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'Hot Music Live Presents Volume Six'

News

Today saw the release of "Hot Music Live Presents Volume Six", the follow up to the previous five albums in the series: another free download album of the best of Coventry & Warwickshire music compiled by "Hot Music Live".

The aim of the project remains to encourage fans of each artist to download the album, enjoy the music, discover artists they might not previously have encountered & ultimately to share the album so that the wonderful creativity & diversity of Coventry & Warwickshire music becomes known to wider audiences, boosting the profile of the individual artists.

With Volume Six, as with its immediate predecessors, we are acutely aware that most local artists have lost their live gig opportunities for many months & hence vital income: this initiative therefore helps keep the profile of those on it high while offering their fans the pleasure of hearing their music, much of which is only available exclusively on the album.

Please do check out the album, download it, share it will everyone you think might be interested and if you enjoy the work of an artist whom you may not previously have heard, explore their other work: hopefully buying some tracks and catching them live when possible.

 "Hot Music Live Presents Volume Six" is available for free download from this link:

https://hotmusiclivepresents.bandcamp.com/album/hot-music-live-presents-volume-six

 

The full tracklisting for ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Six' is: 

"LOUD" by Electrik Custard featuring Mina Minné

"All I Do (Dream of You" by YNES

"Inflamed" by Dean MacDonald

"Amy, You Wasted That Spark" by Nicky Ager

"Christmas in July" by Gemma Leahy

"Angel of Anarchy" by The Boy Who Invented Everything

"Freiston Shore" by The Sunbathers

"Room For One More" by Holly and the Hounds

"Oops (Acoustic)" by Ivy Ash

"Cold Strange World" by Brudez

"Addiction" by Aaron Woodhouse

"Blackberry Blossom" by Tile Hill Billy

"Drunken Sailor" by Firedaze

"I Don't Wanna" by Electric Blue

"Magic" by Jackie James

"All I Wanna Do" by Dave Pepper

"Auriga" by MINTAKAA

"Bad Faith" by Clarkwell Rivers

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'Leamington LAMP Album Volume 1'

Review

I appreciate that I've introduced reviews before saying that I'm excited about them, but I'm afraid it's the truth: I review what excites me, moves me or impresses me. Believe me I do hear stuff which does nothing for me & believe me also that I can't write anything about it.

Today's article focuses on ‘The LAMP Album', courtesy of the Leamington LAMP project (with funding by Youth Music), which, in their own words "was established as an alternative education provider in 2013. We specialise in working with young people with autism and/or high anxiety that struggle in mainstream education settings. We work with 14-19 year olds, some of whom may have been out of the education system for some time. The team continue to develop LAMP's alternative education practice using our award winning ingredients:

  • Switching young people back to learning by empowering them through their own ideas and creativity
  • Providing access to cutting edge facilities
  • Engaging young people in the planning of their education

As well as being proud winners of the National Autistic Society Professionals Award 2019, LAMP were also winners of the 2019 Education Award and were shortlisted for the National Association of Special Educational Needs Awards 2019".

which impressed me a great deal before I even heard the music from a dozen of the young musicians with whom they are working. As a teacher myself in a previous existence, I highly respect what they are doing, which is part of the excitement and I feel reviewing this collection fits in beautifully with what "Hot Music Live Presents" aims to do: tell you about great, and above all original, music which you might not pick up on quite as quickly via traditional media.

I'm especially chuffed to see on the album a track by Niamh Toni who has already appeared on the "Hot Music Live Presents" series of local compilations (on Volume Four with her collaboration with Travis Waddell, "Pretty Little Lies") and another by Electric Blue (whose song "I Don't Wanna" is on Volume Six) and that we are planning to include at least one, if not more of the other contributors on future albums: it's good to be working along the same lines as another local organisation to support such talents.

