HOUSE CONCERTS YORK "one of the top 10 venues for up and coming acts" BBC6 Music

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Beth Jeans Houghton & Delta Maid - 30 October 2009

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Described by the NME as the Joni Mitchell for the new folk generation

A major feature in the Observer, record of the week on Radio 2, and 5 star reviews from the Guardian, Independent, NME - you name it, they love her ! and so will you...

"A considerable talent, with a remarkable voice and a rare star quality" Mojo "

"She has been turning heads and hearts, showcasing both the beautiful delicacy of her voice and her ability to write a killer tune." The Guardian

"Mesmerising Psyche Folk" - The Independent

REVIEW OF THE SHOW: by Hazel Davis -

Beth Jeans Houghton – York (secret house concert) (October 2009)

Witnessing history

In a Blue-Peter-friendly, embroidered world of pop-friendly nu-folk, Beth Jeans Houghton stands out like a sore thumb. Not if her promo pictures are to be believed, of course, she’s a young, pretty colourful cutie and is being marketed as such to within an inch of her life. But tonight in York, it’s hard to match the big-eyed myspace ingénue with the smoky, prog-folk singer in front of us.

The eyes are still big; huge, curly-lashed, kohl-lined beasts, sparkling with jokes and occasionally looking into the distance with real 70s drug-addled heartbreak. Well as much drug-addled heartbreak as her 19 (19!!!) years can convey.

She’s here in a tiny dark York village at a house concert crammed in on her current tour. The tickets sold out in record time, say the organisers, mainly it seems because her currency has gone skyward in the last few months due to massive radio-play and Fans In The Right Places. So the well-off, liberals rammed into this generous detached York family home may or may not know what they’re witnessing.

If it’s anything like what I’m witnessing, it’s Proper Star Quality –Right Up Close. She’s here with her band The Hooves Of Destiny, comprising drummer (and sometime keyboardist) Dav Shiel, violinist and singer Findlay Euan Nimmo MacAskill and the tour-manager who, in Houghton’s words, “looks like Angelina Jolie –phwoargh” hastily replacing the bassist who’s ill. And it works. Boy does it work.

Houghton’s 20-foot-long legs are lengthened by sky-high heels and bonkers skeleton tights and her customised playsuit do nothing to discourage gawping. But the music soon takes our eyes off the legs and onto the band.

So much better than – but featuring songs from – the tight quirkiness of the recent EP Hot Toast, the set tonight is Fairport Convention-style prog-folk at its best. It’s occasionally chaotic, interspersed by Houghton’s screams of “Ohmygod. Yesterday, like…” and her insistence on “more reverb please” before every song, but that makes it all the more exciting, demonstrating the band’s easiness playing together and their close friendship. Houghton’s voice is Mary Hopkin and Sandy Denny-inspired and her lyrics are mad and inventive. The pre-war-looking MacAskill (with his, as my friend described, “moustache-hair commitment”) is the perfect straight-man to her manicness and their voices work brilliantly together, especially when he demonstrates his impressive falsetto. Despite this being a tiny intimate gig, loop pedals, drums and reverb are used in abundance and it still works. It all just works.

I can’t quite shake the feeling that one day I will be sitting in the corner dining out on the time I saw Beth Jeans Houghton in someone’s front room. I could have touched her. I should have touched her.

Hazel Davis

Delta Maid:

Delta Maid’s love affair with roots music began as far back as she can remember. Her biggest influence emanated from her parents appreciation for all things “Country Blues” which played a major role in her early fascination for the genre she so ardently holds in admiration. From young, Delta listened and adopted a high regard for Country Greats such as Hank Williams and Patsy Cline together with Blues legends like Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Stevie Ray Vaughan to name but a few.

It was at thirteen years of age when her parents by chance bought a copy of Rory Block’s Best Blues and Originals from a tourist trip to New York that Delta’s life as she sees it, changed completely.

“I was in awe; words cannot describe the feeling I had when I heard this music. I became fascinated by the style of play, the whole feeling of it; nothing struck me more to the core than this. It was at this point that I began actively searching for the history and legends that were behind Delta Blues. After hearing the likes of Son House, Skip James, Bessie Smith and Robert Johnson for the first time I dived head first into a world that has since become a part of my own makeup.”

Delta had always sung and played guitar and piano on and off from an early age, never really pursuing the idea of making it as a performer until she began writing her own material. In the summer of 2007, Delta graduated from university and landed herself a job as a trainee vascular scientist, a career in music was far from on the cards…

Earlier, around March 2007 after playing a charity gig in Liverpool doing old blues covers with her brother Dominic as her accompanying guitarist, Delta got the bug for performing live. Unfortunately early on into their gigging, Dominic suffered a hand injury that put him out of playing for quite a while. “I really left the guitar work up to him, he was as much a fan of the blues as I was and could play like those I’d heard off the records.” Disappointed, but adamant she would keep up the performing, Delta had to really learn to accompany herself with her guitar as opposed to playing the odd chord or two. It was then Delta’s own relationship with the guitar began. Delta has created her own style of playing which she continues to develop.

Delta’s own songs are mainly influenced by the Blues, but they also have Country and Folk labels attached to them. As a white girl from Liverpool, a far cry from early rural Mississippi, it’s hard to draw any parallels but as she sees it, being from Liverpool, roots music is genetically bred. What the music means, where it’s from and the believability in the way it’s performed is paramount to her, this she feels must be encapsulated in her own music and performance.

"...jazz, folk and all points blues. Her playing is relaxed, soothing and seductive, while her voice possesses an unassuming versatility that conjures up the heartbreak of Julianne Regan, the bounce of Katie Melua and easy-on-the-ear blues of Bailey-Rae."

"Tonight she excels herself again leaving me both stunned and moved, along with the rest of the audience." (review 2009)