Hot Raisin @ Burston Crown 19 March 2017

A surprise opportunity arose for me to see the wonderful Hot Raisin again, in full band Raisin Bear mode, in a first visit for me to the lovely Burston Crown, Tory and Mary being joined by Luke, Tom, and Daryl.  The pub itself is really homely and welcoming, has a good PA and soundman, and is a fine set up!

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It’s always a treat to see and hear Hot Raisin, especially when they are playing a full set, or two sets as was the case here which meant not only the familiar originals but their wondefully chosen covers (These Boots, Creepin’ In, Can’t Take My Eyes off You, Hit Me Baby One More Time), my favourite of these covers undoubtedly being Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots are Made for Walkin’ – the original being one of my earliest musical memories. The way they play it is punchy and allows the boys to let rip too. It’s fun too to join in what has quickly become established as their between song drinking ritual!

hot raisin

 

I think they played all of their originals too, including Later, Wolf in Me Skin, Sloth, Little Tiger, Like a Bear, Vanilla, Later, Feel, Captain, and my personal favourite to close the night, Whiskey Ginger. Not only are the songs wonderful but they are also some of the nicest people I have met, there is such a positive energy around everything to do with Hot Raisin, they never fail to lift my spirits and just put me in a “good place”, and are absolutely terrific people too. I absolutely love them!

hot raisin

 

 

A really fun night in a great venue and with a great crowd, always a pleasure to spend time with the Raisin crowd and the Raisins themselves. Lovely people. Big thanks to Mary and Tory for the lift too 🙂

 

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The Burston Crown have recently started having music sessions every Sunday and Thursday and obviously take these music nights seriously with well-chosen acts, a good sound and a lovely atmosphere. I’ll be back.

 

 

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Jack Rundell + Hot Raisin + Vaudevue @ Old School Studios 17 March 2017

As welcome and healthy as it is, the frequent dilemmas caused by gig clashes in Norwich has unfortunately for me come at the cost of not getting to Old School Studios anywhere near as soon as I would have liked but I’m so glad I have finally put that right.  This was not an evening without gig clashes either, notably Mammal Hands at NAC but it was definitely time for a visit to Old School Studios.

 

vaudevue

 

Thanks to the generosity of the Raisin girls giving me a lift in it was nice to arrive early, see the studios and hear the soundchecks.  I instantly loved the place, it has a vibe and a warmth, great lighting, mirrorballs, stuffed toys, lava lamps …  and … that sound!!  Purpose built as the last nuclear bunker to be constructed in Europe it works perfectly as a recording studio equipped with analogue gear.  Alas, Old School Studios is closing next month and much of this equipment is being sold off after a flurry of farewell gigs, the latest of these being this one with Jack Rundell, Hot Raisin, and Vaudevue.

 

vaudevue

 

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Just hearing Hot Raisin soundcheck I was excited for their set, Mr. Jason (who gave the band their name) had them sounding punchy and clear, and then he soundchecked Vaudevue.  I’d never seen nor heard them before but was already sold on them by their soundcheck song!  I knew they were young but didn’t realise this girl-boy duo are an astonishing 16 years old.  Refreshing in sound and attitude their set was great. They have an EP launch at OPEN in June which I shall hope to make it if it doesn’t clash with Red Rooster.

 

 

hot raisin

 

Exciting times for fans of Hot Raisin with news that the whole band have just spent some time recording some tracks for their own EP.  It showed in how tight they sounded, whilst Jason gave them just the right sound on stage too, getting that balance of power and punch without overwhelming the subtleties of the songs. This set was also a lot of fun, all the band clearly relaxed and jovial  … I don’t know how it came about but Jamaican lobsters seemed to be a recurring theme!  It was all very enjoyable and they closed with an immense Whiskey Ginger, my favourite.

 

 

 

Jack Rundell was another new name on me and he too played a great set with plenty of humour between songs. Joined after the first number by another couple of left-handed musicians, Jason himself and Ben on bass.

