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Sage buoyed by Waterboys

The Waterboys make a return to the region this week riding on the crest of a critically acclaimed new album, Book of Lightning.

The Waterboys make a return to the region this week riding on the crest of a critically acclaimed new album, Book of Lightning.

Formed by Mike Scott in London in 1983, they took their name from a line in a Lou Reed song.

Not that the Celtic/folk-rockers are comparable in any musical sense. The 'boys return with their ninth studio album, Book of Lightning, which was almost exclusively recorded in London - almost because one of the tracks, apparently, needed the ambience of a Vancouver studio!

The record has been viewed as a return to the high-water mark that Edinburgh-born Scott achieved with the early recordings Pagan Place, This Is The Sea and Fisherman's Blues.

They play The Sage Gateshead's Hall One on Monday.

Across in Hall Two on the same night, a show dubbed Wine, Women & Song brings together three Nashville-based songwriters in the form of Gretchen Peters, Suzy Bogguss and Matraca Berg.

Peters is probably the best known (in the UK) of the three, having played several of the small to medium-sized venues in the region in the recent past.

Berg, married to Jeff Hanna of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, wrote her first hit, Faking Love, as an 18-year-old and has penned songs for premier league country performers like Trisha Yearwood (Wrong Side Of Memphis), Reba McEntire, Keith Urban (Nobody Drinks Alone) and Faith Hill as well as the likes of Dusty Springfield (You Are The Storm) and the Dixie Chicks.

She is quite a rarity in that she was actually born in Nashville - most folks seem to gravitate to Music City! Suzy Bogguss, originally from Illinois, also has a true songwriter's pedigree but her 2003 collaboration with Ray Benson of Texas-swing outfit Asleep At The Wheel, simply called Swing, took her to number six on the US jazz chart.

Ticket info for both from (0191) 433 4661.

Over at the Cluny on Monday is a double bill which features the ex-Delgados singer Emma Pollock, who first came to prominence on the Glasgow scene in the 90s.

Joining her will be London-based nu-folk trio Emmy the Great, which is centred around singer, Emma-Lee Moss. The trio are headed for Glastonbury later in the summer.

Two more women singers appear at the delightful Morden Tower in Stowell Street - behind Rosie's bar - on Tuesday night. From Fort Worth, Texas, comes Katy Moffatt, who began recording for the prestigious Columbia label in 1976. Also on the bill is Elaine Palmer, originally from near Whitby but now based in Manchester.

Her reflective songs and laid back vocals have won her appearances alongside many performers from Jose Gonzalez to Fionn Regan. Tickets for this show are bookable via the Cluny box office on (0191) 230 4474. By complete contrast, the Malian kora player/singer Madina N'Diaye, the only woman I can think of to perform in Europe with the instrument - plays the Theatre Royal on the same night. Telephone 0870 905 5060 for details.

Seasick Steve (Steven Wold) is what folks used to call a real character.

He left home as a 14-year-old and did the full Woody Guthrie-style "tour" - riding freight trains as a hobo with bouts of hustling for work when he could.

A Korean War veteran, he was nothing if not resourceful. Musically, he had spells with both Lightnin' Hopkins and John Lee Hooker around his San Francisco area home (he now lives in Norway).

The most striking thing about Seasick is his unique instruments, mostly customised by himself. He is likely to tell of the provenance of his three-string "trance wonder" guitar, which he claims to have bought for $75, baulking at the price because the previous owner only paid $25 for it!

He also uses a single-string "Diddley Bow. His Cluny show next Thursday is sold out.

If big band jazz is your thing then there is a special night at the Sage (Hall 1) next Wednesday when, to celebrate the 85th anniversary of his birth, the Mingus Big Band pay musical tribute to one of the genre's giants, the late Charles Mingus. Ticket info on (0191) 443 4661.

Staying with jazz, Stacy Kent & Jim Tomlinson, the vocal/saxophone married couple make a return to the region tomorrow night when they play the Whitley Bay Playhouse (0191 252 3505).


David Whetstone
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