Posts Tagged With: Dexeter

Gig Review: Dexeter Four Thousand Miles to Nashville Album Launch with Liv Austen

Just when I thought I’d stopped writing articles on 4000 Miles to Nashville, something happens to pull me back in. That something was the album launch of Four Thousand Miles to Nashville, a year in the making for one of the most popular acts in UK Country; Dexeter. Not only was it a chance to see the culmination of a lot of a hard work from a band I’ve come to know pretty well, but they were being supported by Liv Austen, someone I’d long been wanting to see live. So off I trotted to the Camden Barfly, on a very hot July 3rd Friday evening. Apologies for the awful photos – turns out my new phone isn’t the image creating powerhouse I was led to believe.

Dexeter Four Thousand Miles to Nashville Album Launch with Liv Austen

First to perform was Liv, whose EP Working Man’s Dream bowled me over back in January and I’ve listened to it many times since. A change in plans meant I missed her performance at Country To Country, so here was chance to finally make up for that, and I made sure to be near the stage. Liv started with Working Man’s Dream and it was obvious straight away that what I’d heard on her CD was not a trick of clever production, but a truly amazing voice that I was witnessing before my very eyes, and ears.

With effortless grace her vocals were as equally powerful as they were tender, as she sung through a varied set of both upbeat songs and ballads. What made Liv stand out from a lot of UK acts, and indeed many around the world, is her storytelling. In between songs we got an insight into who Liv is and why she wrote the songs she was playing. She spoke with confidence, but also with an air of vulnerability and is every bit the country singer song writer that you hope to see at a live show.

Dexeter Four Thousand Miles to Nashville Album Launch with Liv Austen

New to Liv was playing the guitar, something she did in one of her new songs. There was a point towards the end of the song where her guitarist Lee stopped, and looked across at Liv playing and signing on her own. As she did both faultlessly, I saw a look of pride on his face – job done. When I reviewed Liv’s EP I said of The Guts You Always Had, and I quote This is one of the song’s where I visualise (if you’ve read my reviews before you’ll know the visualisation is a big part of music for me) Liv sitting at the piano with a spotlight picking her out on an otherwise dark stage. Much to my delight I got this at the end of her set, and I got goosebumps. Okay, the stage wasn’t in full darkness, but everything else was there and the performance was stunning.

I had an inkling from listening to her EP, but after seeing Liv Austen live I firmly believe she’s the best female country singer in the UK right now, and has very tool at her disposal to go a very long way. Chatting to her later in the evening it was great to see that’s she’s as charming and endearing off the stage as she is on. She also has no idea just what a special talent she is, and I say that without even the slightest hint of hyperbole. She’s back in London with Luke & Mel and Gary Quinn for a Think Country In The Round session on August 13th – I think I’ll have to make the trip into the big smoke for that one. There’s also a new EP coming later this year and hopefully a launch party there – count me in.

Next up was Lucy May who’d I’d seen supporting Striking Matches back in May and she’s not for me, so instead I caught up with luminaries of the UK country music scene at the back of the venue.

Then it was time for the main event and the band of the moment, as Dexeter took to the stage and my first time seeing this version of them, with new session guitarist Craig. They kicked things off with Breathe, which also hapens to be the first track on new album Four Thousand Miles to Nashville, and it was clear straight away it was party time as the band sounded bigger and better than they have to date. They’ve definitely upped the rock part of their act and for me that’s a good thing, and actually fills a gap in UK Country.

Dexeter Four Thousand Miles to Nashville Album Launch with Liv Austen

One big difference was Paul on bass, yes that’s bass, not the usual double bass that we are used to seeing him strumming. This left him free to have a lot more fun stage, and he took advantage of that. Who knew that behind the coolest hat wearing dude in country music was an axe wielding rockstar? Well we do now, and what a difference it makes. You see, Dexeter have been through a few member changes over the past 12 months, but now they seem to have their strongest line-up by far, with everyone contributing something original and necessary to the sound. Jim on drums is often overlooked as all drummers are, but his contribution is unmistakable, as was new member Craig who played both guitar and piano.

It almost goes without saying that at a Dexeter gig Dee will sing and she’ll sound great, but it still needs saying and I never fail to be surprised at just how good she is, in spite of seeing Dexeter perform live many times before. Along with her scintillating vocals is her chemistry with writer and guitarist Gareth, who together sometimes perform as a duo. When halfway through the gig we heard from manager Annette that the album had cracked the iTunes Top 40, huge smiles emerged and they hugged on stage. It was an in the moment honest reaction, and there’s nothing more country than that. As I write this Four Thousands Miles to Nashville is on the verge of cracking the country top 10 – with eyes on that number one spot. Garth himself has a cheeky charm that makes it impossible not to like him in an instant, as he masters his guitar and adds vocals that harmonise with Dee so very well.

