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Coventry, Kenilworth, Leamington Spa, Rugby, Solihull, Warwick, Stratford and Warwickshire

The magazine - news, reviews and interviews for the local scene

Fresh and funky

TRINITY 4 - LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY SATURDAY 11th May 2019

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The Prog world gets together again next month at The Leamington Assembly when on 11th May Trinity the prog rock music festival returns to its spiritual home with its all day long, incredible line up of live music and its famous auction where you can bid for an amazing selection of music memorabilia.
This years charities are Scope who support disability equality, Mind who support better mental health and Help Musicians UK the leading independent music charity.
This years headliner is the amazing Mostly Autumn hot on the tails of their wonderful new album White Rainbow also on the bill are Welsh band Godsticks, The C:LIVE Collective, the former front man of prog legends Pallas brings his new outfit Alan Reed & the Daughters of Expediency, ex Enid front man That Joe Payne and finally hailing from Birmingham IO Earth.
The evening ends with an after show party with a limited amount of tickets still available.
Fabulous causes and great music come together once again.

Andrew Lock


**THE PHOTOS ARE FROM THE 2017 EVENT AT THE LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY, AND THIS YEARS HEADLINERS MOSTLY AUTUMN**

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Hannah Woof with John Connearn supported by Ellie Gowers

Review

I'm going to go with "spell-binding" as my key word (two words?) for last evening's gig. As you'll have noticed, I am hugely obliged to Paul Newbold of Lightspark Music Photography  for his marvellous photos for many of my reviews, but nevertheless I still like to take a few of my own & the occasional video. So spellbound was I last night that for long stretches of time I was so caught up in the performances of Hannah Woof & Ellie Gowers that I forgot my camera...

In theory, any review of these two incredible writers & performers should be really difficult as I have done so for each of them recently: in practice new reflections on my part & new revelations of aspects of their art on theirs made it really easy.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating as I think this is a point which lies close to the heart of why our local music scene is thriving currently, but so many of our best musicians go out of their way to really back up their friends. The Magic Lantern was absolutely rammed for the gig. Friends were there, families were there. People who had never seen either artist but had picked up on the word of mouth were there. There were many musicians too as both are so popular & regarded including (amongst many) Callum Mckissock who was originally going to be the support act but was unable to for health reasons & Joe Dolman who co-wrote one of Hannah's songs she played.

Ellie, whose own stunning headline show at the venue is still reverberating around our minds only a few weeks on, opened with another breath taking set, one "Robin" being a cappella & the rest on her guitar. As I noted last time, she sings like an angel yet moves like a rock star. I was thinking as I watched her again how much she reminds me of the folk artists with attitude: I'm not surprised she admires Richard Thompson as you can detect his influence not merely in the music but also in her uncompromising approach to both a full commitment to her delivery but also in her lyrical frankness of emotions. I'd also bracket her for this energetic style with favourites of mine like Billy Bragg or Kate Rusby & hope I'm not offending her by so doing.

She is recording new material in 2019 & quite a bit of this appeared in her set: it is really compelling & I am greatly looking forwards to hearing it: some incredibly high quality songs with real emotional punch set in exquisite melodic frameworks.

My last two Hannah Woof gigs were when she was supporting her friend Izzie Derry and one remarkable thing has been the over the arc of those three performances I have seen her gradually revealing her talents like a bud slowly opening in the Spring sunshine to display its secrets. The first time, she accompanied herself on her guitar & was great. The next time, she split her time between her guitar & the Magic Lantern piano, unveiling some very fragile & haunting songs played with a very very spare style: watching her play keyboards is interesting: her fingers move slowly as if reluctant to play more notes than is absolutely necessary nor make too much noise. Last night she played guitar and her own electric keyboard & occasionally sang without either, as this was made possible by her accompaniment by (Ellipsis) guitarist John Connearn. This was an excellent development. They had worked hard on all the songs in the set & John was able sometimes to provide the only instrument to free Hannah & on most others added extra layers to the  arrangements. Their two guitars entwined beguilingly on several numbers & the guitar & keyboards complemented each other on the rest. He also sang backing vocals throughout: if that's the best word: sometimes they were backing but often they harmonised yet he always let Hannah's voice take precedence.

