The best all round roots music club in West Yorkshire
Jun 10 2023
Friday 26th May 2023
Photos by audience members!
After nine years it was a welcome return visit from Minneapolis singer songwriter, Chastity Brown who with Tahrah Cohen on drums, delivered a powerful and passionate set, mainly comprising of songs from her wonderful latest album, Sing To The Walls. We hope we don’t have to wait another nine years to see her again!
May 27 2023
Sunday 21st May 2023
Review, photos, videos by Keith Belcher
Let the music keep our spirits high
Let the buildings keep our children dry
Let creation reveal it’s secrets by and by, by and by
When the light that’s lost within us reaches the sky
Jackson Browne Before The Deluge
Sunday 21st May 2023. The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire. A typical weekend at Saltaire. Gig 2 of the high energy weekend. On Friday a 6 piece band Suntou Susso, tonight a 7 piece band . The return of Texan Sugaray Rayford and his American Band. Sugaray on main vocals and Drake “Munkihaid” Shining, musical director on keyboards Danny Avila Guitar , drums Ramon Michel, bass Alan Markell, tenor sax Derrick “DJ” Martin Jr, trumpet Julian “JuJu” Davis and what band they were. Very tight is an understatement.
January 2019 was the date of the first appearance at TLR and let’s say that they certainly made a favourable impression, the crowd was larger and gig sold out this time around. They also obviously wowed in the Switzerland gigs prior to this gig as they arrived with hardly any merch. The Swiss had bought it all!. It was snowing last time he was in Yorkshire but today was one of those sunny Yorkshire days that shows why Yorkshire folk think of it as God’s own county. As last time, the floor was mainly cleared for dancing to Sugaray’s unique blend of soul, blues, rock and jazz. His aim , he says, is to bring soul back to the blues. Sugaray leaving no room for ambiguity about his demands. Pleeeease shake your booties from the beginning was the request to the audience, I don’t do concerts I PARTY!!.
This gig might not have happened when in a 60 day period Sugaray was nominated for a Grammy (Somebody Save Me 2020) 2020 , an album which also earned Rayford two major Blues Music Awards for B.B. King Entertainer and Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year (2 straight years) ,his wife was diagnosed with cancer and Covid arrived, highs and lows! He thought about quitting but his wife told him “You’re in too deep to quit”, He took her advice, she concentrated on recovering and he got in deeper . His wife is in remission. His next album took the title “In Too Deep”.
They started as they meant to continue with the Bill Withers song Who Is He (And What Is He To You?). From Danny’s opening guitar licks it just kept building and building. It was meant to be the 2 45minute sets format but they just carried on for over 90 minutes without stopping. The audience only getting a breather with a long delightful pure blues interlude starting with a delicate and tasteful sax solo leading into the other musicians joining in and having their own solo slots, all of which were excellent .
The instrumental progressed into a very different version of BB Kings Don’t Answer The Door, possibly ad libbing in true talking blues style. At this point Sugaray got the band to demonstrate they could play anything by playing country music followed by reggae. This prompted Sugaray to yield main vocals to Drake who performed a superb version of that old spiritual from the Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb, That was the rest period for the audience over and then back to high energy again with I’d Kill For You Honey.
Mona Lisa Was A Man was meant to finish the set, a song with some very strange lyrics , “If I don’t love you baby…,Grits ain’t groceries, Eggs ain’t poultry, And Mona Lisa was a man” Sugaray announced a 10 minute comfort break to be followed by 2 more songs . The band left the stage and Sugaray performed What A Wonderful World solo .
Short break over set 2 started with a reminder who the band were and as promised 2 songs to finish off the night. This was the 11th show in 5 days and what a show it was. It tires me out just thinking about it. It’s no wonder that Ron and Hilary had been looking forward to this one. Some photos and there will be videos later down the line. Apologies to Julian “JuJu” Davis on trumpet for his photos , he was almost completly in shadow from Derrick. An interesting but tricky photographic assignment. Let’s hope it’s not another 4 years for the next tour. That was a serious weekend of high energy music, great humour and warmth from both Sugaray tonight and Suntou Susso on Friday.
Who Is He (And What Is He To You?)
Is It Just Me?
Take Me Back
May 27 2023
Friday 19th May 2023
Review, photos, video by Keith Belcher
Friday 19th May 2023, The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire. The debut of kora player and percussionist Suntou Susso and his extraordinary band kicked off a seriously high octane weekend at TLR with Sugaray Rayford making his second appearance on Sunday 21st but that’s another event and another future post.
