"Hush! A Wintertide Celebration"Review
It was very pleasing to report that the latest (and sadly final) collaboration between "Hot Music Live Presents" and Earlsdon Carnegie Community Library, "Hush! A Wintertide Celebration" featured exclusively HMLP artists: though, as you'll see, not necessarily all sharing their musical talents on this occasion.
First up was Katherine Abbott. It's always a bit of a surprise & sadness to me that some form of barrier seems to exist at times between the Coventry part of our local scene & the Warwickshire part with audiences in each not always experiencing the best available artists from across the board. This was Katherine's very first Coventry appearance despite her significant profile, particularly in the Stratford area & given how well she went down in front of an audience who with few exceptions had not previously enjoyed seeing her, hopefully it will be the first of very many.
The esteem in which she is held by those fortunate enough to know her work already was evidenced by her scintillating & hypnotic performance. Original artists possess sufficient individual characteristics which determine the best environments to appreciate their particular creativity, but in the case of Katherine, I'd definitely say that the Library venue, with no sonic interruptions such as you might expect in a bar, was the most appropriate. Her songs & delivery are as intimate as the space was & given the rapt focus and attention of those listening, her sound, channelled via the sound engineering skills of Wes Finch (aided on this occasion by Ben Haines), mesmerised all present.
"Lullaby for Lucas", which attracted much positive comment when it was shared via ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Nine', was something of a highlight of the set: not just in my opinion but in audience feedback, yet the rest of the set matched the intensity. Katherine often seemed in a world of her own, so invested emotionally was she in her music: the overall feeling as I said tended to the hypnotic, yet each song had its individual character & I noted the range of guitar techniques (and tunings) deployed which kept the variety going within the overall effect: her playing skills should not be overshadowed by her vocal ones.
Katherine is playing at the Bear Pit Theatre in Stratford on March 3rd alongside musicians such as Wes Finch & Jack Blackman as part of the New Chapters charity gig to raise money for a new rehabilitation centre for addiction in Warwickshire. Check out her other confirmed dates at https://www.facebook.com/katherineabbottmusic.
Nina Bailey appeared at the last "Hush!" in December playing music with Ben Clempson as part of Clemency & took the opportunity then to say a little about her design of the cover for headliner Ellie Gowers' album ‘Dwelling by the Weir'. She returned on this occasion to expand more fully on the visual side of her creativity, aided by a beautifully constructed presentation and many examples of her work.
I valued the contextualisation of what she was describing, tying in what she has currently been creating with both her original training and the process of inspiration triggered by lockdown which clearly has driven her in directions she would not have otherwise have gone. Those present were treated to a fascinating combination of insights into both her selection of subjects and technical aspects of how they were created: judging by the interest generated by both questions during the presentation and afterwards at her merchandise table, it was clear that much interest was sparked: which is one of the aims for the "Hush!" events: many of those present were primarily there for the music but were able to engage too with another, complementary artform.
If you would like to learn more about Nina & her art or commission work from her, please visit her Instagram site & message her https://www.instagram.com/clemencycreatives/
annA rydeR offered a stimulating complement to Katherine's in several ways: instrumentally, stylistically and dynamically. Where the latter was so in her own intense zone, the former revelled in audience participation and dialogue yet both were performing songs of equal truth and meaning.
The breadth of music shared by annA is certainly one of the most obvious starting points of any review: in one of her many revealing talks between songs in which she unveiled aspects of her philosophy, she explained how she refused to be bound by expectations of genre: though considered part of the folk scene, few songs played this time fitted into that description. Others were jazz, a couple might have fitted straight into the Great American Songbook while others were so defiantly idiosyncratic as to defy any attempt by me to describe. However, there were common threads to be discerned: a deep and passionate sense of humanity and community slanted towards optimism & filtered through good humour, however potentially melancholy some of the subjects might be.
The source for this aspect of the music is clearly annA, her values & personality. However, she is blessed with a couple of extra talents which means she can deliver what she wants to say both extremely effectively & at what is recognised as at a high musical quality. The first is her excellence at writing: not least in so many styles. As Dave Pegg of Fairport Convention has said of her, annA is "..Fairport's favourite singer/songwriter. When I heard her I was just blown away, she writes such crafted songs, melodies with great feeling, I just had to play with her." I can't follow that appreciation so I shan't try.
The other is her personal virtuosity. One might simply list her abilities on guitar, keyboards, accordion & (pocket) trumpet, all of which she played on this occasion, but to do so would omit her playing the trumpet at the same time as either the piano or accordion (I'd never even conceived of this, let alone witnessed it until I saw her) and as for the encore of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on (Bluemel's) bicycle pump, let's just say, it too was unprecedented.
In a paradoxical fashion, annA amused, moved, challenged and stimulated her audience: all relatively simple & immediate emotional actions & ones which were appreciated, yet doing several or all of them within the same piece without compromising any aspect.
Factor in the complementary emotions sparked by Katherine & Nina's own takes on expression & truth seeking, and the people at this "Hush!" were very well served (as indeed they were by the hard work of the Library volunteers).
You can catch annA live at the Harvester in Long Itchington on March 5th and she & Nicky Cure bring their Fat Chance music & film show to the Criterion Theatre in Earlsdon on March 31st. Her many other dates around the country can be found on her website at http://www.annaryder.co.uk
Wes also has a gig of his own at the Library on March 11th with Amit Dattani
Photographs of annA by Brian Fawcus
Photograph of Katherine by Rebecca Mileham
Photograph of Nina by Andy Holdcroft