About Darren

Darren’s music blog: News, reviews, interviews and more – from classic rock to contemporary folk

Welcome to my music blog. I have fairly varied tastes in music: folk, rock, glam, heavy metal and more. My first ever gig was the Donington Monsters of Rock festival (Slade, Whitesnake, AC/DC… written up here) back in 1981, aged 15. Live music has been an important part of my life ever since. However, back in Spring 2014 when I began this blog, I found I had many more free evenings than I used to after stepping down from a lengthy stint as a local councillor. One of the things I was determined to do with those freed up evenings was see more live bands.  I use this blog to post my reviews of many of the gigs I’ve been to, as well as album reviews, interviews, book reviews and other music-related posts.

Feedback is welcome so do please feel free to leave any comments and do share anything you like on social media.

For those bemused by the eclectic nature of the artists covered here, let me try and explain. Since being a teenager I have always enjoyed discovering and exploring different genres, but when I did chance upon a new discovery I was always adding to what I liked already rather than discarding anything. As a teenager, I started off getting into rock/metal around in the early 80s (Status Quo, AC/DC, Rainbow) but, prompted by the revival of Slade’s fortunes in 80/81, I  was soon also exploring 70s glam rock bands (Slade, Sweet, T-Rex and so on). The pop-rock of the previous decade sounded so much more exciting than that of the 80s, which I had little interest in.

Delving back into the 70s prompted me to start exploring the 60s, too, (The Stones, The Small Faces and notably The Byrds). As well as my love of glam rock and heavy metal, I acquired a love of the folk-rock sounds of The Byrds. But having, bit by bit,  bought up the entire back catalogue of The Byrds, I decided that if I enjoyed American folk-rock so much it might be time to start exploring British folk-rock, too (Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and so on). And through enjoying those bands so much it actually led to me to begin an appreciation of more traditional folk, too.

On the rock side I got pretty disenchanted with much of what was being re-released as the 80s progressed. All those synthesizers and tinny, compressed 80s production techniques left me cold. It wasn’t just the new bands but by the mid 80s it seemed that almost every veteran artist of the 60s and 70s became like kids in a sweetshop with the new technology and making horribly over-produced records. Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ still sends me cold now. I switched off more and more from what was going on at the time and continued to explore the second-hand shops and the back catalogues. It was only with the arrival of Britpop in the early to mid 90s that I began to take notice of new music again and you’ll find a number of bands from that era covered on this blog.

As far as heavy metal went, my original love, there was a time not too long ago when anything described as a ‘new’ metal band I simply did not get at all. I played my classic albums still but all those weirdly-named sub-genres and even weirder-sounding vocals that came about in the 90s and 00s just left me feeling old and confused. However, the so-called New Wave Of Classic Rock fired me up again and I reconnected, discovering many great new bands.

Which pretty much explains my journey of musical discovery over the years and the eclectic range of reviews you will find on this blog.

You can read some more about Darren’s music blog in this interview I did for fellow music blogger Jason at the Rockin’ Chair Blog here.

Scroll down the home page to see all the gigs and albums I’ve reviewed. If you just want to see the rock stuff click here and if you just want to see the folk stuff click here.

Feel free to quote from, link to or re-blog any of the reviews on this site but a credit would be nice. Again, you are equally welcome to use and share the photos from this site as long as you credit them. Unless otherwise credited all the live photos are by me. Copyright images of album covers, tour posters and other promotional material are reproduced under ‘Fair Use’ considerations. Please get in touch if any queries.

And if you do enjoy reading anything here then do comment/follow/share etc. It’s the interaction with other music lovers that makes music blogging so much fun.

Thanks for visiting.


PS: Information about my books ‘The Sweet in the 1970s’, ‘Suzi Quatro in the 1970s’ and ‘Slade in the 1970s’ all part of Sonicbond Publishing’s ‘Decades’ series – available here

23 thoughts on “About Darren

  1. Will you be putting in gig previews of places YOU WILL BE going to so that we can look out for you and also consider getting tix too. It also has a Green aspect as we can lift share and even accommodation share.


