Ryley Walker + Health & Beauty @ NAC 20 June 2017

On the eve of the summer solstice during one of the hottest Junes I can recall I headed once again to the wonderful Norwich Arts Centre for the latest in a string of great gigs.  This was one of the very best of all.  I am not entirely sure what I expected but it wasn’t quite this and Ryley Walker and his band totally exceeded all of my expectations.

ryley walkerryley walker

 

 

Shortly after 8pm the support took to the stage, Health and Beauty, who are of course the band who will later play alongside Ryley Walker.  It’s hot and the room isn’t yet too full as many don’t want to be inside before they have to but the band are certainly interesting and I’d like to listen to their recordings properly at home, there are a lot of influences going on in there.

health and beauty

 

When Ryley Walker and the band come on the room has filled considerably and the band are locked into some epic sounds. Any preconceptions of folky blues are immediately banished as we have some full on rock jam sounds and some brilliant playing to an asbolutely adoring audience.  There was a welcome feel of 70s rock and psychedia which was utterly mesmerising throughout.  All four of them are compelling musicians to watch and listen to, the drummer producing some incredible and inventive sounds.  Towards the close of the set Ryley opens up about depression and says “All I have is the music. Music is all I can give” at which point the drummer leaps from his kit to hug him. A beautiful moment.  They are tight as a musical unit and as a group of friends. There was an inclusiveness about their personas onstage, even inviting a “guitar doctor” to re-string a guitar.  Being Norwich, there was of course someone happy to oblige.

 

 

The evening didn’t end there though, Ryley invited us to join him at the Ten Bells where it was a real privilege to hang out and talk music with these really lovely people.  The gig had a similar feel to the Rainbow Girls/Marty O’Reilly visits, fantastic music played by truly warm and open, friendly people. This was one of my favourite gigs of the year so far, without a doubt. Next stop for them is Glastonbury, on Sunday.

 

ryley walker

 

 

ryley walker

 

ryley walker

 

The Eaton Park Cafe, run by the Bicycle Shop, has resumed its live music nights for the summer and on Friday I went there for the ever-lovely Phoebe Troup who played a couple of sets. Mainly her own beautifully expressive compositions but with a few well-chosen covers that she put her own take on, including a completely re-arranged Wicked Game.

 

 

On Saturday I headed to The Owl Sanctuary for the Painted Heathers album launch which included Blank Lines, Aseasita, and the excellent Blisster on the bill for an Off With Their Records night that also featured a dj set from Sink Ya Teeth.

 

aseasitablisster

blank linesblank linespainted heatherspainted heathers 5

 

Last week at NAC Georgia Shackleton dedicated a song to David and The Stanford Arms in Lowestoft, which thanks to Hot Raisin was my destination on Sunday.  They were three very hot Raisins indeed with Tory, Mary and Luke playing their hearts out on an incredibly hot afternoon.  They had one or two new songs which sounded great, plus a couple of new covers, including Miss Ohio by the amazing Gillian Welch, for which Mary used a shot glass as a slide.  I love Hot Raisin and their company … they are my anti-depressant 🙂

 

hot raisinhot raisinhot raisin

 

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The weekend’s music closed in balmy, relaxed style back in Norwich at Platform Twelve with some incredible guitar work from Peter, Chester, Anoush, a set from French Dog and some piano from Robin.

 

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The Georgia Shackleton Trio + Alden, Patterson & Dashwood + Hen’s Teeth @ NAC 15 June 2017

gst

 

Some out and out traditional folk was hosted at Norwich Arts Centre, put on and introduced by Georgia Shackleton herself, already established as a folk legend in Norwich.  Fittingly, it tied in with the unveiling of a blue plaque for NAC itself to recognise its invaluable services to local music.

 

georgia shackleton

 

Pint in hand, she introduced the opening act, Norwich supergroup trio Alden, Patterson and Dashwood.  I’ve already seen this amazing outfit a number of times, as for Noel, I would not be surprised if he is the musician I have seen most of all over the years, performing as he does with The Vagaband, Lisa Redford, Dumbfoundus, Feral Mouth, Jess Morgan Trio … et al.  He is also great at the introductions to the songs, even down to the details of his flip-flops but anything is forgiven when Ferryman’s Court is one of those songs, this charming song is always one of the many highlights of an AP&D set.

