day Kind of Love, dedicated to his wife Brandy, who momentarily stole the show as she came forward to give him a kiss afterwards. She also was the instigator of the two-stepping. 

The dancing and singing along was appreciated and welcomed. Kyle recalled a press conference in Europe back when he was just 21 where he was asked if he minded that the crowd danced and sang, his response – “Have you been to Texas?”!

This moved us nicely into redneck territory, Kyle explained it wasn’t always an insult and he definitely had redneck family members, an uncle that spent more annually on his BBQ pit than his kids’ education.  Kyle wrote his song Rednecks with Paychecks before he realised it was the name of a venue in Texas (check it out at 

Kyle acknowledged that country music is all about the lyrics (Amen), but he wished that it could get back creativity and focus on the song writing rather than studio tricks, etc. He wants a song that can make you laugh, or cry, even both.  Kyle didn’t fail to deliver with his tribute to George Strait, Fit For The King, an amalgamation of his song titles.

Kyle plays in France tomorrow before returning to Texas. We hope he comes back soon.