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Luke Escombe’s previous album Mantown spent 9 straight months in the top ten of the Australian Blues and Roots chart, spawning two unforgettably twisted music videos and garnering comparisons to everyone from Nick Cave to Flight of the Conchords.
Now the Sydney singer-songwriter announces the release of his first feature length DVD Chronic Symphonic, as well as two other live albums – Live on the Coast and Live at the Promethean – all on the same day.
These live releases highlight the remarkable journey Luke Escombe has made over the last two years, from blues and roots musician, to provocative musical satirist, stand up comedian, health ambassador and public speaker. Last year he spoke and performed in every major city in Australia, as well as in Auckland and Wellington, where he received a standing ovation at the Te Papa National Museum. Chronic Symphonic is where all of his different identities intersect, backed by an 8-piece band, a giant projector screen and a string section.
The show was recorded at Notes Live in Newtown as part of the 2012 Sydney Fringe. It received a 4 and a half star review fromJohn Shand in the Sydney Morning Herald, who described Luke as “a rock-soul singer, raconteur, blistering blues guitarist, comedian and songwriter, and very good at them all”. The 70 minute performance included an airing of Luke’s gangsta rap music video about living with Crohn’s disease – “Master Key” – and a finale that involved the members of the audience joyfully simulating an act of self-love.
Over twelve thousand dollars was raised in just five days last September through crowdfunding website Pozible.com to fund the release of Chronic Symphonic on DVD. This has made it possible to release the recordings of two other live shows: Live on the Coast and Live at the Promethean, the former recorded at Wagstaffe Hall on the NSW Central Coast with Luke’s rock and roll 4-piece “The Corporation” and the latter recorded at the Promethean in Adelaide in a stripped-down duo format, with Luke accompanied by young Melbourne bassist James Gilligan.
So this Friday is the day……
Luka Bloom’s new album ‘Head & Heart’ to be released on Planet May 2nd
Bloom’s song choices are interesting and at times inspired (his reading of Ewan MacColl’s The Joy of Living is just that: a joy)…. His guitar lines breathe fresh life into covers of John Martyn’s Head and Heart and the Keith Jarrett-inspired choice,My Wild Irish Rose. Siobhan Long / Irish Times
With artists like Luka, for whom music is as fundamental as a heart beat, there can be no surprise that an album as fully realised as Head & Heart has come along so soon after 2012’s superb This New Morning. Luka explains that it has been an irresistible transition.
“After This New Morning’s release, and inspired by Jarrett’s approach, I found myself learning, re-learning and writing a whole raft of similar songs, and really enjoying it. But there was a problem: it would have been just so easy for me to take the material into familiar surroundings and record the songs with familiar arrangements and no risks. Something told me to be patient, that some of the songs needed something more.”
“Then one day I met my friend Paul G. Smyth outside Tower Records in Dublin. Paul is a great piano player. We got to talking about the songs and the seed was sown for piano involvement in the project. I sent Paul the songs. He voiced his approval and interest, but with typical magnanimity insisted I actually needed to work with the Phil Ware trio.”
The Phil Ware Trio – Phil on piano, Dave Redmond on double bass, Kevin Brady on drums – appealed to Luka immediately, not least considering the connection with Jarrett, and he contacted them.
“This was new territory for me,” admits Luka. “I wanted to create a landscape for the songs which would enhance them but also somehow expose them in a very naked way. So came about the mad idea to just meet with the lads for the first time in the studio and instantly record with no rehearsal. Just feel the songs; play them, serve them, record them and release them.” Luka admits that recording live and unrehearsed with unfamiliar musicians was a “terrifying” but a “fantastic” experience, “utterly rewarding”.
Six of the tracks on the record come from those two days in the studio with the Phil Ware Trio, including two new ones by Luka. Of the other six songs on the record, five are solo – many of which, like ‘Danny Boy’ and Ewan McColl’s ‘The Joy of Living’ might be seen as “standards”, songs that Luka’s fans will be eager to hear how he puts his own inimitable stamp on them. And the sixth? “Well,” Luka continues the story, “we had decided ‘My Wild Irish Rose’ would be best with just piano, vocal and guitar, and booked the studio for another day. On the day, Phil was ill and couldn’t come in. Brian Masterson and myself were in the studio in Wicklow wondering what to do when in came Paul Wade, piano-tuner for Phil. As he was tuning and playing away, I commented to Brian that he was a pretty tasty player. ‘Hey Paul’, says I, ‘Have you ever been recorded?’ ‘Nope’, says Paul. ‘Would you like to be?’ says I. ‘OK,’ says Paul.”
Head or heart? Head and heart!
