Thanks to Richard Markham one of our friends at Ace Space in Newbury for this review of our most recent socially distanced gig.
We must thank Big Ginger Tom Music founders Duncan and Vanessa Chappell and their enthusiastic helpers hugely for bringing top notch folk and acoustic music to Harwell in the first place and in particular for assembling this particular COVID-friendly gig, allowing around 40 of us to enjoy a terrific night as securely as possible in these strange times. The organisation was absolutely impeccable and it was great just to be out watching live music again!
Duncan had secured three core members, Jack Wilkinson, Alice Edwards and Danny Evans of local band The People Versus to open the night with a lively half hour set, including acoustic versions of excellent songs from their debut EP “Ground Opening”. I attended the EP launch with the full six-piece band and it was fascinating to hear these songs in such a different setting. Their essential energy, the sublime harmonies and the vocal acrobatics of the launch night were still well in evidence and the trio was warmly applauded.
After the first break Katherine took to the stage with her trademark warmth and gentle humour and had the audience engaged from the off. Her musical partner for tonight was close collaborator, Yorkshire-based singer-songwriter George Boomsma, who has appeared with her in several lockdown internet sessions. Here he proved himself indeed the perfect light foil, both musically and as a stage companion generally. Katherine was noticeably at her most relaxed and confident here in the duo format with him.
Katherine sings quietly but with perfect diction and pitch, such that you find yourself almost hypnotised and gave us almost all of her own staples, including tracks from her one official EP “Wolf”, both sides of catchy single “Letters From a Travelling Man” and the latest (topical) track “Still Winter, Still Waiting”. A heartfelt song written for her own father brought a tear to the eye, but of genuine emotion; key features of Katherine are her complete sincerity and lack of sentimentality.
She also delivered some really entertaining covers showing her versatility, emotional maturity and sheer ability to recall lyrics!
Especially notable moments over two absorbing full 45-minute sets included Leonard Cohen’s “One Of Us Cannot be Wrong” and Richard Thompson’s notoriously challenging “Beeswing” and three “trad folk” pieces showing Katherine’s natural ability at the genre, both straight and bawdy story songs getting the treatment.
At all times George would create discreet colours on electric and acoustic guitars that were a perfect backdrop to Katherine’s delicate phrasings and his own vocals - whether backing or duetting - fitted beautifully.
Katherine has become the consummately engaging and endearing host and time sped past far too quickly as she told anecdotes, explained the background to various songs and engaged in amusing banter with George, who proved a good sport at all times; even coming up trumps when caught out by a song he claimed never to have played before!
This was truly “An evening with…” - a complete all round “performance” from a young performer who is destined for great things and who thoroughly deserved the encore standing ovation she received. Roll on that first album!
Our second sell-out socially distanced show with 40 people in attendance. They were treated to some great music from Kitty and Craig.
This time I thought I'd let you see what one of the audience thought of the show, Tony Birch is a familiar face on the Folk scene and you've probably seen many of his photos. He also writes for FATEA, so here is his take on how the evening went.
Harwell Village Hall was very well laid out for the event with plenty of spacing, a one-way system and seat service for drinks.
Kitty is a highly regarded, award winning, singer songwriter and she brings her love of the outdoors, particularly her native Somerset, to her music in a way that captures the spirit of the landscape. Not many people find salt marshes attractive but Kitty does, and so do I. They have a stark beauty all their own.
Not many people write songs about eels either, but Kitty compares their journey across the Atlantic as elvers with our own journey through space and time. This song may also be unique in mentioning Pangea!
It was a beautiful performance and the new album "Namer of Clouds" was on loop on the way home and will get a lot more plays.
Craig Joiner has had a long career as a songwriter for both other people and films, but his own songs also resonate with an audience being set around home and family. His precise playing style and good voice made for a very good opening set.
Huge thanks to Duncan and Vanessa, along with their team, for continuing to put on live music which is proving very popular with all events selling out. It must be even harder work than ususal; as Duncan said he's now got a week of hoping nobody phones in sick, but it's very appreciated.
Do keep an eye on Big Ginger Tom Music's page as they have some great music coming up.
After six months of lockdown on Saturday 12th September the Big Ginger Tom Music team ran a music event in the village hall under socially distanced conditions. The idea had been discussed with the Hall Trustees who agreed to allow the event to go ahead and any learnings will be shared with other groups such as the Film Club.