 

jack rundell

 

jack rundell

 

It’s such a shame this superb space is closing and I really wish I’d been here more often but its legendary status is assured.  There is still time to support it though with more gigs between now and its closing and some excellent t-shirts for sale too. Admission to gigs is through advance online purchases only as space is limited.

 

 

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Alden, Patterson & Dashwood + Clark & Zuppardi @ The Bicycle Shop 14 March 2017

A truly beautiful evening of music shop downstairs at The Bicycle Shop’s Handlebar, which on this occasion I was covering for Outline magazine, you can read my review here.

 

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Two of Norwich’s finest folk acts play an evening of Americana / Folk / Bluegrass

Norwich based folk / Americana trio Alden, Patterson and Dashwood weave rich vocal harmonies, fiddle, dobro, guitar and mandolin around beautifully written original songs and melodies. Their music takes influence from folk traditions from both sides of the Atlantic with uplifting instrumentals and self-
penned songs depicting tales of young travellers, sleepy seas and their affection for home.

‘It’s lovely stuff’ – Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 2 Folk Show 2016
★★★★★ fRoots – Editors Choice Album Of The Year 2016
★★★★ Songlines
★★★★ R2

Nic Zuppardi and Adam Clark join forces as Clark & Zuppardi, blending original compositions infused with a passion for foot-stomping bluegrass and old time music with traditional songs and tunes.

★★★★ R2 – ‘Refreshing and impressive‘

 

alden, patterson & dashwood, clark & zuppardi

 

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Many thanks to Alden, Patterson & Dashwood, Clark & Zuppardi, The Bicycle Shop, and Outline magazine.

 

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Sefo Kanuteh & Layil Barr @ St. John’s Church, Bury St. Edmunds 11 March 2017

sefo kanuteh and layil barr

 

This was a facinating gig marrying the West African kora and balafon sounds with that of Israeli tinged six string bass viola and recorder in the impressive setting of Bury St. Edmunds’ St. John’s Church. Sefo Kanuteh from Gambia but now based in Norwich is from a musical family and has been playing kora since the age of seven, progressing up to the 21-stringed kora.  Layil Barr from Israel is a classically trained musician who also performs with the Mi Luna ensemble, which she directs, playing Spanish-flavoured gypsy music.

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Sefo Kanuteh and Layil Barr present a special concert collaboration blending African melodies with classical strings

Sefo is a virtuosic, soulful and authentic kora and balafon player. Sefo’s accomplishments are evident from his rich and impressive collaborations with some of Africa’s most successful artists such as; Baaba Maal and at the Théâtre National Daniel Sorano, Dakar Senegal. Sefo’s compositions are a melodic mixture of highly-valued traditional pieces, intertwined with styles from every continent, thus firmly planting Sefo as a contemporary Mande musician. His music sings of his life, family and freedom.

In this concert presentation Sefo performs a special collaboration with bass viola player Layil Barr. Layil’s playing has been described as ‘unforgettable’ and ‘stupendous’. Layil studied at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music, London where she was introduced to the viola by Alison Crum. During this time she made broadcasts for the Jerusalem Music Centre and won several awards including the America-Israel Cultural Foundation Award, the Dorothy Stone Award and the TCM Silver Medal for Early Music. As a soloist Layil has performed with various orchestras including The Royal Artillery Orchestra and The Israeli Chamber Orchestra.

sefo kanuteh and layil barr

 

This is a recent collaboration between Sefo and Layil and with just a handful of concerts together under their belts they are creating a buzz and playing beautiful shows.  This one at St. John’s Church hosted by Music Worldwide had a lovely atmosphere and throughout the two sets they held the audience in rapt, silent attention as we watched and listened to a couple of masterful musicians bouncing off each other’s energy. The mutual respect and musical chemistry is obvious and just hearing the way they spoke about each other beforehand with words like “Phenomenal” being used to describe the other shows how inspiring they are finding this partnership.

sefo kanuteh and layil barr

Sefo Kanuteh and Layil Barr at St. John’s Church, Bury St. Edmunds

For the most part Sefo played kora but did take a solo turn on balafon, and Layil played mainly viol though at one stage she suddenly appeared at the back of the audience and delighted the audience as she walked up the aisle to rejoin Sefo at the stage area playing recorder as she did so.

