Acoustic Room for 2010
Steven Finn – Manchester & London
Steven began playing in the folk clubs of Northern England when he was seventeen, two years after he picked up a guitar on hearing Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr Tambourine Man’, singing a mixture of self-penned and traditional songs, like Spancill Hill, The January Man and Leadbelly’s Bourgeois Blues.
Around this time I started playing guitar for British Harmonica Champion Dave Aston. Armed with my uncle’s harmonica I began learning tunes by Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson and Rory McLeod, who I met when we both played at the World Harmonica Championships in Germany. How did they whoop, holler, sing and play at the same time?
After touring as support with The Beautiful South I formed a band with bodhran player John Joe Kelly (from Flook) and Andrew Dinan on fiddle. We recorded the album ‘Before the flood’ on Small World Records in 1999 and together went on a tour encompassing Ireland, the UK, America and Hong Kong.
From the driving rhythm of his amplified two-tone tap shoes, through the raw energy of his bottleneck and explosive harp playing, to the wonderful words delivered with true passion, Steven Finn electrifies audiences. Described as “one of the best young acoustic blues guitar players on two legs” Steven is also one of only 3 UK artists to be endorsed by Hohner harmonicas. .Early 2008 saw Finn release his debut album ‘Houdini’s Blues’, an album of sparse beauty which was well received by critics and audiences alike.
As a solo performer Steven has supported Martin Carthy, Rory McLeod, Paul Brady, Isaac Guillory, Kathryn Tickell, Lunasa, Capercaille and the Beautiful South.
In 1995 as a member of the Manchester Tara Ceili Band Steven, on guitar, won the grupai cheoil, in the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil.
“A clean distinct folk sound not straying too far from the roots. Houdini’s Blues is an album that searches for truth, where sometimes the vocals scarily resemble that of the late Skip James.
“He plays beautiful songs, with the blues coursing through their veins. Neat little guitar figures, saucy slide and solo mouth harp pieces” (Blues night)
“Steven Finn is a rare find indeed. Distinctive thought provoking lyrics, haunting far-reaching vocals, beautiful crisp guitar playing and swinging blues harmonica”_ (Union Chapel review)
“In this modern world, it’s not often you find songs so deeply cultivated in the folk and roots tradition. Timeless, yet completely relevant, these are songs you want to listen to again and again” (Bristol folk house)
“This is a very cool album and well worth getting. Poignant lyrics accompanied by great guitar and harmonica. We will be hearing more of the name Steven Finn. A fantastic album”_ (Houdini’s Blues album review, Folk Radio.co.uk)
Chris Smither – New Orleans
Regarded as a master of modern acoustic blues during the 1960s revival, Chris Smither had his beginnings in Miami, Ecuador and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas before his family settled in New Orleans when he was three. Later in his childhood, they packed up once more and moved briefly to Paris, where his older brother bought him a guitar from Spain. Already a fan of the ukulele, he became passionately attached to it and carried over his unique finger-picking style.
Though a frequent listener of his parents’ blues and folk-heavy record collection as a child, Smither’s true inspiration came in the form of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ Blues in My Bottle when a friend played the album for him at the age of 17.After one year in Mexico, Smither returned to New Orleans where he attended Tulane for one year and discovered Mississippi John Hurt’s music through the Blues at Newport 1963 album on Vanguard Records. Hurt and Hopkins would become cornerstone influences on Smither’s own music.
In 1964, Smither flew to New York City two days prior to boarding the SS United States for the five-day transatlantic voyage to Paris . While in New York, he stopped at The Gaslight Cafe to see his hero, Mississippi John Hurt. Since those early times Chris has performed at a “who’s who” list of international blues & Folk Festival , His shows in Ireland and abroad tend to give the audience a sense of entering into a world we have imagined for ourselves , Chris’s lyrics and style of playing bring you ever closer to those who first made us stand up and listen to the blues , learning about the sharecropper life and hardship experienced and witnessed by the first African American blues players.
He has recorded a must have collection of Albums thought the years , but his most recent Recorded in only three days, Time Stands Still is just the eleventh studio album of a career that now spans over four decades. Time Stands Still (Signature Sounds/Mighty Albert) is both pensive and visceral – an album whose songs alternately ponder life’s mysteries in some moments, and let them lie undisturbed in others. Featuring eight new original compositions and a song apiece from Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, and 1920s country-blues songster Frank Hutchison, Time Stands Still’s immediate, intimate sound is the direct result of one gig, and the challenge it presented.
“This is the most stripped-down record I’ve made in a long time,” Smither explains. “That came about thanks to a trip to the Netherlands.” Invited to perform at the Americana-centric Blue Highways Festival in Utrecht, Smither was told he had to bring a band over with him. “I usually perform solo,” he continues, “but they said ‘We don’t hire solo acts.’” He reached out to producer and guitarist David “Goody” Goodrich, who produced Smither’s last two studio albums. “Goody said, ‘Let’s get you, me, and a drummer,” Smither says. “So I called and asked if a trio would be okay, and the festival agreed. So Goody, the drummer Zak Trojano, and I went there, and we killed them!”
