Women of Oxjam @ Oxfam + Hope in High Water @ The Birdcage 19 September 2018

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There is yet another brilliant team running Oxjam this year and after their recent successful fundraiser gig at The Waterfront they put on this unique event in the refurbished Oxfam on Magdalen Street with Ginny Dix, Hot Raisin, Hannah Tobias, and Caravan Club all playing as part of a special Women of Oxjam event which raised over £800 on the night.

women of oxjam

 

It was very well attended, feeling hot and full but with a friendly, warm atmosphere. Oxfam itself stayed open as a shop too so people could mooch about and buy items between acts.  A little after 7pm the live music started with Caravan Club, another exciting new act who have come through Annie’s Sonic Youths.  Aged just 14 and 15 it’s amazing to think they were born in this century. I enjoyed them a lot, playing in a Peach Club Riot Grrrl style their whole set was impressive and they have two or three really stand-out songs.

caravan clubcaravan club

 

Hannah Tobias was next and despite feeling under the weather nobody would have guessed as she put in another excellent performance, commanding that stage with great presence and sounding superb.

women of oxjam

Hot Raisin were next, playing as the core duo of Mary and Tory they were in their typically lovely moods, sounding wonderful in this unusual venue space, as did everyone. The acoustics and sound worked well. As always the set was beautiful and featured favourites old and new with airings for Track and Field, Later, Whiskey Ginger, Read Your Mind, Conscious among many others, and closing with Captain. Thanks for the lovely mention too, Tory 🙂

hot raisin

women of oxjam

women of oxjam

I had to dash off to the Birdcage after their set as Hope in High Water had travelled up from Milton Keynes for a gig there but this meant I missed Ginny Dix, unfortunately, though I later heard it was particularly beautiful during her set with most of the audience choosing to sit on the floor and listen attentively. By all accounts it was quite magical.

hope in high water

It was raining as I rushed, hopping in rainwater, to Pottergate thinking I might have already missed Hope in High Water and maybe Lucy Grubb too but apparently Lucy was feeling under the weather and played earlier than planned. Her being first on meant Hope in High Water were just about to start when I arrived, which I was pleased about.  Regular visitors to Norwich it’s always a treat to see them, I love them as artists and as people so it was great to have a catch up with Carly and Josh.  Josh also makes amazing jewellery under the name Harsh Realm Jewellery, a selection of which was also in their merch basket, whilst Carly teaches yoga and meditation. They have both gone self-employed and deserve much success in all their ventures.  It was slightly unfortunate that this gig clashed with such a well-attended Oxjam night but pleasing that gigs are happening again in The Birdcage. With the recent closures of The Owl Sanctuary and The Vagabond we need these spaces more than ever.  There was an appreciative audience though and we all loved their set. Thanks for the mention too, guys 🙂

hope in high water

 

hope in high water

 

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Norwich: Music City, UK

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Sheringham 40s Weekend 2018

After a late night heavy punk music fundraiser for Billy Clayton the previous evening I felt like I was time-travelling the following day,  going from the punk era straight back to 1940 in Sheringham did strange things to my tired brain.

sheringham 40s weekend

sheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekend

Due to the non-appearance of one bus and the next one smashing two of its windows I arrived much later in Sheringham than expected and therefore only got to experience an hour or two of this year’s 40s Weekend. Sheringham itself seemed fuller and busier than ever – perhaps even a little too busy on the platform – but it was nice to soak up some of the atmosphere and see some familiar faces, albeit briefly.

sheringham 40s weekend

If I’d been able to follow my original plans I’d have seen an Amy Winehouse tribute on my return to the city, followed by some 1960s grooves at Cave-In but not sure what all that time travelling would have done to my poor head!

 

 

sheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekend

sheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekendsheringham 40s weekend

sheringham 40s weekend

Who is the time-traveller here?

