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Excited launch for Taylor-Louise's Black Heart EP

Review

Leamington Spa based singer/songwriter Taylor-Louise launched her 4th EP Black Heart to an excited audience at St. Patrick's Irish Club on Friday 22nd November. 

She began writing songs, from the age of 12, from experiences she'd had from difficult times of acceptance and her ability to read situations. 

And after just a year of performing live, she began recording and released her debut EP ‘jealous eyes', which led on to the second release ‘Take a Look at me Now'. She launched her third EP ‘Broken Reflection' in October 2017 and shortly after began working closely with a London based studio perfecting her artistry releasing the single "Twenty-Three" in 2018, prior to this latest EP 'Black Heart'. 

Taylor-Louise has achieved many successes including BBC Coventry &Warwickshire Band of the month, and Spotify's Release Radar for new releases. 

The launch night included two support bands (Evergreen and Chalk Drawings) with lots of other local performers in the audience, including Levi Washington. 

First up on stage was Evergreen who are a throwback to the 1960s and 1970s with their guitar and ukulele and close harmonies, in the style of Crosbie, Stills, Nash & young or Fleetwood Mac.

 It features Rikki Hansel (guitar, harmonica and vocals), Tyron Hansel (bass & vocals), Noah Dobbie (guitar, ukulele, mandolin and vocals) & Erin O'Rourke (guitar) and is the fourth singer in their quadruple harmonies along with Jez Walker (drums). Jez Walker also supports Taylor-Louise on percussion at smaller venues. 

Even though they have been together less than one year they won the "Godiva Calling" competition at the Coventry event so they could play on the Main Stage. 

For this evening's event they played a selection of their songs including ‘You got to Move', ‘Walking Disaster', ‘Spare Change', ‘Midnight Run', ‘Confusion (slight paranoia)' and finished with their newly released single ‘Sunny Lady'. They are in the middle of recording an EP with 14 records at their studio in Leamington Spa which should be out in January 2020. 

After a short break for delicious and spicy food from local outlet Millennium Balti, up on stage came Chalk Drawings. 

They were playing as a three-piece band with Kev Stanley (drums), Dan Holford (guitar) and Simon Dagger (guitar and vocals). As a band they have been going for 6 years and brought out a well-received album Grand Union in 2017. 

They played a set of both their own material as well as some well-known covers with lead singer Simon giving his all and drummer Kev showing off with his red and green lit drum sticks. Their own songs included ‘Blood, Sweat & tears' and ‘Halcyon Days', ‘Right as Rain' and ‘Drip Dry'. The covers included 'Valerie' (The Zutons), ‘Umbrella' (Rihanna) and ‘Zephyr Song' (Red Hot chilli Peppers). 

With the lighting now set the audience was ready for the main event of the evening with the launch of Taylor-Louise's new EP ‘Black Heart'. 

For the first third (and last third) of the event, she was joined on stage by her band consisting of Callum McKissock (bass), Sean Clarke (guitar) and Thomas Graham (drums). Taylor-Louise was singing and playing acoustic guitar. 

The first section included two songs from the new EP ‘Blessed with a Curse' and ‘Generation Now' along with ‘Bring me to Life', ‘Just to be Alive' and ‘Put into Words'. 

Taylor-Louise with her band put out a powerful sound with passionate vocals to these songs.

The middle section was Taylor-Louise on her on singing with her guitar and included a dedication to her very supportive Mum Melanie with ‘Mama Told Me' along with ‘Air to Breathe' and ‘Ink my Skin' before the band joined her again for new songs from her EP. This included recent single ‘Twenty Three' with its powerful and reflective vocals, ‘Gone' and the EP title track ‘Black Heart'. After tremendous applause, from the St. Patricks Irish Club crowd, at the end of her set she finished with an encore with ‘More to Us'. 

Taylor-Louise's next gig is at Temperence in Leamington Spa on 15th February 2020, though she will continue to write new material, which she will try out at gigs to an appreciative audience.

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Elastic Live at The George Inn, Brailes

Review

As part of the Valentine Day celebrations The George Inn at Lower Brailes hosted local band Elastic to entertain the crowds enjoying the warmth from open fire and warm radiators.