And what a voice: much as I have praised it twice before, headlining her own gig seemed to lend Hannah an extra fillip of confidence & there was a considerable power which she unleashed when appropriate. She  writes very personal songs & this gives them a distinction & personality which helps them impact. There is a considerable wit in both her words & her delivery of them: another of her strengths I think is in interpreting lyrics.

This was a really high class gig which had attracted a lot of buzz beforehand & to which a number of people had taken considerable efforts to be able to attend. It has received wonderful feedback not only from those who knew full well how good it was going to be but also from those who have seen these artists for the first time. Please do go & see them both, especially if in a venue where the full quality of their talent & intensity of their performances have maximum impact: they are among the finest current local musicians & who knows where their destiny lies?

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Stone Bear supported by Ollie Lawrence

Review

It is always really great to have new talent introduced to you & it is a clear & highly  admirable feature of much of the music scene locally that so many artists support & mentor emerging talent & as with last night, offer them gig opportunities they would not otherwise find easy to obtain.

Stone Bear invited young local guitarist Ollie Lawrence to support them at the Magic Lantern: his very first real gig as distinct from open mic appearances, but not I imagine his last.  Stone Bear were keen to emphasise that in choosing a support act, his was the first name on the list: they hold him in high esteem & now I understand why.

A most accomplished guitarist, I had better get the Hendrix comparisons out of the way early on (virtue of being his first reviewer): I imagine others will draw the same parallels as he uses a similar approach< a very percussive player his fingers keep up almost incessant riffing with occasional chords & solos. Playing with a loud distorted sound, which was very powerful in such a small space, his singing was at times rather difficult to hear (something to work on) which was a shame as he writes his own material & the lyrics did seem interesting. His voice perhaps owes something to the style of Prince but also there are Steve Winwood soul echoes in there: the guitar sound may be quite a rock one but he does keep it pretty funky too. Playing despite a damaged finger (not good in such a dynamic player I'd imagine), Ollie demonstrated a great deal of confidence in his playing even if he had understandably expressed some trepidation.

 

Stone Bear (David John on guitar/vocals & Jeff Dennis on drums) are vastly more experienced of course, and one of the most respected of local live acts, but the irony is that although often a pretty loud duo themselves, had opted for a style on the night much more laid back than their support act.

This was not wholly to do with adjusting their set to the more intimate space. They have declared that 2019 is going to be a year for a new angle for the band with David adopting more finger picking & writing material which reflects this. Jeff's use of brushes & softer techniques may have been to do with the room but it certainly fitted their newer material & allowed, for example, me to really appreciate what a precise & inventive player he is. The same level of scrutiny of course applies to David under such circumstances & I think it offers them extra chances to show what fine & subtle musicians they are. The good crowd at the Magic Lantern certainly showed their appreciation.

As noted, the set tended towards newer original material (although several of their trademark roots blues covers were also performed) including the latest single "Ole Cherry Tree", "Woke Up This Mornin" (their most recently released track) and a track so recently composed as to be yet nameless. This is a really interesting direction for them to develop into & fits really well with some experiments in that vein on their debut album & which featured in the set, such as the enci=ore "Broken Stones".

