John Smith is a Spotify sensation having amassed over 40 million streams for his songs. On the podcast host CloudwatcherUno spoke with John about his childhood, his musical influences and his sixth album ‘The Fray’ which is released on Friday 26th March 2021 via Thirty Tigers.

John Smith, A troubadour for our times. Photo: Simon Whitehead

Having become a professional musician at the age of 22 and playing pubs and clubs for three years, John started to make a name for himself. He became known for being a virtuoso guitarist, exceptional lyricist and singer with the kind of voice that is dripped in velvet. He crossed paths with Cara Dillon and Lisa Hannigan and started touring all over England, Ireland and Australia as a side man while making his own records. His reputation as a session musician grew as he played for Lee Ann Rhimes, Roseanne Cash, Joan Baez and Tom Jones.

Starting off playing with the piano, then drums John settled for the guitar as his instrument of choice and has been playing this iconic instrument and has been a good friend to him for the last 27 years. Growing up John spent his time day dreaming at school, getting terrible grades and generally hating the experience until he went to University to study music and then out into the real world where he could do whatever he wanted.

John Smith whose velvet voice has captured the hearts of fans across the globe. Photo: Elly Lucas

John is a man on a mission to save your ears from the tedium that passes for music out there on the internet. His sixth album was written as a response to the cards that life had dealt him at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Having had his remaining gigs in Australia cancelled followed by distressing family heartache there didn’t seem much hope of retrieving his life as a touring musician.

John smith on the first day of recording ‘The Fray; at the Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studio.

John had one remaining card to play and in September 2020 he went back into the studio to begin work on his new album. With the help of long time friend and producer Sam Lakeman life was breathed into songs that began life on paper. The album is a testimony to the craft of song writing, arrangements and production that has been John’s signature sound.

John Smith on the podcast. Photo: CloudwatcherUno

Smith reached out to fellow musicians across the world to record remotely or virtually onto the album – Jessica Staveley-Taylor of The Staves, Sarah JaroszCourtney Hartman, The Milk Carton Kids, and Bill Frisell from the Americas and Smith’s frequent touring partner Lisa Hannigan via a virtual studio session in Dublin and others added their magic to the album.

‘Eye To Eye’ by John Smith (feat. Sarah Jarosz)

‘The Fray’ is a truly phenomenal album, that shows what it’s like to be vulnerable, to hold onto the dream of love when the reality and hard times has driven that to collapse.

John’s voice is the key to this album it takes your hand and carries you into a world that reflects the trails and tribulations of living life in the 21st century. ‘Friends’ is a love story to the bonds of friendships and all those souls who have come and gone and still mean that much in our lives. It showcases exquisite lyrics delivered by a voice from the gods. ‘Hold On’ is a beacon to us all that better times are coming and that we shouldn’t give up but find the will within ourselves to carry on living. ‘Eye To Eye’ is a plea to make things work out and making things right between lovers when all that remains is silence. ‘Deserving’ is the most honest song about love, heartbreak and wanting to be deserving of being in a relationship with another human being.

Update: On 28th March 2021 John played a show for fans to celebrate the release of the album. It was streamed live around the world by Mandolin as John performs from the legendary Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield.

John streaming live through Mandolin platform at Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield.

Click below to hear the Artist Showcase podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring John Smith. Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict and wherever you listen to your podcasts.

  

South Texas Tweek

South Texas Tweek is the hero for these uncertain times. His music takes you away and wraps you up in an unique honky tonk blanket of tejano goodness. With a voice of a bygone era he has simultaneously given us something new and delivered us to the time when artists like Webb Pierce roamed the country and western musical landscape. Just like his musical heroes South Texas Tweek (Tyler Heiser) has a genuine love for this genre of music. And it shows from his hours and hours of dedication to his craft of singing and song writing.

Growing up in the Deep South Bible Belt certainly shaped his early years but growing older has meant that his view of the world has both matured and flourished musically. With his first official single ‘Count On Me’ released on his birthday December 2020 Tweek blew the status quo of what listeners were used to out of the water. An acoustic version was out in August 2020 but this fully formed version with the pedal steel and breaks is a different beast altogether.

‘Count On Me’ The sensational debut single by South Texas Tweek.

Its not the first time for Tweek and Charley Crockett to co write a song together. On Charley’s album ‘Welcome to Hard Times’ the track ‘Lily My Dear’ was written with Tweek, Vincent Neil Emerson and Colin Colby on Charley’s tour bus outside a gig at Greek Bros, in El Campo, Texas. Vincent and Charley already had the hook with Charley playing on his banjo. After 30 minutes the song was complete! Tweek and Charley’s friendship has been growing for many years. At first Tweek wanted to be just a songwriter but the urge to stand in front of an audience took over. In September 2020 Tweek took the plunge into the country and western music world.