I have to admit, it was quite surreal to hear them singing Four Thousand Miles to Nashville, a song (and album) whose name’s beginnings came from this very website. It sounded great though, and those 4000 miles will be traveled later this year as the band will be making a very special trip to the home of country music. The new songs from the album blended perfectly with old stalwarts like Grey, one of my personal favourites and one I heard at the very first Dexeter gig I attended in May last year. Slow It Down was a massive crowd favourite after being around for almost a year, as we all sang along to what has become the band’s anthem.

Dexeter Four Thousand Miles to Nashville Album Launch with Liv Austen

Later in the gig there was here was an announcement that Dexeter are supporting Angaleena Presley at her London gig on July 30th – lucky for me I already have tickets. A little after this they were joined on stage by Laura Oakes for a great rendition of Hey Ho, a song made famous by The Lumineers and later Maddie and Daphne on the Nashville television show. This was my first experience of Laura, someone I’ve heard touted by many within the UK country community, and rightly so. She was back again for the second song of the encore, as were Liv Austen and Lucy May as they all joined Dexeter to sing Country Roads, which brought the house down and finished off great set in style.

It’s quite incredible to think that Country to Country 2014 was their second only gig as a band, and just how far they’ve come in that time. The new album has delivered everything we hoped for and more, and as a live band they have only stretched the gap between themselves and every other band to hold on to their title as the best live band in UK country music.

Well done to the aforementioned Annette from Think Country who put all this together and what a great job she did. It was this, and Liv earlier in the night, that has me once again writing on this website. When I see or hear something great I just want to tell the world, that’s all I ever wanted to do with 4000 Miles to Nashville. Last night epitomised what I like in live music – may there be many more nights like it.

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Photo Gallery: Dexeter at Country To Country 2015 – Sunday March 8th 2015

Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015

Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015

Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015

Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015

Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015

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Dexeter – A Year On for One of UK Country’s Finest and The Album Launch Party

Friday July 3rd 2015 – mark that date in your diary, as that’s the day the long awaited Four Thousand Miles to Nashville launch party takes place. With support from Lucy May and Liv Austen, Dexeter will take over The Barfly Camden and tickets can be bought here. Anyone who has seen Dexeter live, or heard of their legend, will know that this is a show not be missed. Remember, this is the band that got such a crowd of people at Country To Country 2015 that the entrance to The O2 was blocked!

Dexeter Album Launch Party

It’s been quite a 12 month period for Dexeter, who turned up at Country To Country 2014 with little fanfare and almost no public awareness. It was on the Sunday that I got a tweet asking where I was, and on meeting up I met the band the for the very first time, and was given a copy of their first album/EP, Brighter Skies. A couple of months later, after being suitably impressed with their music, I went to Rockingham Racecourse to see them perform live. That was the turning point and since then I’ve been a big fan and got to know the band quite well. Do not fear, my friendship does and will not interfere with my objectivity, and any reviews of their music or performances are and will never be positively biased in any way. That would make a mockery of both myself and the band.

Disclaimers aside, as 2014 rolled on more opportunities opened up for Dexeter, as they performed at big festivals such as Yee Haw and Fort San Antone Fest, while supporting 2 UK country juggernauts The Shires and Ward Thomas on their first co-headline tour. Tales of their great gigs and music began to make waves online and their fan base grew exponentially, as they became the unofficial people’s band of UK country music.

They kicked off 2015 with an afternoon slot at Midwinterfest in Devon, before driving back to London to perform at Hannah Jane Lewis’ EP launch at The Borderline. In this time they also launched a Pledge Music crowd sourcing campaign for their second album, which was funded in under 4 days. You can pre-order the album here, which has the marvellous title Four Thousand Miles to Nashville – probably an homage to some literary genius admired by millions 😉

Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015

It was also in 2015 they took on the management services of Annette over at Think Country, and have gigs lined up with the likes of Honey Rider, Sasha McVeigh and Sonia Leigh, Paul Carella and a return to the Fort San Antone Fest in October. I caught up with principle songwriter and guitar guru Gareth after their gig at Country 2 Country, and asked him about the experience:

So C2C2015… What an incredible experience! We actually arrived at the O2 a little later than the previous day, found some breakfast and pondered the day ahead. We had noticed a little movement around Twitter so we were expecting maybe 30 or 40 people to meander past us and see what was going on. We sat in the town square for about two hours and were really beginning to worry about it.

After some strong coffee we gathered our thoughts and our belongings and headed backstage to collect our instruments and warm up – Dee was terrified she had forgotten every single lyric. We hustled through the crowd to the stage to see most of Emma Jane’s incredible set – her performance set the bar really high. When she finished we began to set up and noticed people drifting towards the Big Entrance stage, so staring only at the floor we began our first song. As we hit the last chord of Something Gold the entire atrium exploded. We looked around and just saw faces everywhere. Everyone was smiling and cheering. We couldn’t believe it.

