Tag Archives: Crooked Weather

Hull Help for Refugees: A Night of Hull Talent

So often we read the horrific tales of refugees making their way to safety, some not surviving the journey. Hull Help for Refugees does everything it can to support those in need, not only here in Britain but further afield in such places as Calais and Greece.

On the night of January 28th, a cold evening with a scattering of stars marking the sky, the charity held a fundraiser at Kardomah94. It wasn’t an evening to wallow in misery. We can do that by watching the news. This was a night for likeminded people to get together and enjoy local music and raise some money for a fantastic cause.

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Emmie Craft opened the night with a cover of Guns and Roses ‘Sweet Child of Mine’. It was a fitting start for many reasons: it’s a popular and well-known song the audience could connect with; it highlighted elements of the images of refugee children shown on the slideshow which filled the brief intervals; it showcased Emmie’s fantastic, malleable voice. That opening song established the professionalism with which this young performer brings to an event, as well as setting the pace of the evening.

She performed a mixture of covers and own compositions, not sticking to one genre but mixing rock with modern and classic pop. What struck me the most was how much her own songs stood out against the cover tracks. One girl and her guitar, she owned the stage with her words. Singing about memories and love and the beauty of the world, she captured my full attention with an original track she has yet to name.

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One performer in, the crowd was surging, and the room was already buzzing with energy. Emmie had warmed the night, and we welcomed Warthilas to the stage. Warthilas is a man named Farid whose stage-name means Without Borders. His collection of songs were sung in English, Berber, Spanish and French, and his banter even chucked some Deutsch in there too. It took no time at all for the audience to join the stage: tapping feet, clapping along, singing the chorus of “Freedom” to one song.

The whole room became one body: a community brought together by the solidarity of passionate entertainment and a worthy cause.

Central to the evening, Little Crooked Weather took the stage; a stripped-back version of the main band, consisting of Will, John and Roy. I’ve seen the band in various guises – stripped right back to just Holly and Will, to the full six-piece ensemble – and timg_7074hey always deliver a fantastic set. Their sound is country, rock, folk. It’s catchy and soothing and possesses the soul.

Their sound has the power to engage with you one-to-one regardless of the size of the crowd. And I spend every set saying I love each song. My stand-out favourite is ‘Control Your Blues’ which I was blessed with having dedicated to me on the night. The guitar introduces the beat in which possesses your body, you’re swaying slowly to the sound, from one side to the other. Will’s deeply soothing voice enters your mind, releasing any negativity. You are liquid, floating above the floor as you are taken into the embrace of the music. And Roy’s harmonica is the final casting spell to take your mind drifting away.

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Sometime after performing this, they invited the next artist onto the stage prematurely. Cecil Jones, with his saxophone, was welcomed to join them. And his addition, which Will described as a battle between saxophone and harmonica, created such a powerful moment. The somewhat improvised instrumental with which their set finished lingered throughout the night, with people returning to it in their discussions.

And so when Cecil took to the stage on his own, we were all already enticed. His performance was a mixture of popular songs, with Cecil alternating between lead vocals and instrumental performance. Tracks such as George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’ took on a new life, and brought every age bracket and nationality in the room together.

His final track was his own composition celebrating the twinship between Hull and Freetown, Sierra Leone. It celebrated the City of Culture and touched on the similarities between the two.img_7004

In a couple of the intervals, we’d had further entertainment from two young lads, Ronith and Shobal. They had performed a song together and Shobal had wowed the audience – shocking and very much impressing them – with his street dance moves and light-up shoes. As our final act, Rowland took to the stage, he was joined by Ronith. A young teenager, he’s not had many performances on a stage such as this, but his confidence was uncountable. Together they performed a couple of tracks, completely unprepared. It summarised the freedom of the night: it was one to celebrate any local talent that was willing to take to the stage. All the performers volunteered their time, and Rowland went that extra little mile to support another young and enthusiastic performer before completing his own set.

Mark Rowland’s sound has adapted over the last couple of years since I reviewed his EP. With a loop pedal, he is able to create a more layered sound, performing his own melodies and beats. His song ‘Bread and Butter’ talked to us about the need to embrace each other regardless of our background, and this ideology summed the evening up wonderfully.

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It was late by the time his set started, and as we’d had some young members of the audience, many of them had departed for the night. The handful of us who stayed until the end were able to enjoy his track ‘Tears Fall’ which was written with the current wars and violence in mind, and was first performed at his own fundraiser for War Child.

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I think Will from Crooked Weather actually summed up the night perfectly: “Eclectic, diverse and beautiful.” It was an evening of people who were enthusiastic both about music and the plight of refugees. The event didn’t pigeon-hole any aspect of the night. It was a night for everyone with the aim to support as many people as possible.

 

Thanks to all who attended the evening and donated money to the cause. Hull Help for Refugees raised over £400 with this event. To keep up to date with the work of the charity, please visit their Facebook page (link above).

 

Photos | © Melvyn Marriott

Folk In Hull – a celebration of local music

Songs are poems put to music; music is a story with no need for words.

