Oct 22 2018

Tom Baxter, Sunday 14th October 2018

Sunday 14th October 2018, The Live Room , Saltaire. Singer songwriter Tom Baxter with Rob Richings opening the show. A fantastic sold out show by an incredibly gifted and talented singer, songwriter, guitarist and performer.

Switching constantly between 4 guitars (2 electric and 2 acoustic) and keyboards, performing on stage and also while circling the rapt Live Room crowd playing totally acoustically. Throughout the night an awesome display of both guitar wizardry and vocal power and dexterity. Songs from his several albums varied from whispers to angry roars and all points between.

Many of the crowd were Live Room first timers, obviously long time fans of Tom. They certainly knew the words to his songs and participated fully when asked. If he plays The Live Room again I have no doubt it will be sold out again but this time, probably the day the tickets go on sale.

Rob Richings on guitar and vocals accompanied by his brother James on keyboards provided a great opening. Thoughtful songs that were both well performed and well written . On the showing last night they would also be welcome back at The Live Room. I think Sunday night will go down as one of THE great Live Room nights.

Review and photos by Keith Belcher

Pre Show Interviews

Interview with Rob & Molly of BCB Radio's Into The Buttercup

Oct 6 2018

Mean Mary, Friday 28th September 2018

Friday 28th October 2018, The Live Room Saltaire. The first visit to The Live Room of Mean Mary accompanied by her ‘long suffering’ brother Frank. Ron & Hilary were freshly back from their trip to Nashville. Hilary resplendently sporting new Nashville acquired boots introduced the barefoot and seemingly ever smiling Mean Mary (Mary James) and her brother Frank. Restricting herself to just the 3 instruments tonight, banjo, fiddle and guitar as well as a plethora of vocal styles .

Mary on banjo ranks up there with the very best we have seen at Saltaire , and we have seen some very good players. Frank accompanied on 12 string and harmonies. Mary is an accomplished and award winning novelist as well as superb musician. Named Mean Mary after a song she wrote when she was just 6 rather than any inherent nasty tendencies she might have (despite what Frank thinks or intimates).

She and brother Frank thoroughly entertained the very responsive and attentive crowd from start to finish. Sandwiched between the virtuoso playing and singing was an ever developing on stage sibling bickering that culminated in Mary offering almost her entire merch desk to the person that would take Frank home. All, I must say, done in a very humorous way that had the audience chuckling as well as gasping at the music. The between songs banter brought a huge element of fun to the night. The audience actively participated in sing-alongs as well as imitations of farmyard animals. Mary being especially pleased at the geese hissing during Big Red Barn, not to mention the ducks, hounds and cows.

Music from all over America with Virginia Reels, Arkansas Traveller and 2 sensational Louisiana style tunes and songs Rose Tattoo and Marie Laveau. Mary’s voice on Rose Tattoo very reminiscent of an acoustic Beth Hart . She has that vibrato quiver in her voice that can really add to a performance, not used all the time, as I said her vocal styles have a huge range. A gospel song Fields of Glory finished off set 1 with Frank merging brilliantly on harmonies.

Mary opened the second set with a solo Sweet Jezebel on guitar before brother Frank was called to stage yelling Bingo, obviously he was wanting to be in the next bar! A medley of tunes including Beethoven’s Ode To Joy on banjo and guitar was just one of the highlights of Set 2. The closure was something else altogether. Dispensing with the usual nonsense of the ‘unexpected’ encore Mary announced 2 more songs, this one and the encore. Frank had a little to say about the presumptuousness of that statement! What a way to finish, a mass sing along to All My Love All My Kisses (Buddy Holly) , followed by La Bamba (I didn’t know Alison was so fluent in Spanish) and then as a special treat Leaving On A Jet Plane. A Great night was had by all.

Pre Show Interviews

Interview with Rob & Molly of BCB Radio's Into The Buttercup

Sep 23 2018

Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters, Friday 7th September 8pm

Friday 7th September 2018, The Live Room, Saltaire. The first visit to The Live Room of Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters.


