The Grahams, traveling troubadours, always itching for the next ride out of town guitars and whiskey in tow. In 2013 their wanderlust took them down the Mississippi to the Atchafalaya swamp in Louisiana, then in 2015 it was the American rails, and a cross-country odyssey that resulted in not only a new album but an award-winning film. In 2017, with the country reeling from a seemingly unstoppable vortex of disorientation, The Grahams embarked on perhaps their most adventurous journey yet, pointing their Harleys west to explore the “Mother Road” and the concept of “real” America with the eccentric and notorious characters who live and work in the strange and mysterious world that is Route 66. What they discovered was both heartening and heartbreaking, an America torn, but aching to come together, the culmination of decades of manhandling of the so called American Dream.
As is typical of the Grahams this dusty excursion begat a fountain of inspiration, the results of which are, so far, a new feature length documentary film and accompanying soundtrack, with contributions from some of Nashville’s finest musician, including Elizabeth Cook, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Dylan Leblanc, Chuck Mead, Andrew Combs, and many more. Love & Distortion is not a travel guide or a musical biopic, this documentary, which follows The Grahams down Route 66, is an unconventional narrative weaving in and out of moments and realities that can be found in the various sub-cultures of America’s Main Street.
Love & Distortion, the film and soundtrack, along with a brand-new studio album currently being recorded with producers Richard Swift (The Arcs, The Black Keys, The Shins) and Dan Molad (Lucius, JD McPherson) will will be the twin carbs on the snarling machine that will drive The Grahams forward in 2018.
The ability to write songs that are both modern and ancient is a rare thing . But The Black Feathers weave a subtle thread of traditional influences and fresh creations so delicate their creations have led to widespread acclaim with the magic they conjure through their musical projects.
Ray Hughes and Sian Chandler make up the Americana Folk duo that have been causing a stir with their debut album breaking the Top 10 in the iTunes Country chart and the Official UK Americana Chart.
In 2017 their tours in the UK, as well as an Irish tour supporting Eddi Reader, have kept Sian and Ray firmly on the road and in 2018, with new material on the horizon, there’s no rest of this hard-working pair.
Now in its fifth year, River Town brings the music of America’s heartland to the south west in a summer celebration of roots and Americana music. With a vibrant programme of blues, bluegrass, country and gospel, 2019’s series is packed full of performances from global icons and rising stars.
In 2019 the River Town series takes place at venues across Bristol including St George’s
Bristol, The O2 Academy, SWX, The Winston Theatre at Bristol University SU and The Crofters Rights,
and also makes its first foray into Bath with two performances at The Forum. With artists including k.d. lang, Lucinda Williams, The Shires, The Mavericks, Keb’ Mo’ and Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton, it’s the most ambitious programme yet.
River Town began in 2015 under the banner of Bristol Americana Weekend and under a co-producing partnership between Colston Hall and St George’s Bristol presented Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Larkin Poe, Police Dog Hogan, Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham and many more outstanding artists of American roots music.
The festival returned after wide-spread acclaim in 2016 to feature Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the now internationally famous The White Buffalo.
In 2017 we launched the festival for a third year under the new name of River Town and showcased some of the finest blues, gospel, country and bluegrass, from across the pond and closer to home in Colston Hall, St George’s Bristol and for the first time in O2 Academy. Three UK greats – Paul Carrack, Nick Lowe and Andy Fairweather Low – joined forces in a rare trio performance that celebrated their shared love of American R&B, soul and country. The compelling singer songwriter Martha Wainwright performed along with R&B powerhouse, gospel legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples. Plus performances by duo The Shires with crossover stars Ward Thomas brought country-pop to Bristol.
In 2018 the festival expanded across the city as part of our Colston Hall Presents programme, showcasing events taking place in venues across Bristol during the Hall’s Transformation project. In it’s fourth iteration River Town’s line-up featured music icons Graham Nash and Rosanne Cash alongside The Barr Brothers, Steve Earle & The Dukes, The White Buffalo.