Tuesday 30 April 2013

Review: Hope Dunbar – Woman Like Me

Hope Dunbar – Woman Like Me (Independent)
Hope Dunbar has been singing for as long as she can remember, though always other people’s songs. That all changed a few years ago when the thirty-something, mother of three, suddenly discovered her songwriting chops – “Woman Like Me” marks her debut as a singer-songwriter.

Country-folk and Americana are her genres of choice, and fans of Patty Griffin, Julie Miller and Lucinda Williams will find much on “Woman Like Me” to enjoy. Musically, the production is full and layered, without distracting from Dunbar’s songwriting and her strong, rootsy voice. She begins her album with the title track, and it’s a doozey. Her vocals are beautifully showcased, and the rolling country rhythm, propelled by keyboards and guitar, is just perfection itself. It’s followed by “Mismatched Love” and I’m instantly reminded of “Dusty In Memphis”…

One of Dunbar’s other projects is the Star Belle Uke Trio, so it’s no real surprise when the instrument takes centre-stage on “Long Winding Road” and its folky pleasures are powerfully contrasted by the following track, the gospel influenced “Heartbreak Hotel”, a commanding performance by everyone involved, and quite possibly the best track on an album which is consistently robust. It certainly provides a compelling argument for one of the higher profile Americana labels to sign up Dunbar pronto.
Phil S.

Tonight at The Musician: Willie Nile

Cheaseweasel Promotions presents...

Willie Nile
Tuesday 30th April
£12adv £14door
plus The David Sinclair Trio
Willie Nile is a songwriters’ songwriter. No less a personage than Lucinda Williams has said of him, “Willie Nile is a great artist. If there was any justice in this world, I’d be opening up for him instead of him for me.” And he’s never been more eloquent than he is here. Lou Reed hails Streets of New York as “a great album,” while Graham Parker calls it “a real gem—stirring melodies, passionate vocals, intriguing lyrics…every track a winner.” Says Ian Hunter, “Willie’s from the big-hearted downtown alleyways of NYC (New York commitment). Well done!” Little Steven adds, “Willie Nile is so good I can’t believe he’s not from New Jersey!”

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Gatsby author F Scott Fitzgerald's accounts go online

Author F Scott Fitzgerald's handwritten records of his life and career have been made available to fans and scholars after being put online.

The Great Gatsby author kept records of his publications, income and key events in a ledger, which has been put online by the University of South Carolina.

They show he made $2,000 from The Great Gatsby when it was published in 1925.

But income from the book increased, with a payment of $16,666 for film rights made the following year.

The records have been made available to coincide with the latest big-screen version of the book - a film directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio is released in May and is opening Cannes Film Festival.

Park Bucker, an associate English professor at the university, told the Associated Press news agency that the ledger "may be a unique artefact among American authors".

"This is going to be an amazing thing for students to pore over and dip into," he said. "He created his own database. We do it on computers now, but he did it for himself."

'Terrible failures'

The ledger begins in 1919 and covers the period until 1938. He died in 1940.

The document is divided into five sections - a record of published fiction, money earned by writing, published miscellany (including movies), the earnings of wife Zelda and a year-by-year account of his life.

The autobiographical section begins with his birth in 1896. Of February 1900, he wrote, referring to himself: "He celebrated the new century by swallowing a penny and catching the measles. He got rid of both of them."

By his 20s, his yearly round-ups lamented how his life was "full of terrible failures and acute miseries" (in 1923). When he was 36, in 1932, it was "a strange year of work & drink. Increasingly unhappy".

"This is a record of everything Fitzgerald wrote, and what he did with it, in his own hand," said Elizabeth Sudduth, director of the Ernest F Hollings Library at the University of South Carolina.

"We know he didn't spell very well," she said. "And his arithmetic wasn't much better."

Source: BBC

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Review: Seth Roth – Types & Shadows

Seth Roth – Types & Shadows (Independent)
Seth Roth is a natural born vocalist. The Tacoma, Washington native has seen singing since he was five and spent a dozen years fronting an alternative rock band before discovering songwriters like Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Now solo, his new record, the five-track “Types & Shadows” EP indicates an artist who is constantly evolving, and discovering multiple new musical avenues to explore.

