Tag Archive: minnie birch


swindon105_5logo-300x186This week Sean & Dave have an interview with Burlesque performer Bellla Rouge and also do some gabbling chuntering and chuffing along the way and present the top 10 songs from alternative bands. Music featured includes Hip Route, Ed Hanfrey, George Wilding, Minnie Birch and Kodiak Jack.

http://seanhodgson.podomatic.com/entry/2014-02-06T07_48_53-08_00

 

 

 

1507006_695008400533647_1848950265_nAt a time when acoustic based music sessions seem to be in a state of flux, either moving locations or packing up altogether as pubs decide that music has no business currency anymore, it is pleasing to know that one of the longest established sessions is still going strong. The Lazy Sunday Afternoon Sessions at The Arts Centre Café not only seems to be weathering the storm well, it is also managing to retain an amazingly high standard of bookings as this, their second  compilation will attest to.

 

The music ranges from the delicate and wonderfully understated pop roots piano of Alice Offley, whose Save Me is a gorgeous journey through the fragility of music and a heart felt lyric to the fuller and more sumptuous folk harmonies of Fieldfare’s Forget About Me.

 

Bands are well represented by auralcandy doing a neat line in mellow, late night bluesy balladry and soulful reflection, The Portraits, a string driven folk sound layered with choir like vocals and of course the session hosts, Mr Love and Justice with their trade mark mix of sharp acoustica and historical content.

 

Usually known for a more driven delivery, Bateleurs are represented by one of their more mellow moments, The Hurricane, a song that offers up old time Americana imagery and a tune that The Band would have loved to get their hands on.

 

The Solo acts found here prove that acoustic players don’t automatically have to sound like Ellie Goulding or Ed Sheeran. Minnie Birch for example uses imagery on Settled akin to the more fanciful end of Suzanne Vega and a lovelorn, melancholic delivery that is mesmerising. There is something elemental about Drew Bryant’s music both in form and message, a classic example being Singing Love at The Wind, Pete Taylor’s picked fret work and crystal clear vocal style is both elegant and eloquent and one of my favourite local artists, Nick Felix, provides the usual mix of world weariness and total positivity, as always a total joy to listen to.

 

As an advertisement for the standard and style of the monthly sessions, this is a brilliant calling card. So buy the album from http://homegroundrecords.com (and at £5 it is 50p per track – cheaper than most downloads!) and get along to one of their shows and experience it in all its glory.

 

 

 

 

Library - 4There’s a lot of music in town this week that proves the point that it doesn’t have to be big to be clever, that sometimes the biggest impacts can come from the subtlest of approaches. Take the Songs of Praise show at The Victoria tonight. Headliners, Ethemia, work in that age-old troubadour tradition of two acoustic guitars and two vocals and the result is a breathtaking blend of quiet majesty and sensuous, hushed tones. Antonio Lulic brings open and honest story telling songs of impressive craftsmanship and opening up the night is Louise Latham, a pianist who wrings every ounce of grace and grandeur, atmosphere and heartfelt sentiment out of her piano creations.

As if to balance that chilled offering, The Beehive is throwing a party in the form of psy-trancers Zetan Spore, less a band than a riot of euphoric trance, techno, strobe lights and hypnotic beats. Somewhere in between those two extremes you can find the rocked up blues of Ian O’Regan at The Rolleston.

If you can’t find some music to suit on Friday, then you may as well donate your ears to charity, as it is the busiest night we have had in town for a long time. Two big events go head to head, firstly in the form of McFly’s greatest hits tour which is at The Oasis; those with more discerning tastes should head down to Basement 73 where one time Bluetones front man Mark Morriss and ex-Seahorse, Chris Helme (pictured) grace the stage. Incidentally, Helme’s latest album, The Rookery, was one of my musical highlights of last year, do check it out.

An interesting venture takes place at the Central Library. Pedalfolk combine their love of cycling and folk music by using acoustic transport to get to their acoustic gigs. Pedalfolk are Robin Grey, Tim Graham and Katie Stone Lonergan and have given rise to the colloquial exclamation, “Bert Jansch on a bike!” There are a few tributes kicking about as well –  Who’s Next play tribute to Acton’s finest at Riffs Bar and at The Victoria The Ramona’s are an all girl tribute to The Ramones, arrive early to catch 2 Sick Monkeys in support.

Bateleurs will be plying their European folk meets Americana trade at The Rolleston and The Parlour Kats aim to bluesrockfunkalise your soul with their vibrant genre hopping tunes at The Beehive.

The final Friday serving suggestion comes courtesy of culture corner as piano duo Clare Toomer and Paul Turner play an edited version of Holst’s Planets, possibly the most recognised suite in English classical music at the Arts Centre. (I’m more of a Samuel Barber man myself)

Saturday kicks off with a bit of ska at The Victoria with The Nomarks who warm up for local keepers of the flame for all things reggae and rocksteady, The Erin Bardwell Collective and at The Rolleston, The Beatholes throw a punked out musical curveball into the Beatles Back catalogue.