  2. How are you? I wanted to send you the latest album from acclaimed Folk Americana singer/songwriter Sarah Dashew. Sarah Dashew’s song spots include the hit NBC show My Name Is Earl, inclusion in the celebrity playlist of ABC’s Ugly Betty, rave reviews of previous albums, and successful tours throughout the U.S. and Europe with the likes of Cowboy Junkies, Michelle Shocked, Suzanne Vega, and Pancho Sanchez.

    thanks for your consideration for a mention,

    Thanks so much!


    New Singles:

    New Stop Motion Video:


  3. Hello Darren,

    I hope you’re well.

    I’m emailing on behalf of a fast-rising, ska-punk band, UK Feds, who are performing at The Factory, Barnstaple, on Thursday, 25th February.

    We have a few guest list spots available if you’d like to come down to review or interview the band, so please do let me know as soon as possible if you’d like to attend and I’ll put you on the guest list.

    The band are currently on a UK-wide tour as main support for the two tone ’70’s legends, Selecter, and are making real waves on the live circuit after the release of their debut EP, Living In Anger.

    Please find full details of the band and tour below.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best wishes,

    Beth French
    Tiger Bam Communications

    T: 0121 224 7557
    E: Beth@tigerbam.co.uk
    W: http://www.tigerbam.co.uk


    Birmingham band UK Feds have been confirmed as main support for Selecter on UK wide tour consisting of dates in Plymouth, Southend, Wolverhampton, and more, playing at the Factory, Barnstaple, on Thursday, 25th February.

    UK Feds will join two tone legends Selecter on a nation wide tour starting February 2016. Selecter are most known for their Top 10 hits ‘Gangsters vs. The Selecter,’ and ‘On My Radio,’ and the 1980 album ‘Too Much Pressure’ reaching number 5 in the charts.

    UK Feds are a new exciting four-piece ska-punk band from Birmingham, West Midlands, formed in September 2015 and made up by members Jon Kings (lead vocals/guitar), Ryan Kings (vocals/bass), and Ricky-Lee Cooper (drums) Mikey Rainsford.

    The band are only just starting out in their career but have previously played main support for punk legends Ruts D.C on a nationwide tour which gained the band scores of new fans. They secured the coveted support spot so early in their career due to their willingness to write music about what they see going on in the world around them, and how they are affected by lack of work, poor paying mundane jobs, making them a great fit for bands like Ruts D.C and Selecter.

    UK Feds describe their music as “heavy ska” and keep their music raw and in your face – the way it sounds live. The band are looking forward to getting out on the road as main support , as lead vocalist Jon Kings explains;

    “We are really excited to support a legendary band like Selecter. As a band we make music about the stuff going on in the world that affects us, just like bands in the 70’s and 80’s did. The chance to tour with a band whose music inspires us is a great opportunity, and we are really looking forward to getting the chance to play our music live to a new audience. ”

    The UK wide tour kicks off at Chinnerys in Southend on February 19th and concludes in Wolverhampton on March 12th, with tickets and full listings available at http://www.theselecter.net


    Full Selecter Tour Dates:

    * Press Passes are available; contact rachael@tigerbam.co.uk for more details.

    Southend – Chinnerys – Friday (19/2)

    Bedford – Corn Exchange – Saturday (20/2)

    Barnstaple – The Factory – Thursday (25/2)

    Falmouth – Princess Pavillion – Friday (26/2)

    Plymouth – The Hub – Saturday (27/2)

    Blackburn – King Georges Hall – Thursday (3/3)

    Kendal – Brewery Arts Centre – Friday (4/3)

    Doncaster – Diamond Lounge – Saturday (5/3)

    Stockton – Arc – Thursday (10/3)

    Hull – Fruit – Friday (11/3)

    Wolverhampton – Slade Rooms – Saturday (12/3)


  4. I hope you are doing great! I wanted to send you one of personal favorite artists I have ever worked with. She blends Americana, rock and folk and was recently featured on NPR and CBS. Below find her new video, music and bio- thank you for your consideration for a review of her new EP – it is out March 4th.