As the sleeve notes make clear "all the music on this album is made by neurodiverse young people. We set out to dispel the myth that young neurodiverse people are not creative. This album is evidence that this ain't true". And it certainly does. What I'd like however to add to this are a couple of general thoughts of my own. Firstly, I am struck by the diversity of styles across these tracks. The younger you are, the greater the probability is that you've not yet fully explored the many genres and styles out there & I fully understand why young artists can often, at the start of their careers, model their own early writing on artists whom they admire: or indeed the peers they are working closely with. Well that might be so with these young musicians but the evidence is quite the opposite: it points much more towards an openness of approach, a willingness to take on various styles and not be influenced unduly by others and above all a confidence to write in their own authentic voices.  All of which is of great credit to each of them and also I suspect to the creative environment which LAMP has shaped for them. Secondly, I must emphasise that these are young musicians and their work needs at the moment to be judged in that context: every single one of them will develop in a variety of ways. All will grow as people and artists. Some may start exploring quite different musical styles, as is their right to do. All of them will hopefully be still making music in years to come and all of them will be creating even more mature work.

If we start then with Niamh Toni as a handy reference point for readers: on this album she offers us "Ghosts". If you've heard her previous track, you won't be at all surprised at the confidence and classiness of this one & I'm pleased to say that her breadth of writing ability is proven by it being a rather different style: more sixties pop in some ways (the sound reminded me a little of Dusty Springfield though her voice is quite different) but with definitely up to date content: a bit like "Pretty Little Lies", it seeks to call another out on their behaviour but what especially impressed me was the lyric writing: articulate, unafraid to use longer words not necessarily used too often in pop songs (like Abz Winter does).

"Ghosts" was recorded at 14 Records, as was another track on the album, namely "Misery" by Electric Blue. This is a stunningly beautiful song with a building melody you could imagine had been around forever & delivered with another confident vocal performance which took my breath away: classy stuff. Like much else in the collection, this song could easily hold its own in the company of material written by adults.

Perhaps the musician on the album who has already received the most immediate accolades is Avery Green who has won the Royal Blood Scholarship 2020 to study for a BA (Hons) Career Musician degree at Water Bears College in Brighton: and this is an award for a single recipient each year. Avery has also been shortlisted for the Youth Music Awards later this year (as has Neko). On this album, Avery's track "Dichotomy" (as with Niamh Toni's song, you have to applaud the vocabulary alone) demonstrates how he won the scholarship. A carefully constructed rock track which showcases his ability to play in a number of styles (hence the title I assume) on guitar, it manages to be accessible enough to escape the obvious trap of self indulgence of such an approach: in that it reminded me of the solo work of John Connearn, though their styles are very different.

Fellow Youth Music Awards nominee Neko has in fact got two tracks on the album: "Whachuherd" (yes that's how it is spelled) and "Danbo". If Avery has been using the thesaurus, then Neko seems to be creating a new vocabulary altogether. He describes his work as varying "..between Dubstep and Future Trap" and at this point I must say that the inadequacies of this writer as a reviewer of contemporary music become apparent: these are not genres I know much about (and youth should have its musical styles which older generations did not fully grasp). The two tracks certainly impress me with their imagination and hopefully Neko will have reviewers with the right vocabulary to properly do the music justice in future.

The other musician with two tracks is Gxth Marley (and once again I can confirm the spelling): "Nexus" and "Space". I really enjoyed these two tracks, which I'm going to describe as ambient (my apologies to Gxth if I've misidentified the genre) and as noted above, I honestly can't tell any difference in artistic quality to say established acts such as Banco de Gaia.

I'm travelling through the album on a somewhat odd course, so I ought to rewind to the opener, "Who's That on the TV" by Lily Hayes: not least because I feel on much safer ground in finding the correct words to praise a style I know much more about. This compelling & witty punky track was certainly something I can connect with & this is an artist I'd happily go and see play live.

"We Sell Everything" by Harry Irvine likewise caught me instantly: a lively and charming piece which relies on a basic keyboard accompaniment for the main part, it reminded me of the 1976/8 explosion when maverick talents such Wreckless Eric had a window of opportunity to release often lo-fi tracks of wit & individuality which stayed in the mind because of their originality and determination not to sound like anyone other than themselves.

With "Just Believe" by  Snooping Hog (great name) we are rapidly leaving my reviewing comfort zone again which is a shame as I really liked this song too: it deserves better reviewing. The haunting and frankly unsettling vocal is set over a backing to match it: one which defies my skills to adequately describe: it seems to have multiple loops which act together really effectively and evokes some of the more avant garde jazz tracks without every approaching self indulgence. This again could have been made by an artist twice her age and I would have believed it to be so.

