The Welcome Wagon Announce New Album Light Up the Stairs

The Welcome Wagon
Image Courtesy of The Welcome Wagon

New York based gospel-folk duo The Welcome Wagon have just released their new album Light Up the Stairs, following a successful Kickstarter campaign

The Welcome Wagon make some of the sweetest Christen folk music going, heavily influenced by their label mate and producer Sufjan Stevens. In fact Light Up the Stairs will feature a cover of “The Greatest Gift”, written by Sufjan Stevens and recently released as the title track of his recent mixtape.

Check out the full track listing plus the lyric video for the album’s title track “Light Up The Stairs” below:

1. Galatians
2. All These Trees
3. HCQ1
4. In the Garden
5. Light up the Stairs
6. St. Tom’s Lullaby
7. The Outside Road
8. Maybe You’re Right
9. It’s so Hard
10. Lamb of God
11. The Greatest Gift

Bluesfest Review: Sweet Sunday

Buddy Guy at Bluesfest. Photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography

It’s chocolate day! And as we enter through the Southern gates the sounds of Lloyd Spiegel making the crowd laugh with his tales welcomes us to another glorious day of Blues, before we can hear Spiegel breaking in to a blistering rendition of “Lucille”. It’s his last tune, so maybe we’ll catch him again tomorrow.

Our main aim is to grab lunch and make haste to see Glenn Cardier and the Sideshow, at 1:30pm on the Delta stage. It’s a modest but keen crowd as Cardier’s moody blues kicks off the day. The Sideshow delivers a tight meld of consummate musicians, producing a slick sound and emotive melody from the album ‘Stranger Than Fiction’. A high energy and animated performance of “Rust in my Tail Fin” has us all going, and you’ve got to love a piano accordion in the mix with electric guitar, acoustic drums and a double bass!

Heading to the Mojo stage for a 2pm grin-fest Jake Shimabukuro and his wicked ukulele. Touting his new album recorded in Nashville, Shimabukuro is accompanied only by an electric bass. The strummy sound of a ukulele can brighten the most melancholy tune and the Beatle’s “Eleanor Rigby” does just that as an opening, a delicate and haunting treatment of a favourite that turns up the energy with smooth bass underpinning. Shimabukuro’s sense of humour and light banter is perfect for the sunny afternoon and he introduces a song inspired by his favourite show growing up. The song is called “Ukelele-5-0” and we all laugh along with the joke as high energy and spirited number traverses tempo and vibe, delivering a sense of emotion, through a journey that awakens the mind and heart of us all. His epic dexterity and speed builds to crescendo and then lulls in to a beautifully entwined and intricate plucked wonder. After a decadent medley of some favourite pop tunes, and something with a Spanish flair, he finishes the set with a crowd sing-a-long to Bohemian Rhapsody!

We make our way to catch Mud Morganfield at 3pm on the Delta stage. With a honky tonk style sound filled with riffing beats, twanging electric guitar, jiving keys and a whole lot of sass pouring forth from the stage, we’re all bopping along before we even know it. A wicked harmonica solo herald the entrance of the man himself, the son of legend Muddy Waters, Mud Morganfield steps out on stage. This is real old school blues, where you can’t help but sway along. The entire crowd is tapping, bopping or swaying to the old time jive sensibilities transporting us to another time.

After grabbing a quick drink and bite to eat, we settle in to witness Buddy Guy take over Bluesfest in his 5:30pm set on the Crossroads stage. His performance is so highly anticipated that the crowd not only packs out the tent and overflows behind, but is also overflowing to the sides, all the way to the big screen and back to the craft beer bar. And Buddy didn’t disappoint. Starting big and only going bigger, he may be 80 but he gives the rest of his band a run for their money. Resplendent in polka dots, Buddy commands the stage with both his presence and his swaggering guitar riffs. His voice shackled the high notes and melted all the way down through every blues note with such passion and showmanship. The extremely talented members of his musical collective frame his iconic style perfectly, as he brings it right down and plays with the audience, teasing us right up to the punchy, powerhouse moments. When an Octogenarian plays the guitar with his goddamn elbow, followed by his “belt buckle” you know this is the cheekiest 80-year-old we’ll ever see.

