After a long week of work and a day of running around, I want a night of calm acoustic goodness, intelligent lyrics and an infectious melody or two, now sure I could ransack my CD collection and come up with dozens of releases that fill the criteria but there’s nothing like live music to calm the savage beast.
Once upon a time, seems like aeons now, Worcester’s finest venue, The Marrs Bar, used to run acoustic sessions on a Sunday evening featuring local acts and the cream of out of town talents, it was one of my favourite nights, stripped back acts giving it their all in front of (generally) an audience of music fans. During these sessions I managed to catch the likes of Jackie Levan (R.I.P.), Christopher Rees, The Songwriters Circle, Tim Rose, machine Breakers, etc alongside the best of the locals, including regular performer and firm Rhythm & Booze favourite Wes Dance among numerous others.
Wes being both a fan and regular performer of these “shhhhh……Sundays” decided it was high time the format was resurrected to showcase, not only his own new material but also the wares of a few fellow acts that he’s performed with during 2013.
The first performer of the night was recent Wes Dance collaborator and local singer-singerwriter, Leanne Haworth, now I’m shamed to say it was the first time I’ve ever caught Leanne in a solo guise, but despite the announcement of a musical sabbatical, I hope not the last. Leanne littered her short set with covers (despite having a wealth of original material to draw from), openning with Where Is My Mind (Pixies), before running though Ghosts and leaving on a simply jaw dropping rendition of The Decemberists Revenge Of The Marineer, that perhaps even bettered that of the original.
Next to tread the boards were Birmingham based guitar/violin duo Che and Katharine, performing to a rapt Worcester for the first time, mesmerizing the assemble attentive audience with their gorgeous blend of vocal harmonies, strummed acoustic and lifting strings. The duo performed a number of beautiful originals with Katharine’s vocals harmonising wonderfully with the Dylan-esque delivery of Che, seducing everyone in the room with their folky laments and a gorgeous, sparse rendition of You’re So Beautiful originally by Swedish sensations First Aid Kit.
Now I must have seen singer-songwriter Wes Dance more than most local acts, I’ve watched him perform solo, as part of Robinson and with his own band but never have I seen a more comfortable performance than the one that he delivered to The Marrs Bar, opening with Tristesa, Wes instantly settled, delivering a masterclass of song craft and penmanship, as his infatuating lyrics tumbled over the sparse acoustic guitar. From there Wes commanded the attention running through firm favourites such as Thinking Way Too Much and A Fool Should Never Drink whilst also showcasing new works such as If Time Flows Like A River. Leanne was invited back up to sing on a couple of songs, including a brilliant Moonlight before Wes is joined by violinist John-Joe Murray who backs him brilliantly with a flurry on a glorious rendition of Silver Horse, a previously unrehearsed new number and a stirring Fiesta drawing a fabulous evenings entertainment to a close.
Sunday’s were made for sessions such as Wes and friends, I hope someone takes up the challenge to regularly deliver a night of stripped down musical goodness here in Worcester.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 9
Words: Will Munn
Video: King Dave
Photos: Ben Sanders
It’s been a little whilst since I caught up with Worcester’s finest poetic tunesmith, Wes Dance, so ahead of a forthcoming date at The Marrs Bar I thought it was high time we had a little chinwag to find out how his year’s going and what he has in store for the future.
1. Hi Wes, how are things with you today? Can you tell us what how 2013 has been, for you to date?
2013 has been pretty good. After my guitar left me for another, I took some time away from music. Then I found a new one, and the tail end of this year has been great – playing lots of gigs, and getting to meet and see lots of other great acts.
2. I’ve always described you as something of a poetic singer/songwriter, I know that your influences span both music and literature, do you consider that to be something of an apt description?
I wouldn’t say poetic; in my view my songs are like short stories, snapshots of a moment, when life takes a twist or turn for the good or bad. Like a Raymond Carver story.
3. It’s been a wee whilst since last time I caught you performing live, have you been writing any new songs in recent times? What can we expect from you at the Marrs Bar?
I’ve been writing quite a bit over the year, but I haven’t been playing them live too much. I used to write 8 songs a week, but now it’s more like a song in 8 weeks. I take more time, and try to make the songs more succinct and concise. There will be some new numbers in the set, and hopefully some other surprises too.
4. I hear you’ve also been collaborating with various musicians in recent times, is this something you plan to continue in the future?
I played for a year in Robinson, then I performed my songs with a band for half a year or so (with Hywel Payne, William Hughes and Lea Haworth). They were fun times. Now I’m back playing solo and it’s been great – and that is what this Marrs Bar gig is all about.
5. I see that you’ve been performing a little further afield in recent times how have you been received?
Lately, I’ve been playing a lot of gigs in Birmingham. I did a gig at the Yardbird which was great; such an awesome audience always in attendance. Playing acoustic it’s bliss when the audience is there to listen, rather than try and talk louder than the PA.