 

The George Inn is opposite St. George's church in Lower Brailes and is probably a late-16th-century building; it retains two of its original stone-mullioned windows with labels but has otherwise been much altered.

 

The band line-up consisted of Laura Furnell (vocals), George Scholes (guitar) and Toby Barnett (percussion). This was their first gig together with this particular line-up.

 

Laura and George feature in other local bands including The Reformers and 3rd Dimension, playing locally in pubs and other venues in Brailes and Shipston-on-Stour.

 

Shipston is famous locally for its Shipston Proms festival with The George at Brailes featuring in its venue line-up. The Proms are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year (15th – 30th June 2018).

 

The George Inn is a Hook Norton Brewery owned pub, who are a regular supporter of local music in the area through Giles Minkley, is in the heart of the picturesque village of Brailes. The Landlord, Baggy Saunders also has two other pubs in the nearby town of Shipston-on-Stour; The Horseshoe and The Black Horse. The George Inn is managed by Lisa Slowther and Becci Scott.

 

The band gave the lively audience a mix of different styles of music including pop, rock and reggae and included some favourites including Let's Dance (David Bowie), Faith (George Michael), Don't Worry About a Thing (Bob Marley), Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears), All Night Long (Lionel Ritchie). Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac) and Little Respect (Erasure). 

 

I am sure that Elastic will be performing locally again soon, as they are enjoyable to listen and/or dance to, and I am sure they are likely to appear at this summer's Shipston Proms.

 

 

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Jay Riley Album Launch

Jay Riley, who runs the Stratford Jazz Club, launched his latest album "Light from Dawn" at Kenilworth Jazz Club earlier this week.

The Jay Riley Quartet consists of Jay Riley (tenor saxophone), Matt Bell (keyboards), Jason Page (bass guitar) and Tom Haines (drums).

To a large enthusiastic crowd, the band kicked off with an extended version of "Carefully Happy" with some laid back saxophone and a great piano section.

As band leader Jay Riley explained he has been running the Stratford Jazz festival for over 2 ½ years, and before he took over, remembered listening to the great sounds of experienced musicians at the Sunday night sessions at the White Swan in Stratford.

The songs on this album, as Jay explained, were about the last 10 years and his emotional experiences of life, including marriage and children.

The next song was "Matching Models" which was about a gig he did in Harlow with Stein (Stephen Steinhaus), which was as support to Chaz and Dave. Due to arriving at the venue so late, they ended up on stage after Chaz and Dave to a very small audience. Chaz and Dave had arrived in matching Ford Mondeos.

The song had some great slap bass from Jason with matching jazz style on sax with energetic piano support.

They followed this with "False Normality" with an intro from the tenor sax, then joined by drums and then the full quartet. Then with the piano lead with a more trad. jazz tune.

Then we had a bit of Iceland with a Bjork song "Hyperballad" which started with a laid back style and building to a louder crescendo before a slower mellow finish.

This was followed by "The Fall" which was darker in style, with a funky bass line, eerie keyboards, strong drums and mellow sax.

Finishing the first half was "Ghost in the Mirror" started by Tom on Drums in 5/4 time, then joined by Jason on bass, along with echoy keyboards and sax on a journey. This was finished off with Matt on keyboards in remodulated style.

After a break for drinks and chat the second half started off with Jay Riley solo on keyboards for "Sorrows in the Morrow", which was first played last summer at Stratford Jazz Club. This was a slow and mellow with an ethereal sound.

Now with all the band back on stage we had the title track from the new album "Light from Dawn" which was a more upbeat song with bright keyboard sound.

The next song "Orange" was a new song, not on the album, that was only played by the band for the first time the previous week. It was about Jay spending time with a mate listening to music, including Massive Attack. His mate had a bright orange Audi TT which is where the song title came from.

This had a slower laid-back start with slow bass line and went into a great interplay with sax and piano into a quicker section.

"Devon Express" was about the journey on train from Birmingham New Street to Paignton which passes Teignmouth in Devon. This had a funky bass line with strong quicks keys with a hard drum beat with a very soulful sax part, with an off-beat style rhythm with a sharp finish.

