When I first started writing this more exclusive gig guide, I pessimistically thought that it would be a quick write up every week. At the time original bands seemed a very small chunk of the available gigs and where as the more inclusive and all encompassing guide that I write for the “paper that shall not be named” runs to a small essay these days, this seemed a breeze to put together.
Here we are only a few months on from the first Groovers on Manoeuvres article I wrote here and it has become just as big a task as that other gig guide. Still, I’m not complaining, the more I’m required to write, the healthier the original scene is in this town and I can’t have it both ways can I?
Ruby Confue and George Wilding @ The Victoria
A bit of a Lighterthief Collective showcase this one as both of their established artists will playing an intimate show with musical help from the studio band. Ruby (pictured) burst on to the scene last summer rapping Shakespeare and delivering soulful blends of hip-hop, pop and jazz. As the repertoire grows more styles and genres are added to the musical arsenal but it is the joyous, groove laden street soul that remains at the core.
George has made his name through the lyricism of his songs as much as anything else. That isn’t to say that the songs are not great, blending shimmering riffs and acoustic drives but it is his wonderful narrative that combine a sort of warped street mythology with gutter poetry, where every girl is a princess and every relationship is a bust that stands out. Bukowski for the new age? Could be.
Nick Harper + Burbank @ Baila Coffee and Vinyl
The venue has been making a name for itself with its ability to host acts that you just don’t seem to find playing anywhere else in town, but Nick Harper has to be the biggest name to date. Describing him as merely a guitarist and singer-songwriter is like saying Oscar Wilde had a way with words and his skills led one reviewer to describe him as being “able to do things to his guitar that would have had Segovia weeping into his Rioja.”
Ben Sures @ The Beehive
At The Beehive you can find Canadian Ben Sures, a blend of delicate and confident musical deliveries forged out of varying amounts of folk, pop and blues
Kitchen Sink Dramas @ The Beehive
Back working as a full band for the time being, Steve Leigh leads his musically competent troops through social commentary, reflextive narratives, soul searching, love, life and loss. The songs are melodic and accessible but will always leave you with something to think about.
The Hamsters From Hell @ The Castle
This band has written quite a few pages in the musical record of this town and are still one of the best nights out you can have. And with their drink inducing R’n’b and booze fuelled blues leading the way, the chances are you won’t remember any of it in the morning, thus ensuring you go back to see them again. Very clever.
Jonah Matranga, Helen Chambers and Heartwork @ Level 3
Having made his name with bands such as Far, Onelinedrawing and New End Original, Jonah Matranga is a legend of the alternative rock scene. His shows are known for their intimacy, humour and the brilliance of his songs. Joining him are Helen Chambers and Heartwork.
Heriot @ The Victoria
Doom laden and cavernous, Heriot make music that sounds like a clash of primordial forces or the death of planets. Not only can you find them playing their massive and epic music at The Victoria, as this gig is to launch their latest EP you can pick up something to take home with you too.
Nick Tann and Jamie R Hawkins @ Baila Coffee and Vinyl
Baila Coffee and Vinyl have a second helping of quality music, this time in the guise of Nick Tann and Jamie R Hawkins. The former revels in late night jazz vibes and smoky, folky acoustica whilst the later delivers instantly accessible pop songs built around wonderful lyrical narratives.
Tim Manning aka Blind River Scare @ The Rolleston
Musically Blind River Scare seems to follow a template created by one of my musical heroes, Steve Earle. For whilst they are able to steer songs such as Could I be a Different Man down a very familiar hillbilly highway towards a looming Nashville horizon, there are detours taking in swaggering folk influences, melancholy blues and home-grown acoustica.