Kit Hawes & Aaron Catlow

Amazing!

If it’s possible, then they were even better this time than when they blew us away in May 2018.

Funnier. Better stories. Great new tunes. The best of The Fox material. And playing that was even more vibrant and joyous.

We hope to have a film of their encore here soon.

We’ll definitely be getting these guys back in the future.

The Breath

The Breath is, strictly speaking, a four piece band but at its core are guitarist Stuart McCallum and singer and flautist, Rioghnach Connolly who co-write all their songs. They have recorded versions of their songs as a band and as a duo and have played a few gigs as a duo too.

After watching Stuart play a solo set in Manchester about a year ago he agreed to bring the duo version of The Breath to Ryepiece. Originally the gig was scheduled for November just as Rioghnach landed the BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year Award…but she was poorly after the birth of her first baby and we had to rearrange.

It was worth the wait.

Stuart’s playing was unbelievable.  He’s surely one of the best guitarists in the world right now. (We’ll have to get him back to do a solo set some time). And Rioghnach’s voice was awesome.

What made the gig even more remarkable was that they’d played at Celtic Connections in Glasgow…the night before!

Baby Macha came along too and she was as good as gold – sat on dad’s lap – and fed before each set.

 

The Little Unsaid

Fair to say that The Little Unsaid brought the house down.

We’ve never had a four piece ‘band’ before…with keyboards, a drum kit and all the associated leads, mic stands and general paraphernalia. It meant using the raised area at one of the room to fit them in….with the audience in slightly more orderly rows than usual.

This doesn’t really do justice to what each musician played but it’s reasonable approximation…..

John Elliott – vocals, guitar, keyboards

Sonny Johns – bass, knobs

Alison D’Souza – viola, keyboards

Tim Heymerdinger – drums, backing vocals, keyboards

The band played two 45 minute sets built from songs from across their three albums and recent six track EP Music:Nature. They started quietly with ‘Willow’ from Atomise and slowly but surely the band and audience began to connect so that by the end of the first set there was really warm and enthusiastic applause.

The second set was a bit more muscular (!) with a few songs building to stomping crescendos that had a spontaneous standing ovation at the end of ‘Chain’ and another after the powerful encore ‘Alive As’.

People wanted more and eventually John came onto the stage on his own and played a beautiful, wrinkly new song called ‘Dolly’ that is still very much a work in progress…

The full set is here:

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We had a lovely mixed audience. A few hardened Little Unsaid fans…including a couple who’d already seen them play in Oswestry and Birmingham. We had a man who’d seen one of our posters while walking his dog. And another had seen a leaflet in Insomnia after the talk by Mark Wood. We had lots of regulars too and most only new the band’s music from the few youtube videos we’ve been sharing. But by the end the room was filled with love for The Little Unsaid and a real connection.

I’m sure we’d have them back in a couple of years time…but I fear they’ll have grown too big for Ryepiece by then. They were off to play The Railway Inn in Winchester on Saturday and then the last night of this particular tour, in London on Monday.

If you do get a chance to see them live then do. The albums are good but live, as so often, is a whole different experience.

Anne-Marie Sanderson & Germa Adan

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We’d been trying to find a date that both these very talented and very different solo singer-songwriters could make for quite a while but it was worth the wait.

Since seeing Anne-Marie at Shirley Folk last winter she has done hundreds of gigs around the UK and across Europe. It’s given her a a growing confidence to talk about her songs and she is a consummate performer. Her guitar work is very accomplished and she has the most amazing voice that coaxes out beautiful melodies. She performed works from across her three excellent recorded EPs as well as a couple of newer songs.

This recording of Poisonwood from her most recent Book Songs EP shows her in full flight. Apologies for the quality of the video but you’ll certainly get a sense of what a talent Anne-Marie is.

