Friday, 20 November 2009

The Gilded Palace of Sin: The Last Waltz

Some of you may already have read our Myspace page or our website and read that we are calling it a day from promoting. Some of you have already been in touch to say nice things about the shows you’ve seen. Thank you for that: it really is appreciated. However, after very nearly nine years of Gilded Palace revelry, it’s time for us to bid farewell. Apologies if you were hoping to see Drag The River, Fruit Bats or Lightning Dust: those shows are now cancelled. We have one last belter in the bag for you – and it would be great if you could join us for what promises to be a party for more than one reason…

Thursday 26th November (Thanksgiving Day!), 8:00pm
Prince Albert, Trafalgar St, Brighton
A co-promotion with ARK PR (Thanks, Del!)
(Pumpkin pie and ‘welcome’ Thanksgiving drinks on us! Get ‘em while they last!)

Tickets £6.50 advance (£8 on door) available from Rounder, Resident and online at

Appropriately (ironically?) enough, on Thanksgiving Day, this will be the last Gilded Palace of Sin show. After nine years of promoting the best in Americana and shows we’ve chosen the biggest holiday in the American calendar to call it a day. We're very happy that - before we leave - we get a chance to host CARRIE ELKIN.

Carrie first came to my attention in March 2008, via a CD package from Medicine Music (based way up in Inverness, but omnipresent in cool Americana circles). Hers was a new name on me, but I noted the mention of Devon Sproule in the press release. Carrie (and Danny) are both friends of Devon (and Paul Curreri), having spent time on the Charlottesville scene where the Sproule-Curreris are based. Nine months after first hearing the album, Jeopardy made #3 on the Festive Fifteen 2008 (the full list, if you’re interested, is here:

Why so besotted? Obadiah, Questions About Angels, Black Lung, Roots And Wings… the list of great songs on this record goes on and on. After almost two years, Jeopardy of Circumstance album is (honestly) shaping up to be one of my favourite records of all time. And while we're at bold claims...

... there are many reviews comparing DANNY SCHMIDT to people like TOWNES VAN ZANDT and LEONARD COHEN. Normally, such claims can be taken with a pinch of salt (especially as I’m not particularly a fan of Laughing Lenny) but Danny’s an engaging lyricist and guitarist – less inclined to wallow (oh, I can hear the Cohen fans sharpening their knives already!). I have yet to see Danny play ‘live’, but everyone I know who has done so raves about his enigmatic performances. His Parable and Primes album was a favourite of some years back and new release, Instead The Forest Rose To Sing, is something special too.

There are a bunch of tunes for you to download at both Carrie and Danny’s websites - and you can, of course, pick up full albums at the show. For once I shall let the music do the talking…

Link to Carrie’s songs:
Link to Danny’s songs:

NOTE: Carrie will open the show with a ‘solo’ set, joined at times by Danny. He will then perform his own set, and will likewise be joined by Carrie. Expect live music to start around 8.30pm. Gilded Palace classics on the Jukebox of Misery before, betwixt and after the stage antics.

I approach this show with mixed – not to say, conflicting - emotions. After a difficult past few months (attendances down and band fees increasing) I’ll be relieved of the financial burden of risk inherent in promoting shows that ever-fewer people are able/willing to attend. This has never been about making money. I often describe it as a hobby that got out hand: a train-set that took over the house. No, money made on shows that did well has supported the greater number of still legendary, but loss-making nights. I shudder to think how much we’ve lost over the years, but I’m confident we leave a legacy of looking after bands (I know this to be true all the more since I started touring with bands!) and paying them well (ditto!) even when the money wasn’t always in the pot at the end of the night. We couldn’t have done this without some fantastic agents representing these artists – Bob Paterson Agency, Belmont Bookings and Toutpartout Agency should take an especially large bow. Yes, we’ve been lucky to have avoided most of the nest-feathering charlatans peopling the music industry so, after six years of involvement in (and nine years attending) The Gilded Palace of Sin, I’ll be sad to see it go.

There have been many, many happy memories and it has literally been a life-changing experience. Let me blow our trumpet: we’ve had to over the years, since we’re not cool enough for The Source (I got that from the horses mouth) and Latest 7 doesn’t seem to know on what day our shows take place – when they could be arsed to list them.

Those of you newer to this list won’t care much but we’ve had some high times over the years. The halcyon days when the Hanbury was our second home, brain-searing and sweaty nights at the Prince Albert, rare but special forays to the enormous (to us!) Concorde 2… all had their genesis in low-budget, founding shows at the Sanctuary Cella. We can be proud of our achievements…

In 2001, Tom Sheriff (Dave) and My Good Self (Charlie) simply set out to bring bands they liked to Brighton: they could hardly have anticipated that this would result in the likes of GILLIAN WELCH & DAVID RAWLINGS, MY MORNING JACKET and DINOSAUR JR coming to town under our wing, less still that we would meet and befriend artists of the stature of RICHMOND FONTAINE, THE SADIES and WILLARD GRANT CONSPIRACY.