Jay son Rowan playing a South African Vuvuzela inspired the next song called "Rowan's Riff". This song started as a 6-time quick riff with strong jazz piano from Matt with quick fingers and included some great sax & piano interplay. This then moved to a ½ time section with slower sax. Then a high-speed drum solo from Tom before a strong band finish at quick time.

Then to slow things down we had a slower song "Stronger than you Think" with its piano intro with slow mellow sax with soft drums which then raised its pace to a quicker middle part crescendo with strong sax part before a slower finish.

The final song of the night was "Smiles" which was a very up-tempo song with quick piano and heavy drum beat, bass backing and strong sax sound into the mix. At the end, this faded out in a slower tempo.

Jay will be back hosting the Stratford Jazz Club with the next night featuring Kieran Garrett feat. Dave O'Higgins on 14th June at the Stratford Arts House.

Kenilworth Jazz Club are now on their summer break, restarting on 4th September with the Nick Dewhurst Quintet.

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GrassRoutes EP Launch gig

The local Leamington based ska/reggae band GrassRoutes launched their new EP – Routes EP at Kelsey's bar in Leamington Spa on Friday 5th May.

The support acts were hip-hop artist Sizzi Gee and alternative rock band Dark Swan Dive.

The 6-piece band have been gigging both locally in South Warwickshire and in the wider area for over 6 years, and have built up a large vocal following.

To start off the evening Birmingham hip-hop artist Sizzi Gee took to the stage which a set of his own songs including "Live Forever", "Don't Frown", Sad Truth", Floats Your Boat" and "Alone" and a cover of Churlish Gambino's "Redbone"

As Sizzi Gee explained "I wrote those songs for my album "Inside my Thoughts". The album includes various tracks based on how I'm feeling in life, whether it be sad, happy, angry, reminiscent"

"I've been making songs with my mate in his bedroom for the past year and we've made a couple of videos for YouTube and stuff, and my producer has a high drive in life to succeed, so he's a good person to make and release music with."

He is the nephew of GrassRoutes lead singer Jay Hall and was encouraged by him to take to the stage.

Next up onto the stage was Birmingham based Rock/Alternative band Dark Swan Dive who have been playing the local West Midlands circuit since Summer 2015.

The band line-up was Anthony Merrick (lead vocals), Kyle Sheldon (guitar), James Bagley (bass) and Chris O'Toole (drums).

The band play with a very energetic lead singer (Anthony) who plays to the crowd and interacts with the band members, with their strong rock sound and passionate vocals.

As the band said afterwards "The new songs we played tonight where the first time we've ever played them live. Most of our songs are up for interpretation by the audience, we just love playing live and loud."

The band kicked off with "Unfinished" and then moved onto a new song "Radaway" which was the first time that it had been played live to an audience.

Then they played "Crossed Paths" and then the first song ever written by the band "Every Season" which was about the girl who pushed the group member to form Dark Swan Dive, so as the band said "So essentially our Love Ballad to Her".

Then they played "On It Goes" which is about living with yourself and coming to terms with who you are.

Then we had another new song played for the first time "Still Alice" which is about fighting dementia, and written by lead singer Anthony, who was inspired after watching the movie of the same name. This was another song played for the first time in public and was well received.

They finished they set with "Route 44" which is about living the life high as a teenager and getting out the other side!.

Then we moved onto the main event with GrassRoutes EP launch set of songs.

The bands line-up was Jay Hall (Lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Ben Knight (Lead guitar, backing vocals), Justin Bygrave (Bass guitar, backing vocals), Andy Haring (Keys, & backing vocals), Ethan Shipley (Trumpet) and Tom Graham (Drums).

The set was energetically launched with "Subliminal" which was inspired by how television can make you feel the need to be a certain way. This is a classic ska style song with great trumpet and guitars and vocals.

Then we had the first of the tracks from the new EP "Peelhead" which is based on an old Jamaican folk song that Jay Hall's grandpa use to sing to the generations of his family.

Next up was a more political song "Amnesty" which Jay Hall wrote at a time when he felt a bit down about the deaths of youngsters dying from stabbings. This was a funky reggae song with multi-layered vocals.

