Thursday, 30 January 2014

Kirk Brandon / Dave Sharp hit London!

A London date has been added to the short aKoustiK tour by Kirk Brandon in which he will have Dave Sharp as special guest alongside the awesome Folk Grinder.

Tickets for the show on the 27th of February at Battersea Barge are VERY limited and are on sale now HERE

We are TWO!

Happy birthday to us!

Well strictly speaking it's the sites second birthday tomorrow but I'll be en route to Wales and my first Gathering!!!!

Yes, I am excited!!!

So many, many thanks to all of you for visiting and keeping to pop by, my eternal gratitude to all those that agreed to be interviewed (it still genuinely amazes me people say yes!) and those that have helped in other ways!

There are still some interviews I haven't been able to deliver, some will never happen and some I really hope will....but for now lets celebrate that a spark of an idea has grown over the past two years into this site -In The Poppy Fields - thank you all!


Friday, 24 January 2014

James Stevenson - "Everything's Getting Closer To Being Over" album review.

When James released the preview EP "The Shape Of Things To Come" at last years Gathering (and via mail order) I don't think any of us expected such a long wait to hear the full album! However James had a pretty busy year even by his own standards with 100 gigs spread across 7 bands so we are probably quite lucky to have this album out so soon this year!

So having been lucky enough to hear "Everything's Getting Closer To Being Over" prior to the "soft launch" at The Gathering next week (the official launch for the UK will be March 10th via Absolute Marketing and i-Tunes etc) what strikes me over the EP is the sheer diversity of the album, each track seems to take you by surprise and I guarantee you will experience some genuine "wow" moments!

So first of all let's cover off who's on the album as it is a real who's who of amazing talent....James handles all guitars (what a shock!) and also lead vocals, Mark Taylor all keyboards, Peter Rizzo provides the lions share of the bass with 3 tracks in the capable hands of Glen Matlock and one track featuring Mr Craig Adams! Drums come from Chris Bell, Barriemore Barlow, Geoff Dugmore & Igor Marjanovic while we have Steve Norman on Saxophone & percussion, Dennis ILett on trumpet and Peter Walsh on piano for "Suzi's Problem". Providing backing vocals are the amazing Sexpistilletos comprising of Maggi Ronson, Elizabeth Westwood and Tracie Hunter whose harmonies compliment the music brilliantly.

Anyone who picked up the EP will be familiar with the albums first track, the slow build "Suzi's Problem" which will get you used to James' vocal style, his natural understated style allows you to appreciate the lyrics and music. Musically the album works well, no showboating just musicians at the top of their game playing great songs. There are some teasing solos before James finally lets rip and then frustratingly fades the track, if the live dates ever happen I really hope we will see some extended guitar work allowing the track to really explode.

The Sexpistilletos are in full force on "Go Mister!" as James, ever the passionate biker, accuses the government of "wanting to take my dough" through hidden speed cameras and the like. A great catchy chorus but it is the next track "Twilight Riders" which hits you with one of those promised wow moments! Marks keys are to the fore and James' tone is rich as he solos over a steady beat and vocal accompaniment, again the track finishes too early for my liking....don't get me wrong, it's not short at 4 minutes but this could be Allman Brothers territory...I'm hungry for more and already lost in the music so extending the track would work for me!

By the forth track "Come On People" you know what to expect and you wouldn't be wrong, there's that build again, all the signature sounds of the album so far and sweet guitar solo but then we also get treated to some great trumpet which works well. "Give It Up" follows which has a funky, choppy vibe to it. Something that surprised me at first before recalling that James has a love for Johnny "Guitar" Watson who dabbled in his share of funk as well as blues. The probing keyboard work of Marks is a marvel, proving he could quite easily play some great dance music if he ever wanted to!

"Why Am I Still Waiting For You?" is a slow soulful track with sparse acoustic and electric guitars with a keyboard soundscape that gels it all together before Steve Norman plays us out with a suitable sax passage.

The next two tracks are the final ones from the EP release and both are great in their own right, however, I'm not sure that "Been A Long Time Now" works well in the albums flow, it's the first track where the pace and focus seem to waver and may have been a better closer, a way to come down on a mellow groove. Once again Steve Norman features with great effect. "Naturally Wired" kicks in with it's great modern blues riff which would surely appeal to fans of Jack White or the Black Keys...not that this album will get the radio play those artists seem to get so often which is a sad reality check.

The albums title track shows James as the comfortable vocalist but again for me it fades as it is just getting going.

James' passion for riding returns for the closer "I'll Know Where I'm Going When I get There" which is a real stripped back affair predominately featuring James singing over a carefully picked guitar before the band joins him about two thirds of the way through the song. The song will disappoint you however, not because you won't enjoy it but you will know it's the final track on the album and it's an album that's over all too soon.

So it may have been a long wait but what an amazing pay off at the end of it! With "Everything's Getting Closer To Being Over" James proves not only has he been in some amazing bands but is more than capable of standing under his own name producing some brilliant music.