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Norwich: Music City, UK

 

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Punk Fundraiser for Billy Clayton @ The Blueberry 14 September 2018

punk fundraiser for billy clayton

hotwired

The Blueberry Music House was full of great spirit, generosity and goodwill as we rolled back the years for some old school punk with many punks in the audience spanning several decades.  It was all as a fundraiser for young local musician Billy Clayton who has an aggressive form of bone cancer and needs to raise £200,000 for treatment abroad. There is a GoFundMe page here, and there will be another fundraising gig at Epic on Wednesday 26 September which will be headlined by Billy’s Access to Music colleagues Let’s Eat Grandma with a whole host of guests. Tickets at £10 are available through Epic, Soundclash and online.

billy clayton

Billy Clayton, performing at Epic recently.

let's eat grandma

Here though we had a great night and a successful one as all the raffle tickets sold out and a broken guitar signed and donated by Sex Pistol Glen Matlock went for over £600!  Music was provided by Braindance, Hotwired, PMT, Blank Screen, and Steve Cooper.

glen matlock guitar

punk fundraiser for billy clayton

Glen Matlock’s guitar being auctioned at The Blueberry

 

In 2015, Billy was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma: an aggressive Bone cancer which mainly affects young people. On the fundraising page below, his mum outlines in more detail the battle he’s gone through – and the admirable strength and resilience he’s shown throughout – over these past three years

A glimmer of hope has been bought his way in the form of some new chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments that have given positive results in cases similar to Billy’s. A clinic in Europe who will carry out this treatment has been identified, and now his family and friends are looking to raise money to make sure Billy can have access to this potentially life-saving opportunity. 

Please consider donating to Billy’s GoFundMe page – however much or little you can afford. 

https://uk.gofundme.com/life-saving-treatment-for-billy

 

Well done and thanks to all involved and everyone who donated and contributed.

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Norwich: Music City, UK

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Sacred Sounds: Lucille & the Seals + Butterflies on Pins + David J R Jones @ Rabbit 6 September 2018

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This month’s Sacred Sounds gig (with proceeds going to Oxjam ) was initially due to have been held at The Vagabond – formerly the Thai Restaurant/Floating Restaurant near the Prince of Wales Road bridge over the Wensum. Alas, this latest venture was short lived and its untimely sinking demise led to the gig being relocated to Rabbit in Pottergate.  I had never been to the boat on the river in any of its incarnations but neither had I been to Rabbit/Roots before, and yet curiously the great space that is their basement cellar that housed the gig looked, below decks, remarkably like a ship cabin, from the lamps to the beams and pipes that cut through the space.

As I locked up my bike in the drizzling rain I could hear the soundcheck from Butterflies on Pins drifting up from the basement and enticingly audible on Pottergate. The John McGeoch-esque guitar sound and insistent basslines alone transported me back through the decades and reminded me of that pre-gig excitement of my post-punk youth.

There’s always something magical and exciting about descending a stairway to a rock gig and I certainly felt it here at Rabbit, a great space with a pop-up bar downstairs. But it was the acoustic guitar of singer-songwriter David J. R. Jones that opened proceedings. Mixed with some strong originals such as Never Give it Up, he also covered in a unique way the likes of REM, Del Shannon, and Peter Tosh. Strong stuff and a wonderful voice.

david j r jones

Sacred Sounds is named in honor of the much-missed Andy Sacre and this is a gig he would have absolutely loved, in fact I rather felt his presence here, especially for Butterflies on Pins, a London-based post-punk band that tick all of the right boxes for me and include a couple of Andy’s former bandmates in Rob and Katie.  Andy would most definitely have approved, of that I have no doubt and could picture him nodding enthusiastically with those magical big sparkling eyes of his. Playing only their third gig it was a treat to have Butterflies on Pins play in Norwich.  Although Rabbit has a great underground space there was a beam and a pipe directly in front of the stage area but singer and showman Ross turned it to his advantage by simply utilising these as stage props, draping himself around and hiding behind them, bringing to mind the formidable stage presences of the likes of Pete Murphy and Ian Curtis.  Fantastic stuff, and all the while the terrific band of Rob (guitar), Katie (bass), and Paul (drums) delivered that strong and exciting sound that took me right back to my teens in all the best of ways. I loved them. They are dark and wonderful and I feel so many common musical reference points. Can’t wait for a Norwich return.

