Tag Archives: Dom Flemons

From Y to Z

We all know about getting from A to B, but how about Y to Z, the Y being York and the Z being Zydeco. Now there’s not an obvious connection between York and Zydeco, but stick with me, as I take you from York to Zydeco.

The tale ends with my most recent addition to my vinyl collection, Boogalusa Boogie by [easyazon_link identifier=”B0000001HJ” locale=”US” tag=”tonnewmus-20″]Clifton Chenier[/easyazon_link]. This is the only Zydeco album to earn a five star review from Rolling Stone, who described it as “Indispensable: a record that must be included in any comprehensive collection.”

Clifton Chenier - Boogalusa Boogie










So how did this Englishman, living in Cincinnati, come to discover Clifton Chenier? Well the clue is on the record sleeve itself. Take a look in the bottom-left hand corner and you’ll see the word Arhoolie. Now until about a year ago, I’d never heard of Arhoolie Records, when browsing through my Facebook feed, I saw a link from Dom Flemons to an article in the Oxford American, which appeared in the winter 2014 Southern Music Issue devoted to Texas.

The article was called, “It’s got ahold of me” and features an interview by Dom Flemons with Chris Strachwitz, the founder of Arhoolie Records. It’s a fascinating read with some great tales of Chris Stratchwitz’s experiences as a field recorder. This led me to buy the documentary DVD, [easyazon_link identifier=”B00RWKN8XM” locale=”US” tag=”tonnewmus-20″]This Ain’t No Mouse Music[/easyazon_link];The Story of Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records. One of the artists appearing on the DVD was Clifton Chenier, hence the interest in Boogalusa Boogie.

So that explains, how I got from Dom Flemons to Zydeco, via Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records, but how did I first come across Dom Flemons. Well I’ve seen Dom Flemons a couple of times since moving to Cincinnati. Firstly I saw him acting as Master of Ceremonies on Pokey LaFarge’s Central Time Tour, which I caught at Middletown, Ohio. During the show he played some tracks off his [easyazon_link identifier=”B00KJFZXIK” locale=”US” tag=”tonnewmus-20″]Prospect Hill[/easyazon_link] album, one of my favorite albums of the last couple of years.

Pokey Lafarge Central Time poster










Most recently I saw Dom Flemons at the Cincinnati Music Hall as part of the [easyazon_link identifier=”B013SZFMCE” locale=”US” tag=”tonnewmus-20″]American Originals[/easyazon_link] concert, based primarily around of the music of Stephen Foster.

American Originals





That still doesn’t explain, how I came across Dom Flemons. Well,the first time I saw him was as part of the Carolina Chocolate Drops at a concert in the City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds, England, during their [easyazon_link identifier=”B002U33GQU” locale=”US” tag=”tonnewmus-20″]Genuine Negro Jig[/easyazon_link] tour. . I’d got the tickets having heard the Carolina Chocolate Drops on one of my favorite radio shows, the Bob Harris Show. The concert itself was excellent and  the support on the night, David Wax Museum, was also superb.

So, that’s taken the story back over the Atlantic to Leeds, England, where does York fit in? York is where this whole story starts, as that is where I met my lovely wife Tara, who goes to most of the gigs with me and who patiently  indulges my love of music. The Carolina Chocolate Drops concert was one of our first gigs as a couple. We loved the Carolina Chocolate Drops that much that we included one of their songs on the CD we gave our wedding guests as a favor.

So there you have it, how I got from York to Zydeco and ended up with the Boogalusa Boogie by Clifton Chenier


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Midpoint Music Festival

Okay, I’m more than a little excited, I’ve just bought my ticket for the Midpoint Music Festival, being held on 25-27 September in Cincinnati. The reasons for the excitement, well firstly, one of my favorite live acts, Pokey LaFarge is appearing at Washington Park on the Sunday evening. This will be my fourth time seeing Pokey LaFarge, I first saw him in Leeds, England at Brudenell Social Club. As well as a brilliant performance from Pokey LaFarge, the night was memorable due to a great performance from the support band, Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra and also for me protecting my date, and future wife, from a group of drunken Yorkshiremen!