We pop up to the Juke Joint at 6:30pm to check out Max Jury. Opening with a chilled vibe with just Jury on keyboard and singing a solemn love song, it’s a great stepping stone to the full ensemble as the 5-piece band joins him on stage, complete with two female backing singers. We’re treated to “Numb”, a soul filled tune with glorious backing vocal harmonies and followed by “Little Jean Jacket” a tender melancholy, with sweet backing vocals building a soft cocoon around the sentimentality of the song, as the mellow bass and drums slide in underneath and lift the music to flow out over the crowd. As Jury moves from the keys to strings, glorious uplifting backing vocals presents “Ella’s Moonshine”, a more upbeat tempo shifts the whole vibe to more of a troubadour or journeyman style.

After some delicious dinner, we visit the Mojo stage for Michael Kiwanuka’s 8:30pm set and are greeted with an epic intro full of synth, and eventually Kiwanuka joins the stage with a guitar that sings its way through the crowd, calling us together to join the night. A smooth, soulful “Cold Little Heart” rolls forth with velvet like vocals and the crowd flocks to him, drawn by the enigmatic quality of his music.

We move along, wearied by the days of music to experience, and make one last stop for the day at 9pm to Jambalaya for legend Mavis Staples. We saw her last year and could not miss her this year, even if just for a glimpse. Staples walks on stage oozing style and panache, and gives a cheeky knowing look as she and her retinue blasts out  a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” as a statement opening number with signature beautiful harmonised backing and an edge of funk to the whole delivery. The entire performance demonstrates Staples’ professionalism, working with the backing vocalists and delivering a slick production that is rehearsed and wonderfully collaborative in its style. Opportunities to showcase each vocalist and their contribution or specialty are plentiful and it’s clear that time was taken to plan the set to highlight different members of the ensemble. Staples addresses the crowd, telling us that “at Bluesfest, the people are so warm and beautiful, we are welcomed, hospitality plus, personality plus. It’s our family! We bring you greetings from the Windy City. We’ve come this evening to bring you some joy, some happiness, some inspiration” as the most glorious rendition of “The Weight” then carries us in to the night.

It may have been traditionally a day filled with chocolate, but we’ve filled our senses with spectacular performances and astounding music, and very excited for the last day of Bluesfest still to come.

Catch up on all the action:
Good Friday Review
Easter Saturday Review

View our full Bluesfest photo gallery on our Facebook Page.

Highlights from Sunday at Bluesfest

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Michael Kiwanuka Announces New Album Love & Hate

Michael Kiwanuka
Image Courtesy of Michael Kiwanuka

English soul-folk singer Michael Kiwanuka has just announced plans to release his brand new album Love & Hate on the 27th May. The album was recorded in Los Angeles and London by award winning producer (and personal non-folk related favourite) Danger Mouse and young up and coming producer Inflo.

“I’ve always wanted to make an album that felt and sounded like this one,” Kiwanuka explained. “Working with guys as good as Danger Mouse and Inflo really helped me find what I was looking for. I hope this is just the start of more music to come.”

The first taster of Love & Hate is the gospel infused “Black Man In A White World” – check out the brand new video here:

The Blind Boys of Alabama Announce Bluesfest Sideshows

Image Courtesy of The Blind Boys of Alabama

Legendary gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama will be down our way in 2016 for Bluesfest and have just announcedsideshows in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Check out the full list of dates below:

Thursday 24th to Monday 28th March – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Thursday 31st March – QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 1st April – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 2nd April – Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Free New Music From The Welcome Wagon

Welcome Wagon
Image Courtesy of The Welcome Wagon

Americana husband and wife gospel-folk duo The Welcome Wagon are currently working on a new batch of songs for their latest LP in 2016, and have decided to give a sampler away for free titled A Work of Love in Progress.

Best known as collaborators with Sufjan Stevens, this is The Welcome Wagon’s first new material since their 2012 release Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices.

