Youthful Stark delights The Convent

Stark-1823Youthful Stark delights The Convent

Friday 11th December 2015




Stark-1820Tonight we had blues with a difference, Stark are definitely not orthodox – that said they produce music that is authentic and delivered with verve and passion. Stark are a great young trio from Brighton with real potential to light up the British Blues scene and way beyond crossing artificial boundaries created with a world obsessed with genres and putting music into boxes.

Stark-1833Jamie Francis’s guitar of choice is a resonator played like an electric the sound is both interesting and musically spot on mixing well with his vocals and the trio’s interpretations of blues classics and self-penned numbers. Ensuring the band has rhythm, and another two voices, drummer Evan Carson controls the beat and creates layers of sound with carefully selected array of sticks including mallets, rods and brushes, and bassist Joshua Franklin. Team Stark describe themselves as alternative blues, the reality being that they a have blues running through their core like a stick of Brighton Rock, they just stir the pot up creating a sound that is contemporary and refuses to be trapped behind a label. They want to be heard and judged by the sound they produce not pre-conceptions (often misguided) of Blues in Britain today.

Stark-1795The set was full of power opening with Dylan and closing with a free-flowing version of Whole Lotta Love. Their interpretation of Robert Johnson’s, Crossroad Blues was very much up-tempo and it really did work once again demonstrating what a classic number this oft heard blues song is. In the mix was Jeff Lang’s Copper Mine a lively number, Big Shaky a Kelly Jo Phelps number and those from the lexicon of the blues foundations such as Robert Johnson’s If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day appropriate in front of the altar at The Convent and Blind Lemon Jefferson’s Rising High Water Blues a modern and fresh re-working hitting the high water line.

Stark-1787Stark are more than re-shaping classics, they obviously love, understand and are knowledgeable about the blues as reflected in the self-penned numbers from their current EP Stories From The Ground. Ball and Chain certainly stands out as exceptionally good both lyrically and musically. I Will Change and Feelin’ Good again demonstrate the trio’s talent, the audience was very appreciative and this is a young band to watch out for as they can only get better and the level is high at the moment!

Stark-1818The slide guitar playing on Son House’s Death Letter Blues grabbed your attention proving that Stark are a band of great depth and dimension with tonal layers that build themselves around the lyrics that are the heart of blues.

Stark-1770For me Stark are a trio of talent creating a sound that is distinctive and blues with attitude Bluesiana for the twenty-first century; they are definitely the combining of country and urban blues with a twist of youthful arrogance. If you have missed them when they played live then I recommend catching up with them via The Convent’s Netgig service.

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The Jar Family ~ Live @ The Convent Club June 2015

The Jar Family - The Convent Club - June 2015_0011lThe Jar Family
The Convent Club, Gloucestershire
28th June 2015

The Jar Family - The Convent Club - June 2015_0042lThe stage was set and out of the jar of The Convent Club musical delights that can be accessed during and after the show via Netgig are the Hartlepool based band of musicians delivering their own mix sweet & sour, happy & sad, rural & industrial comprising six members who create the special sound that is The Jar Family. All six are a happy band of men who leave their egos away from the stage as the solid drumming by Kez ‘jubjub’ Edwards at the back keeps the rhythms under control and the five up front delivered perfectly seasoned and balanced ‘Industrial Folk’. Opening with Grace the music hit the ground running; Payback allowed three of the vocalists to shine; opening with Chris Hook the lead guitarist, The Jar Family - The Convent Club - June 2015_0040lDali with his baritone and tambourine and Richie Docherty with guitar rather than his energizing percussive force. The tempo quieted down with 1914 Max Bianco taking the vocal and guitar duties opening this evocative and moving number with a traditional folk intro with the band picking up the mood and adding a subdued instrumental line and a humming chorus, finished off by Max with his stylish harmonica solo as the story unfolds of Christmas 1914 with the drums mournfully beating out a monotone beat and, wow – a silence as the audience reflected for a second and then a erupted into The Jar Family - The Convent Club - June 2015_0133la rapturous cheer. How do you follow that? – well change the mood and tempo with It’s a Mad World, the very title summing up the state of the world this Saturday, with crises, bombings and murder affecting Europe and beyond. There is a promise of a new album out in September hurry up we all want to listen after the offering of the songs to be included tonight, Paint Me A Picture and Fight. Closing the first set a topical number reflecting as folk should what is happening in the here and now with Debt; punctuated by some gorgeous slide guitar from Dali adding another texture to these raunchier rockier numbers.

The Jar Family - The Convent Club - June 2015_0022lWith glasses refreshed and a breather the second set opened with a sound that is folk that is not just three-dimensional it is multi-dimensional with layers of tone and texture that weave together creating a strong colourful cloth of music. World’s Too Fast is a steaming driving fast tempo track and makes you realise the importance of slowing it all down as the track was exhausting! Machine see’s the first outing of Dali’s 3-string electric demon of a slide guitar that has a deep rough sound creating a unique character. How to pick the tracks to write about is difficult when the whole show was fabulous I really recommend you take up The Convent Club’s offer to share The Jar Family live via their streaming service. In for A Penny one of the first and finest songs they have put together as a band with its country feel; Moya Moya a real partyThe Jar Family - The Convent Club - June 2015_0015l piece as the tempo was raising and Have To Go each of the five vocalist sing a verse including the talented ex-squeeze bassist Keith Wilkinson who is the glue that gels the band into a cohesive whole with the multi-instrumental approach, a great signature farewell to a magnificent barnstorming evening of live music of the highest order.