It was a great night of music from Patrick Griffin and Anna Renae who were so pleased to be out playing to a live audience again, having spent the summer doing gigs from their homes to a camera phone.
Patrick kicked off the evening, he has done 3 support slots for us before so it was great to be able to give the chance to headline. As well as some reworks of his older material he did a number of new songs as well. He improves every time I see him and you could see that he was really enjoying playing to a live audience.
After the break Anna did a very accomplished set with songs from her excellent debit album 'Skin' a new song she hadn't planned to do and also some great covers (Fleetwood Mac 'Go Your Own Way', Bob Dylan 'Blowin' in the Wind' and John Denver's 'Take me Home Country Road'. Although there was no singing encouraged (or allowed) I'm sure I heard a few people singing along quietly.
To finish off they did a couple of duets, which considering they only met that evening were beautifully delivered. Both were artists were very well received, though not as noisily as usual owing to people being required to not cheer and shout.
Ticket sales were limited to 30 and the event was sold out 4 days before the night and although the atmosphere was a little more subdued than normal everyone who came has said that they really enjoyed the evening and appreciated the efforts to keep them all safe.
As we were unable to put on the planned gig in Harwell Village Hall the artists put together videos for us to enjoy via Facebook Premiere on the Big Ginger Tom Music Facebook page.
This is now available on You Tube
Gleb, Evan and Toby performed a virtual concert. They played original trio tracks and material from their existing back catalogue. The concert was recorded in St Petersburg and variousness places around the UK.
Jasmine and Zoe from Roswell did a song from their excellent EP, Come Home, and Anna Renae opens the evening with a track from her fantastic debut album, Skin.
You can make donations to the artists via their tip jars - listed below.
Over 60 people bought tickets to see Jon and Lucy Hart of Honey & the Bear with support from local band Little Red for a great night of music.
Little Red, made up of Ben Gosling, Hayley Bell and Ian Mitchell opened with a set with many songs from their album Draw Blood. They were a little nervous which was understandable as this was their first gig in 18 months, but it was a great opening to the evening all the same.
Honey & the Bear delivered two great sets with songs from their 2019 album, Made in the Aker. They were joined by Evan Carson, the much in demand percussionist and drummer, who is currently working with nine bands.
The first set was their more laid back material, the second set started with just the two of them and then the pace picked up with their more lively songs such as Margaret Catchpole.
They of course were asked back for an encore, where they did an old song of Jon's called Claws.
It was a really lovely evening and people headed of into the stormy night with a smile on their faces.
Our first sell out audience of 115 people were treated to great performances from Ranagri and The People Versus.
The People Versus played songs from their "Ground Opening" EP, with Jack having to swap to using Donal Rogers' (from Ranagri) guitar after having had a problem with his own . The set was suitably rewarded with an encore.
Ranagri performed two great sets playing songs from their last album "Playing for luck", such as "Medicine Show" and "The Strangler".
They also played a new song which will be on their album to be released later this year.
They came back for an encore and played "Better" which got the audience up on their feet and singing along.
The Lean To Sessions sold out for the second time in a row and those that came were treated to a lovely evening of music.
Adam Barnes and Joe Hicks have been friends for many years having met in sixth form and their musical relationship started when Adam asked Joe to play guitar on his first album.
That camaraderie was on show this evening as Joe played alongside Adam for 3 of his tracks from his last album Vacancy in NASA. "Electron" was done beautifully as a duet and for me was the highlight of Adam's set.
From Adam's gentle folk we went into a more funky set with Joe. He had the audience joining in with 'Cold" (otherwise known as the Owl song!), "Burn" and his cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Everywhere". He did a great cover of The Cardigan's "My Favourite Game", and more of his own work including "Rest Your Head", "Talk To Me" and his latest single "Swim".
When he finished after much applause we were given a genuinely unplanned encore doing a stripped back "Something In The Water"
A glorious evening of music with Adam particularly showing true professionalism as he had been laid up with food poisoning all day and played although he was not feeling particularly well.
Another 80+ audience came to Harwell Village Hall on a chilly Saturday evening including many from Fred's House native Cambridge, such are the esteem they are held in.
