ROSE’S PAWN SHOP set to release DANCING ON THE GALLOWS

Rose’s Pawn Shop dancing on the gallowsSinger-songwriter Paul Givant grew up on the disparate array of popular musical styles any late 20th century kid did. And in that mishmash of rock, punk, country, pop, rap, and all the rest, it was American Folk and Bluegrass music that rooted deepest, transforming him and his songs. Having played in various rock bands since early high school, in 2004 Paul decided it was time to take his growing batch of old style/new school folk songs, and build them into something greater, more ferocious. The songs were there, volatile, almost flammable, but if they were to attain their potential greatness, he was going to need help.

Through a series of chance meetings and twists of fate Paul hooked up with kindred spirits in Sebastian St. John, Derek O’Brien, Bill Clark, Derek Swenson, and John Kraus and in 2005 they laid the foundations of the band that would soon become Rose’s Pawn Shop. They combined the old style American sounds of Woody Guthrie, Bill Monroe, and Hank Williams, the high energy punk of The Ramones, and The Pogues, and the melodic songwriting sensibilities of Elliott Smith and The Beatles, creating something musically unique.

The final ingredient was added one fateful day when Paul’s scorned ex-girlfriend/former band mate, in an act of revenge, stole the band’s instruments and gear and took them down to the local pawn shop. Priceless. Rose’s Pawn Shop was born…

In spring of 2006 after months of playing live and breaking ground around Los Angeles, the band recorded and released their debut album The Arsonist, which soon won critical praise from numerous print and online publications and they’ve been touring the United States almost non-stop ever since. On any given day you might find Rose’s Pawn Shop playing the Georgia Theatre in Athens, busking the streets of Jackson Square in New Orleans, opening for Jack White and The Raconteurs at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles, ripping the walls off the club in their month long residency at the Parkside Lounge in New York City, or hitting the main stage of Floydfest in Virginia. On any given day they’re out there, growing their music, igniting their passion, and converting an ever increasing congregation of loyal fans.

More recently, Rose’s Pawn Shop entered the studio with renowned producer Ethan Allen (Patty Griffin, Counting Crows, Luscious Jackson) to record the second album, Dancing On the Gallows, on which Rose’s Pawn Shop rise to a new level of song craft and sound experimentation, while retaining the same fiery intensity and excitement of their early material.

With wisdom beyond their years, they fearlessly confront traditional country music themes of loss, lamentation, and redemption, while throwing in some drinking-songs for good measure. Sure, they’re borrowing pages from the books of Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, and Johnny Cash, but Rose’s Pawn Shop takes those pages, tears them up and sets them on fire with breakneck speed, bluegrass instrumentation, 3 and 4-part vocal harmonies and lyrics that’ll break your heart.

Whether it’s the dreamy snake-charm-thump of ‘Lone Rider’, the wistful whisky-soaked wisdom of ‘Down The Line’, the honky-tonk ruckus of ‘Funeral Pyre’, or the Gypsy-infused mandolin twang of ‘Reckoning’, Rose’s Pawn Shop will hook you. Like catfish from the creek, they’ll reel you in. And they won’t let you go.

Rose’s Pawn Shop is now: Paul Givant (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, banjo), John Kraus (banjo, electric guitar, vocals) Tim Weed (fiddle, mandolin, vocals) Stephen Andrews (upright bass) and Christian Hogan (drums).

Artist’s website: www.RosesPawnShop.com

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“Rose’s Pawn Shop makes a statement with their music. Life is hard and we’re gonna sing about it and get over it. Sometimes its upbeat, sometimes its slow and sorrowful. Regardless, they know their roots and that is remarkably bold.” KEXP, Seattle

“You can feel the whole barn rumble on Dancing On The Gallows … with booming bass drum, in your face fiddle,and runaway-train banjo… will, bluegrass fan or not, have the toe of your worn leather boot tapping in no time.” No Depression

Rachel Newton – The Shadow Side

To say this album is understated, would be no overstatement. Shot through with an arresting delicacy that simply wills you to listen, it possesses a naked simplicity that radiates beauty. Whether it be singing, or playing the harp or fiddle, Rachel performs with an effortless allure that speaks to your innermost senses. Meticulously recorded by Mattie Foulds, The Shadow Side captures an intimacy that is nurtured by the sparing arrangements. With the crisp lucidity of Rachel’s playing and singing always to the fore, the restrained accompaniment of occasional guitar and percussion serves to accentuate a tenderness that boasts warmth and sincerity.

“Green Willow” will be one of the most truly beautiful songs you will hear all year, taming the assured vocals of Kris Drever to deliver a duet of unrelenting intensity and charm; it’s a performance that would surely melt even the hardest of hearts. Rachel pulls off a similar feat on Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” imbuing it with a fragility that is almost harrowing.

