Diamond Media Productions

My Album & Gig Reviews of 2000

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Following the excellent show at the London Arena on Easter Saturday 2000, with Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, JoDee Messina, Ricky Skaggs, Wayne Hancock, and The Derailers, I also caught the talented singer-songwriter Gary Burr, who played an "Invitation-Only" show at London's 12-Bar Club on Wednesday 24th May. Click here to see the photos!
In fact, JoDee Messina made a return visit to the UK in early September, and it was good to see her again - she's straightened her hair now ! Those curls have gone !
Hank III (Grandson of Hank Williams, son of Hank Williams Jr.) was in brilliant form at the Jazz Café in London on Thursday 22nd June. Thrashing an amplified acoustic guitar, he managed to break no less than three strings during his set, and amused the audience as he replaced them. His band comprised a drummer, guitarist, fiddle player and stand-up bassist.
They performed many of the songs included on his "Risin' Outlaw" album (Curb) and he paid homage to his friend, the great Wayne 'The Train' Hancock, whose songs he's covered on this album. Hanks also set the room alight with renditions some of his grandpappy's most famous songs ("Kaw-Liga", "Move It On Over") and his father's signature song ("Family Tradition").
At the end of his scheduled set, he announced a 10 minute recess, before returning to the stage minus hat and cowboy shirt, to perform some no-nonsense "Hillbilly Punk & Thrash" with songs like "I'm Gonna Put The D**k Back In Dixie And The C**t Back In Country", etc. Quite a night !
Hank also performed a stormin', if somewhat short, set at the Reading Festival, in Aug.
Ritz 1035 were broadcasting live from The Millennium Dome's "Country Day" on Sun. 25th June. Playing live there, and appearing on the Miles Long show, was the young British starlet Niki Dean, whose debut album "Cross The Battleline" (Southbound) is quite the best British Country album I've encountered for some time. I've played her version of the Gretchen Peters song "Heart of Stone" on my shows, and suggest you pay a visit to Niki's site. Niki appeared at London's Borderline, on Thu. 19th Oct.
Incidentally, look out for Gretchen Peters' self-titled album (Grapevine) which I would heartily recommend. I met her, and interviewed her again, on Thu. 20th July. Goto photo gallery, to see the piccy !
Sad to hear that guitarist Nick Kane has left The Mavericks. I would recommend, however, his super solo album, "Songs In The Key of E".
Dale Watson was in London on Mon. 7th and Tuesday 8th of August. playing The Borderline. The shows were recorded, as in his sets, he performed a lot of new songs. They will become his next album, a live album, of mostly previously unrecorded songs.
I must give a mention to Andrew Gold's new album, "The Spence Manor Suite" (Dome). It is quite superb. Imagine his old collaborations with Graham Gouldman in Wax, but re-located in Nashville - and that's what this album is. When I recently met up with and interviewed Andrew, he was quick to point out that Graham didn't have any involvement with his album. However, he had co-written a number of the songs on it with Gary Burr, Raul Malo (of The Mavericks), Steve Wilkinson (of the Wilkinsons) and Phil Vassar.
Kevin Montgomery put on an amazing show at The Borderline, on Tues. 29th August. It was one that will linger in the memory for a very long time. He was joined by Robert Reynolds & Paul Deakin of The Mavericks and Pat Buchanan of The Idle Jets. They played material from his album "Another Long Story", as well as covers, such as his father, Bob's composition, "Wishing" - a hit for Buddy Holly. Supporting was the highly recommended Jeff Finlin, whose album "Original Fin" will have a UK release, shortly. Kevin and the guys were also special guests, on Thu. 7th September, at Paul McCartney's special concert and party, at London's Mermaid Theatre, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of "Buddy Holly Week". I had to decline my invitation, as I was live on-air, on Ritz 1035, that night! Kevin told me that Robert Reynolds was as gobsmacked to meet Macca, as my wife was five years ago, when we were at the 20th anniversary party. See more pics of Kevin, Sir Macca, etc on Kevin's website.
Wynonna (one half of The Judds) is now a successful solo artist, and played the London Palladium on Sunday 3rd September. I couldn't make it, as I was live on-air on Ritz 1035 (and couldn't find anyone to swap shifts!), but I took calls from listeners who were on their way home after the show, and they gave it rave reviews. Her latest album "New Day Dawning" (Curb) is available in the UK, as is the live "Judds Reunion" double-CD, recorded in Phoenix, Arizona on Millennium Eve.
