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The magazine for local live music
Coventry, Kenilworth, Leamington Spa, Rugby, Solihull, Warwick, Stratford and Warwickshire

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The Hatstand Band

Review

Although I have seen them play before, and greatly enjoyed their performances, I have not actually ever given them a full review for some reason (I have referred to them in the context of festivals only), so I take pleasure in being able to tell you about the Hatstand Band's gig at the Town House in Leamington last evening.

This very flexible group, based upon a core of Kate Vassalos on guitar & Keith Nickless on double bass and harmonica operate with a bewildering combination of lineups including often very impromptu guests. On this occasion they were a six piece with regular cajon player Stix, frequent guest Sophia Vassalos on vocals (much the same core operate on other occasions as Sophia's band), a lead (electric) guitarist & one of those guests, Bob on bodhran & spoons.

I had to check with Kate regarding the mixture of originals and covers since a high proportion of the songs were not known to me: this indeed is part of their great strength as their own songs are hard to distinguish from the covers so seamlessly do they fit it among deliberately chosen fairly obscure "dark Americana" cover versions (though a few I recognised, not least the rousing & audience pleasing version of Marc Cohn's "Walking in Memphis").

The set is amazingly eclectic to be honest with songs which might be fitted into various categories: folk, blues, soul, latin and even one Russian sounding one, though their "dark Americana" self description is apt given the numbers of deaths in the lyrics and the devil pops up in virtually every single song (whisky does quite often too). Their version of "Banks of the Ohio' is even arranged to better bring out the morbid lyrics better than the usual & less appropriate poppy upbeat versions do.

Just as the setlist is eclectic, so really is the sound. The band is a wonderful variety of ages & experiences, each of which brings something different to the mix (Fairies Band vocalist Tinky: check them out on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume One', was present & asking her reaction to the band, this was the point she wanted me particularly to make in this review). And I racked my brains but could not remember ever seeing a band featuring both a cajon & bodrhan previously. Particularly as the evening wore on & the songs got more and more rousing, the harmonies three singers (Keith, Kate & Sophia) were able to create became ever more stunning.

So how did they go down? Very well is the answer. There may have been multiple deceases & demons but the songs themselves prove who has the best tunes & are played with a great deal of love. That alone is one major reason why I too appreciated their performance & wanted to review them. As I (too) often say in my pieces, I tend only to respond to honesty in performance & to musicians who clearly enjoy what they are playing & that is the tipping point for whether I feel I want to write about them.  I felt their commitment to the music & I'm sure the enthusiastic audience did too. It's something you don't really need (or cannot) put into words. And thankfully Keith's bass didn't explode as it spectacularly did when I saw them at the Godiva Festival once.

There have been some great live acts on at this venue in recent weeks: before the Hatstand Band I greatly enjoyed seeing Doc Brown & Tile Hill Billy (Wes Finch & Jools Street) and the Hansel Brothers/Evergreen: three great evenings with the pub really buzzing in response to the acts: an excellent atmosphere for live, good natured music with patrons who appreciate it. Look out for more with the Folly Brothers coming up soon too.

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"Try" and "Leaving" by Jake Rizzo

Review

It is said of several aspects of life that "a week is a long time" within them: to the list we might now add the career of Jake Rizzo.

 

Merely a week ago I was happily reviewing his debut single  "If You Loved Me" for ‘Hot Music Live' while today I find myself doing similarly for his third one, namely "Leaving". In fact, so dynamic is his career at the moment that I am also reviewing the intervening second single "Try" on this occasion: I simply cannot keep up with this excellent artist's exploding career arc.

Taken like their predecessor from Jake's EP, ‘Live at Metropolis Studios' the songs are produced by Matthew Cotterill and feature other musicians Joe Dolman, Harry Green & Matt Townsend: all names which will resonate with ‘Hot Music Live' readers.

Starting with the "older"track, "Try"shares with the first song Jake's essential immediacy & integrity of performance which the live take captures particularly effectively: while flawless in its execution, the manner of its recording managers to inject a sense of spontaneity beyond what a "normal" production might have done & serves to remind us & inform new listeners of his great abilities as a live performer & his capacity to convey "true" emotional content.

