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Outside, the weather was doing this. Again. We all know the drill by now: sheeting rain, gale-force winds, couple of feet of mud in areas not usually classed as the countryside.
But inside Mount Pleasant Ecological Park’s music venue on Friday night, it may as well have been Jamaica, such were the sweet tunes and warm, unbuttoned atmosphere at the Cornell Campbell & the Soothsayers gig.
Thank you for the excellent, warming food Cafe Irie and to the main man Cornell for having one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard – a sweet, clear falsetto. And for wearing sunnies in the midst of one of the foulest Cornish winters on record.
What a great venue – check www.mpecopark.co.uk for more gigs. I’ve signed myself right up for updates on their world music programme.
Up-and-coming English folkies the Staves are playing a rather special gig on Sunday in Cornwall – by the sea, presumably alfresco, at the Hidden Hut on the Roseland (enjoying much foodie cachet en ce moment; Stein even recommended it last week in the Times). Seems like a pretty inspired collaboration to me – and one of their hits is even called ‘Facing West’.
As luck would have it, Read the rest of this entry »
Today I’m sending out the stirring, sincere sounds of James Findlay, who was the starring guest at Penzance Folk Club last night upstairs at the Benbow.
It’s been a couple of years since Findlay won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award but the early twentysomething must still have felt pretty fresh-faced when looking out over PZ folk club’s mature crowd. I am a big fan of traditional folk music – indeed the name of this blog is a tribute to mighty Cornish folkie Brenda Wootton – and it was a treat to have this rising star in our midst. I live in hope of a revival of a 1960s Count House-style folk music scene in West Cornwall… anyone fancy kicking things off?
Click through for another vid from last night… Read the rest of this entry »
It was a rare, surreal but ultimately life-affirming sight to behold late-middle-aged Truro types unbutton their smart Jaeger coats at Hall for Cornwall last night and party like it was 1979, belting out the lyrics to ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’ like they meant it even more now than they did in 1979.
Respect to the cast of ‘Reasons to be Cheerful‘ for this achievement and numerous high-voltage standing ovations. The show – delivered by an endlessly energetic cast – is a part-gig, part-play spectacle inspired by the life and music of Ian Dury and it’s playing Hall for Cornwall tonight and tomorrow.
Click through for more pics Read the rest of this entry »
Now Kernow is some way from the city (no, not that one, I mean the city). And every time I get that donkey of a FGW train, it feels ever so slightly further. But for one day a year, on St Piran’s Day fittingly, Cornwall gets its moment of fame in London for the ‘Kernow in the City‘ event, showcasing Cornish artists, music and film.
There are to be real Cornish pasties and ale, live shows from the Crowns and the Loose Salute, Cornish language workshops, visual arts, plus singer-songwriter Ruarri Joseph, who I’ve never seen live, though I am fond of the sweet chorus I have posted above. Touch of the David Gray? That’s alright, that’s alright…
Sat 10 March 7pm, £10 adv / £12 door. Rich Mix. More info on Kernow in the City here.
Watching them dismember rock songs on titchily tiny ukuleles is a formula that never seems to fail (which may be why they sell out hundreds of gigs a year).
It’s a relentlessly entertaining, semi-ironic show but musically it’s no joke – these people are slick pickers. Even Ralph Read the rest of this entry »
What do you make of all this then?
My mouse-clicking finger looked sharp today when I received an email with a link promising a ‘punked-up version’ of old-as-you-like Cornish folk song Lil’ Eyes.
This little blast of Cornish anarchy comes care of a band called Crowns – a rocky, folky, Pogues-inspired band made up of four 21-year-old Cornish lads from Lanson currently living in exile (while Read the rest of this entry »
I had the good fortune of hearing about the Gilad Atzmon and Orient House Ensemble gig at the St Ives Club last Friday care of the St Ives Jazz Club. I saw that the Guardian had given it four stars at Ronnie Scott’s the previous week; they said: “A shrewd pacer of live shows, Atzmon steered tonight’s performance from ambiguous, unsettling microtonal and geographical drifts between the west and the Middle East, toward an optimistic, conventionally tempered finale on Wonderful World, pulled off without a hint of cheesiness.”
