A heavenly voice with a devastating emotional delivery, Holly Macve delivers spellbinding country & western ballads. Her debut album, Golden Eagle, is remarkably assured, recorded in Newcastle at the home studio of producer Paul Gregory (of Bella Union label-mates Lanterns On The Lake). It is a beautifully spare and delicate record, putting Holly’s goosebump-raising voice centre stage, beautifully controlled yet riven with feeling.
Supporting the likes of John Grant, Villagers and Benjamin Clementine, she has also graced Glastonbury’s legendary Park Stage, along with appearances at Latitude and End of the Road Festival. Her debut single “No One Has the Answers” was single of the week on Jo Whiley’s BBC Radio 2 show, and Spotify have been very supportive of Holly with over 38,000 monthly listeners as well as 700,000 streams for her song “We Don’t Know Where We’re Going”. Golden Eagle was selected as part of Rough Trade’s Album of the Month selection and she also played BBC 6 Music Festival in Glasgow.
Emily Barker’s latest album Sweet Kind of Blue was recorded at Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis with Grammy winning producer Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price) and an all-star cast of Memphis session players. The success of the album, with its seamless mix of soul, blues, country and folk influences, and the globe-trotting tours to support it helped land Emily the accolade of UK Artist of the Year 2018 at the recent UK Americana Awards held at Hackney Empire in London.
Emily Barker is perhaps best known as the writer and performer of the award-winning theme to BBC crime drama Wallander starring Kenneth Branagh. She has released music as a solo artist as well as with various bands including The Red Clay Halo, Vena Portae and Applewood Road (with whom she released a remarkable album of original songs recorded live around a single microphone, which was dubbed “flawless” by The Sunday Times) and has written for film, including composing her first feature film soundtrack (for Jake Gavin’s lauded debut feature Hector starring Peter Mullan and Keith Allen).
‘Something American’ is the debut of a confident, distinctive new voice. With the powerful impact of a full album and the fine nuance of a novel, her debut blends traditional country, vibrant pop, insightful folk, and hollered blues into a heady mélange both fresh and familiar. They reveal a songwriter who emphasises melodic craft and emotional subtlety, a singer willing to push her instrument as far as it will go, and a personality defined by its contradictions: sharp-witted yet vulnerable, dead-serious yet often drop-dead funny, young but incredibly wise.
The London-based singer-songwriter has varied influences from bluesmen like Son House and Robert Johnson, folk singers like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, and rock bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Pixies. Finally she delves in to american roots music with the likes of Carter Family to Chris Stapleton.
Bird worked with Simone Felice of the Felice Brothers on her first record. The pair corralled an expert crew that included producer/engineer David Baron (Bat for Lashes, Peter Murphy), drummer Matt Johnson (Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright), and Americana legend Larry Campbell (Tom Petty, Bob Dylan).
Now in its fifth year, River Town brings the music of America’s heartland to the south west in a summer celebration of roots and Americana music. With a vibrant programme of blues, bluegrass, country and gospel, 2019’s series is packed full of performances from global icons and rising stars.
In 2019 the River Town series takes place at venues across Bristol including St George’s
Bristol, The O2 Academy, SWX, The Winston Theatre at Bristol University SU and The Crofters Rights,
and also makes its first foray into Bath with two performances at The Forum. With artists including k.d. lang, Lucinda Williams, The Shires, The Mavericks, Keb’ Mo’ and Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton, it’s the most ambitious programme yet.
River Town began in 2015 under the banner of Bristol Americana Weekend and under a co-producing partnership between Colston Hall and St George’s Bristol presented Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Larkin Poe, Police Dog Hogan, Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham and many more outstanding artists of American roots music.
The festival returned after wide-spread acclaim in 2016 to feature Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the now internationally famous The White Buffalo.
In 2017 we launched the festival for a third year under the new name of River Town and showcased some of the finest blues, gospel, country and bluegrass, from across the pond and closer to home in Colston Hall, St George’s Bristol and for the first time in O2 Academy. Three UK greats – Paul Carrack, Nick Lowe and Andy Fairweather Low – joined forces in a rare trio performance that celebrated their shared love of American R&B, soul and country. The compelling singer songwriter Martha Wainwright performed along with R&B powerhouse, gospel legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples. Plus performances by duo The Shires with crossover stars Ward Thomas brought country-pop to Bristol.
In 2018 the festival expanded across the city as part of our Colston Hall Presents programme, showcasing events taking place in venues across Bristol during the Hall’s Transformation project. In it’s fourth iteration River Town’s line-up featured music icons Graham Nash and Rosanne Cash alongside The Barr Brothers, Steve Earle & The Dukes, The White Buffalo.