I found a post online which described Gambia’s Suntou (via Bristol-in joke for those actually in the audience!!!) which said “Suntou Susso’s music brings nothing but good vibes as it combines the rich, traditional sound of his West-African Mandinka culture with Afro funk and soul…..Celebrated across Africa and Europe, Suntou is a multi-instrumentalist: kora player, percussionist, singer and composer from The Gambia.
The kora is a 22 string harp-lute, a rare and enchanting instrument. Born into the 700-year-old Griot tradition, Suntou performs his role as a historian, storyteller, and unifier of people through song, everywhere he goes and every time he gets on stage.”
The second set opened with Suntou giving a basic kora lesson and explaining the instrument which creates the most beautiful sounds in the hands of such a gifted player. You certainly did feel good in a very positive way at the end of this very upbeat and uplifting show as could be attested by the large number who took to dancing, at one point led by Suntou who had entered the crowd still playing his kora. On tunes like Rahim you were mesmerised by the shimmering sounds of the kora. Saltaire had already seen another kora player Seckou Keita who just happens to be Suntou’s older brother (there is a 3rd kora playing brother too, Sura Susso).
Besides the aforementioned eclectic musical combinations to my ears there was also good size chunks of jazz thrown in for good measure. Reminded me in some ways of banjo maestro Bela Fleck with his band The Flecktones.
The excellent and very experienced band (all Bristol based, you had to be there for the band intros)of Andy Christie -guitars, Oli Mason – Drums, Piers Tamplin – Saxophone, Dan Somers- keyboards, Tommy Kirby- 6 string bass worked wonderfully , all great performers in their own right. Suntou was playing a lot of songs from his debut album, KANÉFONYO (Never Give Up), entirely self-written, composed, and arranged. A really enjoyable show thoroughly enjoyed by all present. I would really like to see him and band back again when he next tours.
May 27 2023
Sunday 14th May 2023
Review, photos and video by Keith Belcher
Sunday 14th May 2023. The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club. Two debuts to TLR. Amy Clark opened for Wanderland. The first thing to say is that I would say, if averaged out this was possibly one of the youngest audiences for TLR. Both acts featuring young up and coming artists. It’s not a regular occurrence that TLR attracts a band who have been played on Radio 1 and Radio 6 . Radio 2 Folk Shows and R4’s in Tune maybe but Radio 1 is a first I think.
The opening act was Scots vocalist, improvisor and songwriter Amy Clark. Her very powerful voice very ably accompanied on keyboards by Glen Leach. Amy also played guitar on Face to Face, her penultimate song of the night. Amy graduated from Leeds Conservatoire in 2021 and whilst there was very active composing, performing and collaborating with musicians in two jazz/contemporary music bands she co-founded, Flood Company and Ah Um Collective. She has also gigged around Leeds under her own name in a jazz quartet format. Her contemporary takes on jazz and folk standards (a very different Wild Mountain Thyme for the folkies to mull over) are inspired by artists Cécile McLorin Salvant and Theo Bleckmann while her original songs draw influence from Snowpoet, Laura Marling and Liane Carroll, combining thoughtful lyricism and intricate melodies.
In 2022, she joined Leeds chamber jazz/folk jazz band Awen Ensemble and was featured on their single “Bendith”, released that same year. It had strong radio support on Jazz FM, Worldwide FM, Basic Soul Radio, Totally Wired Radio, Radio D59B (Belgrade Serbia), Soul Power Radio, Universal Rhythms, Reform Radio, Radio Alhara (Palestine) and Radio Con (Vos Argentina). Many presenters have commented on the lovely sung and spoken word vocals from Amy. In the past couple of years, Amy has also been a first call backing singer for future soul/global beats bands like KOG, Heritage and Kindelan.
London and Yorkshire based Wanderland were the brainchild of duo Matt Robinson (Snowpoet) and Natalie Wildgoose. Recording their debut EP ‘Songs, I’ in a remote old mill next to a waterfall in the north of the Yorkshire Dales over 6 months. An apt location for their style of music. The introspective and isolated setting became an incredibly generative time. They dubbed the project Wanderland intentionally as it was came about from their exploration of the wilderness.
The two records ‘Songs,I’ and ‘Songs,II’ were both written and recorded in North Yorkshire. Some songs were written only hours before recording, capturing something deep and open-hearted, you can hear the rainy days and the star speckled nights. Collaborators and friends also show up across the EP including guitarist Tara Cunningham (Tenderhost), drummer Dave Hamblett (The Magic Lantern) and bassist’s Max Luthert (Zara McFarlane and Moses Boyd) and Tom McCredie (Seafarers).