A passionate number, more urgent in tone than "If You Loved Me", "Try" showcases Jake's rockingier side & is propelled by energetic playing by his collaborators.

"Leaving", today's offering, dials the heat back down (can one dial heat? Probably not but I hope you get what I'm trying to say), being a gentler number while losing none of the intensity nor commitment to an emotional truth & on this song the musicians brood intensely with the same quality of belief in Jake's music.

 

Do these three songs connect? I don't know but they sound like they might do. Even as stand alones they tell the world very convincingly of Jake's skill at writing passionate songs & delivering in a way which convince the listener & connect with their hearts.

How long can he keep this work rate up? Am I going to have to write a "Jake Rizzo Release of the Week" column every Sunday morning?... Well I don't mind in the least.

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JAWS – Empire Coventry - 30th Nov 2019

News

SonicPR promotion ...

JAWS NOVEMBER UK TOUR DATES + NEW ALBUM "THE CEILING" OUT NOW

Following the release of their long-awaited, and critically acclaimed third album, "The Ceiling", and a short run of sold-out UK headline dates, Birmingham dream-pop group JAWS are set to hit the road in November for a full UK tour.

Their third and most ambitious album yet, "The Ceiling", sees the band head back into the studio with Gethin Pearson, who also produced 2016's "Simplicity". The album represents another musical leap forward for the band, adding new textures and further honing a sound that has been theirs since their inception. 

JAWS will play a full UK headline tour for November 2019. The announcement follows the bands recent sold-out UK tour dates. Speaking about the reaction to the shows, Schofield says "The recent live dates were the biggest shows we'd ever done and the reaction was beyond what we'd ever expected, every night was like a celebration of the new record and what we'd achieved up until that point and now we want to take that same atmosphere to more places around the country, we really can't wait for these shows, there's a few places we haven't been to for years." 

JAWS will play the following dates in November:

  • 15th Nov – Bristol, The Fleece
  • 16th Nov – Southampton, Engine Rooms
  • 18th Nov – Oxford, The Bullingdon
  • 19th Nov – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
  • 21st Nov – Liverpool, Hangar 34
  • 22nd Nov – Edinburgh, The Mash House
  • 23rd Nov – Newcastle, Riverside
  • 26th Nov – Belfast, Duke of York
  • 27th Nov – Dublin, The Academy 2 (IRE)
  • 29th Nov – Leeds, The Wardrobe
  • 30th Nov – Coventry, Empire Coventry

‘The Ceiling' is out now - order HERE

  1. Driving At Night
  2. Feel
  3. Do You Remember
  4. Fear
  5. End Of The World
  6. Patience
  7. Looking / Passing
  8. The Ceiling
  9. Please Be Kind
  10. January

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"If You Loved Me" by Jake Rizzo

Review

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 joining someone on the start of what will be a wonderful journey. Mind you, the debut of Jake Rizzo on record is in some ways unusual given the length of time already he has been so highly rated: I first saw him at one of the "Melody Lounge" showcases hosted by Matt Hernandez when he was about 15 & was struck by his precocious talent even then, a skillset he has honed to marvellous effect in the intervening years.

 

"If You Loved Me" is released today and is billed as "Live At Metropolis Studios". Taking this to mean that it was recorded as a live take, I raise my hat to Jake for the confidence to go with his strength of being a captivating live performer & offering  us the immediacy of hearing his song as you would at a gig. And immediate it certainly is. It's like having him in your living room with you playing it just for you. It's really well balanced & produced yet his vocal is the dominant feature  in this rather unusually structured song which although a romantic one in theme, drives along with an almost desperate urgency & intensity, driven by clever instrumental additions: skittering guitar, pulsing bass & fierce drumming all are deployed at intervals to raise the emotional temperature higher.

