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Coventry, Kenilworth, Leamington Spa, Rugby, Solihull, Warwick, Stratford and Warwickshire

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Excited launch for Taylor-Louise's Black Heart EP

Review

Leamington Spa based singer/songwriter Taylor-Louise launched her 4th EP Black Heart to an excited audience at St. Patrick's Irish Club on Friday 22nd November. 

She began writing songs, from the age of 12, from experiences she'd had from difficult times of acceptance and her ability to read situations. 

And after just a year of performing live, she began recording and released her debut EP ‘jealous eyes', which led on to the second release ‘Take a Look at me Now'. She launched her third EP ‘Broken Reflection' in October 2017 and shortly after began working closely with a London based studio perfecting her artistry releasing the single "Twenty-Three" in 2018, prior to this latest EP 'Black Heart'. 

Taylor-Louise has achieved many successes including BBC Coventry &Warwickshire Band of the month, and Spotify's Release Radar for new releases. 

The launch night included two support bands (Evergreen and Chalk Drawings) with lots of other local performers in the audience, including Levi Washington. 

First up on stage was Evergreen who are a throwback to the 1960s and 1970s with their guitar and ukulele and close harmonies, in the style of Crosbie, Stills, Nash & young or Fleetwood Mac.

 It features Rikki Hansel (guitar, harmonica and vocals), Tyron Hansel (bass & vocals), Noah Dobbie (guitar, ukulele, mandolin and vocals) & Erin O'Rourke (guitar) and is the fourth singer in their quadruple harmonies along with Jez Walker (drums). Jez Walker also supports Taylor-Louise on percussion at smaller venues. 

Even though they have been together less than one year they won the "Godiva Calling" competition at the Coventry event so they could play on the Main Stage. 

For this evening's event they played a selection of their songs including ‘You got to Move', ‘Walking Disaster', ‘Spare Change', ‘Midnight Run', ‘Confusion (slight paranoia)' and finished with their newly released single ‘Sunny Lady'. They are in the middle of recording an EP with 14 records at their studio in Leamington Spa which should be out in January 2020. 

After a short break for delicious and spicy food from local outlet Millennium Balti, up on stage came Chalk Drawings. 

They were playing as a three-piece band with Kev Stanley (drums), Dan Holford (guitar) and Simon Dagger (guitar and vocals). As a band they have been going for 6 years and brought out a well-received album Grand Union in 2017. 

They played a set of both their own material as well as some well-known covers with lead singer Simon giving his all and drummer Kev showing off with his red and green lit drum sticks. Their own songs included ‘Blood, Sweat & tears' and ‘Halcyon Days', ‘Right as Rain' and ‘Drip Dry'. The covers included 'Valerie' (The Zutons), ‘Umbrella' (Rihanna) and ‘Zephyr Song' (Red Hot chilli Peppers). 

With the lighting now set the audience was ready for the main event of the evening with the launch of Taylor-Louise's new EP ‘Black Heart'. 

For the first third (and last third) of the event, she was joined on stage by her band consisting of Callum McKissock (bass), Sean Clarke (guitar) and Thomas Graham (drums). Taylor-Louise was singing and playing acoustic guitar. 

The first section included two songs from the new EP ‘Blessed with a Curse' and ‘Generation Now' along with ‘Bring me to Life', ‘Just to be Alive' and ‘Put into Words'. 

Taylor-Louise with her band put out a powerful sound with passionate vocals to these songs.

The middle section was Taylor-Louise on her on singing with her guitar and included a dedication to her very supportive Mum Melanie with ‘Mama Told Me' along with ‘Air to Breathe' and ‘Ink my Skin' before the band joined her again for new songs from her EP. This included recent single ‘Twenty Three' with its powerful and reflective vocals, ‘Gone' and the EP title track ‘Black Heart'. After tremendous applause, from the St. Patricks Irish Club crowd, at the end of her set she finished with an encore with ‘More to Us'. 

Taylor-Louise's next gig is at Temperence in Leamington Spa on 15th February 2020, though she will continue to write new material, which she will try out at gigs to an appreciative audience.

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Taylor-Louise launches 'Black Heart'

Review

What a fiesta of an evening on Friday at St Patrick's Club in Leamington.

