Posts Tagged With: Gretchen Peters

Gig Review: Gretchen Peters – Kings’ Place, London – 25th March 2015

Two years ago I didn’t know who Gretchen Peters was, but in June 2013 a buddy of mine invited me to see her play in a barn, actually called the High Barn, in Essex – you can read about what I thought of that gig here, but needless to say I’ve been a big fan ever since. Gretchen’s latest album, Blackbirds, came out a month ago, but I didn’t listen to it until the day of the gig – a treat for being such a good boy during my blood test earlier on the day 😉

It was my first time at King’s Place and it’s a really nice venue, decked out with lots of wood and being intimate but not too small. I’d read on the website earlier that the venue did not allow photography, but I didn’t think they’d mind me taking a snap of the stage before the gig started.

Gig Review: Gretchen Peters - Kings' Place, London - 25th March 2015

Gretchen’s band consisted of Barry Walsh on piano and accordion, with Christine Bougie on electric guitar, drums and lap steel guitar. I expected these two, but wasn’t expecting the 4th member, who was Northern Ireland’s Conor McCreanor on bass and double bass, and a fine addition he was too. They went straight into Blackbirds, the title track of the new album, and a song co-written by Ben Glover. I was familiar with Blackbirds, and not just because I’d heard it earlier in the day, you see, it’s also a track on Ben Glover’s own album, Atlantic, a song on which Gretchen sings too. It sounded great, with every bit of emotion and pain that we get from the song on Ben’s album, and set the tone for the night.

Blackbirds was followed by another two songs from the new album, which saw Christine play a different instrument with each one. To say they are a talented bunch would be an understatement, with Barry being somewhat of a virtuoso on the piano and his accordion playing adds a lot to the atmosphere of songs, none more so than on The Matador from Gretchen’s Hello Cruel World album. As well as the aforementioned emotion that you feel in Gretchen’s voice, it is beautifully controlled, from subtle whispers to belting high notes. With songs sewn together with witty and moving stories from her life, it’s an evening of complete musical entertainment.

With no support the gig was split in two, and after the intermission Gretchen started the second half as powerfully, some would argue even more, as the first. Sat alone on stage at the piano, she sung the song that in her words changed her life, and we were treated to a stunning rendition of Independence Day. It was a tingles down your spine performance of a song that Gretchen wrote, but was made famous by Martina McBride 20 years ago and won CMA Song Of The Year that year in 1995. I personally prefer Gretchen singing it, and last night only went to reinforce that.

At one point Gretchen actually left the stage, and let Barry, Christine and Conor take the spotlihght, as they combined to play a magical song of Barry’s called Silencio. It’s an instrumental number that you can hear over on his website and captivated me last night, so much so that I intend to buy the album. With Gretchen back on stage they played a few more songs from her new album, including The House On Auburn Street, a memory of when she was young and her Mum took her and her sister down the road to watch a neighbours house burn down, as was the done thing. Now of course people would be taking photos and positing them on Twitter.

Gig Review: Gretchen Peters - Kings' Place, London - 25th March 2015

We got a three song encore which ended with just Gretchen and Barry singing The House On Auburn Street, a song by John Prine which they sung with him when they did some shows together. Watching them sing together it’s obvious they have a very close relationship, both musically and personally, and it was a perfect way to end the night, with it’s equal moments of humour and tenderness. There’s a definite darkness to a lot of what Gretchen sang, but sung like she does, you feel a part of the story of each of those songs and privileged to be in that position.

Back in July last year, Mary Gauthier said that you can’t describe Americana, but you know it when you hear it. That’s how I feel about Gretchen, with incredible song writing, a world class voice and a band that complete it all perfectly. There’s so much fluff being put out these days, it’s so nice to be reminded that real music is still being produced and performed, and in this case at the highest level. Gretchen Peters should be listened to and watched live by anyone who considers them self a fan of music – if you are yet to do so, go now, you owe it to yourself.

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Top 9 Country Music Albums of 2013

So why top 9 and not top 10? Well, still being relatively new to the country music scene I spent a lot of 2013 listening to albums that didn’t actually come out last year. So as much as I might have played Eric Church and Brantley Gilbert a lot, neither of their albums came out last year and are thus not valid. But Eric did have an album out last year I hear you cry! Yes, but I don’t have Caught In The Act, yet (that may change by the end of this article), it was Chief I was referring to.

There were then albums such as Annie Up by The Pistol Annies which I just didn’t find worthy a place in a top list. It was okay, but not a patch on their Hell On Heels album, and nowhere near the quality of the albums I have placed. So, now we have that sorted, let the countdown commence!

