I first met Hubert Murray a few years ago when his band Lands End played the Didmarton Bluegrass Festival in Gloucestershire. Lands End is a bluegrass fusion band featuring some fine players from Ireland, Germany and the UK, and had its beginnings as a scratch band at the Sore Fingers (bluegrass camp) student concert. It was the sensation of that week and was quickly booked to play a few big festivals on the scene. I was particularly struck by Hubert’s huge bluesy voice, one of the many qualities marking the band out as special. With members scattered across the UK and Ireland, it was quite difficult for Lands End to sustain a regular gigging career, but they’re still going on an occasional basis and recently reconvened to play at Kilkenny Roots Festival.
Meanwhile, Hubert has been kept very busy in recent years as the lead singer and guitar player with old-time/bluegrass supergroup The Hot Rock Pilgrims. These guys are excellent and are seasoned live performers, constantly gigging around London and the South East as well as becoming favourites on the UK festival circuit. The band includes another strong lead vocalist in Dan Edwards (who also plays a mean clawhammer banjo), dobro meister Bruno Pichler and superb double bassist Sam Rose, so the instrumental playing is of a consistently high standard and the harmonies really rock. They also have that extra “something” that makes a band special, with a great groove. They released their debut CD Among the Peaks last year, a release which shows off the Hot Rocks’ quality and versatility.
Alongside his band ventures, Hubert has also been developing his solo performance and songwriting, fitting in numerous solo gigs and honing his guitar playing, both flatpicking and finger picking styles. He recently recorded his debut solo EP, Shorten the Road, with the acclaimed Josh Clark at the helm. Josh (Get Real Audio) is well known as the first choice sound engineer and producer for some of the best UK bluegrass, Americana and old time artists, as part of his impressive track record. It’s a delightful collection of self-penned songs, from the wistful to the bluesy, plus a great solo guitar rendition of the traditional tune Sally Goodin. Several songs are complemented by perfectly judged and executed performances from Paddy Kiernan (banjo) and Leanne Thorose (mandolin, backing vocals). With an official release date of 26th May, you can sample – and buy – it now at Hubert’s Bandcamp site here.
I’ve been a big fan of Hubert Murray’s singing and playing from the moment I first heard him, and he’s a great guy too. I’m very pleased to be hosting a concert as part of his June tour to promote the EP. Following a week of shows across Ireland and gigs in Liverpool, Manchester and York, Hubert will perform for us at Hope Bank Works, a fabulous community arts space in Honley, halfway between Huddersfield and Holmfirth. There’ll be a short support set of Americana and bluegrass by myself and some local pickers to open the evening, and we’re also planning to finish off the night with a bit of a bluegrass session. Come on down for a fab evening of folk, blues & bluegrass!
Tickets just £6 advance, from the venue or here (note 10% booking fee online):