Organised by Taylor-Louise as a launch evening for her "Black Heart" EP it also was a birthday celebration for her & it served too as an evening for raising awareness of mental health issues & fund raising for the local MIND: this tells you a lot about her values & of course skills in setting up a packed evening with three mindbogglingly superb acts, food & the above activity.

In fact the musical side could almost have doubled as a "Hot Music Live Presents" evening too as Taylor-Louise & her guests Chalk Drawings both appear on "Volume One" and opening act Evergreen on "Volume Two" (as of course does Naomi Beth who was helping out on the evening though not performing).

Opening the night with gusto, the fast rising Evergreen set a very high bar for the following artists. The core quartet of Rikki Hansel on guitar, harmonica and vocals, Tyron Hansel on bass & vocals, Noah Dobbie on guitar, ukulele and vocals & Erin O'Rourke who plays guitar (& on other occasions the bass) and is the fourth singer in their multilayered harmonies were joined by Jeremy Walker on drums: as indeed they are on the "Sunny Lady" single which appears on "Hot Music Live Presents 2" and he plays on the EP they are currently recording. His dynamic playing, which adds almost another melodic element with his imaginative tom work drives their powerful yet subtle playing into yet another dimension & will really aid them in larger venues & the festival appearances they hopefully will play in 2020. It was one interesting indicator of the consequences of the evolved sound that Rikki switched to an electric guitar for some numbers.

Next up were the ever popular Chalk Drawings, though reduced on this occasion to a trio of Simon Dagger (vocals & guitar) Kev Stanley (drums) and Dan Holford (guitar) as bassplayer Rob Lewis was unable to be present. Given the number of funky songs they play, it's incredible how they coped without a bass, but they surely did, giving us their usual full energy & full emotion commitment with a range of crowd pleasers such as "Halcyon Days" and "Rag & Bone". It had been quite a while since I'd last seen them play & I do hope to see more of them in 2020.

Finally the star of the show came on, aided for many (but not all) songs by a band comprising Tom Graham on drums, Sean Clarke  (whom you may know from Courthouse) on lead guitar and Callum Mckissock on bass, whom you might also know from Godiva Festival 2019 Main Stage act Brass Hip Flask.

As with the other artists tonight, Taylor-Louise shone & she thrilled. It is most interesting how this really self aware, candid & articulate musician spoke of her own mental health issues: on one hand she utterly owns her stage & had no qualms about following such high quality support acts, yet she told us how off stage she suffers anxieties & would much rather be on the stage than attending gigs as an audience member, which she finds difficult. It is rather humbling to hear someone able to share such things.

I once commented in the magazine that she seemed to be creating new material faster than she could record & release it (a reflection which she has been sufficiently taken with to put it on her Facebook page banner) and in true Taylor-Louise style, she didn't let us down with her signature setlist of rarely played old songs, very recent ones, favourites & of course her customary debut of a really new one. Most were played with the band giving them plenty of power & panache, yet mid set the others took a breather while she played several solo & she commanded the room with these just as surely as she did with her full lineup.

 

Naturally, the title track of the EP was the highlight of the evening. I hope you have read in "Hot Music Live" my reviews of previous singles taken from it:"Gone" (in June) & "Generation Now" (May), both of which naturally were also played. Nevertheless, when I first heard these songs played live some months ago, it was "Black Heart" which really caught my attention & for which I have been waiting. I really believe it can do well for her & introduce her music to an ever wider audience. Although her writing just gets better & better, this song really does stand out as being something extra special. What a privilege to have been there. Thank you Taylor-Louise & all those involved in an evening unlike others.

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"Fly" by Clemency

Review

If several of my more recent reviews have been of songs previously unheard by me & some even caught me by surprise with their release, the new single "Fly" by Clemency (out today) has long been on my radar  & I have awaited its release patiently for long months, having delighted in hearing it played live. In fact I remarked on how great I found in back in March in a live review for this magazine: clearly the audience on that occasion agreed with me (and presumably have also been counting the days to the release) as they demanded it being played twice.

And in the song itself, they certainly do fly.... Nina Bailey's voice soars heavenwards as few others can in this lyrically uplifting song, driven on its trajectory by Ben Clempson's sprightly playing. It is dangerous to predict success on a wider scale than people are enjoying at any given time (luck seems to play too big a role), yet all the right ingredients are here: the quality of the composition & performance are flawless, the end product being a song which works on every level to please those from the aficionados to those who simply respond instinctively to a piece which raises the spirit & is so deceptively simple that we can retain the words & tune in our heads to replay when we need inspiration. I certainly do wish them well with the song reaching the widest possible audience.

