Prime Prine Live!


John Prine – Station Inn, Nashville 2016


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John Prine at The Station Inn –

Americana Music Festival Conference


This was on the Thursday night at Nashville’s AmericanaFest where attractive shows were calling out everywhere.

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Todd Snider’s East Nashville Revue Live – North Carolina


Todd Snider


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Todd Snider’s East Nashville Revue

Pisgah Brewery, Black Mountain North Carolina

This is a brilliantly simple concept.  A group of musician friends who all live in hip East Nashville jump on a bus together and go on a tour, play some songs as separate performers and then all jam together as the finale.

Todd Snider is the ring-leader and his bussing friends are Elizabeth Cook, Kevin Gordon, Aaron Lee Tasjan and Rorey Carroll.

The place is the Pisgah Brewery in Black Mountain, which is about twenty minutes east of Asheville North Carolina.  The setting is perfect – a large, impressive wood-framed stage in front of a delightfully grassed area, surrounded by a creek and lined with trees.  The evening sun was saying farewell and it was going to be a wonderfully dry and balmy night.


Rorey Carroll

Rorey Carroll is a confident, young singer-songwriter.  At a very young age, she lived in her car in cities all around the county, hopped freight trains, she even hiked the entire Appalachian Trail at age 20.  She made money playing music to anyone who would listen, from the subways of New York City to the streets of Ohio.  Her debut album (recorded at Echo Studios) Love is an Outlaw will be released soon on Snider’s LoHi Records.  I especially liked ‘I-42 Night Train’, ‘Baltimore Jack’ and the title track to the forthcoming album.  A rising star I suspect.


Kevin Gordon


Kevin Gordon is Louisiana-born, lived in East Nashville for the past twenty years and has four albums to his credit.  I know his work on 2000’s Down To The Well best, a wonderful, moody collection of great songs.  The title track of that album was co-written by Colin Linden (Blackie and The Rodeo Kings) and is a duet with Lucinda Williams.  The wonderful track was covered by the Hard Working Americans as well.  It was just Gordon and a shimmering electric guitar this evening.  As well as ‘Down To The Well’, he presented the strident boogie ‘Gto’ (from his new release Long Time Gone), ‘Burning The House Down’ and the remarkable rolling epic about his boyhood in Louisiana ‘Colfax (Step In Time)’.  A great American songwriter.

Aaron Lee Tasjan has off-kilter folk songs riddled with a dry, sharp wit.  From a self-released album to a signing with the New West label, he now has a forthcoming release Silver Tears.  He cuts a commanding figure on stage with high vitality.  He is also appearing at two festivals I’ll be attending over here in the next two weeks, so plenty of chance to catch him again.


Elizabeth Cook

Elizabeth Cook was joined on the stage by Dexter Green, seriously good on the electric guitar and producer of Cook’s new album Exodus of Venus.  Her voice was a highlight as well as her lovable and sassy dialogue (which is a feature on her Outlaw Country radio show).  Material from the new release included ‘Methadone Blues’ (a sequel to ‘Heroin Addict Sister’), ‘Broke Down In London on the M25’ and ‘Straight Jacket Love’, along with some older songs – the lively ‘El Camino’, ‘Just The Booty’ and the signature country tune with swagger “Sometimes It Takes Balls To Be A Woman’.

The headliner Todd Snider I saw last year as front man for the Hard Working Americans.  It was one of my favourite shows of the year.   He was charismatic on stage, in the moment, passionate, jaunty, enjoying himself and being in such a classy outfit.  Tonight, for now, it was just him and an acoustic guitar.  My affection for his work has grown further as a result of his set tonight – such an easy rapport on stage, joking with the interjectors and song requests (most of which he accepted with grace and a memorable retort).  He too has a new record coming out (doesn’t everyone it seems?!) Eastside Bulldogs.

The set list included the philosophical ‘Can’t Complain’, ‘Conservative Christian, Right Wing, Republican, Straight, White, American Males’, the playful ‘Tension’, a co-write with his old friend Will Kimborough that he hadn’t played for a long time ‘Horseshoe Lake’, the hunt for ‘D. B. Cooper’, ‘Double Wide Blues’, the hilarious ‘Alright Guy’, ‘Just Like Old Times’ and the life-affirming ‘Enjoy Yourself’.  It was a long treat.

So, all the aforementioned folk came on next – now under the moniker of Elmore Buzz and the Eastside Bulldogs.  Buzz looks a LOT like Snider.  So finished the night with everyone including Green and a couple of others not sighted before for a rockin’ and jammin’ bunch of dance tunes and sing-a-long songs – ‘Chicks ‘n Cars (And The Third World War)’ (Colin James), ‘Hanky Panky’ (Tommy James and the Shondells), ‘She’s About A Mover’ (Sir Douglas Quintet) and ’Louie Louie’ (The Kingsmen).


