Category Archives: Music news

News: ‘The Isolation Sessions’ new album in support of The National Emergencies Trust

From heavy metal to country, rock and roll to folk The Isolation Sessions is a newly-released digital download album aimed at raising money for The National Emergencies Trust Covid Appeal. Assembled by Danny Stoakes, the album features imaginative reworkings of ten of Stoakes’ favourite songs in collaboration with a host of different artists. These include Romeo’s Daughter’s Craig Joiner, Voodoo Six’s Matt Pearce and Tygers of Pan Tang’s Craig Ellis.

Tracks recorded include covers of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ and The Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’.

Sicilian guitarist Antonello Giliberto and Tygers drummer Craig Ellis feature on ‘Diamonds and Rust’, a track which is a cross between the Joan Baez original and Judas Priest’s own reworked acoustic version.

Support has come from founding member of Judas Priest and KK’s Priest guitarist, KK
Downing
, who says:

“I would like to say congratulations and a big thank you to Danny Stoakes and all of the talented musicians for this collaboration. The Isolation Sessions is a collection of many well-known and loved songs that have been interpreted in a unique way during these past difficult months, and all in the name of a most worthy and appropriate charity, The National Emergencies Trust Covid Appeal.

“As I listen to the songs it is difficult to find favourites, but I admit I do warm to Diamonds and Rust – a song I have played with Priest so many times. I would strongly urge everyone to get on board and check out The Isolation Sessions, not only for its much needed cause, but for the undoubtable enjoyment you will have from listening to it. Again, much respect to all involved in this creation and my sincere thanks to you all for your support.”

Check out Diamonds and Rust here:

The Isolation Sessions also features Kyle Lamley of THEIA, Hoss Thompson of Thirteen Stars, The Big Dirty Axeman, C. Diddy, Liberty Lies drummer Adam Stevens, Burnt Out Wreck’s Gary Moat, Ian Sanderson and Michael Armstrong. The album has been mastered by Benedict Harris Hayes, of Oceanica and Massive Dynamic, who also features on the opening track, a cover of Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’.

Stoakes himself adds:

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the artists who have got involved and got behind this project. They have all done this for nothing ensuring that 100% of the money goes to the charity. Covid 19 is still very much out there and I really hope that we are able to help and support those who most need it. Thank you again to you all.”

The National Emergencies Trust collaborates with charities and other bodies to raise and distribute money and support victims during times of a domestic disaster.

Donate and order The Isolation Sessions via: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/theisolationsessions

Or via Progressive Gears Bandcamp:
https://progressivegears.bandcamp.com/album/the-isolation-sessions

News: ‘Something on Me’ – new album from Snowy White due out 9th October

A new album from blues-infused guitar legend Snowy White and his band The White Flames is due out on 9th October this year.

In advance of next month’s full album release, ‘I Wish I Could’ a delicious slice of virtuoso blues combined with White’s characteristically laid-back and personal lyrics is now available as a single.

Most famous for his 1983 worldwide hit ‘Bird of Paradise’ from his debut solo album, White has developed his own unique style of ‘English’ blues, a combination of clear, clean blues phrases and harder-edged contemporary rock riffs.

In the seventies he toured the east coast of America, getting as far south as New Orleans and discovering the life of a touring musician was one that suited him. By that time he had become friendly with former Fleetwood Mac guitar legend, Peter Green, and they spent a lot of time jamming together. In the Autumn of 1976 he was invited to tour America and Europe with Pink Floyd and the following year went on to guest on the solo album of Floyd’s keyboard player Rick Wright. In 1979 White accompanied Peter Green on his return to the studio after several years away and the album ‘In the Skies’ was the result. Further work with Pink Floyd ensued which was then followed by a three year stint in Thin Lizzy, leaving in 1982 to commence his solo career.

White’s first solo album was entitled White Flames and included the aforementioned ‘Bird of Paradise’ smash. In 1987 White put together a blues-orientated outfit, the Blues Agency, recording two albums. In the 90s White then toured and recorded with two Dutch-Indonesian musicians, Juan van Emmerloot (drums/percussion) and Walter Latupeirissa (bass and rhythm guitar). As The White Flames they recorded a string of albums, including No Faith Required, Restless, The Way It Is and Realistic, performing all over Europe.

A long stint then followed working with Roger Waters once more,which included Waters’ Dark Side Of The Moon and Wall’ tours. In between tours White founded the Snowy White Blues Project, recording the albums ‘In Our Time Of Living’ and ‘In Our Time…Live’.

