WEDNESDAY 3rd JUNE - POLLY & THE BILLETS DOUX + SUNJAYTickets £7adv/9
“an eclectic and inspired musical blend” The Guardian
Polly and the Billets Doux are something brilliantly different.
Known for their flawless and energy-filled live performances, the genre-defying quartet Polly and the Billets Doux boast a genius blend of Folk, Pop, Rock N' Roll, Soul, Country, Blues and even Gospel. They have a solid reputation and extensive history of headline tours up and down the country; from Ullapool to Brighton, and almost everywhere in between.
Their debut album Fiction, Half-Truths and Downright Lies had them topping many ‘ones to watch’ lists back in 2010, and the buzz hasn’t stopped since. That same year, they reachednumber 21 on the BBC Radio 1 Indie Charts and were invited to do sessions with BBC 6 Music’s Cerys Matthews and BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends.
Support slots with Stornoway, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Ellen and the Escapades have seen the band bring their music to increasingly wider audiences across the country whilst remaining festival favourites at many UK festivals including Glastonbury, Loopallu, The Big Chill, Secret Garden Party, Larmer Tree and Cambridge Folk Festival.
Between 2010 and 2012, Polly and the Billets Doux have embarked on eight headline tours of the UK and three busy festival seasons, stopping just long enough to write, record and release their latest Hold Fast EP in summer 2012, which gained great reviews from BBC 6 Music and much of the blogosphere including Folk Radio UK, For Folk’s Sake, The Line of Best Fit and The Blue Walrus. This latest collection of material perfectly demonstrates Polly’s beautiful gospel-inspired voice and the band’s truly original sound.
2014 sees Polly and the Billets Doux releasing their 2nd studio album, touring extensively across the country and venturing into Europe for the first time.
It’s going to be a big year for this vibrant, exciting and hugely promising band.
"Polly And The Billets Doux deliver a twee sort of nostalgia (all upright bass and brushed snares)...it falls inside the right end of the Imelda May/Fairground Attraction spectrum"
“From hot rocking thrills, to jazzy splendour to country darkness, the musical brief of Polly and the Billets Doux seems to be, if it sounds and feels good, go for it!” The Daily Mirror
THURSDAY 23rd JULY 2015 - IAN SIEGALTickets £12adv/15 *Advance booking recommended!*31 seated tickets remaining as of 30/04/15
“One of the most innovative, gifted and engaging blues performers on the planet today.” MOJO
“A national treasure.” CLASSIC ROCK
Ladies and Gentlemen: Ian Siegal has entered the building. If you know the name, but not the game, it’s high time you made his acquaintance. He’s the multiple British Blues Awardswinner and hot tip of everyone from Mojo to Classic Rock. He’s the songwriter whose recent CD releases sound like career peaks, but are only the start. From one night to the next, he might be a solo acoustic performer or a blood-and-thunder bandleader.
Siegal is known as a bluesman, but it’s just one shade in the palette of an artist who slips between continents, eras and expectations. They say you can’t sing the blues until you’ve lived the life, and when Ian Siegal steps up to the mic, you can hear the slings and arrows. Recent years have seen the songwriter catch fire, with British Blues Awards raining down and consecutive nominations in 2012 & 2013 for Contemporary Album of The Year in the Blues Music Awards - in effect, the Grammys of the Blues.
THE EARLY YEARS
It has been said that had Siegal been around in the sixties he would today be accorded the same reverence as artists such as Van Morrison and Joe Cocker. Instead, he is a child of the seventies who dropped out of art college in the late eighties to go busking in Germany. From the streets of Berlin Siegal progressed to clubs around Nottingham in the UK, then to London and ultimately to major stages around Europe.
Siegal’s forte is playing to an audience. He takes command of the stage in a way very few artists alive today can match. Sweat, passion, humour, balls-to-the-wind slide guitar and a soul-infused voice big enough to fell trees! It has won him an ever-growing following of fans and a horde of female admirers.
His career got under way in 2003/04 with two successive European tours as the opening act for ex-Rolling Stone Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings (Wyman also invited Ian to record with the Rhythm Kings). This was followed by UK tours as a duo with Big Bill Morganfield (son of Muddy Waters). During this time Siegal was also capturing the hearts of audiences in Holland, Belgium, Austria and Hungary. In 2005 he topped the Soul/Blues/Jazz charts in Holland.
His 2005 album Meat &Potatoes has been universally praised and gained a maximum four star (excellent) rating in the Penguin Book of Blues Recordings – Ian is one of only two living British Blues artists to gain this distinction. Meat & Potatoes was later re-released as a limited edition together with a DVD of his stunning performance on the main stage at the North Sea Jazz Festival.
That was followed by Swagger his 2007 release, which again received universal praise, “No less of a testament to the talents of one of the most innovative, gifted and engaging blues performers on the planet today.” MOJO magazine ranked Swagger as their no.2 Blues album of 2007.