 

alden, patterson and dashwood

 

alden, patterson and dashwood

 

alden, patterson and dashwood

 

A very short turnaround for Hen’s Teeth who entertained the nearly full auditorium in some balmy June heat before making way to The Georgia Shackleton Trio for an incredibly well and lovingly received set, which in turn evolved into a full on all-bands-on-stage-finale that brought the house down.  During the GST set though, they included a magnificent and well-deserved tribute to the best pub in the east, David Burd’s Stanford Arms in Lowestoft, a pub I have happily and enthusiastically championed since my first visit and meetings with David himself and his wonderful regulars, some of whom have become really good friends through musical meetings both in Norwich and Lowestoft. David himself is such a positive presence and promoter of local music and musicians, realising and rewarding their importance, worth and value, just as NAC does.

 

hen's teeth

Hen’s Teeth

 

georgia shackleton triogeorgia shackleton trio

 

georgia shackleton trio

 

Earlier in the day, Norwich Arts Centre unveiled the incredibly well-deserved blue plaque in recognition of its sterling services to music in the region.

 

norwich arts centre

 

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BBC Music Day @ Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library, 15 June 2017

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BBC Music Day was celebrated at the Norfolk & Norwich Millenium Library courtesy of Norfolk Music Library with three lovely short lunchtime sets from Andrea King, Georgia King (no relation), and folk duo Of the Clay.

 

andrea king

Andrea King

 

It’s always a pleasure to hear Andrea perform and around a cover of Jolene she played some of her absolutely gorgeous originals.

 

georgia king

Georgia King

 

Georgia King, known to many as one of The Piratones, was playing her impressive debut solo gig here. Just her and an electric guitar we heard the power of her special voice and her own songs.  Hopefully she will have some more solo gigs coming up very soon.

 

of the clay

Of the Clay

 

Of the Clay are one of my favourite discoveries of the year and their three song set showcased their differing styles which featured the vocals and guitar of both Niamh and Joe, as well as fiddle and shruti box. Magical as always.

 

 

The next BBC Music Day event will take place next week, Thursday 22 June at NAC and featuring Yassassin (who were amazing supporting PINS there recently) along with GRACELAND, and Vaudevue. Pay what you can.

 

Many thanks to Andrea, Georgia, Niamh & Joe, and Stuart, Norfolk Music Library.

 

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Vieux Farka Touré + Ida Mae @ NAC 13 June 2017

Once again Norwich Arts Centre bring us some world class music with Ida Mae – recently signed to Decca playing a rare home-town gig, and Vieux Farka Touré – son of Malian desert blues legend Ali and a genius guitarist in his own right, so it felt fitting the following morning to learn that the NAC will deservedly be awarded a blue plaque by BBC Music in recognition of its contribution to musical heritage.

vieux farka toure

It’s always a treat to see Chris and Steph onstage together and after a long spell not playing while they record their debut album with Ethan Johns they looked fresh and hungry, eager to play. They opened with an unexpected but brilliant, powerful cover of Neil Young’s Ohio.  Great dynamics in their voices, playing and presence these two have when they are onstage and they sounded just fantastic at NAC. During the final song Chris detuned his steel resonator to create something really low and grungey, a great way to close the set. Exciting times for Ida Mae, I think we are going to be seeing a lot more from them, both locally and beyond.

ida mae

 

ida maeida mae

 

Vieux Farka Touré was also here early last year in a tremendous sellout gig and although there were not quite as many here this time it was still a very healthy sized crowd who were appreciative and involved. Lots of dancing down the front and a bit of singing along – not always totally successfully – with Vieux covering his ears between a wide smile and one particular voice, quoting his Father: “He always said, if you rely on your music and you sound like that … you’re in trouble!”  It was very good natured and a lot of fun, super guitar and bass and I also loved the songs that featured the impressive sound of the calabash drum at the front.  Playing flawlessly as a three-piece they are touring the album “Samba”.

vieux farka toure

 

vieux farka tourevieux farka tourevieux farka tourevieux farka tourevieux farka tourevieux farka toure

vieux farka toure

chris and steph

VIEUX FARKA TOURE

Return of the Second-Born – “The Hendrix of the Sahara” Vieux Farka Touré sings of family, nature, and struggle on his newest album Samba.

When the producers of the Woodstock Sessions, a hybrid/live recording series in Saugerties, NY, asked Malian guitarist and vocalist Vieux Farka Touré to stop by in 2015, he didn’t have enough time to make it happen. Intrigued, he promised to return the following year. Making good on his word, the result of that incredible session is now Touré’s newest album, Samba (Six Degrees Records).