The evening was opened with a 45 minute set from the ever improving Elizabeth & Jameson (fresh from doing four support dates with Jools Holland).
They played a number of songs from their forthcoming Whitby themed album, which I'd recommend you pre-order, plus some their back catalogue and closed with 2 Christmassy songs, joined by Griff's brother Gaffyn.
For a second gig in a row the first act got an encore. The audience were treated to and joined in with The Beatles You've Got To Hide Your Love Away.
Fred's House, with their new line up with Prue Ward on fiddle and BVs did two fantastic sets, including 3 or 4 new songs of which Walls and Ceilings was my favourite. We're told these will be on a new album late next year.
It was great to see how songs were adapted with Vix taking on all the lead vocals and to see Lachy as well as Gaffyn do BVs with Prue.
Of course it wouldn't be a Fred's House gig without Beautiful You which brought the house down, or should I say up as it got everyone on their feet. There was of course an encore, in which they out did Mariah Carey with their version of All I Want For Christmas Is You.
The standing ovation was well deserved and I didn't think it would stop. A superb evening to finish off what has been a fantastic 2019.
Our first sold out audience enjoyed a wonderful evening of music and stories from the very in demand Katherine Priddy.
The evening started with Katherine chatting with our house guests as they arrived and then she then did two delightful sets with songs from her very highly praised EP Wolf, some very new material and also her new single Letters from a Travelling Man.
This was the first night of her UK tour and one of two sold out dates. We were thrilled to have managed to secure her for this lovely evening and will be looking to bring her back to the area next year.
Well what an evening of live music that was, enjoyed by over 80 people who braved a wet and windy night to come out to Harwell Village Hall.
First up were Zoe Wren and Jasmine Watkiss who are Roswell. Their voices create wonderful harmonies while accompanied by Zoe on guitar and Jasmine on either fiddle or ukulele. Their set was enjoyed so much that they were asked for an encore, which was going well until Zoe's pedal gave her guitar a life of it's own. However they professionally carried on and finished the song to a very appreciative audience. That's why we go to live music!
The two sets that followed from Gilmore and Roberts were electrifying. For this tour they had asked fans to request their favourite songs and tunes and so we were treated to some material that hadn't been played live for a while such as my all time favourite Stumble on the Seam, given a brilliant treatment (they normally play it with a band) and the tune Seven Left For Dead.
Having seen Kat & Jamie many times, I have never seen them look so relaxed and enjoy playing so much. The audience were key in this as they joined in singing and clapping with little or no prompting especially with Selfish Man which closed the first set and Wrong Country which they did for an encore with everyone bellowing back COWBOY! and the requisite time.
This was a really special evening which saw the 1000th Big Ginger Tom Music customer at the Harwell Village Hall venue over 15 gigs.
The second of our house gigs in the "Lean To" where The Portraits played a wonderful 90 minute unplugged set.
At the beginning of the evening Big Ginger Tom Music regulars mingled with die hard Portraits fans (some travelling from as far as Bromsgrove!) and chatted with Jeremy and Lorraine with a drink.
The set included a number of songs from the new album For Our Times, such as the title track, Look At Me, Penniless Porch, Skins, Those Were The Days and the heart wrenching Except For Me.
There were of course favourites Monochrome, Harmonise, Fairy Lights an Moon Song with great audience participation on many of them.
Lorraine has a wonderful voice and the harmonies with Jeremy are sublime. The story telling between songs is informative, thought provoking and at times amusing.
Ninety minutes flew by and there were still two encores to come (Good Things and Trilby Man), both of which were energetically joined in with by the audience.
After rapturous applause, Jeremy and Lorraine spent more time chatting with people before packing up and heading off back to Wells.
It was a lovely evening enjoyed by all.
With over 80 people attending this gig in Harwell Village Hall, Big Ginger Tom Music gigs passed the milestone of entertaining 1000 people. We look forward to entertaining the next 1000.
Having first seen Wednesday's Wolves, a duo from Oxfordshire in November 2016, 2 years of trying to get diaries to coordinate finally paid off. They said they were still recovering from coughs and sore throats, but you'd never have known as Chrissy & Yssy played a lovely set showing off their beautiful voices and their excellent songwriting.
Ninebarrow started the first of their two sets with some traditional fare. Jon and Jay gave us some wonderful music and their trademark beautiful harmony vocals.