Defining his music as ‘folk’, Roth is being somewhat disingenuous. There’s far too much happening on these five tracks to file it away under one genre, though there’s a consistency to his sound that makes everything here recognizable as coming from a single source, and is underpinned by Roth’s warm, soulful voice.

He begins with “Unapologetic”, where he’s joined by award-winning songwriter Beth Whitney on vocals; the pair of them combining beautifully, and if they decided to collaborate on a complete album, they can put me down for a copy right now. His Dylan influence is referenced on “Blood On the Tracks”, though beyond the title and it’s oblique ‘70s musical allusions, it’s very much a contemporary song. My favourite may be the EP closer, “Through the Night”, where Roth lays his soul bare. It might not be the easiest of listens, but it’s honest and real.
Phil S.

Monday 29 April 2013

Six.by Seven announce UK tour

Nottingham’s six.by seven will be heading out on the road this July to promote their new album, Love and Peace and Sympathy - out 8th July!

UK Dates:
Tuesday 23rd July -  Bristol, Louisanna
Wednesday 24th July - London, Lexington
Thursday 25th July -  Exeter, Cavern Club
Friday 26th July - Manchester, Soundcontrol
Saturday 27th July - Notingham, Rescue Rooms
Sunday 28th July -  Leeds, Brudenell Social Club

Six.by Seven released their first album, The Things We Make to rave reviews in 1998.  Five Peel Sessions followed, an appearance on ‘Later With Jools Holland’ and much touring.  The band gained a strong underground following, and released four more albums.  Lead singer and creative force, Chris Olley preferred to shun the limelight, releasing internet only albums of wide ranging music, and building valve distortion boxes for a number of famous bands with fellow guitarist, Martin Cooper.

After a wrong phone call to a music shop and a chance meeting in London, Olley found himself having a beer with ex Placebo / Boo Radleys drummer Steve Hewitt.  It turned out to be a magical and divine coming together as Hewitt said, “There’s nothing for it, I should throw my drums in the car and come up to Nottingham and get you rocking again.”

What followed was four months of rehearsing old songs Olley had written over the last five years, before the band recruited producer, Dan Austin (Massive Attack, Doves, Biffy Clyro) and recorded 9 tracks at the legendary Moles studio in Bath.

This July sees the release of what is arguably six.by seven’s most accomplished album.  Nine songs of pure drumming dynamite, feral guitars and a string of songs dealing with the human condition and broken dreams. It’s been emotional.

You can also catch six. by seven headlining one of the farewell gigs at  Kentish Town's Bull and Gate on Wednesday 1st May.

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Tonight at The Musician: The City Acoustic Club

The City Acoustic Club
Monday 29th April
Free open mic night

For up to date info and news please join The City Acoustic Club Facebook group!

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Composers announced for new music biennial

Noisettes singer Shingai Shoniwa will work on a song inspired by the 2014 Commonwealth Games

Twenty new works from the likes of composer Matthew Herbert and folk group Lau are to be created for a New Music Biennial in 2014.

The inaugural event, developed by PRS for Music, is designed to "celebrate creativity" and "inspire audiences" across the UK.

Another commission includes a song by The Noisettes' Shingai Shoniwa.

Each of the 20 new works will be performed across two weekends in London and Glasgow next summer.

"It is always a pleasure to celebrate the diversity and quality of the UK's contemporary compositional scene," said Roger Wright, controller of BBC Radio 3 and chair of the biennial judging panel.

"The 20 projects selected by the distinguished panel are wide-ranging and exciting. They promise to offer a stimulating experience, either live or in the radio broadcasts," he added.

Skateboarding choir

The composition from electronic music pioneer Herbert will feature the sounds of 20 pianos from across the world, including Steinways and forgotten out-of-tune family instruments, at famous locations.

Other collaborations include jazz musician Gwilym Simcock, working with City of London Sinfonia and clarinettist Michael Collins; and a project in which a young composer, Samuel Bordoli, will bring together opera and skateboarding in London and Scotland.