If you are looking for something a bit more up market, catch Swindon’s favourite brace of Stevie’s at The Weighbridge Brewhouse. Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz play acoustic Blues and Jazz from the pre-war era and  manage to dose it with lashings of Latin vibes and  that wonderful Django Reinhart gypsy jazz swing: where’s Stephane Grappelli when you need him?

The Art Centre on Sunday plays host to the monthly Lazy Sunday Afternoon show, hosted by Mr Love and Justice. This time they invite along The Black Feathers, a brilliant acoustic duo who up until recently have been on a stateside odyssey (possibly making sure The Civil Wars aren’t trying to make a comeback!) and Minnie Birch who sings “sad songs to make you happy” apparently. More great acoustic music can be found at The Sun Inn at Coate that evening. With a voice that is built of pure soul and the ability to blend normally mutually exclusive songs into wonderful new forms, Benji Clements is definitely one to watch. Also on the bill are Drew Bryant and Aiden Moore.

And finally in a changed to the bill, The Running Horse Sessions on Wednesday will feature the genre-defying Sierra Hurtt, so expect influences to range from the Philly Soul vibes of her birthplace to atmosperic pop and from rock and roll to blues and everything in between.

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Library - 77As is the cyclical nature of local music, we seem to be at a bit of a low ebb at the moment. Economical considerations have seen various established support mechanisms disappear, from festivals to radio to venues. But what can you do about it? Well, everything. We have been here many times before and as the musical vehicles that we have taken for granted no longer provide that safety net then it is time for the grassroots of the music scene to take up the slack. In a past time it would have been called the punk ethic, the D.I.Y approach, maybe it is a time to return to such a way of working.

So what can you do to make things happen on your music scene, and remember it is you scene, it doesn’t belong to the bands, the venues, the promoters, it belongs to everyone. Firstly, you can set up your own gigs, have a word with venues and arrange to use one of the quieter nights in the week to put a show on or even put on a gig in an unusual place, a youth centre, a back garden or even your own basement.

Technology means that it is reasonably easy to produce your own podcasts broadcasting local bands or fanzines that advertise the underground scene I propose. As the total antithesis of spoon-fed, couch potato media and the commercial world of cash flows that venues have to operate in, I’m sure it appeals to a certain type of (slightly anarchic) creative mind. The question is, do you have the will and energy to make it happen or are you going to just bemoan the loss of your scene. It’s up to you.

Whilst you are thinking about that, here are a few gigs you might want to go to.  Tonight at The Victoria, auralcandy and friends are at The Victoria. Those purveyors of pick and mix, guerrillas of genre and lyrical libertines, auralcandy (a band so poor that they can’t even afford a capital letter) are joined by Minnie Birch and David Bowmer. Minnie describes her style as “dreary folk pop music” though this is music that has enabled her to open for the likes of Joan Armatrading so I suspect a certain amount of self-deprecation is at work. Dave Bowmer plays a strange device called a Chapman Stick and through this, live looping and percussion from David Holmes they create wonderful dance driven surf soundtracks. Intriguing!

Anglo-Swedish blues maestro, Krissy Matthews just goes from strength to strength. Having played festivals the length and breadth of Europe and in places as iconic as The 100 Club and The Cavern, the fact that you can get to watch him for free at The Beehive is a chance not to be passed up.

Friday is the busy one this week but with a wide range of genres up for grabs there is something for everyone. In the name of balance I should mention that the human six-pack, Peter Andre, is at the Oasis playing a selection of his hit! X-Factor fabrication The Risk and Sam Gray support. (Can you tell I typed that through gritted teeth?)

If you do want a proper live experience that is all about the dance floor groove then a better option is The Funk’daMentals at The Victoria an awesome and accomplished band playing the funkiest tunes from James Brown to Jamiroquai and from Rose Royce to The Sugarhill Gang.

In the worthy causes department, The Furnace are hosting The Empower and Swindon Street Pastors Charity Gig. Music comes in the form of The Graham Mack Rock Band, Starlight City, plus Gambian drummers and acoustic sets. Meanwhile returning after more than a week away, Josie and The Outlaw will be treating The Rolleston to their trademark rockabilly, R’n’B and old school rock and roll.

Forget The Black Keys, The White Stripes and The Kills, the only two-piece band that matters are in town on Saturday. If drum and bass driven punk, shouty vocals delivering lyrics that wander between poignant and just plain dumb are your thing, then get up to The Victoria for 2 Sick Monkeys (pictured), the best thing to come out of Wootton Bassett since the 55A bus service. Headlining are The Nomarks – maximum ska!

Ending, as we often do, at The Running Horse on Wednesday and I highly recommend you check out the reflective, dark and bittersweet melodies of Ells Ponting and the raw, funky acoustic blues of Jim Blair, a real mid-week oasis of talent.