I really enjoyed seeing the legendary John Stewart at the 12-Bar in Denmark St., London on Wed. 13th Sept. He has been one of my real heroes since his day with The Kingston Trio, and them going out on his own in the early 70s. I worked with him whilst he recorded for RCA, and kept in touch throughout that time, even hooking up with him in Hollywood, back in 1980, shortly after he'd scored that big hit with "Gold". That is also the title of a great double compilation CD recently released by Wrasse Records, who have also released a new John Stewart album "Wires From the Bunker". Check out their site. On Thu. 14th Sept., John came into Ritz 1035, and played three songs live on David Allan' s show.
Steve Earle & The Dukes were in town to play the Shepherds Bush Empire on Fri. 15th and Sat. 16th September, among a host of UK shows, to support the excellent "Trancendental Blues" album, out on E-Squared.
 Trisha Yearwood returned to the UK to promote her excellent "Real Live Woman" album (MCA Nashville), and played a magnificent show at The Royal Albert Hall on Monday 25th September. She also performed in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. She was supported by the excellent Kim Richey, who joined her on stage to sing 3 songs, including Kim's composition "Believe Me Baby I Lied". Kim was also in the UK last year, touring with Raul Malo. Check out the photo here , and her superb album "Glimmer" (Mercury).
 I wasn't able to get to see Allison Moorer at Dingwalls in London on Wed. 11th Oct, but I heard a packed crowd saw a great show. This Southern belle, the younger sister of Shelby Lynne, is an extraordinary talent. Her sophomore album "The Hardest Part" (MCA) has been getting some excellent reviews, and deservedly so. When she released her first album "Alabama Song", she was my guest on Red Hot & Country, and she did a terrific acoustic set, supporting Trisha Yearwood, at the Hammersmith Apollo.
Lonestar came here, on a promotional trip in March - Click here to see the photo! They returned to make their UK concert debut in October, with shows in Glasgow, Cambridge, Birmingham, Manchester, and a London appearance at the Shepherds Bush Empire on Saturday 21st October.
It was one of the most memorable I have seen, with a distinctly 'non-country' audience comfortably blending with the be-stetsoned Brits and ex-pat Texans. Whilst the organisers and promoters thought that their mega-crossover hit "Amazed" would be the show-stopper, the song that was received the best of all was "What About Now" from their "Lonely Grill" album. It has been a Country No.1 in the USA, but not even released as a UK single. The London audience insisted that they reprised it in the encore! The encore, in fact, was reminiscent of the Mavericks' shows, as it was packed full of less-than-obvious covers, including old Eagles and Alabama hits, plus a stunning version of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall". Michael Britt's solo was as good as anything Dave Gilmour might have served up!
Former Nash Rambler, Jon Randall opened the show, featuring many songs from his excellent "Willin" album (Grapevine). I last saw Jon, a few years back, when he opened for Mary Chapin Carpenter, at Hammersmith, and despite his much shorter hairstyle (!) he was, once again, in fine form. He came in to Ritz 1035, a couple of days later, and performed a couple of songs on David Allan's show, before I recorded an interview with him.
Emmylou Harris & Spyboy were in fine form at The Royal Albert Hall on Mon. 20th November. Her album "Red Dirt Girl" is exceptional, and is available on Grapevine. She performed many of the songs from it at the show, but didn't forget her old successes. She closed the show with Townes Van Zant's "Pancho & Lefty" and the song she co-wrote with Bill Danoff of the Starland Vocal band, "Boulder to Birmingham".
Mon. 27th & Tues. 28th November saw Grand Drive playing a jam-packed Borderline. Their album "True Love and High Adventure" (Loose) is highly recommended.
The next day, on the 29th, the alt.-Country band, Nadine, were also at the Borderline.
There were two different shows worth seeing in London, both on Sun. 10th December. The Jazz Café was the venue for Lucy Kaplansky, who has released three excellent album on Red House, the latest being "Ten Year Night", which was the Ritz 1035 Album of the Week (w/e: 17th Dec. 2000).
That same night, Kurt Wagner of Lambchop, played a solo show at The Bloomsbury Theatre, performing some songs from "Nixon", being touted as one of the best albums of 2000.
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