    Thanks so much,

    New EP:

    New video:

    NPR feature:


    Laura Jean Anderson – A Righteous Girl

    As young as she may look, Laura Jean Anderson is filled with the spirit of wisdom, amassed through years of traveling, busking, hitchhiking, touring and old time religion–just the kind of learning a prolific songwriter would need.

    You can hear it in her voice and lyrics on her latest EP, Righteous Girl in which she evokes the ghosts of Janis Joplin and modern influences of Lucius, St. Vincent and Alabama Shakes, “I feel like these songs reflect that feeling you get when you get one glimmer of hope, of sunshine in the midst of a deep depression. I would go on long walks barefoot with my guitar in the neighborhoods of LA–I felt super out of place doing that but for some reason, it put things into perspective,” Anderson says wistful.

    “Take Me In” opens up the EP and Anderson gently pulls the listener into her world, her soothing voice (reminiscent of June Carter) ebbs and flows along with the electric piano rolls. However, the title track “Righteous Girl,” is a whole ‘nother beast. Crashing distorted drums clue us to a shift in tone but Anderson’s voice and guitar are there to ground the whole affair: Her haunting voice swells then dips back into a lullaby then before we know it, she belts out another howl–she’s always in control, it seems to say.

    Anderson’s unique sound is a direct creation of the combination of growing up in a conservative environment with years of church singing and roots music education contradicting the grunge and punk elements of growing up in liberal Washington. You can hear this in her music, soulful vocals and well crafted storylines with elements of chaotic rock n’ roll and garage rock at its best.

    Anderson’s credits her time at Calarts as a major influence on her music. It was two years of wild art school experiences, meeting amazing people, and being a barefoot hippie in the mountains writing songs, she recalls.

    Then a stint in the mountain town of Huaraz, Peru where, with all her money stolen, she spent hours a day busking in the plaza until she made enough money to get a ticket home. “It was then and there that I realized I was put on this earth to make music,” Anderson says. “Alone in Peru, I was able to make it out just through music . . . I knew I had to come back to the States and pursue music full-heartedly.”

    So she did. She went back to LA to finish school and record “Righteous Girl.” The EP was produced by Anderson and Theo Karon and recorded mostly at Kingsize Soundlabs in Eagle Rock. (Karon has recently worked with Mavis Staples, Angel Olsen, Foxygen, and Pillars & Tongues.)

    “(The EP) directly reflects things I have experienced and feel,” she reflects. “Freedom and honesty is so important but I feel like too many things are written where the writer doesn’t REALLY mean them. I mean everything I write, and If I can’t look at myself in the mirror and speak those words, I will scrap the lyric.” As Anderson further explains, it’s a record about hardship, heartbreak and religion.

    Righteous Girl will come out on March 4.


  5. Hello Darren,

    I have been studiying your language for ages and I am still trying to learn new things.

    I can unluckily not understand the accent of Derek St. Homes by performing the lyrics of Ted Nugent’s “No, No, No”.

    Could you please help me with it?

    Thank you very much indeed for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey Darren,

    I was wondering if you’ve ever heard of Mad Mesa? It’s a small college band in Northern Vermont and no one knows about them yet. I think their music taste is something that has been forgotten over the years that rock and roll has changed. They derive their style from a combination of both past and present and it’s something nobody is doing.



  7. Hey Darren
    Seems we have pretty similar tastes in music. Apart from Folk. I don’t do Folk. 😂

    I’ve actually just closed down my own music blog, LOUD HORIZON, after running it @ 16 years. J also used tk write for Artrocker Magazine.

    I now co-run a new blog with a bloke I was pals with at primary school .. not seen him in over 45 years!

    We started it in late February to focus on stories and experiences (light hearted) of those who grew up / lived through the Seventies.

    We cover just about everything, and have some tales / articles on The Apollo (Glasgow) Rory Gallagher; Deep Purple; Mott the Hoople; Glam Rock and ktber general bits and pieces on playing in local bands etc.

    If you’re interested, maybe we could reciprocally ‘repress’ some ’70s related pieces from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there – I came across your blog while browsing through wordpress reader – and yes so many crossovers in terms of band’s we like. Enjoyed reading so far – will definitely delve into more!


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