 

Nina  (vocals & cajon) & Ben (guitar & vocals) only created Clemency in  2017 yet since then have delighted us with their debut single "Man at the Station" (reviewed last August)  and kindly allowed us to use "Pillar to Post" on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume One' last year. I can't wait for a full album of their original material given what they have been playing at their always full & mesmerising gigs.

There is a splendid video to accompany "Fly"  and like that for its predecessor, is clearly shot with love & high production values & shares too with the earlier one an almost sepia tone, evoking possible a 1930s feel, appropriate I guess for a roots act but also reflecting the timelessness of the song itself. Check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeNv43GlxFk

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TwoManTing

Review

Watching TwoManTing last night at the Town House in Leamington, one of my immediate thoughts was "it's been too long" since I last saw them live..... What a pleasure it was. Obviously if you get successful, you end up playing at all sorts of places far & wide & who can begrudge guitarist Jon Lewis & drummer/percussionist Jah-man Aggrey the width of their appeal. Still, it was good to have them back & the full audience showed I was far from the only one.

They were in excellent form of course but other thoughts which spun through my mind like the bewitching rhythms my ears were hearing included the appreciation not just of their technical skills (mighty as they are) but their taste & discretion. Songs often appeared deceptively simple. There was usually much space left in them (always a plus with me & a stark contrast to those much less authentic "world music" acts who seem to think that having large lineups with everyone playing frenetically on top of each other is cool...) and above all both artists demonstrate a beautiful "feel" for their instruments. A lot of guitarists one comes across are touted, many deservedly so for technical proficiency & of course there are many styles they play in, but I can't think of anyone of this particular style who plays with the finesse & touch of Jon. Though what the style is can be more elusive to describe. I suppose jazz must enter the mix, but the predominant element is definitely African highlife plus dub stylings at times. And all on one acoustic.

The songs themselves were predominantly their own, with the customary well crafted & directed lyrics, many from the current ‘Rhymes with Orange' album (check it out) but Clash fans were very well catered for with the covers of "Armagideon Time" & "Guns of Brixton".

Unsurprisingly, dancing broke out & regular Town House concert attendees The Goose & The Trout when asked expressed their enjoyment: a seal of approval. The latter reported to me that it wasn't what she was expecting, so hopefully TwoManTing not only pleased their existing fans but gained some new ones.

Personally I do hope that not so long elapses again between my seeing them live.

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The Will Ball Trio at the Town House

Review

This review in some ways is able to address an omission among my pieces for "Hot Music Live": although I have alluded to Will Ball in respect of his work with rising local star Abz Winter, for some reason I haven't ever written a proper review of his own Will Ball Trio.

I'm glad to put this right as I enjoyed their Town House set last evening a lot. There are a number of groups with the skills & above all attitude to play not only obscure covers (which obviously offer some freshness to sets) but also tackle well known songs without dull attempts to reproduce the original but injecting their own personality & breathing fresh life into them: check out my various reviews of the Doc Brown Trio, the Hansel Brothers, Retroville, Hatstand Band, the Peas etc for evidence.

 

The Wall Ball Trio fall into this category in spades. Opening with a track which used to drive me to frustration, Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" due to the staggeringly large numbers of people who attempted the most stodgy & turgid versions (I have no idea why. For some reason the last few years seem to have seen a switch to who can do the most lifeless version of Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl". Again: no idea why they should want to do so), Will & his band certainly brought it back into storming rude health last night, with a near rock rendition which grooved & howled with the necessary primal energy the original possesses.

Most numbers were in fact elongated into tour de force performances with every ounce of potential exploited, Will sometimes switching from guitar to keyboards mid song for effect, there was excellent lead guitar work & some of the best drumming I've heard in a long while. If as they say, a band is as good as its drummer, this trio are extremely fortunate to have such a good one: I was rather reminded of Mitch Mitchell.