 

You can catch Stone Bear at the APE Night at the Zephyr Lounge on April 27th as well as open mics at Apehangers (April 21st)  & Leif (April 30th)

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KRISTY GALLACHER - TEMPERANCE BAR, Friday 3rd May

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Kristy Gallacher will be performing at Temperance, in Leamington on May 3rd with Rob Halligan & Lisa Nowak.
Have had the pleasure of seeing Kristy perform so many times over the years since our first encounter at the Catalan Restaurant during the Warwick Folk Festival of 2010 and I have remained a huge fan of her work to this day.
Have so many fond memories of seeing her perform at Warwick Folk Festivals over the years as well as performances at The Napton Festival, The Cambridge Rock Festival and The Leamington Peace Festival.
Also remember her set supporting Steve Walwyn during the All Saints' Art Festival in Leamington and many other local events while last year she did me the great honour of performing at my charity photo exhibition at The Oak House.
So looking forward to the 3rd of May and here my is look back back over the years of Kristy in action.

Andrew Lock

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Fairport Convention with Izzie Derry

News

It is a particular pleasure to report a gig which features not only artists who are as important in the history of popular music as Fairport Convention are, but also an artist who has been reviewed several times in "Hot Music Live" magazine & has a track on our own "Hot Music Live Presents" album, namely Izzie Derry.

 

This is a fabulous reflection of the esteem in which Izzie is held & hopefully an important career step in terms of revealing to a much wider audience the talent known already to us locally & where she has been playing around the country.

 

It will be a magical night with "one of our own" sharing the stage with sublime musicians whose influence cannot be adequately measured & whose skills are beyond my abilities to capture when I come to try to review it I imagine.

See you there I hope...

Tickets are £25 from Temperance or via this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/262883197762088/

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"BLIND" by The Session

Review

Another great upcoming release which I have had the pleasure to have been able to listen to for the last few weeks has been the new, Leamington recorded, single "BLIND" from top local band The Session

 

The Session describe themselves as a "band of post-modern chaotic minstrels who will take you on a journey through urban fables, mixing tales of hobos 'n' harlots, bigots 'n' sinners, and blokes they met in the woods....." which I find strong stuff but however is pretty accurate.

 

Big local live favourites (look out for upcoming gigs at the Earlsdon Festival, Coventry Motofest, Kineton Festival, Napton Festival, Overspload Festival and at the Tin), the band will probably be well known to many of you already, comprising Dean MacDonald (vocals & guitar), Sheryl McClean (vocals & percussion), Dave Chambers (bass), Fred Frederson (it is possible you know this musician under other names too) on lead guitar & Ciaran Corkerry on drums.

When I first played this compelling song, it seemed so immediate & confiding it almost seemed to me to be a solo recording: it is so well arranged & produced that the foregrounding of Dean's voice emphasises the essence of the song really well. A second listen revealed of course many other elements which complement what I first heard (& made me feel a bit foolish), offering texture & providing depth. Nevertheless when Dean told me that the track contained as many as seven musicians playing eleven instruments (including a mellotron) I was both shocked & impressed.  Cue a reviewer returning to listen & try to pick out the eleven: I can't but it was great fun trying & if you do, you have the pleasure of exploring the subtleties of the song & admiring the taste of said arrangement & production. In fact as soon as you hear it, you'll probably notice quicker than I did that it builds swiftly into a "big" sound which gives it great power, but you still have to work hard to deconstruct it & to discern how they did it.

"BLIND" is performed in Nashville tuning, which is appropriate given that the lyrics are quite "country": very personal & confessional, yearning even. However forget a Southern States musical setting: this comes, if it comes from any particular place, from England's North West.  Bits of Bunnymen drift through the soundscape until suddenly the clouds part for a while & we get a Beatley passage (I think we can work out that this is where the mellotron comes in). I also think of Ian Broudie in terms of the pop sensibility & layered sounds, of Richard Ashcroft too.... but all I am doing here is trying to offer the reader reference points. The Session are just too good to be anything other than their own people.

 

This is very much the most "pop" Session record & it does grab you: I'd hope it works its considerable charms on a great many other people too...

"BLIND" is available from May 1st   on I Tunes, Deezer & Spotify for a mere 79p

 

Look out too for the Session on "Hot Music Live Presents" later in 2019

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Naomi Beth at the Magic Lantern

Review

This gig was, for me & I know many others (the venue was packed), including the star, an eagerly anticipated one.

