Review: Band of Friends & Andy Fairweather-Low & The Low Riders, ABC O2, Glasgow – 22 January 2015

Review: Band of Friends & Andy Fairweather-Low & The Low Riders, ABC O2, Glasgow – 22 January 2015

Feb 11, 2015

Have you heard the one about the Dutchman, the Irishman and the Scotsman…joined by a Frenchman that rocked out and blew the roof the ABCO2 Glasgow.  This evening always promised to more than a tribute to the great Irish blues man Rory Gallagher and they turned night into a homage to his musical spirit.

Band of Friends are a powerhouse of a trio with an amazing pedigree. Bass maestro Gerry McAvoy played on every album Rory ever made and with an array of acts including Champion Jack Dupree, Nine Below Zero and Deep Joy.

Drumming legend Ted McKenna played with Rory Gallagher from 1978-81 though is best known for his work with The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. He also played and recorded with Greg Lake of ELP, Gary Moore, Michael Schenker and Ian Gillan of Deep Purple.

Making up the band is Dutch Marcel Scherpenzeel (guitar/vocals) who grew up with Rory’s music and Gerry promises: “This is the closest guitarist to Rory you will ever hear” and boy did he show his prowess.

It was almost impossible to decipher what was an original, band written blues rocker or one of Rory’s own composition.

bands posterMid show they brought on, from Brittany, Dan Ar Braz who showed amazing skill on guitar and added another layer to the sound. Dan is joined on stage, for a soft duo instrumental interlude this evening by Celtic Connections very own Donald Shaw for the beautiful “Qwertz Rory”.  It was a stunning evening of blues rock but the night’s shining star was Rory Gallagher.

Opening tonight was an act I have been longing to see for years and never seemed to get around to. Boy how I have missed out on a supreme showman!

Andy Fairweather-Low backed by one of the tightest bands I have seen in a long while; jumped musical genres for their 50 minute support slot, giving a very appreciative audience some instrumental Exotica, storming hot blues, 60’s covers (which I could take or leave) and two of his finest compositions, the title track from his classic 1974 album La Booga Rooga and the hit song I have grown up loving Wide Eyed and Legless.

At the start of the show he informed us that he’s been playing for 51 years now and usually gives a two and a half hour show like down on the Ferry where he has visited Glasgow for the last seven years.

I’ll be front of the queue next tour.

Tom Hamilton

The Music Loft/Celtic Music Blues Hour

Tuesday nights 10pm to midnight

Review: Oh Susanna and Denis Ellsworth, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 27 January 2015

Review: Oh Susanna and Denis Ellsworth, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 27 January 2015

Feb 10, 2015

Canada has always punched above its weight on the singer-songwriter stage. Not just with some of the biggest names who still continue throughout the years to get better, this vast country has given us some of the most intelligent wordsmiths to put note to string.

Opening tonight’s “Canadian affair” is Prince Edward Island resident Dennis Ellsworth, a prolific writer and troubadour with a fine plaintive sound.

Any artist who can write a song about a pet and not make it sickly sweet but truly heartfelt is OK in my books. He is joined mid set by rising folk star John Smith who adds an amazing layer to the music. The two have been writing and the results are sublime “Perfect Storm” being a prime example written together just three days after they met. I have to mention the final song a cover of an unreleased Elvis Presley song called Dark Moon which Dennis learned off of a You Tube video, one of the finest songs I have heard in a long time.

Oh SusannaSuzie Ungerleider – aka ‘Oh Susanna’, informed us that she has been coming over to Glasgow and the UK for the last 15 years from her home in Toronto, gaining her a loyal and enthusiastic fan base over here.

She opens the show with the title track from her 2001 album Sleepy Little Sailor and if it has been a while since seeing her live, you can hear the depth that has grown in her vocals. She is joined on stage from the start by the immensely talented Jim Bryson on keyboard, guitar and a box of gizmos.

The majority of the show is based around her most recent album “Namedropper” a selection of covers with a difference.

Suzie wrote and called various songwriter friends and heroes to ask them to contribute by writing an original song for Suzie to record. She informed us that onlt a couple declined or never got back, but the pedigree of who agreed are Canadians finest wordsmiths.

Tonight’s highlights and there were a lot of them, like Joel Plasket’s Into My Arms a more rock feel than usual, her partner for the night Jim Bryson contributed the stunning tune “Oregon” which caused shiver down my spine, but the piano driven epic version of Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy song brought the house down.

Some of the finest female vocalists and songwriters have come out of Canada over the recent years with the likes of KD Lang and Neko Case; well make space on the list for Oh Sussanna it’s her time now. Outstanding!

Tom Hamilton

Presenter, Celtic Music Radio 95FM

The Music Loft, Tuesdays 10.00pm

Review: Julie Murphy & Diane Cannon, The Piping Centre, Saturday 17 January

Ah!! My first show of Celtic Connections 2015 was a tricky affair to get to. The temperature had dropped and the snow had turned to ice with not a sign of any of the pavements being salted. Twice or three, I near came a cropper but stayed vertical all the way to the top of Hope Street to the fabulous Piping Centre on MacPhater Street, Cowcaddens on Saturday night, 17 January.

First on stage was Diane Cannon, a native of Meenlaragh at the heart of the Donegal Gaeltacht, now setting roots in Belfast where she forges two musical paths between Traditional and Country music.

She opens the show with a fine interpretation of Pierce Turner’s “Among the Wicklow Hills” which is given the slightest country tinge to the Christy Moore version she learned the song from.