"Fierce"  is by JFlo, another artist on the album who has received recognition beyond our area as he just had some of his lyrics published in a book about mental health by Rona Tutt (former President of the National Association of Head Teachers). You can hear why: words are clearly his forte and it takes multiple listens to appreciate them (he has a super fast delivery style). Had I realised that they were written in the excellent booklet before I did so, I might have spared myself a couple of extra plays but that would have lessened my pleasure. Yet again, the vocabulary used suggests that LAMP may be encouraging their artists to think outside the limited word sets used by so many artists: if so it certainly pays off in terms of enhancing originality & attracting attention.

"Tugzinoo" is by  Prod OJ who expresses enjoyment of producing a range of music including drill and melodic rap, neither of which could possibly be applied to this gentle & mindful guitar & woodwind centred  instrumental (ok the melodic bit could) which must surely indicate an artist with a broad range of interests & accomplishments and many possible roads down which to explore their talent.

"Project Big Hair" by  Ethan Dixon is an appropriately named track by an artist who is "..mainly interested in 80s hair metal bands such as Motley Crue, Dokken, Whitesnake and Winger…I would like to be in a touring 80s hair metal band in the near future." And he certainly has the guitar skills to do so. It's a bit of a shock to come across this genre amongst a collection of tracks by artists of this age group: but it shouldn't. What LAMP seem to be doing is to encourage artists to find themselves and be their genuine selves rather than to try to conform to the expectations of others: therefore diversity of this form is to be applauded.

The final track, "Jettatura" is by Weaponised Autism (and what a magnificent name: the defiance alone is to be applauded), and is a metalcore piece (featuring the previously mentioned Avery Green on guitar plus Jake Smith on drums and Joe Durrant on bass) and closes the collection with a bravura performance to leave you gasping.

Every person associated with this album deserves our respect: for many if not most of them, there will have been considerable challenges over many years to reach this point. For LAMP to be offering them the means and opportunity to express themselves in this way, against the backdrop of Government hostility towards funding arts education at any level & ignorance of its benefits is something the music scene in our area should raise its collective hat to. In all honesty, had LAMP presented me with this album with no contextual information, I would have assumed it to be a collection such as we put together for "Hot Music Live Presents": certainly not purely young musicians and certainly not those situated in the context that they are. This is not marginal music by members of a marginal group: this is excellent music by objective standards and utterly proves the point the compilers set out to prove. Any marginalisation lies in the narrow mindedness of those who probably won't be reading this sadly.

Finally, it's worth noting that I deliberately held back part of the album title above: this album is "Volume 1" and we look forward to its successor, due out later this year.

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Godiva Festival 2017: a personal perspective

Review

I have spent a couple of weeks trying to figure out how on earth to capture my Godiva Festival 2017 experience in one concise article (I was there all three days and saw many acts, all of whom merit mention).

 

Readers will therefore hopefully forgive me if I try this approach. I was based for the Festival at the Acoustic Stage and caught various acts on other stages. I imagine that many others will have written about Main Stage acts and indeed Rhythm Tent ones, so I think I'll avoid detailed reviews of those areas & concentrate on the local acts which I saw more of & which honestly I feel deserve our particular attention.

 

Godiva is in fact a tremendous festival for local music: I was shocked at the poor coverage of the festival in one major local media outlet, once known for its excellent coverage of local talent (but no longer), whose reports gave the impression that only one stage (the Main one) was in operation & only one act (a rock act from elsewhere in the country) played it. That band need no great extra publicity, but it would not hurt our emerging talent to have some...

We had 44 acts on the Acoustic Stage (organised by a team led by local music icon Sam McNulty) with the vast majority from Coventry & Warwickshire. "The coolest stage at the festival" said Sam. I wouldn't disagree. On the Community Stage, it was wholly fitting that the local acts featured were introduced by BBC Coventry & Warwickshire's Brody Swain whose local "Introducing" show does such a fantastic job in promoting local music. Equally, 2017 saw the Rhythm Tent transformed into the "Specialive Tent" on the Sunday, at last a Godiva stage to showcase the 2 Tone heritage specifically & who better to MC there than the greatest expert on local music, Pete Chambers?

