Saturday, September 08, 2012

Bella Union is 15 (Part 1) - EOTR 2012

Once upon a time, decades ago and when all was good in the world, there were record labels (remember those things) that you could rely on. I mean that in the sense that if they were on your list of labels to 'like' you could trust that a new release would be at the very least likeable and most possibly lovable even if totally unheard?
Why would one worry about the Iron Curtain, The Cold War or 'mutually assured destruction' when you have a comforting blanket like that?  Or indeed the anti-war artists nibbling at the mainstream... be it in response to events in Malaya, Korea, Vietnam or simply part of a vision of utopia? 
Well, while we haven't reached our panacea yet though the signs are not as poor as some might believe, at least we've got dependable labels back and that is a damn good start.
One of them, Bella Union, is fifteen now and its teenage birthday party was the Friday of End Of The Road Festival 2012 across all four music stages with bands from the Bella Union family. Like all the best parties it started rather early and finished rather late...

Here, on the Garden Stage at around 1pm, is Mountain Man.
Traffic issues, associated with The Dorset Steam Fair apparently, meant they arrived just in the nick of time and without any kit. They borrowed this guitar, that they had never seen before, and promptly nicknamed it 'The Cadillac' - for its white lacquer and shiny chrome fittings...
Suffice it to say that it was not what they would have chosen.
After this start you just knew that it was going to be a remarkable day.
Flitting between the various stages at End of The Road is happily very quick and easy to do so off we go to the tented Tipi Stage.  In this case there is a real problem... I didn't take enough pictures but here is one of the only two that I did.
Hannah Cohen, The Tipi Stage @ EOTR 2012.
Another Bella Union artist and her début album 'Child Bride' is quite something. The thing about Bella Union artists, however, is that they are unfailingly good when performing live.
Bella Union does not however just help new artists on the way by releasing their first album... indeed it only signed this one for her second, 'Time Traveller' (2011), although at 22 she is hardly an old-timer. I saw her live at Truck Festival last year, performing with a band, and am now of the opinion that she is better live as a solo artist as here for the band tended to overwhelm the purposefully-fragile beauty of her song-writing and never more so would it be true than of the brand new songs that she essayed last Friday. This really is Alessi in Wonderland and (the prospect of) album #3 is a reason to continue living.
Alessi's Ark (Alessi Laurent Marke)  on the Tipi Stage @ 15:05 Friday, August 31.
This next artist however, although only recently added to the Bella Union rôster, released his first solo album when I was just a toddler! That, and the next two, have recently been re-released on Bella Union and to go with it he has returned to live touring. He is one of the legendary American songwriters and, as it happens, also a gifted raconteur between those songs.

Van Dyke Parks - Garden Stage @ EOTR 2012, about 17:15 on Friday.
This of course just a part of the party and then only those bits of it that, being unable to be in more than one place at a time, I chose to see! Part 2 of that which I saw of the party will follow tomorrow.

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