 This album delivers, whether you get it next week at the gathering or have to wait for the official release, just make sure you get it!

Mikes interview on Radio Wales available on i player

Mikes interview from Radio Wales yesterday is now available to listen to via BBCs i player. The interview is conducted via the phone and begins after the 2 hour mark in which Mike talks about the recent New Jersey charity event where he shared a stage with Bruce Springsteen and preparations for next weeks Gathering.

Tune in HERE

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

First American Declaration dates announced.

The first four American dates on the Declaration Tour have been announced with promises of more additions soon, remember the UK tour was announced in about 4 waves!

The dates so far confirmed are...

24th Brick By Brick SAN DIEGO
26th Fender Centre CORONA

Vinyl TV Premiere Friday

Vinyl gets its TV premiere this Friday on SKY Movies Premiere showing daily at 5pm and then an hour later at 6pm on the plus one channel up till Thursday 30th.

Great excuse to watch
it again if you can't be bothered to put the DVD on!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Willie Nile, Bruce Springsteen and Mike Peters!

This is footage posted to YouTube of the Light Of Day benefit concert held in New Jersey Last night where Mike did a short set before joining Willie Nile and Bruce Springsteen for this amazing version of the classic "One Guitar". Thanks for sharing....that must have been an incredible night!

Tom O'Driscoll "Tenacity" review

When I heard that Tom O'Driscoll had just recorded his first solo album at Smileys Sunshine Corner Studio enlisting his production and drumming skills as well then I was quick to get in touch to find out a little about Tom and the new album. One of the first things he said to me was "Would you like me to send you a copy?" so I eagerly said yes!

I've been listening to the ten tracks that make up "Tenacity" for about a month now and the album has grown and grown on each play. It's funny hearing an artist for the first time with no expectation or exposure and what Tom and Smiley have created here is a great album with a retro vibe that is also modern and relevant. 

Tom and Smiley split all the instruments between them with Tom playing acoustic and electric guitars as well as bass and obviously all vocals leaving Smiley to play drums (naturally), keyboards and even lending lead guitar to the track "Light and Shade".

There is certainly a sixties influence running through the album, even vague hints of psychedelia in parts but it also has some of that later mod vibe and you could imagine messers Weller, Foxton & Buckler ripping through some of these tracks (or should that be Hastings, Foxton & Smiley?). Toms vocal style has a dream like fluid lilt that bounces along with each track and you wonder if the music is chasing the vocal or the vocal pulling the music along just behind it, there is a symbiosis that makes them inseparable.

Stand out moments for me include "The Other Side Of Life" - great guitar solo that leads into a Smiley keyboard workout, "Apathy" (complete with audio samples from the legendary film "Zulu"), the "angry" "Sadder Than Sad" and title track and album close "Tenacity". I do think though that this is one of those albums better appreciated as a whole, for instance I don't see many people singling out the acoustic guitar instrumental "The Mumtaz" but it's a great track and works well in the album running order. It's not a long album by todays standards clocking in at 37 minutes so it doesn't demand much to listen to it as a whole.

It seems a shame that currently the album is only available at Toms gigs (but also gives you a good reason to seek out his live dates!) and I would urge Tom to look into paypal or something similar in order to widen the geographical demographic who can access "Tenacity" which is a fine release!

Connect with Tom on Facebook (also check out his live dates) HERE
For those that don't do Facebook email Tom on

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Q The Music theatre tour

The Bond Band have a new name, a new album in the works and are also out and about on a theatre tour...the band (and album) are now called Q The Music and feature the amazing vocal talents of Kerry Barnard who many of you will know from Smileys "Friends In High Places" album.

The new website can be found HERE where you can find videos of the band performing many Bond songs and title tracks - got to be said I prefer Kerrys vocal on "Skyfall" to the Adele version by far!

More dates will be added but for now confirmed dates are...

2nd The Beck Theatre HAYES
9th Radlett RADLETT

18th Drill Hall LINCOLN
19th Drill Hall LINCOLN

11th Old Town Hall/Wycombe Swan HIGH WYCOMBE

10th Hever Castle HEVER

5th West Cliff Theatre CLACTON-ON-SEA
7th Gordon Craig Theatre STEVENAGE
28th Civic Theatre ROTHERHAM

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Dave Sharp confirmed as support for Kirk Brandon shows

Dave Sharp has been confirmed as support for the upcoming Kirk Brandon Akoustik dates. Not all dates have been announced yet but those currently confirmed are...

20th The Albert BRIGHTON
21st The Thunderbolt BRISTOL
22nd The Railway Live WINCHESTER

6th The Green Room STOCK-ON-TEES
7th The Green Room STOCK-ON-TEES
9th The Moorings ABERDEEN
13th The Village Inn East Kilbride GLASGOW
14th Korks OTLEY
15th Hermon Chapel OSWESTRY

Monday, 13 January 2014

Route 66 book

Lydia Franklin will be releasing a book documenting her mammoth trek last year when she cycled the famed Route 66 raising money for Love Hope & Strength. The book will be based around the fantastic blogs that Lydia posted daily while undertaking her journey, alongside additional material.

