Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Local and Live

I don`t know if you find this, but whenever I`m really looking forward to an event, something always seems to come up to make it problematic to attend. I`m pretty sure this didn`t happen so much in my younger days, so maybe it`s to do with being old.

Anyhow, despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, I did make it to part of the Emerge Festival. I can`t comment on the event as a whole except to say it had been troubled by strong winds and heavy rain. We shall put those aspects behind us and concentrate on a few positives.

My own personal stars of the show were Siyaya (http://siyaya-arts.com) from Zimbabwe. I believe Siyaye as a whole are quite a large ensemble, but only a small group appeared at this event. Siyaye are ony the second Zimbabwean act I`ve seen and I`m by no means an expert on their music. I would say that they provided an infectious  mixture of melody and energy which was well received by an audience who in many cases had probably never heard any African music before.

 Let`s digress for a moment. Listening to Siyaya I couldn`t help noticing a resemblance between their music and early-to-mid-period Toots and the Maytals, something I seem to remember noticing with the other Zimbabwean band I`ve seen. I wonder why this would be ? I have always wondered why the Maytals sounded so different to any other reggae act and wonder if they absorbed an African influence along the way. I shall reign in my digressions,  but it`s interesting.

                                                  Matt Henshaw (photo by Ilsonowl*)

An unexpected pleasure was an improptu appearance by local lad Matt Henshaw (www.matthenshaw.com) , formerly of the band Censored, who filled in with a few songs when another act were not quite ready to go on stage. Ordinarily I am not always keen when earnest-looking young men appear in a tent accompanying themselves on an acoustic guitar, even when they`re wearing rather fetching red boots as young Matt was on this occasion. I always worry that they`re going to perform songs with titles like `The Day I Had a Migraine` or something. It`s not that I don`t like acoustic music - I do - it`s just that if you`re going down that road it needs to have a bit of heart and soul. Fortunately Matt has those qualities and, while it`s not really wise to recommend an artist on the basis of a handful of songs, I would urge interested parties to check out this red-booted troubador.

A few weeks before Emerge I attended an event to mark 100 years of Trent Barton busses where entertainment was provided by, amongst others, singing bus driver James MacDonald. I`ll admit that singers performing a set made up entirely of cover versions to pre-recorded backing tracks is not really my thing, but I`ll have to say our melodious transportation operative does have some points in his favour. Opening with a faultless version of Stand by Me, he performed a set that included what I would think are rather challenging songs for a singer, notably Sir Duke and Walking Through Memphis. If he had a weakness, I`d suggest that the sheer variety of styles he attempted (Fly Me to the Moon and All My Loving were among the other tunes in his set) may tend to make him rather faceless. Having said that, a singer who likes a challenge and can perform competently - sometimes brilliantly -  in a variety of styles may well find a career as a session singer. Ultimately, anyone who can sing Stand by Me as well as that is OK by me !

Other bands that appeared at the Trent Barton event were iSurrender, Mark Upton and The Spitfires.

I`d also like to mention folk act The Feathers who I saw in Derby recently, and who played an upbeat, energetic and tuneful set to lunchtime punters in the Square. Well worth looking out for.

That`s enough from me. Here are a few other events going on in the area ;

Ripley Music Festival (various dates, ending 18 August) (http://www.ambervalley.info/articleviewevents.asp?id=6272)

Larks in the Park (Belper River Gardens, various dates ending 25 August)

Rock & Blues `Old School` Weekend (Pentrich, 25 - 27 July)

Live and Local (ongoing)

Music in the Square (Beeston, various dates in August)

* The photo is one I found on Wikipedia and as I understand it, can be re-used freely. Normally, I like to contact the photographer concerned even when I know that its` OK to use it, just as a courtesy. On this occasion I`ve not been able to contact Ilsonowl, but would like to give credit where it`s due for the picture anyway.

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