Putting on a music festival such as our very own ‘Clevedon Music Festival’ which takes place on 25th and 26th April at Prince’s Hall must be hugely time consuming and quite daunting even for someone as experienced as Jon Earl of Songs from the Shed fame. http://www.songsfromtheshed.com/home
This year is the third festival that Jon has organised for us and promises to be just as good as the previous two. I’m resisting using that term bigger and better because what I love about this festival is the fact that it’s quite a small, intimate affair where you can discover new artists, relax and spend time with friends – no jostling crowds, no muddy fields and cold showers, no mile long queues and no hefty prices for food and drink!
A weekend’s entertainment for the very modest price of £35 sponsored by local business’ That Copy Shop https://www.thatcopyshop.com Clevedon DIY https://www.clevedondiy.co.uk 67 Barista Barber https://bit.ly/2SV28e1 SKF https://www.skf.com/group and Winash https://www.winash.co.uk The group are seeking two more local sponsors so if you are interested please contact Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org
I feel very grateful to Jon and the generous sponsors who invest so much time and energy and money into our community. Not surprisingly, these individuals are involved to varying degrees in a number of other community based activities and events. Thank you.
The headliner this year is the truly amazing Grammy nominated and double Ivor Novello Award winning lyricist Chris Difford.
With his collaborator, Squeeze co-founder Glenn Tilbrook, Chris has written some of the most enduring and best-loved songs of our time such as ‘Up The Junction’, ‘Cool For Cats’, ‘Labelled With Love’, ‘Tempted’ and many others. Squeeze returned with their new album ‘The Knowledge’ in October 2017, followed by extensive world-wide touring into 2018.
Chris hosts song writing retreats and has done so for over 25 years, some in Prisons, some in Rehabs, but mostly in Somerset with the Buddy Holly Foundation. Check them out here https://www.tbhef.org Chris is one of the country’s most respected songwriters and has co-written with a host of musicians and performers that reads like a veritable who’s who of the industry.
‘For over 40 years, Chris Difford’s sublime song writing – both with Squeeze and as a solo artist – has dazzled the heart, minds and souls of successive generations of music fans, undoubtedly establishing him as one of the UK’s finest ever songsmiths.’
If you’d like to know more about Chris, you can check him out here: https://chrisdifford.com
The other acts are The Leylines, The Grahams, Emily Capell, Josienne Clarke, Jacob & Drinkwater, Thunderbridge Bluegrass, James Shead, Kitty MacFarlane, Lady Coletta and to keep the crowd dancing late into Saturday night the popular Clevedon band Traps playing a mix of Soul, Funk and Ska.
Lady Coletta were there last year and were so good. To be absolutely honest, I’d pay £35 just to see them again! Check them out here: https://ladycoletta.co.uk
They are a Bournemouth-based folk rock band with influences ranging from Fairport Convention to Wolf Alice. Their first EP, Hares On A Mountain, was released in August 2017. Collectively, the members of Lady Coletta have played gigs at: Buckingham Palace, Twickenham Stadium, venues in Belgium, Germany, Holland, and Poland, as well as sharing the bill with artists such as Tom Robinson, Rumer, Badly Drawn Boy, Travis, Cerys Matthews, Kwabs, Dr Feelgood, and From The Jam.
The band present an energetic live show featuring traditional material, original material, and select reinterpretations of songs. Songs of murder, betrayal and death abound as Lady Coletta merge the sensibilities of traditional folk, the experimentation of prog-rock, and the power of turn-it-up-to-eleven rock resulting in a truly unique musical offspring.
‘Distinctive and strong… backed by a vivid rock dynamic, a bold electric-guitar-driven wall-of-sound assault and uncompromisingly driven yet sensitively solid rhythm section.’
‘Young folk-rockers [who] carry on the pedigree.’
‘…a thing of beauty and power.’
An equally energetic, charismatic band are The Leylines who were founded by a group of musicians in Weston-super-Mare (via Bristol), wishing to combine their individual musical styles into something that isn’t quite folk, sort of punk, 100% heart-pounding revelry.
Their unique sound, combined with lyrics centred around life on the road and the state of society, has launched the band into the heart of the live music community and made them firm favourites of the festival circuit.
The band released their debut album, ‘Along The Old Straight Track’ in June 2016, produced by Sean Lakeman, recorded at The Metway studios in Brighton and mixed by Al Scott. With this team on board, inevitably the record has drawn strong comparison to the likes of The Levellers, Mad Dog Mcrea and Ferocious Dog, whilst remaining an album by a band which have forged their own sound and identity.
In the following years The Leylines went on their first of many national tours, and were booked for Glastonbury, where they performed six sets in as many days. They also played stages at Beautiful Days, Goldcoast Oceanfest, Something To Smile About Festival, The Godney Gathering and Big Feastival, as well as many other music festivals across the UK.