Halfway through the set, the stage manager asked us to move everyone forward to create more room at the back – it was unbelievably humbling and overwhelming, wonderful and frightening all at the same time. By the end of the set, we were deliriously happy. The crowd had been so supportive and LOUD! We came off stage and were whisked straight off to the signing area to find a queue there! We just couldn’t take it all in.

We did a few interviews and about half hour later Deeanne and I found a quiet place between the two stages. We just hugged and the last hour had been so overwhelming we cried! We were so grateful to be part of such an incredible weekend, a really special moment in UK music. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

I’d be surprised if the album launch party at The Barfly Camden doesn’t sell out very quickly, and especially with such great support. I’ve been a big fan of Liv’s music for some time now and her EP Working Man’s Dream is still played regularly. I don’t know much about Lucy May but have heard enough good things to know that she is a great addition to an already great line up. I’ll see you there.

Dexeter Tickets

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Midwinterfest – Full Ward Thomas, Dexeter and Luke & Mel Sets, Photos, Next Year & More!

Midwinterfest is the country music weekender that took place in Torquay last weekend and by all accounts was a terrific few days of music. Organised by Alan West it’s already got a date for next year, that being 15th-17th January – so mark your diaries, nothing will keep me away from this one. Dart Radio were actually there interviewing and recording, and on Monday they broadcast a show that featured much of that footage, including the full Ward Thomas set. Don’t worry if you missed it because they uploaded the whole thing, in two parts to Soundcloud. At about 1 hour 40 minutes into part 1 the Ward Thomas set starts, and near the very start of second part you’ll hear the first of a few new Ward Thomas songs.

 
It doesn’t end there though, as David Steane was in attendance and recorded complete sets from Dexeter and Luke & Mel, which you can now watch. Thanks David! There’s even a collaboration with Luke & Mel at the end of the Dexeter set, so be sure to watch it all.

So that’s audio and video, what about pictures I hear you ask? Well that’s where super snapper Andy M Watson comes in, as he was the official photographer for the weekend and has very kindly allowed to use the following photos. You can see the full albums over on his Facebook page, and he has a website on the way, so keep a look out for that.

Alan West at Midwinterfest 2014

Alan West at Midwinterfest 2014

Luke & Mel at Midwinterfest 2014

Luke & Mel at Midwinterfest 2014

The Swing Commanders at Midwinterfest 2014

The Swing Commanders at Midwinterfest 2014

Dexeter at Midwinterfest 2014

Dexeter at Midwinterfest 2014

Ags Connolly at Midwinterfest 2014

Ags Connolly at Midwinterfest 2014

Ward Thomas at Midwinterfest 2014

Ward Thomas at Midwinterfest 2014

Raintown at Midwinterfest 2014

Raintown at Midwinterfest 2014

Sunday Finale Midwinterfest 2014

Sunday Finale Midwinterfest 2014

This last photo is one I had to include to as well, as it highlights just how good a photographer Andy is. This photo of Deeanne from Dexeter has it all – great composition, sharp and catching the moment perfectlly. Remember to check out all the photos from the Midwinterfest weekend at Andy’s Facebook page.

Deeanne from Dexeter at Midwinterfest 2014

Deeanne from Dexeter at Midwinterfest 2014

It all looks and sounds like the perfect weekend, especially when you realise it all takes place in a hotel, which you can stay in. So you can have 3 days of music, eating and drinking, without setting foot outside, if you so desire. Keep an eye on the official website for more details of next year’s line-up and booking details.

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If UK Country Music Acts Were the Stars of the Nashville TV Show

This started out as a much more serious topic, of trying to figure where the Nashville equivalent would be in the UK, and what would be our Opry and Ryman? Don’t ask me how, but my mind took a tangent to thinking who from the UK country music scene would I have in place of the stars of the Nashville show. This is a very lighthearted article and some of these links are very tenuous, so please don’t take offense as an artist or fan, absolutely none is intended.

Raintown as Rayna Jaymes and Luke Wheeler

Raintown as Rayna Jaymes and Luke Wheeler

Raintown as Rayna Jaymes and Luke Wheeler

As the veterans of UK country music this was an obvious pick, and as a recently married couple, could Paul and Claire have done what Rayna and Luke are on the same track to do?

Hannah Jane Lewis as Juliette Barnes

Hannah Jane Lewis as Juliette Barnes

Hannah Jane Lewis as Juliette Barnes

Both are young, blonde and hitting the country pop market, but with traditional influences. Juliette could probably do with some of Hannah’s work with schools to improve her public image and from what I’ve seen Hannah isn’t as big a diva as Juliette…but who knows what goes on behind closed doors 😉

Gary Quinn as Deacon Claybourne

Gary Quinn as Deacon Claybourne

Gary Quinn as Deacon Claybourne

Another veteran journeyman of the UK country scene and often seen gigging with Raintown, much like Deacon is with Luke in the show. I don’t think the love triangle exists between these guys as does on the show though…

Jess Roberts as Scarlett O’Connor

Jess Roberts as Scarlett O'Connor

Jess Roberts as Scarlett O’Connor

Brilliant new singer songwriter who is quieter than her contemporaries and infinitely more talented than she realises. Jess or Scarlett? It could well be either, and we await new music from both with baited breath.

