I first saw Scott Nicholls play live last year at Camden Chapel. I was blown away with his performance and thought who is this artist? I need to know more. So I’ve been following his adventures through social media and his growing following as an artist. In 2020 he’s released ‘On Fire’, ‘Wild World’, ‘Cinderella’ and his latest single ‘Humble and Kind’ his version of the Lori McKenna classic.
In this podcast we talk about doing livestreams for a virtual audience and how much it means for an artist to feel the buzz and energy from being on stage and performing. Scott performs his next single to be released ‘More Than Love Is Me’ and ‘Humble and Kind’.
We talk about how love influences his songs and the way that you can’t produce music without it. We then talk about his experience of being a travelling musician on tour with Deanna Wheeler and her band with New Akansans.
We also talk about our love of vinyl and how it is such a special medium in capturing the voice and connecting you with an artist and giving you those goosebumps when you hear a song live.
On Saturday 11th July 2020 you can see Scott featured as one of the upcoming acts on Dixie Fields Streamed where he performs his version of Wild World. Check out the video he shot with his producer in Bushey Park, Richmond.
Click down below to hear the podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring Scott Nicholls. Also available on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and many other platforms.
Once in a while, a voice stops you dead in your tracks. The voice goes deep into your musical should and stops you cold. You look around to see if you have left this reality or have gone into another realm. I heard Eric Burton’s voice coupled with Adrian Quesada’s guitar on ‘Colors’ last year on Spotify and I must have played that track multiple, multiple times. It brought me immense pleasure and happiness to be moved by this deep, rich totally immersive sound. It was as if I had discovered an unknown treasure from the seventies one that had escaped the notice of all the music that has since passed.
There is an urgency in Eric’s voice a message that needs to be delivered to your heart bypassing your mind. It needs to open up that part of you that has become worn down by the relentless grey that is modern existence.
On 7th February 2020 at Islington Assembly Hall, London the Black Pumas continued with their Black Moon Rising tour they came and performed their music onto an audience who had travelled across the globe to hear them play. As far as Venezuela to Spain fans had travelled to experience in person the music of this incredible band.
From the first opening chords of ‘Old Man’ the Black Pumas gripped the audience and a wave of positivity, warmth and electricity flowing through the concert venue which went through each and every fan. We knew this was special that this was a night to say afterwards that we had seen the Black Pumas live. Lets not forget that the Black Pumas are a duo and the other half of that duo is Adrian Quesada and without his guitar and the almighty power he wields with that instrument there would not be those delicious hooks and riffs to thrill and excite your senses.
Hearing the album the self titled ‘Black Pumas’ you are transported to a world full of funkadelic soul, pulsing electronic heartbeats of bass with hypnotic beats. When you hear this music live in concert the effect is magnified a thousand fold sending shivers down your spine. Your feet can’t help but move along to the rhythms of the music.
The whole atmosphere at the audience was electric, sending positive energy back to the band by singing the words to each and every song. And then Eric stepped it up another level by singing ‘Fire’ into the crowd itself. Surrounded by fans the whole audience went estactic.
Then Eric vaulted the security barrier and lept back on stage leaving the crowd hungry for more music and for the night not to end.
What a show, a performance from the band that easily rates as being in the top ten live experiences I’ve been to. Well worth the wait of all these past months to a glimpse of the mercurial talents of these exceptional musicians. It’s no wondered Black Pumas were nominated for a Grammy this year for Best New Artist.
Then as the last song came over a silence came over the crowd. Surely it couldn’t end, not this evening of pure soul?
Of course it didn’t as the band came back to an uproarious encore when Eric asked the crowd if they wanted to hear another song? The crowd erupted with a almighty ‘YESSSSSS’ and so Eric sang an acoustic version of the Beatles classic ‘Eleanor Rigby’.
Then this evening of supreme came to an end. We had witnessed music in it’s purest form connecting us not only with the artists but with each of us who were in the venue.
As if the night couldn’t get any better Eric then launched into a cover of Tracey Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’ a sublime mix of soulful vocals and words to connect with the audiences souls.
What next for the Black Pumas? They are currently on a path that is leading them to be interstellar. For now I can say that I was there at ground zero seeing them lift off on career that will take them into the stars.
‘Bluebird, Blue Flew by caught my eye and I fell in love with blue Don’t know what to do Sweet song lead me on I just wanna follow you.’
