May 27 2023

Sugaray Rayford

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?)

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

Mark Wilkinson

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 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.


Don't Tell Your Secrets to the Wind; Dark Highway; Raincoat

Apr 6 2023

Mike & Ruthy

Sunday 2nd April 2023

Review, photos and videos by Keith Belcher

Sunday 2nd April 2023. The much awaited visit of Mike and Ruthy, formerly here as The Mammals. This time with their son Will playing bass . Very much a family affair, daughter Opal was managing the merch desk as well as singing along throughout (you would have needed to be very near the front to hear her). Two superb sets of great songs, musicianship , harmonies and alternating vocals from Mike and Ruthy with some entertaining stories and humour throughout

The audience did their part too, rapt attentive listening and excellent backing vocals . Judging by reviews and comments at other gigs they have been going down a storm everywhere they have played. I know Hilary would have loved to have been there for this one but she was at a musical event in Vancouver (someone has to research these acts). Graham did the honours as MC and Joy helped out at the door leaving Ron to get the sound the Live Room is getting a great reputation for. A very popular gig, they will be back.

Videos by Keith Belcher

Bright As You Can; East Side, West Side; Rock On Little Jane

Apr 6 2023

Rachel Baiman

plus support Misty River

Photos & videos by Keith Belcher

A great billing of two fine Americana artists from either side of the Atlantic. This was Rachel’s third visit to TLR after a double bill with Molly Tuttle back in 2018 and her recent show with Sierra Hull. Rachel was accompanied by Steve Haan on bass and vocals. First timer at TLR, Misty River, comprised of Carmen Phelan and Adam Morley.


Rachel Baiman: Shame; Self Made Man; Lovers and Leavers; Wicked Spell

Misty River: Walk Me To The River

Feb 13 2023

Del Barber

Sunday 5th February 2023

Photos and video by Keith Belcher

We were absolutely blown away by Canada’s Del Barber last Sunday, as were the crowd. We love it when a show exceeds expectations and this one did that by a country mile. Del and his band were absolutely superb in every sense: fabulous songs, amazing musicianship, funny, engaging and entertaining. The whole evening was fantastic from start to finish and we can’t wait to welcome them back to TLR again, when we’re sure it will be a sell-out.

Video by Keith Belcher

Hang Me, Oh Hang Me & Spanish Pipedream (Blow Up The TV)

Feb 4 2023

Sierra Hull & Justin Moses

Plus support Rachel Baiman

Sunday 22nd January 2023

Review & photos by Keith Belcher

Sunday 22nd January 2023 at The Live Room at Saltaire

Illinois born, Nashville based multi instrumentalist Rachel Baiman opened the evening. This was Rachel’s second visit to TLR. The first being 27th April 2019 doubling with friend the fabulous Molly Tuttle. Rachel will soon be making her 3rd TLR appearance on March 17th as a headliner with her trio.

Rachel gave a great and varied opening set playing banjo, guitar and fiddle with vocals and songs to to match her musicianship. Rachel also made an appearance joining Sierra and Justin for their encore. This show could have been sold out twice. The enthusiastic audience coming from far and wide.

Playing hardly begins to cover the virtuoso performance of Sierra Hull and her hsband, Justin Moses. Sierra is Tennessee born and bred, now residing, where else?, but Nashville.

What a track record for one still so young. A Grand Old Opry debut at age 10, Rounder Records contract and first album at age 13. No wonder Sierra is so highly regarded by the Nashville cognoscenti.

What we got on Sunday night was nothing short of a musical masterclass and it all looked so so easy. I found myself counting the fingers on Justin and Sierra’s hands, so melodic, so fast and so synchronised, if there were notes dropped I wasn’t aware. Just breathtaking, the audience were both very appreciative and not surprisingly very, very impressed .

A superb gig. Sierra’s friend and opener Rachel Baiman joined Sierra and Justin on stage for the unavoidable encore. I don’t think the audience would have left without one.

Videos by Keith Belcher

Rachel Baiman: Old Songs Never Die

Sierra Hull & Justin Moses: How Long?

Sierra Hull & Justin Moses: Cold Day/Cattle in the Cane

Jan 22 2023

Lonesome Ace Stringband 2023

Friday 20th January 2023

Review & photos by Keith Belcher

Friday 20th January, The Live Room.

Opening for Canadian Trio The Lonesome Ace Stringband were Phrase and Fable, a duo consisting of Maria Wallace and Phil Stott . Maria Wallace on vocals, claw hammer banjo and fiddle and Phil on vocals and guitar.

This was Lonesome Ace Stringband’s second visit to TLR. Last time was 15th September 2019. I saw them earlier that year sharing a double header with The Local Honeys at Celtic Connections on 26th January 2019. They would have been back a long time ago had it not been for you know what.

Like a fine wine they just carried on getting better and better and the audience had a real treat on Friday. They are Chris Coole on banjo, John Showman on fiddle and Max Malone on upright bass. Singing is divided between all three in both as soloists and harmonies.

Not surprisingly the show had been sold out for quite a while. A double gig weekend with Sierra Hull and Justin Moses (also sold out)on Sunday 22nd January. Judging from the very rapturous response from the audience they will be back.

Video by Keith Belcher

Damned Old Piney Mountain, Brown County Breakdown