Thursday, 25 October 2012

A tale of two halves - Luke Jackson & Josh Harty

It was a double header at Twickfolk this week with two very different personalities and performances taking to the stage.
First was Luke Jackson's fresh rapid fire approach. His powerful voice and energetic presence roused us all from our Sunday night ennui. His tune 'Big Hill' brought us all to the peak of alertness and his set was over way too soon.
Next we had a very different and understandably more mature voyage with Josh Harty. Like the Montana landscape he is inspired by, he left plenty of space for us to think and dream. There were long instrumental journeys and his lyrics were measured and poignant. I had to work harder to achieve my drawings and struggled to represent him singing. Like an Ansel Adam's photograph, I marvel at the starkness and steely beauty of Josh's work.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Brooks Williams - more than quite good

When an American-born musician starts using 'Quite' quite frequently you know he'll be close to your heart by the end of a gig. Brooks lives in the heart of England now, a place that epitomises Englishness, Cambridge.
The day before his performance at Twickfolk I was in Cambridge myself, placing 31 magnetic artworks on the streets as part of the Text and Context exhibition.

He endeared himself to many of us last night as Twickfolk's volunteers tirelessly wrestled with technical hiatus. The power cut out at one point which hardly broke Brooks stride and he seamlessly sidestepped to an acoustic set without any fuss.

It had been a long day for the volunteers at Twickfolk. They had started by making cigar-box guitars after lunch and by teatime were busy playing with 'bottle neck' gusto. A few of these recruits were still brandishing them by nightfall. In fact, one cigarbox wielding gentleman was asked to calm down by other audience members because he was so emboldened by his workshop with Brooks, and started chipping-in with a few riffs.

Brooks was a pleasure to draw. His thin face and strong cheekbones make him quick to capture. The only danger being a flirtation with caricature if I wasn't careful. His set was fast moving and sincere, and very gentle when he was directing his attention to his wife who was sat next to me.
We'll all get a chance to see Brooks again on the Andrew Marr show this December, where if I had a choice I'd like to hear 'Statesboro Blues' and 'Belfast Blues' once more.

Twickfolk regular Geoff Heap sums it up beautifully
"I quite (very much) liked it too!"

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Bouncing with Tom Kitching & Pilgrims Way

Last Sunday we all took a step down the Pilgrim's Way with Lucy Wright, Tom Kitching and Edwin Beasant. Along the road were fine performances and bouyant songs. It was an interesting night for drawing with a range of new and old instruments, the newest for me being the Jews Harp. I'm not a convert yet and was more taken by the traditional fiddle of Tom Kitching (image left) and the dancing of all 3 members of Pilgrim's Way.

This was the first footwork I've seen since starting the Art residency at Twickfolk, and yes Tom does rank as Number 1 in the Biggest Bounciest Fiddle Player ever seen.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Singer's Night jury - Alan Franks & Garry Smith

This was my first 'Singer's Night' at Twickfolk and it was not what I had expected. I thought I'd be in for an easy ride but I had to knuckle down and try to draw all the 16 musicians that we're performing. Unfortunately I fell short (sorry to Kate Moorhouse, Chris and Johnny Black) because I had just two songs to capture the essence of their performance, features and style.

Garry Smith (top left) is fast becoming one of my favourites to draw and listen to at Twickfolk. It is not just his demeanour that speaks of strength and power but his songwriting too. He was constantly in demand to help create bodycolour for other performers' vignettes, but it was his tune 'Edge of my world' that fueled the intensity in my drawing.

Alan Franks (below) made a strong impression upon myself and I think the others attending last night. His second tune of the evening, The Ballad of Daisy Waters, released a flood of appreciation. It must be a tremendous boon to be the recipient of other songwriters praise, for only they must know the hard work and elusive spirit that must be harnessed to write such a captivating narrative. 
Alan explained, 
'It's a new one and it's only the second time I've played it in public.
 I tried it once - in Lowestoft - but I was doing it in the wrong key - wrong for the guitar arrangement as well as for the singing - and it didn't really work so I put
it to one side.'