One of my favourite festivals of this summer was the stunning Port Eliot down in Cornwall. Late one evening, in a walled garden where people drank wine and ate lobster by day, I sat in a rickety, wooden chair whilst Will Varley sang and strummed. It had been a lovely day but the lack of cloud cover now meant that it was a freezing night. A tear fell down my cheek.
I already knew that Will was good. I’d featured one of his early videos in one of my very first Sonic Breakfast posts over a year before. I hadn’t realised how good. It’s easy to dismiss him as a Frank Turner/Passenger copycat but that’s really not allowing yourself to open up to the absolute quality and humanity that exists within his songwriting.
Take the new single ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’. The latest release from his forthcoming album, ‘Postcards from Ursa Minor’, this is a stark, simple and yet haunting tune. The video is pretty captivating as well, especially for those of us who misspent periods of our youth in setting up domino rallies and playing the board game, Mousetrap. When you find out the reasons why Will wrote the song it stands out as tragic and timely.
This song is the story of Jose Matata, an African immigrant whose body was found in a quiet suburban street one morning after falling out of the fuselage of a British Airways plane above London in 2009, attempting to illegally gain entry to the UK.
In 2015, people are still dying in desperation, taking risks and losing their lives because they calculate that such risk is more preferable than their current lot.
As another sunny morning breaks, we pull back our curtains and try hard to blank such desperation from our minds. Another tear falls down my cheek.
It was some years ago now that I went, as part of a group of friends, to a Pantomime production in a village hall. I seem to remember that one of my friends very loosely knew somebody connected with the play; they might have had a friend who had a daughter in the chorus or something similar. Whatever, a thing that attracted this group of friends to go en masse to a village hall full of strangers was the pure outlandishness of it all. We were outsiders causing a bit of consternation. “No Janice, I don’t know who they are either”, we heard the lady whisper whilst serving at the tea bar.
We had such fun at Kirby Muxloe (this was the village hall location) that we established an ambitious plan. Visiting village halls to sample the specific entertainment going on within would become a regular pursuit. Confusing locals with our urban, presence would become our goal. Yes, we even set up a closed Facebook group (The Village Hall Preservation Society) to co-ordinate our aim.
But, like many of the best-made plans, we never followed through. Life took over and the gigs, plays and quiz nights within our city walls always seemed more exotic.
A week or so ago I was sent an invite to a gig that’s happening at Medbourne Hall, not far from Leicester. I had to look at Google Maps to check where Medbourne was. The hall website simply says that they’ve got a ‘Canadian Music Artist’ playing next Saturday.
JP Hoe was a new name to me but I clicked and watched the video to his new song, ‘Beautifully Crazy’. I liked the tune enough to secure tickets to the village hall show. I couldn’t entirely understand why this ‘6 time Western Canadian Music Award nominated’ chap was heading to Medbourne but appreciated that the press release said ‘he has the enviable skill of sounding as good stripped down around a campfire as he does in a soft seat theatre with a full orchestra.’ Above everything, I realised that there’s a talent here who needs supporting as he tours the world.
I think it’s going to make for an interesting Saturday night. Who else is in?
Loving this new tune from Correatown that I’ve been sent.
LONGSHOT (idiomatic, nautical) Something unlikely; something that has little chance of happening or working. The term arose from the accuracy of early ship guns, which were effective only at close range and unlikely to hit the mark at any great distance.
Funny how words such as ‘longshot’ have stayed with us long after the technology that gave birth to the word have hit the scrapyard.
A musician’s life is tough. I sense that, in this tune, Angela Correa, the main catalyst behind Correatown, is pondering her very essence as a creative sort. She’s wrestling with the general futility of her craft when she sings “Is it better than nothing if I’m hardly paid? Friends all think that I’ve got it made.” She’s realising that despite the happy, endearing, melodic pop bounce that coats this tune, there’s limited chance of hitting the target, whatever that target might be.
But I’m begging to differ. ‘Longshot’ is the first track I’ve heard by Correatown. It’s the first track to be released from a new album, ‘Embrace The Fuzzy Unknown’, which comes out at the end of November. This is Angela’s 4th album so I can dip into her back catalogue whilst waiting. I’m looking forward to hearing more of Correa’s dreampop vision.
And I’m sure that many others will have their ears tugged in a similar fashion.
Autumn’s on the way. That means that I’m going to start posting on Sonic Breakfast with gay abandon.
My goodness fuck. What a summer it has been. At some point I’ll link into all of the festivals I’ve reviewed on eFestivals to prove that I’ve not been slacking even though persistent perusers of SB might think otherwise.
Favourite festivals this year weren’t about the music per se. Port Eliot... Go to this should it happen next year.. Stunning.. Festival No. 6.. In the same ball park (and I still need to finish my review).
Regardless, I do love the lovely music scene at home in Leicester… And my Mercury review for Sweet Billy Pilgrim says loads in a few words about why this transition from Summer to Autumn is broadly welcomed in this part of LE3. Photo’s courtesy of Phil Bull.
T’is the season to be gig going and what better way to kick that off than with this fine band of thrash-pastellers.