Festival Review: AmericanaFest Showcases- London – Day 2 – 30th January 2019


Festival Review

AmericanaFest Showcases

London – Day 2 – 30th January 2019 

6pm – The Blue Highways @ Oslo

The Blue Highways, not to be confused with Blue Highway, are a London based four piece, who formed last March. Their bassist, Pete, could not play the bass when they formed. For all of this, their performance was tight and enjoyable. Their strongest song came, Take Me Away, came third in their set and even though I had only heard it a few times (listening to the AMA Fest playlist on Spotify in preparation) I found myself singing along. The lead singers’ voice reminds me of a young Joe Cocker and if their songwriting continues to be on par with Take Me Away, these guys should do well.

The Blue Highways // AmericanaFest 2019 // Photo Credit: Claire Stones

They continued their set with three songs they hadn’t previously played live, which whilst risky for a showcase, you wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t been told. There wasn’t a bad song and I look forward to seeing them play live again. I would recommend checking them out, especially if you like strong male voices.

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6.30pm – Dylan Earl @ Night Tales

Dylan Earl, from Arkansas, USA, played alone with an acoustic guitar, on a cold stage underneath the rail tracks. Wearing a coat, white cowboy hat and sunglasses he looked a little strange, but it did not detract from the quality of his set. With a voice that seems to be a mixture of Alan Jackson and someone else I have yet to put my finger on, he played mainly a collection of songs from his first LP and new ones. The showcase was enjoyable, his voice was great, and he is definitely on my to see again list. I will be interested to listen to his new album due out this spring.

Dylan Earl // AmericanaFest 2019 // Photo Credit: Claire Stones

Check out Dylan Earl if you like your country more understated or just like a good voice.

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7pm – The Hanging Stars @ Empire Bar

The Hanging Stars are London-based psych-folk-country quintet, who played their showcase at the Empire Bar. Fitting 5 people, including drums and pedal steel, onto the small stage area was an impressive feat but didn’t allow for much movement.

Their set, whilst full of songs I would be happy to listen to again, was hindered by their vocals being too low in the mix. They played a collection of upbeat songs, which combined the great sound of Joe Harvey-Whyte on pedal steel, with more standard band fare of guitar, bass, keyboard and drums. This helps lend an early country rock sound to their music (early Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers) but there was also a late 90s/early 00s britpop/indie sound to the lead singer, Richard Olson’s, voice.

Check them out if you like early country rock, and/or pedal steel in your music.

The Hanging Stars // AmericanaFest 2019 // Photo Credit: Claire Stones

[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”861″ display=”pro_horizontal_filmstrip”]THE HANGING STARS – WEBSITE // TWITTER // INSTAGRAM // FACEBOOK

8pm – Mike Farris @ Empire Bar

Mike Farris, from Nashville, Tennessee, may have released his first solo record in 2002, but it doesn’t seem to have dulled his energy when performing. He performed a set that would have gone over well in a much larger room. The music he played was a mixture between old school Rockabilly and RnB, which was in keeping with his rather impressive quiff. His voice, which is amazingly similar to Sam Cooke, was a joy to hear and it made the two Sam Cooke covers included with his original material the highlights of his set. During his rendition of A Change is Gonna Come the bar was silent.

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If you like your Americana of an older variety, have a listen to Mike Farris.

Mike Farris // AmericanaFest 2019 // Photo Credit: Claire Stones



9pm – Beth Rowley @ Empire Bar

Beth Rowley, recently released her second album, 10 years after her first. If you haven’t heard it, whilst different to the first, it is well worth a listen. Her showcase, which was made up of 7 songs from the album, including a new version of Only One Cloud, didn’t disappoint. Her voice and soulful performance had the audience captivated. With her backing band, which included Joe Harvey-Whyte of The Hanging Stars on Pedal Steel, provided a great rounded sound that complimented her voice well.

If you liked Beth’s first record, or enjoy a great female voice singing a pop/gospel/soul mix, you should give her new album, Gota Fria a listen. Beth is currently on tour around the UK.

Beth Rowley // AmericanaFest2019 // Photo Credit: Claire Stones


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930 – Wade Bowen @ Moth Club

Wade Bowen is from Waco, Texas and is a Country singer/songwriter. I only caught his final song, but if you like Country music of the melancholic variety, it is worth checking out his latest album.

Wade Bowen // AmericanaFest2019 // Photo Credit: Claire Stones

Wade is currently on tour in the US.

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10pm – The Rails @ Moth Club

The Rails are James Walbourne and Kami Thompson, and are currently in the studio recording their third album. Playing together as The Rails since 2013, they combine classic English Folk music with more contemporary songs about London and the general pain of love.

Their set included songs from both their previous albums with two new songs, destined for their new record. As I have come to expect from The Rails, their performance included good music, with light hearted chat and a guitar solo from James.

The Rails // AmericanaFest2019 // Photo Credit: Claire Stones

Whilst not your standard Americana/Folk duo, The Rails bring together good song writing with good voices and put on a performance worth seeing. Their music is a must for anyone who likes their music depressing, they don’t do happy songs, for English folk fans after a new band, or anyone who enjoys songs with a little more depth.

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