November 27, 2013 by Robb Powell
Hola folks. Now, you’re going to have to keep up with me from now on. At least for a little while anyway. As you can probably imagine I have masses of marvellous music to share with you after being so busy with the Oxjam gigs these past couple of months. It is all still stockpiling up. It threatens to burst through like a tsunami, trust me. Rather than stress myself (and my laptop, and my website) out by collating a mahoosive post so big it would take centuries to load the page, brace yourself for a bombardment. Shorter (well, this is me but short is relative, as is everything else) posts but plenty of them to follow. You may as well follow the blog to make sure you don’t miss any. Come on. Click, click, click and follow, follow, follow. That’s what it’s all about these days isn’t it? You can even set your Facebook pages to follow people these days. And don’t even get me started on hashtags on Facebook. That is just strange. A change too far perhaps. I can’t get used to them on there at all.
What a week! Well, a little more than a week but insanely busy. And that manic week was over three weeks ago now, such is the current speed of time! Let me rewind just a little before I come up to date. A friend’s wedding took place in Rye on Halloween and it was magical. A real nice unique and different kind of service complete with Town Crier followed by some drinks in a ye olde 17th Century pub/inn. Live acoustic music from three brilliant young chaps both during the ceremony, at the pub and at the reception on the Saturday. Brilliant! Then it was back home for a week of madness. Luke Jackson‘s return to Rugby Roots on Monday 4th November was everything I expected – outstanding! It was nice returning to the venue where I first saw him play live last October. It is a stunning room clearly made for such acoustics. Then it was The Scottish Play at The Playhouse Theatre a few streets away from where I live, which was just brilliant! A mix of a pure comedy rewrite of Shakespeare‘s Macbeth together with some very moving monologues throughout highlighting important issues concerning mental health. These bits really were very poignant but the way they were interspersed with for example, a hilarious Scooby Doo type Ghost of Banquo and a hip-hop rap spell from the Three Witches that opened up the second half I was still laughing at come the end – just excellent! Finally that week saw me attend my very first Sofa Sessions gig in Kettering to see the superb Mark Geary together with the brilliant Dan Wilde supporting. I’ve got two more of these gigs to attend before the year is out and trust me, they are so addictive I may as well just move right in now.
ENDS IN STYLE
So, it felt like everything was leading up to the final Oxjam Northampton event and before the night I did what I really should have done months ago, and set up a Soundcloud set. Here it is below, if you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing it yet. Working out the set times for the night really highlighted how it was going to be an acoustic folk marathon but more importantly it was going to be a real special night of live music. It really was too and I say this not because I got these brilliant talented musicians together but because what each of them gave us that night was nothing less than live music perfection.
I’m cursing myself for not taking any videos of all the acts who played because they need to be shared. Luckily there are a couple of recordings from the night I’m sharing thanks to those who filmed them. This is a mere snapshot of the experience though. I even likened it to some form of spiritual experience but I don’t wish for this to be misconstrued. If you consider music to be as important as I do then I think you’ll understand what I mean when I put it that way. Having all of these people on this one line-up for one gig was like that moment when you see all the planets in the solar system line up to form a spectacular and cosmic phenomenon. Even the wonderful Mr Kenneth J Nash commented that it had been a long time since he’d been on such a fantastic line up of artists.
It was such a pleasure to meet all these amazing people too. The brilliant Lew Bear opened up the night perfectly with his enchanting fusion of traditional and americana roots. He is a superb live performer and it is clear how talented he is from the word go. Needless to say I am very excited about the next album he is working on. Phoebe Louise was next to blow us all away with her stunning set. The emotional and evocative Darker Storms Than This was close to bringing EVERYONE to shed a tear or more such was the depth with which she performs it. You feel every single word and note.
