Sunday, 13 May 2007

musical treats of april/may

Musical treats of late

Been trying to keep up with the whip around tour of Bristol’s music scene but this has been made a little trickier since Japan decided to steal all my money.
Still, have done my best and here is what my ears have been twitching too the last few weeks…

Nb: Some names in the following review may have been changed.

Ladyfest, as you are no doubt aware, is making a welcome return to Bristol after a four year hiatus, and the countdown to the fest begun with a fundraiser at Kino.
The night was open mic, and designed to inspire discussion, showcase local talent and, obviously, raise some cash, for the event.
Chicks with Decks provided the music, playing an excellent selection of indie, dance electro pop, dropping in some Portishead, Chicks on Speed and Le Tigre to a busy Kino. Despite concerns over technology and whether the treble would be too high, the girls sounded wicked, seamless mixing and tunes that showed off the musical ethos of Ladyfest.
The open mic featured three girl singer songwriters and their guitars, one ukulele, two story tellers and one boy. The night opened with Cecilia on guitar and ukulele. She had a really sweet voice, moving from jazzy tones to folksy, deft guitar playing to complement her singing style. This was followed by me (!) reading ‘Bianca’ very nervously, but it seemed to be enjoyed. ( under March posts). We wanted to have this evening representing as much of women’s creativity, and therefore the ethos behind Ladyfest as possible. So it was great to have a range of singers, djs, writers and artists present, having decorated Kino with Lucy Downes’ artwork, line drawing self portraits and female nudes laced with strips of colour.
After my nervous reading we had another girl singer songwriter, Jess. Like Cecilia before her, she sang with her guitar, a rockier feel to her music, brasher guitar and more upbeat sounds, whilst her lyrics were fairly poignant, again songs about love and falling in and out of it are always good to hear.
Chicks got back on the decks as everyone took a break to get some more drinks and yummy Kino cakes, before it was time for another storyteller. Completely improvised, she told us a story about a princess who would rather not marry any of the prince’s in the land, and after defeating them all in a round of wrestling matches, rode 10,000 horses over their heads and into her own world of adventures, becoming the dream of brave little girls and the nightmare of kings. I am always a sucker for a good subversive fairytale, and it was really impressive to see how she created the characters and the plot as she told it, offering a performance more than a reading. And to consolidate her ability to create on the spot, she also read a poem that had been scribbled down as the night progressed, offering a perspective on middle age and growing older. It was great to have older people getting involved, as we want Ladyfest to be an inclusive celebration of women and what women can achieve and have achieved creatively, and to share all aspects of the female experience, be it from us being young twenty somethings, teenagers and students to mothers, and grandmothers and all in between.
The night offered one more girl singer, Elian (sp? Sorry!) who works at Kino. Her songs perhaps more political than Jess and Cecilia, one song about her reaction to the stirrings of the war in Iraq – namely, how can they possibly get away with this one, and the more personal, about time spent with her girlfriend farming in Spain. Her voice had a lovely range to it and she was a spellbinding performer, really reaching in to the audience to bring them in to her songs and her experience of singing them.
Mike very kindly allowed us one more tune, provided by the boy of the evening, Rafi, singing a cover of a Diana Krall track, although he apologises for having referred to her as Elvis Costello’s wife.
The night was a big success, both financially and in raising awareness for Ladyfest. It seems to have got people talking and the event in people’s minds, which was the whole point. Fundraisers should be taking place once a month until the fest itself, so keep an eye out for info and fliers…

What next? The last Saturday of the month is of course, BIG TING and this was one to remember. If only I could…Bass Clef returned amid rumours that this may have been the last Ting with the departure of Roz from Cosies, and it is always good to see him back behind those decks. Fresh from playing with Maryanne Hobbes in Cardiff, with a bag full of drum n bass and doo wop.
The Aphrodite tune sounded wicked with big heavy bass, and although Big Ting is officially a no go zone for dnb, tonight exceptions could be made! Was great to hear the ‘I say yeah yeah’ tune out again, it has been way too long since I last heard that played, and the thumping original ‘Tainted Love’ got everyone very excited. Think there was a bit of Nina Simone in his mix as well, so always a pleasure! Was a bit of a reunion Ting also, seeing as we had a visit from everyone’s favourite dj dancer, Nza Da Baron. Excellent to hear ‘Holiday’ on the decks (me and Becca v appreciative), and his great mix of rnb and pop to get the dance floor heaving – new Amerie track sounds amazing, Beyonce, it was all good.
Jay le Surgeon kept things up with his usual brand of funk, hip hop, reggae, and umm, the Bear Necessities. Phil Harris, man. I’m still trying to get him to play the Robin Hood song though.
Puffin Jack played an absolutely beautiful set. He couldn’t play a bad tune, and it was great to hear the 12” mix of ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’, as well as dropping Sticky and Ms Dynamite’s ‘Boo’ near the end of his set, great to hear.
I was very bruised by the end of the night from stumbling in stupidly high heels, but it was great. I wish Rlf and Niz were here always.

Went to my first Normalise last Sunday for Puffin Jack, Luke, Harry Glazebrook et al, as well as Appleblim fresh from supporting at DMZ. (wish I could have gone but had to go to my dad’s). Lovely minimal techno sounds mixed with all sorts of other treats, plus I think the Puffin played something that sounded like Pattie Smith which was completely dreamy.

Saw The Kick Inside at Gimme Shelter on Friday, named I assume after lovely Ms Bush’s debut album. Really enjoyed their set, Morrisey-esque vocals sounded lovely, really powerful voice, and excellent cover of ‘She’s Losing it’ by Belle and Sebastian. They managed to get really into the spirit of the song whilst musically being completely un-schmind. Cool! And last night was dub step extravaganza of Highroad at Cosies; I missed Chris’s set unfortunately, but was in time to see Appleblim and Gatekeeper head to head, excellent as ever, flawless mixing, bass pitched perfectly and excellent choice of tunes. Pinch of course was perfect as ever. Absolutely rammed in there though, always odd to see the different Cosies crowds!

And now it is the end of my reviews and I am sitting at work typing it away….