Pakefield Acoustic Music Day

Seagull Theatre – Saturday 27 April 2019

An intimate indoor “mini – festival” with great artists and sound

A miserable day outside was blown away for those inside the Seagull Theatre during 7 hours of great acoustic based music. An enthusiastic audience was treated to 7 artists from all over the UK

First up was local traditional singer and table harmonium player Megan Wisdom from Wissett. Megan won the right to open the show at auditions held in February – indeed she is no stranger to winning competitions having won the Percy Webb Memorial Cup in 2015 and the Bobbie Callas Cup in February this year for her singing.

Megan sang several songs from her debut CD “Tracery” as well as a number of other traditional songs, earning a well - deserved encore and making many new fans.

Next up was another artist with a Suffolk connection – singer/songwriter Hannah Scott who was accompanied by Stefano Della Casa on cello. This particular musical partnership has been going for some time now and has notched up several albums and an EP, all featuring Hannah’s memorable original songs.

The set drew heavily on latest CD “Pieces of the Night” which was released to great critical acclaim in June 2018, including songs drawn from family experiences such as the excellent “Boy In The Frame”. My 22 month old granddaughter sat transfixed for 60 minutes…..
…  but she was ready to dance when Oka Vanga took to the stage, particularly with their more rhythmic, driving songs and instrumentals. Angie Meyer (on vocals and guitar) and Will Cox (guitar, mandolin & ukulele) come from Hertfordshire and featured mainly original songs from latest CD “Dance of the Copper Trail”, but also several tunes from their FATEA award winning CD “Pilgrim” and a dip into their EP about the plague village of Eyam.
The afternoon session was brought to an end by Lincolnshire based duo Winter Wilson. Kip Winter (vocals & accordion) and Dave Wilson (vocals, guitar & banjo) have been full time musicians for over 10 years and have put together a wealth of great CDs during that time, mainly full of Dave’s wonderful original songs. The audience were treated to examples drawn from across most of these releases, full of cracking vocals, subtle harmonies and impressive guitar work from Dave.
The evening session got underway with Woodbridge based duo Honey & The Bear. The stage contained an impressive array of guitars, a double bass, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, cajon and percussion equipment, all used to stunning effect during their set. This concentrated on great original songs from their first full length release which should be out very soon (but sadly it had not arrived in time to sell at this show and their previous EP was completely sold out too, much to the disappointment of the audience). Jon & Lucy are the real deal and expect the new CD to do great things when it does finally arrive!
Norwich based trio Alden, Patterson & Dashwood were up next with their own versions of traditional English and American folk and original songs and tunes from their 2 highly regarded studio albums “Call Me Home” and “By The Night”. Highlights included “Bonnie Blue Eyes” and “The Cobbler’s Daughter” both of which are featured on their new live CD, recorded on tour in 2018 and which was thankfully available for the enthusiastic audience to purchase. For their encore, Christina, Alex and Noel stepped beyond the mics to deliver stunning, totally acoustic, harmonies.

The evening was brought to an end by a band who had travelled all the way from Manchester – Harp & A Monkey. This highly regarded trio from Lancashire are storytellers par excellence. They have a number of themed shows, but this performance was a “greatest hits” (or greatest “non-hits” as the band joked), drawn from their 3 CDs – the self - titled debut, “All Life Is Here” and “War Stories” (from a film and show put together with the aid of the Arts Council to commemorate veterans of the Great War). These great songs were delivered with the unusual backing of glockenspiel, banjo, viola and guitar; the absence of the monkey was explained in a tale too long to repeat here!

Thus concluded a brilliant day of music and special mention must go to the staff and volunteers at the Seagull Theatre for the smooth running of the event – to Jo and Tegan at the box office, Derek and Steve behind the bar and Josh and his team (Liam, Elena and Lottie) for the brilliant work on sound and lights. The sheer variety and number of instruments that had to be sound checked and managed was a challenge that was well and truly met, and much appreciated by the audience and the artists.

A full, varied and rewarding programme of music sent the audience away in a happy frame of mind and I can report that we will be running a similar event at the Seagull next year on Saturday 18th April. Make sure you don’t miss it!

Martin Lovett

GOOD LOVELIES + Fortunate Ones

at The Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft – Tuesday 16th April 2019

     A double helping of great acts from Canada

by Martin Lovett

The audience at the Seagull Theatre was treated to an evening of exceptional harmony singing from 2 of the top artists currently operating on the Canadian roots music scene.

JUNO and SOCAN award winners Good Lovelies were on a UK tour during April accompanied by Fortunate Ones, a duo comprising Catherine Allan and Andrew O’Brien, who kicked the evening off in fine style with a short set which included a number of songs from their most recent release “Hold Fast”.