Composer and broadcaster Mary Ann Kennedy is leading a collaboration on ferryboat songs from the Scottish Highlands, which combines folk and electronica.

Shoniwa, from London indie-rock band The Noisettes, will join forces with producer David Okumu to create a new vocal piece inspired by the values of the 2014 Commonwealth Games which are being held in Glasgow.

It will be sung by community choirs.

The commissions were chosen by a judging panel including singer and BBC 6 Music DJ Cerys Matthews, award-winning composer Max Richter and the Southbank Centre's Head of Classical Music, Gillian Moore.

Another judge, musician Dame Evelyn Glennie, commented: "There is no shortage of talent, imagination and creativity in the UK and the excellent applications to the New Music Biennial have proved this."

The biennial event has been developed in partnership with Creative Scotland, Arts Council England and the British Council.

Recordings of each of the 20 commissions will be released as digital downloads by NMC Recordings.

Source: BBC

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Zach Braff raises $1.5m to make Garden State follow-up

Actor and director Zach Braff has raised $1.5m (£970,000) to fund the follow-up to cult film Garden State.

More than 20,000 fans donated money within 24 hours through a "crowd-sourcing" website.

Wish I Was here will feature Braff in the lead role as a struggling actor who has to home-school his children.

"I want you to be my financiers and my audience so I can make a movie for you with no compromises," Braff said in his appeal to fans.

The Emmy-winner wrote online that he did not want to lose his "artistic control" by signing a deal with a film studio.

"It would have involved making a lot of sacrifices I think would have ultimately hurt the film," he said.

Big Bang Theory actor Jim Parsons is lined up to co-star in the film, with Braff's Scrubs co-star Donald Faison likely to make a cameo.

Braff, who wrote the screenplay with his brother Adam, said he was inspired by the success of the campaign to bring TV detective series Veronica Mars to the big screen.

"I couldn't help but think maybe there is a new way to finance smaller, personal films that didn't involve signing away all your artistic control," he wrote on his donation page.

Cinematographer Larry Sher, who worked with Braff on Garden State and the Hangover comedy trilogy, has joined the actor on the new project.

Other projects to have benefited from similar campaigns include animated films The Goon, which raised $442,000 (£296,000), and Charlie Kaufman's Anomalisa, for which $406,000 (£272,000) was pledged by fans.

Source: BBC

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Saturday 27 April 2013

Review: Bill McIver – Dead Canary Road

Bill McIver – Dead Canary Road (Spidercage Studio)
Bill McIver is a Californian singer-songwriter with plenty to say. He’s a throwback of sorts to the political writers who shaped the early 1960’s folk revival, like Phil Ochs and pre-electric Dylan, and of course, the originators, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. I can’t think of a period in time when people were so disillusioned and disinterested in politics, especially the young, so hats off to McIver for raising his head above the parapet and letting loose on subjects that matter to him.

As with many folk-singer-songwriters he tackles universal themes by singing about local issues. Opening cut “Red Crayons” takes on gun control in the US and was written and recorded just one week after the Newton school tragedy. “Last Man On the Mountain” is about a particularly destructive form of coal mining called Mountaintop Removal (MTR), which is as drastic as it sounds, and causes considerable environmental damage. It’s particularly common in the Appalachia region, and he hits a similar target on “No Auburn, No Orange, No Rust

He sings his songs in a unique style, which borders on spoken word, and if there’s any contemporary artist I’m be tempted to compare him to, it’d probably be John Trudell, though fans of Otis Gibbs would undoubtedly recognize a fellow traveler.
Tony S.

This Weekend at The Musician: Saturday - Original Bands Showcase: Semi-Final 1 / Sunday - Ryan Adams Tribute (All Dayer)

Original Bands Showcase: Semi-Final 1
Saturday 27th April
£6 w/flyer or guestlist
feat. Violet Cities, Moccasin Mile, The Simpletones, Stop That Train, Mondigreen and The Incidents

Doors 8pm, Show starts 8:15pm

Wildfire Sessions presents…
Ryan Adams Tribute (All Dayer)
Sunday 28th April
feat. The Havenots, Stevie Jones, Dan Hughes Trio, Markus Reeves, Nic Bennett, Jack London, Lee Butlin, Benn Bugby, Riley and more TBC
Doors 3pm
Wildfire Sessions presents an all day tribute event for the legendary Ryan Adams who played at the Musician just over 12 years ago. The Havenots headline - featuring Liam Dullaghan who supported him at that very gig on 14/11/00 - and will be chatting about the experience. We will also be airing a bootleg of the set which includes the rare song 'Dear Thief'. The rest of the day will feature a host of acts playing their pick from the extensive Ryan Adams back catalogue.