9) Pioneer – The Band Perry

The first time I heard the second album from this Perry family trio I wasn’t impressed, and that disappointed me. I loved their debut album and Better Dig Two was one of my absolute favourite songs of the year. I was all ready to throw my toys out of the pram, and CD out the window, when I had a change of heart and decided to give it another chance. Do you know what? It grew on me. Better Dig Two is by far the stand out track, but the title track Pioneer is a cracking song, with Don’t Let Me Be Lonely not far behind. Mother Like Mine still irritates me, in that Kimberley isn’t the only one in the band whose Mother that is. A great pop country album with tons of cross over appeal.

8) Woman On The Wheel – Gretchen Peters

I love live music albums, and after seeing Gretchen Peters live in June, getting her live CD/DVD combination was a given. Woman On The Wheel contains live versions of the songs on her latest album Hello Cruel World, with 3 bonus tracks. One of those extra tracks is Wild Horses, which was originally by The Rolling Stones, and not The Sundays as Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans might think! If you’ve never heard Gretchen before then please check her out as there are few people in music that put as much passion into their music as she does. The album comes presented in a hardback book format with a stack of photos, and a DVD with it. For shame I’ve not yet watched the DVD, but as well as an hour long look back at the tour, it also includes music videos for several of the songs.

7) The Other Life – Shooter Jennings

If Vickye from For The Country Record needs a partner in her crusade against Bro-Country then she need look no further than the son of country legend Waylon Jennings, Shooter Jennings. There are a few tracks on this album that are used as a vehicle for Shooter to vent his frustrations, but none more obviously than Outlaw You, which declares “Hey pretty boy in the baseball hat, You couldn’t hit country with a baseball bat, Country ain’t just about where you’re at, It’s about bein’ true to what’s inside”. Now I’m not against Bro-Country, and that’s something I’ll discuss at a later date, but Outlaw You is easily one of the best country songs of 2013. The album is a showcase for what a fantastic song writer and musician Shooter Jennings is, and proves that not every male country singer of a certain age is shying away from the more traditional roots and only thinking about beer and trucks…not that there is anything wrong with that, not in my eyes (and ears) anyway.

6) Like A Rose – Ashley Monroe

If it wasn’t for Twitter I wouldn’t have even known that a) Ashley Monroe was a member of The Pistol Annies, and b) she had a solo career and an album out last year. Along with a certain Kacey Musgraves, I heard a lot of buzz about her album and so decided to check it out, and thank goodness I did. Here was a young lady who knew what kind of record she wanted to make and didn’t feel the need to compromise in any way. A traditional country album in essence, but with modern influences and a good dose of beguiling attitude. In fact, I would have liked to have seen more of the sassy attitude shown by Ashley on her album, on Annie Up, where I was expecting it. Weed Instead of Roses was one of the songs of 2013, without a doubt. We just need her to tour in the UK, please.

5) Spitfire – LeAnn Rimes

I feel like this should be higher, and if this was based on live performances she most certainly would be, but for now a top 5 spot is pretty damn good. In 2013 I went from not knowing much about LeAnn to seeing her live at Country 2 Country, getting this album, and then seeing her live again in October. It was her performances of songs from her new album at C2C, especially Borrowed, that made me a fan, and I was particularly delighted when I won tickets in a ukCOUNTRYmusic.NET competition to see her for a second time. Spitfire is an eclectic mix of songs showing all sides of LeAnn’s personality, from the aforementioned tear inducing Borrowed to the foot tapping Gasoline And Matches. That last song featured none other Ron Thomas and Jeff Beck – how about that for a superstar lineup! Spitfire is one of those albums that I always chastise myself for not listening to again sooner whenever I do play it.

4) The Music of Nashville Season 1: Volumes 1 and 2

You can’t have compilation albums in this list! Says who? This is my list, on my website – I say what goes, and these get included, together as one entry no less! As a show Nashville is fun, but a little too soap opera for my liking, but the music is tremendous. Like many I became a huge fan of Scarlett played by Clare Bowen, and her duet with Sam Palladio’s Gunnar of If I Didn’t Know Better was the highlight of the album. We also got the absolutely enchanting Telescope from sisters Lennon Stella and Maisy Stella, which was also done by Hayden Panettiere. It was Volume 2 that I actually preferred, and a lot of that was to do with Panettiere and especially her rendition of Nothing in This World Will Ever Break My Heart Again, which at one time I couldn’t stop playing. We don’t have a start date for season 2 yet here in the UK, but I for one can’t wait for some more CDs of great songs from an interesting mix of actor come singers.