butterflies on pins

Butterflies on Pins

butterflies on pins

butterflies on pins

butterflies on pinsbutterflies on pinsbutterflies on pinsbutterflies on pins

To close the night was the rare treat of a gig from the full band that is the beautiful enigma of Lucille and the Seals and their atmospheric dreamy pop-rock.  A bit of a Mazzy Star vibe I thought at times, and a hint of Low too. There were several standout highlights, three songs in particular had me “sleep-drifting” and coming back again but I don’t know all the titles other than the set closer Diamonds, and possibly “Shark”, the other was definitely new and untitled. It was all very beautiful and oneiric and I happily lost myself in their music several times.  The band feature a number of familiar faces, not least the lovely Lizzy Burt on guitar and vocals, the prolific Joe Quinn and Iain Lowery on slide and keys respectively, Alex and drums, and also Sarah on vocals, and Johnny on bass.  Their next gig is at Norwich Arts Cente for Odd Box on Saturday 3 November supporting the amazing Wolf Number. It promises to be a treat and is not to be missed, with some very exciting Norwich names on that bill.

lucille and the seals

I hope Rabbit host some more gigs, it’s a good and unusual space. A suprise new discovery for me and a cool night lost down the basement of the Rabbit hole. Thanks to all involved, the gig was also acting as a fundraiser for Oxjam Norwich and the wonderful Beth from the Norwich team was collecting with a donation bucket. It was a hugely enjoyable evening in a new venue (for me) and a lovely atmosphere. Three excellent and very different acts made for a great night.

lucille and the seals

 

 

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Norwich: Music City, UK

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PowerSolo + Ravenous Hounds @NAC 4 September 2018

 

For the third week in succession I was at Norwich Arts Centre on an early week schoolnight, one of the more traditionally quiet ones at that, this being a Tuesday but it was a belter of a gig.  After the sublime performance by Courtney Marie Andrews a couple of weeks back (definitely one of my gigs of the year), and last Wednesday’s revelatory discovery of the wonderful Shannon Lay, supporting The Weather Station, this week it was the turn of PowerSolo with strong support from our own Ravenous Hounds.

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Punk Rock Blues have put on some incredible gigs over the past few years but the last time PowerSolo visited the city it was at Bedfords Crypt but there was yet another Norwich Tuesday night gig clash because Marty O’Reilly was also in town then, playing a solo set in The Handlebar which is where I was.  So this was my first time seeing PowerSolo and arriving just before 8pm I noticed some earplugs put out on the front desk. Always a good sign!

ravenous hounds

Ravenous Hounds

Opening was Ravenous Hounds, I was at their debut gig last autumn at the Rumsey Underbelly when they supported Twin Guns in another great night music. They’ve had some deservedly high profile supports since then, including Creepshow at The Waterfront, and Reverend Beat Man at Epic and they fill the venues with their glorious garage punk rock.

ravenous hounds

Ravenous Hounds

ravenous hounds

Ravenous Hounds

ravenous hounds

ravenous hounds

They were the ideal band to open the night, strong, loud, garage rock and roll with a huge dose of punk spirit and energy. Featuring two members of Beast with a Gun on guitars, this four-piece also feature drums, synth, and a sax.  Cracking songs too. The next chance to see them in the city will be when Gluttonous Mutt put on James and the Ultrasounds on October 27th with Ravenous Hounds supporting at the Louis Marchesi undercroft.

 

powersolo

PowerSolo

 

Nothing could have fully prepared me for PowerSolo, however. Led by Denmark’s Kim Kix and playing as an absolute powerhouse of a three-piece.  Their Facebook banner has a quote which reads: “If Salvador Dali had a rockabilly band … it would be PowerSolo”, that may be so but doesn’t even begin to touch on how wonderfully bonkers and deranged this set was.  There are certainly rockabilly, psychobilly, garage and punk elements in this melting pot but a whole lot of strangeness too.  Kix even looks like he could be Lux Interior’s weird uncle and some of the songs have some Cramps-esque opening riffs but they are a band quite unlike anyone else I have seen. Most of the audience spent a lot of the evening wondering what the hell was going on.

powersolo

PowerSolo

Punk Rock Blues presents PowerSolo+ Ravenous Hounds

Danish Toréador of Trash Kim Kix first conceived PowerSOLO while on an extended weekend of solitary recluse at the Waikiki of Denmark. It was One man, One guitar, One kick drum, One microphone and Two bottles of absinthe. but once back in the big, bad, Jutlandian metropolis of Aarhus Kix added more guitars, drums, organs and his old secret weapon: The triple bass.