There were also the stories that accompanied the songs, many of which are inspired by their native Dorset, traditional folk and a few cover songs.
Songs included Row On, Teignmouth, Siege, While Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping, To The Stones and Prickle Eye Bush, they were all beautifully delivered.
It was a night of stunning music from both bands and a great start to our Autumn programme.
The 40+ people who attended Harwell Village Hall on a warm and sticky night left having been thoroughly entertained.
The evening was opened by Martha Bailey who was keenly anticipated having been due to play in Harwell last November, but was let down by her Mum;s car! This was her first outing for a while (having just finished exams), but her wonderful voice didn't show it. She did a number of covers and some of her own material and was very warmly received.
Kim's set opened with North Sea Holes, she also played Maggies Song which gave the first of several opportunities to join in with the choruses. Many more followed including Oyster Girl, Singing Out The Days and her acapella version of So Early, Early In The Spring. Other original songs were Call Me River and Go Tell The World and the classic Away Ye Merry Lassies (a song about a witches girls night out!), before closing with a cover of The Be Good Tanyas Littlest Birds Sing The Prettiest Songs. For her encore Kim came back solo with her dulcimer for The Parting Glass.
Kim's vocals were wonderful along with her playing of mountain dulcimer, guitar and Shruti box. Her Dad, Andrew (Jarv) was on bouzouki, bodhran and guitar, Tim Rogers on cajon and Dave Sutherland on double bass & backing vocals, which made for a varied sound for the gig.
It was a wonderful, if hot and sticky night of music with a seasoned gig goer posting afterwards "Words could never do justice to just how good this gig was".
What more can you say?
Over 60 people came out to see a fantastic evening of music from India Electric Co. and The Portraits.
Some of IEC's loyal fan base had not only travelled from around the country to attend one had actually come from Germany!
Jeremy and Lorraine Millington the husband and wife team, who are The Portraits, started the evening with some lovely bright tunes with their clever lyrics, including their last single Harmonise.
IEC treated us to 2 sets of songs from across their back catalogue of contemporary and traditional folk tunes such as Parachutes, Rusty Gulley and Rake The Buckles as well as a number of songs which will be on their forthcoming album.
They also injected humour and trivia to the evening with interesting facts about Harwell!
Their interpretation of The Cars classic Drive in the first set and Bruce Springstein's I'm On Fire (their encore) were very well received.
A great evening of music summed up by one comment from someone as they were leaving - "you have to have them back"
Wow, what an evening of entertainment the 80+ audience had, when they came to Harwell Village Hall.
First up was Tom Griffin who played a set with some songs from his fist EP and some work which has yet to be recorded. His Urban Folk Blues with influences from Leadbelly to Lonnie Donnegan was very well received by the audience and he had everyone singing "Lonesome Traveller".
Lady Maisery then played two wonderful sets with songs from their 10 years together and also a new song for the first time. Judging by the singing I could hear around me there were obviously many diehard Maisery fans in the audience.
The engineering by Neil Segrott made every note from all three clearly audible and the Instruments from accordion to foot percussion to harp to banjo and viola were masterfully played and blended to create an exquisite sound.
Hannah, Hazel and Rowan were rewarded with one of the most rapturous ovations we have had at Harwell and came back to do an encore which brought the house down. What a fantastic evening.
Over 70 people bought tickets to see and hear Lucy May Walker and Megan Henwood compliment each other perfectly.
Lucy May Walker, who'd been in London the previous night supporting Hue & Cry, sang a mix of new and old songs including "Self Destruction", her soon to be released new single "Safety Net". She had the audience so emotionally involved you could have heard a pin drop when she sang "You're Not Alone" . She finished by having them help her out with "Heartbreak Song".
After the break, the magnificent Megan Henwood delivered two sets which although went across her back catalogue, it focused on songs from her Head Heart Hand album, which was celebrating it's fourth birthday.
What is so wonderful about Megan's songwriting is that every word is important and is so clearly delivered, "Left his brain with his coat at the door" has to be the best description ever of men's stupidity when it comes to illicit affairs, as described in "Our Little Secret".
For an encore she got us all involved with "Painkiller", and everyone left pain free and in great spirits, what an evening.
