Mara Simpson is a British musician and story-teller, currently based in Stroud.
Her last album, ‘285 days’ was included in Rough Trade’s album club. Mara most recently featured on ‘We Come from the Sun’ by Cerys Matthews and Hidden Orchestra.
Through her songs and collaborations with artists (Poppy Ackroyd, Fiddes Smith, Jools Owen. Ellie Mason), visual artist (Becky Lu, Gudrun Olsen) and local communities (2018 community choir collaboration tour), she draws on the sublime and the ridiculous from our everyday.
“Soulful, sincere, warm, rich and intimate. The songwriting is stunning.”
– New Zealand Musician Magazine
“Simpson’s influences come from a veritable melting pot of acoustic genres, the result is a perfectly balanced blend of folk, blues, and Americana”
– Line of Best Fit
If you have ever seen Danny & the Champions of the World or the earlier Grand Drive play live, then you will know what a fabulous songwriter and frontman Danny George Wilson is. In 2016 Danny & the Champs swept the boards at the first UK Americana Awards, winning with Album, Artist and Song of the Year.
So, roll forward to 2021 and Danny has a new album ‘Another Place’ and a new single ‘Can You Feel Me?’ which shows a new side to Danny as he takes a wander into fresh territory and puts a new spin on his much-loved sound and signature songwriting.
For this show Danny has brought together a brilliant band of musicians from his new album. They will be playing new tunes from the album as well as some of the Danny and the Champs and Grand Union favourites. What a treat to have all three incarnations in one evening!
This radically surprising new solo album from Danny presents a vibrant and diverse collection of startling, impressionistic songs created in collaboration with Sussex-based, studio wizard Hamish Benjamin. It’s a collision of straightforward, traditional songwriting with experimentation bringing a fresh and engrossing magic, enabling some of Danny’s most romantic songs ever but equally some of his most unhinged.
“Some things remain constant… not least Wilson’s unfailing feel for Southern/Celtic soul melodies, and his eloquence of sentiment never allowing affection for his inspirations to lead him in the direction of pointless pastiche when he could break your heart or make you smile instead” MOJO “One of my favourite-ever songwriters… ;STEVIE CHICK (THE GUARDIAN) ‘..simply exemplary’ FATEA Magazine
Because we love Danny so much we are going to add another clip for you!!!
We are thrilled to welcome back the frontman of Gomez, Ben Ottwell, playing solo in what will prove to be an enthralling and spine tingling show.
Ben Ottewell is best known as a member of Gomez, whose debut album, Bring It On, won the Mercury Music Prize in 1998. Gomez never had a designated frontman – Ottewell, Ian Ball, and Tom Gray all sang, and the band’s albums usually included several vocal performances from each – but Ottewell took the helm more than his bandmates, making him one of the group’s most prominent members.
After releasing the band’s sixth album in 2009, he began paving the way for a solo career and solo albums, with 2017’s A Man Apart being his most recent release. The album is a record that crosses musical genres such as Americana, blues and folk backed by Ben’s unmistakable gutsy and gravelly voice.
Ben says; “A Man Apart is a transatlantic affair written and recorded both here and in the states. It continues to explore my deep love of Americana through a British filter with themes of love, escape, responsibility and loss, written against the unfortunate backdrop of the populist political upheavals and demagogues that have come to dominate here and in the states.”
The quality of Matthews’ craft is a given. The Ivor Novello-winning artist is part of a lineage that includes such greats as Buckley and Drake, John Martyn and Paul Simon. With guitar in hand and a voice that conveys raw emotion, he has long been established as one of the world’s foremost purveyors of song.
If there’s one quality that defines the career of Scott Matthews it’s this: evolution. Over 14 years and with his seventh album on the horizon, Matthews has continued to push the envelope with songs of breath-taking majesty. And now he is setting himself new challenges as his evolution takes a beautiful turn.
The singer/songwriter has challenged himself creatively during a career that has been characterised by rare quality. As Matthews gears up for the release of his seventh studio album, new horizons loom into view as he finds different ways to cast a spell.
