Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Nottingham Riverside Festival 2012

Having spent last weekend at the Nottingham Riverside Festival, I think it`s time for a quick musical interlude.

Here`s an all-too-hasty guide to just a few of the musical delights on offer ;


Ngoma take you on a musical tour of southern Africa, with songs from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and elsewhere. Like most African/World Music bands  they incorporate a reggae influence on a number of tunes. They perform capably and have some strong material, but I did feel that overall there was maybe something lacking. They give me the impression that they could be a great band, but on present showing they may be content just to be a good band.


The third or fourth time I`ve seen this band. They serve up a locally-brewed cocktail of folk and country influences, performed in a punchy, energetic style. For myself, they`re a band I prefer to consume in small doses, but I know plenty of people who would be only too happy to consume a sizeable kettle of Wholesome Fish in a single serving. 


Unexpectedly, one of my two favourite acts of the week-end.  Based in Canada, these purveyors of articulate folk impressed me so much I caught both of their sets. Theirs is a wide-ranging trawl through a variety of forms of folk, from medieval music to (you`ve guessed it !) Bob Dylan (a great version of The Times They Are A Changing), ending, perhaps surprisingly, with a folked-up rendition of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.

 Despite their obvious eclecticism, they connected well with an audience whose level of familiarity with folk ranged from `hard-core devotee` to `never heard anything like this before` . Seek them out, they`re worth it.


I only caught the last few numbers of Tom Wardle`s set, but I thought I`d give him a mention. If melodic pop/rock incorporating covers of tunes by the Beatles and Chuck Berry is your bag, you may want to check him out. It is a shame he was let down by a rather tinny sound system, but I`m sure he won himself a few followers.


I had no intention of catching this band and we were only using the bandstand area as a short cut elsewhere when we caught this fine guitar-based trio playing swing-influenced  jazz and blues tunes. Adapting readily, we changed our plans and stayed to hear more. I wasn`t totally convinced by their rendition of the jazz standard Caravan, but other than that I loved them, as did many others. My other favourite act of the weekend.


Also climbing my personal hit parade were local lads Golden Troubadours.  They were actually introduced as Velvet Troubadours, but I`ve checked and they are in fact unconnected with James Loney`s Minnesota masters of melody and are definitely called Golden Troubadours. They perform what I would call soft rock, reminiscent at times of the band America who had a hit in the `70s with Horse With No Name. If Finest Kind and Trio Manouche were my joint favourites, the GTs lag only a little behind.


Inevitably, there were other acts I would have liked to have seen, but circumstances dictated otherwise. For jazz buffs I`d like to mention the Nottingham Jazz Orchestra and the Teddy Fullick Quintet, both of which I`ve seen before.

I had also hoped to catch Carlton Brass, but there appears to be an iron law of fate that sees to it that I only get to see one brass band a year. As I saw the Matlock Band only recently I suppose it was inevitable I should miss Carlton Brass, but hopefully I`ll get another chance some time in the future.

I had also been hoping to catch local reggae band The Naturalites, who I saw a number of times in my youth. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm broke out only around ten minutes before they were due on stage in the bandstand area. With no jacket and two small children in tow, it just wasn`t viable to hang around to see if they went on, which seemed unlikely.

By sheer chance, a friend of mine who`s working abroad caught a live set by founding Naturalite Ossie Gad (formerly Ossie Sams) in Paris recently and tells me he was favourably impressed.

There is quite a bit online about Naturalites past and present which you may wish to check out. It would be interesting to know if anyone else remembers two other Nottingham-based reggae bands, Positive Vibes and Far Image ?

Anyway, that`s enough from me, but I hope these few comments will encourage you to check some of these excellent musicians who can so easily be overlooked.


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