6. As much as I enjoy seeing you performing in and around Worcester, I always think that you tend to be at your best in a venue like the Marrs Bar, do you think that an audience gives a little more respect to a performing artist in an actual venue as opposed to a bar? I was always a fan of shusshh…Sundays, is your forthcoming date something of a nod back to that?
It was a friend who reminded me of the times I used to play the Shussh…Sundays at the Marrs Bar and suggested I should do a gig like that again. So yeah, it’s definitely a nod to those gigs, hopefully the 10th November will be just as good.
7. What’s next for Wes Dance, I’d like to see a new album at some point, is that something you’re looking at in the future?
I’m currently organising and getting everything ready for my next record. I have all the songs ready to go, and I can’t wait to get these songs recorded and out there for people to listen too.
THE TASK IN HAND Xmas ‘Fundraiser’…
Where: The Marr’s Bar, Worcester. WR1 1TA.
When: 18:00 Saturday, December 29th.
Artists: Theo, Vault Of Eagles, Broken Oak Duet, Das Sexy Clap, Sealab IV, Tokamak, Wes Dance,
Howard James Kenny.
The Task In Hand are hosting a (potentially) spectacular Xmas showcase of local musical talent. Artists
such as Theo, Das Sexy Clap, Vault Of Eagles and Howard James Kenny will be playing the Marr’s
Bar on Saturday, December 29th. All takings are to be squirreled away – to act as a safety net – so that
the risk of the larger guarantees for bigger, established acts can be met and taken on with less fear.
Back in October of this year, The Task In Hand came off a short hiatus, to start promoting events again.
Finding a new hunger to help improve Worcester’s music scene. All events are non-profit. They would
also like them to be non-loss too! By raising funds to help back them up, they can set up bigger musical
events – The likes of which Worcester deserves and would easily be capable of hosting. Already in the
pipeline for 2013 is the legendary Mike Watt (The Stooges, The Minutemen, fIREHOSE) in February.
To raise these funds, an end of year celebration of local music is taking place. On Saturday, December
29th, The Marr’s Bar in Pierpoint Street will be filled with some of the best acts Worcestershire and the
surrounding areas have produced.
A strong line-up consisting of: the haunting ethereal loops of Howard James Kenny, playing his first
Worcester show in an age; Worcester’s folk troubadour, Wes Dance; the instrumental Tokamak, albeit
missing their drummer; the odd, lo-fi and seemingly improv no-wave soundscapes of Sealab IV; the
utterly fantastic Das Sexy Clap, who make more beautiful, rocked out noise than a two piece should be
legally and physically allowed to; baritone guitar and drum ensemble The Broken Oak Duet; blissed out
desert rock from Vault Of Eagles; and the evening’s headliner and long time Worcester musical hero,
Theo, with his mathy, rocked out looping guitars and pounding, technical drumming.
Live, on stage mental breakdown comes courtesy of The Task In Hand compere, Nicholas d’Arcy.
This is a night not to be missed…
The Marr’s Bar,
Saturday December 29th.
Doors open at six with a five pound entrance fee.
For more information…
J. Willis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 07749326517;
N. d’Arcy: 07413529400.
Rhythm & Booze rarely really push a local act, it takes a rare talent to really make this cynic sit up and take notice and despite the numerous local Worcester acts, very few really grab my lapels thrust me into my seat and demand my attention but there are a few. One such act that will always have a place in my heart is the rootsy rustic poetry of Wes Dance & The Street Of Early Sorrows, a band that weave a rich tapestry of acoustic guitars, heartfelt harmonies, contagious melodies and spell binding stories in the space of just three minutes.
Wes Dance & The Street Of Early Sorrows perform at The Marrs Bar, here in Worcester on Saturday 6th October ably backed by another firm Rhythm & Booze favourite in Rich Clarke & The Rafters and singer-songwriter Lea Haworth on what promiese to be the hottest draw in town.
WES DANCE & THE STREET OF EARLY SORROWS
Wes Dance is back with band in tow at the Marrs Bar, featuring the elegiac vocals of Lea Haworth and the distinct rhythm-combo of Hywel Payne and Will Hughes, mixing broad folk-pop melodies with the lyrical mien of Henry Miller & Jack Kerouac, Wes Dance & the Street Of Early Sorrows are a band on the rise.
In May 2010, Wes was put forward by BBC Hereford & Worcester to play the Wychwood Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse, after being selected from a panel of judges that included Bethan Elfyn of BBC Radio 1, Tom Robinson from BBC 6 Music, Elisa Bray of The Independent newspaper. Additionally, Dance was asked to represent Worcestershire in the Rock the House competition.
“Dance is definitely unique and this city is lucky to have him.”
Lauren Rogers – Worcester News
RICHARD CLARKE & THE RAFTERS
Support comes from the brilliant Richard Clarke and the Rafters whose recent album Hidden In Between the Trees as been described as being ‘ delicate and at times blissful’ with ‘ harmonies mask intricate melodies that captivate you and leave you feeling almost cleansed.’