Richard Clarke as Avery Barkley

Richard Clarke as Avery Barkley

Richard Clarke as Avery Barkley

An artist in his own right and guitarist on Hannah Jane Lewis’ band. if you’ve watched Nashville you’ll be thinking how eerily similar this is, except for the tempestuous relationship part. Both Richard and Avery have a wild side though 😉

The Shires as Gunnar Scott and Zoey Dalton

The Shires as Gunnar Scott and Zoey Dalton

The Shires as Gunnar Scott and Zoey Dalton

Ben and Gunnar are both singer songwriters from the UK, not that you’d know from Sam Palladio’s accent on Nashville. Add in the gorgeous, almost angelic voices of Crissie and Zoe and I think this comparison works pretty well, relationship status aside.

Ward Thomas as Maddie and Daphne

Ward Thomas as Maddie and Daphne

Ward Thomas as Maddie and Daphne

The ages might be a little off, but other than that this a perfect match – sisters with gorgeous voices and fantastic harmonies. The question is – who is who?

Gareth Thomas and Deeanne Dexeter as Will Lexington and Layla Grant

Gareth Thomas and Deeanne Dexeter as Will Lexington and Layla Grant

Gareth Thomas and Deeanne Dexeter as Will Lexington and Layla Grant

This is where it gets a bit tenuous, but bear with me! Both came from relative obscurity and have made a name from themselves in the last 12 months. Will and Layla have a sham marriage while Gareth and Deeanne have a band marriage! Gareth and Deeanne have better voices though and Gareth prefers his wife to his personal trainer!

That’s as far as I got, and I stopped at casting Jeff Fordham for fear of ruffling feathers! So, what do you think – agree or disagree, I’d love for you to leave a comment and if you have any of your own suggestions, go for it!

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Big Country, Big Album, Big Plans – An Interview With Dexeter

After a very hectic few months for the band, I caught up with Gareth from Dexeter, and he told me all about what they’ve been up to and what exciting things have coming up.

The big news at the moment is your second album, but before we get to that, what have you been up to since Country 2 Country, which served as an introduction of Dexeter to the masses?

Well Steve, we have been so busy since Country 2 Country which feels like a million years ago now! We launched Brighter Skies the day we played at the O2 which has since been on New Country UK’s Top 15 albums of 2014 on Chris Country Radio – that was a massive boost of confidence as there were some BIG names on that list! We have played a lovely summer full of festivals, played with Jeannine Barry, Gary Quinn and Laura Oakes and opened a sold out show at Camden Barfly with Coco and the Butterfields. We’ve released the first single from our second album and we are playing at YeeHaw UK alongside Chase Allan, Raintown, Ward Thomas and The Shires among others, and of course have been busy writing the new album too! Busy busy!

You recently recorded a video for your latest single Slow It Down, what was that experience like and what has been the reception to the song?

LOVED making that video – and the final result has gone down a storm opening up a different kind of audience for us which is great. It was a long hot night when we made the video – but we were so happy with it, we can’t wait for our second video which will coincide with the album release in March – at the moment it looks like it could be for a really stompy anthem we are working on called ‘Meet Me There’. It’s an exciting time – feeling so creative at the moment!

So onto your Pledgemusic campaign for your new album – what made you decide to go down this route and what can we expect from it?

So, we used pledgemusic when we hit some funding issues with our first album. It worked so well that we thought we would do it again. It allows people to get involved and really tests the active and passive nature of music fandom. Thankfully our fans have got behind it well and it is working out okay so far! Basically it is a pre-ordering system, and we have a very modest target so we are hoping to hit 100% well before the 71 days are up! There should be a few extra little bits for pledgers along the way too, and it’s been a great way to test the reception of the new album.

As I write this, you are at 66%, after just 3 days and with 71 days of the campaign left. How does that make you feel and what happens if you go over the target amount?

We are always completely overwhelmed, and very grateful when people get involved. If we go over the target amount 10% of the difference goes straight to Amnesty International. Anything that we receive over the target will go towards our next video too to support the album launch. Basically we understand that any fans pre-ordering based on one single is amazing, and especially in a time of economic uncertainty. We don’t take anything for granted.

On the same night as you launched the Pledgemusic campaign you also announced that you will be supporting Big Country for their Corby leg of their 30th Anniversary Tour later this year. How did that come about?

