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Acoustic Gathering 2013

The 8th Acoustic Gathering took place on 7th and 8th September 2013.

Review compiled by Katherine Dunn-Mines, with contributions from Paul Spencer and Trudie Newlove. 

Saturday

Saturday saw a lively start with the polished party sounds of TFI Music. One of their trademark tracks, Santana's 'Smooth' very much embodies their polished performance and although the crowd is still building at this early point in the day, it's a promising start.  Garbed in wayward-schoolboy chic with rumpled white shirts, black ties loose about the neck, they launch into a rendition of the Doobie Brothers' 'Long Train Running' in a tumble of drums, agile bass and keys that form their signature sound. A giant mariner puppet comes lumbering by as if drawn by the sudden burst of music (it's part of the upcoming Orpheus the Mariner project at 2014's Coastival).

There's a threatening coolness in the air but interest has been piqued and heads are turned. It's a challenging job to open Acoustic Gathering and the band do not disappoint, as well-chosen, funk-flavoured songs follow one after the other. Their sound is full bodied, with no gaps to fill or notes to miss. A cover of Jackie Wilson's 'Higher and Higher' is a particular highlight, as by now feet are tapping and heads nodding. With the brass parts played on keyboard, Jack Radish proves his versatility by eking out different sounds then marrying them to the whole.

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Class 14 (George Pindar School), aka 'Nathan and Friends', are next to take centre stage with a pared-down arrangement consisting of cajon-driven percussion and some robust acoustic guitar. The music stays relatively current, including covers such as 'Too Close' by Alex Clare, and a fun interpretation of 'Sexy and I Know It' by LMFAO.  They show great skill for such young performers, and with great vocals from both Nathan and their female vocalist, as well as some mature cajon and guitar work, it will be great to see how these youngsters develop over the coming years.

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

 TJ Hudson partners with versatile musician Marcus McInerney (from the Demimondaines / The Hashtag Revolution) on keyboard, supplying an understated counterpoint to Hudson's dramatic guitar and vocals.  We are drawn into a dark, persuasive, almost mysterious atmosphere on original songs such as 'Hear Me'.  A perfect fit for the music, his throaty-sounding vocals are as unhurried and thoughtful as his songs.  There is a great change of pace with a cover version of 'Stayin' Alive', some fun to showcase both versatility and sense of humour from these musicians.  Next up is Billy Nielsen, an Acoustic Gathering veteran; as a seasoned performer, he accomplishes a high-standard set of sincere and candid contemporary folk, while Katie McCabe brings some soulful, doleful original material, complimented by her boho vibe and superb voice.

TJ Hudson

TJ Hudson

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

After this trio of more emotive, angst-natured acts, The Hashtag Revolution are a marked change of mood. Described by compere Jim Taylor as 'one of the best acts on the local scene', they prove their merit with a set that manages to convey their sound yet also have a fresh edge, having mellowed out some of their rockier elements for the acoustic festival. For their musicality, I can't pick out one member over another for praise, such is the cohesive, adept quality of their work. I will say that lead singer Chris Wright has a talent for writing catchy, inspiring lyrics, and this was one of those sets that just seems to end all too soon.

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

With Luke Smythe, it is back to the heartfelt, raw emotional fare. With a superb & distinctive voice, some great original material (check out 'Steal the Stars') and, I understand, an album in the pipeline, expect to hear more from this young man soon.

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Tony Grimaud, with backing support from the 'Psychedelic Jellybeans' (who are, in fact, guitarist-of-many-bands Rob Simpson plus half of Dirty Beach – Archie Cookson on drums and Jonathan Machin on bass) proves a standout set; fun, funky, accomplished and mixing Grimaud's original material, such as 'Fix Me One More Drink', with its husky rhythm and blues feel, alongside covers that have the early evening crowd immersing in the festival spirit.

Tony Grimaud

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Carl Woodford's eloquent playing provides a relaxed but not downbeat element to the day. With his Roy Harper–influenced sound, he brings something different to the day's fare and it is a quirky little gem of a set.

