Very much at home in the snug charm of the Somerville arms, the Blues Party sits comfortably between a classy blues gig and a flexible session.
To get started, the house band, Adrian, Stephen and Richard, collectively covering bass, guitar, harmonica and keys, offer up bold, stylish treatments of blues classics such as It should have been me and Ice man. Then the band expands with guests, bringing contrasting styles to guitar, vocals and harmonica to material as diverse as Need your love so bad and Crazy.
What could be nicer than a fun night in a cosy pub, lively and spontaneous with a relaxed vibe and a warm welcome to guest players?
For this years festival it was the early shift for me from just after 11am (for the first band) until around 2.30pm on the Saturday catching 6 performances and I must admit the standard was pretty high.
Opening the Riverside Stage with one of the best sets I have seen at the festival were Leam/Cov rockers Mara Falls and with their spirited mix of indie sounds and at times Muse like prog rock with plenty of light and shade and atmosphere they went down a storm to the early attendees.
In contrast next up a couple of wonderful vocal performances by The Mission Choir followed by over on the Bandstand stage (no bandstand this year though) the laid-back exquisite folky voice and guitar picking of Rowan Godel.
Back to the main stage for one of our very own, Leamington based Man Made Moon who's easy going style reminded me at times of The Travelling Wilbury's then a quick dash back to the bandstand for a fun set by Warren And The Magpies giving a blue grass feel to many a pop/rock classic.
A class act to finish my visit this year with a stylish set by Kate And The Mooncats (missing Kate as she was at a different festival booked before this one) but her replacement, local singer Claire Glasbey did a fantastic job and the likes of ‘Moondance' and ‘Dream A Little Dream of Me' brought a relaxed and chilled out vibe to the festival.
Great stuff as usual this year and sure I missed a few crackers later.
**** "ROCK AND ROLL DREAMS COME TRUE - THE LIVE MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHY OF ANDREW LOCK 2008-2018" PHOTO EXHIBITION AND SALE - THE OAK HOUSE SPORTS AND SOCIAL CLUB, LEAMINGTON SPA WEDNESDAY 17TH OCTOBER 2018 7-10-30PM, ALL PROCEEDS GOING TO ZOE'S PLACE BABY HOSPICE AND THE CINNAMON TRUST***
Elizabeth Cornish at the Tool Shed.
What do you do if you take over an ailing, out of the way cafe, with no street presence, but placed in the beautiful Caldecote Park in Rugby? If you are an enterprising pair like Emma and Eilis, you revitalise the menu to include a wide range of drinks, home made fresh cakes and more, then you set about creating your own regular custom by making it a scene for events. Having been in charge for about twelve months, the "Tool Shed" cafe (I can remember when it was just that by the way), now boasts a film club, hosts story telling sessions and relevant to this piece, is now a music venue. Regular concerts are held on the first Sunday of the month throughout the year. It says much for the regard in which the place is held that they can attract artists of the stature of Elizabeth Cornish. Some members of the audience had travelled some distance to attend this rare midlands gig.
Originally from Leicester, but now living in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, an entry point into the Black Forest, Elisabeth Cornish is a singer/songwriter, whose style is just right for a laid back Sunday afternoon in the park. This was the setting for ante-penultimate UK date in her tour to promote her latest album, "Where we were then."
This softly spoken young lady granted the audience at The Tool Shed Cafe in Rugby a set which included many of the tracks off the home produced album. She is delighted with and justly proud of the final product. The album contains some love songs, including one about her Grandfather going off to war. "English Rogue" is not a love song in the conventional sense, but the emotional connection is emphatic and raw.
All her songs are crafted from well observed and heartfelt understanding of things that happen around her. The titles range from enigmatic single words such as "Light," "Blueprint, "Tired," and "Home" to the more explicit "For The One That I Love" (which she sang at her own wedding) and "We're Not Perfect." Each song stands in it's own right and has it's own story which is explained perfectly to a listening audience. Halfway through the recording of the album, disaster struck, when an accident at home resulted in a broken hand. This is a strange co-incidence as she is the third artist I have heard about who has suffered a similar injury this year. Luckily playing guitar is perfect physiotherapy to help recovery. The whole set was delightful and perfect for a Sunday afternoon in the park.
