It’s a been a couple of months since I penned a music blog and thought it’s about time I put finger to keyboard.

Glen Campbell I’m sure many of you, like me, were very sad to hear of the death of Country music legend Glen Campbell.   Glen had a huge impact on me growing up as my dad was a great fan and if it wasn’t Glen playing on the radiogram it was Tom Jones!  Always loved Glen’s music and his musicianship.  It’s said that in one year he played on 600 recordings as part of the famous ‘Wrecking Crew’ – that’s a lifetime body of work for most musicians, but he leaves behind an amazing legacy – The Guardian have picked 12 singers continuing his legacy. I have a good number of Glen’s albums and his 2014 film ‘I’ll Be Me’ which documents his struggle with Alzheimer’s disease was both powerful and uplifting. I’ve posted the lyrics and a video of the last song Glen ever recorded in this film I’m Not Gonna Miss You here You might also be interested in reading my article Jimmy Webb: Still On The Line 


Mavis Staples  The ebullient gospel queen was a force of nature and pushed out a mixed set of soul and spiritual . A mere 68 years into her singing career, Staples 78, one of the founder members of The Staple Singers and a legendary figure of the Civil Rights movement, gave an amazing performance at Union Chapel on 6 July. OK, the voice may not be quite what it used to be but that didn’t matter to a sold out adoring audience – with more than a few musical celebrities present.  Her set was a mixture of Staples classics interspersed some of her later songs written by the likes of Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) and Nick Lowe to name but a few and included the iconic I’ll Take You There, If You’re Ready (Come Go With me) and Respect Yourself.  Mavis still has her engaging personality which leads to a natural warm rapport with her audience – something which has always been a trademark of her lives shows.  Her band were tight and a simple set-up of guitar, bass, drums and percussion and backing vocals provided a great backdrop.  I wondered if this might be her last visit to the UK.  However, at the end of the night she cried: “You ain’t seen the last of me – I got muscle!” No-one amongst her elated congregation would have disagreed.

The Nashville Meets London 2017 Music Festival at Canary Wharf was an excellent free weekend festival held in Canada Square. We only got to event on the afternoon of Sunday 23 July, but caught the full sets of:

Ashley Campbell (Glen’s daughter) was introduced as ‘Country Royalty!’ Whilst a little light on her song writing, Campbell has created her own style and she’s forging her own path.  Her music is steeped in Country tradition, which is the result of having a legendary Country musician as a father. Campbell is an accomplished Banjo player and she played three instrumentals over the course of her set – her mastery of the instrument was something else.  Some of the best responses from the crowd came when she covered Gentle On My Mind (Glen’s hit) and Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams. Her band consisted of guitars and a fiddle and was a little thin – I wonder what difference drums, bass and keyboard might have made to the sound?   I guess we’ll find out when her debut album is released later in the year.

Sam Outlaw This hour-long set of ‘SoCal’ Country was jam-packed with great songs from start to finish but a set list that seemed to leave out many favourites – such is his growing repertoire and confidence. The band were well rehearsed and tight though Outlaw seemed a little subdued – perhaps the touring was taking its toll or perhaps he hadn’t had enough ‘Rose’ to make him feel relaxed.  In the week leading up to Sam’s performance Bob Harris announced that his favourite song of 2017 was Sam’s Tenderheart (title track to his latest album) .  That’s some accolade given that we’ve six months of 2017 to go. Sam’s touring again in late August and later in the year and is well worth checking out.  You should know by now that I’m a fan given what I’ve written in my previous musical musings – check these out!

Lucie Silvas  Following on from Sam Outlaw, Silvas had a lot to live up to as she brought the weekend to a close. It was clear from the opening moments of Lose It All that the audience was up for a fantastic show. The set list featured a mix of songs from across her career as well as some well-chosen covers. The soaring Letters to Ghosts was one of the finest moments of the night. In terms of the covers Silvas performed Roy Orbison’s You Got It, which is featured on Letters to Ghosts, showed off her incredible vocals on a rendition of The Jackson 5’s Who’s Lovin’ You and she did her own version of Smoking Jacket, a song she co-wrote with Miranda Lambert (for her latest album The Weight of These Wings). Silvas is a growing force in Country Music (albeit a bit of a slow burner) and will be back in the UK in November for a headline tour with Charlie Worsham as her support.

Canary Wharf have a summer series of free events most nights throughout the summer from theatre to classical and everything in-between.  You can find out more here see you on 12 August!

Beth Neilson Chapman  What an amazing evening we had with Nashville country superstar and twice Grammy-nominated Beth Neilson Chapman at Emmanuel on Wednesday 26 July supported by the equally talented Ruth Trimble. Thank you to the 270 of you who attended this event – along with a couple of industry heavyweights, who were impressed with the set-up – we might yet put Billericay on the map as a credible music destination! Kate Willis, who travelled all the way from Brighton for the gig, wrote a review on the Think Country Music website, so I don’t have to!  You can read it here


Lauren Housley with The Chorlton Country Club I’m delighted to have Lauren and her excellent band return to play another intimate gig at Saint Mary’s in Billericay High Street on Friday 13 October.  Those of you who saw Lauren and her fabulous band last year will know they have an outstanding live set – this was one of my favourite gigs of 2016 – and I can guarantee that we’re in for a very special night of Country Club favourites and Lauren Housley originals. If you enjoy gutsy blues and heart wrenching soul with a dose of country rock, then this gig is simply a must. Tickets and more details here

Ricky Ross Thank you to everyone who has bought tickets for Ricky Ross at Emmanuel on Friday 24 November.  This gig is nearly sold out – with three months to go.  There maybe a few last minute tickets released, do let me know if you’d like to be added to the waiting list.