Pictures by Keith Belcher

Aug 28 2018

Hamilton Loomis, Friday 24th August 2018

Friday 24th August 2018, The Live Room, Saltaire. The first artist to headline four times at The Live Room – the very charismatic and energetic Hamilton Loomis from Galveston, Texas. Backed by a crack band of Fabian Hernandez from Austin, Texas on saxophone. keyboards and vocals, Mike Meade from Houston, Texas on bass and Will Morris from Birmingham (West Midlands not Alabama) on drums.


Opening their UK/European tour playing their own brand of blues with hugely liberal helpings of soul and funk which is as it should be. Mike Meade’s first time in the UK, from the perpetual grin on his face he appeared to be having a great time. This was a really superb Friday night with hardly a pause for breath during the 2 sets which although they lasted over 2 hours seemed to fly by. All elements of the band were brilliant, whether it be Hamilton’s vocals or seemingly effortless guitar breaks, Fabians electrifying sax playing or Mike and Will Keeping such a funky, solid and driving beat.



They opened with an instrumental medley with many well known tunes creeping into the mix ranging from Sunshine of your Love to Careless Whisper amongst others. The first set also included covers of I Would Die 4 U and Let’s Go Crazy as tributes to Prince, one of Hamilton’s musical heroes. A phenomenon not usually seen at Saltaire on Friday nights (or any other night), especially by a sober person, was an excursion into the audience while playing guitar via tabletops and chairs during Set 1’s closing song.



Set 2 opened with Stuck in a Rut sandwiching Chain of Fools as a tribute to the late Aretha Franklin. The evening just flew past ending with an extended version of Funky Little Brother with the most astonishing saxophone solo by Fabian I have ever had the privilege to listen to (and I have heard a lot!!). The audience , not for the first time were on their feet. A fifth visit would be very welcome. Anyone wondering what is special enough to get an artist back 4 times in less than 6 years would have had all their questions answered on the night. This band is extremely tight and is only going to get tighter as the tour progresses. 

Review by Keith Belcher

Jul 29 2018

Damien O’Kane & Ron Block, Friday 27th July 2018

Friday 27th July 2018, The Live Room Saltaire. The Live Room was very honoured with a visit from Coleraine born Barnsley resident Damien O’Kane & multi Grammy winner Ron Block for the first tour of their joint venture Banjophony. One of only 8 gigs and 2 festival appearances. Accompanying Damien and Ron were Kilkenny’s Steven Byrnes and from Dunblane bass and Moog player Duncan Lyall. Both Steven and Duncan now resident in Glasgow. A cracking night of predominantly tunes mainly featuring 2 banjos . Damien on 4 string and Ron on 5 combining the best of Irish and American banjo styles. A cracking night to enter The Live Room’s Summer break. Ron’s colleague in Union Station wrote this review of the Banjophony album:

‘Ron Block and Damien O’Kane have created something I have never heard. Even though these two banjos separated by miles of ocean are related, it has taken two people of common sensibilities to bring them so close. From my own first landing in Ireland, the banjo style I encountered left me spellbound and I just reckoned that’s where it would culminate into what Damien has made it, exact and toneful while still being the driving force it has always served itself to be. I have for many years been an over-served fan of collaboration and this collection brings forth the most pleasant factors and boils them down to a delightful tincture that would please anyone in search of something at the same time beautiful and wild. There are no boundaries here.

Damien’s sense of piston-like drive and Ron’s stately tone and string-bending accuracy mix to create a confluence of the perfect banjo. Yes I said “stately” about a banjo, but Ron Block is the only person I would ever say that about. I have worked alongside him for many years and have always enjoyed the way he can inspire a phrase. Damien is the perfect foil to draw him out with a left hook now and then before they both settle in for a series of notes perfectly carved into a statement. The other musicians, all distinct and respected, are aware of them but dance around them and give Ron and Damien the space to chase, harmonize, or counter each other throughout this experiment. It works. It all works. Listen to it and see if you agree with me.’

Jerry Douglas, June 2018.

