Here are a few photos from our first few days in Montreal. In no particular order (because I didn’t have time or inclination!), from our journey, arrival, hotel and bar, the underground city and, oh yes, some music showcases, ‘cos that’s what we’re here for! More soon…..
Review and photos by John Bentley / Arc https://www.flickr.com/photos/john_arc-images/
Also see review on Gig Junkies
It’s great to discover good new music venues, particularly ones like The Live Room, situated in the Caroline Social Club in the World Heritage Site-designated village of Saltaire, near Bradford. Saltaire was a ’model village’ established by nineteenth-century industrialist Sir Titus Salt, with the aim of providing good housing, employment conditions and facilities for his workers, contrary to the prevailing squalor and exploitation of the industrial revolution.
The Live Room specialises in folk, roots and acoustic music, aiming to present a varied programme featuring both established names and up-and-coming artists. It will be celebrating its 200th gig in March. The club is obviously about real enthusiasm for music and MC Hilary tells us that the club will be closed for three weeks while she and Ron go off to Canada again in search of new acts. Indeed tonight’s band, Vishtèn, are one of their discoveries from a previous trip.
Vishtèn are a trio from Eastern Canada whose répertoire is focussed around French-Canadian traditional music, with many songs derived from archive sources. They tell us that they look for joyous folk songs, but invariably they end up with songs about heartbreak. Vishtèn particularly celebrate Acadian music culture, which derives from the French settlers who made their home in North America in the 17th century, including America’s southern states, where it morphed into Cajun.
The band are twin-sisters Emmanuelle and Pastelle LeBlanc, from Prince Edward Island, and Pascal Miousse, a direct descendant of the first colonial families to inhabit Quebec’s remote Magdalene Islands. As well as singing, these three talented multi-instrumentalists play flute, fiddle, guitar, accordion, piano, mandolin, and bodhràn. Vishtèn enthusiastically engage with their audience throughout the evening, providing an ongoing witty but informative commentary on the music, matters French-Canadian and their own personal backgrounds. Pascal informs us that it is the twin-sisters’ birthday and the audience obligingly sing them ‘Happy Birthday’.
Vishtèn’s energetic music is absorbingly varied, with band members frequently changing to different instruments. Most of the material tonight comes from their latest album, ‘Horizons’. Some of the songs are self-penned, like highlight ‘Les Sirènes à Roméo’, which features some nice melody, delicately played on flute, guitar and piano. Occasional percussion is provided by the bodhràn, but also, interestingly, by the sisters ‘tap-dancing’ their feet while playing other instruments. Pascal provides some fine fiddle and guitar, in an amazing variety of styles. In fact the cross-pollination of musical heritage is one of the most interesting features of the evening, including for example, Cajun and Irish music. Vishtèn finish with a triumphant finale of jigs and reels.
In the absence of our friend and regular photographer/reviewer, Keith Belcher, who was otherwise engaged on the night, we were lucky that Martyn’s technician and friend Mark Dyde had brought his camera with him and grabbed some shots from the evening.
And what a fantastic evening it was! It was the official launch day of Martyn’s latest (and unbelievably 33rd!) studio album, ‘Here Come The Young. We were thrilled to have almost a full house to see him deliver yet another fantastic show, full of energy, passion, warmth and human spirit. One of the nicest men in the business, he is always a welcome visitor to TLR and we’ll definitely be seeing him again.
Friday 18th January 2019. The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire hosted the Sugaray Rayford Band on their first UK tour.
Sugaray had a stunning 6-piece band with him comprising Lavell Jones, drums, Alastair Greene, guitar, Drake Shining, keys, Allen Markel, bass, Giles Straw, trumpet and Aaron Liddard on sax. It was snowing lightly outside but inside, as requested by Sugaray, the floor was mainly cleared for dancing and much dancing there was. The audience coming from far and wide (even Lancashire!) to see the man on his first UK tour and I think, judging from the crowd reactions, that most thought it long overdue but well worth the wait.