What a great start to the Big Ginger Tom Music calendar of events. Over 70 people were enthralled by the skills of Duotone as he layered cello, guitar and vocals into a wondrous sound.
The evening was opened by Waterfahl, a Danish couple who now live in Abingdon. With Finn on guitar and BVs and Hanne on vocals, harmonica and keyboard they played songs from their album 'Sharp Flats', including their "radio hit" (in Denmark), Urban Caveman, which included some enthusiastic audience participation.
Duotone, aka Barney Morse Brown performed two great sets accompanied on most songs by Jane Griffiths on viola. Barney songs from all his albums in between opening the first set with 'A Life Disappearing' and closing it with the incredibly energetic and complex 'Greetings Hello' where he left his bow very much the worse for wear and the audience in a state of raucous amazement.
'Little White Caravan' opened the second set, the wonderful 'Martha' also featured and the set closed with the last (and title) track on his latest album 'A Life Reappearing".
Barney and Jane left the stage to rapturous applause and Barney came back to do 'You Don't Need Church' for an encore.
It was a glorious evening of music.
On a wet blowy evening nearly 80 people turned out to see a great evening of live music from Gilmore & Roberts and Tom Griffin.
Tom did a very well received set, with only an hours notice, as unfortunately our planned support act, Martha Bailey, had car problems and couldn't get to the gig.
Katriona & Jamie did two great sets featuring many tracks from their ne album A Problem of Our Kind and some from their back catalogue. Especially well received were Kat's song The Things We Leave Behind about her aunty Pauline and Jamie's song The Smile and The Fury.
They finished with an acapella version of the Dawes song A Little Bit Of Everything and of course were called back for an encore when they did the song Wrong Country, which was deemed "too silly" (Jamie's words not mine) for the album, and is a great song to send people on their way with a smile on their faces.
We look forward to having them back in October 2019, when there will be an additional band member in tow as the couple are expecting a baby in January.
"A rebel rousing act" is how one of the audience described Fred's House. They had the audience clapping, foot tapping and even some dancing as they provided their usual blend of folk-rock. They performed to our largest audience to date of 90 people all of whom had a great time.
The evening was open by Harwell's own Adam Barnes who had flown in from Zurich the night before having just does a small European tour. He sang a collection of songs from his latest album "Vacancy at NASA" as well as some old favourites and was called back for an encore where he did his version of Abba's "Dancing Queen".
Fred's House opened with "This Little Boy" and covered songs from their back catalogue with songs "Looking Glass", "Earthquake", "Bonny and Clyde", "Standing Next To Me" and many tracks from their new album, including "Can We Just Pretend", "Charity Shop Song" and "Bad Place".
It was a super evening, though tinged with a little sadness when Vix announced that Griff would be leaving the band at the end of the year to pursue a project with his partner Hannah Elizabeth. We wish both the band and Griff well with their future endeavours.
This was our inaugural House gig held at our home Abingdon in "The Lean To".
About 20 people attended the intimate evening which was opened by Tom Griffin with his urban blues and songs influenced by the songs of the dustbowl at the turn of the 20th Century. Tom had everyone singing along to his version of "Lonesome Traveller" and warmed the audience up nicely for Jacob & Drinkwater.
Tobias and Lukas were thoroughly entertaining with their playing, which they make look so effortless, and their usual banter between themselves and with the audience. They played favourites such as "Polyphonic Life" and "Parallel" as well as some new songs which will be on what was to be their new EP, but will now be an album.
They were so enamoured with the acoustics of the room, that they played completely unplugged, it was a phenomenal sound.
We will be making "The Lean To" a venue for future unplugged evenings so watch this space.
Over 60 people attended this event and both bands gave tremendous performances which were extremely well received by the audience.
The evening started with Kiva, who were performing as a 5 piece for the first time with addition of a fiddle player. It was a fine set and set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Ranagri played an inspired couple of 45 minute sets, with the wooden hare in the corner of the hall looking on. There was a mixture of old favourites such as High Germany, The Hare and P is for Paddy as well as some songs for the forthcoming album.
When they played their last song, "Better" they had people enthusiastically dancing and clapping. The call for an encore was deafening and they duly obliged of an unplugged Sad Songs/Voices.
It has to be one of the best gigs I have seen and it was an absolute privilege to have put it on.