House Gig I’m hosting a Charity Fund Raiser with Rob Halligan on Saturday 25 November. Yes, I know it’s the day after Ricky Ross,  but … Rob was available, a house gig takes little setting up and … it’s a long story!  You can find more details here

The Pantaloons Not a gig but live theatre – I do like to keep my options flexible! Some of you would have enjoyed their riotous and witty production of Pride & Prejudice at Emmanuel in April and they return on Sunday 17 December at 5.00 pm for a seasonal production of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol.  Tickets and more details here


Carousel Some of you will have enjoyed Southend based Americana band Carousel at the MIND Fundraising concert at Saint Mary’s in May.  They are a launching their new EP at The Dickens, Southend on Thursday 21 September. See you there?

The National American indie band play at the Hammersmith Apollo on Wednesday 27 September.  These were a revelation to me when I first saw/heard them supporting Neil Young at Hyde Park a few years ago.  Not seen them live but have their albums, love their quirky lyrics and unusual arrangements.

Walter Trout The legendary American blues guitarist plays Chinnery’s in Southend on Saturday 7 October.  Motivation of Love from his 1992 album Transition is still one of my favourite songs – having first heard it on the Bob Harris midnight show ‘back in the day!’

Peter Perrett Plays at the Electric Ballroom in Camden on Saturday 4 November.  Formerly front man of the 70s New Wave band The Only Ones, Perrett has emerged from 20 years of drug and alcohol fuelled exile to make music again with his first solo album How The West Was Won and a tour to match.  Totally unexpected and who knew?  Loud and Quiet have a revealing interview with Perrett which you can read here


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

  • Glen Campbell: Adios. Inevitably, after Glen’s death, I’ve been listening to the last ever album by this country legend, painstakingly recorded in 2012.  Really a selection of Glen’s favourite songs and, whilst some cheesy arrangements, there is also great poignancy in the choice of songs, such as Everybody’s Talkin’ and Funny How Time Slips Away.
  • Lucie Silvas: Letters To Ghosts. I was a bit late to the part on this one – her third album which was released in 2015.  However, given my review of her live, you’ll see why this album is worth checking out. Also catching up with her earlier albums Breathe In and The Same Side.
  • Ruth Trimble: Things I Want To Say / Before The Rain.  I’d not heard of Ruth before I was told she was supporting BNC so made a point of doing some pre-listening.  These are two quite excellent albums with great songs, superb production and someone who will definitely invited back to headline in 2018. Best songs Same Sun and Pray!
  • Peter Perrett: How The West Was Won. Great to have the distinctive vocals and witty lyrics of Perrett back with a very listenable broad Americana style bunch of songs. Already one of my faves of 2017.
  • Midland: Midland (EP). If you like The Eagles you’ll love these.  US Based Midland have a 70s and 80s country feel with great  harmonies and some solid songs.  A recommendation from a friend – can’t wait for the release of their CD!
  • The XX: I See You. I first saw English Indie Pop Band The XX on Later with Jools Holland and was impressed with their unusual mix of tech and instrumentation. This is their third album and standouts are On Hold and I Dare you.

Throwback Artist My throwback artist of recent weeks has been the New Wave rock of The Only Ones – mostly remembered for their perfect three minutes of pop Another Girl Another Planet and prompted by the release of former lead singer Peter Perrett’s album as mentioned above. The opening lines to one of their songs really summed up the angst of my teenage years: “Why do I go through these deep emotional traumas?  Why can’t I be like I always wanted to be care free?  Why can’t I be happy like everybody else?”

Fatea Magazine I’m not sure how many of you have heard of Fatea, an indie magazine featuring music right across the acoustic spectrum.  They produce a quarterly Fatea Showcase Sessions featuring acts they’ve really enjoyed and think that more people should get the chance to hear. Download the latest session free!

With the demise of the New Crawdaddy Blues Club so few local venues are supporting live music. Do please support the gigs I promote – it all helps when looking to book more well known artists so be able to say that gigs are regularly sold out!  Blues at Barleyland still meet on Saturdays at 2.00 pm at Barleylands Social club and the Little Rabbit Barn in Colchester is also worth checking out! A friend of mine promotes gigs in the Farncombe area and you can check out those gigs at Julian Lewry

For those of you who may be wanting to know more about exploring the Christian faith there is an Alpha Course running at Emmanuel on Sunday evenings from 6.00 – 8.00 pm from 1 October through to the end of November (with a break for half-term).  More details can be found here

If you want to find out a bit more about events coming up at Emmanuel you can do so on our Church Family News Page

Do let me know of any gigs in your part of the world!

Thank you for supporting live music and I hope to see you again sometime in the future!

Always happy to catch up over a coffee/beer/curry – drop me a line!