A constant theme among my reviews (you can skip the next bit if you like: you have probably read it before) is that I find it comparatively easy to review music & artists I somehow find "honest" in their approach & craft (please don't ask me to define that too closely: it's an instinctive thing, more my heart than my head doing the work). If I come across someone, however skilled their technique etc may be who I feel is simply going through the motions or showing their skills off to no great purpose, I just pass on a review. That absolutely does not apply to Jake: I have always found one of his great strengths to be this honesty & a commitment to make music of integrity & indeed meaning. You get that admirably with "If You Loved Me", which may well be written about someone, but their identity doesn't matter: as with all good writers, he has applied the specific feelings to a song which could apply universally & so strike a chord with anyone.

The song has only been in the public domain nine hours at the time of writing so it's a bit premature to speculate on sales and airplay but I can't see why both should not be prolific. Jake has already won a substantial fanbase who'll be delighted with the single & is very much on radio radar having built that too over the years he has been perfecting his craft. As a debut & professional career calling card it is ideal & I have no doubt a great deal of thought went into the decisions surrounding it. As I said yesterday in reviewing Joe Dolman's latest single, momentum from this point is the key to ensure any impact of this song, however popular it is right now, doesn't fade in this world when music consumers' memories seem remarkably short term. Expect much more from Jake in the months to come therefore.

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"If You Were Mine" by Joe Dolman

Review

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 progress & those with similar attributes but who remain revered in their area is momentum. Looking at my reviews in "Hot Music Live", some names crop up a lot more regularly which of course keeps their names & songs in public awareness and is generally mirrored in airplay & other media attention.

This includes the regular playing of gigs but also involves the regular release of new material, often enough to keep their fans very happy & building audiences: once again, looking back at the magazine, several names spring to mind in this respect.

 

Without doubt one of them, and an artist who by any measure has current momentum, is Joe Dolman. I see I last reviewed a release by him in April: the very popular "Drag You Down".  To be frank, the date surprised me a little: was it really that long ago? That I had to ask myself that question is an indicator of how fresh that song remains in my head.

I come therefore to   "If You Were Mine" which was released yesterday & had personal commitments not tied me up, would have been reviewed yesterday too.

The paradoxes surrounding momentum must set artists a conundrum. Brisk & frequent releases are good, but what if they are too similar: will that reduce the effect? A very strong personal style is admirable & efforts to adopt radically differing styles for variety can sound false. I'm sure the answers lie within the characters of artists with great personal integrity & honesty, those always open to listening to and absorbing new ideas & those with the skills & imagination to not want to repeat past glories but to move on in a quest which is as much about personal artistry as about career development.

I can't really doubt that Joe fits that description: can you?

"If You Were Mine" doesn't sound much at all like "Drag You Down" while retaining a strong "Joe feel". More folk orientated than its predecessor, it approaches a relationship from another angle, complementing the latter & delivered with its writer's trademark confidential delivery. Foregrounded again over more tasteful & restrained backing, there is no capacity here (nor room) for emotional dishonesty. Was that a tremor in his voice I caught in places too?

His skill & subtlety in arrangement means that the track does build throughout, but very gently & almost imperceptibly with adjustments to balance having more roles in this than extra instrumentation generally, though I did appreciate the harmonies when they appeared, and these enabled his voice to soar, yet not indulge in showy acrobatics. As I said last time, one of Joe's big strengths is his naturalism. I'm sure this draws many of his fans to his work. They'll really like this song I know & again it has the capacity to introduce him to an even wider audience as his momentum continues.

 

If you want to hear the song live, then you can catch Joe at various places of a non local nature (check out his website for details) but the big local one to look out for is at All Saints Church in Leamington on December 6th.

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"Late Again" by Earlybird

Review

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 the members (thanks to a prolific & highly imaginative shoot by Émilie Cotterill) than I've heard songs by Earlybird. Thankfully we now have "Late Again" to listen to, so I'll try & describe it to you.

 

Earlybird are Andy Mort, Ben Munday, and Jon Mort. Even if their new name is as yet unfamiliar to you, you may, like me, have encountered Andy & Ben as Atlum Schema and during that phase in their careers they released five studio albums and performed alongside The Enemy, Noah and the Whale, Post War Years, David Knopfler, and Son of Dave, among many others.