Supporting Elizabeth was Beth Dyson, who accompanied by Rugby Guitarist, Joanna Litten, ran through a number covers of well known songs. I had seen Beth once before, early in the new year when sadly technical issues truncated her set to a mere three songs, but I heard enough to recognise a quality voice. This time we were treated to a performance of a more conventional length. "Sweet Home Alabama" was the lively introduction to a set that included contributions from Amy Whitehouse, The Zutons and The Killers. By the time Beth had reached her third song, she had settled nicely and Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69" was at it's rhythmic best with an outstanding accompaniment from Joanna. We then visited Nashville for Dolly Parton's "Jolene" displaying the fact that Beth is happy with many different styles of music and her voice carries each one with panache. Her closing number was Jessie J's "It's Not About The Money." which was just as well because the gig was free entry. Beth, who so nearly gave up singing a year ago, (I'm so glad she didn't) has written some of her own songs but has yet to perform any of them in public. I hope that will be rectified within the next ten days or so. Watch this space.
It was a lively and thoroughly enjoyable gig with performances from both women which were both uplifting and thought provoking. The next gig at the Tool Shed Cafe is on 1st July when the headliners are "Wax Myrtles Special Structure" A female trio from Rugby who like to have "a bit of a sing and a play" They are to be supported by Sean McAusland a keyboard/accordion player with a couple of local bands, it sounds likely to be a good event to attend. Like all gigs at the Tool Shed, is it free entry.
In its relatively short lifetime, the former "Coventry Evening Telegraph" building has become a superb & iconic venue with a tremendous momentum over the past months as the local community grew to recognise its power & potential. It has provided space for artwork for a wide range of artists who might not have their work displayed in more mainstream spaces: students, amateurs, the experimental, the transgressive and even world renowned figures such as John Yeadon whose work raises questions that the mainstream struggles to respond to.
In terms of music, the many weird & wonderful spaces have seen performances & gatherings from people like Synthcurious & the Leamington Home Made Music Society, creating incredible blends of sound & vision within the decaying post industrial environment. ATTRITION have been spotted several times in recent weeks shooting stills & video while access is still possible.
As part of the inclusive & imagination vision of the team, on Saturday the 9th June, the building hosted not only elements of Coventry Pride 2018, but as part of that, an event by the "Alternative Sounds" project. Project artists Crokodile Tears, Keith Fabrique & Huffy plus project supporter Dave Kafka (of the Smashed Vinyls) played sets, the writer of this piece introduced them and spoke about the project and tracks from the "Alternative Sounds" records (plus a few unreleased treats) were played.
Among the many great songs played were several from the "Alternative Sounds" records: Crokodile Tears played "Trains" and "Chinese Whispers", Keith played "Inside Looking Out" and Huffy played "Don't Speak Out". Among old favourites and a few covers, Keith showcased his new album (launched next Saturday at the Humber) "Talk on the Radio", Huffy debuted a brand new song "Airwaves" and Crokodile Tears treated us to several tracks from their upcoming (September) release 'Old Skool'
It was good also to see several other "Alternative Sounds" artists giving their support: Ashley Spindler of Prole Position, Nigel Meffen of Skeet and Martin & Kerri Bowes of ATTRITION.
Videos of some of the performances are at:
Many thanks to Alan Denyer, Clare Allington-Dixon & Christopher Sidwell as well as everyone else at the CET Popup, who played & who came along for making this work so well
Hopefully the setup at the CET Building will be able to set up again on a more long term basis at the "Elephant" former sports centre which would be great: the potential for providing a centre for grassroots, creative, experimental and downright alternative arts & music is enormous and can really help foster local talent.
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