Mar 3 2024

Folk Alliance International 2024

Westin Hotel Kansas City

This was our fourth Folk Alliance and it was as wild as ever, with over 2500 attendees, daytime panels and meetings, and thousands of showcases between the hours of 6pm and 3am. Sleep is at a premium and you’re lucky if you get any, especially after a transatlantic flight and a reaaranged body clock. However, we’re not complaining, it was a joyous experience to be around people from around the world all with the same love of live music.

We saw some really amazing performances there, met up with a bunch of people from across the world as well as here in the UK and have come home with lots of new ideas for artists to bring to TLR in the coming years. We’ll be sharing these with you as soon as we can.

Here is a selection of photos of our trip, we hope you enjoy them

Union Station, across the road from the venue and our regular breakfast cafe!

Day 1, Wednesday

The Henhouse Prowlers; Bassett; and Michele Stodardt

Day 2, Thursday


El Pony Pisador

The Accidentals

John Smith

Willie Watson

Night time over Kansas City from the 20th floor

Justin Adams & Mauro Durante

Joachim Cooder

Day 3, Friday

Billow Wood

Dimpker Brothers

Northern Resonance


Mirja Klippel

Julia Alapnes

Grainne Hunt

Alice Howe & Freebo



Moneka Arabic Jazz

Day 4, Saturday

Hilary by the almost invisible lifts!


Musique a Bouches

Dean Owens & The Sinners

Walter Parks & The Unlawful Assembly

Ensemble Sangineto

Beth Nielsen Chapman

Robbie Cavanagh

Barbara Lica

……and some final shots of the hotel during the conference….

Jul 25 2023

Karine Polwart

plus support Iona Lane

Thursday 8th June 2023

Review, photos and video by Keith Belcher

The second of three Scots performers in a row at TLR. A TLR debut appearance of Karine Polwart. By no means Karine’s first appearance in Saltaire but a first for TLR . Judging from some of the comments I heard on the night, a first concert by Karine for many. By the feel of the comments she made a lot of new fans who will be very eager to see her again, eveything I overheard was very complimentary . Karine introduced Iona Lane who opened the show. Iona also acts as tour driver due to Karine’s vertigo precluding Karine driving. Karine was introduced by Hilary and then went on to introduce Iona, joining Iona on stage to harmonise on Iona’s final song ‘Humankind’.

Karine then stayed on stage playing solo for the rest of the set. Those who know or have heard Karine’s body of work will know of her huge interest in natute and natures folk lore, especially birds, and trees. Many other aspects of nature fascinate Karine and the show tonight was no exception.

I should start by saying that I am a long time huge admirer of Karine and her many projects and collaborations so I am somewhat biased in any reviews I write. It had been a while since I last saw Karine. That being in January 2020 in Glasgow , just before you know what happened. That night Karine was taking part in Rollin’ Roots Review 70th birthday tribute to the boss. Having seen that both Karine and Lisa Hannigan were taking part booking a ticket was a no brainer. Karine rocked out to The Ballad of Tom Joad and The Rising and Lisa featured Tougher than the Rest in her segment. Just sheer unexpected magic. But onto tonight at TLR.

A feature of Karine’s solo shows is that sometimes the intros are far longer than the actual songs themselves , tonight was no exception. If she’s with brother Steven and multi instrumentalist Inge Thompson they sometimes restrain her dialogue. Not a problem for me as I love both the songs and Karine’s distinctive Scots voice, both spoken and singing, also her unbridled enthusiasm for whatever Karine gets involved in.

It’s very easy to spot that Karine is fascinated by nature in all it’s aspects especially birds and trees, nature pretty much ruled tonights shows. She even opened Celtic Connections in 2017 she showed the political side of her nature by portraying Donald Trump, as seen through the nature of the Isle of Lewis, in a song called ‘I Burn But Am Not Consumed’ (The McLeod family motto), a song telling of his mother Mary Anne MacLeod’s emigration to America . A very powerful song well worth checking out if not already aware. Karine had been on stage to introduce opener and driver Iona Lane. Joining Iona for Iona’s last song ‘Humankind’.

Karine stayed on stage and opened her show proper with ‘Rivers Run’, a song written for her son (now 16) from This Earthly Spell (2008). The Live Room Choir was in good voice answering to the nany requests for them to join in with the show. As early as song 2 with ‘Heartwood’ from one of Karine’s projects Spell Songs (2019). The first tree song of the night using the voice of an ancient tree addressing it’s cutter. There was an as yet unrecorded song in set 1 based on a short poem by Charles Simic. Another song based on a poem by Robbie Burns (The Wrens Nest) called ‘Come Away In’ closed set 2 with the Choir in good voice. That one from the latest album Still As You’re Sleeping (2021).

Set 2 opened with ‘Terminal Star’ from 2006’s Scribbled In Chalk . ‘Cornerstone’ was next from Laws of Motion (2018), song to be used in a new BBC nature related documentary that Karine will feature in, something to look forward to there! More songs about birds with ‘The Lark In Clear Air’ from A Pocket Of Wind Resistance (2017). More sing alongs with a cover of Deacon Blue’s ‘Dignity’ (Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook , 2019) and ‘Travel These Ways’. A beautiful and as far as I know unrecorded song ‘Beechbrae’, a 100 year old tree named Rebecca (you needed to be there for that intro) telling the story of it being attacked by a chain saw cutter (and surviving). This song inspired by a Forester friend of Karines.

All too soon we were at the end of the gig. Iona rejoined the stage and combined voices beautifully on ‘The King of Birds’ (Traces 2012). The final song was a delightful cover of Rachel Sermani’s ‘Lay My Heart’ with a wonderful contribution from Iona and The Live Room Choir . I would imagine Rachel will be on Ron & Hilary’s booking list before long. A truly wonderful night. It would be really nice to see Karine at TLR again.