Introspective and reflective, combining blues and folk, mixing the ethereal with the empyrean, Matthews is a musical alchemist who transforms base metal to gold. He has expanded his sonic palette while making his new record, introducing new moods and musical textures as he addresses universal truths.
Having broken through with the much-loved Passing Stranger and more recently mastered the delicate art of one-man-and-a-guitar music with sparse musicianship and an otherworldly falsetto, through the recordsHome Pt I, Home Pt II and The Great Untold, Matthews is travelling along new roads.
Waves of electronica are matched with big, chiming electric guitars as Matthews finds different colours for his canvass.
“It’s been a welcome diversion to work on my seventh record. For the first time in the making of any of my records, I have given myself a very clear blueprint and can hear how every song should sound given the limitations I have set myself.”
Matthews new record will feel sparse with an air of electronic minimalism. There will be less instrumentation than on earlier works; with percussion, strings and woodwind being replaced by a world of emotive synthesisers and pulsing drum grooves. Rehearsing in his local church, he’s been testing himself, pushing himself far outside his normal comfort zone as he explores new sounds and ways of making music.
If you’re looking for examples, consider the career progressions of David Sylvian, Mark Hollis, Brian Eno or Thom Yorke, who all found new ways of working in an ever-changing world.
“In many ways, it’s like starting again. I feel reborn in an oscillating world. The fact that the music is so different forces me to sing and write lyrics in a pleasingly unexpected way, it breathes a whole new energy into my approach and song-writing ethos. There’s a pulsating dynamic, which I’m captivated by.”
Scott said about his tour, “It will be one man and a guitar with a wave of electronica washing over me. I am fascinated by thought provoking sounds and how they totally immerse the listener and encourage them to dig a little deeper into their being. I think these songs will prick people’s ears up. They’ll keep people on their toes and hopefully their electronic grace will sweep them off their feet too.”
“A wonderful emerging Americana act, I really love her music”Bob Harris
Quietly and without any fanfare, Lauren Housley has created her own niche as one of the UK’s finest singer-songwriters.
She blends catchy hooks with her unmistakably soulful, and uplifting voice, creating music that boasts elegantly crafted, deeply melodic, intelligent song writing, resounding with echoes of the pop and soul classics of the 1960s, Carole King, Carly Simon, Alanis Morissette, Eva Cassidy and Regina Spektor: her music is infectious, emotional and powerful.
“Being a deeply empathetic person led me to channel my emotions into poems and songs, with a hope that they would bring some comfort, joy and understanding to people.” Lauren independently released her debut album Sweet Surrender in 2015, quickly garnering acclaim from fans and fellow musicians.
Lauren was invited to perform at the 02 Arena in London as part of Bluesfest, alongside some of the artists that have inspired her, including Van Morrison & Tedeschi Trucks Band. As well as opening stages for Vintage Trouble, Jack Savoretti and Van Morrison, Lauren has performed with some of her favourite, inspiring female contemporaries including Yola and Klara Soderberg (First Aid Kit).
Lauren’s new album ‘GIRL FROM THE NORTH’ was released in April this year. Dealing with love, loss and the turbulence of growing up and learning about life, Lauren brings a refreshing air of optimism and heart-warming hope with an empowering belief in oneself to overcome obstacles.
“An Americana-tinged singer-songwriter with a Bonnie Raitt-style twang, a winning way with a yearning lyric. Housley is her own woman…she’s as convincing as they come.”Q
“A wonderful emerging Americana act, I really love her music”Bob Harris
Amadou Diagne is a singer and multi-instrumentalist who has the traditions of West Africa at his fingertips. Originally from Dakar, Senegal, Amadou comes from a long family line of West African Griot percussionists and praise singers. As a young man, he was a professional full-time member of L’Orchestra National du Senegal, performing in concerts, cultural events, and on television for the top West African stars. At the same time, he was a busy session musician on the vibrant Dakar music scene.