Harking back to the best of country and bluegrass, Dawn Landes follows in the tradition of Hank Williams and Jimmy Driftwood. On 7th December 2019 Dawn Landes performed at The Grace, London and brought with her the echoes of those musical heroes on a grey night. A voice that carries you to a land of harmonies, love and laughter.
Songs that evoke feelings of the open road, travelling across wide open skies, the joys of whiskey and the downfalls of that mercurial liquor. Fleeting memories of heartbreak brought vividly to life on stage by an artist whose dextrous finger picking skills on the guitar are sublime.
Dawn sang songs from ‘Bluebird’ and ‘Meet Me at the River’ starting with the title track ‘Bluebird’, ‘Keep on Moving’, ‘Bodyguard’, ‘What Will I Do’, and ‘Wind and Rain’ which is a stunning song about the effects of the elements not just on the landscape but as a metaphor on the eternal battles that swirl within us all.
The song that brought Dawn to my attention was ‘What Is The Color Of The Soul Of Man’. A song about the politics of colour, race and belonging. An extraordinary song considering it’s origins are from the 1960’s. A time of racial upheaval which still continues to be felt now sixty years later.
This was followed by ‘How To Say “I Love You”‘ and ‘Why They Name Whiskey After Men’. A real show stopper was when Down took off her right shoe to sing ‘I’m Your Mamma’ acapella and create the percussion elements of the song by stamping her feet and her thighs. A truly original way of bringing the song to life and using her own body to be the instruments!
Dawn ended the evening with two songs the first was the classic ‘Lost Highway’ a phenomenal performance which showcased Dawn’s vocal abilities and kept the hearts and minds of the audience captivated.
The final song was ‘Silent Night’ which Dawn performed had only recently added to the setlist. This was the second time that I had heard this sung by an american artist that week. The first had been by Sarah Darling at Union Chapel and now again in a smaller venue but one no less potent or sung with such emotion.
I had been waiting to hear Dawn sing her songs and perform live for more than a year. Now meeting Dawn in person was an absolute pleasure and was the perfect way to end a year of seeing live music and supporting artists from a music genre that is thriving and brings to life a feeling of love and genuine affection from fans from this grey island.
‘Blue skies smiling at me. Nothing but blue skies. Do I see Bluebirds? Singing a song nothing but Bluebirds all day long.’
When angels visit us, we do not hear the rustle of wings, nor feel the feathery touch of the breast of a dove; but we know their presence by the love they create in our hearts. It was billed as the concert to end all Christmas concerts, something for the history books, a point in time forever etched onto the minds of those who were there.
When Sarah Darling stepped onto the Union Chapel stage on 2nd December 2019 no one could have predicted the joy and happiness that erupted and burst through the winter gloom that had started to grip the capital city.
Opening the evenings entertainment with ‘Where Cowboys Ride’ this ode to the frontiersmen of the west which has over 3 million plays on Spotify exemplified all the best of Sarah’s vocal talents. Backed by her band of brothers the song carried you away to those open skies where horses run and prairie landscapes.
England and more specifically London has been the second home for the Iowan native who has spent so much time touring these isles that when she returns to Nashville friends believe she has an English accent. You know that Sarah has turned native when she sings about the weather, a national obsession for anyone who lives on this emerald isle.
Sarah’s songs such as ‘Blue Sky’ and ‘London Fog’ dramatically conjure up all those feelings associated by being in wide open spaces with azure blue skies and the silvery dusky fog that still settles in London mornings.
Having acted as her own warm up act Sarah introduced Jamie Lawson a phenomenal singer songwriter who was the first artist to signed up to Ed Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man Records. Singing ‘I wasn’t expecting That’ and ‘Hallelujah’ he blew away the crowd with his passion and intensity of delivery to produce a stunning performance.
And then as the ecstatic audience applauded Jamie for his music, Sarah came back on stage and introduced her next guest stars The Wandering Hearts.
Now this evening was beginning to look like we had been transported a million miles away to the Grand Ole Opry. Where rising stars of country perform to showcase their unique contribution to the pantheon of country legends that had stepped on stage before them.
Then Sarah had the audience in the palm of her hands. What delight were to come next?
The answer to that came in shape of new songs that Sarah had been working on in Los Angeles and the Campfire Sessions. ‘Hungover’, ‘Waves’ ‘Drive away with You’ and ‘Leave the Pieces’
After an intermission Sarah came back onstage in a new sparkly black dress which shimmered in the lights. This was not the only thing that sparkled as Sarah introduced the sister duo Ward Thomas onto the stage to sing three songs ‘Landslide’, ‘River’ and her new single also featuring Ward Thomas ‘Divide’.