Hard work and passion for country and western music is what drives South Texas Tweek.

Tweek’s life and music is an inspiration and this is reflected on his entry into the Texas Music Charts. Patsy Cline, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark have all been part of Tweek’s musical education but George Jones is first among equals in his admiration and love for his musical legacy to upcoming artists. In this podcast we get to hear Tweek sing live and acoustically two songs ‘Living Low’ a folk inspired singer songwriter Texas inspired song and ‘Count On Me’ his knockout calling card in the world of music.

‘Count On Me’ by South Texas Tweek

The pandemic hasn’t slowed Tweek’s love of hunting and fishing and it’s his way of escaping the isolation of the pandemic. It’s a reminder of a life filled with friends and family that we all strive for. Tweek is looking forward to going out on the road and play some shows. Tweek’s put everything into his music and has an audience that is hungry to see such a new stellar artist live. 2 more songs are coming out from the session he recorded last October 2020. He hopes to tour in the later half of the year with a possible full album by the end of the year. His next release will be ’50 Dollars A Week’ which he co wrote with Charley Crockett coming out on Valentines Day 2021.

’50 Dollars A week’ the new release by South Texas Tweek out on Valentines Day 2021.

Click below to hear the podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring South Texas Tweek. Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict and wherever you listen to your podcasts.

From L to R ~ Jairus, Ian, Eric and José are Peregrino

Peregrino is a distillation of four souls with their own unique musical experiences brought together by the love of music. Music that is cinematic, orchestral, folk and americana with a latin twist. In their latest album ‘Feels Like Leaving’ the band have captured the spirit of Ennio Morricone and the stunning aural landscape of those westerns with lyrics that merge heartbreak, loss, love and desire with an authentic sound that’s hard to manufacture without living these stories.

The latest album ‘Feels Like Leaving’ by Peregrino

In this podcast CloudwatcherUno sits down with Jairus McDonald (lead vocal, acoustic guitar, harmonica) and Eric Miller (electric guitar and back up vocals) you try getting four musicians to be in one place I dare you! We talk about how the pandemic has strangely given these musicians a level playing field in which to focus, write, produce and film videos for their songs. In these times live performances are a distant memory for musicians across the globe so now is the time to reflect and produce art that will inspire, make people dance and warm their souls. This is what we get with the acoustic versions of ‘Fire Away’ and ‘In Your Garden’. We also get to listen to ‘Gather Up Your Daisies’ one of my favourite songs in the album.

The video for ‘Fire Away’ from Peregrino

Are songs poetry, can they be things of beauty? Certainly in some genres the spoken word is given is given life in Hip-Hop but can it work in other genres. The answer is yes especially in Folk Music where the care and attention in bringing a song to life from idea, to the studio and then to an audience takes a certain dedication and arrogance to say to the world ‘Look at This!’ Give me your whole attention from your beer and your phone to listen to such songs as ‘My Revolution Days’.

Sometimes music chooses you or you choose the music. In Peregrino’s case it was a fine line between a life of academia and other paths to one where music in all it’s glorious aspects has now become the only way forward for these musicians. For the future Peregrino will continue to make music and write songs as unique as their shared history and the world is a better place for it.

Click down below to hear the podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring Peregrino. Also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and many other platforms.

Lady Nade photograph by Paul Issac

Lady Nade is a singer-songstress par excellence. With a smooth velveteen voice she creates audio magic. Pouring heart and soul into her lyrics, ever the perfectionist she has been known to take weeks to craft the perfect song. Lady Nade feels a responsibility to be a voice to those who’ve experienced lifes battles and have come out the other side.

‘Heart Beats Strong’ by Lady Nade

In this podcast we talk about using her voice to send a message to the audience to pay attention and respect the artist and their craft. You would never speak through a movie or the theatre then why do some ticket paying ‘fans’ feel the urge to talk over the live music experience and ruin it for those who are there to listen to these beautifully crafted songs?

Lady Nade with her custom made CloudwatcherUno Sign ~ Photograph © CloudwatcherUno 2020

Lady Nade performs an exclusive unreleased performance of her song ‘Josette’ which is being played acoustically for this podcast. It forms part of three albums that Lady Nade is working on during these pandemic times. Yes you read that right three albums one of which is an EP another with Ivor Novello songwriter. It seems that Lady Nade is thriving in these strangest of times.