Several Wanderland songs have been played on BBC Radio 1 The Chillest Show and Annie Mac’s Power Down playlist as well as BBC Introducing, BBC 6 and a live session for BBC York, who nominated their release as Record of the Week.
Tonight the band was Natalie, Matt, Dave Hamblett and Max Luthert.
Town and Soon
May 9 2023
Fraser Anderson – TLR 11th Anniversary!
Review, photos and video by Keith Belcher
The long delayed second appearance of Fraser Anderson and band. Fraser first appeared 8th September 2019 accompanied by Bex Baxter (backing vocals), John Parker upright bass and Craig Connet drums. Support was from local artist The Silver Reserve (aka Matthew Sturgess ). Matthew has since appeared opening for The Little Unsaid, Della Mae and co-headlining with Bella Gaffney earlier this year.Tonight Fraser was with Bex and John as a trio.
A special night in that TLR has been going since May 4th 2012 when Jackie Oates opened the club. The second gig (I think) was the mighty Dick Gaughan on 24th June 2012. I attended both and am still here. Such was my gig schedule in those days I went to 15 other gigs between the two Saltaire dates.
A rare event to open the show tonight was that partners in crime Ron and Hilary (Hilary’s term not mine!) both appeared on stage together at the start to welcome and thank the audience and Fraser. A surprise Happy Birthday greeted them from The Live Room Chorus. Ron and Hilary had generously supplied a selection of drinks and nibbles to celebrate the birthday/anniversary.
Fraser from Edinburgh originally had been spotted by Ron and Hilary at the Folk Expo in Kansas prior to the 2019 gig, they were delighted to find he lived in Bristol, after a lengthy spell in France. At the 2019 gig I was astonished that I had never heard his music before. Several albums to his name and an opener for some huge acts.
After a great performance in 2019 the world went crazy in 2020 and for various reasons we have waited until May 2023 to welcome Fraser back. I was still just as amazed that he wasn’t a bigger name than he is. At the 2019 gig Fraser humourously demonstrated his “psychic powers” by noting the names of the audience front row pre gig and welcoming them by name. Tonights show had lots of good humour and stories between the songs.
Surprisingly Fraser told us that although he had been an opener for some seriously large crowds when opening for the likes of Joan Armatrading and Chuck Berry this was the largest audience as a headliner. I find that hard to believe after hearing the songs and music produced by Fraser and his band. Often compared to the likes of Damien Rice, Nick Drake and Bon Iver.
I am somewhat surprised so far I’ve heard no comparisons to fellow Dunediner Ross Wilson (aka Blue Rose Code). We had an evening of wonderfully written songs with Fraser taking lead vocals, Bex providing stunningly harmonious backing and John performing pyroctechnical bass playing. Part of the show may make it onto a live recording as the evening was recorded. A great night. If not already aware then he is fully worth investigating further. Here’s to the next appearance, hopefully not 4 years.
Cold Eyes; The Wind and The Rain; Feel
May 9 2023
Chris Smither 2023
Plus support from Zak Trojano
Photos and videos by Keith Belcher (Zak Trojano video by Peter Graves)
The return of the great Chris Smither to TLR and we were gald to see that he is as brilliant as ever. Simply one of the great American songwriters and a wonderful guitar picker. His songs deserve their own category, they’re that good.
We were also treated to a great opening set from fellow American, Zak Trojano, another terrific guitarist and highly original songwriter with a beautiful baritone voice. We’ll be keeping an eye on him!
Zak Trojano: Poor Boy (John Fahey arrangement)
Chris Smither: What They Say; Train Home; No Love Today
May 1 2023
Joe Martin & His Band
Friday 28th April 2023
Photos by Ron Pengelly
This was Joe’s second visit here to TLR with his full band, this time on his first ever full tour in support of his debut album, Empty Passenger Seat, from which we heard a good selection of tracks. We love Joe’s songs, his dedication and that wonderful voice of his and he deserves support as he builds his career. This was a fabulous performance from him and his stellar band, Tom Dibb on guitar, Mark Lewis on bass and Dan Wiebe on drums. Ten shows in on the tour, they were firing on all cylinders and were a tight and dynamic unit, a perfect frame for Joe’s songwriting.
Supporting Joe on this leg of his tour was young Sheffield-based singer songwriter, Harriet Rose, who delivered a sparkling and confident set. Another beautiful singer, she has a great future ahead of her and we’ll no doubt be seeing her back here at TLR in the not too distant future.
May 1 2023
plus Mark Crotti
Sunday 23rd April 2023
Photos and video by Keith Belcher
The first visit of Australian, Mark Wilkinson (with fellow Aussie, Mark Crotti opening) to The Live Room after we discovered him at Americanafest, Nashville in 2022.
