The record breaking February temperatures were destined to come to an end before the first LRB music evening of 2019, it was inevitable, such is the nature of the English climate but the show must go on, and so it did.
Well it was out of hibernation with a bang, gale force winds and rain but we are resilient and an extra day setting up to prepare for the opening show of the year had the barn looking and sounding ready to welcome three world quality headline artists.
Reb Fountain was on stage first to open LRB 2019
I first heard Reb singing on the New Zealand TV show The Brokenwood Mysteries.
As the credits rolled, I managed to pick out Reb’s name in the list and look her up. I downloaded Hopeful & Hopeless and played to J&L. We were all bowled over and the rest is history. So, to refute the Rolling Stones popular assertion; Sometimes, you can get what you want and get what you need.
Having arrived from New Zealand the day before accompanied by her daughter Lola, still jet lagged and after an eventful train journey from London, Reb showed us just what it takes to be the winner of Best New Zealand Country Music Artist/Album 2018 and Best Country Music Song 2018 for HOPEFUL & HOPELESS.
Reb Fountain had us at the sound check, and it was great to see mother and daughter sitting on the stage working out a set list to play for us all tonight.
We started with One Way Trip, and as Reb puts it “The most melancholic song ever”. “The idea being to lift the mood from here.”
With the first note everyone realised this would be special.
“You guys listening so intensively is kinda freaking me out” says Reb… Laughs…
This next song Faster Round The Bend was pretty melancholic also.
Clearly pleased to be here Reb announces “Normally, I have whisky in one hand and a cup of tea in the other but tonight it’s just a cup of tea”. “Whisky later!” came the word from the back. That went down well and seemed to please her… laughs…
“Faster Round the bend, is a song about how we all get by.” “One way is drinking and one is playing music”. “Both of these I do quite well”… laughs… Another great song to savour.
Reb tells us that along her journey from southern California to New Zealand aged eleven she has come to realise that she swears a lot, but she apologised and assured us she wasn’t aiming it at us as she started playing Strangers, It’s all in context of the songs.
Now we get to hear the story of the beautiful cover art of Reb’s album LITTLE ARROWS. Art which she also has tattooed upon her arm. Three Geese in flight.
To get the rights, she found out about the Artist Benjamin Chee Chee and the story of his art and his tragic untimely death in suspicious circumstances, which is told in the song, Don’t you know who I am. A story to read up on there.
Now we gave Reb’s daughter Lola a round of applause as she is not only the roadie but produces Reb’s videos. “A high paying job indeed” states Reb ironically… Laughs… before enjoying Gold. “If I do swear now, it’s not personally at you”… Laughs…
“Apologies for the M.F. thing”.
Reb was astonished at the price of an evening at LRB and couldn’t believe it included food as well. She made comparisons with house concerts in New Zealand where the cost is almost double and you only get nibbles. So nice of Reb to recognise this.
The last song comes along all too soon. Hopeful and Hopeless from the CD of the same name.
We were taught the words to sing along with and I am pleased to report that you all sang along very well. You have to know that if you come to the LRB, you are part of the band…
That was lovely and a great song that sticks in your mind, you can see why they chose it for a TV show. Although Reb told me she hadn’t actually seen it.
Ok, that would have been the last song but as J had gone to the trouble of bringing the house piano to the stage and setting it all up, it would have been a shame not to use it.
“I got carried away and forgot” apologised Reb… laughs… Well that’s one way to sneak in an encore at the beginning of the evening.
Lighthouse really is the last song, and a beautiful song to end with but I’m sure we could have listened to Reb all night. She is an artist who we all want to see again over here. The applause said it all. Thank you Reb Fountain, you are now part of the fabric of the barn!
Next we have another first appearance at LRB. Cheley Tackett from Nashville Tennessee enthusiastically introduced by J.
“Thanks for the intro, I could be terrible, you have no idea” she quips before exploding into Homegrown. That got our attention! Track 1 from the album HERE.
“That’s as Redneck and Hillbilly as I get, and about as up tempo”. Quips Cheley. But that wasn’t true lol
“Is it too early for a killing song?” she asks… “Never” came the reply…
“I wrote this with Ashley McBryde and the late Randall Clay.” My Best Dress. Track 5 on BUCKEYE.
Wow that was spellbinding. The sound of the weather made a great back drop to the atmosphere as well.
Editor: Ashley McBryde was one of the headline artists at The O2, C2C, Country2Country on Sunday 10 March 2019. While we missed the boat on Ashley as contractually she could not play another ‘London’ show, uber talented artists more than made this up.
This next song was also written with long time collaborator Randall Clay who recently passed away. “He would be so proud to know we were all listening to his music now”. Cheley tells us.
The Healer Track 4 from BUCKEYE. Something positive written as a reaction to the recent shootings in America. That got some applause for sure.
“They warned me about you, they told me you are good listeners and attentive, so that changed my set list”. Laughs… “The Blue bird cafe in Nashville has audiences that are attentive, but that’s a rarity in the US”. “Usually it’s a lot more rowdy so I don’t play this live often, but because you’re so attentive I’ll play it.
Written with Lisa Christian”. Up Here. Track 7 on the HERE album. Another Pin Drop moment to savour.
