Aplscruf's Music Blog

Diary of a Married Groupie

Latest Happenings…

Lots of great music happening all over the world right now and an the near future! Here are just a few picks…

Will Kimbrough and Brigitte DeMeyer’s tour moves across The Pond. Paul Kerr of Blabber ‘n’ Smoke added his two cents to the stack of glowing reviews on this duo: https://paulkerr.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/brigitte-demeyer-will-kimbrough-mockingbird-soul/ See Tour Dates for a show near you.

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Japandroids

Japandroids, a Vancouver-based punk band, invaded the West Coast, including a stop in Seattle this past weekend. They’ll head to Europe mid-April with a gig at Melkweg in Amsterdam before continuing the tour in UK into the first week of May. They return to Europe in June to play a few more gigs including Spain and Italy.

Oliver Gray , Americana music promoter (I hereby dub him Americana’s Duke of Winchester), is visiting SXSW.  I’m looking forward to his take on the scene. Here is last year’s post: http://olivergray.com/south-by-south-west-festival-2016/

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Jesse Dayton is heading West after SXSW to Seattle’s Tractor Tavern. The man is a beast on guitar and puts on an incredible, entertaining show. Jesse has a new album out called The Revealer. Here’s my review of his show with John Doe a few years ago: http://nodepression.com/live-review/john-doe-reigns-triple-door-seattle-wa. Dayton was featured in No Depression in October: http://nodepression.com/article/unsung-heroes-americana-music-jesse-dayton-real-country-music

John Doe will also tour this summer with a few stops up north.

Jeremy Nail was also featured in ND this month: http://nodepression.com/article/jeremy-nail%E2%80%99s-new-album-climbs-above-health-struggles

Jenny Whiteley, Canadian folk artist, was recently nominated for a  JUNO award, Canada’s version of The Grammys for her latest album, The Original Jenny Whiteley. Awards ceremony is in April.

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Dean Owens, a man from Leith–a Celtic Americana  artist via Nashville–has a new album, a movie in the works, and a new single called “Julie’s Moon” on iTunes with a chance to donate through Marie Curie.Check  Dean’s Facebook Page for more info and make a purchase to support this favorite Americana artist.

Kilkenny Roots Festival  happens 28 April – 1 May in Kilkenny, Ireland. Always a quality lineup, many artists from America. Western Centuries, a top-notch country band from Seattle, will attend this year.

Massy Ferguson’s April show at The Triple Door in Seattle will be a sell-out event. The annual show is a must-see for Ferguson fans. We just saw them play a lively set in a suburban venue called Capps Club, just blocks from home. It’s nice to finally have some quality  music venues outside of the city limits.

Speaking of suburban venues, McMenamins offers a variety of music throughout its Oregon and Washington properties. We are lucky to be minutes away from Anderson School where Fernando, McDougal, Jesse Dayton, Massy Ferguson, Ian McFeron, Sean Rowe, and Aaron Lee Tasjan have played–just to name a few artists since its grand opening over a year ago.

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Jeff Finlin’s brilliant new album The Guru in the Girl is due in May, and I’m giddy with anticipation for the rest of the world to hear it. The album is a perfect balance of darkness and light; of regeneration; of love and loss. It embodies poppy folk songs to naked, soul-baring blues. The haunting title track stirs and elevates the soul.

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Flight to Mars

Flight To Mars is landing at The Showbox May 12-13 for two RAWK shows with Mike McCready. Proceeds support Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

March 20, 2017 Posted by | 2017, Alt-Country, Americana, aplscruf, Brigitte DeMeyer, Canadiana, Flight to Mars, Folk, Japandroids, Jeff Finlin, Jenny Whiteley, Jeremy Nail, Jesse Dayton, John Doe, Kilkenny Roots Festival, Massy Ferguson, McDougall, McMenamins, Music, No Depression, Oliver Gray, Seattle Rock, The Tractor Tavern, The Triple Door, Western Centuries, Will Kimbrough | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SC4M: Americana Music Festival in South Central…England!

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SC4M Festival is an annual Americana music festival in South Central England–Winchester, to be precise. This year’s Festival will prove to be a great success. It’s a guaranteed “No Mud” event, as all shows are inside The Railway Inn in two locations: The Attic and The Barn (not a real barn–but a larger room inside the venue). The line-up alone is worth a drool, including headliner John Murry and festival mascot Peter Bruntnell. The festival begins at noon and runs into the wee hours. Check the full lineup and schedule here.

I posted a more concise article for No Depression here.

