With The New Madrids’ debut CD Through The Heart Of Town already causing critics and reviewers to sit up, take note and even tap a tastefully-tooled cowboy boot, it was with some anticipation that Aberdeen punters turned out for the Blue Lamp show. Although numbers could and should have been higher, those who did attend were treated to nearly two hours of stunning Americana, filtered through the consciousness of five wonderfully-talented men of Perth and Perthshire.
With dual vocalists Donny McElligott and Ian Hutchison alternating at the main vocal mic and a scorching virtuoso performance on Telecaster, lap steel and pedal steel by Owen Nicholson, this was as good a performance as the Lampie audience has witnessed for as long as I can remember.
Basing their set around the album, playing all ten tracks, the Madrids mixed up country, rock, soul and blues, tearing down, as the late Michael Marra said, “those foolish walls” in defiance of the genre cops and proving that where these forms meet and meld is a glorious sonic crossroads.
It was a sad day for Scots music when Perth based Southpaw called it a day a few years back. Their take on classic Americana was of the finest order with their album Buffalo Mansions one of the better UK country rock albums of recent years. So it was welcome news indeed that the nucleus of the band had regrouped under the moniker The New Madrids with a new singer/guitarist Ian Hutchison fronting the solid rhythm section of Calum Keith and Maurice McPherson while Donny McElligott and Owen Nicholson man the guitars with Hutchison and McElligott sharing lead vocal duties. With the new name comes a tougher sound and while at heart they remain a country rock band there’s a sinewy swagger to some of the songs here recalling the peacock strut of the Stones in the early seventies with hints of Free and Little Feat. Indeed on one song, Shake, they import horns and deliver a classic blue eyed soul song that drips with passion as it builds to its climax. McElligott rivals Frankie Miller in the vocal department, the guitar solo is an exemplar of understated Southern cool and the pedal steel swathes all in honeyed regret as the towering horns (by Bruce Michie) burst with a Stax like majesty. Very impressive. Read More
Once upon a time, there was an Americana band from Perth (Scotland) called Southpaw. As far as I’m aware they only had one album, but it was a real goodie: Buffalo Mansions is still a favourite in this house eight years later, packed full of great tunes and country rock melancholy. Gavin JD Munro wrote all the songs on that album and he has formed a new band with a new release of their own (see the next post on this page). The rest of Southpaw (Donny McElligott, Owen Nicholson, Callum Keith and Maurice McPherson) recruited a new guitarist/vocalist in the shape of Ian Hutchison and they have just re-emerged as The New Madrids; their new album is just great, every bit as good as Buffalo Mansions was. Read More
Scotland’s long been a fertile breeding ground for top notch Americana and country rock and and this Perth five piece are no exception. Formed from the ashes of Southpaw and with gritty voiced English singer Ian Hutchinson enlisted as frontman, their debut album is an assured collection that does credit to such influences as Gram Parsons, Uncle Tupelo, The Band, the Stones and Black Crowes. Armed with pedal and lap steel as well as mandolin and Telecaster and fleshed out with brass, strings and harmony vocal contribution from Brennen Leigh, they have a soulful (as evident on Shine A Light) as well as country edge, adept equally at tear stained balladry like the twangy Hey Christine as they are midtempo guitar rockers like Wrapped Up, the bourbon swilling, blues strutting You or the aptly titled Big Fun. Read More