I'd also like to raise my hat to BBC Coventry & Warwickshire a second time for four hours of live broadcast from the festival on the Saturday with live performances coming from local acts such as Viktoria, Shanade, the Folly Brothers  and Louie Forde and each being interviewed by Justine Greene & her enthusiastic & knowledgeable team. I think I can safely say that there cannot be any area in the country where opportunities for new artists is better supported by enough elements in the local music scene & media to make a real impact.

Once I get to this stage of the article we are in danger of a long list taking over, but I'll do my best to balance being succinct & yet paying deserved dues.

The performance by Army of Skanks in the Tent has rightly drawn a lot of media attention: this much admired band simply goes from strength to strength but even by their standards this was one of the highlights of the Festival.

On the Acoustic Stage, Izzie's stunning act on the Friday was another which had the knowledgeable buzzing: both musicians and music lovers were making appreciative noises.... Personally, I'd also like to see The Caprines gain the prominence they deserve: their rather new wave sound which bore comparisons at time with bands such as Talking Heads or Orange Juice (well comparisons that I and the person I watched their set with made) was another personal highlight.

 

On the Saturday, former Enemy bassplayer Andy Hopkins' new act Autopilot revealed their sound  to a great many people who were wondering what they would be like: my impression was certainly of massive approval.  Later on, on the same stage, it would be fair to say that the Voodoo Kings kicked up a right storm on a blisteringly hot afternoon and again, I picked up feelings that this was one of the most popular sets of the day.

 

Back at the Acoustic Stage, perhaps the two most "ear opener" sets were by King of the Alps and Bazza's Dispensable People. Most acts on this stage were solo artists or artists with backing musicians, but these two bona fide bands, each with a highly original sound made excellent impressions with the huge crowd around this small stage. I'd also advise you to catch the very distinctive and original sound of Viktoria if you can.

 

As the evening wore on, the heat started to dissipate & the dancing began, a triple whammy of local stars Danny Ansell, the Folly Brothers & Shanade played the superb sets we have come to expect from them & numerous folk hit the floor, or indeed lawn. Each delivered songs I have heard many times before but have I ever heard a more passionate version from Danny of "Drinking with the Band"? Equally the video of the intense version of "Love is A Lesson" by Shanade I posted online got loads of likes & appreciative comments including one from a musician with multiple number one hits in his CV....

 

Sunday saw Kiaya (who had played the Acoustic Stage on Friday) play her second set of the weekend on the Community Stage: it is always interesting when multiple organisations are spotting the same artists & they get multiple requests for sets.... Shows who the emerging stars may be.

Back on the Acoustic Stage Jade (accompanied on some numbers by local legend Baz Eardley) won many new fans & later another nice surprise was Taylor-Louise featuring Jools Street with his violin in her well received Festival closing set. Earlier, Nicky Ager was another artist whose performance had sections of the audience metaphorically purring.

A Sunday afternoon treat was a performance by a three piece version of local cult band Crokodile Tears with today Chris Sidwell being aided by Cabin Studios producer & multi-instrumentalist Alf Hardy and Hawklord Jerry Richards (plus, on the performance of "Egg & Chips", Sam McNulty). Chris' dedication of "Trains" to Pete Chambers & the Coventry Music Museum went down very well with many us.

And so to Pete himself, introducing a series of 2 Tone linked bands in the Tent and raising money for the "Specialised" charity (linked to the Teenage Cancer Trust). Great to see local legend Roddy Byers with his Skabilly Rebels, plus local live favourites Rooted & Booted: possibly the band which gained most new fans though may have been the Lloyd McGrath Collective.

To complete my list, other acts whom I'd suggest you look out for (they play locally) would include Caleb Murray, Laurence Wood, Ellie Gowers, Rich Keogh, Alex Norman, Calton Kelly, Louie Forde, Dan Cross, the Sons of Rest, Foxpalmer, James Temple, Pandora and Sophie O'Hara.

Well since the Festival ended, we now know that the attendance was a record. We also now know that Coventry has made the shortlist for the 2021 City of Culture selection. Both bode very well for the future of this great event & we look forwards next year to another bumper festival. We'll see many new acts I know. I look forwards to catching again many I saw this year and indeed catching them in other venues in the meantime. Knowledgeable people were saying that a number of Acoustic Stage acts should be considered for the Main Stage or Rhythm Tent in 2018 which would be great. In any event, I wish all the acts I saw the success & progress they deserve.