Gig review and photos by Keith Belcher

Jul 22 2018

Doug MacLeod, Friday 20th July 2018

Friday 20th July 2018 The Live Room, Saltaire. Both long awaited rain and veteran Bluesman Doug MacLeod came to visit. Both were very welcome and greatly appreciated by a very rapt Live Room audience. Guitar and Blues buffs from far and wide made the journey to see this legend (Doug not the rain!).


Safe statement to say that everyone left very happy and upbeat from the night’s show, great songs, great playing, great stories and great humour, what more could you ask on a Friday night?


Words and photos by Keith Belcher, and thanks also to our old friend from Wales, Andrew Hawkey (pictured), who came to visit and did a lovely intro for Doug!

Jul 16 2018

Earl Thomas: The Celtic Blues and Gospel Ensemble, Thursday 12th July 2018

Thursday July 12th 2018, The Live Room, Saltaire. The debut performance of the Celtic Blues and Gospel Ensemble put together by Greig Taylor and Earl Thomas Bridgeman for the 2018 Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival .
Lets skip to the end of the show. The atmosphere on a balmy Yorkshire night was akin to people leaving a really upbeat Tent Revival Gospel meeting full of that inner light and good feelings that can be released at such events. Fair to say that most everyone felt very upbeat after a superb evening’s entertainment. A huge queue at the Merch table, longer than I have ever seen at The Live Room. Why?

Well, The Live Room was chosen by Earl Thomas to debut this show. Put together by Earl and Scottish vocalist Greig Taylor to perform well known Gospel songs as though (Earls words) the slaves and the slave owners got together to have a jam session. Earl sporting a reddish streak in his hair, as homage to his Scottish roots (and Rod Stewart) explained said roots. Over 200 years ago a slave owner from Scotland John Bridgeman moved to Bledsoe County, Tennessee and fell in love with a lady slave named Delphea. They had 18 children, from that line came Earl Thomas’s parents.

Earl wanted to retell the Gospel songs with the aid of Scottish ‘cousins’. Earl asked Greig if he knew suitable musicians. Silly question to anyone with an inkling of the current Scottish music scene. Greig came back with vocalists Gerad McArthur and Kris Boobyer, guitarist Sandy Tweedale, drummer Dave Cantwell, bassist Lorna Thomas and Gill Hunter on keys and accordion. Their first rehearsal was on July 11th and debut show at the Live Room was the 12th and what a joyous sound they made. It was a sold out, packed house. Doors were a little late but I think everyone found the short wait very, very worthwhile.


The show started with Amazing Grace, probably one of the best known Gospels songs as an instrumental. The stage starting with only Lorna, Gill and Sandy. As other band members entered this segued into Woman at The Well. With 4 vocalists all sporting suits and ties the show started at serious pace and continued like that for the entire night. Earl took the lead on all song intros and stories. He is a superb showman. The Revivalist feel had hit Saltaire on a Thursday night. The music provided by Lorna, Gill, Sandy and Dave was immaculately tight yet free flowing and fresh. A different feel on what were relatively well known gospel songs enhanced by Sandy’s masterful guitars, switching from Electric Fender to a borrowed 1929 National Steel and an acoustic at times also. Lorna playing a 5 stringed electric bass as well as the upright bass, Gill playing keys and accordion and Dave keeping a fantastic rhythm and beat with drums.

Bluesy, jazzy gospel with soul. The music was flawless and it looked so effortless. The band seemed to having a great time. All vocalists were superb showmen. Despite the limited space we had synchronised dance moves, the audience fed off this and were quite ecstatic, towards the end all standing, clapping, singing and swaying as per regulatory Revival Tent meetings. Your medication possibly needed examination if something wasn’t moving or trying to move.


