Chip Taylor and Adam Coxon

Adam Coxon, Chip Taylor, Gøran Grini and John Platania

Adam Coxon, Chip Taylor, Gøran Grini and John Platania at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek, as an addition to the Leek Blues and Americana Festival programme, on Wednesday the 6th of November, 2019.

On Wednesday night, the Foxlowe was graced by the presence of the legendary New York singer/songwriter Chip Taylor (the Brill Building dwelling writer of “Wild Thing” – by The Troggs, and Jimi Hendrix – and “Angel of The Morning” – sung by PP Arnold, Evie Sands, Merrilee Rush, Juice Newton, Nina Simone and more; as well as other classic songs) with John Platania on electric guitar (record producer, session musician, guitar player – notably with Van Morrison and others) and from Norway, keyboardist Gøran Grini.

Ably supported by local singer-songwriter Adam Coxon, a seated full house was treated to an evening of mellow, heartfelt, emotional songs from Chip and his band, as well as unintended interjections from Chip’s mobile phone. Chip forgot to turn his mobile phone off, and kept getting texts and calls during his set. At one point, he pauses the song in progress to get his phone out of his pocket, reject the call, and then, without missing a beat, start up the song again. A class act.

The rapt audience also listens intently to Chip’s between song tale telling and introductions, on such diverse topics as hearing Country music for the first time as a child, horse racing and betting, his time in the Brill Building, Parnell’s Irish Bar in New York, and being a Whiskey Salesman.

I could go on and recount Chip’s set, but Chip describes it better himself. As an extract from Chip Taylor’s Road Journal entry for the Foxlowe Arts Centre gig says:

“By the time we finished dinner it was pretty much time for Adam [Coxon] to go on the stage and sing a few songs before we got up to do one long show.

Joan and I got there to see a little bit of Adam’s set and sat in the back clapping with other fans for his fine performance.

We got on stage promptly at nine… Right away we knew this was a crazy wonderful audience… It seemed like such comfortable fit, with equally crazy folks playing the music!

Gøran Grini and John Platania were absolutely amazing tonight. Working their magic in and out of all the songs, leaving lots of breathing room in each one. Again, the hits and the up-tempo songs seem to feel loose and good and very well responded to by this great group … we had good fun with the opening song, the Real Thing and “Track 224“ was over-the-top good tonight. Johnny Cash’s “Big River“was raw and great with amazing solos by John and Gøran.

But the songs that seemed to draw the most attention and get the most elongated applause again were the silent ones… The beautiful silent ones. Among the absolute magic ones for the night were “Whiskey Salesman”, “I Like Ridin’”, “Theme for an American Hero”, “What a Smile You Had”, “He’s a Good Guy as Well you Know”, “There’s Nothing Coming out of Me That I Like”, “I’ll Carry for You” and of course the biggest crowd pleaser of all these days is always “Fuck All the Perfect People“!

This audience was just really special.. An audience like this helps make the songs like “He’s a Good Guy” more than just songs being played… More like prayerful things being thought together and communicated and felt together. Some audiences do that for you… and so far, the audiences we have been playing for have been exceptional in this regard. Tonight, you could hear a pin drop during the performance of the songs and you could hear all the little soulful nuances being played on stage by Gøran and John.

This crazy, spontaneous audience brought out the best in us and them.. it was one of those nights!

After a wild “Fuck All the Perfect People”, with the audience singing the chorus loud and clear very early on in the song, we ended with “I Wasn’t Born in Tennessee” from the 1973 classic, Last Chance.

We left to a standing ovation and got a chance to say hello to some of [the audience in the bar area]…”

Thank you to Adam, Chip, John and Gøran for an amazing night, the staff and volunteers at the Foxlowe, and to everyone in the audience who came out on a wet night in Leek to catch the show. We look forward to welcoming you back to the Foxlowe again.

Adam Coxon at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Chip Taylor, Göran Grini and John Platania at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Chip Taylor, Göran Grini and John Platania at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Giles Metcalfe and Chip Taylor

Photos 1 to 3 by Giles Metcalfe, Photos 4 and 5 courtesy of Joan Taylor (thank you, Joan).

Martin Harley and Sam Brookes

Martin Harley, supported by Sam Brookes, kicked off the Foxlowe’s Leek Blues and Americana Festival as a host venue for live music on Wednesday the 2nd of October.

The Festival as a whole opened with a showing of the film Amazing Grace in the cinema room in the Foxlowe on Tuesday night, followed by Festival First Call with Mike Gledhill in the Cock Inn on Wednesday afternoon, but the Foxlowe opened its doors on an unseasonably chilly evening to welcome a great turnout for Martin Harley’s brand of electrified Country Blues.

