Jul 25 2023

Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys

Wednesday 12th July 2023

Review and photos by Ron Pengelly

Really enjoyed my stint at The Live Room at Saltaire in Saltaire in recent weeks covering for their regular photographer Keith Belcher. It’s been a privilege to have a ringside seat for so many top notch folk and roots acts from all over the world.

Many acts, like Canadian Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys on Wednesday evening, are difficult to categorize in terms of genre, but the common threads are consummate musicianship and great entertainers. And boy were we entertained last night, as the standing ovation at the end showed. Unbelievable, still buzzing, and now we know why he’s called ‘Crazy Legs’!

Jul 25 2023

Raghu Dixit Project

Friday 7th July 2023

Review and photos by Ron Pengelly

A blast of Indian folk rock at The Live Room at Saltaire on Friday night from Bangalore based The Raghu Dixit Project. Great, energetic songs, with some Iron Maiden woven in, and a competitive singalong, where half the audience didn’t have a clue what they were singing. And a selfie with the audience to round off the evening.

Great evening guys, thanks for coming to Yorkshire!

Jul 25 2023

The Hoth Brothers

Sunday 25th June 2023

Review and photos by Ron Pengelly

A taste of the wilderness of New Mexico came to Saltaire on Friday with the Hoth Brothers. My photos of a hugely entertaining set of toe tapping Appalachian inspired songs from Bard Edrington and Sarah Ferrell, with Karina Wilson on fiddle and vocals standing in for Boris McCutcheon who couldn’t make the tour.

Great show, thanks folks.

Jul 25 2023


Friday 16th June 2023

Review and photos by Ron Pengelly

Welsh language band Vri at The Live Room on Friday showcasing Welsh folk tradition. Fantastic harmonies, energy and musicianship, three guys who clearly love playing together. Felt like we were in the pub for a singalong one minute, watching top notch chamber music the next.

Hugely impressive and uplifting. Give ’em a listen.

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

Jul 25 2023


Sunday 11th June 2023

Review, photos and video by Keith Belcher

The third Scots act in a row for TLR. This time relative youngsters Gnoss made their TLR debut. Gnoss are (from left to right on stage) Connor Sinclair (Flute/Whistles/Vocals), Graham Rorie Fiddle/Mandolin/Electric Tenor Guitar), Aidan Moodie (Guitar/Vocals) and Craig Baxter (Bodhran/Percussion).

Three albums to their name so far: Drawn From Deep Water 2019, The Light of the Moon 2021, and stretching Skyward 2023. What a lot of energy we had on stage tonight. Alternating songs, tunes, stories, jokes and loads of warmth, charisma and dynamism. What more could you want on a Sunday night. Some shots from the show. Quite a few microphones to navigate tonight, not as many as Kris Drever when there were 26 mikes on stage.


Dirt & Bone; Keefa Hill; Orkney Reels (Moul Head)

Jun 10 2023

Kris Drever Band

Sunday 4th June 2023

Review, photos, video by Keith Belcher

4th June 2023. Kris Drever is no stranger to The Live Room, this was his sixth visit. This was his first with this band of friends making a rare and very welcome foray south of the border. The first of 3 Scots performances in a row for TLR in June. The wonderful Karine Polwart and Iona Lane on 4th and Glasgow based Gnoss on the 11th. Tonight the band comprised Kris on main vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, Euan Burton on upright and electric bass, Rachel Lightbody on vocals and multi tasking Admiral Fallow leader Louis Abbott playing drums, percussion, guitar and vocals.

Pretty much a sell out show with trips through the extensive back catalogue but not usually heard live with this combination of artists. Opening and closing the show proper with songs from 2016 album If Wishes Were Horses. Capernaum to start and finishing with title song If Wishes Were Horses (Both songs also feature on the new CD ..The Best Of.. a 36 track double CD). The harmonies working very well throughout. All band members contributing to vocals. An extremely well paced show with Kris giving good introductions to each song in his distinctively humourous understated style .