3) Wheelhouse – Brad Paisley

Mr Paisley was one of my discoveries of 2013, and I actually became a fan of his before Wheelhouse came out. That meant I could actually look forward to the new album and even had it pre-ordered. You can read my full review of it here , but like the two albums that make up the number 1 and 2 spots, this is one that I listened to repeatedly and still listen to regularly now. Brad is the act at the upcoming Country 2 Country that I am most looking forward to seeing play live. Aside from Accidental Racist with LL Cool J, it’s an almost flawless album which combines humour, with a good does of emotion, memories, and the all important guitars.

2) Two Lanes of Freedom – Tim McGraw

When I started writing this article last weekend I didn’t even own a Tim McGraw album and couldn’t have named you one his songs if my life depended on it – thankfully it didn’t! Then I played Two Lanes of Freedom, again and again, to the point where I must have listened to it more than 10 times in the last 7 days. Every time I listen I get something new out of it and gain a new appreciation for the songs included in this masterpiece of an album. It really does have everything, and I’m still not sure whether I prefer the very touching and beautiful Annie I Owe You A Dance and Friend of a Friend, or the pulsating Truck Yeah, or maybe even the star studded Highway Don’t Care. You can read the full review I wrote of Two Lanes of Freedeom here, and just know that this album from Tim McGraw came within a whisker of getting the top spot in this countdown.

1) Same Trailer Different Park – Kacey Musgraves

The first time I listened to Kaceys Musgraves’ debut album I was blown away. Such an incredible mix of great song writing, beautiful vocals and all bundled up with that charming attitude that only she can pull off. There’s a dose of traditional, a handful of modern, but quintessentially, it’s Kacey Musgraves, a name and voice you will hear for many years to come. Filler is something quite alien to this album, as every song is pure gold, and Follow Your Arrow was my song of 2013, and like the album, is in my top ten of all time. The fact that in the same year I discovered her, I saw Kacey Musgraves play live twice (April and August), is just the icing on a very special cake. For a debut album it’s a very bold one, as she doesn’t shy away from singing about exactly what she wants, no matter how controversial that may seem. However, she’s been received as well as by the critics as by us fans, and is undoubtedly the breakout star of 2013. There’s only one thing that can come to close to Same Trailer Different Park, and that’s the prospect of a second album.

So there we have it, my top 9 country music albums of 2013, and having just received Drinks After Work by Toby Keith and Caught In the Act by Eric Church, I could well be adding a 10th album to this list very soon. I have only listened to the Brandy Clark and Holly Williams albums once, and have releases from Lindy Ortega, Darius Rucker and Keith Urban still to get, to name but a few. 2013 for me was a year in which I discovered more great music, new and old, than any other in over a decade, and 2014 promises to be every bit as good, and maybe even better.

12 months ago I said Getting into country is like opening the wardrobe to Narnia – an amazing world of music and people that I never knew existed, and wow, is that ever an under-statement. I love how varied the genre of country music is and how it includes so many great artists and styles. There really is something for everyone, and I’m trying to consume as much as I can – it’s a buffet of excellent music I can’t and don’t want to stop going back for more.

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The Blog Is Back!

Who knows what happened 12 months ago – I had a great response form the few weeks of blogging I did on 4000 Miles to Nashville, and then decided to start writing country music articles elsewhere on my personal blog – crazy! Well 2014 is a new year, and part of that new year is a renewed dedication to blogging about what has fast become my favourite genre of music.

When I last updated this blog I hadn’t even seen any country music live, but since then I’ve had the great pleasure to see Gretchen Peters, LeAnn Rimes, Logan Mize, Ben Glover and of course LeAnn Rimes again at Country 2 Country, along with Carrie Underwood, Brantley Gilbert and Darius Rucker. I also saw a young lady called Kacey Musgraves, twice, the second time being when I was invited to a special secret gig of hers in London. I’m still not sure how that happened – maybe down to the review I did of her first gig in April 2013? Who knows!

Speaking of Kacey Musgraves, she was my biggest music love of 2013, and her album Same Trailer, Different Park was by far the most played CD I bought last year. In fact I liked it so much I even bought it on vinyl too – yes, I still buy and play records! Seeing her live and meeting her twice were definitely among the highlights of the previous 12 months, though LeAnn Rimes may have something to say about that. It was quite surreal seeing someone who I previously knew from little more than the Coyote Ugly soundtrack, belting her heart out in such a personal and passionate way in London, twice.

I think one of my first new articles for this blog should be my top 10 albums of 2013, though I think you already know what number 1 will be. Hey, there’s still 9 more places to get excited about, so stick with it. I will also post my country music articles from elsewhere to this blog – it’s mostly gig and album reviews, but damn good ones 😉

So, I’m back, to stay this time, and as always if you have any recommendations then please send them my way.