 

These two have an air of consumate professionalism, looking and sounding the part and creating something truly beautiful, soulful and unique and looking full of dignity and elegance.  A fascinating, special collaboration and a privelege to experience in a live setting.

sefo kanuteh and layil barr

sefo kanuteh and layil barr

Layil, listening during Sefo’s kora solo.

 

sefo kanuteh and layil barr

sefo kanuteh and layil barr

sefo kanuteh and layil barrsefo kanuteh and layil barr

sefo kanuteh and layil barrsefo kanuteh and layil barr

 

 

Big thanks to Sefo and Layil, Worldwide Music, and St. John’s Church.

sefo kanuteh and layil barr

 

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The following evening I attended Peter Turrell’s acoustic session at Platform Twelve, whilst the previous night I was at Jurnet’s for the weekly Music House Acoustic-ish Session.  When I arrived at Platform Twelve Peter informed me that he’d had three acts unfortunately pull out at short notice but he still put together an unforgettable night of music, Robyn entertaining us on grand piano as Peter set up. The night featured Peter T opening and closing as is the tradition, with great acts inbetween too, electric violin, some singalong covers at the piano, singer songwriter guitarists, and a stunning piece by the bar’s Chester. We even had a guest appearance from some of the swing dancers, fresh from Fashion Week at Open. A lovely end to the weekend.

platfrom twelve

peter t

sunday acoustic session at platform 12

 

The Jurnets line up, on this occasion curated by Andrew Taylor, included a rare solo set by Adam Clark of Nobodaddy, Clark & Zuppardi et al., plus Eastern Seaboard, Camille Davila with Pat Falgate and Bridget Holmes, and Zaramo who turned out to be a band playing some rousing Balkan and gyspy songs, featuring Sebastiana and Birgitta from Fire Doves.  Adam was playing songs which he had penned and didn’t feel would entirely fit in with the duos he is involved in and I thought he was outstanding. Such heartfelt emotion powerfully delivered, with great restraint. He also found time for a Thin Lizzy cover. He wasn’t joking!

This was the first time Camille and Pat had played live with Bridget (of Playhouse) and it was an utter delight. These beautifully re-interpreted songs with the addition of flute and breathy backing vocals in a venue like Jurnets was gorgeous.

camille davila

adam clark

camille davila

eastern seaboard

Of course it is always a pleasure to catch one of Eastern Seaboard’s seemingly infrequent live performances and they had such a typically clean and warm sound, how these guys are not better known is beyond me. Utterly beautiful songs expertly played.

zaramo

Being a Friday night in Norwich there was still plenty happening so after Jurnets I headed to The Murderers but only caught a few songs by Mega Emotion who were headlining this month’s OddBox before finishing the night with some Honky Tonk at The Wildman with Borderline.

mega emotion

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Being for the Benefit of Parkinsons UK @ UEA Drama Studio 8 March 2017

This fundraiser for Parkinsons UK was a lovely event put together by Chad Mason and Andrew Taylor who both performed on the evening, along with a new name on the Norwich scene to me, Adrian Moore.  A healthy sized crowd gathered, mingled and chatted at the Drama Studio, opposite the long queues to the LCR for the visit of De La Soul before entering the Studio’s rehearsal room, a well-equipped space which I hope will be used for more events of this nature, as suggested onstage by Chad.  He introduced us to Adrian Moore who I believe is a student of UEA, he played half an hour or so of flawless great old blues, a wonderful interpretation of the soon-to-visit Laura Marling’s Rambling Man on banjo before finishing his set with an original on ukelele. As Chad said afterwards, the originals were the highlights of the set and Adrian is a very welcome addition to the Norwich local gig circuit.

adrian moore

adrian moore

Anyone who has ever been to the fantastic Music House Acoustic-ish Sessions at Jurnets Bar will have probably come across Andrew Taylor (aka Circus Lounge) and Chad, they both curate sessions there individually in rotation with Julian and Shane but are often there at the same time and fall into an easy comedic double act, tonight being no exception as Andrew was introduced, clutching his cup of Irn Bru and inevitably a debate ensued as to whether he was actually carrying his “sample”!

