Tag Archives: surrey music festival

CURVED AIR — Back Screech Love? In Concert at Claygate

This Sunday we visited CLAYGATE — at the tail-end of their superbly organised MUSIC FESTIVAL week — to see the pioneering British progressive rock group CURVED AIR play live in concert at the Claygate Village Hall.

Their “Air Conditioning” album (1970) is still considered “essential listening” by the prog-rock crowd.

Retrospective – Anthology 1970-2009 – Best Of – (Remastered) – Curved Air

It was exciting to see a band — so famous — in what amounted to a village hall.

And the band have a strong Surrey heritage too [forerunner Sisyphus played one of their first performances at the Leith Hill Place Ballroom, Surrey] — so they were made very welcome.

After an extended instrumental introduction, the original “Hair” girl Sonja Kristina emerged onstage in a swirl of boho gypsy waftiness to get the crowd clapping along before the start of her distinctive low-dark, sexy vocal styling.

One of the first songs performed was “Stay Human” from the most recent album “North Star” [2014] with the “I am still your lover...” line.

This has strong riffs and thriving violin work from the “Sideshow Bob” lookalike Paul Sax on violin

(Fiddle-wizard Paul was one of the first participants at the Yehudi Menuhin School… and it shows.)

Sonja Kristina emerged onstage in a swirl of boho gypsy waftiness…

Screw” began with a two-tone riff played by the elfin “Legolas” Robert Norton on keyboards.

With clashing cymbals from original drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa and unfolding vocal drama.

This number sounded like an avenging angel — on the prowl and dangerous. The alarming shrieks from Paul’s violin added to the sense of urgency and impending doom.

In the Seventies the band were often referred to as “the British Jefferson Airplane” and with songs such as “Marie Antoinette” [from Phantasmagoria, 1972] it is easy to see why.

This number was full of delicious harmonies, expert twiddles, and a lot of punches and trills.

However, it was a protest song at heart, although misted in historical imagery. Back in the 1970’s the worlds of fantasy, psychedelia and new-age shininess could all be packed-together in one gorgeous song. And they still made social comment. How cool is that?

Paul was one of the first participants at the Yehudi Menuhin School… and it shows…

Sonja took an acoustic guitar for the popular folk-song “Melinda (More or Less)” [also from Phantasmagoria.]

This beauty is a fan favorite and shows the hippie principles of the band as well as their eternal affection for the folk-star Donovan.

Unfortunately the second half of the show was bugged by a very loud and completely unpleasant feedback squeal.

“We need to find that pesky mouse….” Sonja told the crowd.

The problem was temporarily fixed — but it didn’t stop a lot of people from wandering off into the night.

The show ended with the fantastic “Back Street Luv.”

This super-hit demonstrated Sonja’s slow vocal style, which still reaches those husky tenor lows where she seems happiest, though she breaks into expressive contralto register at times.

Chanting revolution, pop and psychedelia.

Progressive rock is never much better than this…

Words & Images: @neilmach 2017 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/CurvedAir/

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WEYFEST 2016 Review

Last weekend we attended WEYFEST 2016 – it is the 10th Anniversary of this perfect family-friendly three-day festival held each year at the Rural Life Centre in Tilford, near Farnham in Surrey. We arrived on Saturday.

Tthe superior SAIICHI SUGIYAMA band here with Artze Monica
Tthe superior SAIICHI SUGIYAMA band here with Artze Monica

Opening the Main Stage at the Weyfest on Saturday was the superior SAIICHI SUGIYAMA band [@SaiichiSugiyamaBand] a Surrey outfit that was started by British blues guitarist Sugiyama in the late 1960s and early 1970’s.

Their funk/soul sounds are ornamented by rich and fluent guitar-work while the band also boasts some extraordinaryly talented female vocalists. For example, at the Beekeepers Stage we were entertained by the passionate Artze Monica and the Californian beauty Joanna Pearl. Songs like their “Somewhere Down The Road” possessed ribald squelches and fervent heat.

Festival 'favorites' LEATHERAT ...
Festival ‘favorites’ LEATHERAT …

LEATHERAT have released five studio albums; most recently “Snake Eyes” but are really most famous as a ‘festival band.’

In fact the first time we saw their excellent show was at the Bearded Theory fundraiser in Guildford years ago. We also caught them at Cropredy. This year they have been exuberantly celebrating their tenth year in existence… though they have had a few ‘make-overs’ during the decade. We thoroughly enjoyed their impressive folk-rock show and loved Leon’s solo.

We were surprised how much we adored THE WURZELS. They were on after Leatherat. We hate to admit it, but this was the first time we had ever seen ’em.

Before this show we pretty much wrote off the West-country lads because we assumed [perhaps rightly] that they were just a ‘novelty band’ and it’s true their show at Weyfest was full of silliness and comedy. But actually, we dare suggest, they can actually play. And certainly they are great performers.

We were pleased to see that Darth Vader boogied to the silly beats. Incidentally, most of their melodies have been brazenly nicked from other more-famous numbers… then decorated with the legendary West Country burr.