Set 2 opened with Kris solo playing Shetland fiddle music on guitar, The Unst Bridal Marches from 2019 mini album Hill And Shore. You could have heard a pin drop in The Live Room. The band re-joined the stage for newish song Catterline from the 2023 new album (The Best of ) . Tempo definitely upped for Hunker Down/That Old Blitz Spirit. Harvest Gypsies was next, a song performed recently at TLR by writer Boo Hewerdine.

The rest of the show just whizzed past ending with I Didn’t Try Hard Enough before a double encore of encores of Poor Man’s Son followed with an off mike encore of The Poorest Company. Kris providing solo unplugged guitar as the only instrumentation and everyone contributing to harmonies. A wonderful ending to a wonderful night. Both songs from the new compilation album.

Ron enjoyed a rare night off sound duties thanks to Tom Stanier doing a cracking job of sound mixing for this tour.

For anyone interested Poorest Company is also a song from 2006’s Before The Ruin where Kris collaborated with John McCusker and Roddy Woomble (and many others-well worth checking out ).


Hunker Down and Harvest Gypsies

Jun 10 2023

Guy Davis

Thursday 1st June 2023

Review, photos and video by Keith Belcher

Thursday 1st June 2023. The return appearance of the multi talented bluesman, Guy Davis. Guy is someone I have wanted to see for a long time but never quite managed it. He’s not just an extremely talented guitarist, banjo player, harmonica player, songwriter, storyteller and singer. He has theatre and film acting credits to his name and has written many plays also.

An excerpt from his press biography tells it all better than I could:

“His performances feature a mix of his original songs and cover songs by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Mance Lipscombe, Blind Willie McTell, Leadbelly, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and many others. His admiration for antiquities parallels his love of music, “I like antiques and old things, old places, that still have the dust of those who’ve gone before us lying upon them.” Blowing that dust off just enough to see its beauty is something Guy has excelled at for over twenty-five years of songwriting and performing. like savoring the ghosts of old sounds while still enjoying modern music.

Guy is a songwriter greatly influenced by his love of theater and storytelling, who derives joy from touring and seeing people from all walks of life. His hope is to bring people together, with the commonality that we are all people regardless of class, race, or personal experience, a lesson he learned from his long time friendship with Pete Seeger. Guy feels that Pete’s greatest strength was his ability to bring total strangers together, and have them all singing harmony by the time they left at the end of the night. “

It had been almost 10 years since his last show at TLR during the snows of 2013. Ron and Hilary had presented him twice before that at their venue in Wales. We got a superbly classy performance from a very classy artist. A beautifully paced show, along with the superb playing and singing the show layered with stories, anecdotes and a lot of humour and rapport with the audience. He has a huge back catalogue to his name, 20 albums over a more than 35 year career (and still counting) starting with 1978’s Dreams about Life to 2021’s, written during the pandemic, Be Ready When I Call You. Quite a few songs featured were from the latest award nominated album including the splendid ‘Palestine, Oh Palestine’.

After the very funny It Was You (a song about Orange 45) Guy asked if it was OK for him to play a few more, needless to say there were no objections . Full marks go to the Live Room Choir who provided lovely accompaniment to Guy’s songs when requested. A really enjoyable night made me wish I’d got around to seeing him a long time ago.


Low Down Women

May 27 2023

Suntou Susso

Friday 19th May 2023

Review, photos, video by Keith Belcher

Friday 19th May 2023, The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire. The debut of kora player and percussionist Suntou Susso and his extraordinary band kicked off a seriously high octane weekend at TLR with Sugaray Rayford making his second appearance on Sunday 21st but that’s another event and another future post.

I found a post online which described Gambia’s Suntou (via Bristol-in joke for those actually in the audience!!!) which said “Suntou Susso’s music brings nothing but good vibes as it combines the rich, traditional sound of his West-African Mandinka culture with Afro funk and soul…..Celebrated across Africa and Europe, Suntou is a multi-instrumentalist: kora player, percussionist, singer and composer from The Gambia.