for the benefit of parkinsons uk

Sitting on the “science stool” Andrew played a beautiful and sensitive set which as well as some old favourites like “People Don’t Wave at Trains Anymore” included some not yet recorded songs and a brand new one played for the first time.  It was a lovely set, I think the memorable one for me was “Forth Bridge Painter” about his mother, with some really clever and touching lines.

andrew taylor

Andrew Taylor, scouring the audience for fellow scousers.

andrew taylor

The evening seemed to be passing rapidly and to close the night we had the inimitable Chad who was in typically excellent form, with his playing and singing and also his between song chats. He told us of the Tap-esque intro he wanted to do, (“Hello UEA Drama Studio Rehearsal Room, I’m Chad Mason from the UK, you must be the UEA!”),  it would have been great. Somehow or other he managed to get the audience to sing along in a quite complex piece on another new song. The quick run through didn’t bode well but ‘it was alright on the night’ and everyone was fantastic, one of the highlights of the night.  After a few more stories and offering all the money from any CD sales on the night to Parkinsons UK too he closed the set before returning with an encore of “Tonight” on piano, another on the guitar and then exiting stage left having forgotten to unplug it, providing a rather apt Morecambe & Wise flourish to end on. A lovely evening for a worthy cause, thanks to all involved.

chad mason

chad mason

chad mason

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An evening of mellifulous song from three of Norwich’s most remarkable song-writers. Chad Mason, Circus Lounge and Adrian Moore play sets of self penned songs at the UEA Drama Studio Rehearsal Room to raise funds for Parkinson’s UK.

Tickets £5 on the door.

Chad Mason:

“Chad is an accomplished singer-songwriter…tracks such as Long Way Home and Tonight have the audience captivated” (Evening News, Oct 2013)

“He’s a witty and engaging character with a sincere and ambitious desire to get at the heart of things” (R2 Rock ‘n’ Reel, June 2015)

Growing up on the mean-ish streets of Oxford but latterly settling in Norwich to study creative writing, Chad Mason developed an eccentric, bittersweet view of the world. Contrasting lush, Nico-meets-Morricone album arrangements with a stripped down guitar/harmonica/vocal live sound, he has become a regular on the Norfolk scene whilst breaking into the London circuit (recently The Troubadour and The Roundhouse) and further afield. Winning fans and acclaim for his music with his insightful and intelligent lyrics combined with skilled musicianship and a witty on-stage rapport; performances at SXSW and in New York City; appearances at Latitude and Folk East plus a third album underway, Chad is steadily carving out a niche as an original and quirky music talent.

Andrew Taylor will be known to most in Norwich as the Great Uncle of The Music House Acoustic(ish) Session. But Taylor is also a composer of weird and wonderful songs and epic concept albums. His first instrument was made from a cereal box, a cardboard tube and some elastic bands, nowadays you’ll mostly find him playing guitar.

 

Over the previous week I also had the good fortune to see Hot Raisin several times, on Thursday at The Guildhall for the four-weekly Grapevine night they played as a three-piece, recruiting Luke to provide extra guitar and harmonies. All three of them then came back onstage for the full band Turf Club Racebook in a highly enjoyable set. The full crowd at Grapevine saw the night closed by The John Ward Band.  It was another superb turnout with several other notable gigs happening around the city on the same night, and following on from the previous week’s sellout for the visit of Lewis & Leigh.

hot raisin

turf club racebook

Turf Club Racebook

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Saturday saw my first visit to The Blue Joanna, a small but comfortable and very relaxed, friendly bar in the Golden Triangle … and yes, there is a blue piano in there.  The decor features old NME framed covers, a record player and loads of vinyl, so when a face appeared that I had not seen in some ten years it was not a total surprise to find that it was my old friend Eckie who was behind this!  The music came from Hot Raisin who were on some time after 9.30pm and created their typically wonderful atmosphere.  They are about to record so I cannot wait to hear the results.