After a break for drinks the delightful Fran Taylor took to the stage to enchant with her truly magnificent voice. I admit I was transfixed by the music from Fran and when she asked if she’d got just one more song left, I tried to get her to do more such was how much more I wanted to hear. Very selfish of me, apologies. Especially as she was very kindly staying up on stage to accompany Kenneth J Nash for his set, which was phenomenal. Again, transfixed is how I would describe my reaction. He played some delicate songs but the level of intensity therein just pulls you right in. There’s no escape either but you really don’t want to be released from this kind of hold he has on you. You instantly feel a direct connection to his soul from where this material comes, manifested via guitar and vocals. With the sublime backing vocals mixed in from Fran, there is actual real magic at work here. Who needs spells when you have this kind of quality to enjoy. I’m insanely excited about seeing Kenneth perform more tracks from his forthcoming new album, The Fall of Eden, at one of the two Sofa Sessions I’m attending next month. That will be another truly special night. More on that record soon but do check out the works in progress he has up on his Soundcloud page and this remarkable online >>booklet of words, thoughts and photographs<<.
Finally, it was the turn of Apollo’s Mob. These two young girls are just out of this world, no – beyond this universe – fantastic! Words really do escape me in being able to do justice to how perfect they are and the music they create together is. Like I said, the planets were aligning throughout the evening. Each act was stunning and with their performance moving them all nearer to that all important moment of alignment. Enlightenment! That’s it, I suppose. That would be a perfect description. Not only of how sensational Apollo’s Mob were in bringing Oxjam Northampton to such a beautiful close, but for the experience of the entire night as a whole. I felt enlightened and I don’t believe I was alone in that.
My sincere thanks to ALL the bands and musicians who played across the two Oxjam events I organised. Will Rogers, Party In Paris, Puppet Rebellion and The Scholars for The Picturedrome gig in October. Lew Bear, Phoebe Louise, Fran Taylor, Kenneth J Nash and Apollo’s Mob for the Acoustic Folk Night at The Labour Club. These two events raised a total of £1175 for Oxfam so thank you dearly, and to everyone involved in any way, shape or form.
THE SCHOLARS RE WIRED EP
I shall indeed be covering all the bands and musicians aplenty over the coming posts but must give a special mention here regards The Scholars’ EP Re Wired out on iTunes from 9th December. Do get along to one of their live shows too please, they are superb! https://www.facebook.com/thescholarsofficial
WILL ROGERS – THUNDER
Cannot pass Will by here with another superb original song caught live on YouTube. I’m really looking forward to this new EP.
RETURNS TO RUGBY ROOTS
I know it hasn’t exactly been that long since I saw him at Beautiful Days in August but there is something addictive about seeing Luke Jackson play live. That power and mastery he has is something I want to experience again and again. What I also really love is that having seen him about 5 times over twelve months, the set of songs he plays each time differs hugely. There are a few that make it into each one but for the most part there’s always so much new stuff. I guess it is like experiencing his musical and songwriting development first hand. It was great to see so many people at The Merchants Inn enjoying his remarkable music and I finally got to meet and say hello to Luke at the end of the night, which was a complete pleasure. He played a lot of new material that is making it on to his second album, due out in February. It is going to be a cracking record and I’m looking forward to the launch gigs as given my attendance at his shows over the last year, February is right about when I’m next, unconsciously scheduled to see him. The video below is from a house gig Luke did in East Sussex.
It may well have been considered a form of stalking but I really would have got to the gig he played in Kettering last Wednesday. It had totally passed me by until I saw a few gig updates after the Rugby one. He played a split set with The Carrivick Sisters at Kettering Arts Centre for Kontra Roots. Sadly, my finances were against me meaning I was unable to attend.
Here’s a video you might not be expecting. I was in a car travelling down to Eastbourne on the Wednesday night and thought I’d check Facebook for any updates, as you do (oh, and I was the passenger of course, I would never use my phone while driving). Being faced with a cover of Miley Cyrus‘ Wrecking Ball from a young musician I deeply respect was initially a little bit of a shock. Only a little though because coming to know Luke’s music and style as I think I have done over the last 18 or so months I clicked play immediately.