In fact Hendrix comparisons are apt: although a very casual observer might have been tempted to pigeonhole them as (hard) rock, in fact like jimi, the influences & styles were much more subtle: Will's vocals, extremely powerful & bluesy were also really soulful and much of the beautifully groove-centred extended sections owed as much to soul & funk as rock, whatever the original genre of a number was (and there were sources as diverse as reggae & jazz).

An evening enjoyed by the full crowd, including the Trout & the Goose.

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The Mechanicals Band present The Righteous Jazz

Review

Occasionally I've been able to review for "Hot Music Live" an event which involves but is not limited to music: a particular pleasure. Today is one of those occasions & involves a set of artists whose vision is to stretch outside music & embrace other art forms: namely the Mechanicals Band.  Last evening I & a full house joined them at the Tin for what they describe as a "hybrid show" which is focused upon the life & work of Coventry born & educated Philip Larkin, one of the major twentieth century British poets: indeed a man who was offered & declined the Poet Laureateship.

The show, commissioned by the Shoot Festival, has already had one performance at the Hull Truck  Theatre on the 2nd of this month (Larkin was the University Librarian in Hull) and several of the original settings of his poems have been performed in concert by the band in recent months: "Long Lion Days" in particular is already an audience favourite & was demanded as an encore last night.

However the several poetic settings were greatly added to in the show with a glorious mixture of original jazz instrumentals & instrumental versions of largely pre-war standards (I imagined many being sung by the likes of Al Bowlly).

The band as is their wont, have been working tremendously hard (among many other professional commitments for Wes Finch (vocals & guitar), John Parker (double bass), Ben Haines (drums & percussion), Katrin Gilbert (viola) and Jools Street (violin)) and it has long been my desire to witness the end product.

An ambitious piece, directed by Connor Alexander, with very few moments without music being played, Steve Brown portrayed Larkin & long time Mechanicals Band collaborator (she was a key player in the full theatrical performances of their first album, the Shakespeare centred ‘Exit, Pursued by Bear') Lisa Franklin brought his intimate friend Monica Jones to life.

Rather than just playing, the band were involved in dialogue too, each reciting the letters to & from Larkin which formed the spine of the show (augmented by what sounded like excerpts from his ‘Desert Island Disks') with Wes taking the role of Kingsley Amis and as such deservedly getting his face slapped by Monica for rude comments about her in a letter to Larkin.

Other detailed delights were a rare vocal performance (on a blues) by John and a loud drum retort by Ben to Larkin's querying of drums actually being an instrument.

The imposition of dialogue over music offered a tough technical challenge & the show did not shy away either from the less comfortable aspects of jazz lover Larkin's personality (and of course that of Amis): misogyny, racism & ultimately his behaviour towards Monica who emerges as the sympathetic figure. It is interesting that another of his love interests Maeve Brennan is represented  in the show at best as an empty chair & an absence.

The climax of the play & its most poignant moment for me was when Monica sadly shredded his letters towards the end.

Musically the night was exactly as you'd expect from such virtuosi, with obvious show stoppers like "Long Lion Days", "The Horns of the Morning" or their setting of "This Be the Verse" whose notorious opening provided a nod back to their previous "Rude" title: as indeed did a lot of dialogue given the frankness of the characters concerned. Other pieces such "High Windows" have become known to fans via social media, but tonight was the first time we'd heard them live.

 

This is a most commendable, enjoyable & rewarding  piece on so many levels, certainly musical & theatrical & also offering glimpses of a local figure of stature but without being a wholly commendable role model. What is wrong with subtlety, finesse & ambiguity in art after all? The packed & enthusiastic Tin crowd certainly appreciated it & as noted demanded more. Let's hope this show, into which so much has been put, will not be limited to just two performances.

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Dirty Sound Magnet + Satsangi + Tamarack, The Tin Coventry, 29/11/19

News

On Friday 29/11/19 Dirty Sound Magnet will hit The Tin Music and Arts with support from two fantastic local acts, Satsangi and Tamarack - Presented by Catch 22 Promotions.