What they had waited for was a night of very infectious soul, rhythm and blues, blues, rock, jazz, a touch of reggae and even a small sprinkling of country from a very tight band led by a 6 foot 5inch front man with a huge voice and even bigger personality who made serious use of the space available for his own pretty slick moves. He took some time at the start to chat to and acquaint himself with his audience before launching into “Big Legs, Short Skirt”. The show included many of his own songs and some inspired covers such as Albert King’s “Born Under A Bad Sign”.
The band were extremely tight, often improvising with extended solos, always accentuating and punctuating Sugaray’s powerful vocals. At one point, Aaron left the stage and circulated through the dance floor playing an unamplified sax solo. Spontaneous almost scat type jazz singing from the audience and a light backing from those on stage amply illustrated just what makes live music so great. You don’t get this vibe from your CDs or radio or whatever means you use to listen to recorded music. Throughout the show and especially the end of set 1, all the musicians showed just what they could do on their solo instruments, pretty impressive but not a surprise when you consider their musical pedigrees.
Sugaray stated a simple ethos of we only get one shot at life, make the absolute most of it, saying ” Music was never meant to be serious”, “It’s not a concert, it’s a party”. It certainly was and one that tonight’s party goers would have liked to go on all night long. Set 2 opened with a sing along of the Louis Armstrong classic “What A Wonderful World”. After a night of great mainly R&B they left the stage with “If I Live To Love Again”.
There was a superb, if somewhat unexpected encore of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” with Drake on lead vocals I have to say that took me by surprise. Yet another act that it’s safe to say will be very welcome back next time they tour. Even at this early part of the year this will definitely be a contender for gig of the year.
Review and photos by Keith Belcher
Sunday 13th December 2019, The Live Room, Caroline Social Club, Saltaire. Hudson Valley, New York based band, The Mammals gave a superb start to the Live Room’s programme of events for 2019. Fronted by Mike Merenda guitar, banjo and lead vocals, Ruth Ungar, fiddle, guitar, “baby” banjo and lead vocals with Will Bryant, keys, vocals, Konrad Meissner, drums, vocals and Brandon Morrison on bass and vocals.
A slightly delayed start due to some intricate surgery needed on Will’s keys prior to show. As was witnessed by the crowd the operation was a complete success and it was well worth the wait. A wonderful appreciative crowd listened intently and at times sang along with gusto. The listening was greatly appreciated by the band, something they might not be used to in the States.
A very varied show of sometime fast and loud, sometimes delicate songs and tunes. a mix of styles incorporating folk, old timey, rock and roll, soul, blues, Celtic and a touch of Cajun for good measure. Opening with the very lively D Medley it just took off and kept getting better. There were some surprises (to me) such as Richard Thompson’s classic 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, first time I have heard the song on banjo and it was indeed superb. A beautiful version of a “Scottish lament written by some Jewish guy from the Bronx” (the Jay Ungar tune Ashoken Farewell). Many songs from new CD Sunshiner as well as new as yet unreleased songs, “Come To My House” and “Someone’s Hurting Somewhere”. Mike and Ruthy’s back catalogue featured also.
They finished the show with the very up tempo “On My Way Home” with some very enthusiastic audience singing. The crowd weren’t letting them go without an encore (this is Yorkshire after all!) What an encore they got. The band took it up yet another notch with (I think) the instrumental “Port Arthur Stomp” which had some inspired playing and allowed the individual band members to show their skills on solos. Great show, only a few gigs in the UK. Speaking for Ron and Hilary and the crowd I think it safe to say they will be very welcome back in Saltaire whenever they play the UK again.
NOTE: Late edit – The final tune was Acadian 2 Step not Port Arthur Stomp (thanks to Mike).
Review and photos: Keith Belcher
Friday 7th December 2018, The Live Room, Caroline Social Club, Saltaire. The first visit of Reg Meuross, singer, songwriter, storyteller and very humourous wit, which heralded the last of the 31 events this year at The Live Room.