A great band that relish standing out from the crowd each individually talented musicians with distinctive styles collectively the strong characters blend and bend creating music that has a strong narrative and melody and a real feel good feeling who needs Glastonbury headliners with this quality live on a Saturday night in a wonderful setting

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Mad World
Paint Me a Picture

She Was Crying
Leave Me Alone
World’s Too Fast
In For A Penny
In The Clouds
Moya Moya
Tell Me Baby
Have To Go

Missed the gig follow the Link and Watch here via Netgig from The Convent Club…

Live @ The Convent: DOUG MacLEOD

Doug MacLeod - The Convent - June 2015_0023l


Doug Macleod
The Convent Club, Nr Stroud, Gloucestershire
2nd June 2015



Doug MacLeod - The Convent - June 2015_0003lTonight in front of the instantly recognisable Convent backdrop of the altar,  if you have ever attended this gem of a venue or streamed a live show via, where the music can be heard straight into your home and the quality from experience is phenomenal. Tonight was one chair, one musician and one National Guitar who proceeded to captivate the audience with a delightful mix of stories, and blues music that was full of rootsy charm.

Doug MacLeod - The Convent - June 2015_0002lWe were treated to The Long Black Train, from his album Utrecht Sessions, and inspired by his early time with George ‘Harmonica’ Smith with a driving talkin’ blues shuffle picking up the clickety-clack of the rail track as the story unfolds. Like the rest of the numbers we were to hear tonight this is self-penned full of originality and lyrics that create an atmosphere whilst tipping a hat to a wide range of past masters of the blues. His tone and tempo varies and you are drawn into the musical magic that is the power of Dubb’s acoustic magic. The audience immediately connected to the story about 1 in 3 people being crazy – if it not someone sitting next to you then look at yourself. The song Your Bread Ain’t Done which is a Texan saying for people that are, as we might say, a sandwich or two short of a picnic! Ending as Albert King might have played it a fitting reminder that this King covered the song many years ago.   Doug shared with the audience in front of him and cross the live streaming audience that for him the blues is music that is about overcoming adversity. Laughing to keep you from crying and most importantly being able to laugh at yourself.  Black Nights all about should you stay or go in a relationship with a melodic intro leading into the howl of ‘Oh Black Nights’ as the emotion of relationships spilled from the guitar into the shape of the vocals. The crowd warmed to Doug as he shared his philosophical thoughts between numbers providing a context for the show. A fascinating insight into what motivated this singer songwriter as he created music that is both rooted in the past as he stepped into the footsteps of so many early bluesmen  and at the same time fresh, modern and relevant for today’s issues.  As he slipped on the slide we heard first Unmarked Road, with an upbeat tempo and some great solo breaks showcasing is stylish use of the slide as he continued with Raylene with that twist of Rock ‘n’ Roll the baby of the blues. Closing the packed first set with Big City Woman a Mississippi hill country number inspired by the likes of Mississippi Fred McDowell and Junior Kimbrough “… I just modernize it up!”  This number is about a women who talked so much you make me tired; we were definitely not tired of Doug we all sat back and marveled at what we had just heard and delighted that there was more to come.

Doug MacLeod - The Convent - June 2015_0011lThe second set was crammed full of more delights that Doug played including Vanetta about a tall long-legged women with a beautiful smile from his latest album Exactly Like This. He mixed up the beat with some rag-time with Zu Zu Woman and My Loves Grown Cold inspired by Blind Willie McTell; making the guitar weep and wail with his exquisite slide technique. A song all about overcoming adversity Brand New Eyes; from his album of the same name is about looking at things from a new perspective a philosophical song that is powerful. We heard about Dubb’s Bucket Theory that if a bucket has one or more holes in it due to life’s adversity the love will drain away and the solution is to fill the holes in not demand more love and this converted into Welcome In Your Home using the bucket theory to great effect.

It is quite incredible the range of sounds and depth of tone that Doug teased out of his resonator guitar with no effects just the skills of one man and his guitar plus a brass slide and a capo truly one man and his guitar. Doug MacLeod, never plays the same set twice and the same song the same way as he told us his playing is Exactly Like This. Tonight live we heard music that entertained, made us laugh, cry, reflect and feel happy; he is the real deal story telling bluesman the guitar playing second fiddle to the lyrics. Entertainment at its best follow the LINK to NETGIG to stream in your home NOW!

Doug MacLeod - The Convent - June 2015_0005L

Boo Hewerdine and Kris Drever @ The Convent

convent logo

Boo Hewerdine and Kris Drever unite at The Convent



Two of the nations busiest and most in demand songwriter – guitarists, label mates and musical friends are performing together as a duo for the first time at

The Convent, South Woodchester on Monday 27th April@ 8pm

Tickets price: £15 – call the Box Office on 01453 835 138

Copyright  Photographer Mark Jarvis
Copyright Photographer Mark Jarvis

For more information,  click HERE 

The venue is full of beauty and the food is great so make a night of it!



Scotland’s Kris Drever (Lau) and England’s Boo Hewerdine (The Bible, Eddi Reader) have been connected through song for almost a decade. Kris approached Boo about recording the Hewerdine song ‘Harvest Gypsies’ as part of Drever’s (now classic) debut album ‘Black Water’. Produced by Scottish folk musician John McCusker, that recording led the pair to future collaborations and a tour with Eddi Reader. The duo finally found the time in late 2014 to write new songs with a view to making new recordings available for their 2015 tour.

Boo Hewerdine has an eighteen song career retrospective, ‘My Name In The Brackets’ (The Best of Boo Hewerdine & The Bible) out now and a new album ‘Open’ out in June 2015.

Kris Drever has recently issued his Shetland recorded ‘Mareel EP’ and has a new album with his award winning trio Lau ‘The Bell That Never Rang’ (produced by Joan As Police Woman) due for release May 4th on Reveal Records.