As Martin’s website states:

“I’m ready to make a bigger noise……Muddy Waters invented electricity right?”

“In 2019 British guitarist and songwriter Martin Harley is making a change. Having created a deep impression on the acoustic blues roots and Americana scene with his last two Nashville recorded albums, his highly anticipated new record finds a new and exciting sound. An Intimate and gritty analogue album, recorded in a remote chapel deep in the wilds of Pembrokeshire. Taking county blues riffs to the electric bottleneck slide guitar, served with sweet vocal harmonies over the driving rhythms of co producer and drummer Harry Harding (Yola Carter/William the Conquerer) Award winning Australian bassist Rex Horan finalises the line up. He has recorded and performed with Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and Laura Marling.

“Through Harley’s road worn songwriting style this record explores hopes and fears for fast changing times, offering gospel like comfort and consolation. The song ‘Roll With The Punches’ implores the listener not to get dragged down when challenges seem unsurmountable. ‘Coming Home’ asks questions beyond the end of life and ruminates on freedom from worldly desires.

“If success can be measured by growing global demand to attend Martin’s dynamic life performances then perhaps his touring schedule is proof of that. He recently played to full house at the Union Chapel in Islington and has appeared at Edmonton, Vancouver, Canmore and Calgary folk festivals in Canada, Glastonbury, Bestival, Beautiful days in the UK, numerous European and US tours and events including the AMAs, The Bluebird in Nashville and Tønder in Denmark. In 2018 Total guitar ranked him #16 in the worlds greatest acoustic guitarist poll and he was nominated as Instrumentalist of the year at the Americana music awards.”

Ably supported by acoustic singer-songwriter, Sam Brookes, who has been described as being “reminiscent of Tim Buckley as he glides between the lower and upper registers of his four-octave range. His pure voice, evocative lyrics and soaring melodies have made him a rising figure in the alt-folk scene”, the appreciative and reverent audience were treated to an uplifting and at times highly poignant and moving set, including renditions of ‘Roll With The Punches’, ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’ and ‘Winter Coat’.

Prior to his set, Martin was presented with a sketch portrait by Leek and Foxlowe Creative Hub-based artist, Gavin Bowyer. Gavin was commissioned by the Leek Blues and Americana Festival to produce sketch portraits in his own signature style of each of the acts playing this year.

The photo of Martin receiving his portait from Gavin is by Mark Brammar.

All other photos by Giles Metcalfe.

Martin Harley receiving his sketch portrait from Gavin Bowyer

Martin Harley receiving his sketch portrait from local artist Gavin Bowyer. Photo by Mark Brammar.


Sam Brookes supporting Martin Harley and playing to a full room at Leek Blues and Americana Festival, Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Sam Brookes supporting Martin Harley and playing to a full room. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.


Martin Harley playing lap slide guitar

Martin Harley playing lap slide guitar. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.


Martin Harley and Band

Martin Harley and Band. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.


Martin Harley and Band. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.

Martin Harley and Band. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.


Martin Harley and Band. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.

Martin Harley and Band. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.

Marty and Olivia Willson-Piper

Marty and Olivia Willson-Piper played an intimate semi-acoustic and spoken word set to a seated audience of dedicated and knowledgeable fans at the Foxlowe Arts Centre on Wednesday the 20th of March, 2019.

Marty Willson-Piper is a British guitarist & singer-songwriter who has been writing and performing with many bands and artists all over the world for the past 35+ years. He is best known as a long-time member of the Australian psychedelic rock band The Church. Willson-Piper contributed to all of the Church’s studio releases until 2013 and was a touring member from 1980 to 2013.

Well known as a man whose music voices the paradoxes of pain and beauty in a lyrical and musical style that snags the attention of the audience and remains in their consciousness long after the music has ceased. In live performance, this penetrating depth of music is coupled with fabulous humour that is nothing but British, intelligent, and vastly inappropriate (in all the right ways).

He was also the guitarist for the English alternative rock band All About Eve from 1991 to 1993 and again from 1999 to 2002. In 2005 he joined veteran Australian band The Saints to record and tour.

Marty, on a well-loved and battered Takamine 12-string semi-acoustic guitar held together with copious amounts of gaffer tape, and wife Olivia, on violin and wearing a lovely pair of Cowboy Boots, mixed songs from Marty’s long and varied career with extended spoken word interludes and banter with the intimate, seated audience of loyal and long-standing fans.

