The Real Si-B ‘Lost in a Hug’

The Real Si-B at the Dover Castle

The Real Si-B is the monicker of Simon F Baker, a UK Swamp Country-Roots Singer Songwriter & One Man Band, who mixes traditional influences with a love of the quirky & unexpected.

Originally from the rougher side of Croydon and brought up on a commune in Suffolk, Si is now based in Brighton and Hove. In ‘Lost in the Hug’ he’s produced a surprising and enjoyable album, mixing a strong musicality with some gutsy, heart-felt rhythm and blues, be-fitting a man who claims one of his favourite smells is the inside of an acoustic guitar.

The album was mainly recorded in Si’s small home studio in Hove with some parts recorded live in Alfriston Chapel and then sent to Finnish producer Jerry Icon, formerly of Brighton but now in Italy, who played & recorded bass for the songs & mixed & mastered the album. Keith Osborne of Hastings also added a gorgeous lapstring steel part to ‘Dear Sam’.

The album is refreshing and while rooted in old music still sounds fresh and new. Particular favourites to our ears are the upbeat ‘Alabama Mambo Blues’, the strangely psychedelic rootsy spiritual sound of ‘Pigskin Shoestring Song’ and the beautifully gentle, memory-filled ‘Dear Sam’ which seems to oose sunshine and personal stories. But there’s not a weak song on the whole album. Give it a listen at the link below.

Si says many of the songs on the album were written about people he knew “like ‘Elephant’ which popped out after a conversation with my brother. Or ‘Rings of Gypsy Gold’ which is a true story about Eastern European gypsies who flagged me down on a motorway flyover & scammed me out of whatever cash I had on me in exchange for some fake ‘gold’ rings. I got hoodwinked – but I got a song out of it!”

Si says he grew up listening to “a lot of Jamaican Ska, as well as punk bands like The Clash and The Slits and all the weird eclectic stuff John Peel used to play” which left a lasting impression. But as he grew older he found himself “more & more drawn to types of music which have a simple timeless beauty & penetrating honesty about them”. He became attracted to Apalachian folk & hillbilly Country music as well as the early 20s and 30s blues singers which inspired the American Folk music revival in the 1960’s, and which comes through loud and clear in the album ‘Lost in the Hug’.

“Really though I wanted to try & do it in the way that came most natural to me rather than trying to apply any kind of formula or style of someone elses,” Si says. 

That certainly worked. While the album has elements of the raw warmth of Seasick Steve or the quirky pop sensibility of the Talking Heads, it is much more rootsy, reminisicent a bit of the Louisiana swamp music as well as a touch of Chas & Dave and the pub rock of the late 1970s. However, it’s very much Si’s own sound, aided by his excellent grasp of his instrumentation also shown to good effect in his one-man-band live shows.

The Real Si-B live at the Brunswick1

Si is currently working on new material for his next album, as well as looking for interesting small venues in the South East to play at and other sympathetic artists to work with. He says that anyone interested should not hesitate to get in touch.

 

Listen to and/or download ‘Lost in the Hug’ from The Real Si-B’s website here

and catch Si next on Friday 1st September at The Bugle Inn (24 St Martins St, Brighton BN2 3HJ)   8.30pm – free entry

or Saturday 4th November at The Dover Castle Pub (Southover St, Hanover BN2 9UE) also a free entry gig

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Words by Jon Southcoasting

Photo (1) by Jon Southcoasting and (2) by Graham O’Connor-Laurence

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The Delta Bell release ‘Bow Out Of The Fading Light’

4PP DIGIPACK.inddBrighton’s favourite gospel-tinged alt-country Americana band The Delta Bell release their debut album today on At The Helm records. It’s a wonderful collection of songs written by Kate Gerrard, and highly praised by the blogsphere.

Listen to album opener ‘Carry Us Home’ below

The album launch show is on August 20th at the Verdict Jazz Bar on Edward Street, and the CD is available now from all good record shop.

Hiawatha Telephone Company release Dave

Hiawatha Telephone Company

The lead single from the forthcoming Hiawatha Telephone Company album has a name, and it’s called ‘Dave’.

Dave has a powerful lyric and after its forceful but quiet, steady introduction, a strident John Cale-style violin riff (by Maria Marzaioli of Reds) that will appeal to fans of the Velvet Underground and Bill Callahan along with the act’s more typical singer-songwriter, alt-Country, alt-Folk fans.

The song was recorded at Brighton’s Margaret Street loft by Martyn Lewis Moss (Butterfly House) in one-take, straight onto cassette. The resultant sound is unusually primitive but has a special lo-fi warmth.

The song ‘Dave’ is being released independently on-line on Monday (17th March) via Bandcamp (as a free download) and as part of an EP with another taster from the album and two non-album tracks. However, Brighton Music Blog has an exclusive first-listen at the link below:

You can find the Hiawatha Telephone Company on Facebook here

(Photograph by Will Georgantas)

The Self Help Group: the new Fleetwood Mac?

The Self Help Group launched their album ‘Not Waving, But Drowning’ at the Prince Albert pub last night, ably supported by Fiona Sally Miller.

Fiona Sally Miller 20130207 Prince Albert 02

Fiona Sally Miller hasn’t been seen out and about much over the last year which is a shame as she’s one of the most engaging singer-songwriters around town. Simple little riffs set the scene for her personal songs sung in a warm voice that engrosses you like a hug. If you see her on a support bill, make sure you get there early. At this gig she was accompanied on some songs by a cellist, and gave an outing to her old goldie ‘I’m Going to miss you smiling at me like that’.

Mark Bruce

Mark Bruce

The Self Help Group album launch was a bit of a party for family and friends friends, starting off with them getting the whole audience to turn around to watch their video Needles played on the back wall. The launch got even more shambolic, with the band talking as much between themselves as to the audience, losing the banjo on one song and limiting their nervous wit to a strange bit of banter about their song about Birds. Not women, the ones with wings. Odd thing to say to any audience, let alone a Brighton one.Self Help Group 20130207 Prince Albert 03 Mark Bruce, Ian Bliszczak and Sarah Wood

But we needn’t have worried. The thing about Self Help Group is the music, beautifully played, and Mark Bruce’s excellent songs, and the gorgeous twin vocals of sisters Sarah and Clara Wood. The thing is, this is just a truly great band and once they get going you forget about the fluff and hesitation and just get swallowed up by this wave of really wonderful fol rock Americana.

The album is very good indeed. Reviews refer to that Laurel Canyon soft-rock early-70s sensibility but if there’s one band they remind me most of it’s possibly Fleetwood Mac, with the charming female vocals, some sweet guitar and meaty rhythm section but mainly that wonderful mix of west coast Americana with English self-aware folk-blues.

Mark Bruce joked about the lack of happy songs last night – the album is full of songs about death and murder and stories of grim times – but the thing is they don’t sound depressing these songs, they are heart-warming and rich stories that bear repeating. And they have a song about murmuration. What’s not to love?

The final song Sand was a perfect ending, with its closing refrain of

  “You must take the steps towards what you want and make things better

sending us home with a lovely inner-glow.

Clara Wood-Keeley

Clara Wood-Keeley

You  can order the album via the Union Music Store here or any good record shop (it’s one of Resident’s picks of the week this week).

Oh, and our interview with lead Groupie Mark Bruce is here https://brightonmusicblog.co.uk/2013/01/28/interview-with-the-self-help-group

 

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Review and Photographs by Jon Southcoasting