Now, like a juggernaut through the big, black narcotic night, Kim Kix and his assembled merry band are setting sail towards the clubs, festivals, dives, concert halls, your mother’s house, bars, ball rooms and other entertainment establishments.

PowerSOLO defy description: highly toxic but strangely addictive.

——————————————————————————————

Ravenous Hounds play high energy psych-punk-rocknroll with baritone & electric guitars and stomping drum grooves soaked with saxophone and analogue synthesisers, with a range of esoteric influences. Featuring former and current members of Savage Island / Juke & the All-Drunk Orchestra and Beast with a Gun.

 

Kim Kix kept threatening to end the set but all that was ending were “parts”, of which there were nine in total and they played for a good two hours as well.  Kix would sometimes wander off stage only to reappear among the audience and climb back on from the front.  At one point he did actually bring his guitar with him onto the floor, put it down and asked to try on someone’s necktie before wandering off again.

powersolo

powersolo

powersolo

It was strange, nuts, loud and brilliant … and quite compelling.  Not a single bass guitar was seen onstage all night either. I don’t think anyone could quite process what had happened and so the bar was unusually busy post-gig (a Tuesday too, don’t forget) as everyone tried to make sense of it all, which of course was not entirely possible and to add the the surrealism of the evening Kix was still wandering about the venue and  wordlessly signing anything presented to him.  I still wanted to hang out with friends when the Arts Centre closed so relocated to a pub only for the PowerSolo guitarist to come in and join us.  A lovely guy but I couldn’t help wonder if Kim Kix was still wandering around the by now rainy streets of Norwich. An amazing night and as peculiar a gig as I can recall in recent months … and I’m used to OosWolf nights!

powersolopowersolopowersolo

 

Talking of which, I was at Cactus on Saturday for Shane’s latest, which featured a one-off appearance by Joe Quinn and the Family Plan (all nine of them), Bobby Sherwood, a beautiful set by Al Southgate, a very fine solo set by a totally on it Shane O’Linski, and my first time hearing Jason Parr, playing guitar and slide with some spoken word between songs with local references.  I was impressed. He kindly gave me a copy of his album afterwards and I look forward to giving that a listen.  Both he and Shane had passers-by come up to the window as they heard them, and then come into the Cactus to check the music out.  To close was a rare appearance by Shane’s Bavarian Rocket Groop. No two sets are ever the same from this band but it’s always fun the only thing predictable about them is that it will be unpredictable.  At various points during the set I saw two of them walking along the street outside through the window and Shane holding the mic for an impromtu guest spot from Ollie Hanney.  I do love OosWolf gigs at Cactus.

Joe Quinn and the Family PlanJoe Quinn and the Family PlanJoe Quinn and the Family Plan

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Norwich: Music City, UK

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Alden, Patterson & Dashwood – By the Night, new album

Alden, Patterson and Dashwood have followed up their debut from the tail end of 2016 (Call Me Home, an exceptional album that was a highlight release for many people, including myself) with By the Night, which develops and continues in that style of beautiful songs, superb playing and vocals plus that wonderful spacious production that gives the songs such clarity and room to breathe. Less is most definitely more. 
apd-brown-stamp-copy
As anyone who has seen them perform live will testify, AP&D are a very tight musical trio who obviously have a close bond as friends too, evidenced by their outstanding sets at FolkEast recently where they received a prolonged standing ovation from every one of the 500+ people lucky enough to be present for their Moot Hall set.  This chemistry is carried over into the recordings where Alex’s fiddle, Noel’s dobro, and Christina’s guitar and vocals are all clear, expressive and flawless whilst the backing vocals are rich, and the warm harmonies are also spot-on throughout.
Flatlands, Alden, Patterson and Dashwood
It opens with The Time Song, inspired by the novel The Time Traveller’s Wife, which is followed by the title track and one of the album highlights. Whenever I hear By the Night now I am immediately transported back in time to FolkEast and the whole audience gently singing along with the chorus.
alden, patterson and dashwood
Bonnie Blue Eyes is their lovely interpretation of a traditional American folk song with probable Scottish origins. Red Rocking Chair features an a cappella opening showing off their vocals and harmonies in fine style  before its instrumental close.
alden, patterson and dashwood