It is a taster for a wonderful set mixing contemporary folk songs with her fine traditional Gaelic “Sean-nos” (old style) singing. Accompanied by two fine young musicians on fiddle and guitar/bouzouki she graciously gives them a spot though time is limited to enthral the audience with a couple of fine jigs.  Diane informs the small but very appreciative audience that she is suffering a bit but on her first visit to CC, but her voice is crystal clear and oh so expressive.

Julie Murphy (pictured), London born Essex raised and now resident in Wales, gets described as an unsung hero of the British folk scene but having recently collaborated with such luminaries as John Cale, Afro Celt Sound System and Robert Plant, as well as being heralded by Whispering Bob Harris and the late great John Peel, who described her 1999 debut solo album ‘Black Mountain Revisited’ as “truly, truly beautiful”?

Tonight’s show promises to be just that on the strength of her 2012 solo album The Quite Room her first in 10 years. It promises to be an intimate affair featuring just Murphy on piano and Ceri Owen Jones on harp and trombone.

She opens with the achingly beautiful ‘Essex Song’ a tribute to her origins. It is based around ‘the Bushes and the Briars’ an inspiration for composer Vaughn Williams.

Up next she explains the source of ‘Convoy’ , my favourite track from The Quite Room, having discovered Cornish poet Charles Causley’s poetry through friend folk singer Jim Causley she then set his humble words to music. It is made even more powerful by the inclusion of excerpts from a diary her father kept in 1945 as a 20 year old on-board convoys in the merchant navy.

Quite stunning, as is the rest of the evening where she draws from her magnificent catalogue performing some stunning solo Welsh language songs reminding us of her other musical outlet, folk innovators Fernhill. The only cover of the evening is her interpretation of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Kathleen’, which she heard via social media and knew she had to record and is probably the finest version I have heard, accompanied only by Ceri’s sublime bittersweet harp.

I have attended and worked at Celtic Connection since it beginning and this show is one I will not forget for a long time. Can you tell I’m now a huge fan?

Tom Hamilton

Presenter, Celtic Music Radio 95FM

Jesus Taco, Bobby Vacant + Tobias Thomhave live!

Tom Hamilton will present a special Thursday edition of Homeward Bound on 24 April when he has no less than three guests in town for a gig coming into studio 1 for a chat and session.

The Jesus Taco play ‘folkadelica alt-country’; Bobby Vacant and The Worn plays folkrock/Americana and lastly, singer-songwriter Tobias Thomhave.

They are all in Glasgow to play McChuills, 40 High Street, Glasgow, just up from Glasgow Cross on Thursday 24 April from 9.00pm.

The Jesus Taco were legends even before they formed!  Brett Davidson (USA) on vocals, acoustic guitars and octave mandolin; Tyko Runesson (Sweden) on vocals, mandolins, acoustic guitars, blues harp and ukulele and Sascha Greuter (Switzerland) on electric and acoustic guitars, vocals, and other-worldly sound effects.

The Jesus Taco have released their debut album Folkuhila on Weak Records.

The singer-songwriter Bobby Vacant (pictured) with bassist/vocalist The Worn (Brigitte Meier) sing songs about roads and strangers, often with sad twists and turns along the way.

Of Tobias Thomhave, Celtic Music Radio’s Tom Hamilton says he is a “A poetic masterpiece!”

Homeward Bound with Tom Hamilton, Thursday 24 April 4.00-6.00pm.

Celtic Music Radio supports Fringe Americana this Wednesday

Celtic Music Radio & Fringe Americana presents The Moon Shiners, Jill Hepburn and Al Shields at Avant Garde, 34 King Street, Merchant City, Glasgow on Wednesday 26 September 2012 with a 8.00pm start.

The event is free but ticketed with tickets available by e-mail to or from behind the bar at Lauries Bar, King Street at two tickets per person.  More on the Glasgow Americana music festival on their website here.

The Moonshiners
Glasgow’s, nay Scotland’s finest Bluegrass band have been thrilling audiences since 1989 with their energy and authenticity. It is testimony to there longevity on how good these guys and gals are.

Jill Hepburn
Jill was a ‘bedroom songwriter’ for many years before finally summoning up the courage to go along to an open mic in the famous The Halt Bar in Woodlands Road, Glasgow where the enthusiastic response to her songs encouraged her to write and play more. Her debut album Snowflake was Album of the Week on BBC Radio Scotland’s Iain Anderson Show. She has just released her second album, a collection of songs written on banjo The Lantern Has Fallen. The Falkirk singer-songwriter had the honour of having tracks on it produced by one of her musical heroes, folk troubadour/Daintees front man Martin Stephenson, who also plays guitar on some tracks. Kenny Brady, formerly of The Fall, contributes fiddle, mandolin and backing vocals.

Al Shields
Al Shields is an Edinburgh-based songwriter, who’s influences are rooted in old-time country, folk and blues music. He released his fine debut album ‘Slow Burner’ in October 2011. He is originally from the Island of Bute where he grew up on a healthy diet of country and folk music from his mother’s record collection. Al moved to Edinburgh in 2005 and has recently had the privelege of supporting a number of international touring acts, including Joe Pug, Neal Casal, and Red Sky July. I caught him live at the Neal Casal show and was blown away!

Tom Hamilton presents ‘Music from the Loft’ and The Blues Hour on Tuesdays 10.00pm-12 midnight.

The Music Loft – playlist Tuesday 31 July 2012

Tom Hamilton presents and produces ‘The Music Loft’ every Tuesday night between 10.00 and 11.00pm.

Below is not the whole music list for the show.  My memory is going a bit these days – too much real ale I think!


Mark Growden – Trouble [ Cat Steven cover ] from the album Live at the Odeon

Abigail Grey – Dark Wood from the EP Dark Wood

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