Ward Thomas were simply divine and the harmonies that they produced with Sarah on these songs weer breathtaking. It was my first time hearing and seeing Ward Thomas perform and I am forever grateful to Sarah for this gift. Truly the evening was one musical gift after another especially with the three guest star artists that had performed this night.
Then as this was a Christmas concert Sarah sang such Christmas hits as ‘Santa Baby’, ‘Have yourself a Merry little Christmas’, ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Silent Night’. Now when Sarah sang this last song she did so unplugged and acoustically. What better venue to sing ‘Silent Night’ then at Union Chapel. The audience were silent, all were mesmerised by the pure sound coming from the angel praising the birth of Christ.
Sarah left the stage to rapturous applause from the audience. What an extraordinary night had been enjoyed by all who were lucky enough to attend. Would there be anything else left for Sarah to showcase?
The answer came when Sarah appeared on stage again and delivered two more songs ‘Monmatre’ and Hailey’s Comet’. ‘Monmatre’ is Sarah’s love song to the city of love, Paris. It exquisitely captures the essence and magic of that eternal beacon of romance.
What a way to end the nights performance than with this song. A once in a lifetime natural phenomenon that lights up the universe with its fiery approach emblazoned across the night sky.
Sarah lit up the sky’s tonight with her whole soul. A messenger from the Heavens, a traveller from Nashville, tonight heralded the return of the native. The musician who belongs to two cities but who had captured the heart of London this night and every night.
Freya Ridings is a phenomenon. A home grown worldwide music sensation who has captured the hearts of fans across the globe. The north London singer songwriter played to a sold out show at Hammersmith Apollo on 22nd November 2019.
The first time she had been in this venue was aged nine and here she was not watching the main act but headlining the show.
Freya opened the show with ‘Love is Fire’ her new single and a stunning example of how she blends her lyrics with her voice to achieve a ballad of exceptional power.
This was the fourth time that I had seen Freya perform and each time she has grown more confident in delivering her songs. her stories, her history and taking that personal joy and anguish and turning into a way of connecting with her audience that at once makes them feel like old friends and spectators in the secret life of Freya Ridings.
One of the nights biggest anthems was ‘Castles’ a stunning song that soared up and above into and through the audience. You feel the passion and the performance of star in control of her vocal abilities delivered in her own unique way. London Community Gospel Choir appeared as if by magic to provide heavenly support at key moments throughout the performance.
Freya is capitalising on the momentum generated from her self titled album ‘Freya Ridings’ by showcasing her songs, ‘Blackout’, ‘Maps, Unconditional, ‘Waking Up’ and Ultraviolet.
Ending her main performance Freya came back for an encore with the song ‘Ultraviolet’ and ended the night with ‘Holy Water’ and an explosion of silver and blue confetti which covered the whole auditorium.
A stunning performance from an artist who continues to amaze and delight with her passionate delivery of intimate ballads that captures the hearts and minds of fans across the globe. Truly Freya Ridings is the voice of a generation.
The Gods of Rock came down from Mount Olympus to O2 Brixton Academy on 3rd November 2019 and they brought the weapons of lightning, mixed with maelstrom of sound and unleashed them onto this corner of Albion.
My prayers were answered and the promised land of musical genius was within reach. The voice of Jay Buchanan filled the venue and electrified every soul with his stunning range and vocal power. Not a single breath was wasted, it was a performance of sheer genius. Ably supported by his fellow celestial beings Scott Holiday (Guitar), Michael Miley (Drums), Dave Beste (Bass and backing vocals) and Todd Ögren (Keyboards). You knew you were at a night of music that will live on in the annals of musical history.
I knew I was ticking off my musical bucket list this night. Having waited over a year to see Rival Sons this was well worth the wait. This is a band at the heights of their musical prowess and shined in the limelight. Looking around at the faces of the audience all you could see was happiness in their eyes. Headbanging fans kept pace with each guitar riff and drum solo.
Jay was in his element, savouring each rapturous applause to songs and taking in the moment. At times he would stand still and just listen as the audience sang back the lyrics to songs such as “Shooting Stars’.
Rival Sons performed songs throughout their back catalogue opening with ‘End of Forever’ from the album ‘Feral Roots’ and ‘Electric Man’ from ‘Great Western Valkyrie’ and ‘Keep on Swinging’ from ‘Head Down’.
It may not have been the loudest concert that i’ve been to that was Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real earlier on in the year but for pure unadulterated entertainment Rival Sons took everything above and beyond the call of musical duty.