Since moving to England, Amadou has been busy forging his own musical identity as a musician, singer, and songwriter inspired by meeting, playing, and collaborating with musicians from diverse backgrounds and musical styles. He has a powerful, rich, high-pitched voice and a unique and intricate guitar style, drawing heavily on his skills as a percussionist and a love of improvisation. With eclectic musical inspiration Amadou explores the instrument he is playing delighting in the rhythmic possibilities within the melodies.
Amadou writes his songs primarily in Wolof, with other West African Dialects such as Pulaar and Manding and occasional English and French. His lyrics reflect his experiences of the world, of the émigré, the African Diaspora, family, community, faith, and humanity.
In 2012 Amadou was signed by World Music Network and his debut solo album Introducing Amadou Diagne was released in February 2012 and reached no. 16 in the European World Music charts. His follow-up album, Yakar, was released on Waulk Records in 2013 and received a 4-star review in Songlines magazine as well as top pick playlist review in fRoots. Amadou’s third album Ligéey was released in 2015 on Long Tale Recordings to great reviews.
More recently, Amadou collaborated with the French American musician Cory Seznec. They call their musical project ‘Touki’, which means ‘journey’ in Wolof. With the help of UK Arts Council funding, they recorded 13 tracks at Real World Studios in Wiltshire and released their album Right of Passage in May 2020. Right of Passage alludes to the arduous journey millions embark on to better their lot and various rites of passage people undergo in the process. Amadou and Cory are setting off on their shared journey with an album tour of France and the UK.
The Budapest Cafe Orchestra is a music-driven phenomenon, a specialist performance-entertainment outfit, enthralling audiences everywhere with their infectious energy. The BCO will sweep you off your feet and stay in your heart forever. You will journey from one emotional pole to another: from a desperately tragic evocative heart-rending ancient Jewish melody to a dance from Romania or Russia and all the fiery exuberance that goes along.
The BCO were founded by British composer and violinist, Christian Garrick, and led by him they play a blistering barrage of traditional folk and gypsy-flavoured music from across the Balkans and Russia, Klezmer laments, Romanian Doinas, Hungarian Czadas and their own unique re-imaginings of some big tunes. Evoking vivid images of Tzigane fiddle maestros, Budapest café life and gypsy campfires – plus a few surprises along the way – an evening with the BCO is good enough to make you want to book that holiday down the Danube!
‘One of the hottest new up-and-coming bluegrass bands.’
Flats and Sharps are a four-piece bluegrass outfit from Penzance, Cornwall. Delivering energetic, enthusiastic and spirited Bluegrass to audiences all around the world, Flats and Sharps have been performing their unique take on this music for over eight years. Their shows include a wide variety of influences, from a fresh and modern outlook on foot-stomping Bluegrass material through to their powerful and well-crafted original songs, with beautiful moments everywhere in between.
Their music perfectly blends strong harmonies and stonking solos, their incredible stage presence and energy create an evening that’ll have you dancing, laughing and singing along in no time. Over their time together, the band have made their presence known all around the world, including multiple tours in Australia, Europe and around the UK.
I recommend seeing Flats and Sharps at the earliest opportunity. If you can prove your disappointment, I’ll personally send you a cash refund. Mark Ellen, R2 (Rock n Reel) Magazine
The picking is exhilarating, the harmony vocals precise. You can but admire. Fred Deller, Mojo (4 star ‘King of My Mind’ review)
Is the grass in the West Country blue? How else would a group of English musicians have achieved such a mastery of the American form? Instrumental virtuosity is usually reserved for hot hands from across the Atlantic, but Flats and Sharps can stand toe-to-toe with the Americans. A very talented bunch. Joe Boyd, Producer and Writer
What a fab session for us in Port Isaac boys! You were bloody brilliant and had the crowd jumping. Put us old gits to shame. John Lethbridge, Fisherman’s Friends
(Dont let the singing fool you, they really are from Penzance!)