This first release was apparently edited down into a tight track from the longer electronic jams which the trio collaborated on to begin with. I have to say the first thing I'd like to comment on is their ability to edit & to create really well focused "proper songs" from such a process: my first instinct is that twenty minute jams can produce many things but not necessarily such succinct & frankly accessible pieces: this is in fact a genuinely memorable electro-pop song & stands up well against any other current commercial release. The band cite all sorts of highly commendable influences (not necessarily purely musical) such as Orbital, Sigur Ros, Hot Chip or even David Lynch and the concept of soundscapes as implied does feature on this single, but as a platform for the lyrics. They also cite Radiohead & in my opinion this song is considerably more accessible than that band. This is a really well crafted way of setting out their stall & deserves to do well. I can so no reason at all as to why it should not acquire mainstream media play with its creative melodicism & tasteful sound. There is not a gram of flab nor self indulgence on display here. You could dance to it too providing you have more skills in that direction than I do.

The arrangement & production are refreshingly uncluttered with all elements very clearly discernible & what I like about the ending is its abruptness: while so many tracks in this genre tail off into long fades without much resolution, "Late Again" comes to an unexpected close, leaving you questions to ask yourself.

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"You Are Light" by The Silver Wye

Review

Last November, in "Hot Music Live", I reviewed a song called "Pick Me Up" by an entity calling itself The Silver Wye. I liked it & I hope you were sufficiently moved by my recommendation to check it out yourselves.

I imagine that you may be looking forwards to hearing The Silver Wye play that tune live: but if so, you may have been disappointed to date as they have not yet made their live debut (as far as I am aware). Nevertheless, you may have heard it played in concert (as I have been lucky enough to) by its creator Wes Finch, using his own name for the purpose.

Now, in the following year, The Silver Wye are back with a new single, namely "You Are Light". Wes sees the moniker as a chance to put a little distance between himself & the expectations of his long time fanbase who probably see him more within a folk tradition and thus to explore new approaches to writing, instrumentation & performance, principally (at least for now) in a more electronic style. This exploratory & emancipatory process of course allows for a more loose collaboration with a wider range & pool of musicians on a track by track basis. Thus while "Pick Me Up"  was crafted with Leo Steeds and Luke Dibbs at The Milking Parlour Studio in Warwickshire, "You Are Light" has been wrought at  a session at Crooked Room studio in Yorkshire with producer Isaac McInnes and Bradley Blackwell, the bassist in The Howl & The Hum.

So what about "You Are The Light"? Well it is a bit of a jolt to hear a voice as well known as Wes' as processed as it is here: and what's wrong with being surprised after all? Surely that just increases the emotional impact of a song? The electronic sounds in fact to some extent again endow the track with the iciness I wrote of in regard to its predecessor, but unlike that song, I find no traces of detachment here let alone possible alienation. I'm not sure the singer is lost in the city any more: possibly he's escaped to the countryside?

Many classic Wes elements are present and correct: the sensibilities, poetic lyricism & the beauty of the melody. What is different is the soundscape. Working with a bass player inevitably means that that instrument is a very significant presence in the arrangement & it is a strong contrast in its heavily processed sound to that of the acoustic double bass Wes has been featuring on recent work with the Mechanicals Band courtesy of John Parker. The overall feel, though bass orientated is a long way from a dance track & in fact I rather liked the simplicity of the arrangement: the sounds are unusual & have impact because of the clarity of the production: you can hear all the elements & appreciate them. It's not a dance track, it's not really "dream pop" nor "electronic rock" (thank you Soundcloud) not to my ears, though I can accept "moody". It in fact is informed by a folk sensibility yet by no means shackled to the traditional forms nor expectations of such a genre. It's just a beautiful & idiosyncratic song, which might even be a paean to someone or something...

 

Oh & one final bit of good news: look out for Silver Wye live dates in 2020.....

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Spandau Ballet Star To Play The Assembly In 2020!

News

SonicPR promotion ...

MARTIN KEMP - ‘BACK TO THE 80s'

SPANDAU BALLET STAR LINES UP LEAMINGTON SPA DATE IN 2020!

