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.