The East Side Bulldogs

It was a joyous celebration with the warm and fun-loving tall tale-telling Snider at the helm.  There is a special 50th birthday show at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in three weeks.  That would be a blast to witness.

I’d like to be on Revue tour bus as well.


Chris Stapleton Live – Kentucky



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Chris Stapleton

Waterfront Park Louisville Kentucky 9 September 201

Chris Stapleton has had an unusual but increasingly successful career.

He was raised in Paintsville, Kentucky, his father a coal miner.  Moving to Nashville in 2001 to pursue a music career, he became the lead singer (and guitarist) of the edgy bluegrass outfit The SteelDrivers from 2008 to 2010 (the group was nominated for three Grammy Awards including Best Bluegrass Album for Reckless).  Stapleton then founded a rock band called The Jompson Brothers and his first release as a solo artist followed with Traveller in 2015.

To say Traveller has been well received is an understatement – rave reviews, appearances on numerous ‘best-of’ lists, three Country Music Association Awards and two Americana Award nominations.

He has gravitas as a songwriter as well, with compositions covered by Big Country artists such as Tim McGraw, Brooks and Dunn, Brad Paisley, Trace Adkins and Lee Ann Womack.

Tonight in Louisville he was appearing in a packed park on the shores of the impressive Ohio River, with steel bridges dotting the landscape and Indiana on the other side.  Behind, the city skyline.  It was balmy as well – a lot to like.

The growling ‘Nobody To Blame’ opened up proceedings in perfect fashion.

Songs from Traveller featured throughout the night as you would expect, the beautiful two-step duet ‘More Of You’, the long, burning ‘Outlaw State of Mind’, the chilling ‘Was It 26’, ‘Might As Well Get Stoned’ which really showcased his ‘monster’ voice, ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ and the soaring ‘Fire Away’ were there as well.  There were nice covers – a Hank Williams Jr song and Lynyrd Skynrd’s ‘Free Bird’.  I was surprised that Stapleton was doing all the guitar work himself, accompanied by bass, drums and wife Morgane on backing vocals.  A fine player he is too – add another skill to his resume!

An encore of ‘Whiskey and You’, ‘Traveller’, ‘Parachute’ and the breathtaking ‘Sometimes I Cry’ and it was all over.

I still remember the first time I heard Stapleton’s voice as a member of The SteelDrivers.  It has taken me a while to see him.  Attending this event was not without its challenges – the ticket agency’s only option was to post tickets to a US address two weeks before (not useful for a visitor), driving to the event was not simple given construction works and spaghetti highway ramps, parking was incredibly difficult and/or expensive (in my case both!), there weren’t enough food stalls which meant huge delays and lines, the porta-loos could only be accessed by ploughing through those lines, and it was generally crowded and smoking was rife.

But…if I had to do it all again, I would without hesitation.  The concert was a triumph and a showcase of an incredibly talented and versatile performer.  Chris Stapleton is one of those performers (along with Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson) who is revitalising country/alt. country/Americana music.

Tonight I got to see him do it in person.

Let us hope he makes it out to Australia sometime.  That is a moot point given his following in the US.  If he does make it to our shores, go see him.



Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley Live


Trey Hensley and Rob Ickes

Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley

Live at The Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Farm and Fun Time Radio Bristol

15 September 2016 Bristol VA/TN

Rob Ickes (rhymes with bikes) is one of the best dobro players in the world, no question.  Don’t take my word for it.  The pre-eminent bluegrass organisation, the IBMA, has awarded him Dobro Player of the Year an astonishing fifteen times – he is, in fact, the most IBMA-awarded musician in its history.  Ickes was a key member of Blue Highway for many years and has played with Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Earl Scruggs, Don Henley, Alison Krauss and Willie Nelson. Continue reading

Mick Thomas – Red Hill 3 June 2016


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Music on the Hill (MOTH) is a little gem of a venue.  Held monthly at the Red Hill Cricket Club rooms, it showcases Australian performers in an intimate setting, where the locals know how to respect the music.

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Eric Burdon & the Animals – Live! May 2016


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Eric Burdon and the Animals – 18 May 2016 Palais Theatre Melbourne Australia

This, dear reader, has been a long time coming.

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The Decemberists’ Beautiful World


The Decemberists –

Hamer Hall Melbourne Australia 29 March 2016


Perfect acoustics.

That’s my number one wish, once I’ve forked out the cash for a live show.  I can put up with lousy seats (or the lack of them), poor vantage points, people talking (well, almost!), short shows, costly admission and lack of artists’ communication on stage.

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