The New Madrids
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The New Madrids

Birnam, Scotland, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Birnam, Scotland, United Kingdom | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Americana Rock




"The New Madrids 'Through the Heart of Town'"

Drawing from the irresistible Stones countrified swagger and such catholic roots influences as The Band, Byrds and later bands like Whiskeytown and Drive-by Truckers gives the New Madrids their musical seasoning. This five piece have a bedrock rhythm section topped with guitars, keyboards, mandolin and pedal steel before adding additional guest textures that include brass, violin and guest vocals; one of which, recorded in Austin, is Brennen Leigh.

This combination allows for some soul-tinged country rock on a set of original songs written by the band members Ian Hutchison and Donny McElligott. The latter’s steel and brass song Shake has a nice retrained yet soulful delivery on a song that sees a relationship hitting the rocks. It is matched in tone by Hutchison’s similarly minded Shine a Light. Hutchison has a voice that is well up to the task of delivering these songs with an authority that gives them their depth and believability. Throughout the album there is a nice mix of rockers and mid-tempo reflection. Mountain of Trouble is a song about standing up and overcoming whatever difficulties life has a habit of throwing your way. There is a positivity in the delivery that sometimes belies the downward nature of some of the song’s themes. Alaska starts out slow and acoustically before reaching the chorus where Brennen Leigh joins in a nice blend of voices that underpin the essential sense of desperation that make this an album highlight.

As debut release go this is a great start for any band and though this is following a well trodden path, the destination is always going to be worth the trip. The New Madrids is another name to add to a growing list of UK bands finding their own space and place. They should be on your musical map if you like your roots/rock music to have some muscle. - Lonesome Highway

"Live review. The New Madrids at The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen. 9 March 2014. Almost Blue Promotions"

With The New Madrids’ debut CD Through The Heart Of Town already causing critics and reviewers to sit up, take note and even tap a tastefully-tooled cowboy boot, it was with some anticipation that Aberdeen punters turned out for the Blue Lamp show. Although numbers could and should have been higher, those who did attend were treated to nearly two hours of stunning Americana, filtered through the consciousness of five wonderfully-talented men of Perth and Perthshire.

With dual vocalists Donny McElligott and Ian Hutchison alternating at the main vocal mic and a scorching virtuoso performance on Telecaster, lap steel and pedal steel by Owen Nicholson, this was as good a performance as the Lampie audience has witnessed for as long as I can remember.
Basing their set around the album, playing all ten tracks, the Madrids mixed up country, rock, soul and blues, tearing down, as the late Michael Marra said, “those foolish walls” in defiance of the genre cops and proving that where these forms meet and meld is a glorious sonic crossroads.
Throughout, Donny McElligott’s warm introductions, anecdotes and humour informed and had the effect of making the audience feel part of the show. These ranged from the imminent birth of his daughter on a night when he had a gig in Dundee, “Well, Ninewells is right there…” and his view that most of his relationships have been tempestuous, “Maybe I’m the common denominator”.

Whilst Through The Heart Of Town has no weak tracks, the highlights of those played on the night were Ian Hutchison’s ‘Shine A Light’, a country soul showstopper that would not be out of place on a Hi Records release, and ‘Shake’, neither of which missed the Bruce Michie brass on the recorded versions, such was the intensity of the five-piece performance. ‘You’ featured “the blistering tambourine skills of Ian Hutchison”. Owen Nicholson introduced ‘Mountain Of Trouble’ as “the first song we wrote together” which, to coin an understatement, is a fair achievement for a new act.

The tight Stonesy grit of ‘Alaska’ saw the Madrids exchanging knowing glances and grinning widely as they themselves knew they were setting their own standards and Lowell might have been in the room when the Little Feat influence was admitted and the steel guitar licks paid homage in ‘Need A Friend’. Graham Legge’s shout during the applause, “Lowell would be proud” summed up what everyone felt.
Supplementing the album songs were covers, including ‘Streets Of Baltimore’, a soaring ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ and a nod to Hutchison’s Revivals’ past in The Black Crowes’ ‘Jealous Again’.

