Gwenifer Raymond When it comes to spotting interesting new artists, for me it often starts with hearing something on the radio then following it up with an album purchase or a live gig. Going to a gig is often a great introduction to an artist as you get to experience their personality and body of work, all providing context to the music. So it is with Gwenifer Raymond, a new talent who burst onto the music scene last year with her debut album, ‘You Were Never Much of a Dancer’.


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Damo Suzuki This is an extra special night for The Continental. They are welcoming back Damo Suzuki, a musician of truly legendary international status, marking ten years since the Preston music venue came into being with an opening night performance by Damo himself. Damo is best known for his stint as frontman with Krautrock stalwarts Can, singing on their landmark albums ‘Tago Mago’, ‘Ege Bamyasi’ and ‘Future Days’.


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Michael Chapman Michael Chapman is a 78 year-old British singer-songwriter and guitarist who forged a formidable reputation from a string of classic 1970's albums, perhaps most notably ‘Fully Qualified Survivor’. He is nothing if not prolific and continues to make albums (now over 30) and give live performances. His song-writing skills are widely respected, as is his skilful guitar playing. Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore is one of his admirers and they toured together back in 2013.


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Roy Harper “As long as I can skip I will be coming back” were Roy Harper’s closing remarks as he playfully skipped off the stage as if he were a five year old. Heart warming and poignant it was a fitting end to what is billed as ‘The Last Tour: 50 Years of Monumental Classics’.


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Kacy and Clayton Kacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum are cousins who grew up in rural Saskatchewan, Canada. Kacy and Clayton’s musical partnership was forged by a mutual love of timeless old traditional music. Starting off playing in local venues they’ve since gained many fans and admirers and their most recent acclaimed album ‘The Siren’s Song’ was produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. The duo are currently touring in Europe and tonight they follow up their London gig with a debut visit to The Trades Club in Hebden Bridge. Recently they’ve gigged with an electric band, but for the current tour the pair are playing acoustic.


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Vishtèn Vishtèn are a trio from Eastern Canada whose répertoire is focussed around French-Canadian traditional music, with many songs derived from archive sources. They tell us that they look for joyous folk songs, but invariably they end up with songs about heartbreak. Vishtèn particularly celebrate Acadian music culture, which derives from the French settlers who made their home in North America in the 17th century, including America’s southern states, where it morphed into Cajun.


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Mercury Rev Mercury Rev are currently on a short UK tour and this is the first of two sold-out nights at Leeds Brudenell Social Club. It’s a rather special tour celebrating the 20th Anniversary of their brilliant breakthrough album, ‘Deserter’s Songs’. What’s more they’ve dispensed with their trademark big band presentation and the tour promises a stripped-down and very personal performance of the album. There have been some great reviews of the tour and it’s a gig I’m really looking forward to.


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Seth Lakeman It has been a little over a year since Seth Lakeman last appeared at the Picturedrome. Judging by the familial welcome the packed house gives him, most were here last time around with a few more (like me) who were introduced to his viola and fiddle talents when supporting Robert Plant’s band on the recent Carry Fire tour of Europe and North America.


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Look Now by Elvis Costello and The Imposters Elvis Costello is one of those long-career artists who seem to manage to stay artistically vibrant against the odds. Back in the late 1970s, with singles like ‘Watching the Detectives’, he quickly established himself as one of the most intelligent commentators on the punk / new-wave music scene, a man with songwriting attitude who could pen both great tunes and incisive lyrics. However, unlike many of his 70s contemporaries, Costello was not going to be confined as a one-trick artist and he quickly moved on to make a huge range of records spanning many styles and genres (including country, R & B, Brill Building, string quartet). He has also collaborated with some great names in the music business, including Paul McCartney and Burt Bacharach. He’s not predictable and whenever a new album is announced the question is what version of Elvis Costello will this record represent?


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Neko Case It’s a privilege to catch talented American singer-songwriter Neko Case at her sold-out Leeds gig, one of only two UK dates on the current tour. Neko Case has certainly led a life in music, as a solo artist, as a member of several bands (notably The New Pornographers) and also as a serial collaborator (The Sadies, The Corn Sisters, Calexico and most recently as a member of ‘supergroup’ Case/Lang/Viers).


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Parquet Courts It’s good to be back in The Ritz, one of Manchester’s best larger venues. The listed Grade II building has real character. It was built 1927 as a dancehall and even has a genuine sprung dance floor. It’s been hosting rock gigs since the 1960s and has seen performances by many now legendary acts including The Beatles, REM, The Stone Roses, Magazine, The Smiths and The Arctic Monkeys. Tonight we add Parquet Courts to that list.


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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks Built in 1908 and Grade II listed, Manchester’s Albert Hall is another of those cherished Edwardian community buildings that are enjoying new life as a live music venue. The horseshoe gallery of the former Methodist chapel looks out towards a magnificent organ directly below which stand Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.


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BC Camplight Tonight is a really significant gig for BC Camplight (aka Brian Christinzio), as he opens his UK tour in his adopted home city of Manchester. Although he’s been making music for quite a few years it’s only now that he’s started to get the recognition that he truly deserves, with the release of his new album, ‘Deportation Blues’. There’s a real human story behind the album, but more on this later.


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Graham Parker Tonight it is the turn of Graham Parker who last played the venue in 2015 and he clearly likes the place. Essentially a singer-songwriter GP emerged in the mid-seventies, along with class mates Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe, to great critical acclaim and went onto record over twenty studio albums. Distilling that down into tonight’s set list is no easy task and cherries like ‘Don’t Ask Me Questions’, ‘You Can’t Be Too Strong’ and ‘Passion is No Ordinary Word’ don’t get picked.


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