Carl Woodford

Carl Woodford

Dirty Beach really hit the spot for many of the audience members that I talk to. Their tight, playful, skilled repertoire - all covers, but given the particular Dirty Beach treatment that includes some inspired segues - is perfect for festival frolics. They are feeling the music and clearly having fun – the whole band is in the moment, giving great party and getting much appreciation for it.

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Toby Jepson has a few long-standing female fans swooning, and although of course I remember Mr Thrud and Little Angels, their main output was just a few years before my interests moved from My Little Ponies to music; leaving me free from nostalgia to simply appreciate Jepson's compelling stage presence, powerful vocals and, again, a nice change in tone with this rock sound. During the set, fires are lit on the island, along the waterline and up the waterfall itself. Although for me, it is not as awe-inspiring as last year's beautiful colour-changing light effects on the waterfall, it still chimes with festival vibes and is a pretty addition to the evening.

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Main support comes in the form of Irish band Ishka, starting with a traditional-sounding instrumental and cranking up the craic with favourites such as 'Whiskey in the Jar'; clapping and stomping infects the crowd from across the water, such is the irresistible appeal of Ishka; this superb band look to be enjoying themselves too as they give it their all on stage.  

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

 Alabama Paydirt have been reviewed twice before by this gig guide so we shouldn't need to tell you how good they are – but we will, just for good measure.  All we really have to add is, what a great way to end the evening.

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

 

Sunday

Arriving mid way through first act, The City Blues, the day is relaxed and, thankfully, warmer and brighter; there is roughly the same number of people here as at the same point yesterday, swelling nicely later in the day.  After a fairly subdued track, this duo laughingly promise that the 'next one won't be so depressing', and include some Green Day to keep things more upbeat, aware of showing off a variety of styles and moods. Their music provides a pleasant serenade as families gather in the 'Community Market' on the putting green, couples lounge on benches, and people amble to the Don't Dive Inn real ale bar.

One of our review team has fun and games, setting up their picnic blanket on the incline in front of the cafe and settling down to watch some excellent acts, they end up making a note to themselves that picnic blankets with waterproof backing mixed with steep inclines do not work!  Once they had apologised to the rather surprised people lower down the slope for inelegantly gate-crashing their picnic, they relocated to the benches and made themselves busy enjoying the music on offer today.

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Ben Lane was a hit at an earlier event this year from the Acoustic Gathering team, Wykeham Gathering, and he doesn't disappoint today, diving straight in with Springsteen's 'I'm On Fire' and a nice, gruff, country-esque tone. The Railroad Hobos complement this, cramming their bandmembers (including Jesse Hutchinson, who had already entertained with Alabama Paydirt the previous night) on the petite stage to perform country and rock & roll with skill and panache; 'Wagon Wheel' (Bob Dylan / Old Crow Medicine Show) is a real delight.

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Next up is acoustic alternative artist Ross Dransfield, making a strong start with self-penned 'My Friend', which showcases the warm timbre of his voice and his songwriting skills; most of the set is original material, with a couple of covers 'to keep people happy'; 'The Man Who Sold the World' highlights intricate playing and another layer to the vocal talent, and his rendition of Led Zeppelin's 'Going to California' giving the sunny afternoon a quintessential festival vibe.

Ross Dransfield

Ross Dransfield

Salsa Como Loco were a great success last year, as was the salsa demonstration from Scarborough Salsa by the Sea. This is repeated this year and although lower audience numbers mean the huge processional salsa doesn't happen this time around, the music is delightful and the dancing demonstration has plucky volunteers of all ages taking part.  I see lots of people genuinely interested in joining what look to be fun sessions at the Roscoe Rooms for lessons.

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Tom Davenport makes an immediate impact with 'Soul Man', and manages to get the languorous mid-afternoon crowd to sing back, deliberately echoing Freddie Mercury circa 'Live Aid 1985'. He gives an energetic and engaging set, and it seems to just be over all too soon.  

Southern Bill starts off with my favourite song from his selection of original material, the fiery and forceful 'Now Is Not The Time'. Often a solo performer, today he is accompanied not only by his brother Jack Radish as the keyboard maestro, and Max Kynman on cajon (both seen yesterday in TFI Music) but also musician and former Ishka cajonist Edd Edmonds, who provides bass guitar and some great harmonica, which adds particular depth and resonance to a stunning song, 'Aldous'. 'Expiry Date' is another Evans original – I've been a fan for a while but felt that today was the best set yet from this young man and the band behind him really lifted the whole performance.

