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Night & Day Cafe

john paul white

IN CONVERSATION WITH: John Paul White

WORDS: MELISSA KAPLAN

John Paul White is an American singer-songwriter hailing from Alabama. He was ½ of the Grammy Award-winning folk duo The Civil Wars, exposing him to a wide array of fans reaching listeners of indie rock, folk, Americana and more.

John embarked on a mini Ireland/UK tour throughout the last week of January and played a sold-out crowd at The Night & Day Cafe in Manchester on January 28th. This tour leads up to a new album release for White titled The Hurting Kind, which is due out on April 12, 2019. The album takes influence from artists such as Chet Atkins, Patsy Cline, and Jim Reeves and more.

We sat down for a chat with John in the green room of Night & Day for a look into the family man’s passion for music and inspiration for his upcoming album.

Tell us about your new single “The Long Way Home?”

John Paul White: “It’s really about my love/hate relationship with doing this for a living. As glamorous as this may look – it’s something I’ve been doing for a long time. So, there are things I used to enjoy that I don’t necessarily anymore. I love my bed, I love being with my kids when they have dance recitals and things like that. My kids know this, and when I wrote this song and played it for them, I didn’t expect them to cry, and they did! Not going to lie, I was really proud of that, so it instantly jumped to the top of my list of songs for this new record.”

What do you like about touring in the UK?

John Paul White: “The people really appreciate music and respect artists and art and it’s palpable and it shows. In after shows when you talk to people, they’re very appreciative that you’re here in the first place, because they know it’s not cheap to do that and takes a lot of time out of your year. They’re also just very appreciative of artists in general – and we have egos! It goes a long way that people care that you’re working hard at what you do. That helps you get through the rough patches along the way.”

Do you have a favourite gig moment for a show you’ve attended?

John Paul White: “You know, it might surprise you, but I have not gone to lots of concerts. I didn’t really grow up that way. My parents weren’t keen on me going to shows, so I’d usually have to sneak out to go see them, but live performances were never as euphoric for me as they seemed to be for my friends. I’m really jealous of that. As a performer, I think I just have a really hard time letting go and disconnecting and just immersing myself in a show. I’m constantly thinking: what kind of guitar is that? Or man, he’s taking a long time in between songs. Things like that, I can’t turn it off.”

Too analytical with it?

John Paul White: “Yeah – I can say though, Randy Newman, I saw him at a place called the Lyric in Birmingham (AL), a gorgeous theatre there, that was definitely a show that my mouth was open the whole time. And, Kris Kristofferson at the Ryman. Those are probably the two that I didn’t want them to end – and I usually want them to end. I don’t know why I’m that way, after about four or five songs, I’m like – yeah, I’m good, I got it. And I’m jealous of folks that don’t have that experience. I go to shows with my 16-year-old now, and I see shows through his eyes and it’s a lot more fun. I’m able to leave some of that at the door.”

Is there anything you would like to plug with your record label [Single Lock Records]?

John Paul White: “Yesss! I’ve got a new record coming out [Under Single Lock Records] on April the 12th called “The Hurting Kind”. It’s 10 songs deep, and I wrote it partially with my country music songwriting heroes. I’d say 70% of the record is just me, but there are 3 tracks on there with people like Bill Anderson and Bobby Braddock, that are not household names per ce, but wrote a lot of songs that everybody knows. I really wanted to reach out to those guys and try my luck at writing a country song with the people that made me want to do it for a living. It went wonderfully and I’m really proud of this record, as all artists are proud of their new record. As you do this for a while, you’re constantly looking for angles and things that keep it relevant in your own eyes. Something like what do I want to say now? Well, what do I want to say now?