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Fourteen years of the Tump Folk Club.

14 years at the Tump

There are not too many folk clubs that can boast fourteen years of continuous existence having met every week since inception. However the Tump Folk Club which meets at the Humber pub in Coventry can claim just that. The club origins include a couple of years as the White Lion Folk Club meeting in the pub of that name in Brinklow Warwickshire. It was run at that time by Jayne Lloyd. However fourteen years ago, when a change of venue was required, they decided not to name the club after a venue but acquire a moniker which they could carry with them so to speak. So the club became the "Tump" after the remains of the Motte & Bailey fort which stands in the village. At this point, Karen Orgill took over the running of the club and remains in charge today. They meet every week alternating between a "concert night" and a "singaround." Karen does all the booking and takes care of every aspect of the club almost singlehandedly.

So it was that a talented bunch of artists collected at the Humber pub in Humber Road Coventry to celebrate fourteen years of the Tump Folk Club on Thursday 13th July 2017. Just for once Karen had a night off, letting 31 year old Kristy Gallacher a talented singer/songwriter and music teacher run the evening. Kristy, (who doesn't look a day over twenty and yet has released several albums on her own label, Broken Player Records.) opened proceedings herself with Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" in which she exhibited a dextrous left hand on the guitar which was a delight to observe. She followed that with an original "Bandwagon" and ending her short set with Elton Kohn's "Levon" which I think it is fair to say is not one of his biggest hits. This is a pity because Coventry girl Kristy's treatment of it gives it an appeal not seen before. one reviewer said of our host this evening, "... an amazingly tender singing voice, Kristy Gallacher's songs of bitter-sweet heartbreak stand her out as one of the best singer songwriters in London." I can do no more than wholeheartedly agree. We were disappointed not to hear more from her later in the evening.

Rob Oakley runs his own music nights elsewhere Coventry, yet is a stalwart and regular performer at the Tump. He entertained us next with "The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde" which he followed with James Taylor's "Carolina In My Mind." John B Smith is best known around the circuit as a superb concert photographer. This night, in view of the celebrations he was persuaded to take to the stage himself. He read a hilarious but at the same time, sad poem lamenting the nature of news as depicted in the tabloid press, where an obsession with Kim Kardashian's derriere overrides more important news items.

A young lady new to me, Amelia Gascoigne-Roberts sang two of her own songs, "Growing" and second which depicted a relationship which wasn't going to end well. Her soft melodic voice defying the nature of the songs. Another regular contributor to the singarounds at the Tump is local poet Ray. He read two of his own works, the first is one with which many of us could indentify. "Head Like A Sieve" tells of someone who (for example) goes into a room and forgets why they have done so. The second entitled "Time" a piece bemoaning the fact that time rushes away from us and having done so, we can never catch it. On other occasions when we wish it were not so, it drags it's feet and hangs heavy. Ray is a intellectual who delves not only into the meaning of words themselves, but in the pictures they paint.

Terry and Jan are a couple who sing and play their guitars in a slightly jazzy style. They surprised me by presenting "Dark Eyes" which in it's original form is a Ukranian romantic folk song. It has been covered by the likes of Chet Atkins and Max Jaffa as instrumentals and by popular singers of the 1930's like Al Bowlley. Terry described the scene of a gypsy encampment at night where as the fire embers begin to fade, this song is performed to the accompaniment of Spanish guitars. Their own guitars and voices reflected this picture completely and for a while we were transported to a more romantic setting than the back room of an urban pub. A trip to the Appalachian mountains then for "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" a folk song from the Americas gave them the opportunity to demonstrate their delicate guitar skills admirably.

Wilson Wright are a couple who each have a history in country/indie folk music. They opened their set with a Steeldrivers song "If It Hadn't Been For Love" which got things off to a cracking start. Hilary has recently undergone some surgery and on the day, whilst waiting for the hour to arrive, wishing she was somewhere else, she wrote "Clover Fields" a wishful, slightly dreamy and thoughtful characterisation of being out and finding a four leaf clover. Apparently the odds of finding one are around 10,000:1 but then you might find a cluster of them. The James Taylor's excellent songbook is (rightly) never far away when Wilson Wright perform and "You Can Close your Eyes" gave them ample opportunity to display how their voices combine to produce beautiful harmonies. This was followed by another Hilary composition, "Sweet And Tough Life." Closing their set was Christy Moore's "Ride On" in which the audience were invited to participate. John and Hilary are always entertaining and it was a pleasure to see them again.

