Jun 27 2022

Darden Smith

Thursday 23rd June 2022

Photos by Keith Belcher

We had a lovely evening on Thursday 23rd with Texan troubadour, Darden Smith giving us a terrific evening of songs, storytelling and poetry, evoking the wide open spaces of the American plains. He’s such an engaging performer. His latest record, Western Skies, of which we availed ourselves of a copy, is a beauty too, grab a copy!

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.

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

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.

Apr 24 2022

Hot Club of Cowtown

Friday 22nd April 2022

Photos by Ron Pengelly

What a fantastic night we had with the amazing Hot Club of Cowtown on their TLR debut!

Apr 13 2022

John Smith 2022

plus support from Native Harrow

Sunday 10th April 2022

Review and photos by Keith Belcher

Supporting John on this tour were Philadelphian duo Native Harrow, now resident in Brighton. UK. They are Devin Tuel on main vocals and guitar and musical partner multi-instrumentalist Stephen Harms, tonight mainly on bass and guitar. Both wearing well-made flared trouser suits. They evoked, to me, sounds of the late 60’s and 1970’s.

Devin’s vocals have been compared to, amongst others, Laura Nyro and Karen Carpenter. They have released 4 albums. The latest being CLOSENESS which garnered very good reviews from Uncut, The Times, Mojo and The Guardian. They certainly seemed to have some avid followers in the audience who greeted their songs with much enthusiasm.

The dictionary definition of exquisite is: adjective: “meaning extremely beautiful and delicate or marked by flawless craftsmanship or by beautiful, ingenious, delicate, or elaborate execution”. It could also be justifiably ascribed to John Smith’s performance on Sunday night. I have seen John Smith play great shows many times over the last 16 years or so, often taking in several shows in a tour. Sunday’s show, however, was just exquisitely sublime. The show was deservedly sold out in advance. That’s not bad when you consider he was only playing a few miles away at The Brudenell Club, Leeds the night before. Usually promoters try and avoid that sort of proximity clash but with multiple cancellations, rescheduling etc etc over the last 2 years, life is what is!

There have been many changes for John over the period of you know what. He’s had time for much reflection and introspection. It’s resulted in many great new songs. He’s moved home from Somerset to North Wales, brought his parents over from Spain to care for them, found out he’s allergic to all sorts of things and changed his diet considerably. He’s brought out 3 excellent albums over that period. He has also really missed playing to real live audiences.

The joy of being able to perform again has been, like for other acts recently at TLR very noticeable. His sound has altered considerably. To my ears it’s far more refined and delicate. He was always quiet but never more so than now. The array of effects pedals at his feet also seems to have bred profusely and are used subtly to enhance his voice and guitar. He always used to make do with 2 guitars but he now travels with 3 and one is called Mavis. Perhaps the other 2 also have names but he didn’t introduce them on the night.

A rare night off sound desk duties for Ron, which, I would imagine made the sold out show even more enjoyable. John and Native Harrow had the skills of Barnsley’s Joe Rusby at the desk. Both Joe and John commented at the sound check just what a great room TLR is for sound. Something all the regulars are well aware.

John’s set opened with the array of pedals being used to great effect on a long extremely delicate intro to Hold On from THE FRAY. He then remarked it had been approximately 3 years 16 days since he performed at TLR, not that he had been counting! The next 2 songs were also from THE FRAY. Sanctuary had also been re-recorded for THE FRAY VARIATIONS with a String Quartet at Abbey Road. It has, amongst others, a wonderful line, “I saw the future with eyes wide open”.

The set also featured the traditional Hares On the Mountain and a Roly Salley cover, Killing The Blues, really beautifully sung and played. Whenever I hear this song played by anyone, I think back to a Martin Simpson comment about the royalties cheque difference when Robert Plant and Alison Krauss recorded the song, considerable I should imagine. John’s version was just as good. 

During the time of no live gigs John collaborated with the very phenomenal Sarah Jarosz on a song called Eye To Eye, also on THE FRAY. What a lucky man! He sings with both Sarah Jarosz and the equally brilliant (“big sister”) Lisa Hannigan. He commented that when he received the vocals (it was all done at distance, Sarah is US based) from Sarah he thought he had better redo his own already recorded vocals, Sarah’s were that good. I have seen her several times and she really is a huge talent and still SO young. She also performs in a trio called I’m With Her with Aoife O’Donovan and Sara Watkins who have harmonies beyond belief, well worth checking if not already known.

