At the Birdcage 10th Birthday celebrations last year I first met and got chatting to Carol Jones. She told me of her plans for a series of music shows at the Mo in Sheringham and these charming concerts took place this summer. My first visit saw performances by Hot Raisin, Falling From Trees and the totally charming and talented Katie Spencer. Carol had first encountered Katie playing at Sheringham’s Unplugged by the Sea festival in 2016 and was keen to book her for the Mo. I was blown away by Katie’s short set and so were all the others I spoke to. I was delighted to learn that Geoffrey had picked up on this buzz and booked her for the excellent Burston Crown.
It was a treat indeed to hear two full sets of 45 minutes or so from Katie. She held those listening in the lower room absolutely spellbound with her playing, singing, and charming introductions. Any chatter in the other floor was quickly banished as people came closer to marvel at the pure class that was the music being flawlessly played. She played tracks from her mini album of original compositions as well as a sprinkling of covers from the likes of John Martyn and Roy Harper. Anyone who is a fan of these legends, as well as Ryley Walker, Laura Marling, and Joni Mitchell should check out Katie Spencer who has recently supported the likes of Martin Stephenson, and Ian Hunter. She is amazing.
It’s a beautiful thing to watch someone doing what they are clearly born to do, and Katie and her guitar are a perfect match. She performs with charm and a quiet, understated confidence expressing beautifully in music. Something that she does which I also love is that she is not afraid to step away from the mic. During the instrumental parts of her songs she seems to glide slowly across the ‘stage’ area in a musical reverie that matches our own listening experience. I chatted earlier with her about that state one can get to listening to music, of forgetting all else and just being in the Now of the song. This happened whilst listening to her. She creates a relaxed atmosphere so condusive to getting ‘lost in music’ and it’s a joy to watch her perform, making this intricate playing appear so effortless. Not only is she an excellent musician and vocalist but a lovely person too, I’m full of admiration and respect for her.
So accomplished is Katie Spencer that it is incredible and difficult to believe that she only started playing guitar less than five years ago and is totally self-taught. When I saw her play at the Mo I was picking up on something of a Ryley Walker vibe, among others, and having the chance to chat a bit more this time I mentioned this to her. Turns out she is also a huge fan and we exchanged a few “small world” anecdotes. Later in the night I overheard an audience member tell Katie he had chanced upon her unexpectedly at an open mic night in Beverley, Yorkshire. The phrase “small world” was heard uttered numerous times by several people on this special night of music in these magical surroundings. I got chatting to some lovely people from The Waveney Valley Folk Collective, and was pleasantly surprised to see Johnny Steinberg walk into the pub too. What with the legendary Billy doing sound I remarked to Geoffrey that there was such a beautiful vibe of music and musical connections going on that the Burston Crown must be on some sort of musical ley line. Turns out I was not far wrong and the St. Michael line passes extremely close by. I was not entirely surprised to learn this such was the magic in this place. There’s a special thing going on at the Burston Crown, it may be some forty minutes drive from Norwich but stepping in it has that feel of a ‘local’, friendly, warm and traditional and populated with music fans, increasingly trusting of the class acts being put on to perform here (Katie Spencer, Hot Raisin, 4D Jones, The Vagaband, Jess Morgan, Johnny Steinberg and the Blue Fish, Hope in High Water, Turfclub Racebook, Organisms, Jacob Solstice and the Cosmic Order … et al.) knowing that there will be first rate sound from Billy and the music will be excellent. I’ve enjoyed all my visits here tremendously and tonight was pure musical brilliance. Sublime.
Big thanks to Katie Spencer, Carol and Graham, Geoffrey, Billy and all at The Burston Crown.
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