Folk in Hull was a tale told in nine chapters, taking the audience on a journey of the city and its music makers.

Our initial narrators were Lyn Acton and Martin ‘Mad Dog’ Jones, who kept the audience engaged with their humorous conversation and endless jokes, bridging that gap from the stage. It was in quick succession that each band took their part, mere minutes as they bounced from one side of the stage to the other.

Farino (Paul Newbon Photography)
Farino (Paul Newbon Photography)

Up first were guitar-yielding duo Farino, who released their debut album in 2008. Influenced by any music genre which includes the guitar, you could hear the Latin vibe in their opening track. As is often the case, we launched straight into the music, with a fast-paced instrumental to which you could easily picture dancers strutting around the room to. Showcasing all that you can do with the instrument, the audience was swiftly warmed up, energised by the sound and eager to hear more.

Crooked Weather (Paul Newbon Photography)
Crooked Weather (Paul Newbon Photography)

Describing themselves as earthy, unruly and original, Crooked Weather were next on the bill. It was difficult to place them into a genre, having a folk-rock look and with more of a blues sound, this five-piece introduced the art of storytelling into the night. Performing four songs, one of which lead vocalist Will Bladen described as “the folkiest thing you’ll hear all evening”, they pulled the audience in by the heartstrings.

Returning the focus back to the instruments were RPM (which stands for the first initials of each member: Rob, Paul and Mike). With roots in improvisation, they performed a block of consistent powerful sound; the drums and bass getting your feet tapping, while the saxophone made you sway.

Pearl's Cab Ride (Paul Newbon Photography)
Pearl’s Cab Ride (Paul Newbon Photography)

The last band before the short interval was Lyn Acton’s own Pearl’s Cab Ride, ending the segment with the funky soul of this large band, meant that everyone was eager for more.

The mood was set by the musicians, bouncing as they did from one stage to another, building up that kaleidoscope of sentiment.

The highlights for me were yet to come, and they did not disappoint.

Hillbilly Troupe, feat. Martin 'Mad Dog' Jones (Paul Newbon Photography)
Hillbilly Troupe, feat. Martin ‘Mad Dog’ Jones (Paul Newbon Photography)

Hillbilly Troupe were the fifth act on stage, instantly raising the roof of Hull Truck. Performing without Mick McGarry, Lloyd Dobbs and Mick Murphy took on lead vocals while Martin Jones joined the ensemble to play trumpet during ‘I Wish There Was No Prisons’, during which Dobbs mimicked picking his pocket.

Heron String Quartet (Paul Newbon Photography)
Heron String Quartet (Paul Newbon Photography)

Bringing the volume down, but leaving the energy high, the Heron String Quartet took over with. The back curtain now lit up like the night sky, they performed three classical collaborations, taking us on a wordless journey into the night, which including one which mixed ‘Beethoven’s Fifth’ with The Beach Boys’ ‘Surfin’ USA’.

Micky Fegz - Fire: The Unstoppable Force (Paul Newbon Photography)
Micky Fegz – Fire: The Unstoppable Force (Paul Newbon Photography)

Next up were dark grunge artists Fire: The Unstoppable Force. I’ve seen these guys a lot recently, and I’ve been saying they’re suited for a stage like this one. And, as their name suggests, the stage was unable to stop them; Alfie Steel did not instantly pick up his guitar, instead opening with a wolf call before taking the stairs in order to penetrate the audience. I’ve always said they are fantastic performers, and they proved this with every movement, reminding us that we were sat in a theatre and that music is more than just noise made by the instruments. Anyone who hadn’t seen them before were quickly enthralled, with members standing between songs as they applauded.

Fire: The Unstoppable Force (Paul Newbon Photography)
Fire: The Unstoppable Force (Paul Newbon Photography)

Wedging together two of my favourite bands, Tom Skelly and The Salty Beards took up their instruments next. Opening with ‘Morning Sun’, they started softly, easing us in while focusing our attention on Skelly’s luscious voice. Never failing to capture my heart, the world around them dissipated, fading to insignificance; those people who’d distracted me before as they stood to top up their drinks no longer there. The Salty Beards filling the space between songs with sound, you were kept hanging on, your heart beating in time with the music, which grew in ferocity.

Bud Sugar (Paul Newbon Photography)
Bud Sugar (Paul Newbon Photography)

Concluding the night, popular boys Bud Sugar were described by Lyn Acton as “one of the hits of the festivals last year”, and the calls from the crowd certainly back this up. Mixing rap, reggae and just about anything which takes their fancy, the audience clapped along as they played, casting the music around the entire room.

An amazing variety of talent, covering every genre of music and building the performance into the sound, Folk in Hull demonstrated exactly what makes this city strong. A tale which took many turns, saw many characters and ended with a happily ever after.

I wrote two reviews for this event – this one featured in Browse Magazine. You can read the other over on the Yorkshire Gig Guide.

All photography by the wonderful Paul Newbon.