Alden, Patterson & Dashwood

The Cobbler’s Daughter is an extremely moving and sensitively composed piece based upon a couple who vanished in the Alps in 1942 whilst tending their cattle, and their daughter’s relentless search for them, finally locating their bodies in 2017 aged 79.
alden, patterson and dashwood

Alden, Patterson & Dashwood (c) shashamane 2016

Blow the Wind is a Northern English traditional air with lead vocals by Noel, the trio have written the music and added an extra verse to the original.  This is followed by Railroad, a folk song they were inspired to cover after hearing the Crooked Still version.
alden, patterson & dashwood
Kingfish is another AP&D original, inspired by David Attenborough’s Africa series. A beautiful and atmospheric slow piece with each individual instrument given the perfect amount of space in the mix alongside Christina’s expressive vocals.
alden, patterson & dashwood, clark & zuppardi
The Nerves is a Noel original instrumental and the album then closes with Ten Thousand Miles, a traditional English folk song which the trio have re-arranged.
alden, patterson and dashwood
By the Night really is a wonderful album, there’s a quiet confidence at work and a very clear vision of how they want to sound and be heard making for a highly enjoyable listening experience, it has a lot of warmth, soul, integrity and purity.  Their friendship and mutual respect for each other and the folk music they love is apparent in the performances both live and on the recordings.  By the Night has gorgeous production by Alex and is also beautifully and lovingly packaged physically, with Christina-designed artwork hand-printed to form the cover and inner sleeve.
FolkEast Alden Patterson and Dashwood
Norwich should be very proud of Alden, Patterson and Dashwood, anyone seeing them outside of Norfolk at any of their numerous festival appearances this summer will have quickly realised just what a big deal they have become further afield. It’s not surprising given the calibre of their songs, recordings, live shows and their development. They are masters of their craft and By the Night will only enhance their rapidly growing reputation and well-deserved recognition.
Alden Patterson and Dashwood

 

By the Night can be purchased at gigs or at the online APD store here.

 

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Norwich: Music City, UK

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The Weather Station + Shannon Lay @ NAC 29 August 2018

Norwich Arts Centre hosted another gem of a midweek gig for the visit of The Weather Station and Shannon Lay who were stopping off in the fine city as just one of a handful of UK dates, much like Courtney Marie Andrews last week.  It pleases me that Norwich is on the live music map to get such dates on flying visits by international artists.

 

Feeling the seasons beginning to change it was the first time since spring that I headed out to a gig requiring a jacket and the bike lights on but it was still pleasant enough to sit outside in the Arts Centre garden before the music started, which happened a little after 8pm with a half hour set by Shannon Lay.  I’m afraid I was largely ignorant of her music before learning of this gig but I am most certainly rectifying that now!  Shannon, another incredible visitor from LA (following recent visits by Starcrawler, Kolars, The Regrettes et al.) played a strikingly beautiful and hauntingly gentle set with gorgeous atmospheric vocals and nods towards Nick Drake and Karen Dalton. Flawlessly played to a modest but rapt crowd, pin-drop silence during the songs and vocal appreciation after them.  She has a really likeable stage presence too, with an easy-manner and humour, stopping one song after a couple of seconds ” … because I changed my set-list at the last moment, to make the set flow better. So that worked. Pretend you didn’t see that!” Utterly charming and her company, I later discovered, is a total delight offstage too.  It was worth coming out purely for Shannon (who also plays in Feels) but we were lucky enough to still have a set from The Weather Station to come too.