“The killing song and the funeral song has got the most whoops and hollers, that tells me a lot about you people… my kinda people”… Laughs…
We heard from Cheley about the Nashville TV show debut where Cheley had to play three songs and they pick one to air, so her most streamed song is The Chicken Song Fried Chicken. Her mother in the audience urges her not to play it. So she played The Healer, Good For Me and Fried Chicken.
Guess what? They chose to air Fried Chicken… Laughs… How’s that for a Nashville TV debut? So we get to hear it next, more redneck fun, I told you she lied…
Another co write next called Play The One I Like, track 2 on HERE, has the room transfixed as Cheley puts so much into the song. Fully deserving of the applause.
We have a choice on the last song, “inspirational story song or some of my brand of rock ‘n’roll?”
A show of hands decided the rock ‘n’roll. The Sky is Falling from the HERE Album. “It doesn’t matter if the guitar is in tune for this song”… Laughs
Wow, that set the barn alight and again the applause said it all.
Thank you to the wonderful Cheley Tackett.
On such a blustery night as this, the curry Lyn prepared and served with her team was truly welcome.
Also for the first time Sally had her own microphone set up at the back to call the raffle numbers, and with the lovely deserts on offer enjoyed by all, tight on time, we were ready for the final performance of the night.
Lauren Housley on her fourth visit to play the LRB. She opened with her classic Nice To See Ya Accompanied by Thomas Dibb on guitar and Mark Lewis on double bass.
That caught our attention and the tempo was maintained with The Song I Sing, another self penned title. The opening songs from her first two albums SWEET SURRENDER and THE BEAUTY OF THIS LIFE.
“You can tell from my accent I’m not from anywhere as exciting as the others but from Rotherham”, says Lauren.” “It can be exciting though” quips Tom… Laughs…
“The Waiting Game is a song about my growing up in Rotherham” says Lauren. Track 2 from SWEET SURRENDER. Some sweet guitar playing from Tom here deserved his extra applause.
Lauren picks up her guitar as she tells us about their trip to Canada for the Folk Alliance, “A week of madness and playing music.” She says.
This Richard Thompson song Why Must I Plead got them noticed and invited for the trip. It was accidentally recorded at a video session as a last minute thing. The subsequent recording was so special it even made the album. Track 3 on THE BEAUTY OF THIS LIFE. This is an amazing song especially in the hands of the Lauren Housley Trio.
Tom gets the Telecaster out now for the beautifully haunting and atmospheric Stay Awake To Dream. A new song yet to be released. That went down very well.
Now we get a song from The Chorlton Country Club set with Tom taking the lead vocal on Angels Rock Me To Sleep. This is where we get to appreciate some lovely harmonies from Tom, Lauren and Mark whose bass drives this along. This song is a pure joy for them to play, you can see it in their faces…
Next, a song that Lauren never knows at what speed the band are going to play it. Graceland of course by Paul Simon.
Lauren wishes she had written it. With a great vibe though and another chance for Tom to show his flat pickin’ skills.
Now another song from the new album that’s waiting to be recorded. When I close My Eyes. That looks like it’s shaping up to be another great album too.
Lauren back on guitar again for a John Prine Song Angel From Montgomery leads us nicely to a song that Lauren has made her own (via a round of applause for the LRB team) Jolene, The Dolly Parton classic. Tom never seems to play this song the same twice, it’s a great version allowing him to delve deep into his guitar… Mark plays percussion on the double bass to great effect in places also.
That deserved all the applause it got… prior to the last song and a shout out to all the talent that has played tonight.
This old Train proved to be a great join in song with its own special dance move (You have to be there)… to close the show. But we couldn’t leave it there, we had to have an encore.
So after a few thank yous and acknowledgements we have All You Need Is A Friend the closing track on SWEET SURRENDER. A suitable way to have a sing along with the LRB choir and to say good night after a very special evening of quality live music.
Thank you Lauren, Thomas and Mark, that was special.
The sound tonight was exceptional courtesy of Simon Allen. This is such an important element for the artists and audience alike as it brings out the very best in an artist, at this level they deserve nothing less. Thank you Simon.
EDITOR: It’s a huge privilege to introduce and host such talented artists at LRB and tonight all three artists are world quality, music award winners.
Thanks to everyone involved with the production. The fabulous little rabbit team of Chris and Karen, Stan and Dave on guest list and artist merchandise, Richard and Brian running Little Rabbit Bar, Sally and Chris A raffle.
Lyn : organising artist and guest hospitality and more with a shout to Chris A for all the help with food service on the evening
Terry: organising artists, (including booking and coms)
Simon Allen: Sound engineering, system calibration. Thanks to Felix Milton who will be sound engineering on our forthcoming evenings.
Picture credits: Andy Sheard, Nick Rabett
Cameras, Blog and Facebook and setup/take down: Chris Kyan
Editing, video and audio mixing: Jonathan
To our guests, big thanks for your continued support of live music and hope to see y’all on 06 APRIL for a fabulous double header with DANNI NICHOLLS, SNIFF ‘N’ THE TEARS and special guest TAMARA STEWART
Do keep a check on LRB website and FACEBOOK for updates and interesting snippets throughout the year (icon at top of homepage)
Our very best wishes
Jonathan and Lyn, Terry