We’ve had UK debut shows from CHATHAM COUNTY LINE, DOLOREAN, JESSE SYKES, GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS, JUSTIN RUTLEDGE, CHARLEMAGNE, JAMES ‘SLIM’ HAND and more. We even got to indulge ourselves hosting our long-standing heroes like STEVE WYNN, JASON RINGENBERG, ALAN TYLER, MARK MULCAHY, MARK EITZEL - and the first UK show in 10 years from AMERICAN MUSIC CLUB. There are lots more (almost 300!) bands I could mention here but I’ll stick to the headline grabbers.

And without the mercurial Mat Benzies (and his predecessor, Jer Reid) at the controls for 90 percent of our shows, they wouldn’t have sounded nearly as good as they did. Gold dust, the pair of ‘em. Lastly, I know I speak for all three of us (Dave, Charlie and myself) when I say I’m eternally grateful to the hardcore amongst you who have kept the faith with us – you know who you are; it’s no exaggeration to call you friends, not just casual acquaintances.

Incidentally, I know it’s almost 300, as I’ve commissioned local screen-print artist, The Pinch, to design a poster commemorating all the bands who’ve played for us – and I had to make a list. To be more exact, it’s 296 bands and 197 shows. A limited number of these posters will be for sale on Thursday.

It will be an emotional night – and I’m definitely not bringing the car into town this time ;-) It would be nice to see as many of you there as possible – for the performances of course, but also to help us go out with a bang. Do they ‘do’ fireworks for Thanksgiving? We’ll have pie at least!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Eagle(smith) has landed

OK, so only a few short months since the last blog: we're in danger of making this a regular thing. In fact, think I might do so as I'm finding our web service lacking in so many ways (want to post/embed videos, songs etc) and generally hook up with the at large. It's a bugger to do in HTML, and anyway who has the time...

... not me, not when there's legends like Fred Eaglesmith to prepare a welcome for.

Thursday 22nd October, 8:00pm
Prince Albert, Trafalgar St, Brighton

Tickets £8 advance (£10 on door) available from Rounder, Resident, Punker Bunker and online at

Fred Eaglesmith makes people do funny things. I’ve met (apparently sane) people who’ve spent a whole week travelling on a specially-chartered train with him, attending Fred shows every night wherever the train happened to stop. Tiring of riding the rails. he’s about to take 100 or so “Fred-heads” (yes, they’re really called Fred-heads!) on an ice-breaker cruise ship on The Fred Eaglesmith Atlantic Adventure. It’ll sell out of course: the man inspires devotion amongst his fans.

Fred grew up in a farming family, and still runs his own farm. He runs his own record label too. After a brush with major labels, he decided to go it alone, but cheekily named his A Major Label. He’s pretty much a household name in his native Canada: when Oxfam launched their Make Trade Fair campaign a few years back you could see Fred’s face alongside the more internationally-recognised Bonos, Michael Stipes and Thom Yorkes (maybe Fred gave Thom some tips on releasing your own records!).

Songs? Fred’s got ‘em in spades – as well as 17 albums of his own, he’s had tunes covered by (deep breath) MARY GAUTHIER. TOBY KEITH, COWBOY JUNKIES, KASEY CHAMBERS, RALPH STANLEY II, TODD SNIDER and DAR WILLIAMS. Songs about the real important things in life – that and trucks, trains, cars and motorbikes. And now religion: for with most recent album, Tinderbox, Fred’s turning his attention to questions of faith. And what an album: it sounds like a meeting of TOM WAITS and WOODY GUTHRIE (imagine DUST BOWL BALLADS meets MULE VARIATIONS) and it is utterly fantastic. With songs titled You Can’t Trust Em (‘They keep taking Jesus down off the cross”) and Fancy God, as well as numerous characters having their faith tested to (and beyond) the limits, you can imagine he’s not writing eulogies – it’s more ‘opiate of the masses’ in theme and is tremendously compelling stuff. Can’t wait to see it rendered ‘live’ with a full band – Fred’s first such show for us, incidentally.

Stories? To be honest, Fred could hold a crowd rapt if he’d left his guitar back in the dressing room. He’s a genuinely unique presence on stage with a hatful of - by turns - hilarious and insightful stories and a brilliantly witty, skewed take on the world (as well as the room he finds himself in – at our last show, one memorable monologue resulted from his frustrated attempts to take the top off a bottle of water left for him onstage. Yes, I and many other people would pay money to watch Fred open a bottle of water. Now that’s devotion. (Don't believe me? Watch the Texas Towel clip below: funny as f***!).