White’s most recent solo album, The Situation came out in 2018. The new album Something On Me features Thomas White on drums, Rowan Bassett on bass and appearances by various other White Flames.

http://www.snowywhite.com/

Uriah Heep’s 50th anniversary – interview with Mick Box

Uriah Heep celebrate their 50th anniversary this year. An anniversary tour, like pretty much everything else this year, has now been rescheduled for 2021 but Greater Manchester Rock Radio’s Tony Charles recently caught up with Heep’s Mick Box to reflect on the band’s past half century.

In a fascinating hour-long programme that GMRR have shared with me for this blog, Mick and Tony takes us through the band’s entire history starting with the very early days and the band’s formation. The classic David Byron-fronted years of the early to mid 70s are discussed in some detail, of course, but Box’s reflections on the years that came after that are definitely worth hearing.

Talking about the late 70’s and the band’s temporary implosion following the release of the Conquest album in 1980, Box reflects: “I’ll tell you what it was. I think the writing got a bit too poppy. We started off as a rock band and then you got songs like ‘Free Me’ and ‘Come Back To Me’ and although they were good songs we didn’t really associate them with Uriah Heep if you like and I think a lot of fans fell by the wayside because we lost that rocking edge.”

Uriah Heep bounced back in 1982 with a new line-up and the Abominog album. Box looks back on that now as: “Very much an album of the 80s in its production, in its writing and everything and we had great success with it.”

In more recent years the band has returned to a more classic sound with the last album Living The Dream receiving heaps of praise. Box: “With Living The Dream we had a great producer Jay Rushton and what he did was he kept the heritage of the band and all the trademarks that the band is known for – with the five-part harmony and the wah-wah guitar, the solos, the Hammond organ – and he kept all of those elements but he had a wonderful way of blending them to make them sound very modern.”

Thanks to Tony Charles and Greater Manchester Rock Radio – you can listen to the full hour-long interview on soundcloud here:

Related posts:

Uriah Heep, London 2014

Uriah Heep at Giants of Rock 2018

Uriah Heep, Bexhill 2019

Are you an aspiring Radio DJ? Introducing Greater Manchester Rock Radio

Are you an aspiring Radio DJ? Introducing Greater Manchester Rock Radio

I’m pleased to say Darren’s Music Blog is going to be linking up with Greater Manchester Rock Radio. They will be running some of my rock album reviews on their website and I’ll be running occasional band interviews from them here. You can listen in and find out more about the station here. With a wide range of specialist shows – from prog to punk, classic rock, metal and indie check their schedule and give them a listen.

Station Manager, Tony Charles, is also on the look-out for new presenters:

Are you an aspiring Radio DJ? Do you fancy broadcasting on a real web-based Rock Community Radio Station?

If so, then Greater Manchester Rock Radio (GMRR) would like to hear from you.

Founded in November 2018, GMRR is the only web-based community radio station based on rock music in the North West, and potentially in the whole of the UK.

They are on the hunt for volunteers who want to present their own weekly one to two-hour shows or help with interviews /research . For presenting all you need is a love of rock music, a great idea for a show, a PC mic and editing software.

Full training will be provided, and you can pre-record your show from home. Plus, there is the added perk of free entry to a few rock gigs and the chance to interview some amazing bands. (when they are back)

Station manager Tony Charles has been a DJ since the 1980s on local internet radio stations, as well as having experience on stations such as BBC Radio 1, 4 and 5 as a researcher.

He said: “We are getting more and more people tuning into GMRR and as a result we are looking for more presenters to help expand our offerings.

“Our youngest presenter is 20 and our oldest is 72. We’re happy to hear from anyone who’s interested.

“We are also looking for a community and/or a charity to take on a 1-hour slot each week to promote community issues.”

Applicants of any age or background are welcome.

For more information, or to apply, email GMRR station manager Tony at
studio@greatermanchesterrockradio.co.uk

Pier proves a welcome saviour for live music in Hastings

By Darren Johnson

This was originally published by the Hastings Online Times here

For a town that rightly prides itself on the quality of its frenetic live music scene, the closure of pubs and entertainment venues across the country back in March hit Hastings especially hard. And while the summer has witnessed a tentative return to some sort of normality for many pubs, social distancing requirements mean it is likely to be some time yet before the sound of live bands can be heard wafting out of any of them. In recent weeks, however, live music has returned with a bang in the shape of the ‘Live and Unlocked’ sessions on Hastings Pier.