hot raisin

vice squad

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Marty O’Reilly @ The Bicycle Shop 28 February 2017

A sort of home-from-homecoming for Marty O’Reilly with this visit as Norwich must be feeling a bit like a second home when on tour in the UK.  Ever since his first visit to the fine city some three years ago with those other Californian gems, the wonderful Rainbow Girls, Norwich has also taken Marty and his Old Soul Orchestra to its heart.  It sounds like the feeling might be mutual.  Marty, from Santa Cruz, this year is touring solo and just playing smaller, intimate venues and he was welcomed to the tiny Bicycle Shop stage to warm applause from the sell out crowd sitting in candlelight.  For the second Tuesday running there were at least two sell out gigs in the city featering wildly differing styles of blues, the other being an exciting-looking Punk Rock Blues event at Bedfords Crypt featuring PowerSolo, The Phantom Cowboys and Hank Jd Sleek.  On any other occasion that would be a must-see for me but so was this as anyone who has seen Marty play will know he puts his heart and soul into the performance, playing with passion, intensity, and consumate skill. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be here for this incredible set of blues music.  An expressive and distinctive voice and a hugely talented guitar player, he’s a master of his craft with his resonator guitar and his own unique identity. His style of folk-blues, for me, always has elements of Irishness and naughtical tales among the many other themes covered with no small amount of gospel thrown in there too, written by a real Old Soul.

marty o'reilly

 

Introducing himself he exclaimed he’d only been at the Bicycle Shop a couple of hours but had already fallen in love with the place and wanted “to live here!”  Over the course of two sets with just his guitar and harmonica he held the audience rapt throughout every song and entertained us inbetween them with stories and anecdotes for some of the introductions (as well as asides about performing with an aquarium pump in the background, “That’s something else to tick off the bucket list!”)  He referenced and paid musical homage to the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Doc Watson, and John Vandiver but the bulk of both sets was original material. 

 

Previously I have only ever seen Marty performing live with the Old Soul Orchestra who are all brilliant musicians too, and in Chris Lynch a stunning violinist who is equally expressive and animated onstage but tonight it was just Marty, going back to his roots and the earliest days of his music career playing alone onstage and he held the audience for a full ninety minutes giving incredible representations of the songs in this pared-down format. His guitar playing is simply breathtaking and such is his technique that there were times, if you had your eyes closed, you would swear there were two guitarists onstage. Spellbinding.

Having recently lost my adored cat there were some lines in Cinnamon Tree that especially resonated with me on this occasion, the feelings expressed are pure poetry and really beautiful.

 

I bet she’s hit the railroad and she’s hopping cars,
bet she’s aboard a great ship, and she’s lost at sea,
but she’ll come bounding back again, as soon as she smells that cinnamon,
and I’ll bury her sweet bones beneath that tree

 

It’s not the body of the beast that holds its spirit
it’s the spirit itself which I adore,
it’s her love and it’s her name,
not the confines of her frame that make me love her
love her so much more.

 

 

marty o'reilly

 

Next year Marty will return with the band and I am confident there will be a Norwich date, over four or so visits Marty and the boys have cemented quite a bond with Norwich as evidenced by the number of faces in the audience who were also at those Arts Centre gigs, and if the previews of the new material played here is anything to go by the next album will be a gem. Be sure to get tickets if you ever see this name playing somewhere near you.

 

 

 

Marty’s UK tour continues with the following dates:

Mar. 1st              The Running Horse             Nottingham UK

Mar. 2nd            The Castle                               Manchester UK

Mar. 3rd             Old Cinema Launderette    Durham UK

Mar. 4th             The Caledonia                        Liverpool

Mar. 5th              The Brudenell                        Leeds UK

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Big thanks to Marty, to James at Blue House Music, Conor on sound and the door, and The Bicycle Shop.

 

Clip from last year’s NAC encore, taken into the bar…

 

2014’s amazing interpretation of Smokestack Lightning at Norwich Arts Centre, deservedly one of my most-viewed videos.

