It was January 29th 2015, when I first met American songwriter Andrew Combs. I was in the upstairs room in Paradiso Amsterdam and Justin Townes Earle had just finished his sound check, when all of a sudden, I heard this special voice over the PA. It was Combs, getting ready for his support slot that night. Combs released several great records since, and his most recent 'Ideal Man' especially has me in awe, but we never managed to make it work logistically, until the very last day of his most recent European tour. I invited him to my house, where he recorded covers of Lucinda Williams and Loudon Wainwright III, and 'Firestarter'. His own song, not a Prodigy cover!
Two years ago, Dutch comedian and radio dj Dolf Jansen asked me to film a show he was doing with a band from Belfast, Northern Ireland. That night, the band blew me away. Dolf was pretty damn good too. But I just had to make sure Arborist would record a session before they finished their first ever Dutch tour. And so we met up at a boat shop next to the B&B they were staying, and filmed four songs, including a Townes van Zandt cover and a traditional song.
I've been filming sessions for this website for twelve years. In all those years, there isn't a singer I've heard more peers express their admiration off than Erin Rae. The Nashville based songwriter's work is loved by many musicians I've filmed, and for years now, I've joined them. From 2015's Soon Enough to 2018's masterpiece Putting On Airs, there's simply too much beauty to not be in awe of Erin Rae McKaskle. Last fall, I couldn't believe my luck when she joined us in Utrecht to film covers of her father and Kate Campbell plus a solo take of 'Can't Cut Loose'.
The first time I heard Benbecula by the Scottish songwriter Michael Cassidy was in Amsterdam when Ryan Joseph Burns played me a mix on his phone. It sounded incredible already. But nothing could have prepared me for the mindblowing live take Cassidy recorded during his session at our live show in The Glad Cafe in Glasgow. He also played a Miley Cyrus cover and The Wedding Dress. Like A New International's Biff Smith yells at the end of the Benbecula video: "That's a belter!"
About ten years ago, Dutch drummer Kees Schaper (from Tim Knol's band) toured with American songwriter Tim Easton. A perfect chance for me to film with Easton I thought. We did and it was great. Now, a decade later, I've taught myself to film and Easton is still the amazing songwriter he already was. Last month, he performed at The Influences' live show in Utrecht and we went into the cold to film two new covers, of David Bowie and Woody Guthrie songs.
Learning and development are recurring themes in my conversation with Sofie Winterson. As a songwriter she continously seeks new methods and inspiration. That is probably what makes her music so interesting: a fresh mix of traditional folk and indie pop, with lyrics that are often darker than the sound suggests. Watch her play 'Love Me Less' and a cover of Unknown Mortal Orchestra's 'So Good At Being In Trouble' in the mesmerizing location; museum Panorama Mesdag in The Hague. Surrounded by Europe's biggest panorama, she recorded an incredible session.
Thank you so much for visiting and supporting The Influences for over a decade, or any part of it. It remains an absolute pleasure to run this thing, to meet you at the live shows and to film with all these amazing artists. Enjoy the overview of 2019 below, and let's see where we can take this project in 2020!
New York City-based songwriter Anthony D'Amato has been on a streak in the past seven years and released three full-length records and two ep's. And now also two sessions for The Influences. The first one was filmed in a dark week in American history, early in 2017. The second at TakeRoot festival 2018. Some videos have been public for a while, but with the two new videos, it's high time for a proper release. Watch him play Paul Simon and Tom Petty covers, plus three originals.
The Low Anthem recorded two songs from 'The Salt Doll Went To Measure The Depth Of The Sea' for The Influences. Singer Ben Miller talks about their history. 'I didn’t know if I was going to write anything anymore. It got to the point where just the process of writing songs felt so foreign to me. “Maybe I don’t do that anymore.” It was scary.’
Sometimes there's little time between getting to know a band and filming a session. It only ever happens though if I immediately like the music a lot. The Canadian band Close Talker have just released their new LP How Do We Stay Here and are heading out on a Canada and USA tour today, after just finishing their European run. On that run, we filmed this session where they covered Radiohead's All I Need.