They will be back, they promise. Don’t miss them next time. - Flyinshoes

"Blabber 'n' Smoke"

It was a sad day for Scots music when Perth based Southpaw called it a day a few years back. Their take on classic Americana was of the finest order with their album Buffalo Mansions one of the better UK country rock albums of recent years. So it was welcome news indeed that the nucleus of the band had regrouped under the moniker The New Madrids with a new singer/guitarist Ian Hutchison fronting the solid rhythm section of Calum Keith and Maurice McPherson while Donny McElligott and Owen Nicholson man the guitars with Hutchison and McElligott sharing lead vocal duties. With the new name comes a tougher sound and while at heart they remain a country rock band there’s a sinewy swagger to some of the songs here recalling the peacock strut of the Stones in the early seventies with hints of Free and Little Feat. Indeed on one song, Shake, they import horns and deliver a classic blue eyed soul song that drips with passion as it builds to its climax. McElligott rivals Frankie Miller in the vocal department, the guitar solo is an exemplar of understated Southern cool and the pedal steel swathes all in honeyed regret as the towering horns (by Bruce Michie) burst with a Stax like majesty. Very impressive.

The album opens with the free flowing country ripple of Wrapped Up which has Nicholson’s pedal steel curling throughout like a whippoorwill reminding one of the likes of Buddy Cage or even Jerry Garcia’s fluid work with the New Riders. You strides into syncopated blues rock territory with the band tight as hell, corkscrew guitars snarling across the beat in best Little Feat fashion although Hutchison’s vocals are just a wee bit too frenzied. Hey Christine is a fine twang fuelled ballad with lashings of pedal steel while Shine A Light revisits soul territory with Michie’s horns again employed to great effect as the band channel a Muscle Shoals country soul feel that recalls the likes of Donnie Fritts, sublime.

Big Fun does what it says on the tin. A loose limbed rocker calling out for more cowbell it swings with a youthful swagger as McElligott’s vocals capture the hoarse urgency of early Eagles songs, the harmonies swell on the chorus and the guitars become more turbo charged as the song progresses. Long Is The Way also recalls the seventies highpoints of country rock although here it’s the acoustic variety as guitars are strummed and the vocal harmonies shine. The addition of fiddle (Hannah Fisher) adds to the impression of Laurel Canyon hippies sitting around a campfire waiting for Asylum Records to sign them and again the New Madrids carry this off with aplomb on what currently is the highlight here. Mountain Of Trouble starts off promisingly but veers off into later Eagles boogiedom. Exhausted perhaps they turn in Alaska which is a beautifully restrained vocal duet with Brennen Leigh as the cold hearted protagonist who drives her lover to murder. Acoustic guitar and plaintive fiddle adorn this stark tale which surely will have audiences in rapt attention live.

As the band sign off with the gumbo rock of Need A Friend, another nod to the Little Feat school of slow burn shuffle with Hutchison’s voice showing that the band have two excellent soulful singers, it’s apparent that they’ve moved on from their previous incarnation, taken some vitamins and worked out. The result is a well toned and muscular crew who can burn with the best of them with McElligott and Hutchison well able to offer up songs that are inspired by the likes of the those whose LP covers adorn the album’s liner notes while stamping their own personality on the results. - Paul Kerr

"The New Madrids: Through the Heart of Town"

Once upon a time, there was an Americana band from Perth (Scotland) called Southpaw. As far as I’m aware they only had one album, but it was a real goodie: Buffalo Mansions is still a favourite in this house eight years later, packed full of great tunes and country rock melancholy. Gavin JD Munro wrote all the songs on that album and he has formed a new band with a new release of their own (see the next post on this page). The rest of Southpaw (Donny McElligott, Owen Nicholson, Callum Keith and Maurice McPherson) recruited a new guitarist/vocalist in the shape of Ian Hutchison and they have just re-emerged as The New Madrids; their new album is just great, every bit as good as Buffalo Mansions was.

