The start of the year can be a bit shit, but it doesn’t have to be. Whilst the bmajority of the country stagnates and collectively moan about how shit January is (and it is a bit shit), venues and musicians plough on, hosting and gigging, providing us with great entertainment. I’ve put together a list of fantastic gigs in Newport (and one in Cardiff) that won’t break the bank. So stop moaning and go and do stuff. Alright?
CHROMA & The Pitchforks @ Le Pub, Friday Jan 4
With Christmas and New Year being a thing of the recent past, 2019 will be in need of a jolt to the head and there’s no better band than CHROMA to wake you from your post festive lull. The Pontypridd three piece had an inspired end to 2018 with the release of the stomping ‘Girls Talk’, accompanied by a video that just exudes fun! They’ve promised more tracks in the New Year, so go get a taste of things to come.
Co-headliners The Pitchforks are another band on the up, enjoying success with the earwormy single ‘Waste of a Day’ and have got themselves on This Feeling’s ‘Big in 2019’ tour alongside Al Moses and Newport’s Jack Perrett.
Completing the line-up is Papa Jupe’s Taurus Club and Finding Aurora, fresh from releasing their eponymously titled debut EP, a joyous sounding collection of recordings, the Cobain tinged Time After Time a personal highlight.
Tickets are on sale NOW for only £6 (what’s that, really?), so what are you waiting for, get that first night out of 2019 in the bag. Even if you’re doing dry January (which is a terrible idea btw), Le Pub has a wicked selection of alcohol-free beer. Oh and their vegan menu is top notch, so that’s tea sorted n all!
Various @ Monusk Deli’s ‘Tapas & Tunes’, Newport, Every Sunday
If you’ve not already been to a Monusk acoustic session then you have missed out, but fret not, there is plenty to look forward to in 2019. In 2018 Finn and the gang played host to some stellar local talent such as John Lilygreen, Bryony Sier and Joe Kelly amongst others and they’ve already locked in an eclectic mix of artists for 2019 for you to feast on whilst you, erm, feast!
Jan 6th – Beth Davies from Newport kicks off the 2019 sessions, bringing her soulful, melodic and deeply personal songs to the Tapas Bar. Veins ticks all of those boxes and does the perfect job of leaving you wanting more…and here’s your chance!
Jan 13th – Ian Lynn Palmer is a firm fixture on the Newport live music scene. His blend of folk/alt-country with a hint of blues (as he puts it himself) sees him take on subjects such as his hometown, whilst drawing on influences from Dylan, Young, Cash and more.
Jan 20th – Bella Collins is a blues/jazz/soul singer guitarist from Cardiff. Fronting The Bella Collins Band, she also plays in a duet with Gareth Evans, with whom she recently released EP Golden Days. Bella is performing Monusk solo.
Jan 27th – Tim Manning, also going by the guise of Blind River Scare brings his brand of Americana to the bar. A vivid storyteller, 2017 saw him release EP Pastures New, a collection of songs welcomed with warm reviews.
Entry into Monusk is free, but book in advance to guarantee yourself a table for these intimate performances, which are very much a unique experience in the city of Newport. Monusk pride themselves on using local produce to conjure up their dishes, check out the menu before you go so you have an idea of what you may want to order (but you’re going to want everything anyway!)
Various @ Cellar Door, Newport, Sun Jan 13, 20 & 27
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Usk a very different type of acoustic performance takes place in micro pub Cellar Door. Like Monusk, the sessions take place on Sunday evenings, but present a completely different atmosphere. There is always a brilliant range of locally sourced beer and cider at very reasonable prices and if you have a suggestion for owner Paul to get on tap, bend his ear and he will add it to his very long list! Entry is free, but get there early as it has a tendency to fill!
Jan 13th – Selena in the Chapel has been making waves in the South Wales the past couple of years. A powerful, soulful voice is backed up with songs such as Dice, which gets better with each listen and nestles itself inside your head.
Jan 20th – Blues guitarist/singer songwriter Steve Payne has been a regular on the folk and blues scene across the UK and Europe since the 70s and is the perfect way to end your weekend on a high. If you don’t believe me, check him out here!
Jan 27th – Leila Dee and her guitarist dad Glen return to Cellar Door after a popular slot back in October. Owner Paul describes Leila as ‘the best covers vocalist I’ve heard’ – which is some endorsement!
The Darling Buds, The Immediate & Freya Beer @ Le Pub, Saturday Feb 2
February 2019 marks 30 years since the release of The Darling Buds debut album ‘Pop Said…’, a record with a perpetually fresh and youthful sound.
Despite many of the last 25 years in the wilderness (save for the odd reunion) as the band members pursued other careers, The Darling Buds have retained a solid fanbase across the UK and this homecoming show in the City’s most frequented music venue is almost certain to sell out. If you manage to get tickets you are guaranteed a night to remember and if you’re not quick enough to snap one up, good luck in your quest in picking up scraps!
Supporting the local heroes are The Immediate, from Mold, North Wales. I’m not going to lie to you and say I know who they are (actually, I do now!), but having watched this 6 minute YouTube video of the history of The Immediate, I feel like I have followed them forever! Completing the line-up for the night is two piece Freya Beer from Southampton, who’s recent single Bike Boy is an absolute treat!
Rusty Shackle @ Clwb Ifor Bach, Friday Feb 8
2019 promises to be another exciting year for Caldicot folks root ‘n’ roller Rusty Shackle. They’ve teed it up nicely with a sparkling end to 2018, headlining the inaugural Newport Rising festival and releasing brand new single Sam Hall, packed with scorching guitar and fiddle riffs and a pulsating rhythm section. Their fourth (yes, that’s FOURTH) studio album is recorded and ready to go and they’ve taken a different, yet intriguing direction as they tackle the realms of interpretation, putting their own spin on a selection of the band members favourite traditional songs.
Not quick enough for the early bird tickets, don’t worry too much, because tickets are still available here, but be quick, ‘cos when they’re gone…they’re gone!
Gavin Facey – December 2018