Instead of reinvigorated takes on old material, the ten songs on Samba are all brand new. Given Touré’s natural musical curiosity, the far-reaching blend of Malian blues and praise song, funk, reggae, and rock make this his most mature, well-rounded effort to date. The live element, where Touré excels as a performer, shines through on every track, even though the band stopped whenever they wanted to change something up. This was not your average performance.

IDA MAE

“It’s quite some transformation from their grunge-blues band Kill It Kid, but former members, and now husband and wife, Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean are opening up a whole new musical world. The duo are now emerging from a period of self-discovery and mutual creative power to create the rawboned and stripped back musical romance that is, Ida Mae.

Like previous generations of suburban kids growing up under heavy English skies burdened with rain, Chris and Stephanie became spellbound by the warm, sorrowful sounds of the Mississippi Delta. The working class songs of the South blew into Britain during the 1960’s like a hot storm and still held influence long after The Rolling Stones left Muscle Shoals. Following suit from other artists like Buckingham Nicks, John Martyn or Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Chris and Stephanie combine a fresh breath of British Blues with the honest songcraft of the Ryan Adams’ & Ray LaMontagnes’ of the world.

Ida Mae’s magic lies in the sensuous dovetailing of two voices and the intimacy of their songs. Their chemistry on stage isn’t just a dramatic pose and is a truly captivating sight to behold. Chris’ vocals are reminiscent of a Face’s era Rod Stewart or Steve Marriott, while Stephanie combines the delicacy of Patty Griffin with the effortless rock-chic of Alison Mosshart. Singing together, the couple have an unusual ‘which-is- which’ dynamic.

After finding critical acclaim with Kill it Kid, spending years touring various parts of the world, and working closely with legendary A&R man Seymour Stein, Chris and Stephanie felt drawn to a more honest sound, a simpler expression of song where all you need is a guitar and a voice to accompany it. Currently working on their debut album with acclaimed producer and friend Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams / Ray Lamontagne / Kings Of Leon / Laura Marling) their partnership with Decca Records is set to be the most exciting adventure they’ve ever embarked on together.”

Big thanks and congratulations to NAC for this richly deserved recognition of a fantastic venue.

 

At the weekend I was fortunate enough to catch two of Anoush Saadat’s three Sunday gigs, this video taken at Frank’s; where I am not altogether sure some of those drinking and chatting realised quite what they were missing with this exceptional flamenco guitar from the chap in the corner.  Their loss, this was incredible!

 

 

 

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Gossamer Thread’s Curious Cabaret @ Norwich Playhouse 10 June 2017

Daisy and Alex of Gossamer Thread Circus brought us another first-rate evening of varied cabaret entertainment and escapism. As well as some brilliant new routines of their own they held a night at Norwich Playhouse which was compered by Joe Black and featured visits from burlesque artist Betsy Rose who performed two excellent acts, and the quite astonishing Rod Laver who did the most incredible things with playing cards and ping pong balls!  Truly had to be seen to be believed.

 

gossamer thread

Joe Black

gossamer thread

Betsy Rose

gossamer thread

Rod Laver

gossamer thread

Rod Laver

gossamer thread

Betsy Rose

gossamer thread

Betsy Rose

gossamer thread

Betsy Rose

gossamer thread

Rod Laver

gossamer thread

Alex the Mind Reader

gossamer thread

Alex the Mind Reader

gossamer thread

Daisy Black

gossamer thread

Daisy Black

 

Fresh from a recent appearance at the Spiegeltent for the NNF17 Daisy had an amusing and inventive new routine with the hoops and a breathtaking finale on aerial chains.  Alex, as ever, was mind-bogglingly brilliant mind-reading, and most amusing with it too.

 

gossamer thread

Betsy Rose

 

 

GOSSAMER THREAD’S CURIOUS CABARET

“Quite simply the best show in town.” – Future Radio

“Stunning” – NorwichBlog.com

“This show was the living, breathing, twirling, sparkling embodiment of entertainment… Gossamer Thread bring the art of cabaret and variety show back with a vengeance from 1816 to 2016. 10/10” – OutlineOnline Magazine

Gossamer Thread’s Vaudeville Co. return to the Norwich Playhouse joined by a stellar line-up of first-class international circus, cabaret and burlesque performers!

Hosted by the ‘King of cabaret noir’ (Metro) JOE BLACK.
‘Amazing’ – Jonathan Ross.

