LAUREN HOUSLEY & BAND Played a storming gig at St Mary’s, Billericay on Friday 7 October 2016.  I’ve said in the past that Lauren is simply one of the most assured and accomplished ‘new’ artists I’ve seen in a long time who plays a fabulous live set – and we weren’t disappointed – with some brilliant original songs and some killer covers, with the most heart-wrenching cover of ‘Jolene’ I’ve ever heard (anyone who was present want to write a review for this website?). Lauren’s excellent band were: Thomas Dibb, Guitar/Vocals; Mark Lewis, Bass/Vocals; Adrian Gautrey, Keys/Vocals and John Hirst, Drums. These are a few of the comments that have come my way:

‘Best gig I’ve seen in a long time’
‘A very special night’
‘Incredible atmosphere’
‘Wonderful performance’
‘Where did you find Lauren?’
‘Lauren is a class act and her band were fabulous’

If you haven’t picked up Sweet Surrender yet you’re missing out on a fantastic debut album and you simply must get your tickets to see Lauren and her fabulous band playing at the Blues Fest on 29 October at the Brooklyn Bowl at the O2 – I’ll be there. Tickets are available from Lauren’s website (look under shows) A mention must also go to Dan Pierce, along with Annabel Carr, who were an excellent support act.  They blended together beautifully and really set the atmosphere for a wonderful evening. Thanks to Richard on the PA who always does an excellent job and thank you, too, to those of you who attended – it was great to see some familiar faces as well as a number of first-timers!

Gigs coming up …

THE LAKE POETS Some of you will have heard me rave about Sunderland song smith and a multi-instrumentalist Marty Longstaff, who plays under the pseudonym of The Lake Poets for a long time.  Marty is playing a House Gig here in Billericay on Tuesday 1 November and there are some tickets available, more details here

EMILY MAGUIRE Makes a welcome return to Emmanuel on Saturday 3 December 2016 along with Christian Dunham (Bass Player extraordinaire and husband). Emily has always been warmly received when she’s played here in the past and is one our favourite artists – we’re guaranteed another outstanding evening!  Support will be a friend of mine, Chris Hutton, who is making a name for himself on the Essex acoustic scene.  Tickets can be purchased direct from WeGotTickets and more information can be found here

MARTYN JOSEPH Looking ahead to 2017, I’m pleased to say that I’ve provisionally booked Martyn to play in Billericay on 10 June. Martyn has been around a long time, is one of Bob Harris’ favourite artists (check out his Radio 2 playlists) and it will be a fantastic evening of music and storytelling.  I’m going to say that he’ll be playing at St Mary’s but, if interest is high, we can relocate to Emmanuel.  It’s probably a bit too early to have this as a Gig in the Garden, however, if the date changes that might be a possibility.  Watch this space but book the date in your diary!

TICKET SALES I’m not handling cash or using the SAE system anymore, however, it should, in the longer term, make things much easier to book tickets online. I can’t do anything about the fees, I’m afraid, but they are not much more than a first class stamp!

REVIEWS Elsewhere on my blog site I’ve written about National Mackem Day an evening with Jimmy Webb celebrating the music of Glen Campbell; penned a few words about U2’s 40th Anniversary and written a review of the film Ben-Hur along with a few other articles, all of which are a sure-fire cure for insomnia!

A REQUEST Does anyone have a CD or an MP3 copy of an album called ‘The Swallow’ by Keith James, first released in 1983?  I have this on cassette (remember those?) but don’t really have the equipment to play it nowadays and it’s a great album.  I’m not having any joy trying to locate this online!

WHAT AM I LISTENING TO? Like many of you, I’m always interested in what’s new and I have a few recommendations for you:

  • Connie Lush Band: Renaissance. Hot off the press, the latest album from one the UK’s pre-eminent female blues singers. Includes some great original songs and a gutsy cover of a Bonnie Raitt classic.
  • Nancy Kerr: Instar. The latest album from 2015 Folk Singer of the Year at 2015. There aren’t many artists whose work transcends the genre and can do it with such grace and tenderness.
  • Ward Thomas: Cartwheels. The latest album from twins Lizzy and Catherine. Like their idol Taylor Swift, the pair have now moved from out-and-out country to a more mainstream sound.
  • Van Morrison: Keep Me Singing. This year, Van Morrison was knighted, turned 71 and released his 36th studio record. A polished performance from the mercurial musical icon that we’ve come to expect.
  • The Shires: My Universe.  The second album from the UK’s top country act.  Not sure about this one, though, not too different from ‘Brave’ for me, with no standout songs – at the moment!
  • Martyn Joseph: Sanctuary.  A little too late to the party on this one, released in 2015, however, the songs, as always, are a mix of the personal and political and don’t disappoint.  I particularly like ‘I searched for you.’
  • J.D.Souther. I’m enjoying catching up J.D’s prolific output from the 1970’s. Souther is probably best known for his songwriting abilities and co-wrote some of the biggest hits for the Eagles, including: ‘Best of My Love’,  ‘Heartache Tonight’, ‘New Kid in Town’ and ‘How Long’ as well as writing for Linda Ronstadt, amongst others. He’s recently been found acting on ‘Nashville’ as well as writing some of the songs for the show!

Don’t forget that we have a couple of excellent Blues Clubs in Billericay the New Crawdaddy Blues Club who are based at Billericay Town Football Club and meet on Friday evenings (The excellent Bad Influence and Kyla Brox are playing here soon) and Blues at the Farm who meet on Saturdays at 2.00 pm at Barleylands Social Club.  The Little Rabbit Barn in Colchester is also worth checking out!  They all have some excellent acts appearing and it’s worth keeping an eye on their websites or signing up for their emails.  There are also a number of Folk Clubs around Essex which are well worth a visit, too.

There are a few special events coming up at Emmanuel church, Billericay and you can find out on our Church Family News Page

Do let me know of any gigs in your part of the world that might be of some interest.

Keep on keeping music live!