The kora is a 22 string harp-lute, a rare and enchanting instrument. Born into the 700-year-old Griot tradition, Suntou performs his role as a historian, storyteller, and unifier of people through song, everywhere he goes and every time he gets on stage.”

The second set opened with Suntou giving a basic kora lesson and explaining the instrument which creates the most beautiful sounds in the hands of such a gifted player. You certainly did feel good in a very positive way at the end of this very upbeat and uplifting show as could be attested by the large number who took to dancing, at one point led by Suntou who had entered the crowd still playing his kora. On tunes like Rahim you were mesmerised by the shimmering sounds of the kora. Saltaire had already seen another kora player Seckou Keita who just happens to be Suntou’s older brother (there is a 3rd kora playing brother too, Sura Susso).

Besides the aforementioned eclectic musical combinations to my ears there was also good size chunks of jazz thrown in for good measure. Reminded me in some ways of banjo maestro Bela Fleck with his band The Flecktones.

The excellent and very experienced band (all Bristol based, you had to be there for the band intros)of Andy Christie -guitars, Oli Mason – Drums, Piers Tamplin – Saxophone, Dan Somers- keyboards, Tommy Kirby- 6 string bass worked wonderfully , all great performers in their own right. Suntou was playing a lot of songs from his debut album, KANÉFONYO (Never Give Up), entirely self-written, composed, and arranged. A really enjoyable show thoroughly enjoyed by all present. I would really like to see him and band back again when he next tours.

May 9 2023

Fraser Anderson – TLR 11th Anniversary!

Review, photos and video by Keith Belcher

The long delayed second appearance of Fraser Anderson and band. Fraser first appeared 8th September 2019 accompanied by Bex Baxter (backing vocals), John Parker upright bass and Craig Connet drums. Support was from local artist The Silver Reserve (aka Matthew Sturgess ). Matthew has since appeared opening for The Little Unsaid, Della Mae and co-headlining with Bella Gaffney earlier this year.Tonight Fraser was with Bex and John as a trio.

A special night in that TLR has been going since May 4th 2012 when Jackie Oates opened the club. The second gig (I think) was the mighty Dick Gaughan on 24th June 2012. I attended both and am still here. Such was my gig schedule in those days I went to 15 other gigs between the two Saltaire dates.

A rare event to open the show tonight was that partners in crime Ron and Hilary (Hilary’s term not mine!) both appeared on stage together at the start to welcome and thank the audience and Fraser. A surprise Happy Birthday greeted them from The Live Room Chorus. Ron and Hilary had generously supplied a selection of drinks and nibbles to celebrate the birthday/anniversary.

Fraser from Edinburgh originally had been spotted by Ron and Hilary at the Folk Expo in Kansas prior to the 2019 gig, they were delighted to find he lived in Bristol, after a lengthy spell in France. At the 2019 gig I was astonished that I had never heard his music before. Several albums to his name and an opener for some huge acts.

After a great performance in 2019 the world went crazy in 2020 and for various reasons we have waited until May 2023 to welcome Fraser back. I was still just as amazed that he wasn’t a bigger name than he is. At the 2019 gig Fraser humourously demonstrated his “psychic powers” by noting the names of the audience front row pre gig and welcoming them by name. Tonights show had lots of good humour and stories between the songs.

Surprisingly Fraser told us that although he had been an opener for some seriously large crowds when opening for the likes of Joan Armatrading and Chuck Berry this was the largest audience as a headliner. I find that hard to believe after hearing the songs and music produced by Fraser and his band. Often compared to the likes of Damien Rice, Nick Drake and Bon Iver.

I am somewhat surprised so far I’ve heard no comparisons to fellow Dunediner Ross Wilson (aka Blue Rose Code). We had an evening of wonderfully written songs with Fraser taking lead vocals, Bex providing stunningly harmonious backing and John performing pyroctechnical bass playing. Part of the show may make it onto a live recording as the evening was recorded. A great night. If not already aware then he is fully worth investigating further. Here’s to the next appearance, hopefully not 4 years.


Cold Eyes; The Wind and The Rain; Feel