Mar 28 2019

Mile Twelve, Sunday 24th March 2019

Review and photos by Keith Belcher

Sunday 24th March 2019, The Live Room, Caroline Social Club, Saltaire. Playing the Live Room on the final night of their first UK tour were Boston (US) based band Mile Twelve. Nothing unusual about good bluegrass from Boston, check out Crooked Still’s catalogue. Listening and watching the sound check it was obvious that tonight was going to be quite a special and enjoyable night.

The band were definitely in high spirits and wow, did it show in their performance!!. Comprising lead vocalist Evan Murphy on guitar, David Benedict mandolin, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, fiddle, Nate Sabat, upright bass and BB Bowness on banjo. What the audience delighted in was 2 sets of old and new, fast and slow bluegrass, mainly songs , some tunes, some seriously high octane and classy playing and singing. Very easy to see why they are being predicted for great things in the future. Already IBMA award winners.

Throughout the night there was an intricate dance of shared instrumental leads and breaks , mixing up the vocals mainly through the one microphone in true bluegrass style. All members participating in some superb vocals obviously well choreographed and practiced to pull it off so smoothly.

The fastest song and playing was possibly at the end of the show with Innocent Again which was exhausting to just listen to!! After that they were called back for an encore, a surprise to me, that “well known” bluegrass classic of Elton John – Rocket man, just sublime, such effective fiddle glissandi. The audience weren’t going to let them go without a second encore and so they came back for a very upbeat version of yet another “well known” bluegrass classic, Ramblin’ Man by the Allman Brothers.

A great demonstration of just what you can do in the bluegrass genre if the players are good enough and tonight they were. Great participation from the audience I might add. A thoroughly enjoyable night. They are planning another visit , let’s hope it’s not too long.

Mar 17 2019

Track Dogs

Friday 15th March 2019

What a fantastic night we had with this quartet from Madrid. A night of joyous entertainment, to forget about the woes of Brexit was promised, and that’s exactly what we got. Brilliant entertainment, harmonies and laughs all the way. They’ll definitely be back at some point. Thank you to everyone who came out and gave them such a huge crowd to play to!

Thanks too to Val Pelleschi, Harvey Bosomworth, Ruta Carter, Nick Lacey and Pete Stevens for the photos below, in the absence of Keith, who was away for the evening.

Pre Show Interviews

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

Feb 24 2019

David Ford Friday 22nd February 2019

David had been on our hit list since, purely by chance, seeing his amazing one camera take of the track ‘State Of The Union’ from his debut album, ‘I Sincerely Apologise For All The Trouble I’ve Caused’, on YouTube. We were floored not just by the originality and ingenuity, but also the passion with which the song was delivered. This was 2006 and we were still running Live at the Talbot in Tregaron, mid-Wales. We immediately wanted to book him, so started to track him down.

Fast forward almost thirteen years and, despite many attempts and some fleeting near misses, David had remained frustratingly out of reach. Having finally managed to bring him to our stage, he freely admitted that our inability to secure him was not a case of his being evasive, but instead down to poor admin! Indeed, in this age of seemingly constant social media self-promotion, it was only when he was in the van on the way from his home in Eastbourne to the show, that the idea of mentioning it on his Facebook page occurred to him.

This inability, or perhaps unwillingness, to engage with the business machinery was possibly explained in part during his show, which constituted a departure from his usual performance style into something of an interactive retrospective on his 15 year ‘career’. That word is placed deliberately in inverted commas, as David himself doesn’t think of what he does as a career. As he explained during what was a pretty much heart-on-the-sleeve performance, any idea of a ‘career’ in the music business ended, at least in part, during the very painful creation and promotion of his second album, ‘Let The Hard Times Roll’.

He clearly enjoys the fact that he now has the freedom to create music the way he wants, and the loyalty and connection with a sizeable army of genuine fans on both sides of the Atlantic. However, his brushes with the ‘suits’ of the business over the years wounded him so deeply that he once almost stopped making music, and those wounds have clearly left scars, at least one of which takes the shape of ‘I Choose This’, both the title of a song and his book. The subtitle of the book is ‘How To Nearly Make It In The Music Industry’ and perfectly captures the wryness of his humour and why he now chooses to carve his own, completely individual path.

The stage was set to create the impression that we had been invited into David’s front parlour; part concert, part theatre. In a show lasting around two and a half hours, we got anecdotes, question and answer sessions that gave an intriguing insight into this particular songwriter’s creative processes, and of course a bunch of wonderful songs. We even got, as part of an answer to one of those questions, an impromptu version of ‘You Were Always On My Mind’, a hit for Elvis, Willie Nelson and The Pet Shop Boys, and a song that David greatly admires for it’s perfect marriage of sentiment and melody.

This particular show format from David is still something of a work in progress. He admitted to the audience that he’s still having trouble with the running times and it may not suit those who want a more conventional, song-led show. However, for his fans and those who are interested in what makes a great songwriter and performer tick and the hurdles they have to overcome to create their own identity and maintain self respect, this is an engrossing and immersive experience. The passion is still there, but rather like a magician revealing how it’s done, he gave us an insight into what actually created it.

Photos by Keith Belcher

Feb 16 2019

FAI Montreal 2019 Photo Diary

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…..

Feb 4 2019

Vishtèn, Friday 1st February 2019

Review and photos by John Bentley / Arc

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.

Pre Show Interviews

Interview with Rob Martin from BCB Radio's 'Into The Buttercup'

Jan 28 2019

Martyn Joseph, Friday 25th January 2019

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.

Billy, one of our crowd, helping Martyn with the lyrics to a song by Phil Ochs!
Jan 22 2019

Sugaray Rayford Band, Friday 18th January 2019

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

Jan 15 2019

The Mammals, Sunday 13th January 2019

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

Dec 10 2018

Reg Meuross, Friday 7th December 2018

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