55908395_10157181921067930_1721754210308980736_nMost of the gigs that happen at The Tuppenny tend to be artists and bands that I am already familiar with. It is to be expected being that these shows are put on by Ed Dyer, my long term musical partner in crime in Songs of Praise, and so leans to a certain degree on many of the contacts we made together over the years. But the one band who played there in recent times that was new to me was Messrs. Lawton and Howlett, Will and Weasel to their friends, who joined by their good buddy…er Buddy represented something totally new to feast me ears on.

I did play some small part in the guys getting the gig and also pointed them in the direction of Steve Cox’s wonderful Lazy Sunday Afternoon sessions. When they set up they appear to be some sort of jazz trio, piano, drums and bass being the component instruments, but what they produce is a far more complex sound one that takes in classical charm, sweeping cinematics, proggy structures, samples, intricate timings and indie cool. They are an interesting bunch to look at to. Will playing the role of normality, Weasel looking like some sort of Edwardian inventor and Buddy’s mix of sartorial uniqueness and wry asides giving the impression of a world weary children’s TV presenter!

It was nice, therefore, to be invited to a small, live recording session set in the gorgeous environments of the library of Abbey House, set in the historic part of Malmesbury in the shadow of the titular Abbey itself. And so me and my good friend Tom (Grasslands)  found ourselves watching an augmented version of the band in these plush surroundings with the great and good of the region, including rustic poet laureate, radio host and festival organiser. Brian Reid. The band were joined by Amy on guitar and some brilliantly ethereal vocals and Harki Popli on tabla drums, a musician I have known for years through a number of Swindon based bands.

In this environment and armed with a grand piano rather than the usual electronic keyboard, the set took on a more classical/jazz edge but in either format the music is a gloriously unique and brilliantly exploratory, not to mention dextrously delivered experience. A set of nine songs graced the evening…well nine and half really after a false start with one of the newer numbers but it was this informality, as well as wandering children, chats with the audience and general band banter that made the night feel even more special and intimate. A fabulous evening all round and I look forward to seeing them back in Swindon sometime soon.