1 HEAD AND HEART (John Martyn; Warlock Music, 3.26)
2 BANKS OF THE LEE (trad; arr Luka Bloom, 4.13)
3 EVERY GRAIN OF SAND (Bob Dylan; Special Rider Music, 4.14)
4 THE FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE (Ewan MacColl; Bicycle Music, 3.17)
5 GIVE YOU WINGS (Luka Bloom; IMRO Ireland / MCPS / Luka Bloom Music, 5.02)
6 GENTLE ON MY MIND (John Hartford; Acuff-Rose Music, 3.57)
7 MY WILD IRISH ROSE (Alcott; arr Luka Bloom, 4.14)
8 LONESOME ROBIN (Bob Coltman; Collegium Music, 4.12)
9 AND I LOVE YOU SO (Don McClean; Songs of Universal / Benny Bird Co. Inc, 4.13)
10 LIFFEYSIDE (Luka Bloom; IMRO Ireland / MCPS / Luka Bloom Music, 3.51)
11 DANNY BOY (Weatherly; arr Luka Bloom, 3.17)
12 THE JOY OF LIVING (Ewan MacColl; Bicycle Music, 4.16)
Stem Music / The Planet Company www.theplanetcompany.com
Out On: Smiling Crocodile
File Under: Classic Rhythm & Blues
Sounds Like: The Blues Brothers, Louis Jordan, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Location: Sydney & Blue Mts
LAUNCH DATE – MAY 17 PETERHSAM BOWLO
LEROY SUAVE(a.k.a. Brian ‘The Vicar’ Wakefield): vocals, guitar. “Leroy’s larynx should be preserved by the National Trust” – Daily Telegraph 1982. “Crooner who Walks, Boogie Beast that Cannot Die” – RAM Magazine 1986.
Best known as bandleader of Leroy’s Layabouts lets us in on some inside info….
Tell us a little about your music and what a crowd can expect at a live show ?-
“The music is eclectic but centres on good-time sax-based rhythm & blues from the mid 1940s to early 1960s – spiced up with jazz/rock sensibilities and humour. Lots of room for spontaneity. Expect fun: clapping, cheering, good-natured heckling, dancing, a few intent enthusiasts watching guitar players’ fingers, lots of gorgeous women. (Okay, the last-mentioned was wishful thinking, but not entirely untrue.)”
What inspired you to become a singer/writer/band? and who are your early influences.?
The mid 1960s “British Invasion” R&B groups in interviews spoke of their American idols so I went in search of their records, digging further till I found more old blues artists who turned me on. Like many young white fans, I foolishly sort of wanted to be black. One of the hardest things for a white male (especially if non-American) is to sound natural singing the blues – most try too hard and it shows – but after a lifetime of absorbing the essence it just comes of its own accord without having to think. There’s a beaut anecdote about Dave Van Ronk finishing his set with a searingly intense rendition of “Hoochie Coochie Man”, to thunderous applause. As he came offstage, Muddy Waters, who was headlining, said “That was great, but did you know it’s supposed to be a funny song?”
And the influences….
“Little Richard’s line of dirty, dirty saxes and the absolutely filthy sound of the solos, Leadbelly, early Rolling Stones, Shel Silverstein, Chuck Berry, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Fats Waller, Fats Domino, Louis Jordan, Harry Belafonte, Elvis, Albert King, the Fugs, Jimmy Witherspoon, Jimmy Liggins, Carl Perkins, Big Joe Turner, Wynonie Harris, Professor Longhair, Cab Calloway, Jimmy Rushing, Python Lee Jackson, Max Merritt, Captain Matchbox….”
Favourite artists of all time?
“Ray Charles, Lord Melody, Dizzy Gillespie, Howlin’ Wolf, Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Tom Waits, Frank Zappa, Sam Cooke, Wynona Carr, Percy Mayfield, BB King, Albert Collins, Coasters, Drifters, Beatles, Basie, King Radio, Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, Tom Lehrer, Gatemouth Brown, La Vern Baker, Mills Bros, Ry Cooder, Miriam Makeba, Neville Bros”
Foghorn media is proud to announce we will be working with Luka Bloom on his upcoming Australian release. With a poet’s heart and a rockster’s soul, Luka Bloom is regarded as one of Ireland’s best-respected contemporary folk artists, having produced 20 albums since the 1970s. He has the power to bring audiences to a hush as his poetic lyrics bounce over melodies in a beautiful, captivating way. Bloom continues to push the boundaries of what his music can do, and the new album ‘Head & Heart’ to be released here on Planet May 2nd proves he is still making provocative, poetic music that delves deep into the intricacies of the human soul and pulls out the nuggets and puts them in a song.
In the mean time, have a look at the single ‘My Wild Irish Rose’ off Luka’s new album – Head & Heart. Featured this month on Soundslikecafe Digital as well.