TRAILER STAR "Floodplain Demos" Trailer Star , a singer songwriter and poet from Oxford and like the title says, these are rough demos of an album due in 2002. Just an acoustic guitar and voice (folky and Cohen-like at times) but there's enough quality to warrant investigating the fully realised version of these songs.
mark whitfield
americana-uk. com Jan 2002


Various - Moon Over The Downs: The Trailer Star Tribute (Super Tiny Records)

"A tribute to the star that never was" it says on the sleeve, tongue firmly in cheek as it details how the underground folk country star, a seminal influence on English country blues, died when his pick-up left the road near Newbury, leaving behind only a rare collection of demos and old reel-to-reel tapes. The web site even has a nice picture of the tribute ceramic teapot to go with the CD box set.

It's an amusing wind up, but there a serious backdrop. All the lyrics to which the fifteen artists have set music to honour their lost colleague are written by freelance journo Shaun Belcher whose father suffers from cancer and a minimum £4 from each sale is going to Cancer Research UK.

He's an impressive and authentically steeped writer and deservedly gets an equally impressive if largely little known roster of contributors to interpret his material. Anglo-American duo Cicero Buck, who run the label and whose singer Kris Wilkinson was instrumental in getting the project together, offer the sunny leaving song November Morning Sun while other familiar names include Lambchop's Deanna Varagona (a dusty acoustic blues Bled Dry), Terry Clarke (armed with 12 string for art meets history in a metaphor number Donati's Comet) and Bob Cheevers (doing his Willie Nelson meets Townes on Wishing Field's tale of a failing farm).

But the lesser known names are no less wonderful. James McSweeney's country blues My Little Town sounds not unlike Stan Rogers, Brian Lillie gets blues swampy (you can even hear the water sloshing) on the moody Drowning Moon while Ronny Elliott sounds uncannily like Johnny Cash on the magnificent Devil's Address, a song that should indeed have found its way to the Man in Black's door.

Elswhere I'd make note of Diana Darby's spooked Desert Dust, Kevin Meisel's Prine-like The Lynton Flood, Jim Roll's jaunty Jonathon Richmanesque Clown's Car and the closing English Country Heart 12 string dobro instrumental by guitar virtuoso Ian Kearey, but there's nothing here to have you press the skip button and several warrant hefty use of the repeat. Old Trailer would have been darn proud.

Mike Davies ~


sounds like a soundtrack...
Release date: July 1, 2003. Visit the official Trailer Star website.
"Moon Over The Downs is a unique collaboration combining the lyrics of 'Trailer Star' with performances by some of the best artists in the alt-country and singer-songwriter field."
If you listen closely you might begin to think your ears are playing tricks on you. At least a couple of the singers sound, at times, like some really big "names..." Full tracklist and artist details on lyrics page.

Sound effects lend a visual quality to many CDs these days, and it's easy to imagine some of them making the jump to the big screen without much effort. I can almost see this one...
Short Q & A about Moon over the Downs

Q: This "Trailer Star" thing -- what's it all about?

A: "The Trailer Star Tribute is a bunch of singer-songwriters associated with Flyinshoes Webzine, for songwriters who write other stuff. They're taking Shaun Belcher's lyrics and using them with their own music to create a tribute to 'Trailer Star' - a 'fictional' character created by Shaun Belcher who thinks he's the alt-country Bernie Taupin). The author killed off Trailer Star when he realised that he had the vocal talents of Leo Kottke - 'a geese farts on a muggy day voice'

Q: Well, the CD is much much better than I thought it would be. The only thing that might be better is a fresh basket of homegrown tomatoes.

A: Old Willie there again. Tomato? That Townes' old label aint it?

Q: Yeah, but I was thinking about a Guy Clark song. You like Townes?

A: Well, he was always a lot better than most people thought.

Q: So... all lyrics/words really were written by Shaun?

A: Yes and all music was composed and sung by the artists listed on the CD...

Q: Do you know that voice prints are as unique as finger prints and DNA strands? I could almost swear I heard Willie, but my memory is always playing tricks on me and the wordz'n'muzic are starting to run together now so I really don't know quite what to think at this point because I'm usually pretty good with voices... I'll have to listen to it again. By the way, I wanted to mention that your package arrived without a return address. You must have a great deal of confidence in the postal service... either that or you were about to fall asleep at the wheel when you mailed it out...

A: Asleep at wheel? - have been for years:-)

Q: Well, I guess that's it unless you want to go on the record with anything else...
A: Here's the first review...
from Marq's Texas Music Kitchen

Various Artists
Moon Over the Downs: the Trailer Star Tribute

* * * (out of 4)

This is a highly original, musically diverse and very listenable
charity album with partial proceeds to go to Cancer Research UK.
Conceived by freelance journalist Shaun Belcher (whose father is being
treated for cancer), and put together by Kris Wilkinson (of
Cicero Buck), there are fifteen artists from both the US and UK
who have written songs especially for the album. The fictional
Trailer Star was an underground folk hero who never made it to the
mainstream, dying under mysterious circumstance and
leaving behind a legacy for modern day artists to carry
The finest moments captured here come courtesy of Cicero
Buck and the wondrous November Morning Sun, Diana
Darby's Desert Dust and Bob Cheevers' These Wishing Fields.
Terry Clarke's Donati's Comet has some great lyrics, but the
strident musical presentation fails to capture the song's lyrical
heart. Ronny Elliott's Dusty Trees is straight out of the Johnny
Cash/Kris Kristofferson songbook, memorable, but
hardly earth-shattering. Overall a neat little album that is highly
recommended.- AC

(ed. note the Ronny Elliott track is actually called Devil's Address)

Various “Moon Over the Downs - the Trailer Star Tribute” (Super Tiny Records 2003) Available: Now

Conceptually this album is brilliant. A spoof tribute to a great lost underground folk artist whose van left the road somewhere near Newbury is a very clever way to link the artists together. In reality, the purpose behind the album is very noble indeed. A massive £8 from the sale of every record is being donated to Cancer Research UK. The album has been put together by Cicero Buck and Shaun Belcher, a freelance journalist. Belcher also provides all the lyrics for the record. His writing seems steeped in the nostalgic melancholy of Woody Guthrie or even Thomas Hardy and works very well in a peculiarly English way. So far, so good bit the question remains. Is the music up to the quality of the overall concept and layout? The answer to this is yes and no. The first half of the album is fantastic, containing some extremely well crafted songs. To this listener however, the tail end of the album contains too many home demos and half baked ideas. Cicero Buck themselves provide the highlight of the album with the haunting ‘November Morning Sun’. Also particularly strong are contributions by Steve Roberts and Jim Roll with ‘Dusty Trees’ and ‘Clown’s Car’ respectively. Elsewhere quality is slightly more variable. Terry Clarke’s ‘Dunati’s Comet’ and ‘English Country Heart’ by Ian Kary let standards slip somewhat but Bob Cheevers provides a strong tune with ‘These Wishing Fields’. There is nothing unlistenable on this record and it is harsh to criticise the music too much when the album is for such a worthwhile cause. Buy this record and do your bit, even if you might need to use the skip button on a couple of occasions.