Songwriting duties for Through the Heart of Town are shared between new man Hutchison and Donny McElligott (guitars, mandolin, vocals and percussion). He may not have written any songs on that Southpaw album but there’s more than one of Donnie’s songs here that sound like outtakes from said album. In particular, the opening track, Wrapped Up, seems to pick up exactly where Southpaw left off. The country rock beat from Maurice McPherson drives the thing along, the pedal steel sings beautifully, the guitars weave in and out of each other, and the happy/sad dichotomy of the love lyric introduces that yearning note that I love so much. Bliss from the opening notes as far as I’m concerned. And then: track two takes us in the new direction. You is written (and sung, I think) by Ian Hutchison and this is altogether spikier material – harder rocking with some great funky bass playing from Callum Keith and electric guitars that duel with each other. The country band tunefulness is still there but this is rock music that struts like they’re all still in their twenties, and it sounds great. In so many ways – the lyrics, the vocal, the bass, those guitars – it hints at a deep love for mid-70s British rock. All those bands that sprung from Deep Purple and from Free seem to have added something to the mix – with a dose of The Faces for good measure. Intentionally or not, they’ve borrowed some great vibes and made it sound as fresh and invigorated as could be.

Later on, the two sides of this band are meshed ever more beautifully. Owen Nicholson is a really good pedal steel player and to hear him embellishing Ian Hutchison’s contributions is to hear country music being married to blues-based rock and to wonder whether anyone has ever made that marriage work so well. Ok, that’s a stretch, I can think of some great examples, but The New Madrids do pull off something a bit special here. It’s also great to hear Donny McElligott give rein to his inner rocker. One of his songs, Big Fun, is kind of like Summer of ’69 with more dirt on its knees - and at least as capable of inducing a mass singalong.

Even more interesting is the McElligott composition, Long is the Way. This song sounds like it sprung from a particularly inspired jam session because everything about the music seems so unlikely. A slow, spiralling tune seems to pulse insistently whilst fiddle and mandolin come and go with a controlled intensity matched by the impassioned rock vocal. There’s barely any sweetness here, rather a well-imagined emotional heat that seems on the verge of tipping into madness – and it’s compelling stuff.

Oh, and then there’s the beautiful (and sad!) Alaska, building up quietly from vocal and acoustic guitar. Guest singer Brennen Leigh contributes the second vocal on something that’s first cousin to the country duets of old, but distinctly Made in Scotland. Really, there’s so much going on here that you feel quite excited to hear a new direction being forged by some old hands; to hear them heading in that new direction with such self-assurance and fearlessness offers hope that these guys have more to bring us than just one album. Whatever, here’s looking forward to seeing them on the road this summer. - No Depression


Still working on that hot first release.



The New Madrids were formed in 2010 by the four remaining members of americana stalwarts $outhpaw and the lead singer/founder of rock & blues degenerates The Revivals.

Americana roots and soul are at the heart of The New Madrids' sound with a powerhouse rhythm section of Maurice McPherson on drums, Andrew Bonnar on bass backing the incomparable Owen Nicholson on any variety of stringed creations. Ian Hutchison and Donny McElligott share lead vocal duties as well as the writing.

$outhpaw had rumbled to the end of the line after 5 years of touring the UK from the Orkney Islands to The Borderline in London, a televised show for the BBC, trips abroad to NXNE in Toronto and festivals in Norway where they met and played alongside several Austin legends such as Rick Broussard, Brennen Leigh, Jesse Dayton, Hayes Carll and Nanci Griffith among many others. Like any band who lived as they played there were casualties along the way including the odd hotel room, a dog that got too close to the tour bus, many broken hearts, even more broken laws and a couple of divorces, and so it was with both regret & relief that $outhpaw played their last show on New Years Eve 2009 in their home town of Perth.

The Revivals had their very own Rock n' Roll pedigree, a bit younger than their local country rock peers they had also been gigging up and down the UK for several years, enjoyed two stints at SXSW , radio appearances and much prominence on the local & national scene, eventually those enemies of rock n' roll youth, mortgages, bald spots and bad choices brought the curtain down on one of the most exciting bands of that time and place.

Fate wouldn't wait around for long though and a matter of months after both bands called it a day phones started ringing, meetings were arranged, beers were drunk and records listened to, The Band, The Stones, AC/DC etc. All of these influences combined with a defiant celtic soul and The New Madrids were born!

Band Members