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Gig Review: Gretchen Peters & Ben Glover at The High Barn, Great Bardfield, Essex – June 25th 2013

Last night I had the pleasure of going to see some live music at maybe the most amazing venue I’ve ever been to; The High Barn in Great Bardfield, Essex. The name is self explanatory and it is a barn, with a high roof, that provides the setting for the music gigs they put on. The building dates back over 800 years and was a sight for sore eyes when I finally arrived on a lovely summer’s evening after my sat nav took me on a 40 minute detour around some of the smallest lanes I’ve ever driven along.

The High Barn, Great Bardfield, Essex. Photo Credit: The High Barn

The High Barn, Great Bardfield, Essex. Photo Credit: The High Barn

I was there to see Gretchen Peters, but before she took the stage it was the turn of Ben Glover, an Irish singer who spends 7-8 months a year over in Nashville. What became very clear straight away is how much the music means to Ben, as he put his heart and soul into every second of his time performing for us. His songs tell stories, his voice exudes passion and he himself is immersed in his craft which he has honed to absolute perfection. From wistful ballads to energised belters, Ben Glover is someone I hadn’t heard of 24 hours ago, but is someone I will be keeping a close eye on and I came away from the gig with a copy of his 3rd album, Do We Burn The Boats?. Chatting to Ben after his set, he told me that quite a few of the songs he’d played were for his next album, and one I particularly liked had only been finished last week. From first hand experience, I can tell you that that next album is going to be absolutely brilliant and I can recommend Ben as a recording artist and most definitely as a live act. Not only is he vocally brilliant but he’s a masterful guitar player too. Look out for his multi purchase CD bargains – they are live night specials 😉

Now was the turn of Gretchen Peters, someone who I had heard very little of, but was a favourite of my friend John, from whom the invite to the gig came from. She started off quite sedately, but by the third song I was hooked – that didn’t take long. A veteran of the music scene, Gretchen seemed not just at ease on stage, but as if there is nowhere she’d rather be. As a member of the paying audience there’s no greater compliment than having a performer give you everything, and for the second time that night, that’s exactly what we were getting.

Gretchen Peters, Barry Walsh & Christine Bougie at The High Barn, Great Bardfield, Essex. June 25th 2013

Gretchen Peters, Barry Walsh & Christine Bougie at The High Barn, Great Bardfield, Essex. June 25th 2013

Gretchen has one of those voices that captivates you, and several times during her set I found myself oblivious to everything around me, lost in those wonderful moments of musical bliss. As equally brilliant during poignant ballads as faster numbers, Gretchen’s set was a great collection of moments from her life and her career, accompanied by tales of what they meant to her. I particularly liked The Secret of Life, which she wrote and released back in 1997, and doesn’t sound even a tiny bit out of place being sung 16 years later.

Gretchen Peters, Ben Glover, Barry Walsh & Christine Bougie at The High Barn, Great Bardfield, Essex. June 25th 2013

Gretchen Peters, Ben Glover, Barry Walsh & Christine Bougie at The High Barn, Great Bardfield, Essex. June 25th 2013

An accomplished guitar player herself, Gretchen was joined on stage by her long time musical partner and husband of 2+ years Barry Walsh, who is a stupendous piano player who also can turn his hand to the accordion when needed, and the odd tune on the xylophone too. On electric guitar, drums and lap steel, was the ever so slightly mysterious Christine Bougie, who seems like one of those people who can pick up and play any instrument she chooses to. I was particularly taken by her lap steel wizardry, an instrument that she used to to make an unfathomable range of sounds. Barry and Christine showcased their musical prowess during the instrumental Paradiso, a song that could transport you to a world of serenity and relaxation.

Gretchen Peters & I at The High Barn, Great Bardfield, Essex. June 25th 2013

Gretchen Peters & I at The High Barn, Great Bardfield, Essex. June 25th 2013

Gretchen and band were joined on stage a couple of times by Ben Glover, and they all brought the evening to a close with a cover of The Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses, a song I am ashamed to say for many years I thought belonged to The Sundays. I met Gretchen after the gig and she was absolutely charming, warm and funny. I bought an incredible Woman On The Wheel Live CD/DVD of hers which is packaged in a beautiful hardback book full of photos, thoughts and lyrics – signed, it makes an amazing memento from the gig. The whole night, from the music, to the setting, was just spectacular. I now have some new artists (to me) whose music I will listen to and progress I will chart, and a venue in The High Barn that am keen to return to. One of my favourite nights of live music.

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