Monday, May 30, 2011

Acoustic+ 27 May

There is always a problem in store; one of ever increasing expectations. Another one is where to start. In this case I'm going to heed some old advice...
"Start at the beginning, continue to the end and then stop."  First to play was Douglas Hamilton and I must say it took a while for me to appreciate his song writing style.
Originally from Nebraska and very much American, this is not a problem musically or otherwise to me, but this time it just took a while for me to get his line. These songs he sung and played solo, either on electric keyboard or acoustic guitar.
Sometimes that lack of immediacy is actually a good thing. Currently based in Somerset, for the last track he was joined by a couple of members of Appalachia for a song that, he commented later, American audiences don't understand...

This was about the English belief that whatever has gone wrong it can be solved by brewing a pot of tea. It is not that of a sardonic outsider looking at the foibles of the English, which accounts for its reception in the US perhaps, but a rather acute observation.
It reminds me of two things: the commentary that Bill Bryson routinely makes in 'Notes From A Small Island' - and the reason we later adopted him as the head of the Council For The Protection of Rural England. Outsiders can sometimes see and explain the value of what we just take for granted. The song itself is also probably one of the best that Flanders and Swann never wrote or recorded and I don't suppose that even the irascible W.S. Gilbert would be particularly disappointed.
Next to play was Katie Marie, all the way from Totnes, with some very accomplished acoustic guitar and fine songs - traditional in many ways and certainly entirely acoustic but not hidebound in style or content.
I'd seen her play live before as part of Nicky Swann's band but this was quite something: Great songs, great singing and oooh... that guitar.  If you doubt me go see live... in the meanwhile get the album 'To The Journey'.  It is currently sold out on CD but available to download (Amazon, iTunes, etc.).  I was assured that another batch of CDs is on order too. I would buy this on vinyl if that were possible and I said as much.
Leonardo's Bicycle were next on stage. They hail from Frome but their twin harmony guitar and vocals have a great deal of influence from across the Atlantic; a neat counterpoint to Douglas Hamilton. Fascinating were their, rather successful, attempts to imitate the sounds of pedal steel guitar. Now that's something I'd like to see at the Cheese & Grain for real...
Last, so headlining, were The Pigeons. This was a good contrast and also a very good performance indeed. Somewhat less acoustic than the forgoing but very taut and well thought out.
My verdict is that it was another stunning Acoustc+.
The question is that, because it raises the bar yet higher, how can it top that in July?  There is also an announcement coming - there is another Acoustic event on the horizon in the greater Frome area...

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