AUSTIN TEXAS, MALI, NEW ORLEANS AND COVENTRY

“Halloween is a strange time of year for me. My father always dressed up as Jim Rockford and my mother as Lacey from Cagney & Lacey”. So began the set of English/Canadian singer/songwriter John Southworth at Tin Music Arts on yes, you’ve guessed it, Halloween night.

Southworth was supporting the great Devon Sproule ahead of the release of his album “Niagara” on Coventry’s very own “Tin Angel Records” label. On the strength of said set, I look forward to exploring the album a little further. At his best, Southworth reminded me in places of Nick Cave, Vic Chestnutt, Smog and Kurt Wagner of Lambchop. His band featured Ben Reynolds (otherwise a member of “Two Wings” another great band on “Tin Angel Records” ) and Euan Rodger on drums (drummer for Devon Sproule herself among others)

Onto the great lady herself. Devon Sproule is to date, the biggest success story of Tin Angel Records and a visiting Canadian born singer-songwriter, she has come to consider Coventry gigs as homecoming gigs.
She opened the set with “You Can’t help It”, a track form her most recent LP “Colours” recorded with Mike O’Neill. She stated that it was about “someone who’s good at everything and likeable with it”, which, oddly enough, is exactly how I’d describe Devon herself. Elsewhere in the set we were treated to “Unmarked Animals” which has since become the name of her backing band (featuring the aforementioned Ben, Euan and Joe Carvell from the wonderful “Batsch” on Bass). The set was completed with a beautiful solo encore of “Plea for a Good Night’s Rest” and “I Love You Go Easy”. Devon was as delightful as ever and this leads me say “We love you too Dev, Go Easy.”

Next we move onto the mighty Tamikrest, also at Tin Music Arts.For the uninitiated, Tamikrest are a band from Mali, West Africa who belong to the Tuareg people and perform a style of music that has it’s roots in Blues and Funk. They’ve been described by others as “World Music which is a term that always makes me wince a bit. After all, ALL music is world music isn’t it? It’s all made somewhere in the world. However one defines this band, I can honestly say that that night, they performed one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen in my life. they popped, they rocked, they funked and they grooved. None of us wanted it to end and I’ve seldom seen so much dancing at that venue. It was an absolute delight from start to finish and I can’t recommend their live show or their latest album “Chatma” highly enough.

They had a very fine support band involving Angolan singer Ben Patty (I think) featuring the great Dan Wilkins from Abie’s Miracle Tonic (of whom more next month) on guitar.
Next we travel to New Orleans via Warwick Arts Centre care of Dr John and the Nite Trippers. At 74, Dr John remains one of the most effortlessly cool people on the planet. The current tour is to promote the latest album “Ske-Dat-De Dat: the Spirit of Satch”, which as the title suggests, is a tribute to the music of Louis Armstrong. We were treated to a few tracks from that including a brilliant version of “What a Wonderful World” as well as familiar classics such a “Such a Night” “Right Place, Wrong Time” and “Iko Iko” Whilst the concert was tremendous, the sound could have been a bit better and the extended trombone solo was, whilst very impressive, a tad tedious. We could have also done without the musical director complaining about how the concert hadn’t sold out as Dr John concerts normally do. That apart, it was a great night out and the fifth time I’ve seen the great man. On each occasion it’s been great fun and very different.

Finally for this instalment we come once again to The Nursery Tavern in Chapelfields for “The Tin at the Nursery” organized as ever by the splendid Elaine Tierney. On this occasion we had two very imaginative singer/songwriters, Alice Weston, a thoroughly charming lady, who choses subject matters such as geology, quantum mechanics, geology and mythology on which to base her songs (you just don’t get this with One Direction do you?) and Daniel Dawson, who writes about hating capitalism, World War One, cancer and how rubbish he believes the socialist party in Coventry to be.

The evening was headlined by the Warwick University Brass Quintet who were simply delightful. Their set featured everything from “Can’t take My Eyes Off You”, “The Bare Necessities” and an excerpt from Peter Warlock’s “Capriol Suite”. There was also a Beatles tune (When I’m 64) and part of Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks”

Next month, in the final instalment for 2014, Abie’s Miracle Tonic, Fangtrouser and doubtlessly a few others too.

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