Before the concert started, John Wright told me that Cliff Hands was "very good". This turned out to be an definite understatement. For a Dylanesque commentary of working class life which is very well observed, Cliff's songs are hard to beat. However we almost didn't get to hear any of them for, as he sat down to play, a string broke on his guitar. Kristy Gallacher lent him hers on the strict proviso that he took care of it. I am so glad she did. It is impossible to record here just how accurately Cliff's songs reflect work and life around the local factories. If you do not pay careful attention to the lyrics of his work, you miss so much. There is so much in them that it requires a listening audience. The knowledgeable crowd gathered in the Humber rapidly became such an audience and it paid dividends. The songs are so complex and far reaching that more than one hearing is a must. As a consequence I came away with two of his CD's.

The show closers, were that irrepressible trio, Nunc. Three vocalists and one guitar doesn't begin to describe the energy that they exhibit. As it says on their website, they were formed in November 2014, they are Flossy McDougall, Geoff Veasey and John Kearney. Flossy sang and recorded previously in Pennyroyal along with Linda Dickson and Sue Dixon. Geoff sang and recorded previously with Black Parrot Seaside. John is a respected singer/songwriter originally from Cork, with a previous background in pretty well everything from Punk to Country. They are the hosts at Nuneaton Folk Club and having now seen them on two occasions, a visit is overdue. If their act is anything like the nights at the club, then it would seem that a good time is on the cards. Community singing is high on their agenda and this was demonstrated by the country and western song, "We're All Gonna Die Some Day." They are not averse to as they put it "messing around with songs." Thus a Crosby Stills & Nash "Mash up" was soon on the cards. The Nunc forte is to sing familiar songs and get the audience singing along. Thus Crowded House's "Weather With You" and Bob Dylan's "Knocking On Heaven's Door" soon get an airing. I particularly liked "Angel From Montgomery" probably best known as a hit from Bonnie Rait. To close the show John tells the story of how Bob Marley, after a show in Birmingham (UK) got involved in a lock in at an Irish music pub in Chelmsley Wood and performed a song which was a mixture of "Wild Rover" and "Don't Worry" ('bout a thing). Is the story true? Who knows? Who cares? it was a lot of fun and good finish to celebrate the birthday of a long established and well respected folk club. Long live "The Tump" which meets EVERY Thursday at 8.00pm at The Humber in Humber Road Coventry.

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Blues at the Cape

Folk On The Water Music Festival

The mid term night of this travelling music festival was held at the Cape of Good Hope pub in Warwick. It had a mega list of skilled musicians all supporting the cause of Zoe's Place the only specialist baby specific hospice in the midlands. First up was Charlie Blackwood (Charlie B) now well established as a solo artist following some years experience in boy bands. Sadly we missed his set, because the bill was so packed with talented acts who wanted to support this wonderful charity, they had to kick off early. That and the fact that not only the pub, but the moorings, the lockside, even the lock itself was packed with people keen to hear the music.

Belarusian Katrin Leoni started her set with an Eva Cassidy song, "Fields of Gold". Like all the artists tonight, Katrin and her guitarist Chris, were performing from the front cockpit of the boat so generously donated by Kate Boats of Warwick and Stockton. Without their help the longest summer music festival would have difficulty in moving all the equipment from venue to venue. Katrin included two of her own songs in her set. Her recently released EP entered the iTunes Blues Chart at #1 beating all-comers, some of which were star names. She tells a slightly self deprecating story about the day she heard the news. As a new young driver in a foreign land, she keeps the "P" plates on her car, in the hope that other drivers might make allowances for her. So proud as punch about the EP, she pulled up to the Drive -thru window of a well-known burger establishment local to her house and the server said "Oh congratulations by the way." Katrin puffed herself up with pride, "You heard about my record being number one then." "Oh No!" said the girl, "I meant on passing your driving test!" The fact that she can laugh at herself is an indication of what a super girl she is. Talented too.