As I’ve moaned about at various times, I often have little choice but to listen to BBC Radio 1 during the day (due to it being on in the office I work) and so when artists such as Miley are played continuously throughout the day and sound so, well, rubbish these songs eventually begin to cause physical pain to my brain. Seriously! What Luke has done here for me, is provide something to counter that pain. His version demonstrates how a song should be sung by someone who can sing and worked by someone who can play the music to it on an instrument. Brilliant! It might have just saved me from losing my mind so thank you mate. Now, if you can do a cover of that Royals song too, that would be marvellous as the original of that is grating on me at the moment. http://www.lukepauljackson.co.uk/
PROMOTING LOCAL TALENT:
A MUSIC TOWN TO BE PROUD OF
So much to share with not getting these out often enough recently so this is where I cease with the waffleage and just get sharing. Well, that is the idea but we’ll see how I get on. Before I do that though please go and like this remarkable Facebook page please >>PROMOTING NORTHAMPTON: A TALENTED MUSIC TOWN<<. I have recently begun to uncover swathes of top music talent hiding in Northamptonshire but I’ve merely been looking about the tip of that iceberg. There is so much of it I feel dizzy from all the updates but let me say this, they are bloody good! Whether you are local or not, there is undoubtedly something you will enjoy.
The page was started up by promoter Leighton Bobby Cousins so big thanks to him for bringing it all together. It provides such a valuable resource for bloggers like myself, but also for music fans and local people. I will certainly be able to know a lot more about what is happening on the local music scene thanks to this. I will be sharing plenty of bands and musicians from it in future too, you can count on that! There’s a lot from it already waiting to get on these pages but alas, I am way behind so their time is yet to come. Soon folks, including a stunning tribute to Northampton musician Tom Hall by way of a double CD. This also contains readings from the legend that is Alan Moore (who I’ve probably mentioned lives two streets from me). Anyway, more on this to come soon.
SEAN GRANT LIVE AT LAST
By which I mean first time live for me, at least. I’ve been terribly frustrated to have missed a string of local gigs Sean has done over the last few months. Ever since I came across him just prior to one of the local music festivals in the summer I have been itching to get along to see him perform.
Huge thanks to the good man himself for tweeting me to diary this forthcoming single launch on 7th December at the Craufurd Arms in Wolverton. Indeed, I have diaried it, post it noted it (both physical & laptop desktop) & set a reminder on phone! Me is there! Me is not square. Me is very much going to enjoy Sean’s unique presence and brilliant performance. This is a FREE gig to promote the FREE single release from Sean Grant & The WolfGang. http://seangrant.co.uk/
Support comes from Tom Infante and Ross Connor, samples for you to enjoy below. Oh dear. That doesn’t sound quite right does it? Music samples people. Trust you lot!
PHIL MCMINN:THE SPACE HAS A MEANING EP
Everything at the moment seems to be running like a set of continuous coincidences. I mean, they’re not really just random coincidences but trust me – so many of the things happening to me right now all feel a little beyond strange. Strange in the best sense of the word, though. It was only a day or two ago I was actively thinking about when Phil McMinn would have another release out. It’s been almost a year since the beautiful and awesome EP he put out and as well as sending my mind into a frantic debate on the speed this year has been zooming by, I made a mental note to check in on Phil for this post anyway.
He beat me to it. With this, stunning collection of three new songs. Magnificent! There are a few different and unique bundles for you to consider. Something that puts a real personal and unique stamp on the purchase you are making. One listen to these and you will be clicking to buy, I promise you.
MORE MARVELLOUS MEDICINE
Yet again a superb band have caused me utter distress in the fact they are disbanding. Hopefully, this won’t be a complete gone forever kind of break up. I fully understand these adventurous young folk need to get out and explore but it is a very sad day when the music they create together is as brilliant as this. Before catching them open the Market Stage at this year’s Truck Festival way back in July, I admit I hadn’t heard of them. I slapped myself hard after being awestruck by their set at Truck. The way they seamlessly married such distinctly different genres together was mesmerising. Hypnotising, even.
