Saturday, November 22, 2014

Emma Ballantine, Beth Porter, and Winter Mountain - The Green Room, Frome

This is only the third edition of The Green Room but it is showing signs of becoming one of the best new-music showcases this side of anywhere. It is also good value: £8 advance, £10 on the door, with cabaret-style tables and seating.
First to play was London-based, though originally from Salisbury, Emma Ballantine. That she made the gig at all was itself a triumph over adversity. Her car was stolen yesterday and so she and her guitar made it to Frome by rail instead.

She played songs from her self-released 'Flying Machine EP' (2013) and other compositions too.
I had never heard her live before and one thing that I should mention is that she has none of that awkwardness that solo artists often display when introducing or describing themselves or, particularly, their songs.

Next to play was the flagship project of someone that you may very well already have heard, though are unaware of nevertheless. Bethany Porter is one of the most sought-after session cellists in the UK but there is a great deal more to enjoy than that.
Her headline project is Beth Porter and The Availables. The d├ębut LP 'Open Doors' will soon be available, on vinyl and download only. It has been a long time in the works due to pressure of commitments. 'The Availables' is just what the term implies: yesterday that comprised Emma Hooper (viola) and Ian Vorley (violin and baritone saxophone) with both adding vocals. Beth plays instruments other than 'cello and not all of them have strings.
The recorder is not the most fashionable of instruments. This is a treble recorder. Then again the even less common tenor recorder features in one of the most remarkable modern folk albums of 2014 - played by Josienne Clarke in that case - so just possibly its time is coming.
Top of the evening's bill was Anglo-Irish duo Winter Mountain. Joe Francis is from St. Agnes, Cornwall and Marty Smyth from the northern tip  of Co. Donegal. They met by chance at Union Station, Chicago and the rest is history.
Winter Mountain is signed to Frome-based Charcoal Records and this set was recorded live in its entirety.

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