The band then released their second studio album Recover Reveal, in March 2019. Starting work on it almost immediately after the release of ‘Along The Old Straight Track, their second record was nearly three years of honing and crafting, with a number of tracks crowd-tested at numerous venues and festivals across the UK. The result is a collection of sincere, straight-from-the-heart performances, constructed with care, and played with passion.
The Leylines then took Recover Reveal across the country, before heading into festival season to play everyone’s foot stomping favourites from both their albums.
With a fiercely loyal and ever-growing fan base, The Leylines guarantee to have their audiences up on their feet – and they will be having as much fun as their audience while they’re doing it! Love The Leylines!
‘A superb live band, lead singer, Steve Mitchell, announced that this was their biggest gig to date. This was hard to believe. Playing their huge punk folk noise they appeared well at home leaping, jumping and running around the stage. They looked as though playing to packed festival tents and live music venues was standard.’
Get Ready to Rock
Check out the Leylines here: https://www.theleylinesmusic.co.uk/
Very new to me is Emily Capell, singer songwriter and musician from North West London with a wide range of influences from Dolly Parton to The Clash, Emily brings a new genre of country, ska, doo wopp and pop to the 2019 music scene.
Since starting out in 2010 Emily has released 3 EPs entitled ‘Who Killed Smiley Culture?’ ‘Who Framed Winston Silcott?’ And ‘Who Stands With Latasha Harlins?” Her much anticipated debut album ‘Combat Frock’ was released in October 2019.
As well as relentless touring, Emily has supported Texas on their 2017 world tour, Rhoda Dakar, Glen Matlock, The Blockheads, The Blinders, Roddy Radiation and Mari Wilson. Building up a big following on the way Emily has played Glastonbury, Isle of Wight, Reading and Latitude festivals.
In 2018 Emily won the ‘Jools Holland Best Newcomer’ award at the Boisdale venues. She has been record of the week on Radio X, 6 music and BBC radio London with her floor filler infection track ‘Bonanza.’
With her work ethic, politically charged lyrics, acute social commentary, catchy tunes and mesmerising vocals, Emily has become one of the UK’s young hot underground success stories. Her unique personality and independence has earned her a dedicated following across the UK and abroad.
‘Waif-like post-Amy Winehouse charisma and powerful voice dealing out a thirty minute set of great classic pop songs. The band are razor tight with ska chops entwining with the perfect tumbling sixties choruses and big melodies that dominate the songs making them all sound like perfect hits’
– Louder than War
‘Sweet soft vocals with hard hitting lyricism that really makes you sit up and listen…One to watch.’
Gary Crowley – Amazing Radio & BBC London
Find out more about Emily here: https://www.emilycapell.co.uk/
Very different in style are Thunderbridge Bluegrass This acoustic group started as a quartet in 2005 and have since developed into a classic five piece bluegrass band. The highly-regarded band’s repertoire features many original songs and some fantastic five part harmony, all augmented by guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo and double bass. Regulars at festivals and arts centres throughout the UK, and with 6 albums behind them, they are a fabulous addition to the line -up.
Five guys, steeped in tradition, playing their collective heart out to entertain us with proper wholesome acoustic music, delivered with verve panache and energy, and more than a small dose of good humour.
“The surprise highlight at this year’s festival”
Twinwood Vintage Festival 2017
“Thunderbridge Bluegrass Band you were stonkingly awesome!”
Audience member 2018
More about the band here: http://www.thunderbridgebluegrass.uk/
The Grahams are New York grown, Nashville based couple Alyssa and Doug Graham. Growing up as kids in the Jersey suburbs the two would sneak into New York City to hear their favourite bands play, they have been performing together ever since. The band burst onto the scene with their 2013 debut, Riverman’s Daughter, featuring songs written while traveling the Mississippi. The album was a worldwide smash in a booming Americana scene, spending 11 weeks in the Top 40 at radio.
The 2015 follow-up, Glory Bound, influenced by the couple’s train adventure all over America, was declared, “easily one of the best Americana albums of the year” [No Depression]. Rattle the Hocks, a film directed by North Mississippi Allstars’ Cody Dickinson, chronicled the journey and became an international film-festival favourite.
With their new album, comes a new sound. Kids Like Us, is a love letter to timeless pop albums, harkening back to when Brian Wilson & Dusty Springfield ruled the airwaves. Written during a wild motorcycle ride along Route 66, at the height of the 2016 election season, the chaotic stimulus they witnessed was channelled into bold, aching melodies that grew out of motel-room whispers and studio experimentation.
“Everything about Route 66 – the neon signs, motels, cars, the menus – are stuck in a different time,” Alyssa says.