I felt like with this record it was kind of the first time that I, as a solo artist, could say whatever I wanted to say. Cause, my first solo record I had 12 years of material I could dig through and just find all the best songs. And then, with The Civil Wars, everything was collaborative, so that’s two people. So, with “Beulah” [JPW’s 2016 Record], which came out a couple years ago, that fell out like in a week and a half. There was no thinking about it. It was just like “blehhhh” and there was the record. So this was the first record that I can honestly say – I sat down and said, alright, what do you want to say? What do you want it to sound like? Who are you? And it was like a couch session for me, and I’m really proud of what I came up with. And I really feel like I’m scratching the surface for what could come after that.”

john paul white

Well, we hope to see a lot more from you! (And if you come back to Manchester or the UK in general, please let us know!)

John Paul White: “I hope you do too! I’m sure I will and I will let you know.”

It was truly a pleasure speaking with John Paul White. The over-packed room was so silent during the acoustic set, you could hear the glass bottles rustle on the floor. Not only were the vocals and guitar playing exceptional, but White also interrupted his own set to make sure an audience member was not overheating and cheekily sang his most played Spotify track ‘Hate the Way You Love Me’ to an audience member with piercing eye contact. Thanks for the excellent show JPW – Manchester will welcome you back with open arms!

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LIVE: The Night & Day 27th Birthday Party

WORDS BY ABI MCREADY          PHOTO BY ALVARO GARDETA

Manchester has one of the most exciting, thriving and unique live music scenes in the UK, and has done for many years. At the heart of this scene is the Northern Quarter, bursting with independent music venues where not a night goes by without some of the newest and most exciting up and coming bands taking to their stages to perform their hearts out for eager crowds at the forefront of the scene. And standing proudly at the beating heart of Manchester’s iconic music scene is Night & Day Café, celebrating its 27th birthday. While bars open and close and open again all around it and phases come and inevitably pass, it has steadfastly remained an integral part of Manchester night life, lending its stage to old names and brand new bands alike, giving everybody an equal chance to be a part of the culture that surrounds it. And on Friday night, this institution celebrated its 27th birthday in the only way it possibly could; with an absolutely stellar line-up, and a big fat party to follow.

 

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photo by @alvarovelazquezphotography

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Perhaps the most colourful –no, the only colourful band to join in the party are Fruit Tones. Their unique sound spans decades and genres but is, above all, a hell of a lot of fun to watch. At its centre is distorted garage rock with catchy hooks and scuzzy vocals with a dash of classic rock n roll thrown in for good measure. Despite their sound being rough around the edges, they’re almost impossibly well-rehearsed and difficult not to dance to. They don’t take themselves too seriously and the fun they’re clearly having on stage flows out into the audience and quickly catches on as the venue fills up.

Next on are Mister Strange who, in an ode to the tight-knit community that is Manchester’s music scene, share a drummer with Fruit Tones, whose arms surely must be getting tired by now. They return to the scene of their first ever gig to celebrate the anniversary of its birth. Though their psych-rock sound is undeniably their own, they’re comparable to titans King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, if they were to undergo a sudden dark makeover. Each song feels relentless and dark and intense and captivating and is the perfect transition from the fun and funky Fruit Tones to the gloomy and foreboding headliner.

 

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@baba_naga @nightanddaycafe last night

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Baba Naga’s set is the highly anticipated end to the night and it’s immediately easy to see why. Everything about them draws you in and captivates your attention, from the intensity of the drums to the rhythmic riffs and effortlessly astounding guitar solos. One song blends almost seamlessly into the next in an ethereal and dreamlike way that may have become unsettling and possibly even boring if each one hadn’t been a journey into the unknown that was too promising not to pay attention to. Murky, trippy visuals swirl in the background throughout the set and compliment the gloom and complexity of the sound perfectly. Their music and its message transcends comprehension at times and is both inexplicably rooted in the very matter of the universe and frustratingly separate from it all at once. It’s the answer to a question which lies just out of reach.

And through it all there lingers a biter sweetness, as Manchester still remembers the life and mourns the loss of Night and Day’s founder Jan Oldenburg. This celebration, and so much more of what happens in the Northern Quarter on a daily basis, would never have been possible if it hadn’t been for the heart and soul that he poured into making the venue and its surrounding area what it is today. His is a legacy that won’t be forgotten any time soon.

