In March 2016 singer songwriter, political activist, music historian and Britain’s most authentic American Billy Bragg and his three time grammy winning producer and singer-songwriter companion, Joe Henry, boarded a Los Angeles-bound train at Chicago’s Union Station. Thus began a 2,728 mile long railroad journey wherein the two recorded songs for their new album Shine a Light: Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad while the train would pause to pick up passengers at various stops across the states. 

Drawing inspiration from the classic environment which gave birth to the great american rock’n’roll era, the two would hop off at the wayside when their train stopped and record their tracks in train station waiting rooms or right there on the platform awaiting their next journey. Recording at St Louis, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Alpine TX, El Paso and Tuscan over a 65 hour journey, the duo eventually pulled into Los Angeles at 4:30am, recording their final song in Union Station.

Says Billy: “With this project, we wanted to explore the transformative power that the coming of the railroad had on the lives of ordinary people by taking these songs back to the places that inspired their creation.”  

The resulting album ‘Shine A Light: Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad’ presents the perfectly matched voices of Bragg and Henry fused with the varied atmospheres of the environments in which they recorded—from the close proximity of soft-furnished sleeping cars to the cathedral-like ambience of historic railway stations.

Between them, the two have accrued a number of accolades, including three Grammys, a number one hit single, having a street named after one of them, appearing onstage at Wembley stadium and being the subject of a South Bank Show.

Billy has worked with a range of notable artists such as T Bone Burnett and Daniel Lanois to Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman and Bill Frisell. Henry has also worked with numerous musicians, including Elvis Costello, Hugh Laurie and Solomon Burke. More recently, Henry has worked with the late Allen Toussaint, a recording session that resulted in an album American Tunes which will be released later this year.

Their new album Shine A Light was released on Cooking Vinyl on 23rd September and features covers of American classics originally recorded by Hank Williams, Lead Belly, The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Glen Campbell, Gordon Lightfoot & More.

Says Joe: “The emergence of the railroad in America boasted of our might and sprawling enormity, yet signalled a deep desire for close community, connectivity. The songs that grew out of and alongside this innovation remain to tell this story of collective national character.”

Having returned from across the pond, the duo will tour the UK together later this year, a tour which will see the two exchange texan towns for english cities, including a local performance at the New Royal Theatre in Portsmouth. The two will be performing songs from the new album ‘Shine A Light’ and more. Full tour details are as follows:


Nov 2016

07-Nov-16                 Islington, London  Union Chapel                                     

08-Nov-16                 Islington, London Union Chapel                                 

09-Nov -16                Canterbury, Kent   The Marlowe Theatre

10-Nov- 16                Kemp Town, British   St. George’s Church                         

12-Nov -16               Portsmouth, Hampshire   New Theatre Royal                    

13-Nov -16               Coventry  Warwick Arts Centre                                       

14-Nov -16               Guilford, Surrey G Live                                                  

15-Nov- 16               Bury Saint Edmunds   The Apex                                        

17-Nov- 16               Nottingham Nottingham Playhouse                                       

18-Nov-16                Manchester, The Royal Northern College of Music     

19-Nov-16                Brayford Pool, Lincoln The Engine Shed


Jan 2017

Mon 16 Jan 2017          London           Union Chapel

Tue 17 Jan 2017           Bristol             St George’s

Wed 18 Jan 2017          Exeter             Corn Exchange   

Fri 20 Jan 2017            Salisbury          City Hall

Sat 21 Jan 2017            Buxton            Opera House

Sun 22 Jan 2017           Norwich          Open                

Tue 24 Jan 2017           York               Grand Opera House

Wed 25 Jan 2017          Whitley Bay     Playhouse

Thu 26 Jan 2017           Glasgow          Old Fruitmarket (Celtic Connections)                   

Sat 28 Jan 2017             Dublin             St Patrick’s Cathedral

Sun 29 Jan 2017            Belfast               Ulster Hall

Mon 30 Jan 2017          Letterkenny Co. Donegal An Grianan Theatre