Who we like: Robert Johnson, Gillian Welch, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly), Mississippi John Hurt, John Lee Hooker, Blind Willie McTell, Townes Van Zandt, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, Be Good Tanyas, Willard Grant Conspiracy, Maria McKee, amongst other degenerates and outcasts...
The Cedars combine raucous Folk-Americana with dark, foreboding blues and the occasional heart-stopping ballad to produce heady, intoxicating music.
They have built both a formidable live set and an enthusiastic following and are highly respected amongst their peers on the alt.folk and Americana scenes. The Cedars have played a huge variety of shows and festivals including Glastonbury, Reading, Secret Garden Party, Trowbridge, Wilderness, The Great Escape, Camp Bestival, Cropredy, Truck and live on BBC Radio 4.
Their recently released debut album 'Little Copper Still' was recorded in California with Grammy award-winning producer Ian Brennan (Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Peter Case, Tinariwen) and has already earned critical acclaim from radio and music press around the world.
"A very very good album" ... "I love their sound" - Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2
"The album is certainly going to be worth waiting for" - Mark Lamarr, BBC Radio 2
"A singer who can break hearts and mend them in an instant, ★★★★" - Q Magazine
"Rough-edged, whisky-fuelled, foot-stomping majesty, ★★★★★" - Loud and Quiet Magazine
"An excellent album, ★★★★" - Country Music People magazine
"The next generation of sound is here and at its forefront are The Cedars" - Fatea Magazine
"One of the most damn enjoyable records of the year so far" - Americana UK
"A thoroughly juicy selection serves as a splendid introduction to a band currently at the forefront of the UK's alt.country scene" - R2 Magazine (Rock'n'Reel)
"They're very clearly a class act; there are a whole raft of signed bands unfit to lick the shiny boots of The Cedars" - Performing Musician magazine
| + Chantal Hill
Chantal was born in a ravine during the ill-fated Donner Party expedition of 1846. She was the only one of her wagon train to survive, the others succumbing to despair and cannibalism, though not necessarily in that order. Raised in the wilderness by wolves, she was spotted pan-handling for gold under Waterloo Bridge in 2004 by Jason, and was duly introduced to the seedy underworld of Mexican beer and slide guitar. She has never looked back. Her interests include pedantry, sarcasm and hard liquor. She dislikes bananas, long division and the English licensing laws; and her favourite type of cheese is Yarg. If you see her at the bar she would like a bourbon and coke please, ice, no lemon. She has never been married to Jason or related to him in any way, although they do both like to wear a suspicious amount of red and black. Chantal seldom lets her diminutive height get in the way of her struggle for world domination. She takes a size 3 brogue, and what her tattoos say is none of your damn business, you filthy pervert.
| + Jason Moffat
Born in a barn, in northwest New Schwabenland (Antarctica), by the age of 3 had built a sled robust enough to navigate the path to the front gate, where he was caught and put into nursery school where he proved 2+2 does indeed make 3. His musical prowess was discovered around the age of 5 and was subsequently bound and gagged until the age of 15. On his release J began his search for civilisation, he’s still looking. He can now mostly be found wandering around Waterloo trying to remember where he put his shoes. None of his family were available for comment having flown away the previous evening in search of a warmer climate. Recently his guitar left him for a ukulele, so please don’t mention it if you bump into him. Actually, if you do bump into him, ask him for my pen...
| + Pedro Vidal
Pedro's tale begins, as so many do, with a troublesome birth onboard the New Orleans ferry...
These were hard times and the ferry inspector, quick to realise the newborn was not in possession of a valid ticket, had no choice but to throw him overboard at the very next stop. Not wanting to waste her ticket and with two stops still to go, the mother understandably carried on with her journey to buy some jambalaya at the Cajun market.
After days of aimless floating, he was finally picked up at the Mississippi harbour side by kind hearted circus midgets who nursed him to become one of the finest baby cannonballs of the southern states. It was they who gave him his first musical instrument, spoons (and later the kazoo, though technically not a real musical instrument), something they came to deeply regret for these melodic toys had made him lose all interest in human cannonballing. Predictably, they were forced to sell the child to make up for the fall in circus profits.
His buyers, a wealthy order of Creole priests, taught him the wholesome ways of Vodoun and finger cymbals. It was during one of the weekly late-afternoon rituals that repressed memories of loss and floating abandon began to resurface and that very night, possessed by a restless Petwo loa, he escaped to face the ghosts of his past.
On a quest to find the ferry of his recurring nightmares he naively boarded what turned out to be a transatlantic cargo ship on its long and arduous journey to Europe. He survived as a stowaway under an old rusty washtub, a disguise so perfect it was not until the ship had already twice made the same long and arduous journey across the Atlantic that he was found and forced to entertain the Iberian sailors, pretending to play the onboard mechanical Glockenspiel. It was a long and arduous journey to Europe indeed!