Starting in late July and continuing throughout August and September, the pier is hosting live music every Friday evening from 5pm, every Sunday lunchtime from 1pm through to 3.30pm, and occasional gigs on Saturday. John Bownas, one of the key figures behind ‘Live and Unlocked’, explains how the project started.

“As with so many things, luck played a big part in how I got involved with this project,” says John.

“I was lucky to have got the job a few years ago as manager of Love Hastings Ltd – effectively making me the town centre manager. I was then lucky to have been able to recruit Peter Rolfe as the business ambassador for the town.

“Peter has a long history of involvement with the local DJ scene, and when he found out that the Music First team were taking over the management of the pier he had the foresight to set me up with a meeting with James and Tuf – who are the brains behind the operation.

“These guys have a real passion for Hastings and their history of promoting events on the pier before the fire makes them the perfect team to breathe life into the space. It’s been amazing to watch it transform over the last few weeks from an empty stage into a thriving tourist attraction and community facility for the town.

“In chatting to them I mentioned how I had run various festival stages in the past (including the Left Field at Glastonbury) and how I currently ran the Hastings Flyer website as a local music listings resource. In turn they told me that getting a live music programme going was a big priority for them – and things just sort of developed from there.”

John explains that, initially, the team were just thinking about Friday nights but the project soon became more ambitious. “I have a habit of trying to squeeze as much out of any opportunity like this that I can,” he says. “So Friday nights quickly became late afternoons as well, as we agreed to kick off the live shows from 5pm to cater for the crowds who like to find somewhere straight after work.

“It wasn’t long before I realised that even with eight weeks worth of Friday nights there wasn’t enough time to put on all of the local acts who deserved a space – so we decided to add Sunday lunchtimes to the programme… and a few Saturdays got thrown into the mix as well.”

The live gigs have undoubtedly proved a huge success. “Everything kicked off with a Sam Calver show,” says John. “Straight away we knew we were onto a winner. Since then we’ve had two Friday nights and one Sunday gig, and the bands and crowds have absolutely loved it. I’m getting dozens of requests to perform every week and tables fill up in no time.”

In past decades, of course, Hastings Pier was a legendary venue hosting many legendary bands. Following its multi-million pound refurbishment after the 2010 fire destroyed most of the original buildings, its sleek new minimalist look was not without its detractors. However, in these current times, when social distancing is key to the viability of any live entertainment venture, the pier has proved the ideal venue.

“What has dawned on us is that the pier is a unique space right now,” explains John. “We haven’t yet found anywhere else that is able to stage regular live music to so many people. It’s quite possible we’re actually the largest live music venue in the country at the moment … or possibly in the whole of Europe. That’s a really humbling thought!

“And the important thing is that it is a safe space. Tables are well-spaced, and as long as people are sensible there are no more risks than those associated with a trip to the supermarket. What’s for certain is that this proves beyond a doubt that the pier’s future as a live music space is assured.”

For more information on forthcoming Live and Unlocked sessions on the pier visit https://hastingsflyer.com/pier/

‘It’s About Time’ – Jefferson Starship back with new single and new EP

‘It’s About Time’ is the latest single from US rock legends Jefferson Starship. Following the death of Paul Kantner in 2016 the band these days are: David Freiberg, Donny Baldwin, Cathy Richardson, Chris Smith and Jude Gold. The new single, however, is co-written by the band’s legendary ex-vocalist Grace Slick.

And while the single is definitely more of an upbeat slice of AOR in the spirit of ‘We Built This City’ rather than any Woodstock-era hippy freak-out, the lyrics are certainly not lacking in countercultural bite. “Can’t you feel the planet getting hotter? How can you sit back and watch your own slaughter?” sings Cathy Richardson. “Old white men have had their turn.”

A video has been released to promote the single:

The band have also announced the release of a new seven-track EP Mother of the Sun which will be released on 21st August. Not only does it include songs co-written by two original Jefferson Starship/Jefferson Airplane members – ‘It’s About Time’ co-written with Grace Slick and a further track co-written with Marty Balin, the EP also features the return of original Jefferson Starship member Pete Sears, who contributes bass on three tracks.

“Paul Kantner was our bandleader and the visionary who kept Jefferson Starship going through so many eras,” says Richardson. “He inspired so much about this record, from the messages in the lyrics to the title and album art to the collaborative process of creating music as a band with some of his original muses – Grace, Marty, and Pete. Mother of the Sun is dedicated to PK.”

Jefferson Starship today features singer/multi-instrumentalist David Freiberg (who, following a five-album stint with Quicksilver Messenger Service, was then part of the final line-up of Jefferson Airplane and the original Jefferson Starship), drummer Donny Baldwin (who joined Jefferson Starship in 1982 and also played and sang on many hits of the band’s Starship era), lead singer Cathy Richardson (whom Kantner recruited in 2008), Chris Smith (who has been in the band since the late 90s) on keyboards and Jude Gold (who joined in 2012) on lead guitar.

Having caught them several years ago I can happily confirm that live, the current line-up are well worth seeing, performing hits across all eras of the band including ‘White Rabbit’, ‘Somebody to Love’, ‘We Built This City’, and ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’.

Mother of the Sun is released via Golden Robot Records on 21st August 2020.

www.jeffersonstarship.com

News: ‘Love Life’ the new album from Tawny Ellis released 24th July

An album of soulful Americana Love Life is the latest album from US singer-songwriter Tawny Ellis.

With the title reflecting the theme that runs throughout the songs on the album, Ellis says:

“This record took about three years to finish. I can’t tell you why. It’s just the natural progression of it. The songs for the most part are very personal stories or perhaps stories I tell you about what I have observed in relationships. I built these songs mostly with three different people, Gio Loria – my husband, Jesse Seibenberg and Ted Russell-Kamp. I was lucky to have all of their extraordinary talent and input on board.”

Alongside her lush vocals and lyrical storytelling Ellis says she is known as ‘the girl with the weird instruments’ and her steel guitar an omnichord playing can be heard on the album, her talent for the latter developing when she borrowed an instrument that had originally belonged to Brian Eno, at the suggestion of her producer/musician friend Daniel Lanois.

“It’s a wonderful tool for writing and experimenting and I ended up writing most of the record on it. It’s progressions opened up doorways for me, kind of like a key to the magic.”

Also featuring on the album are Jessie Siebenberg (guitar, steel guitar, drums, piano, keys), Ted Russell-Kamp (guitar, bass), Gio Loria (guitar), Kaitlin Wolfberg (violin, vocals), Scarlet Rivera (violin), Quinn (drums) and Brooke Lizotte (piano).

Released: 24th July 2020 by Music Building Records

https://tawnyellis.com/home

News: ‘Emergency Lullaby’ Merry Hell’s song for action when we’re mired in apathy

Released on Monday 29th June, ‘Emergency Lullaby’ is the third part of the Hourglass Trilogy series of climate-themed singles released by folk rockers Merry Hell.

It will also provide the title for the next full Merry Hell album which will be called ‘Emergency Lullabies’ and is currently nearing completion.

Written by mandolin/bouzouki player Bob Kettle, he says of the song:

“The song ‘Emergency Lullaby’ developed from a melody I’d written on the piano. I was quite pleased with the tune – it had a soft, sleepy quality that reminded me of a lullaby – but, for a long time, I couldn’t come up with any appropriate words to go with it… In the meantime, I was to thinking about climate change and the devastating impact it will have on our lives and environment if it continues unchecked. I’d read about rising global sea-levels, fires in the arctic circle and deforestation in the Amazon. I was also dismayed by the nonchalant denials of the part played by human activity in this looming crisis – for example, Trump and Bolsonaro’s casual rejection of scientific consensus and willingness to sacrifice our planet’s wellbeing and the futures of generations to come for short-term political and financial gain.

“On the other hand, I’m painfully aware of just how little I’m doing, personally, to alleviate these dangers. I ride in cars and draw energy from a grid fed by fossil-fuels. I’ve been negligent with recycling and, because I’m lucky enough to live a first world lifestyle, I’m generally oblivious to the impacts my actions have in other parts of the world. I’m part of a great sleepwalk into destruction – so, in short, I’m no one to judge anybody else’s behaviour. I wanted to emphasise that, if the climate crisis has a human cause it also has a human solution. We can save our planet if we act immediately. Time is short; the longer the delay, the sooner the devastation. We need to hold on to hope because, if we lose it, we’re lost. I’m encouraged by the awareness and organisation shown by young people. If the older generation follow the young and support them in collective action, we have every chance of securing a cleaner, fairer world that can be sustained into the future.

“So, I coupled the soft, sleepy melody with lyrics about the climate crisis – to express the contradictory aspects of the problem: we need urgent action but we’re mired in apathy. That’s how I came up with the title ‘Emergency Lullaby’. I’d love to sing it in a spirit of understanding, hope and togetherness.”

 Emergency Lullaby (Wasting Time)

 The water is rising,
The Arctic’s ablaze,
The Amazon’s burning
But I spend my days
Feeding flood and fire in so many ways
Sitting here wasting my time.

 There are clowns in high places
Trading on lies,
A cult of denial to cover our eyes
But if we give up hope then we give up our lives
Willingly wasting our time.

 We will die of doubt
Time is running out…

 The hourglass counts down
An avoidable fate:
The next generation pays for our mistakes.
Act now, act together and it’s not too late
Or we’re wasting the world and our time.

 So, get down to Earth,
Let the young lead the old,
All hands to the ark!
Unfurl the rainbow!
Our life’s in our hands,
We’ll reap what we sow

The single is available to download and stream from all the usual digital platforms.

Released: 29th June 2020

http://www.merryhell.co.uk

Related posts:

‘Sister Atlas’ new single Merry Hell salutes those taking climate action

‘Leave It In The Ground’ – Merry Hell release climate call to action

DVD review: Merry Hell ‘A Year In The Life’

Album review: Merry Hell ‘Anthems To The Wind’

EP review: Merry Hell ‘Bury Me Naked’

EP review: Merry Hell ‘Come On England!’

News: ‘This Is Hell’ single and brand new video from Burnt Out Wreck

This is Hell’ the title track from Burnt Out Wreck’s second album released last October is now being released as a single with a brand new accompanying video.

Lead singer Gary Moat says: “Here’s our new video the title track from our second album This is Hell …. I wrote this before the pandemic and we all have our own Hell … enjoy the madness. Thanks to Graham Gebbe for the live footage from Winterstorm 2019. We had a great time, also thanks to Mark Leary for creating such a brilliant lyric video at such short notice!”

This Is Hell is the band’s second album, following their debut Swallow which was released in 2017.

“This is Hell, the title says it all,” adds Moat. “It’s a hard hitting, fast paced more focused album. It’s an angry set of songs that follows on in the same vein as Swallow.”

Gary Moat has a colourful history as the drummer and main songwriter for Heavy Pettin’.
For Burnt Out Wreck, he has swapped the drum kit for the microphone stand and Paul Gray now takes the drum stool. Often compared to AC/DC’s Bon Scott and Krokus’s Marc Storace, Moat’s vocal style developed in Mother’s Ruin, the band that rose from the ashes of Heavy Pettin’ in 1991.

You can read my full-length interview with Gary Moat here

Burnt Out Wreck are: Gary Moat – Lead Vocals, Alex Carmichael – Bass, Paul Gray – Drums, Adrian Dunn – Lead Guitar, backing vocals and Miles Goodman – Rhythm Guitar, backing vocals.

https://www.burntoutwreck.com/

Related posts:

This Is Hell – Album Review

Interview with Gary Moat

Heavy Pettin Reissues

Anvil / Burnt Out Wreck / VOiD at The Underworld, Camden 2018

Burnt Out Wreck at Classic Rock Weekender 2018

Burnt Out Wreck at Classic Rock All Dayer 2018

News: ‘Sister Atlas’ new single Merry Hell salutes those taking climate action

Following their recently-released single ‘Leave It In The GroundMerry Hell have released the second single of their climate-themed trilogy. Titled ‘Sister Atlas’ it pays tribute to Greta Thunberg and the commitment of many young people like her taking up the call in demanding action on climate change.

Merry Hell explain:

In the second song in our #HourglassTrilogy, written by Virginia Kettle, our lead female singer, Sister Atlas celebrates the strength and commitment of our young people in calling for a halt to the current climate destruction and to search for ways in which the damage can be reversed. This can either be focused on the example and inspiration of one young girl, or the wider actions of an increasing number of our children who wish for more than to have their future sacrificed to ignorance and greed. A salute to Greta Thunberg and more power to those who have taken up the challenge. Please feel free to spread the music and the love!

The release of the single and accompanying video comes just a few days after the band were delighted to be announced as winners of the Folking Award for Best Live Act, joining winners in other categories such as Oysterband, Eliza Carthy, Ralph McTell and Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman.

The single is available to download and stream from all the usual digital platforms.

Released: 8th June 2020

http://www.merryhell.co.uk

Related posts:

Leave It In The Ground’ – Merry Hell release climate call to action

DVD review: Merry Hell ‘A Year In The Life’

Album review: Merry Hell ‘Anthems To The Wind’

EP review: Merry Hell ‘Bury Me Naked’

EP review: Merry Hell ‘Come On England!’