The week-long Kenilworth Arts Festival hit a high point on Saturday evening when it played host to three nationally renowned artists. Nestled within the ruins of Kenilworth Castle, the magnificent 16th century Tudor Stables were the venue for an evening that left the capacity audience buzzing…
During the last year, Kitty Macfarlane has risen to become a ‘must-see’ name on the UK folk scene. While her support appearances on the Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman fuelled her growing fan-base, it was her acclaimed EP ‘Tide and Time’ that got everyone talking earlier this year…FRUK’s review (read it here) described Kitty as an ‘inordinately accomplished musician’.
Bravely starting with an acapella performance of a folk song about evil mermaids, Kitty’s perfect and flawless vocal swelled to fill the rafters of the Tudor stable creating an electric start to the evening. Sharing songs and stories written about her home county of Somerset (along with a curious story about bumping into comedian John Bishop while asking for directions in London), Kitty won the hearts of the Kenilworth audience. She received rapturous applause and I don’t recall seeing such a long queue to buy post-performance CD’s for some time.
From the moment Luke Jackson walked on stage he had the audience gripped. With two albums, a seven-track EP and years of touring experience under his belt, Luke is spellbinding in every aspect of his performance exuding a confidence and prowess that belies his youthful age.
Launching straight into ‘Ain’t No Trouble’ from the ‘This Family Tree’ EP (read the Folk Radio UK review here), the thumping bass-line accentuated with a stomp box, Luke firmly stamped his authority on proceedings. The melodic sweetness of ‘Father and Son’ contrasted beautifully with the powerful and commanding ‘Fathers Footsteps’, still one of Luke’s signature songs. There were also hints towards the new album; an R&B inspired song called ‘Aunt Sally’ about a character from Luke’s hometown of Canterbury and a soulful audience sing-along to round off an inspired performance.
Following a fervent introduction by the evening’s host, Scotland’s Rachel Sermanni admitted to feeling slightly nervous but excited by the opportunity to perform in the magnificent stables. She gradually worked her way into her set starting with mandolin accompanied song followed by the jazzy ‘Maybe Not’.
As the dynamics in Sermanni’s performance became more pronounced, her artistry and intelligent songwriting became increasingly evident. Observing her quirky and ever so slightly eccentric performance, it was clear that the audience were becoming more captivated with each song. ‘Sleep’, taken from Rachel’s debut album ‘Under Mountains’ (review and live FRUK session here) provided a haunting prelude to a furious performance of ‘Bones’ that nearly tore the roof off the historic building.
Highlights of Rachel’s set were a compelling performance of ‘Put Me In The River’, apparently written earlier in the year following a period serving coffee in a Buddhist retreat(!) and a joyful version of ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’ where she leaped into the audience to encourage full vocal participation.
Soft and gentle, ‘Old Ladies Lament’ from Sermanni’s most recent album ‘Tied To The Moon’ brought the set to a close, followed by an encore performance of Johnny Cash’s ‘A Thing Called Love’…a wonderful end to a captivating set and a fantastic evening of acoustic music.
Rachel Sermanni Folk Radio UK Session