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Stuart Bryan is, in fact, Stuart Brown, but the clue is in the name, for he is in fact part of the Bryan Adams Experience. Performing solo today and belting out acoustic Bryan Adams hits, this sets off a fun teatime with great verve; an up-for-it crowd (certainly in the stage-front lake area where I was enjoying this great set from) were singing along and interacting with this fun and lively set.

Glass Ankle bring mellow, melodic relaxation, with an interesting array of instrumentation and a set that includes many Japanese-influenced tracks, including one inspired by Mount Fuji, written by one of the singers, Greg Jackson; their eclectic sound is intriguing and well worth a listen. 

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Glass Ankle

The Republic of Trees serve up thoughtful music, skilfully played.  Lewis Marrow's voice serves their anguished lyrics well; with lines like 'Will the last one to die please turn out the lights' you know this act isn't falling under the category of party band, but the integrity and quality on show here comes across beautifully as the light starts to dip and the evening begins to set in on Peasholm Lake - never having managed to witness this band before, I'm pleasantly intrigued and find myself listening to more of their music in the days following.  

The Republic of Trees

The Republic of Trees

Sir Tom Watton brings some traditional folk themes and plenty of energy and vibrance with his solo set. As one of the organisation team for the festival, he's straight off once he finishes to set fire to the waterfall for the second night, as Seafret make a welcome return to the stage on the lake, having been one of the big hits at last year's events.  This year they have a guest cajon player for the latter half of their set, adding a nice depth to their sound.  Between us, the team have seen this Bridlington duo numerous times, and they never disappoint; Harry Draper's finger-picking is hypnotic, and Jack Sedman's vocals beguiling - there's definite musical magic here.  The pair have just relocated to London, having been signed to B-Unique Records - who hold artists such as Primal Scream and Kaiser Chiefs to their name.  Saying they are ones to watch seems pretty redundant - just don't kick yourselves too hard if you've missed them until now, will you?

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Headline act The Last Battle are fighting one of their own against the considerable cold chill in the air, but a steady number of loyal music-lovers remain into the evening.  At this point I'm perched up by the cafe, cradling a hot chocolate, and witnessing the delights of one of the cafe waiters dancing jigs to the music.  It's not all movement-inspiring - there is a section where the band leaves the stage and lead singer Scott Longmuir performs solo, the stripped back element showcasing some fine singing.  The band have a great range of styles and versatility of instruments, and they show them all off to good measure in their set.  Sometimes the flow does seem to suffer a little for it (again, the autumn chill and what seemed to be some small technical issues possibly not helping the cause). Picking some eclectic subjects, one of our team found their favourite track in the Last Battle's song about Viv Nicholson (1961 lottery winner famed for the phrase "I'm going to spend, spend, spend!") Female singer Caroline Overy's voice is lovely and the pair harmonise delightfully, mixing elements of traditional Scottish folk with occasional pop vibes - the programme notes mention comparisons to Belle and Sebastian and though The Last Battle definitely have their own identity, this does help highlight the flavour this Edinburgh band bring to the festival.

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

Acoustic Gathering 2013

The event worked its usual magic, with so much that is delightful alongside the music - the stage on the lake, the fact that you can hire a pedalo and float lazily around, beer in hand, watching bands from on the water, in such a family friendly setting, with people of all ages.   There was free entertainment for children including face painting, circus skills, giant puppets, random pirates walking around (Sunday); for the grown-ups there were vintage clothing stalls, pretty lights at dusk, the pagoda lit up at night as a backdrop, not to mention ales from the Great Yorkshire Brewery and some great food on offer.  

It is a real asset to the area to have a great showcase for local talent; a few factors sadly seem to have combined to affect overall audience numbers this year but Acoustic Gathering still represents great talent, decent value and a delightful location; as well as seeing various homegrown favourites in a different, stunning setting, i've discovered some new interests - which is one of the joys of any good festival.

 

 

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