As we start seeing that strange yellow glowing thing in the sky again and notice the rain getting slightly warmer, it is time to turn our thoughts towards the festival season and as always the first of the local crop can be found in the form of Riffstock. The annual Riff’s Bar music festival starts tomorrow with a punky night including One Chord Wonders and 2 Sick Monkeys plus genre defying sets from Wes Bull and Martyrials. Saturday takes a more eclectic approach with alt-rockers A Way With Words, metallers Fist Full of Foozy and the art-punk riot that is Sea Mammal. Sunday is a more family friendly affair with The Shudders bringing their alt-country groove and the debut outing for Mo’eep. Obviously that is just the tip of the iceberg and you should check the venue’s website for a full listing.
I think we have pretty much everything covered this week generically speaking, everything from solo roots players to big ska-dance ensembles, from old school bar bands to forward thinking musical fusions. I can’t see any cause for complaint unless you are into Tibetan free jazz or a fan of the Inuit hip-hop scene, but you can’t have everything. After all where would you put it? Anyway, on with the task at hand.
It may not be the busiest of weeks but it certainly plays host to some pretty big names, especially if you are a fan of the alt-folk and acoustic genres. And with that in mind I’ll leap straight in and talk about the next artist to take the stage at The Beehive as part of The Songs of Praise May Mini Roots Residency.
As part of her Songs of Our Years album tour, Gill Sandell is back in town. You may have seen her as a member of the critically acclaimed Red Clay Halo alongside Emily Barker, you may have even seen her playing the opening ceremony of the last Olympic Games alongside Frank Turner. But tonight it is all about Gill’s own lyrically captivating, perfectly crafted, modernist folk. Opening up the night is the haunting and dulcet tones of Luke De-Sciscio.
Another busy week ahead for our music venues so I will get straight on with things, stopping only to mention that this is my 300th gig guide for the paper. Ballpark figures make that about 250, 000 words (if you include the extra reviews I throw in) a high percentage of them the likes of “ethereal,” “effervescent,” “fruition” and “plethora,” …blimey, no wonder I get called pretentious!
Some weeks the town’s available gigging options are subject to quality over quantity, other times there seems to be a lot going on but little new being added to the gigging canon, so it is great to see that this week we seem to have the best of both worlds, a selection that is both diverse and in great numbers.
I often worry that the town ‘s music options are becoming more and more constrained, that the powers that be will soon be passing local by-laws that any public performance must include a cover of Mr Brightside. Then suddenly, and then doing their best bus analogy, three great, and indeed very original, gigs come along at once.
Music trivia types will be fully aware that today marks the birthday of one of the true innovators of music, an artist who helped shape the course of modern vocal performance and who has gone down in history as a seminal influence on the evolution of contemporary music. But that is enough about Duncan James from Blue. Coincidentally enough it would also have been Billy Holiday’s birthday, arguably the greatest jazz singer of all time and of whom those previous accolades are equally true.