Dirty Sound Magnet is a psychedelic rock power trio from Fribourg, Switzerland. The band's DNA can be traced back to the ancestral ‘Golden Age of Rock' (60s, 70s), but it would be incorrect to think that DSM is..."retro". The musicians are inspired by contemporary artists and modern production techniques; pushing the boundaries as they see fit. The results are personal, unique and original. Simply put: the Dirty Sound Magnet experience is a mystical journey back to the future…

In 2017, DSM released its third album, Western Lies. The results were instantaneous, with the band winning an award in the category of "best Swiss rock song" for their single ‘Homo Economicus'. Between 2017 and 2019 the band toured relentlessly, playing over 200 shows internationally. Their new album, titled Transgenic, was released on the 18th of October 2019.

For Fans of: Tame Impala, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, MGMT, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Frank Zappa, The Young Gods, Jethro Tull, Neil Young, Black Sabbath.

Support from Leamington Spa psychedelic rockers Satsangi and Warwick University band Tamarack. Satsangi play "world influenced pysch-rock-n-roll'. With three albums under their belt they have gigged with the likes of The Kills, Dr Feelgood, The Primitives, Saint Agnes, Fields, The Moons, plus at multiple high level festivals. Tamarack are a pseudo post stucturalist progressive rock band. Focusing on exploring the world that has slipped between the cracks through kalaidascopic soundscapes and soaring melodies.

14+ show, under 18s must be accompanied by an adult

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'The Sun Will Rise Again' by King of the Alps

Review

Every so often, I enthuse in a review for "Hot Music Live" over the privileges of being able to do so: fairly obviously hearing wonderful & original music, often a little before it is released etc. To that I can add the odd "magic moment" such as this morning when anticipating being able to review the brand new EP by King of the Alps & greatly looking forward to doing so maybe in the next week or so, lo & behold Paul Ingram of that group turned up on my doorstep to hand deliver a copy & so you get to read my thoughts even earlier than planned.

It has been the busiest year ever for the band as this is their second EP of 2019. You may remember my reviewing ‘Beauty Scarred' back in April (and this in turn spawned the really well received singles "Beauty of the Rain" (featuring Ellie Gowers) and the Izzie Derry featuring "Helter Skelter").

The essence of this intriguing band remains thankfully the same: emotional & musical honesty being channelled through excellent musicianship & melodic approaches which subtly subvert themselves in unsettling ways to illustrate the very grown up stories of the trials of adult relationships (always assuming I understand the lyrics which can be elliptic).

 

However the sound does evolve interestingly through their records. Their debut album, ‘Matters of the Heart' (reviewed in March 2018 in this magazine) had a prominent accordion throughout. ‘Beauty Scarred' was built upon the core of the King of the Alps, namely Simon Ward on bass & Paul Ingram on all other instruments & vocals and as noted, graced by guest vocals from two of the area's (nation's?) finest vocalists.

On ‘The Sun Will Rise Again' EP, Paul & Simon are joined by lead guitarist Glyn Finch & this new element of the sound really works well & offers new perspectives on the songs. Whereas the accordion tended to counterpoint the angst of the songs in a very effective manner, the edgy guitar parts on the new record enhance the senses of anxiety (a bit like they do in the work of Talking Heads?) inherent in songs which I imagine are driven by the concerns of Paul (although the material is credited to all three players, previous songs were all his & I assume the words remain his: he also produced the EP by the way).

The counterpoint now is Simon's pulsated bass which offers any sense of calmness in the songs.

I don't think I could call King of the Alps records "concept albums" (they are for starters without pretentions) but they all do have thematic natures: certainly with the two preceding releases you can understand the titles after hearing the songs. After a few plays, I'm inching towards some grasp of why this EP has this name. Arranged as a suite, the first track "Hell of the North" is presented as our "Intro" and the final "Hell of a Ride" as the "Outro", bookending the title track & "Put your Trust in Luck".

 

The "Intro" is in fact an instrumental & unusually for the band, owing a strong debt to the dubwise style, though with the afore mentioned edgy guitars.

I actually was lucky enough to hear "Put your Trust in Luck" earlier in the week & it's already wormed its way into my mind already. Archetypical King of the Alps, it has the hypnotic melodicism one finds in their oeuvre yet is structured in a slightly weird way with sudden twists & surprises & then the gentle mood is abruptly switched by the entry of squalling "Abbey Road" style lead guitar.

The title song on first listen reminded me of the sort of recitative delivery which Kevin Rowland often used but quite soon any Dexy's comparisons disappear as the track turns into the most overtly "rock" track I've ever heard from the band: heavy with a strong dose of optimism.