SATURDAY 21 MARCH 2020 
(DJ SET + SUPPORT: TBA)

TICKETS ON SALE NOW

The one and only - MARTIN KEMP - is delighted to announce a new LEAMINGTON SPA date on his Back To The 80s Tour!

Following a string of rapturously-received shows around the country throughout 2019, the Spandau Ballet legend and TV heart-throb will be heading back to the Midlands in the not-too-distant future to spin all the best hits from a seminal pop era… 

With tickets on sale now and expected to sell fast, lock in a date of Saturday 21st March 2020, and get ready to join Martin on an unforgettable journey: 'Back To The 80s'.

As the hitmaker behind ‘Gold', 'True' and countless other classics, it's safe to say Martin knows a thing-or-two about the crème de la crème of what was a truly trailblazing decade for pop music. Let him be your guide on a night that will transport you back to the era on a roller coaster ride through its finest pop picks. 

Speaking about his current Back To The 80s tour, Martin says: 
"It's amazing! People absolutely lose themselves, singing to every word, It's the most euphoric atmosphere I have ever been in, in my life!" 

Alongside his famous role as bassist in the iconic new wave outfit Spandau Ballet who have sold millions of records worldwide, Martin is also a huge TV personality who has starred in the likes of The Krays & Eastenders and hit the headlines with his memorable appearance on Channel 4`s Celebrity Island With Bear Grylls last year,  plus as a guest star of Gary Barlow`s Let it Shine.

Fancy dress is encouraged, so dig out those leg warmers and join Martin as he trades his bass for the decks and spins the biggest and best hits from the 1980's. Expect an unstoppable singalong, all night long!  

Support guest DJ TBA. 

Martin Kemp - Back to the 80s
@ Leamington Spa Assembly Rooms
 

SATURDAY 21st MARCH 2020
+ Guest DJ Set TBA 

£16.00 (+ BF) - General Admission

7.30pm til late

Ages: 16+
 

TICKETS ON SALE NOW:

w/ https://www.gigantic.com/martin-kemp-tickets/leamington-spa-leamington-spa-assembly-rooms/2020-03-21-19-30

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Old and gold

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

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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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"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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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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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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The Countdown Is On For Kenilworth Arts Festival 2019

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M Seven Public Relations press release .

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HOLLY & THE HOUNDS AND STRIPCLUB STREETFOOD

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This was a fine Bank Holiday Sunday evening in the canal side setting of the Tom O' The Wood in Rowington, glorious weather the chilled out ...

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'Fourth in Line' EP by Fourth in Line

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It is entirely possible that although this is their first review in the magazine, you may already be aware of Fourth in Line.

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Wayne Hussey extensive ‘Salad Daze Tour'

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A SonicPR promotion .

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CROPREDY 2019 GALLERY

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Loved my visit to Cropredy again this year, fab to see Wildwood Kin on the big stage going down a storm while other highlights on and my visit ...

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The Mechanicals Band with special guest Ellie Gowers

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Well here I am again, this time reviewing not one but two artists on whom I fear I may have already used up my supply of appropriate superlatives in ...

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Sam McNulty with Angelo Cardone & Bill Cameron

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Few "Hot Music Live" readers will need introducing to the name nor talents of Sam McNulty.

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Burning Salt

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One of the issues which is a perennial worry for me in writing for "Hot Music Live" is how to cover even the most excellent of artists, the ones we ...

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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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WARWICK FOLK FESTIVAL 2019 - A GALLERY

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Here is a selection of my images from this years Warwick Folk Festival, many of them taken at fringe events around the town, this year as with last ...

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Merrymaker with Rosie Samaras

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The gig at the Magic Lantern last night was described by venue creator & owner Adrian Gains as "one of the best nights we have had so far.

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The Ellipsis with special guest Hannah Woof

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It all seems such a long time ago, so many & so powerful have the subsequent performances at the Magic Lantern been, that it is an interesting ...

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A LOOK AHEAD TO CROPREDY 2019, 8th -10th August

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Ubergine at Warwick Beer Festival Summer 2019

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Ubergine at the 2019 Summer Warwick Beer festival.

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