Island music fans may remember The New Madrids from Loopallu in September, but if you didn’t catch them, don’t miss their Stornoway gig.
American roots and soul are at the heart of this bands’ sound with a hefty slice of rock n roll and blues on the side. This Perthshire hailing five-piece includes vocalists Donny McElligott and Ian Hutchison, drummer Maurice ‘Mo’ McPherson, Owen ‘Scaryophonic’ Nicholson on strings and Callum Keith, bass player extraordinaire.
Talking about their style, Donny mused:
“Our range of influences are pretty broad, from Gram Parsons, the Stones, Skynrd, Black Crowes, Ryan Adams, Drive by Truckers, Otis Redding, Teenage Fanclub, AC/DC, The Band, the list really could go on and on.”
“I guess what you’ll hear of these influences when you listen to us play is an honesty in the sound we make, the way we listen to each other and let each other express ourselves individually while creating the sound as a group.”
The New Madrids were formed in 2010 by the four remaining members of Americana stalwarts $outhpaw and the lead singer/founder of rock and blues outfit ‘The Revivals’. Their debut album ‘Through the Heart of Town’ was released in January 2014 and Saturday night’s Island gig is sure to treat the crowd to some of these tracks.
Donny teed up the set list:
“You’ll be hearing plenty from the first album, but we’ll also be playing some new material as well as some choice covers which the Americana crowd will appreciate, we hope!” And as for the tunes that will get you tapping your dancing feet: “We’ve had some great feedback over the past year and a half, fantastic reviews and great airplay,” revealed Donny: “The favourites seem to be Shine a Light, Shake, Mountain of Trouble and Alaska. We also like to indulge ourselves and others by playing some Gram Parsons, Black Crowes, Steve Earle, maybe even a bit of Taylor Swift! If it’s good enough for Ryan Adams then it’s fine for us!”
As well as gigging around the country the band are busy writing material for album number two, and with a few demos already recorded, they are close to booking the recording dates to lay down the new material. Donny gave us some insight to the band’s creative process:
“The songs from Through the Heart of Town were written by myself and Ian (he’s the good looking one). We each had five tracks on the album, however this time around we’ve been doing some co-writing with each other. Owen has also been chipping in with ideas (he’s the really talented one) and as a group we all get in the rehearsal room and thrash out the songs into the fully arranged finished article. So everyone makes their mark so to speak.”
It’s time to lick your lips as this gig should be as satisfying as a slice of deep pan apple pie for all our home-grown Americana lovers!
Drawing from the irresistible Stones countrified swagger and such catholic roots influences as The Band, Byrds and later bands like Whiskeytown and Drive-by Truckers gives the New Madrids their musical seasoning. This five piece have a bedrock rhythm section topped with guitars, keyboards, mandolin and pedal steel before adding additional guest textures that include brass, violin and guest vocals; one of which, recorded in Austin, is Brennen Leigh.
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.
David James Innes
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.
Blabber 'n' Smoke reviews, February 2014
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.
Net Rhythms, January 2014
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.
The debut album from Scottish alt country bad boys The New Madrids is another end of year cracker.
The New Madrids – from Perth (the Scottish one, not the Australian one) - have crafted herein an album of rootsy, Americana soul that is a multi-layered and sweeping record. Forming from the ashes of the much-loved Southpaw, this is their debut release and is gaining them friends and admirers from all corners of the globe.
Louder Than War
"Americana’s a strange handle. So was Country Rock and so was Rock N’ Roll.
Within this release you’ll find all three in spades, there’s no doubt.
There’s a theory backed up by this record that Country Music was really just Celtic Music, Spirit and Passion having emigrated to the Southern States. After colliding with similarly transplanted African Music and it’s mutated forms, we were led to the pointless genre labeling. After all that stuff though, it’s all just good music of The Heart, as it was when it first set sail.
Ever since those first transatlantic voyages were taken, ‘The Feeling’ has been sailing back and forth like a never-ending match of musical ping-pong.
The New Madrids from Perth keep the game going with a furious, impatient swing. Top notch songwriting, beautiful vocals and harmonies fused with kick-ass musicianship, lead and steel guitars to impress, underpinned by a faultless rhythm section.
Doesn’t matter where you’re looking at on a map, your ears know The New Madrids bring it all and they stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone else within any genre you care for these days."
"'Through the Heart of Town' has everything that makes great Americana - soul, straight ahead country rock, power pop, old-time country, and all of it up there with the greats! It has songs that make you want to cry, songs that make you want to dance, and above all, songs that you want to sing along to.It also has fantastic playing and production from start to finish. This album is a triumph of a debut album, from one of the UK's finest bands."
Alex Elton Wall