By the time we saw Pokey LaFarge the second time, we’d moved to Columbus, Georgia. We made a 100 mile trip to see him at a great venue, just outside Atlanta, called Eddie’s Attic. This was another great evening’s entertainment,and one which was thoroughly enjoyed by our two sons. The last time, we saw Pokey LaFarge was on his Central Time Tour,at Middletown, Ohio. By this time, we’d moved to Cincinnati, so this was virtually on our doorstep. Once again this was a great evening, featuring another favorite of mine, Dom Flemons, and a group that soon became favorites, The Tillers.









So needless to say I’m looking forward to seeing Pokey LaFarge!

My second reason for getting so stoked is that I finally get to see The Besnard Lakes, I’ve been dying to see The Besnard Lakes for a few years now. I’ve got a couple of their albums, The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse and The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night , and they’re both brilliant and I can’t wait to see them live. They’re appearing at Washington Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Besnard Lakes - are the Dark Horse











The Besnard Lakes - are the Roaring Night










These are just two reasons for getting my ticket to the Midpoint Music Festival and I’m sure you’ll be hearing alot more from me about it over the next few weeks!

And to finish with, how about some Pokey LaFarge, here’s the title track from his latest album, Something in the Water….


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TW3 – Week 8

And we’re into March already,time for another TW3 and we’re now onto TW3 – Week 8.  So what have I been up to on the music front.  Well the highlight of the week was seeing JJ Grey & Mofro at the Taft Theater in Cincinnati on Friday (27th February).

JJ Grey & Mofro flyer








Up until a couple of weeks ago, when my wife Tara bought the tickets, I’d never heard of JJ Grey & Mofro. Apparently they’re quite big on this side of the Atlantic, but back in the UK they hadn’t registered on my radar.

It was also our first time at the Taft Theater, and I have to say it’s a great venue, with great acoustics and a great bar, selling local craft beers!

The support for the night were London Souls and although the Cincinnati crowd seemed to enjoy them, I’m afraid I couldn’t get into them at all.

As for JJ Grey & Mofro, I definitely got into them. For a band I’ve never seen or heard before, they kept me entertained from start to finish. The band were simply amazing, all of them being supremely gifted musicians. They’ve obviously got quite a loyal following, as the crowd were singing along to a lot of the numbers.Being my first time, I didn’t recognize the old songs,and as most of them weren’t introduced I can’t name them. JJ Grey did introduce the songs they played from his new album  Ol’ Glory,all of which were very good, my favorite being The Island, which they performed at the start of their encore.

I purchased ,Ol’ Glory on vinyl, from the merchandise song and was well impressed that it came with a download code for the album as well. As this is the first new vinyl album I’ve bought for quite a while, I don’t know if this is the norm, but fair play to the Mascot Label Group for doing this.

JJ Grey & Mofro - Ol' Glory










As for the album Ol’ Glory, I love it! but not as much as Tara!

Ol’ Glory is currently in the top ten of the Americana charts and Americana features heavily on my other purchase last week. And I got it from Cracker Barrel of all places! We were there a few days ago and on the way out we noticed the featured artist CD they were promoting was Man of Constant Sorrow by Ralph Stanley & Friends. And what friends they are! I won’t name them all, just those I’ve seen live, Robert Plant, Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale and Old Crow Medicine Show. Seeing that guest list I had to buy it! And it’s superb, every track is brilliant.





Talking of Old Crow Medicine Show, check out their latest video, Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer, featuring Dom Flemons

I came across that via a link on Dom Flemons‘ Facebook feed, which is a mine of great music and information. He recently had a link to an interview he did for the Oxford American magazine with a guy called Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie Records. It’s a fascinating piece, entitled It’s got a Hold of me, and it led me to taking out a subscription for the Oxford American and then buying a DVD,  This Ain’t No Mouse Music! The Story of Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records.

Finally I picked up a couple of new followers on Twitter, firstly Arc and Stones, who sound pretty damned good, check this out:

And then there’s RadioRomance, again another cracking band, have a listen to this:

So that’s TW3 Week 8 done with!

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American Originals at Cincinnati Music Hall – What a show!

Well I was right to be a “tad excited”, as I said in one of my earlier posts. The American Originals concert at Cincinnati Music Hall more than lived up to my expectations.

American Originals


First of all a word about the venue, what a building Cincinnati Music Hall is!