Deceptively simple, beautifully written songs played on a 1944 Martin guitar with a single condenser microphone doubling for vocals and guitar. No loops, no pedals, somewhat of a change these days. I say simple but the songs were very detailed and observant, well introduced and with immense background explanations. Even giving the audience a quick quiz on the song “My Name Is London Town”. Some very astute answers were forthcoming. Not surprisingly he was also very conversational during the interval and at the end of the show. That is his nature. Reg opened his show with “What Would William Morris say” from the album ENGLAND GREEN AND ENGLAND GREY. The song reflecting on changes in society and cultural changes. We had the “curtain entrance ” a la Eric Morecambe at start of set 2.
Following the entrance Reg performed the wonderful “Dragonfly”. He followed that with a wonderful new song called “Angel In A Blue Dress” An ongoing humourous banter and conversation with the audience throughout. He even tried to get the audience to shout “House” when the bingo calls from next door leaked slightly. As far as I remember the “C” word wasn’t mentioned much. He played a lot of new material as well as digging into an extensive back catalogue. “England Green & England Grey” brought the show proper to a close. An encore of “It’s Me Or Elvis” brought the show to a close. Much participation from a good sized Live Room audience who sang beautifully when requested to by Reg.On entering the audience were treated to free mince pies, chocolates and either sherry or fruit juice courtesy of Ron and Hilary. A nice seasonal touch to thank the Live Room audience for their ongoing support throughout what has been a superb year of shows. Next year looks like being a good one too with many shows already lined up and Ron & Hilary have a few more surprises they are currently working on.
Review and photos: Keith Belcher
Friday 30th November 2018, The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire. The third visit of Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow. This time bringing their very popular Winterfolk Tour to Saltaire for the first time. It was standing room only at Saltaire and many venues are sell outs already.
Following two very intimate totally acoustic dates at the lovely Colne Valley Museum, Golcar this was the first show of a mixture of part amplified and part acoustic dates until December 22nd when the tour ends at Slaithwaite Civic Hall.
By far the best seasonal themed show I have attended. I think it fairly safe to say that the Saltaire crowd had a brilliant night and Belinda & Heidi looked as though they were having a great time too. Catch the tour if you can. Tissues are advisable for several of the songs!!
Review and photos: Keith Belcher
Sunday 18th November 2018, The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire. The much anticipated return visit of the Peter Bruntnell Trio with Danny Williams on bass and the legendary BJ Cole on pedal steel.
Photos: Keith Belcher
It was the opening night of Moore Moss Rutter’s autumn tour and a return visit, the first show here being back in 2016, and they more than doubled their crowd! We also had a sparkling opening set from Owen Spafford and Louis Campbell, playing their first official show. What a night of beautiful music! Photos from Keith Belcher.
Friday 26th October 2018, The Live Room, Saltaire. The third visit of Blue Rose Code (aka Ross Wilson). The first visit since the release of THE WATER OF LEITH. Previous visits were 2015 and 2016, both those visits were as a trio. Friday night was a sell out as a quartet consisting of Ross Wilson – main vocals and guitar, Lyle Watt on guitars, Andy Lucas on keyboards and vocals and Eliza Wren Payne on vocals.
Lyle has been with Ross on all three visits. First gig also featured Graham Coe on cello . Second gig featured John Lowrie on keyboards and accordion. Before this show Ross said something along the lines of “this is going to be the best show we have done here”. Having seen all three (and many more) I would agree, I think the audience would too. It was indeed superb.
Lyle was nominated just before the gig as opening act. Unplanned or not he entertained the audience during a short but cracking display of fret-board dexterity, playing mainly from his EP THIRD TIME LUCKY and a Beatles cover . During the single Blue Rose Code set Ross quipped after one incendiary guitar run from Lyle, “Its worthwhile warming him up!” It was easy to see and hear why Ross wanted the one set rather than the traditional two. There was an ever building momentum of music and songs. It might not have worked so well stopping and resuming.
Everyone was on great form and it all flowed so well. Superb musicianship all around and I thought the overall sound is becoming increasingly more sophisticated and even smoother than before but with an ever increasing irrepressible energy. The band members just seemed to feed off each other. The gig finished with a brilliant rendition of This Is Not A Folk Song. Hardly a surprise that they will shortly be doing very large gigs supporting Deacon Blue. A great night, not much else that is needed to be said. Let’s hope for a fourth visit.
Review and photos by Keith Belcher