I never usually think to ask for a set list….I could see Anne-Marie’s orange one all the way through the set. But still forgot to ask for it. She kindly emailed it to me later:

Lilac Time
Sweet Tooth
Endless Eyes
Two Tall Mountains (Connie Converse)
Knipe Point
Poisonwood
Holloway
Postcards
Talking to You
—–
Who Knows Where the Time Goes (Sandy Denny)

Before Anne-Marie we had been treated to Haiti born American citizen Germa who has been living and working in Birmingham for a while. She brought stories from Haiti and sang in a mixture of Creole and English with violin and guitar accompaniments that had echoes of Malian music or even modern minimalists like Steve Reich.

Germa’s introductions and story telling between songs was very softly spoken. You could hear a pin drop as everyone lent forward slightly to catch her every word. But despite the fragility of her spoken words the songs had strong rhythms and there were plenty of opportunities for audience participation. Someone was even adding harmony vocals. It was a beautiful sound anyway.

Laura Moody

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We had sold out for the second time running tonight but despite putting warnings on the poster and website about Laura being an ‘avant-singer’ I don’t think anyone was ready for what hit them!

Laura was immaculately turned out. She was sat serenely with her lovely old cello on the small stage. Simon introduced her and she then started to talk in a soft, well spoken voice. Everything may have seemed suitably safe and serene. She started by apologising for what was to come. She said that rather like the best way to swim in cold water is just to dive in, maybe the best thing for everyone was if she didn’t try to ease us in to her music but just start with something rather extreme……

We don’t have any video of the night but this recording of her opening song…Turn Away…recorded at Wilton’s Music Hall…will give you the idea. (You have to imagine you are sat on a sofa, about 2 feet away from the cello, when it starts!)

It was a joy to see the looks on people’s faces.

Shock…delight…hilarity…disbelief.

Laura worked her way through the whole of her fantastic debut album, Acrobats, as she plucked, slapped, stroked, bowed and tapped every part of her beautiful (and as it turned out very old) cello. The sounds she made with her voice were just as extraordinary. We hadn’t managed to secure a PA for the night and I was a little worried it might limit the sounds Laura could make. I needn’t have worried. She was extra-ordinary.

It was much more than a musical performance. I don’t think any of us had seen or heard anything quite like it before…and to have it happening in our little house concert was an real treat.

The final piece, Satellites, had us all following Laura’s eyes as she watched an imaginary satellite slowing moving across the room…while a very satellite like sound somehow emanated from her…mouth?

There were only a few vinyl copies of her album left now, there’s no signs of any new recording on the horizon and her website needs…er…updating. But that’s because she is so busy writing music for the theatre, collaborating with all sorts of people – live and in the studio.

We’ve never had anyone quite like Laura Moody before…and I’m not sure we ever will again. If you get the chance to experience her live don’t miss it whatever you do.

Kit Hawes & Aaron Catlow

18th May 2018

Well you never know what lies just around the corner.

When Simon said there was a conference at Ettington Chase for people who organise festivals and that in the evening it had a concert and that it was free. Well, to be honest I thought he’d lost the plot. But one dank evening in November 2017 a few of us ventured over to the Chase to explore. We’d missed all the talks about portaloo hire and public liability insurance but we did see some pretty amazing musicians. They all got to play 4 songs to the audience of bearded festival organisers. We saw four acts and could have booked them all for Ryepiece. But the one that stood out was Kit and Aaron. They’re playing was incredible and they seemed like nice blokes too when we spoke to them in the lobby after their 15 minute set.

I booked them to play for us a few days later.

Then the months went by and as the date of the concert loomed I started to wonder if I’d done the right thing. Would they work at Ryepiece? Were they as good as I remembered them? Would our crowd connect with them?

Well as soon as they arrived and started sound checking I knew it was going to be a good night….

Bev, our usual cook, was away so we had Ryepiece newbie Steve and he did us proud

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After the long dreary winter and early spring the weather was glorious and the courtyard garden was looking wonderful. It was a sell out night…we actually had to turn people away for the first time ever. The barn and the garden were crowded with people eating, chatting, drinking. There was a really buzzy atmosphere. And then the concert started….