It’s big, lush, ambitious and profoundly satisfying with its own unique alt pop sensibility. Check them out for yourself here: https://www.thegrahamsmusic.net
I was so pleased to see Josienne Clarke in the line-up – she has the most beautiful, soulful voice. Her latest solo album ‘In all weather’ which she moved to a Scottish island to write and record came about as a result of a huge upheaval in her life. It is very emotional and very insightful.
When Josienne signed to the illustrious independent music champions Rough Trade Records, its founder Geoff Travis told The Guardian that she writes, ‘songs that rearrange your internal emotional landscape… reinventing the popular song structure’.
With a rare gift for poetic melancholy, Josienne’s songs have also been described as ‘extraordinary’ (Mojo), ‘gently exquisite’ (The Observer) and ‘full of depth’ (The Telegraph). While the world music bible Songlines said, ’Clarke’s dark, complex imagery in the lyrics pushes the songs into rich metaphorical territory, one of the heart and of self-enquiry’. American Songwriter magazine named Josienne one of the best songwriters of 2016.
Having been awed by a live performance at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, 6 Music DJ Cerys Matthews arranged for Josienne to act and sing in The National Theatre’s revival of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good. In addition to performing on the Olivier stage each night – in a role specially created for her – Josienne contributed two of her own songs to the play. In their review of the acclaimed production, The Financial Times said, ‘Josienne Clarke sings like a haunted angel’. It marked the start of a continued relationship with the National Theatre which has included composing songs for a new adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, with acclaimed young playwright Zoe Cooper.
With an elegant, nuanced and emotionally affecting singing style (Cerys Matthews described her as having a voice that can ‘trickle back over centuries’) Josienne has frequently been compared to the great Sandy Denny, but present too are elements of Nina Simone and Gillian Welch; all three are important influences on her work.
Expanding beyond the folk music for which she was first known, Josienne has partnered with rising star jazz pianist Kit Downes to release the Such A Sky EP. And her friendship with London-based Scottish singer songwriter Samantha Whates has bloomed into new group PicaPica, whose debut album will be released by Rough Trade. fRoots magazine has already described the band’s sound as ‘originally exciting’.
In the last two years, Josienne has supported the great Richard Thompson on a dream-come-true tour of the UK and opened for the legendary Robert Plant in Europe. The summer of 2018 saw her perform with guitarist Ben Walker at some of the UK’s best-loved festivals, including Latitude, Larmer Tree and End Of The Road. She even found herself in demand as a writer and broadcaster, contributing to Standard Issue magazine and appearing on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb to discuss her pet subject melancholy, alongside poet Simon Armitage. Find out more about Josienne here: https://josienneclarke.com
Devon based duo Jacob & Drinkwater have been called “stand out new folk” by BBC6 Music with their live show described as “intense and spellbinding” by Folk Radio UK. The duo formed in 2014 playing their first gig together at the iconic Glastonbury Festival.
The 2015 indie release The Burning Low EP received national airplay and glowing reviews from such quarters as Radio 2’s Folk Show, BBC6 Music’s Tom Robinson, Amazing Radio, BBC Introducing, BBC Bristol, FRUK, Fatea, Spiral Earth, Louder Than War and ‘Whispering’ Bob TV. The track We Are The First Ones Now featured stunning harmonies from Wildwood Kin.
In 2016 they recorded ‘Live at Hope Hall’ with a sell-out crowd at Exeter’s Hope Hall and released an album that captures the intense energy and improvisational nature of the live show and takes the listener on a real emotional journey.
Throughout 2018 the duo performed at festivals in the UK and Europe and London’s historic Union Chapel. In September they embarked on their Waters of England tour; combining live touring with open water swimming in locations across the UK and documenting their adventures via their social media pages. Gone are the days of post-gig booze ups; the duo are teetotal and promote a healthy, clean living touring regime to support well-being and mental health.
The February 2019 This Old River tour was their biggest to date and coincides with the release of their first full studio album, successfully crowdfunded through Indiegogo.
The duo’s dynamic and emotionally charged live show with all its energy, musical chemistry and spontaneity has drawn comparisons with the virtuosic pairing of John Martyn and Danny Thompson. Jacob’s sweeping vocals never fail to captivate, delivering many a spine-tingling moment; the fluidity and precision of his finger-picking underpinned by Drinkwater’s nimbly rhythmic double bass; at times sweetly soaring, haunting, percussive and driving, the layers of depth a perfect counterfoil. The added complement of stirring vocal harmonies nicely rounds off the mix. Check them out for yourself here: https://www.jacobanddrinkwater.com/about
“Tobias Ben Jacob and Lukas Drinkwater perform mercurial, mysterious, intimate songs – with the interplay of picked acoustic guitar and plucked double bass at the core. The songs are evocative, personal and intriguing.”
James Shead is a singer/songwriter based in South East Cornwall. Originally a drummer for many years, playing for several different bands he moved to guitar in 2008 and has been performing around the UK ever since. His songs are powerful stories based on experiences of his own, memories and the people around him. Intimate lyrics and a cutting sound aimed at the heart of listeners.
