There are many ways to make an impact, musically speaking. In our younger days as musicians and music fans we were probably drawn to the power of certain types of music, the roar of metal, the chain saw guitars and attitude of punk, the dark majesty of goth or the primordial force that was grunge. But as the cliché says, less is more. However it is a cliché that most clichés are true, but then like most clichés that cliché is probably untrue. Hang on; I think I have lost the thread a bit. What I’m trying to say is that some times music is at it’s most potent when it is doing almost nothing at all, careful, we almost ended up in Ronan Keating territory. Damn, that was close.
Anyway, my point is that this week contains more than a few bands whose method of attack is not the “turn it up to eleven” approach but one of musical osmosis, being able to create songs that seek to envelop you, songs that are gently absorbed into your very soul.
Take Bridie Jackson and The Arbour, who not only take the prize for the furthest travelled band for a Songs of Praise show (Newcastle) but who manage to conjure soft, ethereal charms to create airs of melancholy and mystery that fall somewhere between ancient folk traditions and a hazy dreamlike state. The perfect support comes from Salisbury’s Gallant Tailors who again weave timeless folk threads and Rumour Shed’s sensuous baroque acoustica. All that happens at The Victoria tonight.
At The Beehive, meanwhile, The Letters will be blending a root Americana sound (think The Rainmakers rather than Dwight Yokam…thankfully) with occasional forays into British Invasion territory. It is both big and clever.
On Friday the Victoria remains in its chilled mind set with Weatherstorms. Two thirds of this band is half of what was Old School Tie, which sounds a bit like a question from Ask The Family but I’m sure you can work out the maths. The new vehicle for the Cameron Brothers is as exciting and dynamic as their previous band but here the sound is based in a slightly more mellow place which makes those occasional euphoric flights of sonic fancy all the more delicious.
The Beehive by comparision opts for the soulful southern blues of the young and energetic Liam Tarpy Band, not just another local rock band who have decided that the two genres are interchangeable and just play their old songs at half the speed: this is the real deal. The M.E.C.A. is offering The Switch It On Festival, a family orientated event featuring live music from the likes of Angel and DJ Rugrat plus street dance from The Twist and Pulse Dance Company, comedy and a hair cutting competition.
Band of the moment, The Jefferson Brick (formerly Wet William) will be playing the “Strokes for the next generation” card over at Riffs Bar on Saturday, all explosive energy and youthful bravado (damn them) and don’t think the Dickens reference passed me buy either, extra marks for that. Based on the reception they received at The Shuffle a couple of weeks ago, this is a band that is already picking up quite a following. Support comes from Pete Docherty’s go to guy when it comes to tour supports, Alan Wass and kicking the night off will be the Canary Club.
You know that you are going to get something good when an artist cites Carole King, Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell and Amy McDonald as her influence, but the quality of Sam Holmes song-crafting easily shows this to be no mere boast, I would also add Suzanne Vega to that list and you can check out here wonderful sound at The Beehive on Sunday afternoon.
The week rounds off at The Running Horse on Wednesday with a bit of a gem. Irish charmer Polly Barrett (pictured) will be showing why her beautiful folk-pop creations are receiving such plaudits and Steve Leigh in the guise of Kitchen Sink Drama’s will be offering his acoustic insights that take in social observations, political rants, wit and wisdom.