A really lovely bloke at The Core Theatre follows us on twitter, and we got chatting one day online – he passed our details to the programmer at the the theatre and one lovely meeting later we had the opening slot for Big Country, celebrating the 30th anniversary of their Steel Town album, a record written about Corby itself – the original steel town. There are one or two other announcements coming in the near future as a result of the meeting, and supporting nationally touring bands is really where we want to be at the moment, we feel like its the next step for us, and can’t wait to get out there and play to new audiences.

You have some festival appearances coming up, including FSA Fest and Midwinterfest – how do these performances differ, if at all, from normal gigs?

I guess the main difference is the diversity of the acts involved, we love getting out and making new friends, but lately there have also been some familiar faces at the shows and that’s really lovely too. We’ve made some good mates along the way. We love how different the festivals are too, some are really intimate and audiences are really close, and some are much bigger – we played to 4500 at Rugby Music Festival and that was great. The smaller festivals make us more nervous to be honest! It is much more obvious if you make a mistake! haha! We can’t wait for FSA Fest which will be a reunion of sorts from Country 2 Country, and Midwinterfest is set to be something very different and should be very special indeed.

Boasting 6 members already, I hear your numbers may be growing soon – what will you be adding and how will that affect your sound?

Yes! We are always looking for ways to improve our sound, so we have gone out and found ourselves a few additions – pedal steel guitar for that authentic country sound, and we’ve been looking for a second backing singer too, as the harmonies have become integral to the Dexeter sound. We are becoming an Americana orchestra!

Dexeter at Leicester City Festival - August 24th 2014

Dexeter at Leicester City Festival – August 24th 2014

By contrast you also do some gigs just yourself and Dee, so Dexeter really is the band for all occasions?

Absolutely! We’ve done that on purpose as there is a really different feel to stripping back the songs for an acoustic duo and we would love to do a few more shows like that. Nothing beats having a big band behind you, but when there are only two of you the songs really have to stand up for themselves and that’s a great way of testing if they work.

If you had the opportunity to perform at Country 2 Country again next year, what would be different from the performance you put on on this past March?

Oh man, we would love to do that again – would be even better if we could get on to one of the shows somewhere like the Bowl – we went small last year, and it worked out well – if we could take our big sound down there in its full range we could really make a lot of noise! Our new album is timed to coincide with the festival too, so there would be a whole bunch of new songs to choose from. I think we would love to get around more and meet a lot more people too – that’s really important to us, we like making new friends and that helps get the band’s name out there too.

What’s the big plan for Dexeter?

I guess that depends on how people take the new album – would be great to get out to a wider audience, not just country, but mainstream audiences too. We are currently looking for management and label support as we have got this far on a wing and a prayer, but feel like we would benefit from mentoring and guidance in that way. We would like to carry on playing out to awesome audiences, making great music and enjoying being creative. We are looking for more support slots in 2015 and hope to put together a small tour working with some of the people we have got to know along the way. Who knows? Watch this space…. 🙂

Dexeter Pledgemusic Album Campaign: link
Dexeter Live Shows: link

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Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to be invited to the filming of the new Dexeter music video for Slow It Down, and so up the M1 I drove, next stop Leicester. This was actually my first time in Leicester, but I wasn’t there to site see, but to watch Metal Wasp at work as owner Dan turned Cafe Bruxelles into a film location for the evening…and into the night.

The aforementioned Cafe Bruxelles was perfect, being every bit as classy looking with it’s magnificent chandelier and Sistine Chapel like domed ceiling, as the new single deserved. As always seems be the case whenever I catch up with Dexeter, it was baking hot, and as we waited for the sun to go down, Dan made sure we didn’t lose any heat by setting up lights from all corners of the room. With no audience aside from the two members of staff, Dan and myself, there were some nerves from some members of the band. That’s to be expected, given how important this was and also very different it was to simply playing songs to a crowd of fans.

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

The way it worked was lead singer Dee was to sing as normal, but nobody else was plugged in. The studio version of the song was piped in over the PA, but I’m not sure of that is the sound we would hear on the video, or whether it would be laid over in the post production part of the project. In my naivety I thought I’d be there to see them play through a couple of times, job done, go home. That is not how it works, at all. Instead the whole band would be shot 4 times, and then each member of the band would be shot individually twice.

At the times when the camera was focusing just on an individual member, the other members of Dexeter wouldn’t be in shot, and therefore could do what they wanted. So what did they do? They all played along, each and every time. Well, that’s what I witnessed, until I had to leave at 11pm, so as to drive back home to Hertfordshire and not be too tired for work the next morning. It’s this kind of band togetherness that shines through in their music, and even more so as a live act, and tonight it meant each and every take was as natural as possible.