One of the outstanding numbers “Steady As She Goes”, written about responders dealing with a wild fire in Canada in 2016, was dedicated by Andrew to the firefighters who fought the blaze at Notre Dame. It’s been 6 years since Fortunate Ones were last in the UK, but they are planning a return visit later this year and you should not miss them.

Good Lovelies (Sue Passmore, Caroline Brooks and Kerri Ough) were augmented on this tour by MJ Dandeneau on double bass and Mark Mariash on drums and percussion.

Their set featured many songs from their latest release “Shapeshifters”, including their first Canadian #1 single   “I See Gold”, but also went back through their impressive catalogue

Sue (vocals, guitar, synth & percussion), Caroline (vocals, electric & acoustic guitars and banjo) and Kerri (vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards, banjo & omnichord) all took turns at lead vocals and employed their wonderful trademark harmonies on everything.

This was used to most striking effect during a totally acoustic section of the show, when the 3 stepped away from the mics and sang, including a stunning version of Stephen Stills’ “Helplessly Hoping”.

During the amplified sections of the show both the double bass and drums were used in subtle and effective ways to add to the performance without ever threatening to overpower it; as a drummer myself I have rarely seen such an understated yet effective performance as that given by Mark Mariash.

The evening concluded with Fortunate Ones returning to the stage for a rousing 7 piece rendition of “Lie Down”, followed by an encore of more totally acoustic songs from Sue, Caroline & Kerri.

Trade at the merchandise desk was brisk for both artists - so much so that many items were sold out. The band are now back in Canada ahead of a tour of mainland Europe; they will then be returning to the UK in August for an appearance at Folk East, so don’t miss your chance to see these most talented and engaging artists there.

 

Mile Twelve at The Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft

Stunning Virtuosity from US Bluegrass Band - Thursday 21st March 2019

A good sized audience at the Seagull Theatre was treated to an exceptional performance by a young multi-talented 5 piece band from Boston USA who came to Suffolk on their first ever tour of the UK.

Read more: Mile Twelve at The Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft

Strummers’ Birthday Bash

by Les Ray

Strummers’ 3rd Birthday Bash - CB2 Bistro, Norfolk Street, Cambridge, 26.1.19

 
Back in early 2016 Deirdre Murphy persuaded a group of like-minded musician friends to join us in setting up Strummers - with music with a social conscience as its tagline - as we felt there was a demand for a left-leaning club on the local folk scene. After two years, we made the tough decision to leave the club to devote our energies to our band Red Velvet, confident that we had left it in very capable hands.

It was therefore a great pleasure for me to go along to Strummers’ 3rd Birthday gig on 26th January, to catch up with old friends and - of course - to listen to some great music. The line-up for the evening was very strong: singer-songwriter Tony Phillips, exciting folk duo Causton and Walker and chocolate-voiced Norwich-based songster Marina Florance.

Read more: Strummers’ Birthday Bash

Karen Tweed at Cambridge Folk Club

Strumming and Dreaming - Yarns and slow airs

by Les Ray

 

“For me life is a craft, music is a craft. So if I’m knitting, that’s got just as much influence and inspiration as my music, as has nature, as has colour, as have oceans or birds... or drawing. Everything’s all connected, and knitting is something that makes me calm. I love its regularity and rhythm ... the form, the shape, the contrast, the colour, and those are all things I talk about in music. I feel that my accordion could be a garment really, it’s something I wear; it’s part of me.” .

These are the words of Karen Tweed, virtuoso accordionist and Renaissance woman, spoken to me in an interview for my show on Cambridge 105 Radio a few days before her concert at Cambridge Folk Club on 22nd February.

I went along to the concert having never seen Karen perform live before, not even in previous guises, as a member of The Poozies or with Roger Wilson or Kathryn Tickell, who gave Karen her first break in folk music by inviting her to tour Sweden.

Speaking of Kathryn Tickell, support for the evening was ably provided by fellow Northumbrian pipe player Mike Nelson.

Northamptonshire born, like myself, now residing in the Orkneys, the much travelled Karen took us off on a musical journey. Starting the evening by playing her childhood instrument the melodica (“Everyone should play one”), she went on to entertain us with the story of the variable names of her mum from County Kerry and dad from Willesden, before performing the beautiful “Miss Hanoria McNamara of Ballybunion”, inspired by her mum.

The evening proceeded with Karen alternating between the role of raconteur and that of consummate musician, eyes closed, smiling serenely, delighting us with beautiful melodies and subtle syncopation.

My favourite piece in the first half was My Dear Julia, inspired by a photograph of John Herschel by pioneering 19th-century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron; the piece is Karen’s imaginings in music of what Herschel’s letters to Julia might have contained.

The second half tended more towards the ebbs and flows of Karen’s music than to her storytelling, and included an ambitious 20-minute set of tunes that even took a dip into Moon River, with the audience gently singing along, before continuing on its musical journey.

Suffolk Folk

Norfolk Folk Association

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