 

Ever since I first saw Naomi Beth perform as support for Taylor-Louise at this venue in February, it was abundantly clear that this was a special talent emerging in our midst (the audience that night certainly thought so) & it was great that she was able to return so soon to headline her first major gig.

 

As noted in my February review, she started that night expressing trepidation & grew enormously over the course of only a few minutes: soaring in fact. Last night again she expressed initial nerves & again she transcended them at once. In fact it was an astounding feat especially given the context of her career. Naomi Beth completely owned the space, the audience & concert. She had two "support" acts: local star Taylor-Louise & her friend from studying in Barcelona, Isabel Horner: however neither performed solo sets: each dueted with Naomi Beth (to excellent effect), so she sang every single number in the whole gig. Now how may performers of considerably greater live performance experience carry that off?

Naturally this meant that her voice was in great form with exquisite melodic singing again accompanied by her own effective guitar playing, with, as noted in February, the former given (rightly so) precedence and even the odd a cappella passage. This was an excellent opportunity too for her to display her full range of original material (plus some delightfully arranged covers) beyond the limited number she had time for in her earlier appearance & encompassing more than the tracks on her "Parallel Lines" EP which was reviewed in this magazine (it was good how she gave such detailed credit to her producer, David John of Stone Bear Records and of course "Hot Music Live Presents")

 

Between songs Naomi Beth gave us equally detailed descriptions of the genesis of each original song (another aspect of her rapport with the audience) and this was a good reminder of the very many layers of Naomi Beth beyond her music.  She is passionately interested in mental health issues & their interrelation with music and the other arts (in fact check Naomi Beth out on Abbey Radio from 12-2 on a Friday where she has started (co)hosting a show on mental well being & music etc: you'll find it fascinating & perhaps helpful. I do) and this very firmly informs her writing. The beauty of the songs, the beauty of their performance & the meaning within them, amplified by the intimate space, is capable of having a transformative effect on one's mood & mindset. I can testify to that.

This is an artist on a swiftly moving upwards trajectory. Bearing in mind her many other interests & talents including dance & poetry, her broadcasting commitments and everything else, I hope she can fit in many more gigs like this & that if you haven't yet experienced one, that you may. I know I certainly intend to.

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Bill Laurance looks to the future

Interview

"It's a personal exploration. I'm discovering my own voice, my own sound all the time", explains Bill Laurance of his latest solo album, Cables.

Released via his own label, Flint, the instrumental collection (out now) finds the Snarky Puppy collective member and composer surrounding his trademark piano with electronic textures, beats and sequencers that takes him beyond jazz, and into new realms.

"I think it's definitely more electronic than anything I've made before, and it's also the first concept album I've made," he says.

Inspired by the rapid growth of technology and the ideas of futurist Ray Kurzweil, Bill imagines a world, in the not too distant future, where there's no line between man and machine, and sentient computers are a reality.

In keeping with this idea, Bill's current tour - which visits Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, on 27 April 2019 - sees the man the Guardian dubbed a 'jazz maestro' temporarily ditch his trio format for a solo set.

"It is total freedom, you can go wherever you want at any point," he enthuses. "A profound thing, really, which I'm enjoying more and more every night."

After the tour concludes in May, there's more Snarky Puppy (their latest LP is out now and there's UK dates set for the autumn), plus several commissions and releases that explore the big band format. There'll also be a new solo record further down the line, but at present Bill is too in the thick of it to envisage how the experience of Cables may influence his approach.

"If you're dealing in any creative world I think technology, and using technology, is an important part, and has to be an important part, of what we do," he says.

"But that said I'm equally interested in doing another album that will be just acoustic. Seeing where that goes.

"That was what this album was s'posed to be! I said I wanted to do a solo piano album, and Cables was the result!" he laughs.

  • Bill Laurance plays Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, on Saturday 27 April 2019. Supported by James Heather. Details: www.warwickartscentre.co.uk


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