We arrived there for the doors opening at 1 pm, which gave us a little time to have a wander round the building, and it’s magnificent. We’ll definitely be returning for a tour of the building. We had a look at the timeline, which was fascinating, particularly the list of artists who have performed there.

Another reason for arriving early was to catch Hickory Robot, who were playing in the foyer as we arrived. We caught them towards the end of their set performing a great version of The Band‘s classic, The Weight.









Our seats were up in the Gallery,and I was somewhat worried about the view when I purchased the tickets, but my fears were unfounded, we had a great view. The set was interesting with a carpet, with a chair and a lamp at each end, with a bust of Stephen Collins Foster, in the middle.

Looking around the audience, it was interesting to see that at the age of 53, I was one of the younger members of the audience! I’m not sure whether that was due to the show being on a Sunday afternoon or whether the American Originals didn’t appeal to the younger generation, which would be a great shame. I have to say this is the first concert I’ve been to where I’ve heard an oxygen tank, three rows behind, being used throughout the performance! Fortunately, it was only noticeable during the interval and the breaks between the songs. I  would have hated to ask the user to turn it off!

As for the show itself, where do I begin, it was excellent from start to finish.

The first half opened with a rousing version of the Battle Cry of Freedom. There were many highlights in the first half of the show ,Over the Rhine‘s take on ,Why No One to Love,was beautiful, with Karen Berquist sounding lovely. Dom Flemons performing Old Folks Home was wonderful. Mind you I’m a big fan of Dom Flemons, so there maybe a slight bit of favoritism there!. Rosanne Cash just blew me away with Beautiful Dreamer, she also performed one of her father’s songs, which for the life of me I can’t remember the title of! The first half finished with another highlight,  Aoife O’Donovan singing Amazing Grace, ably supported by the Comet Bluegrass Allstars.

The second half had even more high spots! Dom Flemons performing Ring, Ring de Banjo was superb. Joe Henry, reclaiming the Love me Tender tune, for Aura Lee, was another high spot. But for me, Rosanne Cash, singing My Old Kentucky Home was the highlight of the old show. I had a tear in my eye and lump in my throat at the end of this and I’m a Brit who’s only just moved to Cincinnati, god know’s what it did for the Kentuckians in the audience!

The show ended with a rip-roaring version of Camptown Races, with all the performers on stage, contributing to a fitting finale. In fact, they performed it again for the encore.

It was an absolutely superb afternoon’s entertainment. I’m no musical expert, but the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, aka Cincy Pops, sounded incredible. I’m afraid I can’t remember the names of all the soloists, only the conductor, John Morris Russell, who did a fine job, not only of conducting the orchestra, but also of hosting the event. One thing’s for sure, this won’t be my last visit to Cincinnati Music Hall and I definitely want to see the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra again!

One last comment, and this will do my “street cred” no good whatsoever, there were buses outside waiting to take people back to their old folks home! That never happens at the Southgate House Revival!


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American Originals at Cincinnati Music Hall

Okay, I have to confess, I’m just a tad excited. Yesterday I got tickets for the Sunday afternoon performance of American Originals at Cincinnati Music Hall.

American Originals


So why so excited? I hear you say

Well, how about this for a line-up:

Rosanne Cash – One of my favorite artists, who’s album The River and the Thread was one of my top ten albums of 2014. I briefly saw her on stage at the end of the Americana Awards show at the Ryman Auditorium  in September 2013 and have been wanting to see her ever since.


Americana Awards 2013

Dom Flemons – Formerly with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who I saw when he was still a member, at the City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds, England in October 2012.  I also saw Dom Flemons late last year when he compered Pokey Lafarge‘s Central Time Tour, which was one of my top ten gigs of last year.

Pokey Lafarge Central Time poster

Over The Rhine – I’ve not yet seen Over The Rhine, but I understand they’re a Cincinnati institution, so it’ll be cool to catch one of my new home town bands.

Aoife O’Donovan – I’ve heard her a few times on Bob Harris‘s Radio 2 show and I’ve been wanting to see her live for quite a while now.

The other two acts on the bill are the Comet Bluegrass Allstars and Joe Henry. I’ve not heard of either of these, so a bit of research is required.

