Americana Roots | Winter Preview
By Cara Gibney
It’s not going to be too long before we’re taking another cup of kindness yet. You know the sort, the midnight-well-worn-festive-season-post-Christmas Hooray to the end of 2017, taken for the sake of Auld Lang Syne. Bringing on the arrival of a cocky new year full of swagger, Christmas debt, jaded hope of local government, and BREXIT. Yeoow!
Don’t worry. We can pace it. Before any of that kicks in, you can sport your new Christmas pants at QUB’s Speakeasy on 30 December where garage punk blues duo The Bonnevilles are launching the vinyl reissue of their Folk Art & The Death Of Electric Jesus album. “McGibbon’s songwriting is never suspect,” No Depression had to say about them. “Influenced from those before yet soaked and steadily glazed in a brine of ‘cheap beer and Buckfast.’” They’ll have The Crossfire Hurricanes, The Groundlings and Electric Blue in support. You’ll be desperate to get out of the house by that stage of your Christmas holidays. Go!
Ignore the rancorous intro to this piece though, because 2018 does have plenty to look forward to. There is so much going on out there in fact that we have gigs of note running right through to early February, not least the Americana entries for Out To Lunch Arts Festival running this year from 05 – 28 January. There’s the deep mellow power behind the voice of country-soul singer/songwriter Yola Carter for example. And there’s another country roots-inflected singer/songwriter, Texan Hayes Carll, who’ll be playing Out To Lunch with his own particular brand of straight from the hip, sharp songwriting.
The sibling harmonies of Tyler and Maggie Heath’s The Oh Hellos can be heard in The Empire on 26 January. Out To Lunch have strayed to this part of town, away from Cathedral Quarter, because a venue of The Empire’s stature is needed to host the numerous collective band members on stage. Interesting fact: The Oh Hellos last album, Dear Wormwood, is inspired by C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. “We kind of took the central device of writing letters to this tormentor.” Tyler Heath told Music Times about the background to the album. “Then kind of ran off in our own direction with it.” Sounds like an interesting night.There’s potent songwriting and polished old-time banjo-picking from African-Canadian Kaia Kater in the Black Box on 28 January. With a musical sound born from her grounding in Canadian folk, and her learning of Appalachian music, this show I would suggest is pretty unmissable. Author and musician Willy Vlautin is appearing at The Crescent Arts Centre that night thanks to No Alibis. Vlautin is the ex-front man of the much missed Richmond Fontaine, and founder of/guitarist with The Delines, who will hopefully be back on the road with their new album sometime in the near future. Meantime Vlautin has been working on his fifth novel, Don’t Skip Out on Me, and he is coming to Belfast to play music from the soundtrack of that new book, as well as favourites from The Delines and Richmond Fontaine.
Following that, Real Music Club brings American folk musician Sam Baker to the Errigle Inn a few days later on Friday 02 February. Renowned for his bare expressive lyrics, half spoken, somewhat drawled, Baker’s songs speak through, and beyond, his recovery from a terrorist attack while travelling in Peru in 1986. He feels lucky to have survived; he speaks of the need for us to reach out, to connect. Uplifting and pertinent, Sam Baker is a must-see.
Saturday of that same weekend offers up The Orphan Brigade on tour promoting their new Heart Of The Cave album. Glenarm’s own Ben Glover (now based in Nashville) is a founding member of this band, named after their 2015 project in which they spent a year writing and recording songs in Octagon Hall, Kentucky, reportedly the most haunted building in America. Their latest project for Heart Of The Cave brought them to caves underneath the Italian town of Osimo. The town has a network of subterranean caverns and tunnels dating back to the Roman Empire which have been inhabited by people for endless reasons over the years. From secret societies, exiled saints, and scared communities seeking shelter, Heart Of The Cave captures the essence of that underground world. Real Music Club brings The Orphan Brigade to the beautiful confines of Duncairn Arts Centre on 03 February. The band then travels to The Londonderry Arms Hotel in Carnlough for a performance on Sunday 04 February.
Issue 12 Out Now