Saturday, 4 June 2016

Live Review: Tia McGraff with Tommy Parham | The Old Low Light, North Shields

Guest Post

Live Review
Tia McGraff with Tommy Parham
The Old Low Light, North Shields 12th May 2016
The Old Low Light Clifford’s Fort North Shields Fish Quay
 Tyne and Wear, NE30 1JA | Website:

What a venue for live music. The Old Low Light is a Grade 2 listed building, the oldest surviving, occupied building on North Shields Fish Quay. It began life as a lighthouse and was enclosed by Clifford’s Fort in 1672. Viewed from the sea, vertical alignment of these two lights ensured safe navigation of the treacherous mouth of the River Tyne. The building is thought to have been rebuilt around 1727 and ceased to function as a lighthouse in 1810. It has recently gained a whole new lease of life as a local heritage centre and as chance would have it the acoustics are perfect for live music!

Just being in a building with such history, much less with such stunning views over the River Tyne, with all of its history, is enough to give you chills. Then add in the music we were treated to tonight and you have a recipe for sheer magic.

Support came from local Wendy Young and her band, the intriguingly named Wagjammer (Facebook Page). Fitting a five-piece band in that small space was no mean feat, but they performed a varied set of self penned songs, some rooted in the local area, which warmed the audience up in readiness for the main event.

After a short break, Tia and Tommy took centre stage and I think it is safe to say they had the audience at hello, or at the very least, at the opening song, Reckonin'. All present were spellbound as we were taken on a journey through Tia's music; her current, first round Grammy nominated CD, CRAZY BEAUTIFUL, went down a storm, with beautifully written, memorable, thought provoking songs, such as The Fire, the Patty Griffin - sequel, The One I've Waited For, the anti adversity Movin' The Smoke Away and the title song, originally inspired by the true story of a skier, but in essence a reminder for us all.

Tia McGraff performs "Conductor For A Day" live at Old Low Light Heritage, North Shields, on 12 May 2016. With Thanks & video credits Catherine Hardwick

Dipping into her earlier releases, we were treated to stunning renditions of Love Lies Bleeding, Tumbleweed and the song penned with recent UK visitor, James House, It Can't Rain Everyday. Conductor For A Day, is the beautiful story of an experience her dad had and perfectly captures the moments, people and memories that leave a mark upon us, however fleeting they may be. Two Wolves is derived from a Native Indian legend and was a definite hit, whilst Radical Road perfectly showed off Tia' s fun side. 

Tia McGraff performs "Love-Lies-Bleeding" live at Old Low Light Heritage, North Shields, on 12 May 2016. With Thanks & video credits Catherine Hardwick

A sing along was incited for Johnny Cash's Ring Of Fire, Tommy requesting that we all be the horn section. Everyone was so involved it sounded like there was three times the number of people in the room. Pure joy filled the room, as everyone came together to share the experience. Magic.

Tia hails from a small fishing town in Canada and the similarities with the little town she was in certainly weren't lost on her. She was aware she was standing yards from the Black Middens where numerous ships were wrecked. Talking about fishing and what it means to a small town, there was an instant sense that despite being from three thousand miles away, her life had connected with ours over shared stories. As such, she treated us to the beautiful Fisherman's Song, which despite being written about fishermen on Lake Erie, made total sense to us raised on the banks of the River Tyne. Abigail made another remarkable connection, between their heroine, Abigail Becker and ours, Grace Darling, both of whom bravely rescued shipwrecked sailors. The fun drinking song, Whiskey Ship, prompted another joyful sing along, as did the evening's finale, the Cajun tinged Catfish Deacon.

What is obvious is that Tia's sound covers everything. She isn't just a singer songwriter, she is so much more; a storyteller who gets right to the heart of what really matters and of human experience. She effortlessly blurs the boundaries between country, spiritual, folk, rock and blues; all delivered with a beautiful soulful voice, that somehow just makes the world feel right.

The whole set was peppered with jokes and banter, between Tia and Tommy and between them and the audience. Their warm personalities shone throughout their set. Never was this more obvious than in the number of people keen to come to chat to her afterwards.