Siegal is equally accomplished solo as he is fronting his band. In response to fans requests for an acoustic album The Dust was released at the end of 2008. A collection of new songs and some old favourites (with noted pedal steel guitarist B.J.Cole appearing on a few tracks), the CD quickly entered HMV’s roots chart, and again made No.2 in MOJO magazine’s Blues album chart – this time for 2008.
His Oct 09 release Broadside finally gave Ian the top spot in MOJO’s annual Blues album chart.
Siegal’s May ‘11 release The Skinny is an album recorded in north Mississippi with Grammy nominee Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars as producer. A band was assembled from musicians in the area including Gary Burnside, Robert Kimbrough and Rodd Bland, all offspring of notable bluesmen.
Ian returned to north Mississippi in May 2012 to collaborate with another dream-team of local legends that he collectively coined The Mississippi Mudbloods. Joining Ian and Cody Dickinson were Cody’s bother Luther Dickinson, and Alvin Youngblood Hart. Ian first met Alvin during The Skinny sessions, when the Grammy-winning guitarist swung by the studio and ended up tracking some guitar and backing vocals.
The end result of this second visit to the Zebra Ranch Studio is Candy Store Kid, which released October 2012 and quickly reached no.1 in the iTunes UK blues chart and garnered a swathe of awards in the UK and nominations in the USA.
Ian has become established in Europe as one of the most natural, exciting and vibrant talents on the scene today. Each year the stages get bigger, but what sticks most in Ian’s mind is his guest appearance with then 92-year old Pinetop Perkins and some of the other remaining members of Muddy Waters’ band. This was at London’s Jazz Café in 2005 to a packed house. Then later at a festival in Norway, in a role reversal, these legends of post-war Blues spontaneously joined Ian on stage for what turned into a memorable hour-long set.
In a twist to his career, Ian performed for several years with France’s Orchestre National de Jazz in a program of Billie Holiday songs entitled “Broadway in Satin.” Backed by a 12-piece orchestra of young hand-picked musicians and accompanied by the French singer, Karen Lanaud, Broadway in Satin has performed at major festivals across France and as far afield as South America and east Africa.
THURSDAY 30th JULY 2015 - LISA MILLS (USA)Tickets £12adv/15 *Advance booking recommended!*
Robert Plant - “You should all check her out, she has a wonderful voice.”
Going your own way means living with without the certainty of safe choices, until you get where you’ve been going. It’s been a long and crooked road, but with her transformative new release, I’m Changing, Lisa Mills has gotten there.
Mills’ 2010 album, Tempered in Fire, won her an enviable degree of success: Growing fan bases on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and critical acclaim from observers in the United States and the United Kingdom. Graham Rhodes, writing for U.K. music site Blues in the Northwest, described her as “a full-throated female Otis Redding, with some Muscle Shoals soul and Nashville country touches for good measure.” A Nashville Blues Society review praised her “unique vocal ability to make one feel the good times and bad times in every song,” comparing her to Lucinda Williams.
The next step was obvious: Give ‘em more of the same. Take a safe half-step forward. Put out some fresh songs, and stick to the proven recipe. But Mills decided that the way to advance was to take a step back and reconsider the past. Specifically, to melt down her 2005 album, I’m Changing, and recast it as a more pure expression of her artistic desires and capabilities.
Was this a crazy thing to do? Two facts suggest that it was not. Firstly, her fans backed an ambitious Kickstarter drive for the project, pledging more than $30,000. Secondly, Mills put the project in the hands of groundbreaking producer Trina Shoemaker. Shoemaker is the first woman to win the Grammy Award for album engineering; in fact, she’s shared in three for her work on albums by Sheryl Crow and Steven Curtis Chapman. She’s worked on albums or singles by Beth Nielsen Chapman, the Dixie Chicks, Andrew Duhon, Dylan LeBlanc, the Indigo Girls and other artists of note. The results, on the re-recorded, re-engineered, reconsidered I’m Changing, are explosive.
Mills is a Mississippi native who resides in Mobile, Alabama. The Gulf Coast is a region where Southern musical influences that easily can be taken for granted come together in ways that can’t. Yes, Mills often sings the blues – but to call her a blues singer would be to miss the point entirely. Her blues influences aren’t always the ones would expect, including a healthy measure of country blues, a sadly neglected genre. She can sing straight-up gospel, as she does in daringly a cappella fashion on “Tell Me.” She has toured with Big Brother & The Holding Company, singing the songs of one of rock’s most revered female vocalists, and her understanding of Janis Joplin’s gifts is far more insightful than the superficial norm. Just listen to the fragile balance of vulnerability and indomitability she brings to “Better Than This.”
The project was a major undertaking that brought back together almost all the musicians involved in the original 2005 recording sessions and added John Milham on drums. The returning players included U.K. bassist Ian Jennings; the plane ticket was worth it just for the blend of his upright bass and Corky Hughes’ resonator slide work on “Wish I Was in Heaven.”