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

For the takes I was there for, I was the one who pressed play on the music, so I would be well within my rights to expect some kind of mention in the credits, right? Kidding aside, it was fascinating to see Dan working his magic, using rigs for his camera that they use on film sets, and tickled the fancy of this technology geek. He also took the time to explain each stage of the process to me, which he didn’t to do, but was very much appreciated. As for Dexeter – they put full effort into every take, even those that they weren’t in shot for, and it’s a credit to Slow It Down that I enjoyed listening to it each and every time it was played.

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

When I was in Cafe Bruxelles I couldn’t quite envisage how the video would turn out. I mean sure, I could visualise the setting, but Dan seemed pretty close to the band members at times, I mean really close! That’s why he’s paid to make music videos and I just observe from the sidelines, because the result is fantastic. The venue looks twice the size it actually is and those lights that keep the ambient temperature at blazing hot, have added so much more than just brightening the venue.

I was lucky to see the first cut of the video after Dan had worked on it for a week, and combined with a brilliant song and hard working and talented band, it looked quite quite fantastic. It looks like one live performance, but from being there I know how much time and work went it, from all sides. It was both an honour and a pleasure to watch these guys all work so hard, and even more of a delight to see the great final video for Slow It Down that has been produced.

You can download Slow It Down from iTunes here.

More photos from the video shoot:

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

Behind The Scenes: Dexeter – Slow It Down Music Video

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Single Review: Dexeter – Slow It Down

There’s always a risk associated with getting to know a band – what if they create some new music and I don’t like it? Well if I can’t be honest then there would be no reason to keep this blog going. If when I’d heard Slow It Down and not liked it, I’d have had to tell them it’s not for me and then not write about it. I decided some time ago to only write about music I like – that makes it more enjoyable for me to write, and you to read!

So back to Dexeter, and their new single Slow It Down, which starts out with Dee’s ever improving vocals and infectious guitar and drums – the latter of which I know is Jim hitting the drum rims, after seeing them shoot the video this past Sunday. When I say Dee’s vocals are improving, they were of a pretty damn high standard before, but with each new song and more confidence they are reaching new heights, both in tone and strength.

Penned by guitarist Gareth, Slow It Down is a song about the protagonist’s desires for a mystery man who seems to already be in a relationship, and that being the main complication. A subject that many can probably identify with, but few would admit to. It’s a very catchy song, with a very bouncy and soulful melody that is certain to get stuck in your head and you’re going to be singing that chorus at every opportunity. Don’t worry though, that’s a good thing, I can assure you of that.

Slow It Down - Dexeter

Slow It Down – Dexeter

Dexeter are a band of 6, sometimes 7 at live shows, but you never feel like that’s too much. The accordion, bass, drums, guitars and vocals all blend so smoothly and add depth and character to their sound. The backing vocals are very much that with Slow It Down, and there are far fewer harmonies than previous songs. It feels like Slow It Down is not only the break out song for the band, but it’s also the definitive positioning of Dee into the spotlight as the front woman of Dexeter.

Slow It Down is a country song with mainstream country pop appeal, but it also oozes class, and the setting of the video is everything I had imagined when hearing the song before seeing the venue. When it comes out in August it’s going to put Dexeter on the map as one of UK country’s finest, and rightfully so. Do check out where they are playing because Dexeter live are an experience that very few can match.

Website: dexeterband.co.uk
Facebook: /DexeterBand
Twitter: @dexeterband
YouTube: Dexeter Channel
Bandcamp: dexeter.bandcamp.com

Categories: Single Reviews | Tags: | Leave a comment

Gig Review: Dexeter at Racing Rocks, Rockingham – 17th May 2014

Back at Country 2 Country this year I met up with Dexeter, and though I missed seeing them play in The O2, I made a promise that I’d go and see them play at some point. Well this past Saturday I made good on that promise, as I travelled up to Rockingham with my little boy Lucas, for a day of car racing and to see Dexeter play on the main outside stage. I’d played their EP Brighter Skies a number of times, so it wasn’t a shot in the dark, I already knew I liked their music.

It was a scorching day, the hottest of the year so far, but country music seems more at home outside on a warm afternoon than anywhere else. So much so that it had me dreaming of an outdoor country music festival in the UK, but more on that another time. Dexeter on this day were a 7 piece band, and they seem to be growing by the month! Two guitars, a double bass, drums, accordion and two vocalists. Of the singers it’s Dee who takes lead and is being manoeuvred more into the position of band focal point. With a smile to match the sun and a voice that is effortlessly glorious, that looks to be a good decision.

Dexeter at Racing Rocks, Rockingham - 17th May 2014

Dexeter at Racing Rocks, Rockingham – 17th May 2014

Dexeter kicked the afternoon off with Tired (Of being Tired), which as one of the more upbeat songs on their EP, was a great way to start. It became evident straight away that as much as 7 may seem a lot for a band, they all had their place and the sound came together very effectively. Straight away, as soon as the music started, I saw a band who were having fun and who really enjoyed playing. I think that’s very important in a live performance, because if the band aren’t having fun, then it’s pretty likely I’m not as well. The song builds to a point about 3 minutes in when Dee takes it up a key and is required to hit some long high notes. Let me tell you, with the sun beating straight down in her face, she nailed it, superbly. I swear she has one of those voices that could fill a stadium.

