Johnny Whalley continues his live review of Halsway Manor Hothouse Festival, you can read part one here.
Sam Brookes (www.sambrookes.com), as well as being one third of the Ballina Whalers, is a songwriter who has already earned an enviable reputation for thoughtful, engaging lyrics and a solo delivery that at times will be gentle and intimate and then arrestingly powerful. His (almost) solo set displayed all of this range, at times changing to electric guitar and making use of Hot Feet’s Rob Pemberton on drums to add more depth to the sound.
Hot Feet (www.hotfeetmusic.com) deliver a folk rock sound fronted by the soaring, and at times achingly delicate voice of Marianne Parrish. Their recorded material tends to use quite sparse arrangements with prominent acoustic guitar, Marianne’s voice at times evoking memories of the young Joni Mitchell. Live, though, the band makes a fuller, more bass driven sound that made a certain shed operator think more of Jefferson Airplane. For sure, Marianne produces a grand swell on her sustained notes, very Grace Slick.
But what of those fast-paced danceable instrumentals promised earlier? Sets from two powerful trios spaced through the day kept the feet tapping and the urge to dance alive. Moore, Moss, Rutter (www.mooremossrutter.co.uk) haven’t looked back since winning the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in 2011, with their trademark combo of fiddle, melodeon and guitar setting a cracking instrumental pace interspersed with increasingly confident vocals from guitarist Jack Rutter.
Two familiar faces appeared in less familiar guise in the second trio. Jamie Smith’s Mabon have been generating great reviews over the last few months touring their most recent album, Windblown. But, as if that wasn’t keeping them busy enough, Jamie’s accordion, along with the bazouki of Adam Rhodes can now be found alongside the fiddle of Tomas Callister in Barrule (www.barruletrio.com). All three have strong links with the Isle of Man, Tomas is a native, Adam moved there at an early age and Jamie married Manx dancer, fiddler and singer, Grainne Joughin. Barrule has been formed with the express intention of bringing traditional Manx music, both instrumental and vocal, to a wider audience. It’s Celtic, Jim, but not as we know it. Watch out for Barrule at festivals this summer, you’ll not regret it!
And speaking of regrets, after such a stunning demonstration of youthful talent, there were none at Halsway Manor. Well, not until breakfast on Sunday morning. After the performances were over, drink was taken, Barrule played and Grainne called a ceilidh, more drink was taken, Folk Radio UK and Hothouse organiser Will Lang competed for our ears with a silent disco and yet more drink was taken. That’s tradition.
Review by: Johnny Whalley
Read Part 1 here
Video Sessions by Songs from the Shed (Recorded live at Halsway Manor)
Live Audio Recordings by Folk Radio UK (Recorded live at Halsway Manor*)
*Except Moore Moss Rutter track which is taken from their self-titled release.