Last Acoustic session of the year at Newbold Chapel.

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Last Acoustic session of the year at Newbold Chapel.

Acoustic Session at the Chapel

The second of what is now to be the norm, i.e. acoustic concerts took place on Friday 9th December, at the lovely Chapel, Newbold. There were aspects of the last one that I didn't like so much. This time I thought it was great. It was short and sweet this time and best of all it was FREE. Big Help Music's Christmas gift to the community. There is normally a £5 cover charge, the concerts are well worth the money I might add.

First on was an ailing Bethia Mitchell. What a trooper, clearly under the weather, she gave as good a performance as I have ever heard from her. A writer of her own songs who has toured both the UK and USA music scenes, this delightful young lady opened with one of them, "Love and Gin". This combination has often smoothed the wheels of what turned out to be a good evening. This night was no exception. Her second number was a cover of a well known Queen hit "Somebody to love" one of Freddy Mercury's finest. Bethia's version lacked the rhythm back line and the gospel choir, but it matched the original in power of performance. In my notes I wrote two words "passionate performance" and so it proved to be. Bethia's clarion voice gave all the power required to convey the plea in the song with feeling. "Can, can you find me somebody? Somebody, somebody, somebody to love? Can you find me somebody to love?" The passion made it a moving rendition of a song we all know so well, but sung with the backing of only her guitar, the pathos of the message was deeply felt.

The next song was hardly formed it was so new, indeed she had not even settled on a title. For the moment it is dubbed "From here" but by this time next week it could be called something else. It is a generally optimistic song and we shall see how it develops. Bethia's final song before she dashed off to her sick bed was a lovely composition about her Grandfather. Johnny "The Yorkshireman", was a good old boy who was happy with his simple life in Yorkshire and the refrain containing the line "Get your cap and your pipe, have another smoke with your old chum" pretty well tells the story of the song. It is a fine observation of her elderly Grandfather by a young woman and evocative of how life used to, and sometimes continues to be, for the older members of her family.

A young lady of slightly more tender years then took over the stage, Ffion Rebecca had a superb voice and song writing talent to match. This sixteen year-old's first song was one which is to be released on her forthcoming EP for which pre-ordering is available here: for the bargain price of £2.76 It is also available from iTunes, but the buying experience is a lot more complicated than from Amazon. Thus we sat and listened as Ffion sang to us about "Love away from home" this song together "Hidden Beauty" about the stars at night and indeed "Two baby birds" form the first three songs on the EP with a cover of Adele's "A Million years ago" bringing the total to four. That means it costs less than seventy pence a track. When I was a teenager a 7" vinyl 45 rpm record cost five shillings (around £5 today) we thought that was cheap and that only had two songs on it!

Two more originals "Blue eyed boy" and "Addictive" followed before we got to the first cover of her set, "A million years ago" by Adele. I notice many young girl singers like Adele songs, as indeed do I, but I hope that while they aspire to emulate her success, they eschew her potty mouth. As it is Christmas (nearly) there was an obligatory yuletide song and what better than the definitive "Christmas song?" She was accompanied by Dutch Van Spall on guitar for many of her songs and in the closing bars of this one I enjoyed the cameo appearance of "Jingle Bells" When a musician can work one song into another without disturbing the flow of the first, you know he is the master of his instrument. No Ffion Rebecca set would be complete without "California Dreaming" and so it proved to be this night. She really does enjoy singing this 1965 song written by John and Michelle Phillips. Did you know that the Mamas and Papas who had a big hit with it later on, actually sang backing vocals on the original? No I didn't either. There you go, you never stop learning in life.

Rachel Cameron is a hard working girl, not only does she work on PR for BHM, she has launched her own singing career, with the support of her Dad on guitar, and she is studying classical piano at the same time. Her first contribution to the Christmas spirit was a rendition of "In the bleak midwinter" which she started off acapella. That is extremely difficult to do if you are later to be joined by a musical accompaniment. During the song I noticed glances passing back and forth between Ewan and Rachel so I knew something was happening, but was not quite sure what. It later transpired that she had sung the verses in the wrong order. If she hadn't admitted it, I'm sure that no-one would have noticed. Rachel's voice has a tonality that displays depth and precision as well as quality. I love hearing her sing.

Ewan stepped away from the stage for the next song whilst Rachel confronted her 76 note piano keyboard. She bought this to advance her classical music studies and it serves her well in her singing too. I notice that Imagine Dragons' songs are often covered by young artists. To me they are relatively recent, having only been high in the public eye since 2012, but if you are eighteen, they will have been around most of your teenage years, so are likely to have a lot of influence on what you like. Thus we were treated to their song "Bleeding out" This contains the lines " Cause I'm bleeding out, So if the last thing that I do, Is to bring you down, I'll bleed out for you" Which on the face of it does not seem to be a laudable discourse to be having, but perhaps I misunderstand.

Rachel Then sang and spoke "Lonely this Christmas" which was a Christmas hit for the British band "Mud" before being covered later by the king himself, Elvis Presley. Normally bands cover Elvis songs rather than the other way round. It has lovely spoken section in the middle which Rachel delivers more as a conversation than just speaking the lyrics. She brought out the real meaning of the song and it was superb.

Christina Perri's "The Lonely" was the penultimate song in the concert, it is a sad, reflective and possibly inward looking composition viz: " I'm the ghost of a girl that I want to be most. I'm the shell of a girl that I used to know well." Not the most uplifting music to finish a concert on, so we reverted to tradition for "The Parting Glass" which has been around in various forms for centuries. and a song doesn't last that long unless it is good. As I have said before I look forward to hearing Rachel sing this song with the backing of her Dad's band "Floot Street". Perhaps if I keep going on about it, one day they'll do it. Here's hoping.

The intimate atmosphere of the Chapel came to the fore with this concert, partly due to a slightly smaller audience than in the past. This was perhaps partially a result of the time of the concert being changed and some people not getting the message. If this is the case, it is a pity because those that were not there missed a splendid concert. The next one is on February 10th 2017, there being no show in January. There is the fabulous Fred's House a superb band from Cambridge coming who have never done an acoustic gig before, so it should be really worthwhile. Details on how to book seats will be published in the new year.


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