His sound has been described as “folk rock hybrid” and as a “gravel voiced singer songwriter not afraid to share his own experiences through his music”. It was this honest song writing that helped him emerge as a festival favourite throughout the UK.
His debut album “A light for the fires” was released in 2015 and was supported with live shows around the country, including several headline shows at the iconic Troubadour in London, as well as intimate live shows at his home in Cornwall. The album followed two iTunes-charting EPs which established him as one of the most exciting new singer-songwriters in the South West. https://www.facebook.com/jamessheadmusic/
“Singer-songwriter James Shead’s latest single “Own Way Home” is from his recently released album, A Light For The Fires. The lush, mid-tempo, and highly emotional, tune recalls waking up without her, fully knowing she is independent and will be okay…..but Shead’s rich, sensitive vocals leave you wondering whether he will be too.”
The Daily Country music reviews.
And last but by no means least Kitty McFarlane, a songwriter and guitarist from Somerset, whose music is rich with visual imagery and written with an eco-eye. From the starling murmurations on the Somerset Levels to the lowly eel’s epic transatlantic migration, and the small part we ourselves play in a much bigger picture, her songs are bound by the underlying theme of mankind’s relationship with the wild.
Kitty’s highly anticipated debut album Namer Of Clouds, released September 2018 and produced by Sam Kelly and Jacob J Stoney, gathers inspiration from the sky to the seabed. Carried by a voice ‘as clear as a mountain stream’ (FRUK), her lyrics touch on intervention and rewilding, climate change and migration, and woman’s historical relationship with textiles and the land. The album is augmented by all kinds of ‘found sound’ recorded in locations from Somerset to Sardinia – birdsong, waterfalls, the click of knitting needles – and bookended by sounds of the wild.
Kitty was voted Female Artist of the Year 2018 by FATEA. Namer Of Clouds was included in The Guardian’s Best Folk Albums of 2018, and nominated for Album Of The Year in the fRoots Critics Poll. Kitty released her first EP Tide & Time in 2016, after being shortlisted for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award the year before, and has since toured with acclaimed folk duo Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, Blair Dunlop, and Elephant Sessions. She has received project funding from the English Folk Dance and Song Society, and more recently the Lynsey de Paul Prize for female songwriters. https://www.kittymacfarlane.com/
“Kitty Macfarlane’s Namer Of Clouds, a gently experimental collection of ballads and folk-inspired originals from a remarkably accomplished young lyricist”
“Singer-songwriter Kitty Macfarlane’s debut album is a captivating celebration of the natural world and the landscapes of her Somerset home. Macfarlane’s voice is clear and enchanting and her narrative songs poetic and evocative, such as wondering at a murmuration in Starling Song. Enhanced with found sounds from nature, this debut is a delight.”
Sorry! Not the last! Just discovered that Jon has managed to book Traps playing a mix of Soul, Funk and Ska to keep the crowd dancing late into Saturday night.
Formed in 2012, Traps consist of Geoff Hick (The Hicks Brothers) on guitar and vocals, Tom Knott (I Am Kloot, The Earlies) on guitar, trumpet and vocals, Roger Sansom (approximately 1000 bands in Bristol), Julian Fyson (Brighton session player) on drums and hype and Dr. Paul Redford (psychologist) on bass guitar.
Traps have Clevedon in their DNA. Geoff, Rog and Tom all grew up here, had their first bands / gigs here and, after various lifetimes away, came back and got a new band together. Tom said Jules and Paul married in to the Clevedon family so long ago they are starting to resemble them!! Expect sweat, funk, grit and music to shake yo thang to!
“Traps return to Mr Wolfs after a smasher of a first gig in May. We can’t wait to have them back! Playing brass and organ led music, covering a mix of groove, reggae, surf, ska and psychedelic soul. These guys play what they love and what you’ll love to listen to. Traps are definitely worth getting your butts down to Wolfies for!”
Mr Wolf’s Bristol
“Taking a trip back to the old school record crates with the bands eclectic mix of classic first wave ska, trippy surf guitars and spaced out Psychedelic funk the TRAPS sound is one of growling Hammond organs, breakbeat drums and pumping brass band horns that sing strait to the heart of the true music purists. With the bands sessions quickly becoming a fixture of the South west’s finest venues, with the bands live recreations of vintage and off the wall seminal 7″ vinyl classics fast finding themselves a fanbase of Open Minded B-Boys to Free thinking Funk fanatics”
And there you have it! The Clevedon Music Festival 2020! As I said at the start, it’s not a question of being bigger and better – it’s just another unique, diverse gathering of hugely talented musicians in a really relaxed, stress free setting. The tickets went very fast last year, so if you’re hoping to attend then I’d suggest you book quickly: https://bit.ly/32dBYYf