Concert Review: James Riley’s full band rooftop show

June 27, 2020

With news emerging about the possibility of ticketed outdoor live concerts, there’s one artist who has certainly had plenty of relevant experience!

While most touring musicians suffered from enforced inactivity during lockdown, James Riley took the ‘let’s put on a show’ impulse to new heights – quite literally! He climbed on to his garage roof to play music for his neighbours, and in the process helped raise over £40,000 for food banks in collaboration with #LIVEFORLOVE. Check out BBC Radio London’s feature about Riley’s rooftop performances.

After ten weeks of solo shows, he invited a brass band to join him. The following week saw a supergroup featuring Americana Association UK (AMA-UK) Instrumentalist of The Year winners C.J. Hillman on pedal steel and bassist Thomas Collison, plus Greg Sheffield on drums. Here’s the lowdown on that high rise show.

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Danny Schmidt’s lockdown lullabies

Even before we knew that the best way to test your eyes was to drive to Barnard Castle, Danny Schmidt had made the connection between this year and the standard for good eyesight.

2020 Vision was written during and about the COVID-19 pandemic so you should not be surprised to feel recognition and emotional resonance: “She’s holding her breath/she’s hiding her mouth/we’re walking on opposite sides….I cross the road and she crosses herself.”

It speaks to the sense of a year passing too quickly and too slowly, lost to tedium and tenacity, childcare and barely dressed remote working, shopping despite empty shelves, and compulsive hand washing. Many other artists have found metaphor in our shared experiences but Schmidt has documented how we have actually lived during this topsy turvy, turbulent time, all set to a lilting waltz.

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Interview: Liv Austen talks pop and Popsicle

Norwegian singer-songwriter Liv Austen rose to prominence in the UK country scene but if you expected her first covers EP to be all Dolly, Garth and Shania, you’ve not been paying enough attention to her artistic development. She’s long been known to slay a Sigrid or Dua Lipa track in her live set, and her debut album, A Moment of Your Time, was a masterclass in pop perfection.

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