Lady Nade photograph by Josette Bush

Lady Nade gives thanks to the essential work of The Musicians Union which have been supporting artists through these Covid-19 times and feeding body and soul so that the music we love can still be made. On Saturday 18th July 2020 Lady Nade will be giving back by performing in Sheffield for The Musicians Union – Summer Of Live Online Festival.

Always time for a selfie with Lady Nade. Taken at The Lexington ~ Photograph © CloudwatcherUno 2019

Click down below to hear the podcast from CloudwatcherUno featuring Lady Nade. Also available on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and many other platforms.

Jay Buchanan from Rival Sons, at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Photograph: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019

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.

‘Look Away’ performed by Rival Sons, at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Video: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019
Scott Holiday from Rival Sons, at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Photograph: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019

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.

Jay Buchanan from Rival Sons, at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Photograph: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019

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.

In the moment with Jay Buchanan from Rival Sons, at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Photograph: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019
‘Feral Roots’ performed by Rival Sons, at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Video: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019

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’.

Scott Holiday from Rival Sons, at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Photograph: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019
‘Shooting Stars’ performed by Rival Sons, at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Video: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019

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’.

Michael Miley from Rival Sons, at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Photograph: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019
‘Electric Man” performed by Rival Sons, at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Video: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019

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.

Scott Holiday from Rival Sons, at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Photograph: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019
‘Look Away’ performed by Rival Sons, at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Video: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019
Jay Buchanan from Rival Sons, at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Photograph: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019

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.

‘Do your Worst” performed by Rival Sons, at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Video: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019

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.

With the Gods of Rock that are Rival Sons at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Photograph: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019
‘Feral Root’s album signed by the whole band Rival Sons at O2 Brixton Academy, London on 3rd November 2019. Photograph: CloudwatcherUno™ ©2019

Kip Moore, Roundhouse London, 2nd September 2019
Photograph: CloudwatcherUno © 2019

Kip Moore has written over a thousand songs some of which have seen the light and have been breathed into existence and played before the audience at Roundhouse London on 2nd September 2019. Kip Moore had only just played out to sold out audiences at Cadogan Hall in May of this year and was worried that UK fans would be sick of him. There was no fear of that as the atmosphere was electric. Fans had just seen Jillian Jacqueline perform (see previous post) and were left hungry for more outstanding music from artists at the top of their music game.

‘She’s Mine’ Kip Moore’s latest single.

Entering onto the stage in darkness and opening with ‘Crazy One More Time’ Kip Moore performed for nearly 2 hours for the audience who had packed out the concert hall. Taking sips from his bottle of Jack Daniels Kip rattled through songs at a break neck pace. His voice resonating deeply with a voice that carried effortlessly through the auditorium. I’ve never seen a country audience that energised by a performers music and on stage presence.

Kip Moore, Roundhouse London, 2nd September 2019
Photograph: CloudwatcherUno © 2019

Supported by a full band and charismatic guitar players who lifted the songs to even higher levels of energy. This was not just country music this was country rock at it’s best. Having seen Brothers Osborne up live and personal I didn’t believe there was an artist who could match the brothers in a live performance. Kip Moore did that and more on this Monday night. My ears are still ringing from the auditory experience.

‘Tennessee Boy’ by Kip Moore
Kip Moore, Roundhouse London, 2nd September 2019
Photograph: CloudwatcherUno © 2019

Thanking the audience for being so supportive of his music and for selling out his UK shows Kip Moore walked off into the darkness from which he had emerged. The audience were in shock surely their night of pulsating guitar riffing country rock couldn’t be over could it?

Kip Moore, Roundhouse London, 2nd September 2019
Photograph: CloudwatcherUno © 2019

The audience shouted out ‘Kip! Kip! Kip!’ for what seemed an eternity and then Kip returned to the stage for an encore starting with the country rock ballad of ‘Bittersweet Company’

‘Bittersweet Company’ by Kip Moore

Between the final songs Kip shared with the audience that he had been born with congenital defects which continues to affect his hearing so much so that he wasn’t sure how long he could continue playing live to audiences.

Kip Moore, Roundhouse London, 2nd September 2019
Photograph: CloudwatcherUno © 2019

Kip ended the night with his personal anthem ‘Guitar Man’. This song more than others captures the spirit of the man and his music.

“Well, I woke to the rise, sun going down
Still taste the whiskey, still fresh on my mouth
Hot cup of coffee, smoke in my hand
Another day in the life of the guitar man
La de da”

For two hours the boy from Tifton, Georgia had transported world weary Londoners to the sunshine of Nashville. Bravo Kip Moore! You absolute legend.

Guitar Man by Kip Moore
Kip Moore with his band, Roundhouse London, 2nd September 2019
Photograph: CloudwatcherUno © 2019