Like some beardy meeting in plaid heaven, or the ‘Two Tribes’ video but more homoerotic, this gig brings a couple of excellent local promoters together for an evening to nourish your brain and that thing you call a soul. Gathered In Song are old hands at bringing fine quality Americana and its offshoots to South Wales; Balloon create drunken evenings where poetry and prose readings intersperse hand-picked live turns. No reason to think this’ll be anything less than brilliant: more stripped back and intimate than rocking and rolling, a blissed out Sunday treat with cheap drinks thrown in.
On Sunday 13th February, Balloon and Gathered In Song present a sort of Valentine’s celebration featuring two amazing bands from across the water, both playing as duos, one solo set from a local boy and readings from a Canadian and Mancunian that have both moved to Wales! This take place at Newport’s wonderful Le Pub.
This fantastic double bill marks an overdue return to South Wales for husband and wife team Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen who have been singing, writing, and recording together for well over a decade. They’ve performed to capacity audiences and critical raves all over the U.S. and Europe as a duo, and with their band, Dolly Varden.
“It’s a gift to be able to do this” says Christiansen when asked how the couple manages to navigate the sometimes tense mix of creativity and marriage. “I couldn’t imagine life any other way”, echoes Dawson. “We’ve been singing together since the day we met”. In 1988 Dawson and Christiansen were asked by a mutual friend to add background vocals to a recording. Though they’d never met, they noticed that their voices effortlessly harmonized. Soon they were inseparable singing partners, and in 1990 they became husband and wife as well. In the early 90′s they co-led Stump The Host, a twangy rock band that packed them into Chicago area clubs. Then, in 1995, as the couple’s singing and songwriting found new depth and maturity, Stump The Host transformed into Dolly Varden, a new band named after an elusive species of trout. Dolly Varden has released four critically-acclaimed albums in the United States and Europe through Evil Teen Records and Undertow Music, home of American Music Club, Centro-matic, Jesse Harris, Bottle Rockets, David Bazan and more. Dawson has also released two critically acclaimed solo albums, the most recent, “I Will Miss The Trumpets And T he Drums” came out early in 2010.
“Electric-country majesty…when Dawson and Christiansen fly in close harmony you get a good idea of how Marshall Crenshaw and Lucinda Williams might sound in duet” David Fricke, Rolling Stone Magazine
“Songwriter Steve Dawson has an unerring capacity for finding the caveat in joy and desolation, in light and darkness. His voice thins and strains with compelling force; partner Diane Christiansen’s is here a fragile ache, there a soothing croon of reassurance; and when they sing together, the two create an entirely new whole. Dolly Varden continues to make pop music that is seductive, transcendent and peerless” Harp Magazine
Magnolia Summer is a St. Louis-based rock band that has a rolling cast of members who also do double time in other bands (such as Grace Basement and the Bottle Rockets). Centered around singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist, Chris Grabau, Magnolia Summer has released three records (via Undertow Music) to critical acclaim.
Over the years, Magnolia Summer has toured throughout the midwest, showcased in SXSW and CMJ. They have shared the stage with Matthew Sweet, Counting Crows, Cracker, The Minus 5, Grant Lee Philips, Glen Kotche, Bobby Bare Jr., Robyn Hitchcock, Ken Stringfellow, Ha Ha Tonka, Richmond Fontaine, the Bottle Rockets, and Will Johnson. Their newest record, Lines From The Frame (2009) is the first recording the band has completed in an outside studio.
In addition to the new record, you can also hear Magnolia Summer on the 3-CD compilation“Of Great and Mortal Men: 43 Songs For 43 US Presidents” that features music by Mark Kozelek, Califone, Rosie Thomas, Bill Callahan, Xiu Xiu, Radar Bros., and Alan Sparhawk.
Opening the gig will be a short solo acoustic set from The Doublecross’ main player Jon Greenwood, a man so respected around the Cardiff area that he had more than 20 of Wales’ finest musicians play on his album Things Will Never Change. Springsteen, Hot Water Music, Evan Dando and Walter Schriefels influence his gruff, plaid coated acoustic tunes.
Tyler Keevil grew up in Vancouver, Canada. He first came to the UK in 1999 to study English at Lancaster University. Since then, he has received several awards for his short fiction and filmmaking. His stories have appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies, including Interzone, New Welsh Review, On Spec, and Plant: The Welsh Internationalist. He lives in mid-Wales with his wife, Naomi, and lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire. His novel, Fireball, was published by Parthian in September.
MATTHEW DAVID SCOTT
Originally from Manchester, Matthew David Scott is a novelist and playwright now based in South Wales. He has published two novels: ‘Playing Mercy’, which was longlisted for the EDS Dylan Thomas Prize, and most recently ‘The Ground Remembers’, both with Parthian books. He has also had many short stories published in a variety of anthologies and magazines. As well as this, Matthew is a co-founder and writer for Slung Low, an award winning group of theatre makers based in Leeds. Check www.slunglow.org to find out more.
Tickets on sale now from Diverse. £4 advance, £5 door.