He did 2 songs co-written and sung with Lisa. The first was Star Crossed Lovers. John joked if we imagine hard Lisa and Sarah might appear from backstage. I’d think I was hallucinating or in heaven if that happened.

 John in a recent Facebook blog had given a glowing report on TLR audience. His line was a “die hard pin drop audience”. I was really aware of this as Sunday really was a “you could hear a pin drop night”. I had arranged with John that I would photograph 3 songs to capture the 3 different guitars and I would do most of it from the back. I have never been so conscious of a shutter click, the listening intensity of the audience was so much that to me, the shutter release sounded like thunder. I sincerely hope I did not really annoy too many people. I moved around to “share” the load. John maintained a friendly constant banter with the audience throughout. There was even a little friendly Northern heckling of Get On With It in response to one banter interlude.

All too soon the show was coming to an end with 2 songs from HEADLONG, Joanna followed by Far Too Good, both songs are incredibly well written and have seriously addictive vocal and guitar hooks. Along with Save My Life (possibly the catchiest song for many a year, sadly not performed) from same album they all need health warnings that once heard they’re going to echo around your head for days (or more).

The encore paid homage to John’s Brixham , Devon upbringing with another Lisa Hannigan co-write and performed song Salty and Sweet. The audience performed their vocal parts beautifully without being asked bringing a huge smile to John’s face. It was easy to see that he really enjoyed the night. Let’s not wait another 3 years for the next visit.

Apr 5 2022

Lynne Hanson 2022

Plus support Malcolm MacWatt

Sunday 3rd April 2022

Review and photos by Keith Belcher

Canadian Lynne Hanson’s second visit to TLR had been one of the many gigs delayed , postponed and rescheduled due to you know what.  This time around she was accompanied on guitar, vocals and electronic wizardry by the very excellent Ottawa based Blair Michael Hogan. London based Scots singer songwriter Malcolm MacWatt was making his TLR debut.

Following his debut performance I am fairly certain that Malcolm MacWatt will be back at TLR soon headlining his own show. He was very well received by the TLR crowd, some of whom had travelled far and wide for tonight’s show. Morayshire born, currently living in London. One only has to look at the guests on his new album SETTLER and its many glowing reviews to get an idea of the rep he’s making for himself with his excellent song writing. The album features no less than Jaimee Harris, Laura Cantrell, Gretchen Peters, Eliza Carthy and Kris Drever. That’s not a bad guest list. A multi-instrumentalist playing almost all instruments on the album himself.

Tonight, he limited himself to guitar only. A very good selection of songs. A theme of Celts abroad present in many of the songs such as the opener The Crofter and the Cherokee, followed by a tragic Letter From San Francisco, a sad letter written from an emigrant to his mother. A slightly disturbing (these days) recount of his Dad keeping a shotgun in the car in case they saw any game. That helped towards the song Trespass a very intelligent and observational song. He finished his set with a taste of Red River Woman, a song he’s currently recording . His opening remarks to that song about hating misogyny and prejudice of any kind reminded me greatly of Dick Gaughan, another Scot with a huge social conscience.

Hilary introduced Lynne Hanson and Blair Michael Hogan to huge applause. A lot of people had been waiting a long time for this gig, postponed and rescheduled over the last 2 years.

Blair’s guitar painted a lush sonic landscape from the opening notes of Hold My Breath and continued that way all night. The song, about friendship and living in the moment inspired by the period of you know what making us think about our lives and relationships. Blair’s guitar was superb throughout. An array of pedals at his feet and the skill in his fingers creating wonderfully diverse textures and emotional backdrops to Lynne’s guitars and vocals. Blair also sang harmonies but mainly played really superb guitar with very little conversation (except for one point – more later).

The next song 100 Mile Wind had a Wizard of Oz intro about filling up her car with gas and almost being blown to Kansas. Lynne’s album JUST WORDS was written before lockdowns (“Before Times”) happened and it never got the extensive  touring it deserved and then along comes ICE CREAM IN NOVEMBER , to be released officially on April 22nd. Lynne commented on how lonely the songs from JUST WORDS must have felt not being allowed out to meet the world.