The Texas Towel intro to 18 Wheels:

Don’t just take my word for it… here’s some press for Tinderbox:

“a magnificent opus… a superb blend of organic gospel, blues and country with maverick-spirited experimentation and reinvention” - Rave
“Eaglesmith at his gritty, straightforward best. As an exploration of why people often turn to religion during difficult times and how that religion often fails in those circumstances, Tinderbox is an album of nearly limitless depth”- Slant
“Tinderbox is very much a document of this moment in time, a journal of spiritual crisis yet renewed humanity… [It’s] Eaglesmith at his most down-to-earth magical” - Houston Press
“Ever heard an album where your jaw drops on first listen, then keeps sounding even better with every spin? Tinderbox is one such record. It’s his most adventurous and accomplished work yet, and how many artists now on their 17th record can you say that about? It’s hard to imagine a better roots-based record coming out this year” - Exclaim!
“One of his most important CDs to date. Tinderbox, from start to finish, from the lyrical quality to the production, is just plain ingenious” - Lone Star Music

Support for the evening comes from KERRI POWERS, who’s just released Faith In The Shadows, which puts me in mind of nothing less than JESSE SYKES breaking into LUCINDA WILLIAMS’ studio and stealing away with her band. Smoky vocals, big tremulous guitar sweeps: very good indeed. Kerri will be performing solo this evening – and on stage around 8.30pm. As ever, don’t be late.

Couple of links for those of you craving more...

Site dedicated to Fred's performances in Holland (lots of great live stuff here!):
Fred Eaglesmith Forum:
Kerri Powers:

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

July Shows: Willy Vlautin Exclusive, Jason Ringenberg and - for the nippers - Farmer Jason is back!

Cock-a-hoop to have the ONLY Willy Vlautin solo show in the UK this year!
You can expect to hear a few rare renditions of the Fontaine catalogue, and - we hope - some of the new songs from We Used To Think The Freeway Sounded Like A River, an album which should not only cement the band's reputation as masters of the maudlin, but also win new fans with perhaps the strongest set of songs/stories/characters and music the band has yet to record.

SATURDAY 18th JULY: Doors 8:00pm
A co-promotion with ARK PR

£9 advance from Rounder, Resident, Punker Bunker and online at
(Willy’s performance will finish in time for people to catch the last train to London)

(Note: The Basement may be a 'new' venue for many of you. It is located in the North Laines area of Brighton - and is only a short walk from Brighton train station. Kensington Street is the continuation of Sydney Street, and runs parallel to Kensington Gardens (that's the pedestrianised street with Resident Records on it). You’ll find the venue about half way down - opposite that awesome graffiti of James Brown)

Here's the dude singing...

... and reading. Clever so-and-so!

Needless to say, can't wait!

And the weekend continues on a high, with two Sunday shows. Parents, you'll thank us for wearing your kids out so much they won't be complaining it's bed time - they'll already be asleep. Apologies, though, if they can't get up for school on Monday...

I haven't actually checked but I think this may be the first show we've done with an Emmy Award winner!

FARMER JASON (kids' show)
SUNDAY 19th JULY - Doors: 3pm until 5pm
ST, JOSEPH’S HALL, MILTON ROAD (in Hanover, at the bottom of Elm Grove) BN2 9TQ

Tickets £4 from Rounder, Resident, Punker Bunker and online at (NB: It's possible that the online quota will sell out in advance: if you can't get to the shops, there will be more tickets available on the door)

A vid of the kind of fun we can expect...
Farmer Jason - Forest Rhymes

..and, kids, you can rest easy...

We wrap up what should be a fantastic weekend with a show from one of the people responsible for us being here - Jason Ringenberg, cow-punk legend and leader of Jason & The Scorchers!

SUNDAY 19th JULY: Doors 8:00pm

Tickets £7 advance from Rounder, Resident, Punker Bunker and online at

Leader of Jason & The Scorchers, Jason Ringenberg has a celebrated solo career spanning the past ten years or so. If he were only the same barn-storming cowpunk that leads that band, it would be enough to commend his solo show to you, but he is so much more. His songwriting encompasses everything including the injustices of American history, railing against its current figureheads, the fight against mountain-top removal (look it up), and - of course - Honky Tonk Maniacs from Mars. He can be heavy, but he isn’t po-faced. Heck, he’s even been known to regale the ‘grown-up’ audience with a song or two from the Farmer Jason catalogue. See, I told you the Tractor song was fun!