Sometimes at a gig, everything just comes together perfectly, almost as if the stars are aligned. Tonight was one of the best examples of this I have ever had the pleasure to experience. Such nights bring home what live music is about and why I love it so much. An escape, stories, a shared experience, everyone in a room connected by music and the memories being made. I only hope those memories are as special for Tia and Tommy as they are for all of us lucky enough to be there. Memories which can transcend 3000 miles from one little fishing town to another, and perhaps, a lifelong connection between two places.

There are already plans underway for Tia to return in 2017 and I suspect a whole audience will be eagerly awaiting news of this. I look forward to that Radical Road bringing her back here very soon.
Helen Mitchell

Tia Mcgraff “It Can’t Rain Every Day” recorded live in session at TD1 Radio for Hotdisc TV (10 May 2016)

TIA McGRAFF - IT CAN'T RAIN EVERY DAY - Recorded live in session at TD1 Radio for Hotdisc TV - 10.5.16 from StuMedia on Vimeo.

(8 April 2015) Tia McGraff - Crazy Beautiful (Bandana Records)
13 Tracks Americana Alternative Folk Sample/Buy on UK iTunes & CD Baby
Canadian singer-songwriter Tia McGraff made a very welcome debut at No.14 on the Hotdisc Top 40 with lead-off single "Baby's Got A Banjo" (Tia McGraff/Tommy Parham) from her album CRAZY BEAUTIFUL released in Canada on April 2, 2015 (Bandana Records) one week prior to her commencing her 2015 Spring UK Tour. The single reached a peak at #3 during 8 chart weeks. Tia’s follow up Hotdisc single “The One I Waited For” debut at No.24 and climbed No.11 in 4 weeks.
A brand new acoustic exclusive Hotdisc Single “It Can’t Rain Every Day(Tia McGraff/Tommy Parham/James House) is included on the June 2015 #21 Hotdisc.

The album CRAZY BEAUTIFUL was reviewed in Maverick Magazine awarded it 5 STARS (Helen Mitchell)…Produced by Tommy Parham, and recorded in Austin, TX, Nashville, TN, and Southern Ontario Canada ,the CD features renowned Grammy Award musicians Cindy Cashdollar, Dave Sanger, (Asleep At The Wheel) ,Tommy Harden (Reba McEntire), Dave Labruyere ( John Mayer) with Juno and Grammy award winning engineers Nick Blagona (Sting, among others and Rick DeLellis. Together, they have produced a CD, which sounds unlike anything Tia has ever done before, whilst maintaining her trademark depth and emotion. The musicians and production add depth and perfectly complement her searching vocals; vocals which, for this collection, have reached places they never have before…..All in all, a simply stunning collection of songs, which deserves a home in the collections of every lover of outstanding music. I think that with Crazy Beautiful, Tia McGraff has released the album of her career. I wonder what's next?

About Tia McGraff
Members: Tia McGraff and Tommy Parham
Genre: Americana
Home Town: Port Dover
Bandana Records, is proud to announce the release of Crazy Beautiful, the soul-bearing and gut-wrenching CD, by internationally acclaimed Americana artist, Tia McGraff.
Crazy Beautiful was the follow up album to Tia McGraff’s 2013 release, BREAK THESE CHAINS. With a long list of international successes, including TV spots and main stage festival concerts, Tia is an artist that constantly seeks to fine-tune her craft as a song-writer and vocalist.
Recorded in Austin, TX, Nashville, TN, and Southern Ontario, Canada, this 13 track album features Grammy Award winning musicians Cindy Cashdollar, Dave Sanger (Asleep At The Wheel,) Tommy Harden (Reba,) and Dave Labruyere (John Mayer) with Juno and Grammy Award winning engineers Nick Blagona and Rick DeLellis. Mixed and master by Nick Blagona.
Produced by Tommy Parham, and written by Tia McGraff and Tommy Parham, this brilliant collection of songs and vocal performances, will capture your Americana radio listening audience and hold them "like a wing walker, on the edge without a net."
"Best new song I've heard this year - I mean, at all. Like, period. [“Baby’s Got A Banjo” ] just "fits" with what's happening in country right now. Perfect timing for this sound." — Craig Fox at Country 107.3

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