Born & raised in Pasadena, California, Guy Tortora is currently based in London, in the UK.
What he does as a songwriter and performer is what people like to call Americana these days — a hard term to define as it seems to mean different things depending on who you’re talking to. But if to you it means original songs, well constructed and well performed, in some of the various musical idioms that originated in the USA — blues, jazz, folk and roots — and also interpreting the work of other writers in these genres with depth and feeling, then you should check out his work if you haven’t already.
Over the last few years he has laid claim to a unique niche on the Blues ‘n’ Roots scene in the UK and European Continent, from small clubs and theatres to festivals. His two recent solo albums received a warm welcome in the Blues ‘n’ Roots reviews, a third album was released in 2008 to great acclaim from reviewers and audiences alike. When travelling light, he performs in stripped down acoustic mode either on his own, or accompanied by bass or keyboards. At many UK gigs he appears with the Guy Tortora Band, his own four-piece outfit of accomplished musicians from the UK and Europe. With this band he has performed live with artists as diverse as Eric Clapton, Pee Wee Ellis, John Cleary and Eric Bibb. He has gigged across North America and much of Europe. He also performs solo, and in duo or trio format with his regular members of the Guy Tortora Band: bassman Costa Tancredi, or keys player Janos Bajtala.
Guy is a guitar player of some accomplishment and a distinctive songwriter. On both acoustic and electric guitars he plays finger style, and is a fine bottleneck and slide player. His playing is not the flashy guitar-slinger style beloved of bluesrockers everywhere, but understated, and leaves room for the songs to make an impact, whether his own or the “covers” he performs that include many old standards and traditional tunes as well as songs by more recent American writers such as Eric Bibb or Kreig Viesselman.
A new idea for the 2018 Leek Blues & Americana Festival. An amazing selection of some of the finest Local, National and International Blues & Americana Acts we could get hold of!
For just £10, you’ll get 7 hours of an eclectic mix of talent and with your wristband you can come & go as you please if you fancy nipping out to the Sunday supplement market, grab a bite in the local cafes, restauarnts or bars or want to catch some of the other great gigs which will be going on in town.
*Accompanied Children under 16 years of age will be admitted free of charge.
12 noon Adam Coxon & Rick Ford
1.00pm The Rye Sisters
2.00pm Mean Mary & Frank James
3.30pm Fine Lines
5.00pm Lissy Taylor
5.30pm Strange Blue Dreams
The Rye Sisters (Ishani and Sue) are a duo from Lincolnshire who perform Americana and folk-country songs in close harmony to guitar, mandolin and fiddle. They pull from broadly American influences, such as Buddy and Julie Miller, The Civil Wars and the Dixie Chicks. They recently featured on BBC Radio Lincolnshire to rapturous praise from presenters Jono Brine and Tom Lane: ‘the harmonies are just fantastic! Their voices blend so well together’.
Although they have both been performing music of various kinds for years, they played their official ‘debut’ gig as The Rye Sisters in May 2016 at The Rogue Saint, Lincoln. Sue has performed, written, recorded and won awards with several bands, including The Woodberrys, before the incarnation of the Rye Sisters and played festival stages as well as running harmony and song-writing workshops for festival-goers. Ishani has a classically-influenced background. During her youth, she spent much time on stage performing musical theatre, jazz and as a member of multiple youth choirs and orchestras. She sang and toured with Pembroke Chapel Choir between 2008 and 10, venturing into the folk and country music scene in 2015 with the emergence of The Rye Sisters.
Mary James, youngest of six children, was born in Geneva, Alabama, though her family lived in Florida, a couple miles below the Alabama line.
Mary learned to read music before she could read words and was an official singer/songwriter before she’d started her first day of kindergarten. With the help of her mom, she wrote her theme song “Mean Mary from Alabam’.” The press immediately baptized her with this handle, and she’s been Mean Mary ever since.