Featuring word-record-holding, multi-award-winning ROD LAVER (‘Bizarre, breath-taking, truly unique’ – Derren Brown), the UK’s #1 burlesque artist BETSY ROSE (21st Century Burlesque Magazine’s Top 50 2017), plus Gossamer Thread’s circus artist and producer DAISY BLACK, and fresh from performing his cabaret-award nominated show in Australia, mind reader ALEX McALEER.

 

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Melt Banana @ NAC 6 June 2017

Perhaps due to the weather, some post-Rooster tiredness hit me on this dreary June evening and waiting for the rain to subside it was about quarter past eight when I arrived at Norwich Arts Centre and Algae Bloom were well into their set when I got in but I was still surprised that I only caught one song.   Next on were Mega Emotion but I wasn’t quite feeling it and was concerned I was in the wrong headspace for a gig … Melt-Banana soon reassured me however.

melt banana

 

melt banana

Melt-Banana

 

A few technical difficulties before they started were quickly sorted out and they launched into one of the most powerful, intense sets I think I have experienced, and certainly one of the most gloriously loud I have heard at the Arts Centre, I love the loud ones here!  I’ve never seen an act like this duo, the power is phenomenal!  I spent the first part of the set down the front but I wanted to experience some of it without earplugs so moved towards the back and just stood there smiling by this explosion of sound. Nothing more can be said. One of the gigs of the year. Glorious!

 

 

 

 

melt banana

Both feet on the pedal…

 

melt bananamelt banana

 

 

 

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BOTB Final @ Duke’s Head, King’s Lynn 4 June 2017

On a busy Sunday, returning from Red Rooster I just had time to get washed and changed before heading straight back out again to see Hot Raisin in King’s Lynn for the final of the Twisted Melon/KLFM/Festival Too Battle of the Bands.  It was an early start in this quite formal setting with Mammal Not Fish kicking things off at 4:30pm.  They had a good entrance and opened in funky fashion with some nice guitar from James Maas and some very sharp songwriting from lead vocalist Davey Whales who has a good voice, I particularly enjoyed the true story about Prince of Wales Road.

mammal not fish

Mammal Not Fish

 

Hot Raisin were on next, in good humour as always and as a band as tight as ever too.  The set was all originals, the dynamics just perfect and there was nothing showy about the performance, they had fun doing what they do and let their excellent songs and playing speak for themselves, as one of the judges mentioned, they seem to play with a natural ease. Top class playing from all of them.

 

hot raisin

Hot Raisin

hot raisin

Hot Raisin

 

 

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Next up was Sam Coe and the Long Shadows, featuring Mark Howes on lead guitar.  Mark had made a similar journey as myself, also being at Red Rooster for a Dove and Boweevil set the previous day.  It’s been quite a while since I saw Sam Coe and the Long Shadows, probably since last summer but they played really well and impressed the audience and the judges.  A nice cover of Jolene featured too and they were well-received at my table.

 

sam coe and the long shadows

Sam Coe and the Long Shadows

 

sam coe and the long shadows

Sam Coe and the Long Shadows

sa

Sam Coe and the Long Shadows

sam coe and the long shadows

Sam Coe and the Long Shadows

 

Penultimate act were the charismatic Flint Moore, who seemed to have played on the same bill as all the Hot Raisin ones in this contest so this was my third time seeing them.  They play with earnest passion and intensity, have a lead singer with a distinctive growl and a great bassist who is every bit as animated onstage.  If you don’t remember the songs you certainly remember the energy and performance – it’s easy to imagine them on a big festival stage with their brand of energetic folk-prog.

 

flint moore

Flint Moore

flint moore

Flint Moore

 

To close the live performances was The Wise Naive, who on this occasion were one or two members down but were still a seven-piece band with a huge sound.  A singer with a belting voice she is also lively, animated and charismatic onstage.  Memorable songs and presence.

 

wise naive

The Wise Naive

wise naive

 

The judges once again had difficult decisions to make but on the night gave first place to Flint Moore who will play the festival supporting Busted, whilst runners-up will support KT Tunstall.  The final was once more played in great, friendly spirit which really struck me in each heat, there is no competitive edge and the cameraderie was pleasingly supportive and encouraging. That was really nice to see, people seemed to be taking part for fun rather than taking things too seriously.

 

 

Huge thanks to Hot Raisin (always winners in my book), and congratulations to Flint Moore and The Wise Naive.

 

hohot raisinhot raisin

 

 

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