Another song performed was about employment issues, through this extended recession, "Jack of all Trades" – as Jay was "getting sick of losing jobs that I thought would be permanent"

Then we moved onto a song written by Justin Bygrave "Death of an angel" which is a great ska song led with Jay and energetic drumming and great trumpet playing.

"Forgotten Society" which is in the style of an old pub singalong with great ska trumpet and off beat reggae style, with backing singing from Lady K. Then with the song "Monkey Man" they played in the classic Two Tone ska style and "is just a skankin bad boy"

Then a couple of crowd pleasing covers with "Who Knows" for its patios authenticity! and "Sheila" with its rap style

Another song about something that Jay Hall feels strongly about was "Trouting for Girls" which is "About the pouting epidemic and the need to destroy your face with plastic surgery" This was back to Reggae with trumpet, offbeat guitar and strong drum backing.

Then we had a collaboration from Justin Bygrave & Jay Hall "Wolf" which Justin created and Jay co-wrote about living in a protective bubble. The final song was "Grouze" which was about Jay's old man (grouze is his nickname).

By the end of this set the venue was rocking to the ska/reggae style of a very polished and energetic local band, who are looking to get signed up, and should do on this performance.

The sound was provided, with thanks from the band, from Tallawah Sound.

The next gigs for GrassRoutes are on 13th May when they appear on the bill of Shuddervision Meetz Dub Shed at Club PST in Digbeth, Birmingham. Then on May 26th they are supporting ‘Arthur and the Invincibles' at the Zephyr Lounge in Leamington Spa. Finally, on Sunday 28th May they are playing at the Black Horse pub in Shipston-on-Stour.

A full set of copyright images from this gig can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/widerviewphoto/albums/72157680750833252

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Local Songwriters Excel at Wildes Bar Leamington

Another exciting line-up of songwriters had been again pulled together by host Shanade Morrow, for the monthly Songwriters night at Wildes Bar & Restaurant in Leamington Spa.

The evening is setup as a platform for songwriters to perform their new songs to an appreciative audience, with a lot of amazing talent in Warwickshire & Coventry areas.

First up was host Shanade on vocals and acoustic guitar with a couple of numbers, with firstly one of her anthems "Lion" and then a newer song "Please Yourself".

Following on was Mark Holmes with his traditional style blues songs with acoustic guitar accompaniment. The first song was "Sweet Home Chicago" but with his own lyrics to the traditional blues number. Next we had an older composition which he penned at the age of 16 with "But for the Grace" which was a slower number to start, but then building to a quicker pace before slowing down at the end.

Next was a 1920s Sam Chapman song "Malverne Down and a Pallet on your Floor" with with Mark's modern words. Finally, he performed a song called "Royal Leamington Spa" which was more modern in style and about a pizza joint in Leamington.

Then it was Drew Halls's turn to step up to the stage, with acoustic guitar, with numbers that had just been given working titles.

First up was "2017" with its catchy guitar style and soulful singing style. Then we slowed down a bit with "Mindfulness" with its slower mellow sound and plaintive singing and smoother guitar accompaniment.

As Drew commented "It is a rare opportunity to sing my own songs as I normally sing covers"

Then we moved into a Blues style song with "Grimey" with great blues guitar backing and powerful singing style.

Lastly we moved into Reggae with a song called "Marley Song" which was written 6 years ago whilst at University, and is a homage to great Reggae musician Bob Marley.

Next up on stage was local comedian Horatio Gould, which was, as he explained, his real name. He kept the crowds amused during his 5-minute slot with locally referenced humour.

Travelling up from the north Cotswolds we next had Lilly Shickle with her passionate singing with acoustic guitar accompaniment.

She started off with a Paolo Nuttini song "Pencil Full of Lead" with its modern style with blues overtones.

Next Lilly gave us one of her own songs "Home" with its soulful singing style, slower pace with strong rhythm guitar backing.

She explained she is currently in a gap year before going to study music at University of Falmouth in September 2017.

Then another of her own compositions "Suitcases" which was about her friends leaving for University and other pastures new. This was another slower but melodic song with strong lyrics and quieter guitar backing.