Oliver Gray, founder and promoter of SC4M, is a language instructor, author, musician, and all ’round music lover. Over the last dozen years or so, he’s been dipping his toes in that river of Americana music and its related tributaries and booking The Railway with the genre’s best artists. The annual non-profit festival is going on its seventh season at The Railway. According to Oliver, he founded SC4M “not to make money…but simply for fun, and because if we didn’t bring Americana to Winchester, no other bugger would. We had to accept from the start that this would be a hobby and not a business. Over the years, if you add everything up, we have made quite a substantial net loss, but had a huge amount of fun and satisfaction.” Oliver and his wife Birgit even offer up rooms in their home to the artists in order to keep expenses at a minimum.

I had the pleasure of meeting The Grays in April:

The rain poured down the day my husband Pat and I were supposed to meet Oliver Gray in a little village on the outskirts of Winchester. After touring Winchester Cathedral and paying my respects to beloved author Jane Austen (i.e., crying my eyes out at her grave), we hired a taxi to take us into the village.

We were originally going to meet Oliver at a local pub, but due to the incessant rain, he invited us over to his home instead, as he didn’t feel like venturing out. He gave us his address. That’s it? There were no numbered streets or house addresses–only names in the style of manor houses posted willy-nilly in front gardens and near doorways (think of your favorite English novel: Wuthering Heights, Thornfield Hall, Mansfield Park, etc., but in an average, residential neighborhood)–it was nearly impossible for us to find his home. Our taxi driver gave up and drove off a few minutes earlier after cruising up and down the neighborhood and checking Google Earth. We were stranded. “It’s got to be on this street, according to the GPS,” Pat said. Frustration etched his voice as the rain dripped off the hood of his jacket.

I looked up, and a familiar-looking man crossed the street and approached us. After a tentative introduction to make sure we were indeed Lisa and Pat (and he was indeed Oliver), he guided us directly across the street and up a set of stairs to his lovely home. Their house sign was posted high, near some shrubbery–we’d never looked up. He sat us down, served us tea, and said, “My wife Birgit asked me how I came to know you, and I really don’t recall. Right. So. How do I know you?” Laughter ensued as we became acquainted with each other.

As a writer and lover of music myself, I found Oliver through a Facebook group called Rollercoaster Records. I noticed we had several mutual musical friends. When I realized Oliver booked The Railway, I contacted him to inform him we’d be in town on holiday in April and hoped to meet up or go to a show. Unfortunately, our Winchester visit was on a Monday, and we missed a few shows around town by a matter of days; but we hit a home run by spending time with Oliver and Birgit that day.

Back to SC4M…

Oliver has a lively article on his SC4M page regarding the formation of SC4M, the festival, and the various mishaps of being in the booking/promotion business including flaky agents, drunken behavior, and a near murder, just to name a few. Of course, even the worst incidents are canceled out by fantastic bands, sold-out shows, and life-long friendships with artists and patrons. There is also a section dedicated to the nearly disastrous 2013 festival, and other bits of lore that took place over the last decade.

I included a snippet of Oliver’s article, which includes the birth of SC4M:

“It was at the Tower Arts Centre in Winchester and it must have been February 2000. My friend Richard had begged me to come and see a guy called Peter Bruntnell.

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“I had always had a strong prejudice against country music, with its attendant visions, in my mind, of soppy lyrics and redneck attitudes. It wasn’t rock. But Peter Bruntnell and his band did rock – like hell. The ridiculously young James Walbourne was simply one the best and wildest electric guitar players I had ever seen. There weren’t many people there, but that evening changed my life. Richard and I decided to become alt-country impresarios. Not to make money…but simply for fun, and because if we didn’t bring Americana to Winchester, no other bugger would.”

And so began Oliver’s foray into the world of promoting Americana music in Winchester.

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The Railway Inn, Winchester, UK

“We also had the perfect venue, in the form of The Railway in Winchester, a cosy pub that has a back room that feels just like a Texas roadhouse, with black walls, a sticky floor and a sweaty rock and roll vibe….We certainly didn’t think we’d still be doing it [thirteen] years later.”

The Lucky Mascot Returns:

“If you look at the list of our shows, you’ll see that the first one (on May 1, 2003) featured, naturally, Peter Bruntnell. Well, it would have to. The Bruntosaurus, as he is affectionately known, has played for us over twenty times…Peter is officially designated as our lucky mascot. In our opinion, he is the UK’s premier songwriter, but far more importantly, he is an absolute legend as a person. Luckily, our audience shares our enthusiasm and any show he features in will always draw a healthy crowd.”

Recently, I asked Pete Bruntnell about his experiences playing SC4M:

“We’ve been playing in Winchester for quite a few years now thanks to Oliver and Birgit. It’s always one we look forward to what with the great atmosphere they create, and the cheese and wine back at Chez Oliver’s after. If every town had an Oliver I’d be a rich musician!