Songs performed during the night were favourites of Earls as performed on his 2006 CD Gospel Plantation. Songs featured included Joshua Fit The Battle , Will The Circle Be Unbroken , When We All Get To Heaven, Glory Glory. Only Greig’s performance of None Of Us Are Free is not featured on the CD. What was unfamiliar was the sheer power of delivery and performance of the songs. One of the very best Live Room shows ever. As is the way all great things must come to an end . Last Mile Of The Way paved the way for a vocal encore of This Little Light Of Mine , sung by all band members. A twist at the end in homage to Scotland being the entrance of a lone piper from the back of the room echoing the refrain of the song. Definitely not something you see at most Revival meetings.


This show was so good it was sad it had to end BUT I am informed that the Edinburgh shows will be pro filmed with 8 cameras and multitrack sound so hopefully the shows will be available later in the year – I really hope so. Anyone in or near Edinburgh this weekend should check them out.

Review and photos by Keith Belcher

Jul 10 2018

Orphan Colours, Friday 15th June 2018

Friday 15th June 2018, The Live Room, Saltaire. Orphan Colours with Benjamin William Pike opening the show.

There have been quite a few sell out shows at The Live Room this year. This one had a good crowd but really should have been sold out way in advance. Some reviewers hint that Orphan Colours are the neighbourhood super group that few know about. A few more at Saltaire know about them now.

The night’s opener was Lincoln born, Leeds resident Benjamin William Pike. So far two albums to his name Being & Nothingness (2013) and Burdensome Year (2017). Both have been highly praised and rightly so. Burdensome Year details a traumatic time before, during and after a recent life saving kidney transplant. Benjamin opened with an intricate, beautifully played and sung Skip James song “Hard Time Killing Floor”. This gave the audience a taste of the quality in store as the night unwound. Well crafted and executed songs with husky vocals reminiscent of early John Martyn at his best and a cascading guitar that brought Martin Simpson to mind. Influences are listed as Django Reinhardt, Davey Graham , Kelly Joe Phelps as well as Martin Simpson. Benjamin performed material from Burdensome Year as well as two unreleased songs. His great set closed with “City Living”.

Orphan Colours are London based and have been together for about 3 years. Two CD EPs and a full debut album to date. They comprise Steven Llewellyn , Dave Burn and bassist Graham Knight, all ex Ahab. Lead guitarist Fred Abbott from Noah and The Whale and drummer Steve Brookes from Danny & The Champions of The World. For those needing labels then probably British Americana with a good dollop of soul and West Coast. Gambling seems a strong element in the band, the CD EP “High Hopes” and the album “All On The Red” reflecting the gambles taken with the band. This was high octane Americana rock from the opening soaring guitar notes of “Free” segueing into “Start of Something”.

Superb tightness in song construction and delivery, excellent harmonies and at times triple guitar interplay in the best Eagles/Byrds style, all backed by brilliant bass and drums. Still not allowing the audience to catch their breath a slick intro to “Renegade” and on the pace relentlessly continued. Eventually the audience got breathing time with a more laid back “Lonely Lately”. The night whistled past with an occasional trip into Ahab’s back catalogue . There was some seriously blistering Paul Kossoff style guitar from Fred during “Sun Is Rising” as well as a potentially anthemic “High Hopes” with a lot of audience participation, just so suitable for festivals. Final song proper before the encore pantomime was a tip to their West Coast influences with the very popular “Goodnight California”, echoes of The Eagles were very evident.

The inevitable encore paid homage to another influence with a very Tom Petty-esque “Won’t Let You Down”. All too quickly the show was over. I said earlier the show should have been sold out. I seriously hope the Live Room gets another chance to sell out but I strongly suspect that this band could be playing far larger venues in the near future. They certainly have the songs, musicianship, sound and the potential. A great night was had by all.

Words and photos by Keith Belcher

Pre Show Interviews

Interview with Rob & Molly of BCB Radio's Into The Buttercup

Jun 16 2018

The Maes, Sunday 10th June 2018

The Maes were absolutely astonishing and justified our chasing them for nearly four years. Beautiful songs, wonderful playing and arrangements, and truly spine-tingling harmonies left the audience shaking their heads at the sheer talent of this Australian trio. We’re already talking to their management about a return in 2019, when we confidently expect a full house. Watch this space!

Many thanks to Gillian Harrison for the photos.