The apprehensive eeriness of the sparse opening melody to “The Discoboat,” plucked slowly but determinedly on the harp, makes for an unsettling minute with sinister undertones, before giving way to a more animated melody where the sense of foreboding gives way to a sense of adventure. The title track lives up to its shadowy title; a gorgeous lament filled with longing, played with the utmost restraint and sensitivity.

There are buoyant offerings too, springing forth from Rachel’s harp with boundless energy and abandon, yet retaining the potency of the more reflective moments. The trio of tunes “The Last Minute / The Groupie / Height Of Rudeness” gathers momentum as it progresses towards its slightly manic close, showcasing the harp’s hypnotic combination of depth and agility. “Soundboards And Sockets” is another busy melody with its heady concoction of frantic fervour.

The album closes with the Gaelic song “Am Bruadar Ud a Chunnaic Mi,” sung over a mournful harmonium and yielding the most heartfelt and heartbreaking desolation; it’s endlessly captivating.

Rachel Newton can most often be found performing as part of The Shee or the Emily Portman Trio, but with The Shadow Side she quietly and assuredly places her solo accomplishments in full view.

Mike Wilson

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Artist Web link: http://www.rachelnewtonmusic.com/

Cowboy Junkies – The Wilderness

You remember the Cowboy Junkies, right? Well, they are just about to release The Wilderness, Volume 4 of The Nomad Series on March 26, 2012, marking the conclusion of an ambitious schedule of four releases over an 18-month period. Before we get into that though, have a look at this gem of a video clip recording (one of our favorite folking Neil Young songs) which was recorded a few years back when the band played in Dingle, in Ireland.

The group’s Michael Timmins says of the new CD, “The title, The Wilderness, in some odd way seemed to define what these songs were actually “about”: fragility, emptiness, loneliness, beauty, chance, loss, desperation – the delicate balancing act that makes up a life. They are about being lost in the wilderness of age, the wilderness of parenthood, in the wilderness of just trying to find meaning and substance, happiness and truth in one’s day to day life. They are about standing alone in middle of it all, breathing in the cold, still air and wondering.”

The preceding album, Sing In My Meadow, a collection of songs recorded over a four day period that evokes the psychedelic, blues-inspired forays the band is fond of exploring on stage was hailed by R2 Magazine as:“Stunning”, while Q Magazine wrote: “..their creative instincts remain sharp…even familiar listeners will be intrigued.”

The first volume of the series Renmin Park, released in 2010, was inspired by Michael Timmins’ two-month stay in China with his family in ’08 and was called: “Their best album since those Trinity Sessions” by the Independent on Sunday. Demons (2011), the second in the series, is a collection of songs by the late Vic Chesnutt which the Daily Mirror called: “The finest tribute Vic could have”.

“The whole Nomad series is excellent, each album different and each outstanding in its own way”. Dai Jeffries Folking.com

Cowboy Junkies were formed in Toronto in 1985 after guitarist and songwriter Michael Timmins and long-time friend and musical partner, bassist Alan Anton, recruited Michael’s sister, singer Margo Timmins and brother, drummer Peter Timmins to join them.

The band recorded its blues-inspired debut album Whites Off Earth Now!! (1986) and released it on their own Latent label. Touring the US in support of the album, they traveled extensively through the South and Southwest, soaking up the music of Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers and others, which provided the inspiration for the band’s second effort, The Trinity Session. The Trinity Session, the band’s seminal album, is a melancholic mixture of blues, country, folk, and rock featuring a collection of originals, covers and traditional songs.

For more than 20 years, Cowboy Junkies have remained true to their unique artistic vision and to the introspective, quiet intensity that is their musical signature, creating a critically acclaimed body of original work that has endeared them to an audience unwavering in its loyalty. Albums like The Caution Horses (1990), Black Eyed Man (1992), Pale Sun, Crescent Moon (1993),Lay It Down (1996) and more recently, Open(2001), One Soul Now (2004), Early 21st Century Blues (2005) and At the End of Paths Taken (2007) chronicle a creative journey reflecting the independent road the band has elected to travel.

Cowboy Junkies returned to Toronto’s Church of the Holy Trinity for a day in November 2006, joined by Ryan Adams, Natalie Merchant and Vic Chesnutt to revisit the repertoire of The Trinity Session in celebration of its 20thanniversary. The resulting film, Trinity Session Revisited, released as a DVD/CD in January 2008.