It was a very special night. Everything just seemed to click in to place. Kit and Aaron worked their way through pretty much the whole of their excellent album The Fox (and if you bought yourself a copy then check out the price now on Amazon and feel smug!)

There were no low points. Every song, every tune, every performance seemed to top the last. Aaron’s mellifluous fiddle work fitted perfectly with Kit’s guitar – that could move from a gentle strum to a muscular chop at the drop of a hat. Kit’s singing wasn’t too shabby either.  This video taken between the shimmering locks of Messrs Coley and Ingham gives you a little of what it was like….and just listen to that response from a captivated audience at the end.

And then all too quickly it was over. Kit and Aaron seemed to have had a ball too which was great.

They sold a pile of CDs, we chatted, packed up their gear and headed off into the night on their way back to (a very expensive) Bristol.

And another Ryepiece season was over.

For those who into these sorts of things….here’s the complete set list:

The Fox
Sullivans hay
Crossfire
New one
Flash company
John Barley corn
The Fighter
Lofoten
Hard times in old england
Pill pilots
All on a day
Peddlers leg
Freylichs*

[Since then Kit and Aaron have been very very busy playing festivals all over the UK and then heading to Switzerland to play 9 gigs at the Buskersbern street festival. Hopefully they will now do some writing and recording and get ready to do it all over again…]

Sauna

 

Ben Maggs

20th April 2018

Ben played at The Tree House Bookshop in Kenilworth about 18 months ago and host Victoria told us that he was a big hit with her loyal audience. So we’ve been trying to fix up a date ever since then and finally we did it. It was a glorious sunny day…after the dreariest of springs…and as soon as Ben arrived to set up we knew it was going to be a good night.

We had lots of our regulars for the concert but also a number of Ben’s own followers who helped make it a sell out concert. It meant there was a fantastic atmosphere.

Fabulous food as ever from Bev and sister Georgie. They’d made up the recipe and hadn’t named it yet…it tasted even better than it looked.

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After such a long, dreary winter and early spring we were blessed with a burst of warmth and sunshine so many people made the most of it and ate outside in Ant’s beautiful courtyard garden.

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Ben had set up and sound checked in the afternoon and sounded great. We discovered that he studied Philosophy at Warwick back in the day…which explains why he’s such a thinker.

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Ben performed songs from both his albums and a few newer ones too. His voice sends tingles down your spine and his guitar work is beautiful. He added texture to a number of songs by using loops of his own voice and guitar to create a warm, full sound.

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(Thanks to Russ Inman for this lovely photo of Ben in full flight).

Two or was it three encores and we eventually let him go.

If you fancy seeing him again or want to keep up with any future CD releases then he has a really good website which you can find here.

The Phil Bawn Quartet

Friday 9th March 2018

What a great night of old school jazz…

Phil Bawn

Phil Bawn (tenor sax)

Dave Prickit (keyboards)

Tony Morris (guitar)

Geoff Holtom (bass)

…plus plenty of bad jokes and band banter in between each tune.

The band had only managed one short rehearsal as a quartet before this gig and to be fair they were a bit raggedy at the start…each member of the band had sourced music for their set…just not always in the same key. But their collective experience and talent soon shone through. One member or other would listen to the others for a few bars, pick up the tune and then join in seamlessly.

The longer they played, the tighter they got. They looked the part too…all dressed in black.

Band leader Phil Bawn seemed to have an endless supply of the sort of jokes and shaggy dog stories that fans of Humphrey Lyttelton will know and love.

The two 45 minute sets were full of swing jazz classics as well as some lesser known tunes; mostly instrumentals but with Phil and bass player Geoff Holtom each putting in a shift on vocals.

Geoff’s daughter and three granddaughters were in the audience which added an extra emotional layer to the evening.

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A fantastic curry from Bev and a packed house all contributed to an excellent first concert of 2018.

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