Self penned music was a theme throughout the show, we heard many an original composition tonight of a quality that makes the products aired on mainstream radio, sound factory made. Jack Blackman from Alcester has visited the Mississippi Delta and been informed, "Son we can't teach you nuttin about playing the blues." yet he in his self effacing manner claims not to be a blues player. Yeah right! Anyone hearing his "Hog Nose Gin" will lay that claim to waste right away. The origin of the blues is in the poor conditions in which the southern black people were caused to be living. Jack has his own view of the world generating blues with a more modern, "I'm No Stranger To Misery". His introduction to this song was rather more robust than can be printed here, but suffice to say we all got the message. His eight song set was pure delight.

I haven't see Megan Kelsey for almost a year and as soon as knew she was on the bill, it became imperative that I was there. This young lady from Nottingham has a haunting and expressive sound, quite different to many artists of today. She writes a lot of her own material and tells us that she always starts with the music and then puts lyrics to that. She opened her set with London Grammar's "Stay Awake with me". She then took us into territory originally occupied by The Smiths, Coldplay and Calvin Harris & Disciples, before introducing a song from an act which was new to me: Daughter. I must move in different circles to Megan as I had not heard of them nor their song "Youth" which paints a desolate picture of a teenager's view of life. The way Megan performs this, it has a soulful feel. A brief dip into the Radiohead songbook for "Karma Police" before her own composition, "In My Blood", a song that has a special place in my heart as it arouses emotions that are difficult to control even in public. It is my favourite of all her compositions.

Jack Blackman contends that Mark Harrison has more acceptance than he as a blues guitarist because he has a better beard. I suspect that Mark has a few more beard growing years under his belt so to speak. He also has a sardonic wit which he uses to introduce his all-original songs. Although in a performed in a largely blues style, they gaze at modern concepts and problems, often in a humorous way. One such is "Hardware Store" where the subject is too afraid to enter a ironmonger's shop as he is so hopeless at DIY. Another which he claims is banned by the BBC in case someone actually does what is suggest in the song and sues them. The fact that the advice is that should there be no good liqueur available, then you could always drink turpentine, might indicate that there could be an element of truth in Mark's claim. He also brought along his slide guitar in the form of a Dobro and amongst others, he sang "Hooker's Song" which may not be what you're thinking. This is because it is all about John Lee Hooker the legendary American blues, singer songwriter and guitarist. Harris' lyrics indicate an astute and philosophical man as the lyrics contain the line: "If you hit me in the face, I'm gonna fall down on the ground. It won't matter to me if you think you're heaven bound." It goes on, "This is Hooker's song and he knew the truth." Mark's final offering of the night was his own composition, "Panic Attack" which served to display his dexterity on his chosen instrument. This was the first time I had seem Mark Harrison, it is a delight to know that he is local, so the chances of hearing him again are pretty high. Until then I have his new CD "Turpentine".

Folk on the Water 2017 continues until 1st July where there is a double bill with two (different) performances (afternoon and evening) At the Folly Inn Napton. Sounds like a good day with artists both local and national putting in appearances. As with most of these gigs, availability of the performers to the audience is a major part of their attraction. Talk to them, you will find they are real people and friendly with it.

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International Children's Games Gala

Every year for the past 21 years (with one exception) Coventry have sent city children to compete in the International Children's Games.
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Music at the Fusilier

Music at the Fusilier 20th January 2017The first of the regular Big Help Music's showcases in 2017 at the Fusilier in Sydenham, Leamington took ...
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Big Help Showcase at the Bear

Big Help Music showcase at the Bear 13th January 2017Rather later in the month than usual, the first BHM showcase was held at the Bear, in Bilton, ...
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Willow and Tool's Music Parlour

Willow And Tool's Music Parlour 8th January 2017.
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Last Acoustic session of the year at Newbold Chapel.

Acoustic Session at the ChapelThe second of what is now to be the norm, i.
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Big Help Music Christmas Show

There are Christmas Shows, CHRISTMAS SHOWS!, Then there is the Big Help Music Christmas Show.
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Music at the Bear

Music at the Bear.
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Folk at the Chapel

The old Methodist Chapel at Newbold on Avon in the last couple of years has taken on a new lease of life.
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