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Artist Web link: http://latentrecordings.com/cowboyjunkies/

Bap Kennedy THE SAILORS REVENGE

For nearly any singer/songwriter on the planet, the idea of collaborating with Mark Knopfler would be the stuff of fantasy. But for Bap Kennedy, it was just the latest in a long line of projects with high profile, and highly respected, musical legends. For a man who has worked with Steve Earle and Van Morrison, to name just two, an offer to record an album in the Dire Straits frontman’s own studio was another musical milestone. THE SAILOR’S REVENGE, the album that Kennedy wrote and Knopfler produced, features songwriting that grows stronger with every listen, assisted of course by Knopfler’s distinctive delicious guitar and tasteful widescreen production.

“The best singer songwriter I ever saw” Steve Earle

Bap’s first encounters with the record business were as rhythm guitarist, lead singer and primary songwriter for Belfast rockers Energy Orchard, with whom he recorded 5 albums. When the band left Belfast, they established themselves as legends of London’s live music scene. It was while he was in Energy Orchard that Kennedy first worked with compatriot Van Morrison, who gave the band several support slots to supplement their own hectic touring schedule of both the USA and Europe.

When Energy Orchard split up, Bap had little time to rest, because alt-country superstar, and longtime Energy Orchard fan, Steve Earle soon contacted him, suggesting that he would produce Bap’s first solo album.

Kennedy agreed, and soon found himself on the plane to Nashville, TN, where he would record DOMESTIC BLUES. The album featured several of Nashville’s most highly regarded musicians, including Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan and Nanci Griffith. It was a real success, getting into the top ten of the Billboard Americana chart.

The follow-up album, LONELY STREET, was an artistic project based on, and dedicated to; two of Bap’s childhood musical heroes, Hank Williams and Elvis Presley and his next album THE BIG PICTURE would see Bap returning to work with Van Morrison, who had supported Kennedy since his Energy Orchard days. THE BIG PICTURE was recorded at Morrison’s studio, and included a Bap and Van co-write, Milky Way. The album also featured guest vocals from Shane MacGowan, lead singer of the Pogues, on the song On the Mighty Ocean Alcohol, and a reading from Carolyn Cassady, one of the leading figures from the Beat generation of American writers, at the end of the beautifulMoriarty’s Blues.

For Howl On, released in 2009, Bap recorded in his native Northern Ireland for the first time in his solo career and, much like with LONELY STREET, returned to writing a series of songs on a subject that had fascinated Bap in childhood.

THE SAILOR’S REVENGE features Kennedy’s most mature and sophisticated songwriting to date, an achievement in itself when you consider his back catalogue. Bap is joined by guest musicians such as Jerry Douglas, Glenn Worf and of course Mark Knopfler, all combining to ensure that the musicianship on the album is every bit as good as the songwriting. When it comes to the songs there are simply too many superb compositions to list here. Highlights include the album opener Shimnavale, a place that sits between the Irish Sea and the mountains of Mourne in County Down, inspired by old photographs of a family who lived there and Bap’s own experience as an immigrant. Working Man tells of Bap’s life as a builders labourer in the mid eighties while waiting for a record deal to come along and Jimmy Sanchez was written about the Chilean miners rescue where nineteen year old Jimmy, the youngest miner trapped was quoted as saying that God must want him to change, powerful words, hence the line in the song “I know I must change”.

THE SAILOR’S REVENGE is a phenomenal body of work and as “game changing” as a Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan with no brakes… We urge you all to buy it! folking.com

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Bap Kennedy is touring the UK, this month (March 2012), more information and the latest tour dates can be found at www.bapkennedy.com

Jerry Leger – TRAVELING GREY

What possesses a young person to pick up an acoustic guitar and write a song? One reason is certainly the eternal desire to find the ideal lover, although the inherent failure in doing so remains an equally powerful motivator. This is how life’s hardest lessons are learned, and after the shock, anger, sorrow, bitterness, and fear subside, what we are left with is wisdom.

If there is one quality instilled in Jerry Leger’s songs, it’s wisdom, gained not only from his past five years of life as a troubadour, but also from what led up to that: a childhood and adolescence spent waist deep in the river of North American roots music; a baptism that marked his destiny.

His first mentor, albeit unknowingly, was an uncle, Ronny Rose, who earned his reputation from playing St. John’s, Newfoundland bars. It served him well when, like many of his fellow Maritimers, he landed in Toronto in the early 1970s and was absorbed into its country music scene whose epicentre was, and still is, the Horseshoe Tavern. Jerry also grew up with a Dylan fan for a father and Lennon fan for a mother. On weekend visits to his grandfather, the soundtrack was inevitably Hank Williams. By age 12, he had already realized that these were his teachers.