The songs on Time Stands Still are somehow both vivid and mysterious, evoking contemporary culture and circumstance while remaining touchingly timeless. Smither’s concerns – personal and political – are wed to music that, while stripped down in terms of arrangement and presentation, is among his most intricate, melodic, and challenging. The stark settings only serve to throw the album’s themes into higher relief. “I’m still talking about what I think of as nitty-gritty questions…” Smither says, “…essential questions, existential questions.”
BOSTON GLOBE: (Smither) is among the finest acoustic guitarists anywhere in American music (Bonnie Raitt calls him my Eric Clapton), and his songs, while banked in the blues, are as modern as tomorrow’s newspaper.
ROLLING STONE: Bathed in the flickering glow of passing headlights and neon bar signs, Smither’s roots are as blue as they come. There is plenty of misty Louisiana and Lightnin’ Hopkins in Smither’s weathered singing and unhurried picking. So fine.
AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN: Chris Smither is America’s great blues poet, a master acoustic guitarist whose music suggests the power of Son House and a wisdom informed by the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.
Kent DuChaine & Leadbessie – Georgia, United States – Starting Friday in the marquee @ bar lounge area
Kent Duchaine started in music when his father taught him to play the ukulele at the age of six, at thirteen he got his first electric guitar and formed a band with his buddies in his hometown of Wayzata, Minnesota. After reading some liner notes of an Eric Clapton album Kent started researching blues music. He discovered a Robert Johnson album and was astounded and fascinated at the banging sound as the bottle neck knocked against the frets as Johnson slid it up and down the neck of his guitar.
In 1970 he opened a show for one his hero’s, the slide guitar genius, Bukka White. From 1972 – 1975 Kent performed in a band with Kim Wilson from the present day “Fabulous Thunderbirds”. The band backed up blues greats such as Fenton Robinson, Boogie Woogie Red, Luther Tucker, Hubert Sumlin and Eddie Burns. The reputation of the band grew and Willie Dixon arranged a recording contract and a concert sharing the bill with Albert Collins, John Lee hooker, Howling Wolf and Margie Evens.
In 1979 Kent met up with his beloved and ever faithful Leadbessie. She’s a beat up 1934 National Steel Guitar that wows and astounds audiences when the equally beat up case she travels in is opened Kent discovered and looked up a legendary blues man with the name of Johnny Shines in 1989. They travelled together for three years and performed over 200 shows together. ! In 1991 the Smithsonian Institute honoured the king of the delta blues, Robert Johnson. Kent and Johnny were specially invited to perform and “Roots Of Rhythm And Blues: A tribute To Robert Johnson Era” was the result. This was recorded by Sony/Columbia and also Grammy nominated.
Since going solo in 1982 and hitting the roads, riding the rails, flying the skies and sailing the seas, Kent and Leadbessie have probably by now clocked up over two million miles together including over 80/81 overseas tours (yup, she’s faithful old girl!). A (small) handful of wives have been picked up and lost along the way and many stories gained of friendships, loves, heartaches and the blues that he communicates to his audiences, most of which, leave folk laughing or scratching their heads in disbelief.
With six albums to his name and fans screaming out for more I think I will not be the only one in expressing how I wish him to be around for many more years to come. If you get the opportunity to see Kent play live, go and experience it for yourself. You will leave with a smile on your face, and thoughts of realisation that your blues aren’t as blue as another man’s may be.
Clarence Bucaro – Ohio and now New York
Clarence Bucaro, a Cleveland Ohio native, moved to New Orleans in 2004 after a long two-year haul touring the US and Europe and hiking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. He intended to soak up its rich culture and make music with his mentor and collaborator Anders Osborne .Bucaro found himself enmeshed in a relationship. The combination of both his new love and home opened the creative floodgates.From this great combination New Orleans, the new release from Clarence Bucaro on Hyena Records, is a set of 10 timeless songs brought to life by the vocals infused with the flowing spirit of the Big Easy. New Orleans, named after the city where it was written and recorded.Soon thereafter, he would head west to Los Angeles to find new directly before eventually settling a year later in New York City. After the release of his critically acclaimed Til Spring, Bucaro decided to open up the material from the New Orleans sessions, going on to complete it and now share it for release.
The final results are 10 intimate songs that range from the sweet syncopated soul of “Let Me Let Go of You” to the skewed rocker “The Other End”, the pleading gospel tinged “Light in Your Eyes” to the intimate ballads “Matters of the Heart”, “On My Coast” and “Abandoned Mine”. The warm tone of the recording paired with Bucaro’s love worn lyrics and heartfelt delivery call to mind artists like Jackson Browne and Van Morrison, but never impeding on his uniqueness as an artist.Clarence was equally inspired by soul greats like Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone and the great American songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young andJoni Mitchell.
.The roots offspring of Jackson Browne and Ricki Lee Jones” BOSTON PHOENIX“Cozy songs that hark back to the late 1960’s Van Morrison” NEW YORK TIMES
“…inspirational…beautiful.” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
“…a spirited nod to pure Southern soul, infused with classic keyboards, riveting guitar riffs and a vocal that emotes with the ageless grace of a distinguished veteran.” BLURT
The Acoustic Venue will be held in the Market House, in the centre of town.
The cost in to the Market House will be €12 on Friday and €15 each on Saturday and Sunday ; your ticket can then be used as a 50% discount into the Marquee that night only.
The performance times will vary from day to day, however they will end at 10pm to facilitate those who wish to head to the Blues Trail or mosey on down to the Marquee.