Tag Archive: little red

10986511_1588321124717045_7341341982193206051_nAlthough based more in the Oxford region, Little Red are no strangers to the Swindon gigging circuit. Here their new single, The Garden, neatly shows their traditional folk roots and their ability to give such a sound only the slightest of electric makeovers to make it more accessible to a contemporary audience, though not enough to alienate the beard stroking “folk police.” So walking a path between camps old and new their lilting melodies, clean sound and wonderful harmony arangements are as good as you are likely to hear emanating from todays folk genre.

If The Garden is the sort of thing that makes you reminisce about Fortheringay, Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention then pick up a copy of their brilliant recent album Sticks and Stones via the link below.




First published at Total News – March ’15

10660316_950663001627508_5975732848885781704_nSo the first week back in the swing of things, organising, going to and writing about live music in the area has got off to a slow start with the only two gigs I attended being ones that I was organising. Biased? Maybe, but it is all I have to tell you about at the moment, but there was still an interesting point to be made.


The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday featured one of the most popular solo acts on the circuit, Jim Blair, normally found fronting Hip Route but no less potent on his own. Jim’s music is a wonderful blend of funky grooves, driving bluesy Americana lap, slide, fingerpicking and conventional styles. Add to that and easy on stage style and a voice that sounds like it is the product of a cocktail of honey and razorblades and you have a winning combination.


Over the weeks that I have been involved in booking the acts there a gradual change has been taking place. Early gigs seemed just background noise, a live jukebox largely ignored by those on their way to more boisterous establishments or getting a bit of bar space before heading over the karaoke hell that is Wacky Wednesday. Gradually thought, the amount of familiar faces returning solely for the music has increased to the point where last week the room contained only those who were there to appreciate the music. These Wednesday sessions seem to be becoming a legitimate, contemporary acoustic and unplugged music session. Try it one evening, you may just find something that you like.


On Thursday at The Victoria our big show of the week was also of a more chilled nature. The mercurial George Wilding (pictured) kicked things off, a young solo acoustic player, quintessentially English in style and looking like a cross between Syd Barrett and Mark Bolan, being made seemingly of hair, scarves and a sequined jacket. Wonderfully observant lyrics mixed with dexterous guitar action and a youthful charm made for a great opening slot.


Little Red took the middle slot, two guitars and three voices mixing in ever shifting measures to create a wonderfully pastoral sound that hid a darker lyrical undercurrent. This is a band that even from their stripped back starting point understand restraint allowing the dynamic to fade right back before launching an unexpected salvo of passionate vocals or the slightly unexpected retro twang of Ben Gosling’s electric guitar. And if front man Ian Mitchell isn’t the long lost brother of BBC Wiltshire stalwart Will Walder, I’ll eat my hat. (It’s okay, I don’t have a hat!)


And finally to the main event. The Black Feathers have gained a great reputation over what seems like the implausibly short three years they have been together and we were about to see why. Maybe it is the fact that they are husband and wife, maybe it is their constant trips across the pond to immerse themselves in American roots music, maybe they just work a lot harder than most other acts. Whatever is they gave the audience a master class in vocal harmony and song arrangement that was second to none. They have a wonderful and wonderfully self-deprecating stage charisma and as a focal point are mesmerising to watch. And when one critic described them as Britain’s answer to Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlins, I can’t imagine anyone would have argued with such a description.


And the point I mentioned I wanted to make? We get so used to gigs being loud and flashy affairs, selfie taking hipsters celebrating their own presence, laddish bores talking over the music and adoring fans trying to outdo each other for the status of superfan, that it comes as a breath of fresh air to go to two gigs in a row where the audiences are mostly seated, respectful of the performers to the point of pin-drop atmospherics and content to sit and soak up every word, musical phrase, every move and nuance of a show. I’m not saying that’s however show should be but it does make a refreshing change.

1148809_503701169718211_1721662663_nSo that’s it, all done. Twelfth Night has been and gone, the decorations are back in the attic, though you will be picking pine needles out of your socks until May, the Christmas supplies have been depleted, all but the hardly touched bottle of egg-nog and some dubious looking figs and it is time to look forward to the future (…it’s only just begun…still got that damn tune stuck in my head.). So armed only with a new gym membership and a handful of good intentions we step forth into a new year, a blank page to document the next chapter… in bestest handwriting please.


And we get off to a great start at The Victoria tonight with the first Songs of Praise show of the year. Headliners, The Black Feathers, have made quite a name for themselves with their amazing vocal harmonies and blend of Celtic folk and Americana roots music. Joining them are Little Red another roots outfit driven by sweet boy-girl vocal interplay and opening the night is the quintessentially and often eccentrically English sounds of George Wilding.


Staying at The Victoria, on Friday, intelligent, direct, melodic and occasionally anthemic rock is on offer with Clay Gods and joining them are Goodbye The Sunset, a band who seem to channel something of the spirit and sound of what first turned my ear to The Gaslight Anthem, so no complaints here. Opening the show are the aptly named Dirty Smooth who manage to mix raw rock with acoustica or as they put it “tunes hard enough for the boys to rock out too, but sweet enough for the girls to dance too!” Cunning.


The Rolleston, meanwhile, will be grooving to the jazz, funk and blues fusion that goes by the name of Rival Attraction and if a more ska, punk and New Wave vibe better suits your tastes then a quick visit to The Swiss Chalet to catch Operation 77 is in order.


Saturday sees We Ghosts return to The Beehive. This ever popular Anglo-Swedish band trade in an acoustic sound that ranges from stylishly driven rock to emotive, smoky, late night chill-outs but always with lush and distinctive vocals leading the way.


Elsewhere the rest of the evening options pretty much follow a less original tack, the best of which in my “over-inflated opinion” is 1000 Planets who will be delivering their Killing Joke set at The Victoria. So if the thought of moshing out to the gothic laced industrial dance sounds of one of the post-punk periods most creative bands, then this is about as close as you can get without a time machine.


Cover bands are out in force so you can catch The Tin Shack Band playing everything from the sixties to the present day at The Rolleston and The Swiss Chalet features Catch 22 playing…wait for it, pop and rock from the sixties to the present day.


Out at Riffs Bar, Sound Bites not only run through a set of classic rock covers they will also be raising money for Wiltshire Air Ambulance and FOLMS.


The week rounds off with a couple of great singer songwriters. Firstly on Sunday you can find Matt Chipperfield at The Beehive for the afternoon session and then on Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey you can catch the folky-Americana sound of Salisbury’s very own Sue Hart.