Lynne’s lyrics and songs cover a huge range of topics as do her in between song banters. It would be fair to say she could probably hold her own at TLR’s comedy nights as a stand up comedian. The audience were, at times, in stitches with her highly theatrical, animated conversations and gesticulations. They covered all sorts of topics from observations about Canada’s “big” neighbours and health services and huge vats of maple syrup, jigsaw puzzles, being vetted for a “Nice Canadian” card to allow exit from Canada. Imagined meetings with Ernest Hemingway and strangely named deserts.  

Lynne has a really infectious energy that crackles about her. Feeding on the energy from the audience and giving it back in spades. Blair ‘s only comments of the night were when she was relating her experiences of drinking (she stopped in 2011), something along the lines of finding it difficult to imagine her as a drunk. The song Long Way Home was written after giving up booze. It really reminded me of another TLR favourite the great Bronwynne Brent, it had that nice easy, bluesy, jazzy feel to it.

The pace and delivery of songs was very varied. The banter from factual, comical to philosophical sophistry – (did the colour blue exist before someone called it blue – Orion’s Belt). What was very evident from the start and throughout was the sheer joy at being back on a stage in front of real people playing live music. It’s been a common theme amongst artists since lockdowns ended but so far none quite so evidently displayed as tonight.

As the set drew to an end Lynne had the audience singing along with a very upbeat Shadowland with Blair pulling out all the guitar stops. In another country he would have been given several bursts of spontaneous applause for his breaks. With dramatic contrast Lynne and Blair finished set proper with an unplugged version of Gotta Have Rain, perched precariously on the stage edge. She said in the “before times” it was a song about gratitude and in the (hopefully) “after times” it is even more of a song about gratitude and appreciation of the way things are. ” You want to have flowers, you gotta have rain”. It was dedicated to as especial thanks to promoters and audience who are turning out to support live music.

They weren’t getting away without an encore which was the very superb River of Sand. A great night, good time had by all, performers, audience and everyone involved. What else do you want on a Sunday night?

Mar 22 2022

Track Dogs

Sunday 20th March 2022

Photos and review by Keith Belcher

Some nights you get really lucky and get a whole lot more than you expected. So it was on Sunday night for the second visit (in the flesh) for the 4 piece Madrid based Track Dogs.  They comprise 2 Irishmen, I Englishman and 1 American. They are Garrett Wall, vocals, guitar and ukulele; Dave Mooney, bass, mandolin, vocals; Howard Brown, trumpet, cajon, vocals; and Robbie K. Jones – cajon, banjo, percussion, vocals. Instruments were swapped regularly throughout the night.Their music reflects the nationalities as well as their Spanish base. Their first visit to TLR was 15th March 2019 and there was a virtual performance on 4th October 2020.

Tonight, we didn’t get just a quartet. For large parts of the show we had, for one night only, a sextet with the addition of cello player Adrianne Wininsky and violinist Chris Demetriou. Adrianne and Chris have featured on a couple of Track Dogs’ albums. Towards the end of the show we had a septet with old school friend Fergal Gara, who lives in the area, joining the band on stage to play some great harmonica. Their music is often described as a dynamic fusion of folk, Latino, Americana & bluegrass. What they really generate is an immense amount of fun and enjoyment, both on and off stage. Something we all really need at the moment.

A relatively quick sound check as the club had a rock n’roll afternoon until 5pm with a scheduled start for Track Dogs at 7pm. You wouldn’t know it from the great sound. A big queue outside when doors opened. They seemed to have a lot of hard core fans who weren’t going to miss out on the performance.

Taking the stage as a quartet they got such a great reception they joked about going straight to the encore while they were ahead. The show opened by jumping in with The Deep End, an upbeat Latino style song, that’s the way to start, (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun!). By the time they got to Whatever Happens the audience were buzzing, needing no persuasion or prompting to join in with the vocals with much gusto.

At some point in Set 1 the painter of their last album cover took a bow having been introduced from the stage. Eventually Chris and Adrianne joined the stage with violin and cello filling the 2 empty seats between Garrett and Howard. Garrett Wall’s vocals are really tremendous, their harmonies superb and both Howard and Robbie took turns with superb lead vocals.