To finish her set, she played "Holly" which was her newest composition and was about an old Facebook friend she has not seen for 10 years, and was very Alanis Morrissette in style.

Then a total change of style with hip-hop artist Jack Gibson who gave us some exciting renditions based around classic songs including Frankie Valley & The Four Seasons "Reach Out", then "Houses of England" based on the classic The Animals song "House of the Rising Sun", then to finish "Sons of Angels" which went down a storm with his legion of fans.

Then Ben Taylor, who normally plays as part of the 4 piece band Man Made Man, stepped up with his acoustic guitar.

As he told the audience "This is the first time I have played solo for ages"

He started with "The Tourist" which was a song with laid back singing style and rhythmic guitar backing. Then he moved onto "The Long Way Home" with its blues style lyrics for a slower style song. It has some strong powerful guitar chords and playing with a plaintive singing style.

The next song "Lets Grow Old Together" was about his 17-month daughter Ivy and was folk influenced with a bit of early Bob Dylan thrown in. Then a quicker song "Not so Haunted" which was modern folk in style, but heavier with strong guitar chords to back the lyrics.

As an encore, he played the Stone Roses song "I want to be Adored".

The next monthly Songwriters night will be held at Wildes Bar & Restaurant on Tuesday 6th June.

For a full set of copyright images please review the Flickr Album at https://www.flickr.com/photos/widerviewphoto/albums/72157683380405996

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ARQ play Smooth Jazz at Riverside

The London based Jazz group ARQ, last week, played a gig at the Riverside Stratford venue, in Tiddington, to an enthusiastic crowd. That was part of the Stratford Jazz Club program, hosted by local musician Jay Riley.

As Jay stated "I have a real passion for jazz and live music and I want to encourage as many people as possible to unplug themselves from their home-life, venture out to witness some amazing events and meet some really cool, like-minded people."

The group, who played all original music, are led by Alison Rayner (double bass) along with Deidre Cartwright (guitar), Steve Lodder (keyboard), Diana McLoughlin (saxophone) and Buster Birch (drums).

They started off with a piece called "Musicophilia" which was a trad jazz number with great interplay between the sax and electric guitar, backed up with double bass, keys and drums.

New York jazz style was the basis of "New Day" with strong piano and sax, along with heavier drum beat and haunting electric guitar.

The following song "A Magic Life" was based on the conversation Alison had with a Polish boy at a music exam, who asked "Is music stronger than magic?" The song has a bit of a folk influence, with Alison's family originally from Shetland.

Past family holiday's in Swanage, that Alison had when a child with the views of the bay, set her off to write "Swanage Bay". This was a very mellow tune with a slow laid back style with a sax lead, along with soft smooth drums, along with a keyboard lead from Steve.

The last song of the first half was "Half a World Away" with parts for guitar and piano lead portions, followed by a strong tenor sax section from Deidre.

After time from refreshments and the Stratford Jazz raffle, Alison and her group continued with "Mr Stanley I Presume" which was in homage to the great bass player Stanley Clarke. This was influenced by Alison's influence of jazz fusion and funk in the 1970s, including Weather report and Chic Corea. The piece included leads for both sax and piano.

Next up was "Friday's Child" which was written with her Mother in Mind, and was another slow mellow piece with Steve scaling the piano along with a laid bass double bass part.

After a trip Kerala in India last year, along with its Indian drummers, elephants and incredible rhythms Alison wrote "Trunk Call". The song starts off with Buster on drums imitating the song of elephants which leads into an up-tempo piece with great interplay between sax and piano, backed by the double bass. The song at the end segways into jazz funk and then into an Indian vibe, with Buster using an Indian drum.

The last number was "The OK Chorale", which was written by Steve, and was a more tradition jazz piece at a quicker tempo with major pieces for sax and piano.

During the performance, the audience applauded after each solo piece and at the end the group was loudly applauded.

Next up for Stratford Jazz Club is an appearance by top UK saxophonist Jean Toussaint on May 10th at the Riverside venue, with 8pm start

The full set of copyright images can be found in a Flickr album https://www.flickr.com/photos/widerviewphoto/albums/72157680587148292

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