Sometimes seated themselves (somewhat precariously in Marty’s case, on a rather wonky high stool) and sometimes standing, the married couple presented their lyrical and beautiful songs to the appreciative audience, interspersed with double checking which song was coming next (the setlist had been misplaced), spontaneous on-the-spot stream-of-consciousness song writing based on conversations with the audience and tangential observations from Marty and Olivia, musings, observations and expositions, and tall tales from Marty’s long music career.

An entertaining raconteur, Marty’s topics of conversation, tall tales and shaggy dog stories included bucolic pastoralism; the best way to fill up empty space in your house; descending chord progressions in songs; Onesies and Womble Suits; whether there was anyone famous from Leek; local radio interviews – leading to discussing Stoke-on-Trent and the Six Towns that comprise it; touring with The Cult, Italian Police with machine guns and the exact sartorial definition of good and evil as far as the Italians are concerned; Venice sinking under water; having a near death experience when a plane he was on suffered a catastrophic engine failure on an internal flight in Australia; Bryan Adams; Prog Rock – Olivia hosts and curates the Night of the Prog Festival in Germany – Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets, with Gary Kemp on vocal duties (how and why did this happen?!?); telephone calls with David Gilmour and asking him to produce and guest on an All About Eve album, then being starstruck upon seeing him in the studio and asking him daft questions; disclosure on who actually played the famous baseline to Money; and skiing and song writing with Madonna!

During the interval, dedicated vinyl collectors and fans of Marty’s previous bands got their rare records signed, including records that Marty himself doesn’t have in his huge archive of vinyl records, before the second half of the set commenced.

Marty has often been photographed in a Big Star t-shirt, and he and Olivia ended the set with a cover of Thirteen from Big Star’s #1 Record, after which Marty and Olivia left the stage to well-deserved applause.

As ever, Marty, Olivia and the Foxlowe would like to thank everyone who came to the show, and we hope to see you again soon.

Marty and Olivia Willson-Piper at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Marty and Olivia Willson-Piper at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

All photos by Giles Metcalfe.


John Bramwell

Singer-songwriter John Bramwell, supported by Dave Fidler, played a unique and captivating largely acoustic solo set at the Foxlowe on Friday the 9th of November, 2018, accompanied by multi-instrumentalists Alan Lowles and Dave Fidler.

Despite the Autumn storm that was raging outside – you could hear the wind howling and rain battering down outside during the quieter moments of his set – around 50 or so hardy, enthusiastic and highly partisan fans braved the weather and turned out to watch an evening of songs “inspired by the spirit of liberty, independence, adventure and solitude that John has enjoyed on the road, as well as the diverse emotions that escape and travel can bring about – from sadness to exhilaration”, with vocalised sound effects, audience participation and often hilarious asides, interpolations and interactions with members of the audience and his entourage between songs.

Biographical Information

John Bramwell is one of the UK’s most unique and talented singer-songwriters.

Performing as a musician for over 30 years, John started out as the front man of a four-piece band called “The Ignition” that toured in the 1980’s. Following that he became a solo performer and Granada Television presenter, Johnny Dangerously.

Bramwell formed ‘The Mouth’ in the 1990’s with friend and musician Bryan Glancy and later worked booking bands at the longstanding and legendary Manchester venue ‘Night and Day’. It was here that he met Pete Jobson and formed ‘I am Kloot’ in 1999.

The three piece alternative rock band went on to release ten albums, receiving a Mercury Music Prize nomination in 2011 for the exquisite, Sky at Night, produced by Guy Garvey & Craig Potter from ‘Elbow’.

Each ‘I am Kloot’ album is a brilliant showcase for John’s skilful songwriting and distinctive vocal style.

A brilliant showman, throughout his career John has developed a legendary, live reputation establishing a relationship with audiences with his refreshing honesty, tall stories and his catchphrase “here’s another song about drinking and disaster”.

His new solo album, called Leave Alone the Empty Spaces, is out now. The record is a stunning showcase of John’s fabulous, widely acclaimed song-writing and his unique voice. It’s the first completely new collection of songs by John as a solo artist since he started his adventures away from ‘I am Kloot’.

Dave Fidler’s first solo album, I’m Not Here, and the Easy Gone, Easy Come EP are also availabe, including on Spotify and iTunes for your listening pleasure.

Dave Fidler at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

John Bramwell at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

John Bramwell at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

John Bramwell at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

John Bramwell at the Foxlowe Arts Centre


All photos by Giles Metcalfe.