Dee plays off Gareth, who is the main man on guitar and the song writing force of the band. Gareth has a cheeky charisma which shines through while he blazes a trail on guitar, whilst making sure to interact with the other members of the band, no matter where they are on stage. He has a past of hard rock/metal, and that showmanship is evident here. It was actually Gareth’s first outing with a new guitar from Daisy Rocks UK, which both sounded great, and had him looking like a kid at Christmas when first trying it out on stage.

Dexeter at Racing Rocks, Rockingham – 17th May 2014

Dexeter at Racing Rocks, Rockingham – 17th May 2014

It’s hard to pigeon hole Dexeter as having a specific sound, but then do we really have to even try? They are country music, and some of that is modern country, there are hints of traditional and they even get rocky at times. I think sometimes we can get unnecessarily obsessed with labelling an artists’ style – it’s music, can we not just enjoy it for what it is? This makes it easy for them to throw in a classic like Jolene and it not feel out of place. Taking on a song from the Queen of country is brave, but they did it justice, with Dee’s vocals once again showing why she is a singer to sit up and take notice of.

On their EP it’s Grey that stood out for me – a beautiful ballad that talks of moving on to new things, and looking to the future. It’s a song that showcases both the more gentle side to Dee’s voice, but as the song builds so does her voice. Listening to Dexeter sing Grey on Saturday afternoon sent shivers down my spine, and that to me is what it’s all about. A song that can effect you emotionally, and really connect, truly is the best kind. To have a song like that, and then have it played live so brilliantly is the pinnacle of live music for me. If I didn’t have a camera in my hand I’d have fist pumped the air – such was my delight in hearing Grey sound even more incredible live than it had on CD.

Speaking to Dexeter I discovered that they are a band who don’t like playing covers repeatedly, which makes every gig unique. When Gareth told me before their set that they would be covering Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol I actually groaned. A quiet internal grown of course, or that would have been rude! But really, who didn’t get sick to death of that insipid intro that seemed to be played constantly on radio a few years back? Had this not been my first Dexeter gig, and had I not got to know them more after meeting them, I’d have known to just be patient and just see what they offered yup. In the case of Chasing Cars it was Dexeterised (I’m claiming that by the way) and to great effect, as this fresh country version of I song I’d grown to hate, became a song I liked once more. So much so, that I now I want to see what they can do with other songs I’m not keen on. Could they really make the Shoop Shoop Song bearable? No, I think that may be even beyond on the capability of the mighty Dexeter.

Dexeter at Racing Rocks, Rockingham - 17th May 2014

Dexeter at Racing Rocks, Rockingham – 17th May 2014

I mentioned earlier that there were 7 members of the band playing on Saturday, and while I talk a lot of Dee and Gareth, I do need to mention Paul on double bass, Jim on drums, Rachel on vocals and Pete on accordion, and new Dean Plays guitar, slide mandolin and resonator. In fact Paul was playing an electric double bass of the sort I’ve never seen before – all neck and strings, no body! It sounded great, as did everyone else. However, within Dexeter there is an undeniable sub-unit consisting of Dee and Gareth, who have an almost Charles and Hillary of Lady Antebellum type dynamic. They have a great chemistry and seem to feed of each other, which inevitably leads to more energy and fun in the show – all good for us watching and listening.

They finished the set with Older, a song that isn’t on the EP, but a lot of the crowd actually knew, and so went down really well. There were definitely some people watching who have played this teaser video of Older a lot! Live it sounded great, and after the Brighter Skies EP, it’s evidence that what comes next for Dexeter will be at least as good as what I know and love.

It was a 3 hour round trip to see Dexeter, and the car racing, and it was well worth it. They are an absolutely fantastic live band, with an infectious energy and the endearing quality of not knowing just how great they are, especially in the case of Dee. Not that it really matters as much as the music, but they are also really nice people, and I came away feeling like I had a cracking band to add to my favourites, and some new friends to boot. Lucas has since kicked his first love Kacey Musgraves off the top of his ‘most loved’ country artists list, to make way for Dexeter. That right there should be all you need to know.

Dexeter at Racing Rocks, Rockingham - 17th May 2014

Dexeter at Racing Rocks, Rockingham – 17th May 2014

I’m going to see Dexeter play again on Friday 30th May at a gig headlined by Jeannine Barry and also featuring Tom Price-Stephens, which is at The Garage in London. The tickets cost just £5, which makes it almost criminal to igonre – so get yours here, and I’ll see you there.