The Path That Winds Before Us; Cornerstone; and Rebecca

Call of the Curlew

Mar 12 2023

Bella Gaffney & The Silver Reserve

Sunday 5th March 2023

Photos, videos and review by Keith Belcher

Sunday 5th March 2023., The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire. A long awaited double header of two local artists: The Silver Reserve aka (Matthew Sturgess) and Bella Gaffney. A separate post for each artist starting with Matthew.

Mathew has performed at TLR several times as a support artist drawing praise from both audiences and the headline acts he was supporting. On previous visits he was solo, tonight being accompanied for several songs with friends Nick Wood and Tim Marshall providing some lovely harmonies. A mixture of colour and black and white tonight for a change.

Bella Gaffney as a solo artist, playing guitars, banjo and (her words not mine) telling bad jokes, also singing acapela. Bella’s last appearance at TLR was with her band The Magpies back in September 2021.



Grandma's Song

There's A Joy

Heaven Knows

Blood In The Earth & Black Water

Oct 18 2022

English Folk Expo 2022

Our first visit to the Expo since 2017 was very enjoyable. Taking place in Manchester between Thursday 13th and Saturday 15th October, the showcase event runs alongside the Manchester Folk Festival and features a range of artists from both England and the guest nation, which this year was Ireland. Below are a selection of photos of some of the artists taking part, some of whom we’re already in talks with about coming to play here at TLR.

Rachael Dadd
Lucy Grubb
Flo Perlin
Owen Spafford & Louis Campbell
The Drystones
Hannah Moule & The Moulettes
Oct 9 2022

Americanafest 2022

Here’s a selection of photographs from our recent trip to Americanafest in Nashville, including some of the acts that we really loved and will be trying to bring to TLR!

Hilary on first day!
Roberts Western World – the most famous honkytonk on Broadway!
Melissa Carper
William Prince
Alison Russell (twice at TLR with Birds of Chicago) and her band with guest Brandi Carlile
Rainbow Girls
Lori McKenna, featuring Mark Erelli, who did a great livestream for us during lockdown!
River Whyless
Janiva Magness
Willy Watson
Bella White
Alisa Amador
Oshima Brothers
Henry Wagons
Our own Lauren Housley at the Exit Inn – she went down a storm!
A who’s who of past artists at the Exit Inn!
The world famous Studio B in Music Row
Nashville Skyline – it’s changed a bit since Bob!
Great gumbo – ‘gator tails too if that’s your fancy!
Grimey’s Records – East Nashville
96 degrees on the pedestrian bridge across the Cumberland
The Gulch at night
Birthday girl on our last night!

Sep 5 2022

Jon Boden 2022

Friday 2nd September 2022

Photos by Keith Belcher

Another superb show by one of the UK’s great folk artists. Doing just a few solo shows between big tours with John Spiers and the upcoming return of Bellowhead, we were very lucky to get him. With a superb, soaring voice and fabulous skills on guitar, fiddle, concertina and stomp board, who needs a band when you have Jon Boden?! Many thanks to Keith Belcher for another set of brilliant photographs of the night.

Live Video by Keith Belcher

Rigs of the Times; We Do What We Can; Old Straight Track; and Walking Song

Aug 26 2022

Della Mae

Plus support The Silver Reserve

Thursday 25th August 2022

Photos and words by Keith Belcher

The very fabulous Della Mae making their long awaited debut at The Live Room, Saltaire. Originally scheduled for 2020 but something (???) threw a spanner in the works.

Truth to say they surpassed the expectations. I was fortunate enough to see their superb performances at Celtic Connections, Glasgow opening for The Milk Carton Kids and headlining their own show. Changes over the years but tonight’s line up was fiddle player Kimber Ludiker, lead vocalist/guitarist Celia Woodsmith, guitarist Avril Smith, bassist Vickie Vaughn. Mandolinist Maddie Witler didn’t make the trip this time around.

A high octane show from start to finish, serious amounts of energy generated, fair to say at the end there were people initially dancing in their seats but some just got up and danced. One of the most high-powered shows I’ve seen at TLR (and I’ve seen more than most people!).

Support act, Matthew Sturgess aka The Silver Reserve is rapidly gaining a good following with his superb, atmospheric shows. He had both the crowd and Della Mae who watched his entire show hanging on his every word and sound. A short but very sweet set, he’s due back to do more than open next March.

Live Video by Keith Belcher

Della Mae - Down To You

The Silver Reserve - Imogen

Jun 23 2022

Stillhouse Junkies 2022

Sunday 19th June 2022

Photos by Keith Belcher

We’d been looking forward to this Colorado-based trio since their thrilling livestream show they gave us during lockdown and we weren’t disappointed. They delivered a spectacular performance for us, showcasing not only their highly original songwriting and arrangements, but also their sensational musicianship, with blistering solos from all three. A truly terrific live act that won a standing ovation from the rapt crowd. It was clear that they have a real joy in playing music together and sharing it wherever they go. We’ll be looking to bring them back as soon as we possibly can.

video by keith belcher

Brown Eyed Woman

Jun 12 2022

Suzie Ungerleider

Friday 4th June 2022

Words and photos by Keith Belcher

A collection of stills from last nights performance by Suzie Ungerleider; a very memorable night. So nice to see an artist really having fun on stage

Video by keith belcher

Lucky Star; Pretty Face

May 25 2022

Jake Blount

Sunday 22nd May 2022

Photos by Keith Belcher

The debut appearance of The Jake Blount Band at TLR. Jake on banjo, fiddles and lead vocals. George Jackson, fiddle, banjo and vocals, Nelson Williams, double bass and Gus Tritsch, guitar, uke and vocals.