I wouldn’t say we are spoiled for ‘microtonal and geographical drifts’ in these parts so it’s fair to say I jumped on it. Held at the old-fashioned Western Hotel in St Ives, the St Ives Jazz Club does an impressive job of making it feel like a bona fide jazz club with near darkness, tealights and even some men in black-rimmed glasses. And the music was superb – tight, irreverent and diverse.
Here are a few clips I took on the sly (trying to hide the phone from the jazz purists). Check this amazing drum solo – watch this guy, he’s called Eddie Hick:
More tracks at myspace: http://www.myspace.com/orienthouse
When the compere introduced the opening act at the Last Cabaret at the Acorn on Saturday as a rap outfit from west Cornwall, I couldn’t help but brace myself and check the exit leading to the bar was clear (well, come on, on paper it didn’t bode well). I needn’t have worried though because the duo in question clearly started honing their sense of irony in the womb.
“Casio rap duo” Hedluv & Passman deliver deadpan raps and rhymes from the urban underbelly of, er, Redruth. ‘Doin’ it Dreckly’, as fans will know, is their “anthem” – you can buy the T-shirt on their website. The chorus is catchy and it goes like this: Cos we’re doin’ it, yeah, we’re doin’ it dreckly… doin’ it, yeah, we’re doin’ it dreckly… Listen to it on their myspace.
Their act was over too soon for me – the belly laughing was just gathering momentum on my row – and I was left gasping for more of their humorous rhapsodies on life in ‘Druth. Fortunately I have now discovered Hedluv’s blog, The Online Pasty Guide, to sate my appetite – which is a stroke of pasty genius. Here’s the basic remit:
“Welcome to ‘the online pasty guide’ brought to you by hedluv and filled with hints and tips designed to help you avoid the unspeakable pain of having a bad pasty (photographed above). This particular pasty was purchased after 3pm – that was my first mistake, and leads me neatly to my first tip: 3pm is too late to be buying pasties.”
Look out for them.
headluv and passman (www.druth.co.uk).
Don’t forget to join the facebook group ‘Save the Acorn’ for the latest on how to help secure the future of the marvellous venue, which is sadly due to close shortly. Click here for my blog post on this.
Brother & Bones were accompanied by a full string and brass section and the high-emotion, epic sound was – and I’m trying not to say this too lightly – quite reminiscent of Muse. Impressive stuff. Check out their myspace.
I tried to get some footage on my iPhone of their more high-octane songs but it distorted (far too much energy, it seems, for such a small mic) but this sweet acoustic lullaby came out sort of OK for the first half. Sorry must do better!
And here, by polar contrast, is a masterclass in how to make a VERY cool music video of the wilds of west Cornwall – the lead singer Rich of Brother & Bones doing a more slidey guitar thing:
One of my favourite Penwith restaurants – tiny Blas Burgerworks in St Ives – has teamed up with one of my favourite Penwith singer-songwriters – Gulval’s Jenny Bishop – for a night of gourmet burgers and emotionally charged acoustic songs to celebrate its fourth birthday on Saturday 13th March.
Being an absolutely minute space – the average size of a Cornish cottage living room (which is what it probably once was) – Blas is really just a cosy cluster of tables and a scattering of stools made from recycled materials. All have already been nabbed for the 8.45-9.30pm sitting; book now for a perch at the earlier 7.30-8.15pm session.
Blas makes a good case for specialising – they only do one dish, but they’ve nailed it. Cornish-sourced, freerange burgers with chunky chips start at £8.
The scary prospect of Pizza Express setting up in the old Woolworths premises in St Ives is enough to make me want to add extra weight to my praise. Blas represents everything that ‘new’ St Ives does well: it’s small, creative, sensitive and a one-off.
I was mesmerised by the Portico Quartet when they played a sell-out date the Acorn last year – in fact, it was probably my gig of the year. I could try and describe their music – modern jazz-classical crossover? instrumental folk meets world music? four outrageously talented blokes? – but nothing really works, so I’ll just say: don’t miss it.
Here’s a taster – the upturned barbecue is the hang by the way, the instrument that gives the group their uniquely mellow sound.