You can call Lisa Mills a blues singer, or a gospel singer, or a torch singer or an R&B singer and not be wrong. But with Mills, none of those labels are true in the way you expect. Listen to “I Don’t Want To Be Happy,” when she sings: “Act a fool/ it’s all I ever do/ take each lie you make and believe it to be true/ and I kneel at the altar in the church of the painful truth/ I don’t want to be happy/ I just want to be with you.” Listen to the way the deceptively simple arrangement surrounds the raw vocal like the setting of a jewel; hear the way Shoemaker lets it breathe. Listen to the way Mills’ vocal on the title track conveys tenderness and power at the same time. Listen to the rhythm of “Shake It” the soft beats like stalking footfalls. Listen to her deep-blues take on “Little Wing.” You’ve heard the song before, but you’ve never felt it send shivers up and down your spine like this.
Lisa Mills is changing. She’s changing the way we hear things. And nothing is going to stay the same. – Lawrence Specker, Mobile Press Register
THURSDAY 27th AUGUST - MARTYN JOSEPHTickets £15 *Advance booking recommended!*
Martyn Joseph is a performer like no other.
Shades of Springsteen, John Mayer, Bruce Cockburn and Dave Matthews there may be – but he stands in his own right, built on a reputation for giving what thousands have described as the best live music experience of their lives.
Martyn Joseph is a powerful singer and songwriter gifted with the rare ability to speak to the soul with his expressive and poignant lyrics. With a career spanning 30 years, 31 albums, over a half a million record sales and thousands of live performances, the versatility of his music touches genres of folk, rock, soul, folk funk and Americana, yet somehow all these labels cannot define the spirit of his music. Compared to Bruce Springsteen, John Mayer, Bruce Cockburn and Dave Matthews, he has created his own style and reputation as a mesmerising live performer. A unique talent driven by passion, social awareness and love for his trade, his music manages to empower and speak for the many.
Martyn was awarded Best Male Artist at the 2004 BBC Welsh Music Awards and in 2012 his song “There’s Always Maybe” won the best folk song category in the World Independent Music Awards. In addition to his 5 top 50 UK hits, the importance of his work has been recognised by programmes such as BBC 2’s prime time series on Singer/Songwriters. Social justice has an essential presence throughout his music, which has been recognised with various humanitarian awards and plaudits.
Concerned with making music that is relevant and vital to his audience, he engages with challenging narratives tackling the complexity of the human condition underpinned with a promise of hope. In his own words “Really what I do is to try and write songs that might step up and make some sense of a moment in time. A good song makes you feel like you’re not alone in the world.”
“Songs For The Coming Home”, his most recent studio album, is filled with snap shots and images from his personal journey. “At the heart of this record is the notion that we are always striving to return. Returning to a place of solace, understanding, compassion, a place of justice, mercy and peace. That despite the carnage around us we can still save the day.”
Upon the release of his last studio album BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris said “Martyn is one of our most intelligent writers. He gets better and better.” Described as a cinematic journey through continents via his trademark ‘one take’, up close sound with stunning instrumentation, “Songs For The Coming Home” resonates with raw performance. Incorporating this element of live presentation into the recording process, preserves the spirit of this charismatic live solo performer.
He has won the love of audiences from USA to Europe through an impressive number of live dates, and has previously toured with the likes of Art Garfunkel, Jools Holland, Ani DiFranco, Suzanne Vega, Mike and The Mechanics, Joan Armatrading, Celine Dion and Shirley Bassey. He is hailed as a raconteur weaving tales on topical concerns, as well as stories on the fragility of love, with a magical ability to reach out to his listeners through his passion and humour. Stunning reviews single him out as an unmissable solo performer whose music stays with you long after the show has ended.
Martyn Joseph. A unique talent driven by passion and love for his trade, continues to write, sing and play from the heart. It’s a road he’s been travelling for most of his life and, as he often tells his audience, ‘you keep turning up and so will I.’
THURSDAY 24th SEPTEMBER 2015 - SUNJAY with special guests Tickets £8/10 *Advance booking recommended!*
You could be forgiven for thinking at first listen; singer/guitarist Sunjay is older than his 21 years. With a relaxed and confident manner, vocal style and mastery of his instrument he walks onto a stage and addresses the audience as though he is sitting down to play music with a group of close friends. A completely natural approach for a young man who picked up the guitar when he was just 4 years old and hasn’t put it down since.
Drawing from a rich, musical and cultural background it is hardly surprising that Sunjay has quickly become recognised as one of the UK’s rising stars on the folk and acoustic circuit.
Sunjay's performances have been described as “mature & confident”, while his guitar playing has been hailed as “superb, brilliant, experienced, intricate & faultless”.
"He's a wizard on the guitar, I think I'd call it Jazz-Folk" - Vin Garbutt"Sunjay is very much the man of the moment. Not so much the flavour of the month as the flavour of the year." - Living TraditionNew album 'Sunjay' released 29.09.144* - Maverick4* - The Scotsman3* - R23* - The Telegraph