“I wrote my first song on a topic yet to be experienced, but I had learned from all these passed down records I was listening to and studying,” he says. “These were the artists that I wanted to be like, as if I was lost in my own little world, no matter what year I was supposed to be living in.”

TRAVELING GREY is Jerry Leger’s fourth album and finds him poised to indelibly add his name to the roll call that has built Toronto’s international reputation as a singer/songwriter Mecca. One of the members of that elite group, Ron Sexsmith, has said “Jerry Leger is one of the best songwriters I’ve heard in quite some time,” while another, Fred Eaglesmith, has on several occasions invited Leger to share stages with him. In many respects, it is a world that is all-too-real, a side of Canada that has slowly been disappearing in the post-industrial age. The characters that populate TRAVELING GREY provide the testimonial; some have made bad decisions and are living with the consequences, like the narrator of Isabella,while some have simply never had the chance—“Looking out the window of the old hardware store / Twenty-five feels a lot like twenty-four.” (Truth Is All Around You). When everything is at a standstill, every word, glimpse, and touch is packed with potential to be life altering. Leger catches these moments like June bugs, allowing us to briefly observe their gorgeous nuances in the jar before they must be set free back into the ether. That’s the sense we get from songs like Wrong Kind Of Girl, and especially Is He Treating You Good, which cuts as deep as any love song you’ll hear in a long time.

It’s the kind of song-writing that was second nature to the artists who defined country music’s golden era of the 1950s and early ‘60s, and one of them, Nova Scotia’s Hank Snow, is surely smiling somewhere knowing that Leger has written a song as bawdy and rollicking as East Coast Queen.

“Whenever I write, I’m just dipping into myself or keeping my ears and eyes open,” Leger says. “I study conversation, pay close attention to detail.”

“His genuine talent and songwriting is an example of what has been a part of the WSM playlist for many years.”
WSM Radio, Nashville

“One of the best songwriters I’ve heard in quite some time.”
Ron Sexsmith

 “Hums to the tune of possible legendary status.”
Maverick Magazine

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For more information and the latest tour news, please visit:- www.jerryleger.com

New Country Rehab

Take one of Canada’s hottest country fiddle players, a guitarist that’s a cross between Tom Morello and Kevin Breit, a percussionist that plays saw blades and cookie sheets and one of the most versatile double-bass players in Canada and you get New Country Rehab. With their debut album release now available in the UK, the band are quickly making a name for themselves having been described in Canada as “a band to watch closely” by Exclaim! magazine. Since the Canadian release they have played many major Canadian music festivals and are showcasing at the Americana Music conference in Nashville, TN in Oct. 2011. They will be touring in Europe in January 2012 in support of their self-titled debut album.

Formed by John Showman, Ben Whiteley, James Robertson and Roman Tome, the band’s unique outlaw indie-country sound channels Hank Williams Sr. as much as Arcade Fire, creating exciting new music that’s winning a rabid and rapidly-growing fan base. As Tom Power, host of CBC Radio’s Deep Roots show explains, “They’re one of the few bands that the hardest of old-folkies and the hippest of hipsters can agree on. Combining virtuosity with taste, they’re poised to be the ‘next big thing’ in Canadian Music.”

The self-titled album, recorded by producer Chris Stringer (Ohbijou, Timber Timbre) highlights the group’s strong original compositions and deep musical palette. The song-writing is defined by themes of death, love and loss, written in the folk-country storytelling tradition. John Showman weaves songs together often based on real people he has encountered in his life. Bury Me is a dying man’s lament for a grave next to that of his true love. InCameo, the story of a woman who escaped Nazi Germany on skis parallels her granddaughter’s escape from love gone wrong. The Last Hand recounts a gambler’s final game as he crosses paths with “The Cowboy”, a colourful and notorious figure that Johncame to know in the Florida Keys. The band takes the listener on a boisterous journey, from the Queens-of-the-Stone-Age-meets-Doc-Watson original trackAngel of Death to the menacing State Trooper (an interpretation of the seminal Bruce Springsteen song, replete with police sirens and car crashes). New Country Rehab move with ease through Post-modern surf-rock in The Houses In This Town Are All Falling Down, dub reggae in a reinvention of Hank Williams Sr.’s Ramblin’ Man and disco-imbued instrumentals in the once old-time Appalachian tune, Train 45.

All of the band members are successful sidemen in their own right, having played with artists ranging from Amy Millan, Basia Bulat, the Creaking Tree String Quartet, Elvis Bossa Nova, The Foggy Hogtown Boys, Justin Rutledge, Ken Whiteley and Brandi Disterheft.  Lead singer and fiddle player, John Showman won the 2011 Cliff Top Fiddle competition in West Virginia and honour only once before bestowed upon a Canadian.

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For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/newcountryrehab