Puncture from THE ROOZ at WEYFEST 2016
Puncture from THE ROOZ at WEYFEST 2016

We have been following Birmingham alt-rockers THE ROOZ for a while so we were pleased to see the lads at Surrey’s best music fest. Songs like their recent single “Puncture” had soaring heights and sparkling guitars.

Over at the Old Kiln Stage was the Surrey Hills Ukulele Big Band aka SHUBB. This orchestra of blighty souls armed with ukes and pipes entertained the ukulelian crowd with masterful professionalism.

Of course most revellers had come to see WISHBONE ASH and THE DARKNESS but there were plenty of other sights and smells to be enjoyed. Not least were the roaming daleks, The Racing Bug challenge [to win a scalextric] and even a Laser Quest area.

Our favorite side-show was the THE WIDDERS those purple-clad border Morris-Dancers from Chepstow [@TheWiddersBM] who stomped , cracked and clapped seven barrels of sh** out of each other.

JO HARMAN got revelers up and dancing on Sunday ...
JO HARMAN got revelers up and dancing on Sunday …

We looked forwards to the show from blues singer JO HARMAN on Sunday. She drew a large crowd even though she was on stage early-on. Her songs, for example the Hendrixy number “The Reformation” got folk up and dancing… Jo is quite something! She is playing an extra special show at St John’s Church Godalming, October 14th. Info on her site.

On at the Old Kiln were Portsmouth’s indie rock ‘n’ rollers THE BAYONETTES whose complicated yet accessible songs were lucid and effective.

THE BAYONETTES - lucid and effective ...
THE BAYONETTES – lucid and effective …

INGLORIOUS were unable to perform at Weyfest, due to illness/injury. Luckily, in their place we had the incredible BROKEN WITT REBELS [@BrokenWittRebelsUK] whose trusty-rusty roots ‘n’ ashes blues ‘n’ soul numbers oozed into our glands… It was as if we were seeing Led Zeppelin for the first time! Circa 1968. No I’m not kidding and this is not hyperbole. This young blues-rock band from Birmingham with the amazing Danny Core on vocals are that good!

Broken Witt Rebels - as if we were witnessing Led Zeppelin in 1968 ...
Broken Witt Rebels – as if we were witnessing Led Zeppelin in 1968 …

After that we had the BLOW MONKEYS and the BOOMTOWN RATS to enjoy. This was an excellent festival. With artists of quality, lots to do and see (in addition to the music) plenty of good food and drink and expert organization and administration.

WEYFEST is probably the best managed  event we have been to all year!  So congrats to all the team at WEYFEST. Happy tenth anniversary.

Right, how does it go? “Ruby, ruby, ruby…. ooh arr — ooh arr — ooh arr ...”

Words & Images : Neil Mach 2016 ©
Main Picture: Weyfest 2016 with Joanna Pearl
Link: http://www.weyfest.co.uk

The Surrey Hills Ukulele Big Band aka SHUBB at WEYFEST 2016 ...
The Surrey Hills Ukulele Big Band aka SHUBB at WEYFEST 2016 …

Kurran and the Wolfnotes – Redfest 2010

If you are one of yesterday’s men (or daughters) and you want to hang on to those past sweet summer memories then you will, of course, have enjoyed Glasto and Reading – but for those of us who want to celebrate the joy of discovering new talent and fresh sounds, and who wish to assess what is going to be hot (and what’s gonna be cool) in the years to come …… then there is no summer festival finer than Surrey’s Redfest. Now in it’s fourth year, Redfest has gained a solid reputation for show-casing emerging musical talent. And boy, did this year’s festival just roll out that talent. In abundance.

For example, on the main outdoor stage – that looked like a giant jesters hat in the rolling green fields- we had the alt/folk rockers Kurran and the wolfnotes.  Those smooth and shiny main vocals from Kurran were given splendid counterpoint from the gorgeous J-Lo look-alike on keyboards – the ravishing stomp-mistress, Natalia.

The K&W songs are complex structures, they are tapestries of sound. Churning waves of emotion given form and life by delicate strings, sweet harmonies and always eloquent and memorable tunes. Songs like ‘Your Four Limbs’ have a natural ebb and a gentle flow that stir up sweet emotions within the listener. But sometimes, just when you start to think that the structure of a song is sparse and fragile, great waves of brittle, menacing sounds greet you like a sudden summer storm. The effect is both exhilarating and breath-taking.

Lead vocals (Kurran – formerly K-Bomb out of ‘Trash Fashion’) ‘are ‘West Coast’ scenic and are reminiscent of Paul Simon – singing along with band Love. Sparkly guitars from Kurran and Tim tend to be from the poppy side of folk-rock – but there are plenty of generous sound structures reminding me of Fairport Convention.  Songs like ‘Set You Off’ tend to remind me of R.E.M  (circa ‘Out of Time’) and perhaps have a harder, leaner sound at times. The chugging rhythms and earnest steadfast beats make the happy Redfest crowd sway and clap in joyful harmony. Tribal percussion is beaten, thrummed, trampled and crashed out by Chris on drums (but never brutally) and is often augmented by other members of the band who cooperate to create a solid yet luminescent wall of sound.

A band to remember …

© Neil_Mach
July 2010

Links:

http://www.myspace.com/kurranandthewolfnotes

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