At the first sight of land he made his stealthy leap for the freedom of the offshore waters using the trusty washtub that was once his home as a make-do lifeboat. The strong rising tide currents carried him to the pebbly havens of Brighton beach where he met a travelling skiffle band in desperate need of an extra man. He learnt that using only a sturdy stick and some old rope he could turn his home/lifeboat into a musical instrument and enjoyed some degree of fame playing the washtub bass at the West Pier covered bandstand. Unfortunately this success was short-lived for a little accident with fire at what would be their last ever performance tragically destroyed the entire pier, skiffle band, audience and two low-flying seagulls.
Fearing he would be blamed for what the papers later called 'The West Pier Burn Massacre', he jumped onto the open car of a freight train to London and made his guilt-ridden way out of Brighton.
He was last seen selling slide whistles near Tower Hill station.
Last week a kind gentleman took pity on the sad whistle seller and bought one of his slide whistles for almost full haggling price. That kind gentleman was of course Pedro, better known as the acoustic bass player for blues/country/folk band 'The Cedars' and he would tell you it was the best thing he ever bought! They sound rubbish and break easily but are so brilliant for pretending you're in a cartoon! Try it! Seriously try it! It's brilliant!
Pedro wouldn't survive 5 minutes on a boat as he gets seasick rather easily.
REVIEWS and PRESS (old):
| + Stephen Coates
He was born yesterday in a hospital way down in-between Mother Africa's toes. As a child his parents raised him by the head, hence his elongated neck and giraffe like ears. Once his legs were long enough he eloped off with a sack of coconuts and drifted along on the cold Benguela which subsequently deposited him at the Thames Estuary. There he hitched a ride on a whales back to Central London, where at low tide J and Chantal picked him up so he could rattle his coconuts in a band called The Cedars.
| + R2 (Rock n Reel) - Cover CD Feature
London-based Americana four-piece The Cedars recorded their debut album in California. This choice cut from a thoroughly juicy selection serves as a splendid introduction to a band currently at the forefront on the UK's alt.country scene...
+ A Brief Testimony (Nick Brown, Playwright)
May I venture as many as four reasons to acquaint you with this combo?
- Of course their songs are pocket masterpieces of careless love and casual heartbreak.
- Of course their singer is possessed of a haunting melancholy masquerading as nonchalance and imbibed with, perhaps, one too many long dark nights of the soul.
- Of course the band is a taut lattice, effortlessly meshed and driving, leaving no toe untapped...
But this is mere detail...
The Cedars make music to remind you why your heart beats, and to let you forget (if only for a little while) all those times you doubted why it should bother.
| + Blues Matters
The Cedars like their Blues flavoured with a big dose of bluegrass, steel guitars and banjos, toiling away under Chantal Hill’s vocals. This London band certainly know how to play and they do a cracking job of evoking the spirit of the south (so good these songs would sit happily with period recordings).
| + Bearded Magazine
Extract from interview in Bearded Magazone Issue 1:
"Just returned from Glastonbury London-based alt. country band, The Cedars, is making similar, if slightly more modern, noises. The band hits that darker, melancholic musical ground with musical craftsmanship and buckets of slide guitar..."
| + Jealous of the Daylight - Live Review
Chantal has a phenomenal voice that completely silenced the
250-strong crowd and literally, yes, literally, sent shivers down my
spine. Is that still a cliché when it actually happened? Bluesy
stomping Americana stuff, great to dance to, and in fact generally
| + Performing Musician
Shuffling, rootsy Americana 'n Country offset nicely by singer Chantal's beautifully silky, lilting voice - singing songs about "dirt and shame in that stony ground”. Live, the band take on a more raucous feel, like the soundtrack to a wild, liquor-fuelled hoe-down.... They're very clearly a class act; there are a whole raft of signed bands unfit to lick the shiny boots of The Cedars".
| + The Troubadour
"The gig itself is a revelation. The three preceding groups playing this evening had regaled the assembled crowd but the Cedars did more than entertain. They grabbed the audience’s attention and enthralled them."
"...at the end of the song, the crowd give hearty applause but it is tempered by the knowledge that they are soon to lose the band, and they throw themselves into howling for an encore. The band submit and finish off with The Colour. The whole venue is now transformed from a placid North London pub into a Texas hoedown, as people begin to clap along and put together worthy attempts to square dance. At the end of the song, everyone comes to their senses and wonders how they came to be locked arm in arm with a perfect stranger. Talking afterwards, the group seem unaware of the frenzy they brewed up."