Pete’s latest video, “Mr. Sunshine” is featured on his new album Nos Da Comrade:

Per Oliver, the 2016 lineup will be smashing with John Murry’s return to the stage:

“Since he more or less demolished the place two years ago, we’ve been gagging to have John Murry back, this time in duo format with Neil Quigley. Headlining in the Attic we have one of Winchester’s greatest success stories, This Is The Kit, featuring Kate Stables and Rozi Plain. A massive bonus this year is a solo slot from our special guest Andrew Combs, whom we love to death.”

John Murry gave an emotional tribute to the Grays:

“Oliver and Birgit Gray mean more to me than I could ever fully express in words (and I’m told that I have a way with those damn things, though I’m unsure as to whether those who say that I do mean that I use them artistically or that my use of them tends to get me in trouble quite often…). Everything they do, they do out of the love; the love of music, the love of art, and the love of the artist.

“Playing SC4M and Winchester and, in earlier days, Southampton, has always felt like a brief vacation from the pressures of touring while staying with the Gray’s. I’m certain that, if shows I have done have been good, then the ones I have done in Winchester must have been some of the best I have ever done. Like playing for family I have never really had, I have always wanted to give those shows more than I have in me to give, only to see the wry excited smile that creeps across Oliver’s face as he stands in the audience that indicates I have done well. He’s the finest musical barometer I have ever met. His taste is immaculate, his understanding of the art behind it all is immense, and his love of rock and roll is insatiable. He and Birgit have seen more amazing acts perform than most of us could see in multiple lifetimes. They are heroic to me. Sincerely. Not because they ask nothing in return for the love, hard work, and money they put creating and promoting each yearly SC4M festival, but because they do it out of a sense of duty and responsibility with a dignity and humanity almost alien to the selfish world we live in today. I’ve played large festivals on a few continents, but I have yet to play a festival as superbly curated and consistently amazing to both perform at and attend as SC4M, and I doubt I ever will. It is more than an honor to headline this year’s festival, it’s a challenge. I WILL make Oliver and Birgit dance or cry or something! I have to. They’d expect nothing less. From any of us.”

Murry rocked The Railway in 2013:

Meanwhile, back at Chez Oliver’s…

Besides booking The Railway throughout the year and the annual SC4M Festival, Oliver and Birgit also host intimate shows in a beautiful pine-wrapped outbuilding on their property called Swiss Cottage. It’s quite a treat to meet a couple who love music so much that they built a place for bands to play on their property. It holds about 30-40 people, and the top-notch musicians who are invited to play at either venue are also invited to sleep in the Grays’ home, just steps from the cottage. Money collected for the shows goes directly into the artists’ hands.

The Grays support not only UK and European artists, but also American artists. Some Americans have actually enjoyed much more success overseas than in the US. There are too many bands to list, but a few who played Winchester include: John Murry, Richmond Fontaine, Jeff Finlin, The Believers, Dead Rock West, Chuck Prophet, and Fernando Viciconte.

I’ve played Swiss Cottage, too–well, okay, I played a mean round of ping-pong in Swiss Cottage on a rainy Monday afternoon.

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Craig Aspen, Oliver Gray, and Cynthia Frazzini at Swiss Cottage

Craig Aspen of The Believers, a Seattle band currently residing in Nashville, recalls his experience of their short stay with the Grays:

“Simply put, Oliver Gray is a taste maker. The Believers included The Railway on our last tour to the UK, because Oliver was booking acts that we loved and had shared the stage with back home in the States. People like Chuck Prophet and Jesse Sykes.
“I remember Cyd [Cynthia Frazzini] and I waking up very jet-lagged and rehearsing while Oliver and Birgit cooked dinner. After we ate, Cynthia went back to bed. Oliver and I went out for pints. I don’t care what anyone says, the best beer is made in England so don’t miss a chance to get out to the pub.
“We ended up at The Railway on a double bill with our friends from LA – Dead Rock West. What a great night. And then we were ‘off’ to the next place the morning after and didn’t even get to see The Winchester Cathedral. That’s always how it goes on tour…”

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The rain stopped. Oliver gave us a historical walking tour through the village. We strolled across the bridges of the twin rivers and arrived at the small train station to catch our ride home. Pat and I had a lovely time, and we were so pleasantly surprised by the Grays’ hospitality to a couple of Yankee strangers who shared their love of music.

If you plan on being anywhere near the UK in September, grab some tickets to SC4M Festival and go!

Support Oliver and Birgit and their unwavering commitment to bringing quality music to Winchester. Purchase Railway Tickets for SC4M here

See the complete SC4M lineup here

SC4M’s Facebook Page

Support the independent artists who venture to your city and play in small clubs and venues. Support quality music.

 

 

 

August 10, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Oliver Gray, SC4M, The Railway, Uncategorized, Winchester Music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment