Tag Archives: featured artist

This week’s featured artist: blues guitarist Patrik Jansson – new album ‘Game Changer’

Starting out his professional career as a drummer, Patrik Jansson performed with a variety of blues bands, jazz combos, hard-rock and metal acts in his native Sweden. Keen for change in direction he picked up a guitar and began honing his skills as a guitarist, singer and songwriter. Inspired by the heavy blues of the Texas blues scene, Jansson then began putting a band together with a clear idea for the kind of direction he wanted to take things in.

Jansson: I wanted to play blues with a more modern approach. Blues is supposed to feel fresh and alive, it’s a most vital music in my opinion. In short I wanted to play the kind of music that I would like to hear myself and that I think a lot of other people would like and appreciate”.

Several albums with the Patrik Jansson Band followed: a self-titled debut in 2007, Here We Are in 2014, So Far To Go in 2017 and IV in 2020. At the end of October 2022, another change in direction came with the release of Jansson’s solo album, Game Changer. In contrast to previous band releases this one features Jansson playing all the main instruments himself, save for a few appearances by sundry guest musicians on a handful of tracks.

Just as my own musical tastes and the type of acts I cover on Darren’s music blog have always been pretty eclectic, Jansson’s latest album nicely echoes such eclecticism in its own influences, too. Jansson draws on his own musical background playing rock, metal, punk, pop, Americana, reggae, blues, jazz and fusion, bringing all of those influences to the fore in Game Changer.

”I believe there is only two kinds of music, good and bad. Listening to and playing so many different kinds of music, from Bob Marley, Johnny Cash, John Coltrane, Chic Corea and Weather Report to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath to name a few, there has never been a shortage of influences. If it sounds good, it is good! This time it was quite liberating to create music without putting up any limitations or boundaries and the mix of different genres and styles is bound to be nothing less than interesting.”

“This is the first time I have played all the instrument myself. It was a great experience and it was great to have the time to really find the right feel and sound for each song. This album is 100% Patrik Jansson. It’s a mix of everything that I have played and listened to throughout my career. It’s dark, beautiful, rootsy, heavy, groovy and moody. It’s music played with passion and I’m very proud of it.”

From mellow bluesy ballads, to jam-style instrumentals, to Hendrix-esque hard rock, to infectious rhythm and blues, to pumping reggae, Game Changer is an entertaining album featuring Jansson’s  creative and highly personal take on the blues. Well worth checking out.

Released: 28th October 2022

https://patrikjanssonofficial.com/

This week’s featured artists: Americana singer-songwriter duo, Tom Faia & Kate Miller

New album: Stay Away From The Flame

Now on to their third album as a duo, Tom Faia & Kate Miller have been building up a reputation for their live shows along California’s Central Coast for some four years.

Originally from the Monterey Bay Area, Tom Faia has an illustrious musical CV which, early in his career, included work with the much-celebrated rock and roll sideman, James Burton, along with the Wrecking Crew. After leaving LA, where he was signed to A&M Records as a solo artist, Faia then headed down to Nashville to hone his skills as a songwriter. As a Nashville-based songsmith, his songs were recorded by the likes of Barbara Mandrell and Dobie Gray, prior to heading back to Monterey where he continued to write. After spending several years performing solo, he teamed up with Kate Miller in 2018.

Kate Miller, herself, is a veteran of several local bands in the Monterey area and as the Monterey Herald put it: “When Kate Miller joined Tom Faia to make music things got a lot more interesting, not only in live performance but on the new album, Stay Away From The Flame.

One of Tom Faia’s songs, ‘Whole Lotta Trouble’, was used in award-winning film, A Girl, Two Guys and a Gun, seen here performed live with Kate Miller.

Released in July, the new album, Stay Away From The Flame, showcases Faia’s talents as a songwriter and his ear for a laid-back but instantly-memorable melody. With a sound based around acoustic guitar and harmony vocals, the interplay between Faia’s seasoned drawl and Miller’s warm, emotive voice is a delight, as is Faia’s harmonica-playing. Jese Diaz on bass and Vince Sanchez on percussion complete the line-up.

With musical influences that span the early rock and roll years of the ’50s and the classic era of the great singer-songwriter albums of the early ’70s, there’s a richness to this album which should find fans across the folk/Americana/singer-songwriter genres.

Released: 11th July 2022

https://www.facebook.com/FaiaMillerMusic/

This week’s featured artist: Gaelic multi-instrumentalist Tina Jordan Rees

Originally from Lancashire but having spent time living in both Ireland and Scotland, Tina Jordan Rees is extremely well-versed in the musical traditions of each. A multi-instrumentalist, she plays flute, whistle and piano as well as being a qualified Irish dance teacher. Having released several albums of Irish dance music, Beatha represents her first album of flute and whistle.

Tina Jordan Rees: “In 2018, having not long turned 30, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Thankfully, it was found early and I had an operation which cured it. My outlook on life has changed somewhat since then. I want to enjoy like more, take in the small moments and breathe.”

“It was important to me to be creative once again after the majority of music had stopped during the pandemic. Making music brings me so much happiness and makes me feel alive. I have enjoyed pouring my heart and soul into this album and playing with the fantastic musicians who joined me for it.”

“I decided to name the album Beatha as a nod to this journey we are all on. As ‘beatha’ means life in both Scottish and Irish Gaelic, I feel it reflects my time spent in Ireland and Scotland where I now call home.”

The result is a beautiful, life-affirming album featuring ten tracks of self-composed Gaelic-inspired tunes. Tina Jordan Rees plays flute, whistles and piano, and is joined by guest musicians, Séan Gray (guitar), Lea Larsen (Bodhran) and James Lindsay (double bass).

From sweet and poignant to dramatic and fast-paced, Jordan Rees’ thoughtful compositions and inspired playing takes us on a journey that invokes a fulsome range of emotions. Beatha is an album that followers of Gaelic folk would do well to seek out, whether they are familiar with her previous work or not.

Beatha was released on June 24th and is available on CD and all the major musical platforms.

Photo credits: Elly Lucas

https://tinajordanrees.com/

This week’s featured artist: East Sussex folk singer-songwriter, India Blue

Drawing inspiration from spirituality, history, folk tales, nature and the complexities of “being human”, India Blue is a folk musician and singer-songwriter based here in St. Leonards, East Sussex.

Introduced to the piano aged five, India says she began writing songs about faeries from those very first lessons, with help from her teacher Carla Smith. Aged eleven she began performing her first ever gigs as her support act, at places like Revelation in Ashford and the Sinden Theatre in Tenterden. Then came opportunities on the festival circuit, playing at small eco, pagan and hippie festivals in 2015. Prior to lockdown she was playing around eleven festivals each summer. She was awarded winner of the Equator Music Contest  in 2014, was shortlisted for Young Songwriter of the Year in 2015 and was area finalist of Open Mic UK in 2016. As well as festivals, she’s supported Jo Beth Young for her ‘Strangers’ album launch and Guy Chambers on his ‘Into The Light’ tour.

India Blue’s debut studio album, The Circus Came And Left, released earlier this Spring features thirteen self-composed songs written over a two-year period.

“The Circus Came and Left is titled from the final single, which I toyed with actually including on the album or not. It’s a very personal song, about the transience of life. But I felt in some way whilst structuring the album: this is the journey I wanted the listener to go through, as it’s the one cycle every living this also goes through (in some way or another) It was also a major reason I wanted my first solo release to be an album, rather than a single: to walk the listener through a landscape.”

“I recorded the album in the home studio of my producer and fellow musician Tom Clarkson. Recording was a heart opening experience, intertwined with cavalo nero pasta, deep yogic breaths and dances with his two-year-old daughter.”

“My favourite part of the process was recording the piano on a magnificent old Steinway in an old original Burton manor (the man who built St Leonards!) ‘We’re Free’ was the only song fully recorded in this space, it was my rendition of a Mantra, and we got it in maybe one or two takes. I feel that songs are capsules, containing the energy of their words, the time when they were written, and also recorded. I feel this album truly holds support, insight and creative power for all who listen to receive.”

While she’s mainly self-accompanied, playing piano, harp and other instruments, the album also features some talented local musicians including Bev Lee Harling (violin), Tom Clarkson (bass/electric guitar), Tom Uragallo (bodhran) and Sarah Vincent (trombone).

The Circus Came And Left is a delightful album. India Blue’s delicate yet expressive and slightly other-worldly vocal is the perfect fit for her song-writing and there’s plenty of lovely mournful piano and beautifully evocative harp to really bring these songs to life. Both Vashti Bunyan and Joanna Newsome are cited as key inspirations and there’s lots for fans of both of those artists to enjoy here.

Released: March 2022

https://www.indiabluemusic.com/

This week’s featured artist: singer-songwriter Owen Moore – new sixteen-track compilation out

Based in Bournemouth on England’s south coast, Owen Moore is an Irish-born singer-songwriter. I reviewed his 2021 album Fireside Songs last year and Owen has kindly sent me his latest: Sixteen Easy Songs For Voice & Guitar.

A prolific songwriter with an extensive back catalogue, this latest album is actually a compilation with highlights drawn from Owen’s ten previous albums which span the period 2011-2021.

Doing exactly what it says on the tin, Sixteen Easy Songs For Voice & Guitar serves as a welcome introduction to anyone wanting to familiarise themselves with Owen Moore’s work. It’s just Owen, his voice, his songs and his guitar but it makes for a fine album.

Serving up folk-infused acoustic Americana, Moore’s wistful, easy-going delivery and thoughtful, introspective lyrics are allied with instantly catchy melodies that owe something towards pop sensibilities, too.  

The full track listing for Sixteen Easy Songs For Voice & Guitar is as follows:

  1. Round And Round
  2. She’s Still Wearing Blue
  3. Hang Around With You
  4. The Blue Notes
  5. Walking With That Girl Of Mine
  6. Voices In My Head
  7. All The Time In The World
  8. Home In The Rain
  9. I Don’t Play My Guitar On A Sunday
  10. Night Lights
  11. One Sweet Day
  12. Cruel Imagination
  13. In A Song
  14. Somewhere Near
  15. Unfaithful Moonlight
  16. Riverbank

Released: September 2021

The album, and others, are available via Owen Moore’s website in CD and digital formats.

http://www.owenmooremusic.com/

Related post:

Album review – Owen Moore ‘Fireside Songs’

This week’s featured artist: singer-songwriter Ed Blunt – Christmas single ‘The Dome of St Paul’s’

Ed Blunt is a singer-songwriter with a debut album out in February 2022. London-based Blunt, whose family home is in Graffham, Sussex, is a jazz and classically trained pianist, who earned his stripes on the London scene, and is in demand as a performer, arranger and choir leader (he is Musical Director and founder of the ensemble, Camden Voices).

As a foretaste of his coming album he has recently released a Christmas single, a heart-warming Christmas song inspired by the last big blizzard in the City of London.

‘The Dome of St Paul’s’ was written during lockdown and recounts a night in 2009 when the capital saw its biggest snowfall for several decades. The song is accompanied by a magical animated video created by London’s Chicken Fruit Studio and set on Christmas Eve.

At the time, Ed was a student at Guildhall School of Music and Drama living in its hall of residence close to The Barbican.

Blunt: “One freezing Sunday night it started to snow, at first just a few flakes, then soon enough a proper whiteout. As we walked the streets the city that was usually loud and frenetic stood perfectly still and quiet in the snow like a dreamland – it was one of those nights you will never forget.”

But it took 12 years before Ed’s memory of that snowstorm triggered a song. He started writing the melody and lyrics during a lockdown Zoom workshop with Chris Difford, of legendary band Squeeze, who describes the song as “brilliant”.

“The challenge Chris set was to write a song about London and, for some reason, the day the snow transformed the city into a winter wonderland came vividly to mind.”

Besides the city cathedral, it namechecks a number of other London landmarks – Finsbury Square, London Wall and Chancery Lane.

Recorded and mixed by David Simpson at the Crypt Studio, London it features James Nall on drums and percussion, Charlie Laffer on guitars and Tom Farmer on bass.

Ed Blunt’s debut album, Over the Moon is due out in February 2022, and serves up a rich mix of folk, rock, blues and gospel – original songs inspired by subjects as diverse as cinematic stories of men on the moon to the folklore of his home city — often cut through with a touch of humour.

The Dome of St Paul’s is out now on all digital platforms.

Listen on Spotify: https://li.sten.to/thedomeofstpauls

www.edblunt.co.uk

This week’s featured artist: folklorist and singer Derek Piotr

Derek Piotr is a US-based folklorist, performer and composer from New England. His work focuses primarily on the human voice and covers genres as diverse as folk, leftfield pop, classical, and dance but he has a particular interest in Appalachian versions
of traditional ballads. He has collaborated with a number of different artists including Thomas Brinkmann, Scott Solter, and Bradford Reed across various disciplines. Derek was nominated by the jury for Prix Ars Electronica in 2012, and has featured on UbuWeb and the BBC.

Derek Piotr’s CV includes an impressive ten solo albums to date in spite of only just hitting his 30s this year. I ask him about the latest Making and Then Unmaking which was released back in May.

Derek Piotr: “My tenth album, Making and Then Unmaking, is an extension of the folkloric work I’ve done in Western North Carolina, with a heavy emphasis on Appalachian ballad singing and folk and country instrumentation. Originally I was meant to work on this album in a studio in North Carolina, but due to Covid, I ended up recording 90% of the album remotely and putting the performances together via filesharing. Making and Then Unmaking features a much broader instrumental palette because of this workflow, with instruments appearing including bagpipes, clavichord, saxophone, harp, pedal steel guitar, viol da gamba, autoharp and dulcimer.”

Of particular interest to British folk enthusiasts who follow this blog is that Derek has been working in the UK all through the summer, carrying out fieldwork.

Derek Piotr: “My fieldwork in the UK has predominantly focused on collecting recordings of ‘non-singers’ in North Yorkshire. This is a direct continuity of my work in North Carolina documenting non-singers, in other words, informants who have no formal background in vocal performance but nevertheless have living knowledge of traditional song and can still sing or recite these ballads from memory. One of the informants I’ve met on my UK journey was 102…it has been a rich and valuable experience for me to collect ballads from their origin source; most of Child’s ballads were collected in Northumberland and Scotland.”

Making and Then Unmaking: released 14th May 2021

Visit Derek Piotr’s website visit here

This week’s featured artist: folk musician Mel Biggs – new album ‘From Darkness Comes Light’

Mel Biggs, who has recorded several albums as part of acclaimed trio Moirai, is one of the UK’s leading diatonic accordion players. She releases From Darkness Comes Light her debut solo album on 1st October. Over twelve stunningly inventive instrumental tracks, Mel Biggs takes us on a journey through the seasonal changes, both natural and cultural over the course of the year. Accompanied by fiddle, mandolin, piano accordion, guitar and cittern she invites us to join her on this deeply personal and evocative journey.

I ask Mel how the album came about:

This album has taken over a decade to be made. And when I say that, I’m not talking about the physical album, which took 9-ish months in lockdown, but the mental health journey I’ve been on since my early 20s. The darkness of living with anxiety and depression, a binge eating disorder, and menstrual health issues brought forth the light that is my music and composition. Further to this, and rather poignantly, the album’s completion earlier this year coincided with me being diagnosed with ADHD and Autism. Knowing this has given me the missing pieces on my past diagnoses and, well, literally everything in my life! Especially my sensory crossovers which influence my creativity so much.

The diatonic accordion (or melodeon) became my closest friend and confidante early on when I wasn’t able to understand and process the difficult emotions I experienced. It gave me a way to escape and meditate on the natural world around me. The healing power of the great outdoors is one of my biggest sources of inspiration. A sunny day in spring watching washing dry on the line brought forth Shivelight In Spring. Being high up in the Norwegian mountains breezed Oppland Upland into my brain. Zoning out of a difficult day whilst viewing winter’s golden light in the garden gave me Silver Linings. Meditating on the heat haze obscuring the view out the back of my house shone Shimmer into my life. Let me travel the world with my accordion and I’d write and write and be very content!

Mel fills us in on the themes that emerged for the album:

When it came to making the album, I looked at what material I had and realised the running theme was light states in nature through the seasons. Each piece relates to a different point in my personal discovery journey. From Darkness Comes Light is a symbiosis of seasons, nature, and light and their combined effect on mood and mental health recovery. It’s also become a statement to myself of never giving up on finding those missing pieces to understanding and accepting yourself for exactly who you are. Feels like a pretty big thing to say about an album of instrumental folk music, but I prefer using sounds to words any day!

From Darkness Comes Light released 1st October 2021 by Talking Cat Recordings

Available from: https://melbiggsmusic.co.uk/product-category/cds/

Mel Biggs – diatonic accordions, vocals 

Kat Biggs – piano accordion 

Jon Loomes – guitar, cittern 

Bridget Slater – fiddle 

David Squirrell – mandolin, octave mandola 

All tracks written & arranged by Mel Biggs (except track 4 which is Trad.). 

 Keep the conversation going about mental health & follow the ongoing visual work via the blog: www.melbiggsmusic.co.uk 

This week’s featured artist: Big River – new single ‘Don’t Hold Out’ out now

Kent-based blues rock band Big River were formed back in 2016 with their debut album Redemption released in 2019. The band took a fair bit of inspiration from that early seventies golden era of blues rock and turned out a nice line in meaty rhythm, soulful vocals, catchy hooks and big fat riffs and lush guitar solos.

Since then there’s been a bit of a shift in personnel with Damo Fawsett (guitar), Ant Wellman (bass) and Joe Martin (drums) now being joined by new boy Adam Barron who takes over from former vocalist Adam Bartholomew. This is almost certainly the best career move a band like Big River could possibly have made.

Barron came to prominence as a contestant on The Voice and then secured the lead vocalist position fronting Mick Ralphs’ solo band. Sadly, that venture came to an end with Ralphs’ debilitating stroke but Barron teaming up with Big River is a stroke of genius. One of the finest blues rock singers around these days, Barron is the perfect fit for Big River and takes the band to new heights.

The new single ‘Don’t Hold Out’ sets an exceptional standard and was released on all platforms for digital download on 20th August. Written by Barron is an old school classic rock song with a summer vibe and a catchy hook with singer’s soulful, emotive, bluesy vocals taking centre-stage. 

Barron says: “I love my family, I love my friends and I love life, even with all the complications and shit that comes with it. I really believe we have to grab any and every bit of joy we can every day, because we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, (last couple of years have certainly shown us that!) and that’s what this song is about.”

Big River are currently working on a second album and preparing for tour dates in Summer / Autumn 2021. 

https://www.facebook.com/bigriverblues

Related posts:

Album review – Big River – Redemption

Mick Ralphs Blues Band at Giants of Rock 2016

Dave “Bucket” Colwell at Leo’s Red Lion, Gravesend 2016

This week’s featured artist: stoner metal band Scarfoot – new video ‘Cactus Killer’

Scarfoot are a three piece hard rock/metal outfit from Merseyside. A video for their latest release ‘Cactus Killer’ was unveiled back in June and has already clocked up an impressive 8,000+ views.

The band are Oliver Carins (guitar and vocals), Phil Eakins (drums and vocals) and Rhys Jones (bass). Formed back in 2018 their line-up has now settled with bass-player Rhys joining the two founder members.

I get the lowdown on the video:

“We were intending to make a more… budgetarily weighty video,” confesses Rhys. “But lockdown after lockdown after lockdown made us just decide – balls to this, we’ll have some cactuses fight and animate them. It isn’t the video we originally intended to make, but in a pandemic you do what you gotta do to keep the ball rolling. We had cactuses, we’re a bit daft, so this is what we made!”

And how would the band describe their sound?

Rhys: “A yet to be defined genre. Probably stoner metal would be the closest I think but we do argue about it.

Check out Scarfoot here: https://www.scarfoot.com/