If you want to get your hands on four new tracks check out NoiseTrade here.

Watch the New Gurrumul Video “Amazing Grace” Featuring Paul Kelly

Image Courtesy of Gurrumul

The lastest video from Gurrumul’s new album The Gospel Album is a stunning version of “Amazing Grace” featuring Australian legend Paul Kelly. “Amazing Grace” is one of those timeless folk songs that everyone is intimately familiar with, yet Gurrumul manages to add something new to the tradition.

Watch “Amazing Grace” below:

Watch the New Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Video “S.O.B.”

Nathaniel Rateliff
Image Courtesy of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

The latest video from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ upcoming self titled album (due on the 21st August) is for the extremely catchy track “S.O.B.”. I love the allusions to the Blues Brothers in the video and the gospel overtones of the track.

Check out “S.O.B.” below:

Gurrumul Announces The Gospel Album

Image Courtesy of Gurrumul

Celebrated NT singer-songwriter Gurrumul has announced plans to release his highly anticipated third studio album, The Gospel Album, on the 31st July this year. The album features songs reimagined from the spirituals that were brought to north-east Arnhem Land by the Christian missionaries.

The full track listing for The Gospel Album is below:

1. Jesu
2. Trinity
3. Nhaku Limurr
4. The Sweetest Name
5. All God’s Children (Yo Djamarrkuli)
6. Baptism
7. Garray Jesu (My Lord)
8. Hallelujah
9. Walu (Time)
10. Saviour
11. Amazing Grace
12. Riyala (There Is A River)

To celebrate the release of The Gospel Album Gurrumul has announced a national tour. The full list of dates are as follows:

Wednesday 29th July – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 2nd August – QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, QLD
Wednesday 5th August – Festival Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 8th August – Supersense Festival, Melbourne, VIC
Monday 10th August – Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra, ACT
Wednesday 12th August – Perth Concert Hall, Perth, WA

Australia’s First Ever Sacred Harp Singing Convention Hits Sydney

Sacred Heart Singing Convention
Image Courtesy of the Surry Hills Sacred Heart Singers

This October long weekend Sydney will be ringing with the sounds of old time American folk and gospel music when the first ever Sacred Harp Singing Convention. Singers will be traveling from all over the country and even overseas to converge on an old church hall in Annandale on Saturday the 6th October to sing this amazing music together.

Sacred Harp is a completely inclusive, communal and democratic form of music making open to singers of all ages and ability levels.

Everyone is welcome to come to the convention and sing or to just sit and listen. The day starts at 10am with donations welcome to help cover the cost of putting on the event. For more information check out the Surry Hills Sacred Heart Singers facebook group or the official Facebook invite here.

The Welcome Wagon Announce New Album

Welcome Wagon
Image Courtesy of The Welcome Wagon

It’s been 4 long years since the Sufjan Stevens produced first album from The Welcome Wagon but it looks like it’s been worth the wait. Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique make up the duo who sing their own brand of Sufjan-esque, gospel-folk music. Their latest outing, due for release on the 12th June, is titled Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices (after a 17th century Puritan book of the same name by Thomas Brooks) and is The Welcome Wagon’s response to the current doom and gloom climate facing the world.

“We’ve always thought of our music as a gift from God – to us, to the people we make it with, and to anybody who listens and enjoys it,” explains Vito. “It’s always had this spiritual aspect to it, and for this album, we think of it as music that serves as spiritual medicine.”

The first single from the album is “Would You Come and See Me in New York” which can be downloaded free here and has a video below:

That’s the album cover art above and the track listing for Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices is below:

1. I’m Not Fine
2. My God, My God, Parts 1 & 2
3. I Know That My Redeemer Lives
4. Rice and Beans (But No Beans)
5. High
6. Remedy
7. Would You Come And See Me In New York
8. My Best Days, Parts 1 & 2
9. Lo He Comes With Clouds Descending
10. Draw Nigh
11. The Strife Is O’er
12. God Be With You Til We Meet Again
13. Nature’s Goodnight

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