Review of Thursday night

Jun 11, 2016   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments


THERE WAS A brilliant start to the tenth Gate To Southwell Festival; the opening night was lit up by a great firework display and an array of fine Irish, Scottish, Latin and local musicians.

Kicking off in the Barleycorn tent, Mansfield’s Jake Burns delivered a sweet-voiced selection of self-composed tracks and cover versions.  His ‘California Bound’ EP harks back to the great singer-songwriters of the Sixites and his singing and guitar skills clearly chime with influences such as Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell and Ralph McTell.

On the Arts Council-funded New Stage – offering a less folksy, more open minded approach to acoustic and roots music – the early evening mood drifted from the multi-instrumental, gypsy-classical, salon sounds of The BeauBowBelles to the Glaswegian Americana of James Edwyn & The Borrowed Band.  James Edwyn is a grizzly bear of a man with a very impressive beard, and his warm personality combined with the band’s alt-country sounds should surely guarantee far greater stages than Southwell in the future.

In the main tent, the folk rock revivalists and rejuvenators False Lights gave way to the impressive Irish-meets-World-Music of Kila.  Eight strong and playing an extraordinary array of traditional instruments to create a mesmerizing sound, their Irish roots music builds in trancelike rhythms.  A powerful and memorable performance, particularly after a few beers and ciders!

Elsewhere, Nottingham’s own lovable café blues/jazz chanteuse Tiger delivered a mature and beautiful set of her own love-and-loss songs, ably assisted by guitarist Milk.  She also threw in great covers of George Michael and Johnny Cash to confirm her versatility.  Eighteen years old and definitely going places.

The same should be said of local lads Same Streets who definitely shook up the New Stage.   Their youthful and fresh rock & roll music is both exciting and invigorating.  They look right, feel right and sound right; their own songs, delivered with passion by James Gooch and fired along by Seb McNish the drummer boy, sit comfortably alongside an excellent cover of the Velvets ‘Waiting For My Man’.

Bringing this magnificently eclectic first night to a finale, The Full Attack Band’s performance seemed to sum up Gate To Southwell’s booking policy perfectly.  Refusing to accept any musical boundaries or borders, their Latin fusion of World, Jazz, Funk and even Afro-beat inspired some late night frenzied dancing.  Led by the charismatic sax player Alejandro Toledo with exotic Asian singer, rapper and poet Fedzilla alongside him, the Full Attack Band could be one of the great successes on the festival circuit this summer.

All-in-all, this was a sparkling start to the tenth Gate To Southwell with three more days and nights of fine music and family entertainment to come in beautiful rural Nottinghamshire surroundings.

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