Some shots of support act, Mark Crotti
Mark Crotti: Half A Cup of Tea; Paint Me
Mark Wilkinson: Love High; Everything To Me; Just Be You
Apr 25 2023
The John Martyn Project
Friday 21st April 2023
Review, photos and video by Keith Belcher
Friday 21st April 2023. The John Martyn Project (Blythe Pepino, Kit Hawes, Pete Josef, Sam Brookes, John Blakeley and Jon Short)
This is a special project where six artists come together to celebrate the music of John Martyn. Each brings their own story and connection to John’s music which adds to the fabric of the overall experience of the project. Words below are lifted (with permission) from Mike Latham’s post yesterday.
“Out at The Live Room in Saltaire to see The John Martyn Project, not knowing what to expect. The venue was full and we were absolutely enthralled, gifted musicianship, wonderful voices and amazing interpretations of Martyn’s songs. Another great evening, local small venues really do provide an amazing service for those seeking the balm that music can provide.”
My Words on the performance. I have seen John Martyn many times between the late 1960’s to the early 2000’s. My favourite period being the period up to the mid 1970’s. A lot of the songs tonight related to John’s early career including Blythe’s beautiful rendition of Fairy Tale Lullaby from 1967’s debut album London Conversation and Sam’s Bless The Weather.
Many of the songs performed had not only the subtlety of acoustic works but also the power of the later John Martyn electric bands but without the slurred lyrics of John’s latter years. I also saw the 2 star studded tributes Danny Thompson put together in 2010 and 2019 at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections Festival (Yes I am a long time John Martyn fan!!). The difference with this band was that all the songs were obviously copiously rehearsed and arranged to add to and give something different from the originals. The musicianship was obviously first rate but what made them stand out were the harmonies and arrangements.
Most of John’s catalogue didn’t feature multi-artist harmonies, it really works though. Some might find it sacrilegious but many of the songs performed were not just homage and tribute but actual upgrades. As with Joni Mitchell covers (most of which I find utterly sacrilegious) why just perform note for note like the original, always best to add something unique or leave alone. That was certainly the case with this show, a really enjoyable evening, hugely appreciated by an almost capacity crowd. These are my personal views. Yours may differ, please feel free to add any comments on your views .
Intro/Go Easy; Bless The Weather; Go Down Easy; I Don't Want To Know
Apr 18 2023
Bronwynne Brent 2023
Sunday 16th April 2023
Review, photos and video by Keith Belcher
Bronwynne Brent Trio, The Live Room, Saltaire Sunday 16th April 2023. The opening night of the tour and it very nearly didn’t happen as there were passport problems, flight problems, weather problems . Apart from a very brief nap Bronwynne came directly from the airport, having spent the night before hoping she would be able to get here as her flight was cancelled.
For those that weren’t there Bronwynnes last gig at TLR was the last gig before lockdown on 15th March 2020 , we didn’t know what was going to happen over the following 2 years . Many had tickets and didn’t turn up for the show, there was a strange, poignant atmosphere, we just didn’t know what was going to happen. Bronwynne just about managed to get back to the States before the airlines stopped flying and countries doors closed, no vaccine in sight at that point , we just didn’t know!.
Logically with all the things that went wrong leading up to the gig it should have been a disaster. However most people don’t live in Bronwynne’s version of reality. On top of the problems Bronwynne hadn’t played with Graeme and Mario for several years Mario was in the Trio in 2020 but Graeme was last in the Trio in 2018’s tour (I went to 4 gigs).
They didn’t have time to rehearse. Doors were scheduled for 1830. The trio didn’t arrive at TLR until gone 1800. With all that the show actually started approaching 1930 as opposed to the scheduled 1900 . What we got was a gloriously wonderful display of music at it’s most live. Bronwynne wouldn’t actually know how to rehearse a story or well practiced lines anyway so she just did what she does best and went with the flow in her inimitable manner laughing throughout.
Mario and Graeme are both wonderful musicians and took this in their stride. That’s not to say there weren’t some off notes on occasions but when music is as live as this who cares? Set list was kind of vague and relied on comments like “you know this one don’t you?”, the version of After You’ve Gone was prefaced by “you must know this , it;’s a classic” and then a line or 2 were sung to refresh Mario and Graeme.
You don’t get any more live (or riskier) than this but it was glorious. I don’t think I am alone in thinking this was just a fabulous gig and totally summed up what live music is about.
VIDEOS BY KEITH BELCHER
Don't Tell Your Secrets to the Wind; Dark Highway; Raincoat