 

Shannon LayShannon LayShannon Lay

 

At 9pm Toronto’s Tamara Lindeman of The Weather Station and her band, all dressed in black, came onstage and also played flawlessly, with a midpoint where Tamara played a couple of songs solo.  There wasn’t too much talk between songs but what there was was charming as she told of her walks around our city earlier and how beautiful she found it, making mental reference points of churches and cathedrals so as not to get lost but there are so many of them it quickly became confusing.  The audience were a little on the quiet side but very attentive and respectful leading her to question if we were as much in awe of the marvelous venue as she was. Just showing reverence to the music is, I think, the answer to that.

the weather station

 

For the encore Tamara came back out alone and asked if we had any requests, someone called for Shy Women and she duly obliged before being rejoined by the band and closing with Power, and Thirty, which is a total earworm but also an example of her incredible songwriting. Check out the lyrics, they are quite brilliant.

the weather stationthe weather station

 

Setlist:

Don’t Understand

Impossible

You and I (On the Other Side of the World)

Kept it All to Myself

Free

[solo song]

[solo song]

Nobody

Now (Dion cover)

Way it is, Way it Could Be

Complicit

Black Flies

(Encore)

Shy Women

Power

Thirty

the weather station

I’ll be checking out the back catalogues of both artists after this most lovely evening at the Arts Centre and as excellent as both sets were, and I did love them both very much, it will be Shannon Lay that made the biggest impression on me for the great discovery that was hearing her music for the first time and the impact she made on me. Right up my musical street.

 

 

On her fourth (and tellingly self-titled) album as The Weather Station, Tamara Lindeman reinvents, and more deeply roots, her extraordinary, acclaimed songcraft, framing her precisely detailed, exquisitely wrought prose-poem narratives in bolder and more cinematic musical settings. The result is her most sonically direct and emotionally candid statement to date, a work of profound urgency and artistic generosity.
 
“Timeless… Measured, perceptive storytelling. A singer with an unmistakable & communicative voice, able to convey hope & hurt with equal clarity.” – Pitchfork
 
“She writes literate songs with unusual precision & sings them in an understated, open-hearted way that lends good poetry the directness of conversation.” – Uncut
 
“Bob Dylan aside, the singer-songwriter I’ve listened to most over the past year, & to whom I expect to be paying attention for many more to come, is Tamara Lindeman, who, under the name the Weather Station, performs songs notable for a conversational fluency, a diarist’s powers of observation, & a quiet refusal of emotional simplicities.” – Richard Williams, The Guardian

Shannon LayShannon Lay

Shannon Lay

 

shannon lay

I bumped into Shannon again later in the evening. We had so much in common with our musical tastes but also shared previous lives working on the French railways it seems, with our taste in jackets! 🙂

On Sunday I arrived home from my third festival in consecutive weekends but was too tired to get to the Reindeer for the start of the Bands Showcase all-dayer, arriving shortly before Stromm finished their set but catching stunning sets from a five-piece The Wash (featuring two bassists!) with Shane O’Linski in great form on vocals, even throwing in some spontaneous lines from The Tide is High. Similiarly, Yellowhammers were wonderful, and the surprise headliners only went and turned out to be a five-piece Gladboy!  What a treat!  It was only a shame that there was a 9pm curfew curtailing the music long before anyone wanted it to end, least of all Gladboy themselves but this was probably my favourite Reindeer music session thus far. More like this, please!

gladboy

A week or two earlier Shane put on one of his full and varied WolfsVolk nights at Cactus Cafe Bar on Magdalen Street and featured astrong lineup that included Milly Hirst, Mari Joyce, Birds of Hell (doing an Aretha Franklin tribute of Say a Little Prayer), Monkiboy, Chai, Jonathan Cocker, Jack Solomon and Shane’s own Olinski Onsemble.  His next is on Saturday 1 September and includes a rare Bavarian Rocket Group set, plus Joe Quinn, Bobby Sherwood, Al Southgate, Jason Parr, Ollie Hanney, from 8pm.

 

shane o'linski

mari joyce

Mari Joyce at Cactus Cafe Bar for Shane O’Linski’s WolfsVolk

west fest

The last festival of the summer …

Big thanks to NAC, Shannon Lay, and The Weather Station.

 

@RShashamane

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Norwich: Music City, UK

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