An audience of over 50 people came on a warm summer's evening to hear The Willows.
The evening was started with a wonderful unplugged set from the White Horse Whisperers who were playing the their penultimate gig. By coincidence we first saw the WHW supporting The Willows at the Unicorn.
The Willows did 2 x 45 minute sets opening with The Visitor and included old favourites such as Bella's Fury and Shores of America. They also did material from their forthcoming album including their new single False Light.
Ben was full of his usual long rambling stories and Cliff got in on the act with his HAREndous joke (you had to be there!)
The evening was all too soon over after the encore of Absent Friends, apparently Pete, their sound engineer, complains if it isn't in the set list!
Over 70 people came to this fantastic evening of acoustic music.
Nikki played original tracks from her two EPs, this being her first outing since the release of the second EP Hourglass. She was given a rapturous round of applause at the end and led Ray to say "I hate it when the support act is that good..." at the start of their set.
The Black Feathers set included songs from their back catalogue such as Down by the River, Lighthouse on Fire, Holy Water (my personal favourite) and Goodbye Tomorrow as well as tracks from their soon to be released EP The Ghosts Have Fed Well.
It was a evening of raw emotion, wonderful harmonising and precise guitar playing mixed with stories of factory tours, visits to a well known Swedish store and the joys of owning a BMW. By the end of it people were dancing at the back and everyone sang along with the encore, it was a memorable occasion.
On a cold snowy evening over 40 brave souls came out to hear Elizabeth & Jameson and Kadia.
Hannah Elizabeth (Said the Maiden) and Griff Jameson (Fred's House) shared a lovely set of their own material and a couple of covers (Bob Dylan's Blowin in the wind and Fleetwood Mac's Everywhere) as well as some amusing stories.
Kadia then entranced us with a mix of their own material and traditional folk songs which of course, being folk music included a few murders, adultery and girls called Nancy. The lads also did a solo spot each, Chris did Jim Moray's Sounds of the Earth, David did Rutter's The Annabelle Lee and Lee started the second set with A Rose in April, based on Jon Boden's version.
The evening closed with an unplugged encore of The Parting Glass. What a wonderful evening.
"Excellent evening & looking forward to the next" and "Brilliant night" were some of the comments received from some of the people in the 50+ audience for this thoroughly entertaining evening.
The opening set from Stratford on Avon's Anne-Marie Sanderson had some lovely guitar work and harmonies and was well received.
This was the first night of Jacob & Drinkwater's January tour. They hadn't seen each other for six weeks before the gig, and Lukas (Drinkwater) had only just got back from Australia the day before, but you would have never have known it they were on top form both musically and with their chat between tracks.
It was a great way to kick off the 2018 calendar of events for Big Ginger Tom Music.
This was a wonderful mix of traditional and contemporary folk music, with White Horse Whisperers kicking of the evening with foot stomping songs such as the Gloucester Volunteer.
Harri Endersby and her husband Rich then were on gig 6 out of 10 gigs in 10 nights starting in North Shields and finishing in Dorset. They did two sets of Harri's music inspired by things such as her student flat in Durham (Shadows), to the sunsets on her native North East coastline (Golden Hour).
The 30 or so who battled the elements on that wet an windy night were treated to a great night of music. We will hear much more about Harri in the future.
The audience in the King Charles Room at th Kings Head and Bell in Abingdon were treated to a lovely set of covers and some her own material from the Abingdon school girl Brodie Johnson, who's mature voice defies her young age.
Robert Lane entertained us with his mix of songs fro his previous albums, some new material which will be in his upcoming album and some covers from his influences which include Ray Davies and Eric Clapton.
It was a lovely evening.
Our inaugural gig at The Orchard Hall, Harwell Village Hall saw Gilmore & Roberts and Charlie Law perform to an enthusiastic audience of over 50 people.
Charlie bookended his set with two unplugged numbers and performed several numbers from his latest EP This Could Be The Day.
Gilmore & Roberts performed songs from their ten year (and 5 album) career as well as some new material such as the opening song, Bone Cupboard. They had the audience clapping and singing on several occasions, but none more so than to their closing song White Wheeled Limousine (a Bruce Hornsby cover) and encored unplugged with Ghost of a Ring.
It was a great evening and we look forward to putting on more music in Harwell Village Hall in 2018.