All these acts are going to be performing with the world-famous Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.

The show will be based around the songs of Stephen Foster, who reputedly was America’s first great songwriter. Being a Brit, who’s only been living in the States for just over a year, and in Cincinnati for four months, I’m not fully au fait with Stephen Foster, but being a music fan, I’m obviously aware of the Great American Songbook. I’m also aware of the black face minstrel tradition for which Stephen Foster is known for, as during my childhood back in the UK, there used to be a light entertainment program, on the BBC, called the Black and White Minstrel Show. The show was very popular and ran for 20 year and won a Golden Rose at Montreux for Best Light Entertainment program. However, after numerous complaints it finally was pulled in 1978.

This show introduced me to many of Stephen Foster‘s songs, including Oh Susanna!,Camptown Races,Swanee River & My Old Kentucky Home amongst others. So whilst the manner used, on the Black and White Minstrel Show, of showcasing the songs was abhorrent, it did contribute greatly to my love of music, and Americana in particular.

One added bonus of going on Sunday is that I get to see Hickory Robot again, as they’re providing the pre-concert entertainment. I saw them at the CincyGroove Music Festival last year, where they were excellent, so it will be good to see them again.

Another reason for the excitement is that this will be my first visit to the Cincinnati Music Hall. I’ve been in Cincinnati for four months and have been waiting for the right concert before making my first visit, and the American Originals fits the bill perfectly!



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Top Ten Gigs of 2014, Part Two

Following on from my last post, here’s Part Two of my Top Ten Gigs of 2014.

5 – Leo and Anto at the Red Light Cafe in Atlanta, Georgia. One of my favorite live bands is the Saw Doctors, who are currently taking a well earned break after 25 years of touring. 2013 must have been the first year for god knows how many that I hadn’t seen them live, so when I saw that Leo Moran and Antony Thistlethwaite, from the band, were appearing in Atlanta, I immediately purchased tickets.

The gig took place in a great little venue, ideal for the intimate acoustic set performed by Leo and Anto. They played a mixture of Saw Doctors songs, some off their own two albums and also a couple of Waterboys tracks, as Anto used to be a member of the Waterboys. There were so many great moments throughout the evening, but my own favorites were a rousing version of Clare Island and a great version of Fisherman’s Blues.

It may not have been a full blown Saw Doctors gig, but it certainly was a damned fine alternative. And I got my photo took with Leo and Anto! Wicked!
Tony & AntoTony & Leo       005

4 – Steve Hackett on his Genesis Revisited tour at the Atlanta Symphony Hall, Georgia. My all time favorite band is Genesis, and the chances of me seeing them again live are fairly remote, so this to me was my last chance of hearing some of the songs from the classic Genesis line up of Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett and Rutherford, performed by one of it’s original members.

I’d seen Steve Hackett on his Genesis Revisited tour the previous year in Liverpool, and that was superb, but this set was even better. Every song received a standing ovation from the appreciative American crowd. There were a number of occasions throughout the gig when I, along with loads of other members of the audience, had tear-filled eyes listening to some of the classic Genesis back catalog. Of these, the epic Supper’s Ready was out of this world, it was simply stunning. If I never get to see Genesis again, this was a fine farewell!

001 (2) Steve Hackett 3


3. Pokey LaFarge‘s Central Time Tour at the Finkelman Auditorium, Miami University, Middletown Ohio. I’ve been lucky enough to see Pokey LaFarge a couple of times already, once on both sides of the Atlantic, in Leeds, Yorkshire and in Decatur, Georgia. On both occasions, they were both great gigs. This evening was no exception, the poster below shows the artists who performed throughout the evening, and there was not a duff performance amongst them. Dom Flemons did a superb job as Master of Ceremonies, as well as performing a few numbers of his album. The Loot Rock Gang were excellent, as were The Cajun Country Revival.

The Tillers were given the honor of being the main support act as they were a local Cincinnati band, and they were amazing! They had a lot of loyal support in the audience and they certainly did Cincinnati proud.

And needless to say Pokey Lafarge and his band were spot on once again! The Central Time Tour was a great idea and I certainly hope that it’s something that Pokey LaFarge will undertake again, if he does, I’ll be there!

Pokey Lafarge Central Time poster


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