Instead of doing an encore with the band walking off stage Jay told the enraptured audience that if it was alright with them he would just carry on playing more rock anthems. The end of the night finally came when Jay sand ‘Do your Worst’ a fitting tribute to all the worshippers of the mighty Rival Sons.
My experience didn’t end just there as I got to meet the whole band which for this fan boy was totally out of body experience. To add to that getting the whole band to sign my copy of ‘Feral Roots’ along with the tour poster truly made for a magical evening.
Emily Mae Winters first appearance at Bush Hall, London 29th October 2019 was an absolute treat for fans of folk, americana and country. It was my first time seeing Emily and it will not be the last. With a voice that carries you across the divide of folk and country this was a poet of the heart who spins tales of heartbreak, love and longing.
A unique voice that was mesmerising, haunting and hypnotic to the point where the rest of the world ceased to exist and you stepped into a place between worlds. A land that merged the echoes of americana with the skies of country and the landscapes of folk.
Emily’s solo debut album Siren Serenade showcased her enormous abilities as a poet. One of my favourite tracks from that album is ‘Blackberry Lane’ a song that Emily wrote about leaving London. It hooks into your mind and heart and doesn’t let go.
These are songs that hark back to Emily’s Irish roots and to the rhythms of Irish folk music kept alive with songs like ‘Fiddlers Green’ and ‘The Ghost of a Pirate Queen’. It’s as if the past has been brought back to life with Emily’s exquisite words and emotion reaching you on the inside and taking root inside you.
Go listen to Emily’s second album which was released in June 2019 ‘High Romance’ is a natural progression from the 2017 album. It crystallises the themes and ideas from that musical journey into a new direction. The album shows Emily’s confident vocals as they capture your imagination in an emotionally charged musical experience.
Emily’s live performance was phenomenal. It heightened all the emotional qualities of the lyrics and made them connect with melodious vocals with a strength and power that should have been beyond someone who has only begun her path into the worlds of folk, americana and country.
Emily’s voice, lyrics and stage presence has made a lasting impact on me and once you listen to her singing you’ll be a convert to this musical minstrel of that I’m sure. I’m looking forward to the time I can enter into her world of music again. I never want to leave.
Into darkness John Newman stepped onto the stage at O2 Shepherds Bush Empire on 16th October 2019. He had performed at small intimate venues earlier on in the year as a way of reconnecting with his music and his fans but this was an altogether different beast.
Those gigs were a way of overcoming his very personal mental struggles with fame, of losing his way musically and finding a way to harness the energy inside of him to perform again not just for a handful of die hard fans but for a wider musical audience. Would they connect with him? Would the music reach their souls? Could he win the battle for hearts and minds?
The audience were hushed in anticipation for John’s arrival and then the spotlight exploded and drowned John in light and the stage shone with John surrounded by a full band and backing singers. His opening song was ‘Not Giving In’. The lyrics speak for themselves.
“Time to make these things feel right, Oh, let’s start this show Let’s shine this time”
From that first opening song John electrified and captivated an audience with his energy, passion and showmanship in delivering hit after hit after hit. From ‘Feelings’, ‘Cheating’ ‘Losing Sleep’ and ‘The hardest word is Goodbye’ these songs were anthems. They were a call to the audience to join in and celebrate John’s music by singing the lyrics back to him with fire in their eyes and love in their hearts.
One of my favourite of John’s new songs is ‘Forever’s not long Enough’ first performed at his small gigs tour I heard it performed at The Patterns nightclub in Brighton. Now with a full band behind him, it was sensational. It truly delivered a heartfelt message of keeping love alive across the ages.
Hit after hit, John’s energy and drive kept going reaching a crescendo with new songs like ‘Animal’ and ‘Without You’ ft Nina Nesbitt. For this song to really work live it needed Nina to be there on stage. And that’s exactly what happened when Nina walked onto stage and John and Nina performed the song. It was a surprise for the audience but one that drove their enthusiasm for John even higher.
John ended the evening with ‘Love Me Again’ a perfect way to end the concert. For all of John’s fears and anxieties simply melted away. He had captured the hearts and minds of the audience. This was John Newman reborn out of the ashes rising as a Phoenix again as the musical superstar he has always been.
Special mention has to be given to The Tors Band who have been opening up for John on this tour across England. The brothers Matt and Theo Weedon with Jack Bowden have been wowing audiences with their combination of electric harmonies and indie lyrics. It’s been great exposure for the band to play to such large audiences and they get to headline their own gig next year at Scala.