The Southern Companion
Following his Midwinterfest debut in 2017, Darren brings the band to Torquay in 2018.....They're hot!!
Ags Connolly is a traditional country singer-songwriter from Oxfordshire, England. Country is the simplest description, but Ags is a proud supporter of the ‘Ameripolitan’ movement, which supports new music with a traditional roots influence.
Having attempted to write songs for years, Ags found the confidence to take it seriously after attending a workshop with Nashville super-musician Darrell Scott. Since then he’s built a reputation as an inspired songwriter at major festivals and as a constant presence on the touring circuit. As well as regular headline solo shows, Ags has also undertaken a southern-states US tour with a full band.
Ags’ debut album ‘How About Now’ was released in February 2014, receiving rave reviews including being named ‘Album of the Month’ in Country Music People magazine who described him as “the closest we’ve ever come to and English Willie Nelson”. The album was also heralded as “a masterpiece” by Maverick magazine. In 2016, Country Music People magazine named the song ‘When Country Was Proud’ as one of the Top 50 country songs from the last 30 years.
Ags’ follow-up album, ‘Nothin’ Unexpected’ came out in early 2017.www.agsconnolly.com
The Black Feathers
The ability to write songs that are both modern and ancient is a rare thing. The product of an arcane art of weaving in traditional influences so thoroughly that they become the warp and weft of fresh creations.
The Black Feathers, made up of Ray Hughes and Sian Chandler, are two such talents. They first became aware of the magic between them while collaborating on several musical projects, becoming The Black Feathers and life partners in 2012.
Americana, Folk, and Acoustic Indie Rock sensibilities coexist comfortably in their musical world, with Hughes’ guitar work buoying the kind of harmonies often only heard in family bands.
2016 has been an incredible year for the The Black Feathers. Their debut album was met with critical acclaim and broke into the Top 10 in the iTunes Country chart and the Official UK Americana Chart. A live album recorded at The Convent in Stroud has also just been released and very well received.
Tours in the UK and the USA, as well as an Irish tour supporting Eddi Reader, have kept Sian and Ray busy throughout the year. They could easily rest on their laurels, but instead have been spending their downtime working on new material to be released in 2017.
Ben Smith & Jimmy Brewer
When Joan Armatrading launched her 'local talent' search for acts to support her on tour in 2012, she was looking for original artists from all over the UK to showcase their work. Ben Smith and Jimmy Brewer were two of the acts chosen, and in 2015 she called them back to support her again on her first ever solo tour. They met each other at an industry showcase that was organised by Joan, and started writing together at the suggestion of some publishers they met there.
They originally intended to just write together, but after realising that they had a natural affinity for each other's styles they soon decided to start playing live too, and their first gig as a duo was supporting Joan in November 2015 in front of a thousand people. They have played many gigs since then, and recently they showcased at The Americana Music Association UK 2017 conference and awards in London.
Their voices complement each other in a way that is redolent of some of the greatest musical partnerships, their playing styles intertwine beautifully and the songs they write combine traditional storytelling with a modern twist that will leave you humming them for days.
Jimmy's inspiration for his song-writing career came from his desire to move beyond his rural upbringing and follow in the footsteps of the musicians who shaped his interest in playing as a young child, including The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and The Everly Brothers.
Ben has also been writing and playing from an early age, and despite his original desire to learn the banjo being thwarted, he threw himself into the guitar in an effort to emulate his musical heroes: BB King, John Martyn, Jerry Reed and the Grateful Dead.