See what I mean? Do have a read of this >>interview<< they recently did and then if you are in the Oxford area, I sincerely hope you got your asses down to The Wheatsheaf for their final gig this week! If there was ever a need for a time machine it is now. I desperately want to rewind it and go see them live again. Several times. Every time! Damn you (currently) unbendy laws of quantum physics. Get bendy. Now!
Do keep posted by liking the Facebook page because if the universe is to be realigned from chaos to order then I am hoping these guys may be back together in some guise or other in the future. If not then I will make it my mission to go make it so. https://www.facebook.com/MarvellousMedicine
LUKE & CHARLOTTE RITCHIE HAMMERITE
Luke’s The Water’s Edge was one of my top favourite albums of 2012 and his sister Charlotte provided backing vocals on a number of songs. She also accompanied some live shows and the song Right Then And There was featured in the excellent Channel 4 comedy Fresh Meat, in which Charlotte stars as Oregan.
This song from the both of them looks like it is a sign of things to come, with there now being a complete website, to boot. Great stuff! http://www.lukeandcharlotteritchie.co.uk/
SUKH RELEASES KINGS
It feels strange this album has only just had its release as I received my promo copy so long ago now. To my advantage though as I’ve been enjoying it over and over ever since. There’s such a vibrancy to Sukh‘s music here you will be wanting to buy this after checking it out. Go get it now please folks. The positive reviews have been coming in thick and fast. Deservedly so too. http://www.iamsukh.com
SLOW READERS CLUB FOREVER IN YOUR DEBT
I am so way behind but glad this new single was only released on 11th November. I think it feels like a lot longer because I was keeping my eye on the build up to the release. Plus, I was itching to share the news and links here but was unable to do so because of the Oxjam gig making.
Forever In Your Debt is a fantastic follow up to this band’s previous tunes and showcases their brilliance at creating epic atmospheric music. They were one of my top new bands of 2012 so I knew they would smash it with any new material! Love it! http://www.theslowreadersclub.co.uk/
SKY BURNS RED PENS DOWN
Brand spanking new single from this brilliant band from Swindon. Go get it please folks!
FAREWELL DEAR GHOST: FIRE
WOW! This came as a suggestion link from an Austrian friend of mine and just from this one song I am hooked. I’m scheduling in listening to loads more from this band so expect more from them very soon.
Something new. Always a pleasure. Me loves psychedelic music and the fact they are from the Midlands, bonus! I wouldn’t be surprised if these don’t turn up on Jacky P‘s Wednesday night show on Amazing radio, if they haven’t already. Amazing tune!! Looking forward to checking out Sun Structures in February. http://templestheband.com/
REZLOW – FROM HERE
It has been far too long since I featured this amazing Irish band, for which I need a slap. What’s more is that their superb debut album From Here is available to download form their website absolutely 100% FREE. What are you waiting for?? Get on it! They sound damn good and your ears will give you a good slap if you don’t get them right in there, right now! http://www.rezlow.com
THE BOXER REBELLION
This is the latest video these guys have released. If you haven’t got their most recent album Promises yet then I’m coming to slap you. I seem to be doing a lot of slapping at the moment. I must check I’ve been taking my medication! Am hugely excited about seeing The Boxer Rebellion in Birmingham in February.
CHECKING IN WITH…
I am still yet to see this guy play live. It will come to pass!! Here’s a beautiful cover of John Mayer‘s Born and Raised.
And because it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed some Andrew Page, to mark a year since it went up on YouTube here is also his stunning cover of Matchbox 20‘s Hang. As dark as the song is, it is one of my favourite songs ever. Love this cover by Mr Page.
It has been a wee while but Aidan has been doing brilliantly this year and I was fortunate enough to get a sneaky peak at a couple of live recordings that really show how strong a live performer he is. I’m still working on that teleportation device to get me over to Belfast to catch a local show. Watch this space. I’m patenting the design and retiring once the device goes in to mass production. https://www.facebook.com/aidanloganmusic
No wrap up I’m afraid as there’s just too much to crack on with. So, instead let’s have a…
TO BE CONTINUED….