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Torquay art gallery 'targeted' for Rolf Harris' artwork

An art gallery selling paintings by Rolf Harris has been vandalised.

Threats were made against the Triton Gallery, in Torquay, Devon, if it did not remove the artwork, staff have confirmed.

Black paint was smeared over the shop window early on Tuesday morning, Devon and Cornwall Police said.

Mr Harris, 83, has been questioned by police over historical allegations of sexual offences. He was arrested on 28 March and bailed until May.

A police spokeswoman confirmed officers were called to reports of criminal damage at the gallery where it is suspected a man smeared paint on the window with his hands.

She added "specialist cleaning", which had cost about £300, was required to remove the paint.

The force said it did not know the motive behind the vandalism and the man was being sought.

Gallery staff confirmed it would continue to sell Mr Harris' paintings.

Source: BBC

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George Jones dies aged 81

Country singer George Jones, who had a string of number one songs between the 1950s and 1990s, has died aged 81.

Jones publicist, Kirt Webster, said the Grammy-winning singer was admitted to hospital for fever and irregular blood pressure and died on Friday.

Nicknamed Possum, his signature song was He Stopped Loving Her Today, a track about love and death.

He was married to Tammy Wynette between 1969 and 1975 and the pair recorded several songs together in the 1970s.

Born in Texas on 12 September 1931, Jones played guitar for tips on the streets of Beaumont as a teenager before going on to serve in the US Marine Corps.

He returned to Texas to record for the Starday label in Houston, achieving his first top ten hit in 1955 with Why Baby Why.

Known for his precise baritone and evocative voice, Jones' first number one song, White Lightning, came in 1959, followed by Tender Years in 1961.

Country star Garth Brooks paid tribute to the singer saying: "The greatest voice to ever grace country music will never die. Jones has a place in every heart that ever loved any kind of music."

Cocaine addiction

Jones had a string of top 10 songs during the 1960s and 1970s including If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will), Window Up Above, She Thinks I Still Care, Good Year for the Roses, The Race Is On.

But his battle with alcoholism and cocaine addiction frequently derailed his career and at one point his reputation for cancelling performances earned him the nickname No-Show Jones.

Having divorced his second wife in 1968, Jones married Wynette a year later. The pairing was an enormous professional success for both as they recorded and toured together, recording several tracks including We're Gonna Hold On, Golden Ring and Near You.

However as Jones' addiction problem worsened, so too did his marriage to Wynette, who later claimed he once came at her with a gun.

They divorced in 1975 but later resumed recording together. The couple's only daughter, Tamala is also a country singer under the name Georgette Jones.

Jones recorded the track He Stopped Loving Her Today in 1980. The song, which he said was his favourite, revived a flagging career and won him the Country Music Award's top male vocalist award in 1980 and 1981. He also earned a Grammy for best male country vocal performance.

Paying tribute to the singer on Twitter, Keith Urban said: "‏If I'm blessed enough to make it there, I look forward to you giving me the grand tour. Rest in peace George Jones!!!!!"

Singer Faith Hill wrote: "We lost one of the best voices God created this morning. Our hearts are saddened to hear that George Jones has passed away... Our thoughts and prayers are with Nancy and all of the family."

Jones credited his fourth wife Nancy, whom he married in 1983, with helping him clean up. But in 1999 he was seriously injured after driving drunk and crashing into a bridge, leading to another period of rehabilitation.

Jones was in the middle of a US tour when he was taken into hospital. At the tour's final date in Nashville in November, he was due to be joined by an array of country music stars including Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, Garth Brook and rapper Kid Rock.

Source: BBC

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