You can see more of Dexeter here:

Website: dexeterband.co.uk
Facebook: /DexeterBand
Twitter: @dexeterband
YouTube: Dexeter Channel
Bandcamp: dexeter.bandcamp.com

Categories: Gig Reviews | Tags: | Leave a comment

Country 2 Country 2014 – One Week On and it’s Pop Up Mania

This time last week I was is enjoying the second day of Country 2 Country, just getting ready to watch Striking Matches, to be precise at the time of writing this. So here I am 7 days later, and what effect, if any, has attending Country 2 Country had on me?

While it was the main stage acts that I paid to see, given that the pop up stage acts were free to all, it may be somewhat surprising that it’s those pop up stage acts that have left thew biggest impact on me. There’s no denying I was blown away by the likes Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley and the Dixie Chicks, but it’s not these juggernauts of country music that have occupied my mind this past week. Over the course of the two days I saw quite a few acts on the pop up stages, and it brought to my attention just how much talent there is, right here in the UK.

Of the 28 acts that were on offer, I saw just 8, and 6 of those ply their trade in the UK and you can read about the ones I did see here. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube I’ve caught up with a lot more of the acts that performed last weekend, and without fail have been bowled over by just how good they are. The homegrown country music scene is bursting full of great signers, songwriters and musicians – they just need more exposure. I’ve found myself listening to and watching a ton of performances, both new and old, from acts I saw and those who I missed out on too.

It’s one thing to watch videos on YouTube, after all, that seems to be how the new generation consume music these days anyway, but what next? It hasn’t stopped there for me though, as I’ve also been looking at live dates, to see if I can watch as many of these acts in person as I can. I met the band Dexeter last weekend and have been listening to their EP this week, with a view of going up to the Midlands to see them perform. Being in North Hertfordshire it won’t be the longest drive know to man, but would I have considered it had Country 2 Country not crossed out paths – probably not.

Closer to home Lisa Redford is performing at the music shop I frequent for Record Store Day, just 3 miles from my house. How could I not to go to that? Thing is, had I not seen her at Country 2 Country last Sunday I wouldn’t have known who she was, and probably wouldn’t have gone, no matter how close it is to me. Ward Thomas are a band that played last weekend, and though I didn’t see them, I became more aware of them, and just this morning listened to them on Radio 2. Now I am keen to buy their EP when it comes out in April and see them live at the next opportunity.

Gary Quinn is someone I knew of before Country 2 Country, and since seeing him live, where I really enjoyed his set, we have chatted on Twitter and I have bought a ticket to see him perform a StageIt show. I’d never even signed up to StageIt before he announced his gig, but what a great way for fans to see live music without travelling to locations that are too far away. It has cost me just $5 which equates to £3.03 for a 30 minute set – a veritable bargain I’m sure you’ll agree.

Hannah Jane Lewis is someone whose music I knew the best before Country 2 Country, and I reviewed her self titled EP here. It was however Country 2 Country that gave me the opportunity to see her perform, twice, and now know she’s every bit as good live as she is on her EP. As such I’m considering going to see her play this coming Wednesday at The Water Rats Theatre. This is a venue that just happens to be near Kings Cross, which is the station the train from my town goes to, and at £5 it’s almost too tempting to resist. If I get over my cough, yeah poor me, then I will do just that. She has another gig in London the month after, so either way I’ll get the chance to see her perform again, and maybe grab an interview too if I’m lucky.

If we are talking non UK talent then Jill and Kate have a mini UK tour in June and will be playing The Bordereline in London – another gig from a Country 2 Country artist that I am strongly considering going to. Just a few hours after I wrote this it was announced that the aforementioned Hannah Jane Lewis would be supporting Jill & Kate – 2 pop up stage acts appearing on the same night! Tickets are available here. Of course there are also Striking Matches who I hadn’t even heard of before last weekend, wowed me, have just signed a record deal and will release an album later this year. I’ve since bought their EP and single on iTunes and will be first in the queue to get the album, along with everyone else who saw them.

So struck with the quality of the pop up stage acts, I have even been having thoughts of organising a festival to showcase all this talent as I want as many people as possible to experience the great music I have discovered. I’m not sure how that will happen and I think it might be better on the hands of the guys at UKCountryMusic.net, whose promotions guy Andy I have been pestering with the idea of a UKCMFest relentlessly!

These are just a few, there is a thriving country music scene in the UK, and that’s something that I only recently had my eyes opened to thanks to the Country 2 Country pop up stages. Imagine if every other country music fan in the UK knew about all these great acts too – how long before we’d hear more of them on the radio, see more of them on tour, and see more of their albums in shops? I’ve taken it upon myself to spread the word as much as possible about the great talent on offer – so expect more posts, more tweets and more Facebook updates about these acts in the coming weeks and months. It’s pretty exciting that I can see so much great country music in my own country, all year round.

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