Music at the Fusilier
Music at the Fusilier 20th January 2017
The first of the regular Big Help Music's showcases in 2017 at the Fusilier in Sydenham, Leamington took place on Friday 20th, with artists both local and international putting in performances.
First up was 14 year old Kelliemarie Willis from Ryton on Dunsmore. This remarkable girl writes the majority of her own songs and always accompanies herself on her guitar upon which she shows exceptional dexterity. Taking the stage in with her long red hair cascading over her shoulders, she looked cool in her white top and regulation torn jeans. Kelliemarie is growing up. I have been watching her for a couple of years now and each time I see her I get more impressed. She has some big times coming with a TV series shortly going to air in the UK, (Watch this space). She also has an EP coming out in March for which there is to be a launch party at the Rialto in Coventry.
Kelliemarie opened her set with one of the few covers that she sang, "Stay" which was a hit for Barbadian singer, Rihanna. It was a good opener, although I prefer her own work such as "I got you" and "Under the same star" which quickly followed it. Her second cover, Sam Smith's "Stay with me" allowed us the opportunity to see her delicate fingers dance over the fret board of her Martin guitar complemented by intricate right hand fingering. The maturity of her lyrics coupled with the musicianship she shows in songs like "You're not mine" and "Better on my own" leave me in awe in a talent so young.
Tazmin Barnes (also 14) is someone whose life is spent partially in the UK and sometimes in China, where her father works. She speaks mandarin as well as English with a delightful mix of American and Irish accents. A product of attending the International School in Beijing and the influences of her antecedents. Tazmin too has spent recent times writing her own songs. I hadn't seen her for several months and now I have done so twice in seven days. She gained the stage looking quite the rocker in her jeans and leather jacket. Indeed, Tazmin opened her set with one of her own, entitled, "Same old Keys" which was quickly followed by "Rather be" the Clean Bandit original with Tazmin taking the Jess Glynn part to good effect. One of the tracks to be included on her forthcoming EP to be released on 17th March is Lady Gaga's "Million reasons," there is a video of this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyUaFJ4s8Do.
Another two songs from her own pen "Where did the love go?" and "Trapped" supplemented Adele's melancholic "When we were young", which takes a strong voice to do justice it. Tazmin did this in style as she did with the Taylor Swift song of that name. In the months during which our paths did not cross, Tazmin has developed her own style of performance, dancing around the stage using a hand microphone, this heightens the appreciation of her audience. This feeling is reflected back over the lights as she really does love what she is doing, primarily because she is so good at it.
Lorna Dea comes to us from Yorkshire via Tamworth. Her speciality is Soul and Motown but interspersed with some well loved standards. This tall leggy girl dressed all in black commands the stage. I don't ever remember seeing her wearing a dress, perhaps they are not her "thing." When not engaged as a singer in her own right, she is a voice coach for the younger singers in the Big Help Academy, runs song writing workshops and is a model, as well as having a "proper job." Her cheerful friendly persona reaches out to the most inattentive of audiences and she soon has then on her side. Lorna belted out, the Dusty Springfield hit of yesteryear "Son of a Preacher man." I didn't tell her that I am old enough to remember that first coming out, indeed I was married and had two sons!
Smokey Robinson provided her second number "Tracks of my tears" in which pathos is a big element along the lines of the universal story of tears of a clown. Cheerful outside, but hurting inside. Two of her own songs which feature the EP she issued last year found their welcome way into her set. One, "My King" the essence of which is telling any prospective suitor, "you can be my Prince, but my Dad will always be my King." As a father myself, I fully endorse that sentiment. Lorna is currently writing her second EP which should be released later this year. I like Lorna both as a performer and as a person, I love her sense of humour which comes across to those in her company. I always look forward to seeing a show in which she taking part.
Keeping up the International feel of the show, our final performer entertainer was Katrin McCall, who hails from Belarus via Evesham. Katrin immediately bounced into Joan Osborne's 1995 hit, "One of us." She was accompanied throughout her set by her friend Chris who plays a mean guitar. The Cranberries' protest song "Zombie" followed with a spirited contribution from Chris. His ability to make his guitar sound so much more than a single instrument is a real asset to the performance. I must admit that I had never given The Cranberries song too much attention, it really is anti-war and having been written by a woman is all the more poignant in the light of the women of the world rising up in the last few days in more organised protests than perhaps hitherto.
Katrin, like the rest of the artists on the bill writes her own material. She told us that when she moved from Belarus, she very much missed her family left behind particularly her younger sister, so she wrote "Never too far" about being separated across the continent. A funky "Sunday morning" (Maroon 5) brought us back home, I suppose a feeling of lost love provides a lot of material for songs and this song is typical of that genre. Katrin at this point had to deal with an admirer from the audience who decided that he simply had to go up on stage and commend her on her performance. She was in no danger, but it was a bit embarrassing for her, but she dealt with the interruption in a very gracious manner managing to not offend her groupie, but still getting him off the stage. Quite frankly I was not too surprised he attended her as she did cut a fine figure in her blue dress. Time was getting on and Katrin had to cut short her set so we missed the opportunity to sample two more of her own compositions, "Meet me in November" and "If this is love" I look forward to hearing them in the not too distant future. The closing number was clearly a favourite of the crowd at The Fusilier, as she simply HAD to sing the Zutons' "Valerie" it was a fitting end to the show which had been well received by the audience at this popular canal side pub. I don't get down there too often, but the trip in the icy fog was well worth it.
It is no surprise to find quality entertainment when all four of the artists write their own songs and convey the emotions of them so well. Big Help Music visit The Fusilier and the Bear in Rugby on a monthly basis and provide shows such as this at no cost to the public. You can't get better value than that.