All proceeds will go to LHS and the book is expected to be available early to mid February from Amazon.

More details when I have them!

Big Country merch sale and limited vinyl of "The Journey"

The Big Country store has lots of Mike era merch on offer at £10 a shirt including the long sleeved Journey tops. They also have the limited edition orange vinyl
of "The Journey" which was a run of just 250 copies so these are the last few - priced at £50!

Shop the sale HERE

Grab your vinyl HERE

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Tom O'Driscoll - Tenacity

Tom O'Driscoll is a solo artist gigging mainly around the Hersham area (he grew up in the same street as Jimmy Pursey albeit at different times!) and last year he released the rather splendid "Tenacity" album. He chose to record at Smileys Sunshine Corner Studio, enlisted Smiley as producer and got him to play drums, keyboards and even a bit of guitar! I spoke to Tom to ask him all about making the album. 

Hi Tom, can you tell us a bit about your background.

I was a music enthusiast from an early age. I took up playing guitar while still at school then later the bass playing in bands for years as a bassist before reverting back to the 6 string. I played as one half of a duo before becoming a solo performer. My influences are far and wide and to be honest if it  sounds good I like it regardless of what it actually is!

How did the album come about?

I'd been wanting to make an album for a long time, that is to record my own songs and play all the instruments myself (well, almost all of them!). It was something of a personal challenge to see whether I could do it or not, I had a desire to make music on my own terms - my own thing done my own way and done well!

How did you meet Smiley?

Years ago I was in a band with his brothers, he produced a CD we did with 3 tracks on and another about a year later. We met again after that and he had Sunshine Corner Studios up and running, having heard and benefited from his producing skills before I realised it was the ideal place to record the album.

What can you tell us about recording "Tenacity"?

It was years since I had been in a recording studio and initially I was a little overawed. One look at the mixing desk and I was as daunted as I'd of been in the cockpit of a plane! So to start with it felt like I was a bit of a fish out of water, Smiley was invaluable here putting me at ease the way he seems to with everyone!
Most of the album is quite retro, with each song as varied as possible - each song has it's own individual character, Smiley suggested and suggested well!

Where can people get hold of the album?

It's on sale at my gigs priced at £8. You can find details of upcoming gigs from my Facebook page HERE

What are your plans for 2014?

To carry on gigging and to complete a new song cycle that I began last year. Then it's time to go back to Smiley for a follow up album - the working title is "Fortitude!"

Tom O'Driscoll thank you!

Look out for the In The Poppy Fields review of "Tenacity" coming very soon.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Limited RT-Zed vinyl available from Friday!

RT-Zed release the gorgeous white vinyl limited edition version of their album "Zed Hed" this Friday (the 10th). If you want one get in quick to avoid disappointment - it goes on sale from 9 a.m. HERE

Swingers dates change!

The two International Swingers dates that I've previously posted have been rescheduled by a week. The band will now play the Farmers Market on Saturday 18th January and Red Balls Rock N Roll Pizza the following night.

Monday, 6 January 2014

From The Jam announce Leeds Festival date

From The Jam will be playing the Leeds Ska and Mod Festival which takes place oddly enough in Leeds on the 2nd August. Currently I don't know which FTJ dates Smiley will be playing so if that's your sole reason for going then take it under advisement!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Spear & Chelsea at Undercover Festival

Spear Of Destiny and Chelsea are new additions to the bill of the Undercover Festival which takes place at the Bisley Pavillion in Woking from the 19th, 20th & 21st of September.

Weekend tickets are a pretty reasonable £70 with day tickets £25 or £35 depending on the day. The bill is still being finalised so keep up to date by visiting the official website HERE

Vail Rocks 2014 date announced

The date for this years Vale Rocks has been announced as August 16 with registration details to be confirmed shortly. So if you want a trek in Colorado which looks beautiful from the photos of last years event then keep an eye on the American LHS site

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The International Swingers Shows!

Straight into action this year....The International Swingers are playing two free shows in CA - the second of which is to be filmed for a TV broadcast. What's more - there will be no door charge!


11th Farmers Market (3rd & Fairfax)
12th Redballs Rock & Roll Pizza Moorpark

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all of you.

Thank you for your continued support and interest in In The Poppy Fields.

2014 promises to be an awesome year for the Alarm family, The Gathering, Mikes Declaration tour and album, Gene Loves Jezebel dates and maybe a new album (and name?), The International Swingers dates and hopefully the album too! Chelsea dates and album, SLF album and tour, Archive album dates and film! From The Jam tour, SoD Westworld Weekend, Dave Sharp's all the tip of the iceberg!

Have a great year all!