Musically very flexible, Howard switching between trumpet and cajon, Robbie between cajon and banjo, Garrett and Dave swapping guitar, bass, mandolin and ukulele. Assorted tambourines littered the stage(you need to have been there to understand the relevance of that remark). Set 1 ended with a very lively All Clapped Out. Big queue at the Merch table and a lot of old friends catching up. It was a very friendly sort of night.

A far longer second set opened with the question Where To Now, the title song of the latest CD. As well as the really lively numbers they played some delicate songs such as the beautiful Broken Strings. It really showed just how good Garrett’s voice was and how well the band blend on harmonies and also just how much sensitive strings add to a song.

There were many songs in set 2 where the band played and sang bluegrass style around a single mike. A humourous few minutes as Robbie introduced Empty Tracks, a song about a tourist train that stopped running during lockdowns. The rest of the band commenting on his usual time of rising!! (not early!!). That was followed by a James Taylor cover of Carolina In My Mind, very apt as they remarked as they had been really looking forward to playing The Caroline Social Club again.

Cranking up the pace with another cover, Brandy (Looking Glass cover) with Howard on lead vocals. They really pulled out all the stops when Chris rejoined the stage and they launched into Gonna Get My Way. Very noticeable that Chris was now standing rather than sitting for this one. Some cracking bass, violin, cajon and banjo solos on this one.

They also brought on Fergal  to play harmonica, he got a solo too!!! Difficult to think it could get any livelier than that but they then launched into Donna Lola with huge audience participation, again unprompted, a lot of the song unamplified as they left the stage and walked around the venue.

A quick breather before the encore. The band giving a heartfelt thanks to Ron and Hilary for everything they have done during the last 2 years and more, especial thanks to Ron’s great sound throughout the night. The encore, sang by Robbie showing just what a strong voice he has was another tip of the hat to The Caroline Club.

A really powerful cover of Ruby (Are You Mad At Your Man?). Originally by Cousin Emmy & Her Kinfolk in 1946 then The Osborne Brothers in 1957 (apparently the first time twin banjos were used on a bluegrass recording! You learn something very day!!) but perhaps better known these days for the CAROLINA Chocolate Drops cover (2012). For this Adrianne joined Fergal and Chris on stage and they played out as a septet.

As I said at the start, sometimes you get a lot more than you expected. It was definitely one of those very superb nights.

Dec 2 2021

Son of Town Hall

Sunday 28th November 2021

Photos and review by Keith Belcher

Sunday 28th November 2021, The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire. The very welcome return visit of the intrepid mariners that are Son Of Town Hall, aka Englishman George Ulysses Brown (Ben Parker) and American Josiah Chester Jones (David Berkeley). Playing their first live show together in 2 years they went down a storm( probably not the most apt or best phrase for mariners!), clad in Victorian garb, singing in sibling type harmony with great guitar work and stories to match. Some dates left on their tour. Catch them if you can https://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/son-of-town-hall

Sep 14 2021

Lauren Housley

Sunday 12th September 2021

Photos and setlist by Keith Belcher

LAUREN HOUSLEY BAND
TLR,Saltaire
12th September 2021

Lauren Housley on Vox and acoustic guitar
Thomas Dibb on electric Guitar/BVs
Mark Lewis on Bass/BVs
Xavier Winton on Drums
Chris Larcombe on acoustic & electric guitar
Clive Mellor on Harmonica

Set 1
The Song I Sing – (A)
Guaranteed Sunshine – (A)
What’s Troubling You Child – (E)
Stay Awake To Dream – (D)
Sing To Me – (F)
Bless His Soul – (E)
Willin- (E)
This Ain’t The Life – (C)
The Beauty Of This Life – Acoustic w/ Clive (C)

Set 2
My Sleeping Heart – (Ab)
Sweet Surrender – (A)
The Waiting Game – (Bb)
Why Are We Making It So Hard – (C#)
Breakdown (C#m)
Jolene – Acoustic (C#m)
Ghost Town Blues – (E)
We’re Not Backing Down – (D)
To Love Somebody – (A-solos G/A/C)