|Saturday 15 November 2014 @ 09:00pm : -
The Toy Hearts
After having made music together for over a decade, the core family trio of The Toy Hearts, sisters Hannah (vocals & mandolin), and Sophia (guitar & vocals) together with their father Stewart (Banjo, Dobro, Steel) decamped from their native Birmingham UK, to spend the whole of summer 2013 in the USA, working in and around the bars and honky tonks of the live music capital of the world Austin, Texas.
With four studio albums already under their belts already the band spent their time in the lone star state developing the western swing elements of their live show and keeping their musical chops up by sitting in with some of Austin’s finest talents, Toni Price, The Jitterbug Vipers, Whit Smith & Dave Biller.
In January 2014 the band kicked the year off in style with the release of the Flyin’ Too High Ep, which was recorded towards the end of their Austin trip, and features Jake Erwin (Hot Club of Cowtown) on Double Bass. The Ep is a representation of the work the band did in Austin, the material being taken directly from their live show, where the aim was always to keep those dancers dancing and drinkers tipping!
During the summer of this year The Toy Hearts are taking some time out of their usually heavy touring schedule to work on writing new material and putting together a fifth album. However the band will be making performances at a few select venues.
Previous shows have included opening for artists such as Robert Plant, Imelda May, Chris Thile, Ricky Skaggs, Tim O’Brien, The Hot Club of Cowtown, The Quebe Sisters, Kitty Daisy & Lewis, Gene Watson & Peter Rowan.
The Toy Hearts can also count The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood and veteran BBC broadcaster Bob Harris in their fans
(On Flyin'' Too High) “Fine Western Swing EP from one of the UK''s best." ~ Jeremy Searle, Americana UK, April 2014
(On Flyin'' Too High) “The Toy Hearts have chosen songs from an interesting variety of sources and infused them with their own personality... They make a formidable team." ~ Michael Hingston, Country Music People, April 2014
“Flyin'' Too High has The Toy Hearts reaching a great altitude, bang on Western Swing. ~ Peter Cowley, Fatea Records, March 2014
“Flyin’ Too High is further proof that they are very fine interpretative exponents of a style anchored to the core of country music. ~ Three Chords & the Truth, March 2014
“So what''s all the fuss about a father and two daughters from Birmingham playing American roots music? Make that Birmingham, England. And make that some of the most skillfully and joyously played American roots music on either side of the Atlantic Ocean, and you start to see why The Toy Hearts are so special." ~ Austin Music Journal, Texas, USA, September 2013.
“(On Whiskey) ''Swinging sisters plus dad continue to surprise... A solid slab of good time listening." ~ MT, Guitarist, July 2012.
“(On Whiskey) ''This is a great album by one of Britain''s best country groups." ~ David Knowles, Maverick, July 2012.
“Mixing influences from country music at the time of Hank Williams with influences from the blues of the 1930er/40er years together with elements of Brit Soul, from Dusty Springfield to Amy Winehouse. This sounds and is exciting, thrilling and hot." ~ Broken Silence, July 2012.
“Yoking their majestic close harmony voices to some splendid musical back-ups, theirs is a classic sound that somehow belongs to the here and now... The many charms of Whiskey ensures that you''ll be making plenty of trips to The Toy Hearts bar." ~ ACR, Properganda, June/July 2012.
“Whiskey, the group''s fourth album, has much to recommend it: not least the heartfelt vocals of lead singer Hannah Johnson." ~ Simmy Richman, The Independent, June 2012.
“The Toy Hearts will soon be stealing more hearts. Make mine a double." ~ Sunday Mercury, ''Album of the Week'', June 2012.
“Jolly steel guitar laced, harmony-rich country swing. Their natural feel for the jazzier end if the honky tonk is reflected in competent originals and covers of classics.&" ~ The Daily Mirror, June 2012.
“Yet more fine music from one of the best British bands... An album that reaches out beyond the band''s bluegrass roots and should see them consolidate their position as among the best of British." ~ Jeremy Searle, Americana UK, June 2012.
“Whiskey is an album that shows off The Toy Hearts at their versatile best as they incorporate elements of Bluegrass, swing, jazz, blues and country to produce this feel good record that is unlike anything else around at the moment." ~ Helen Earnshaw, Female First, June 2012.
“There is a distinctive sheen to everything on the album but nothing that has that cloying glossiness that is so formulaic. In this generic field you will be very fortunate to hear better this year!" ~ American Roots UK, June 2012.
“One of my favourite bands." ~ Imelda May
“Influenced by the Nashville guitar pickers and singers, they are two very sweet girls." ~ Ronnie Wood - Absolute Radio, Dec 2011