Mary was now playing guitar, banjo and fiddle. She recorded her first album at age six, and spent five hours a day on instrumental and vocal practice along with her live performances. When she upped her music study time to seven hours a day, and her road shows began to multiply, it became impossible for her to attend school. At the end of the second grade, she went into home study. Her guitarist brother, Frank James, who’d now joined her on stage and in the home school program, also excelled in his studies and at age fourteen taught himself trigonometry. He graduated from high school at fifteen.
Mean Mary tours extensively in the US and has performed in Canada, UK, Ireland, and Europe.
Fine Lines is a project started by singer/songwriter David Boardman in 2016. A long time lover of all things folky and rootsy, David has been writing acoustic based music for many years and has now collected those songs under the banner of Fine Lines.
Influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan & The Band, John Martyn and Mercury era Rod Stewart and also modern day Troubadours such as Ray La Montagne and Ryan Adams, these stripped back, mature songs deal in heartbreak and soul baring. Centred around the core duo of David and co-vocalist Zoe Blythe and accompanied by Gary O’Brien on keyboards, Emily Doggett on fiddle, Alex Berry on bass and Mark Radcliffe on drums, these fine songs shine through
In their short time together, Fine Lines have already played with the likes of folk giants Merry Hell, Mark Radcliffe’s Galleon Blast and John Power (The La’s/Cast). The band’s John Kettle produced debut album ‘Hour Of Need’ is OUT NOW on Parade Recordings and they will be playing live throughout the UK.
Lissy is a young up and coming singer songwriter with a distinctive voice and a skill for writing emotionally charged lyrics that instantly grab your attention and leave you wanting more.
Born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent, England, in January 2015 Lissy moved across the Atlantic to live in Lexington Kentucky, until June 2017. Living in the US provided inspiration for her songwriting, and also influenced her music style. The result is captivating lyrics that transcend you into a unique blend of Americana, Country and Blues. Her influences include Norah Jones, Lana Del Rey, Johnny Cash all mixed with a big helping of Kentucky charm.
The Strange Blue Dreams exist in a parallel world where all music is pop music and therefore everything can be plundered. Their otherwordly pop music runs from the music hall into the jet age and makes “A unique and compelling new sound that re-imagines the roots of rock n’ roll” (Americana UK). The cinematic arrangements of these 5 Scotsmen combine Doo Wop, Bollywood and Spaghetti Western themes with Joe Meek’s reckless invention. Their starting place seems to take Django Reinhardt’s philosophy that a band should be a small orchestra and move it through every decade of the 20th Century. I have no idea what you call it but it sounds like “Menacing surf noir with skiffling eastern rock n’ roll from a parallel universe” (Medicine Music)
Chris Blackmore, Holy Smokes Records
Nibs is one of the most extraordinary and exciting world acoustic guitarists to come out of South Africa. Raised in Kwazulu-Natal, growing up listening to The Beatles and learning first hand from traditional Zulu Maskandi guitarists, he quickly soaked up a rich tapestry of his close surroundings and has formulated a truly consummate and original sound.
After playing the local folk scene around South Africa for years, and gathering up a loyal following, his big stage break came when supporting Crosby, Stills and Nash on their 1996 South African tour. After that he was signed to the SHEER label (South African World Music label) where he has released over 10 albums.
His third solo release, BEAUTIFUL FEET received highly acclaimed accolades around the world, where it was album of the month in four German publications and RADIO FRANCE FIP pick of the week. Nibs continues to spread his musical beauty around the world, where he has shared stages with the likes of Ben Harper, Bonnie Rait, Taj Mahal, Gito Baloi, Kelly Joe Phelps, Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin and Shawn Phillips, as well as recording the critically acclaimed, ‘In the shade of the wild fig’, with long-time friend and collaborator, Guy Buttery.
Nibs’ new solo album, NATALIA, was recorded with world renowned producer Mark Tucker (Portishead, PJ Harvey, Jethro Tull), and is available now.