Grapevine Music Agency - representing some of the finest roots musicians from the UK and North America. Folk, Blues, Country, Americana.
We here at Grapevine Acres (ring a bell?) are often asked if we can write something that lets all those of refined taste know more about the kind of music that is coming their way in the near future. We do send out a monthly promoter bulletin already, “You Heard It Through The Grapevine”, but this is only circulated to promoters or music venues and tends to look at things more from a business perspective and is, therefore, focussed on booking periods, sometimes a year away! So we thought it would be fun to write something, roughly every quarter, that is current, more personal and is aimed at ‘fans’ of our kind of music. It will give confirmed dates of all the shows we’ve arranged, tours in the pipeline plus, eventually, music we’re listening to and a few other titbits (on the subscribed version only). If you want to have this sent directly to you rather than coming to the website then you can subscribe here:
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Welcome to the latest news from the Grapevine front line. We’ve suffered with the rest of you during the last few freezing months but as I write this the birds are singing and the trees are coming into leaf so we have all the signs of spring – a time of renewal and promise. And we can promise you a wonderful spring season on the music front too.
But first let’s recap on a few of our personal highlights since the last Shakedown. We travelled up to Glasgow in January to the BBC Folk Awards to support a couple of our artists who had been nominated for awards. And congratulations must go to one of those straight away, Blair Dunlop, for winning the Horizon Award. Blair is a remarkable talent – a seriously good songwriter and guitarist with a fine voice and a marvellously loose stage manner enhanced by an infectious enthusiasm. He was presented with the award, appropriately, by one of his musical heroes, Green Garside (aka Scritti Politti). But for every winner there is a loser and on this occasion Gilmore & Roberts narrowly failed to make it a Grapevine double when they were pipped to the Best Folk Duo award by Jamie Roberts sister Kathryn and her partner Sean Lakeman. But Katriona and Jamie can take heart from the feeling that they will win this award one day – they really are too good not to – and one of their songs, the outstanding Doctor James, won a couple of songwriting awards in 2012 and landed Katriona a spot on Woman’s Hour in January.
On the live front we had that marvellous campaigner Andy White over from his home in Australia for a tour in February (can you imagine leaving Oz in the summer to tour in the UK – madness!) – and Andy was on top form, as usual. He even managed to persuade his lovely actress sister Cathy to join him for a few of the shows and to read from his hilarious autobiography 21st Century Troubadour. Andy was followed by Rita Hosking, touring with her husband Sean Feder. Sadly we only managed to secure Rita for six shows as she was making a fleeting visit from her home in California and she didn’t manage to get further south than Shrewsbury. But we caught up with the tour in Liverpool and had a great night – she’ll be back next year for a longer tour, that much we made her promise. Later in March we welcomed Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer on their first ever trip outside the USA. We fell in love with their album ‘Seed Of A Pine’ and decided to take a chance to tour a completely unknown act here – but it worked and none of the promoters who shared our enthusiasm will have regretted their choice. They were so popular, in fact, that they’ve already been rebooked by 4 venues for a short summer tour.
In April we had some electrifying music on offer – three fantastic tours from Larkin Poe, Birds of Chicago and Nels Andrews. Larkin Poe played just 5 dates and 4 of those were sell-outs. They toured as a full-on 4 piece band with Rebecca Lovell fronting the show on electric guitar. Quite a departure but it worked famously and the shows were rapturously received. Blair Dunlop toured as Special Guest and added even more quality to a brilliant line-up. Birds of Chicago, the new project featuring Alli Russell of Po’Girl and JT Nero (of The Clouds) toured throughout the month and then moved to Ireland to spread the magic even further. They enjoyed packed houses and fabulous reviews, as did their guest Peter Mulvey – that was some show. The luminous Nels Andrews finished the month on a very high note.
So what’s coming up? Well, a little less than planned. Disappointingly, we’ve lost two tours in May – firstly The Pines had to cancel because of the imminent arrival of a new member in the Ramsey household and then, hard on the heels of this joyful news, we had to cancel Romi Mayes tour because of sad news with Romi’s family. We wish both parties the very best and we look forward to the day when both these amazing acts can tour here again.
But May isn’t a complete washout because we are gearing up to the very first headline tour by The Kennedys later in the month. The Kennedys are husband and wife team Pete and Maura Kennedy and they are perhaps more famous as the backing band of Nanci Griffith. But they were too good to act as a support, albeit to one of the best musicians around, and have decided to step out of Nanci’s shadow and take to the road in their own name. Their recent album ‘Closer Than You Know’ is outstanding – and if you want a really enjoyable night out do catch them when they play near you – it will be one of this year’s musical highlights, guaranteed. All dates for The Kennedys and our other spring & summer tours are listed on the individual artists Grapevine webpages.
In June we host the great Cara Luft, founder member of The Wailin’ Jennys, and top Californian folk-rockers I See Hawks In L.A. Cara is touring for two and a half weeks to give all her fans a chance to hear work from her beautiful CD ‘Darlingford’. Prepare to be amazed not just by the song writing but especially by Cara’s amazing instrumental virtuosity – this girl can really play! I See Hawks in L.A. wear their hippy credentials proudly on their sleeves with songs like ‘I Fell In Love With The Grateful Dead’ and ‘Humbolt County’. They are playing a string of dates including the Maverick Festival in Suffolk.
Talking of which – you might like to know that along with our friends at the Maverick Festival and with Bob Paterson of bp Live, we’ve started an organisation to support Americana music in the UK. This body, appropriately enough called the Americana Music Association – UK is affiliated to but independent from the Nashville crew and is long overdue. We’re holding our first get-together at Maverick this year with an all day Conference on July 5th. If you want to know more please register your interest by e-mailing us at theAMAUK@yahoo.co.uk or by visiting us on Facebook.
Into the summer and festival time, of course, and we have repeat visits from the great Carrie Rodriguez and Larkin Poe. Carrie is headlining at Purbeck Festival and has shows at Shambala and Greenbelt as well as 10 venues across the country (although she isn’t making it north of the border this time). Larkin Poe take their unique brand of high energy southern soul music to Larmer Tree, Cambridge Folk Festival, Southern Fried, SummerTyne, Madfest, Fringe By The Sea and Broadstairs – plus they are playing some special concerts in venues (watch this space).
Lots more in the autumn but that’s all for the next issue – including the Southport Americana Festival in September that Grapevine is honoured to have been asked to programme. So far we have Kelly Joe Phelps, Peggy Seeger, My Darling Clementine, Chastity Brown, Sarah McQuaid, Thea Hopkins, the Liverpool Gospel Choir, Police Dog Hogan, Hatful of Rain, The Carrivick Sisters, Annie Keating, Michael Weston King and Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin booked. – with more to follow.
By for now
Bob, Claire and Jez