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LIVE: Barns Courtney @ Night & Day | 07.11.18

WORDS BY ABI MCGREADY       PHOTOS BY ADAM HARRISON

The man behind the noteworthy hit track ‘Glitter & Gold’, Barns Courtney took to Manchester’s Night & Day for a sold-out evening of debauchery. Opening for the main act, Stephanie Cheape takes to the stage and, as the early arrivals in the audience – of which there are a fair few, with more pouring in still – quiet their conversations and start to give her more of their attention the atmosphere changes subtly and a connection is made between singer and audience. This is when her full potential starts to come out and her talent reveals itself.

What we have here is an incredibly gifted girl with a truly breath-taking voice. Her lyrical style draws on the raw and emotional lyrics of early 2000’s pop-punk bands, but in a much more refined and stylish way. With a voice so stunning there’s no need to hide it behind heavy guitars and thunderous drums, so the music takes a back seat to compliment and support her amazing voice and is careful not to overpower it. By the end of the performance her confidence has blossomed and the effect it’s had on the audience is obvious. Anyone paying her their undivided attention is in awe, anyone not doing so is missing out on something special.

By the time the main event is due to begin, the room is fit to burst, it’s blisteringly hot and the audience move and shuffle and fidget under the glowing lights of Night and Day as the heat becomes unbearable and impatience grows. Eyes are fixed on the stage in anticipation of the show that’s about to start. When the room nears its boiling point, both in temperature and anticipation, Barns Courtney bursts out on stage in an explosion of charisma, leather and hair, to be met with a deafening roar of excitement from the sold-out crowd. Barnaby George Courtney to his Mum (probably) looks like he could have walked here today from 1980’s California just as easily as he fits into to modern-day Manchester and, before he’s even uttered a single word, has the whole room enthralled by his presence.

Despite opening with two brand new songs from an unreleased record, the genesis of his set is met with no shortage of energy and enthusiasm from the audience, whose response to both tracks gave the impression that they were lifelong fans. As the show storms on, sweat drips from every pore of every member of his band – as well as the audience – and soaks the walls and fills the air, making it hard to breathe but despite the temperature’s best efforts, the discomfort of a little (a lot of) sweat does absolutely nothing to dampen the mood of anyone in the room, either on stage or off.

Clearly a fan favourite, ‘Glitter & Gold’ has barely started before the audience recognise it and start bellowing the lyrics back. Barely a hand isn’t in the air, barely a foot not tapping. Surely not a single person not enjoying themselves. Each of Courtney’s songs as powerful as the last, they’re an ode to the power and exuberance of youth, and a fight song against anyone who would try and drag him from it. Both sound and singer are absolutely bursting with swagger, the small stage barely enough to contain them.

Though this is, on the surface, indie-rock, there’s no shortage of layers to be peeled back as the set powers on, anthem after anthem. His full force comes out in the form of belters such as ‘Champion’ and ‘Fire’ while there’s a softer, subtly psychedelic edge to ‘Golden Dandelions’ and a deeper, more intensely raw and vulnerable side shown in ‘Little Boy’. Courtney’s voice adapts to the mood of each song effortlessly, flowing from powerful and anthemic to soft and almost weary, his performance is moving and Courtney himself, is a force to be reckoned with.

As the set draws to its close in what feels like the blink of an eye – surely it hasn’t been an hour already – Courtney wanders down from the stage and wades through the audience to stand in the centre of the room. Kneeling at his command, the crowd surrounds him in a scene which, from the outside, must look almost biblical. At his second command, every person in the room, near exhausted from the heat and the amount of energy it takes to keep up with a Barns Courtney performance, jump to their feet and bounce with him as he bellows out the end to the last song, surrounded by a wall of fans so thick he becomes almost invisible, lost in a tangle of waving limbs and pumping fists. There’s no need for an encore. Nothing’s going to top that.

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