 

 

the bicycle shop

 

marty o'reilly

 

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Music House Acoustic-ish Session @ Jurnets & OosWolf @ Cactus Cafe, February 2017

A legend of Norwich, Shane O’Linski this week put on four consecutive gigs this week with Mssr. Mortimer, Duck, and a pared down Violet Kicks playing at Jurnets for Current Undercurrent, an OosWolf night at Cactus Cafe Bar, followed by Shane’s turn at curating the Music House Acoustic-ish Session at Jurnets, and the fourth was another OosWolf at Cactus on Saturday.  I caught just two of these shows and the were both superb, and totally different from each other.

On Thursday I headed into the city on my bike just as storm Doris was starting to calm down, I didn’t make it without a drenching though.  Before Cactus I popped into The Blueberry where the Black Sharks have a short residency. I’ve not been into the Blueberry in ages, not since the Andy Sacre days in fact, so it felt strange to be back but I noted the much-needed new carpet in place and the stream of familiar faces coming in for this gig. It was a good atmosphere actually.  Opening for the Black Sharks were The Dry Tortugas who were a lot of fun with humerous swampy, voodoo blues. Check out their CD “Snake Eyes”.

the dry tortugas

I didn’t want to miss Phoebe Troup though, one of my Norwich favourites who was due to play at 9:15 at Cactus so I popped back across the road just in time for a really lovely acoustic music session which turned into an “in the round” session, it was actually quite easy to imagine oneself in some remote Irish pub with all these beautiful guitars, fiddles, mandolins, whistles and accordions playing around an open fire without amplification. As well as Phoebe we also had a folk group playing Irish and French music, Dandelion performing French, Spanish and Russian gypsy songs, while Phoebe played her gorgeous and lyrically wonderful Appalachian flavoured compositions as well as a Devandra Banhart cover. All taking it in turns to play a few numbers this was a really delightful session. When this finished I headed back to The Blueberry to catch the end of the Black Sharks set but alas didn’t catch much at all. 

phoebe troup

ooswolfdandelion

Friday is Jurnets night and this week was Shane’s turn to curate and he picked a great and varied selection with a few names who were, apparently, new to me.  First on was Dark Diversions and it transpired I knew both artists in this duo – including Dandelion who I saw the previous night – but had not seen them perform together before. Describing themselves as a “Musical duo fearlessly exploring feather-encrusted jazz, chanson and macabre ruminations of the slightly deadly kind… ” it’s hard to top that as this is exactly what they were with some brilliantly performed covers from the likes of Nick Cave (“The Curse of Milhaven”), Anna Calvi (“Strange Weather” – how apt!) and closing with a rousing “Non, Je ne regrette rien”, this was a lot of fun – punky, gothic and steampunk darkness with plenty of humour too.

dark diversions

dark diversions

Jonathan Cocker was next up, with something of a Nick Drake about him he played a beautiful selection with some well-chosen covers, including a wonderful Ohio by Neil Young. He has a sensitive and expressive voice and lovely playing.

jonathon cocker

The Joey Herzfeld Trio followed with another fine set with a ‘dark klezmer’ flavour and biting, witty lyrics.  Joey has recently relocated to Norwich from London and we have become good friends so I’ve already seen him play a few times and have his records. The accordion, double bass and trumpet sounded great in Jurnets with Shane doing sterling work on sound and they had a really warm reaction from the large and appreciative crowd.

the joey herzfeld trio

the joey herzfeld trio

I’ve seen the howtocuredyslexiaband several times too, David always delivers his interesting songs well, it was a smart move having his and Joey’s songs side by side. David’s a compelling performer, his eyes seeming to pick out individual audience members as he sings these clever lyrics apparently directly to them.

howtocuredyslexiaband

To close was the ever entertaining Ben C Winn, and for me this was a first time hearing these songs, indeed poems, with a three-piece band that featured Iain Lowery on Junior Pro drums kit. Ben was playing guitar and this was such an enjoyable set.  A few spoken word poems punctuated the set which ended with a band version singalong of Bag in a Tree. The band format gave things a Wreckless Eric-Jilted John vibe. Fantastic stuff.

ben c winn

ben c winn

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