The "Outro" is another groover with again a dub approach utilising Simon's skills to the fore and Glyn's cool guitar lacing through the other elements. This time however we can enjoy some lyrics, though not many: it's more of a mantra. A hypnotically beautiful one at that.

 In some ways King of the Alps are a connoisseur's band: relying on understatement, subtlety and you need to unpick the songs like a Fabergé egg to get the full benefit. However that said, they are masters of the melodic pop song too: the tracks can impact upon you at once & they are earworms for me....

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Old and gold

"Better By Now" by Joe Dolman

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Happy New Music Friday to you all!To celebrate the day, Joe Dolman has a brand new single "Better By Now" out for your delectation.

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From The Source

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"Let This One Be Mine" by Izzie Derry

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I find myself here writing a review which I had never anticipated.

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"Sweet Talk" by Hannah Woof

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Calexico and Iron & Wine announce UK tour dates for November

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A SonicPR promotion .

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"Against The Tide" by Ellie Gowers

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The Hatstand Band

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"Try" and "Leaving" by Jake Rizzo

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JAWS – Empire Coventry - 30th Nov 2019

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A SonicPR promotion .

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"If You Loved Me" by Jake Rizzo

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It is always a great pleasure to review excellent music, but to focus on a debut single is that extra bit special as you feel like a traveller ...

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"If You Were Mine" by Joe Dolman

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One element which seems to play a part in making the difference between local artists with bags of talent & original ideas whose careers seem to ...

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"Late Again" by Earlybird

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This review is extremely fresh being of a debut single by a band whom I've not yet seen live yet and ironically I have seen more great photos of ...

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"You Are Light" by The Silver Wye

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Last November, in "Hot Music Live", I reviewed a song called "Pick Me Up" by an entity calling itself The Silver Wye.

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Spandau Ballet Star To Play The Assembly In 2020!

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A SonicPR promotion .

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"Even Though We Are Strangers" by Speak, Brother

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It's ironic that in such short succession I should write song reviews for bands whom I hold in high esteem yet whom I have only previously ...

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Pitch Black (NZ)

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Spacific, in alliance with Disco Gecko Recordings and Dubmission Records, are proud to present an evening of outernational electronica featuring live ...

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SWING ERA TO DANCE INTO LEAMINGTON SPA AS PART OF UK TOUR

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Down for the Count Swing Orchestra bring vintage jazz sound to Loft Theatre this NovemberThe Down for the Count Swing Orchestra will bring the sounds ...

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Agoraphobia, The Smoking Kills, Just For Now, Women Gone Missing - 18/10/19, The Tin Coventry

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An incredible night of rock music hosted by Catch 22 Promotions!Agoraphobia are the new trailblazers of Spanish Alt-Rock.

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"Need A Friend" by The Caprines

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One of my very favourite of local bands happens to be Coventry based four piece The Caprines (they comprise Ed Kimberley on drums, Dave Toulson on ...

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New Leamington Spa-based duo, Brook, release debut album, "Built You For Thought"

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Brook press release .

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LEAMINGTON BEER + MUSIC FESTIVAL 2019

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A few of my images from the music stages at this years Leamington Beer + Music Festival, another success both in the music and a wonderful collection ...

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Line up for Leamington Beer and Music Festival 2019

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13 and 14th September.

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Blues Extra caught in the act

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Remember Summer? Here's Blues Extra with an evocatve take on Don't believe a word at Napton festival.
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Alan's memorial igg

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Another amazing fundraiser production from Peter Drew with sets from The Hepsters, Carrick, The Intruders, Woodstock 68 and The Jolly Rogers.

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Clemency at the Warwick Beer Festival

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Richly textured grooves, emotive vocals and powerful original material.

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"Sunny Lady" by Evergreen

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I think that I can safely say that I have not before reviewed a more eagerly anticipated debut single than "Sunny Lady" by Evergreen.

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New single from Jack Blackman and the Beautiful Wreck - No Silver Lining

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'No Silver Lining' is the debut single from Jack Blackman and the Beautiful Wreck.

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Kenilworth Arts Festival 2019 Listings

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M Seven Public Relations promotion .

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'Routes' by Stylusboy

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I've said it before, but reviewing for "Hot Music Live" is a real privilege in so many ways.

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