With a voice like a glass of the finest Beaujolais, Haworth as a voice from another time, her specialities include melodies about mountains, mythical beasts and copious amounts of rum; a songwriter with a vivid imagination.
Tickets can be purchased from the bands, on the door, or here:
£3.00 a ticket.
Worcester based poetic, Singer-songwriter Wes Dance unveils his Perfect 10, the ten albums that help define his life.
1. The Beach Boys – Friend
This album is definitely an overlooked classic. The arrangements and variations in instruments and musicality are just perfect, from the church bells on ‘Be Here in the Morning’ to the wild harmonies on ‘Little Bird.’ Incidentally, Friends is the first album with songs by Dennis Wilson, who would go from strength to strength, and become my favourite Beach Boy songwriter after Brian. The whole album is rich, beautiful and seems effortless.
2. Gene Clark – No Other
Gene Clark was the best songwriter in The Byrds and this album is a fine example of Clark’s talent. No Other is an album that grows with each listen, yet still remains a mystery after a thousand spins. The lilting sadness in Clark’s voice and his melodies are mesmerizing – his voice is taut and soft all at once. ‘Strength Of Strings’ is constantly pushing upwards, it is the musical equivalent of yearning – listen to it when you first wake up, it’ll change your life. The album is a marvel and needs far more recognition.
3. The Flying Burrito Bros. – The Gilded Palace of Sin
Everyone should read about the history of Gram Parsons, but I won’t go into that now. Parsons’ song-writing on this album with Chris Hillman is fantastic. The albums a great big bowl of Californian fun – it’s a young album, careless and wanting. On ‘Wheels’, Parson’s sings ‘we’re not afraid to ride, we’re not afraid to die’ and you believe it. Sneaky Pete’s pedal steel playing swathes the whole album saturated in fuzz – I wish more people played pedal steel in this way. The album has some great white soul moments too: Parson’s singing on ‘Hot Burrito’ #1 and #2 always blows my mind.
4. Van Morrison – Into the Music
Another unique and incredible singer. The band on this album are so good, it’s ridiculous. Mark Ishlam’s horn arrangements add a Philly Soul feel to Van’s elegiac song-writing, and the fiddle and penny-whistle work is wondrous. Many a time, many moons ago, a friend and I would drink brandy and listen to this album until the early hours without saying a word in awe. Another friend recently suggested there is no more an epic way of doing the dishes than washing them to ‘And The Healing Has Begun.’ It makes the mundane become phantasmal.
5. Bob Dylan – Desire
I was 18 and went on a Christmas shopping trip with a friend, meaning to buy family presents we ended up in the pub all day and later I bought this album. On returning home I put it on and the first opening chords of Hurricane were like an epiphany. The sound of the guitar, the drums, and Rivera’s violin, Dylan’s caustic tone, all rich in reverb, made perfect sense in my mind, it was a crossroads on how a record could be recorded and sound.
6. Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space
Everything about this album is incredible: The bells, the orchestral arrangements, the gospel vocals, the way Pierce sings like Lou Reed over these amazing musical landscapes, the circular motion of the music like its evolving in front of you, the stooges-esque guitars, the random harmonicas, the use of synths, I could go on. I love this album, it’s a masterpiece.
7. Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible
This terrifyingly ferocious album is not recommended to listen to on a dark street if you want to maintain your trust in humanity. The whole album stinks of a mental breakdown, everything is being torn down and everything is alien. From Nazi’s to castration the whole album is a butcher’s cleaver, it meanders in the grey spaces of life, where one should not mentally wander in reverie. A fantastic record: the musical equivalent of William Burrough’s Naked Lunch.
8. Brian Jonestown Massacre – Give it Back!
This was the first album I bought by the BJM, and this is the reason it’s on the list, my introduction to the wild, strange, and revolutionary world of Anton Newcombe. I adore this band. Newcombe’s idea are fantastic: the sound of their records, the guitars, the spontaneity of the music, all remind me of drunken summers being an angel head. ‘Servo’ is a stand-out track, based around three chords with an amazing guitar riff. The film Dig! Is an awesome introduction to this band.
9. Beck – Sea Change
Like Dylan’s Desire, this was another album where the overall sound pulled apart a mountain in my mind. The sparse use of keyboards and guitars that patter across Beck’s rhythm are pictorial, in the sense that they open the lyrics and the chord arrangements to broader landscape. The string arrangements are cavernous. Every instrument is gregarious to the other, creating a vast painting of colours across Beck’s skeletal chords. ‘Little One’ is tantamount to a Buddhist satori when the chorus rises like a sun about to super nova.
10. Tom Waits – Blood Money
I could pick any Tom Waits album, but randomly for idiosyncratic deliciousness I will pick Blood Money. A wonderful album: at turns disjointing (see ‘Starving in the Belly of the Whale) and at turns beautiful (see ‘Lullaby.’) Its 1920’s Jazz, its eastern European gypsy, and ‘God’s Away on Business’ is an amalgam of these styles verging on hardcore punk. The lyrics are insane, genius and hilarious: ‘the more that that the monkey can climb; the more he shows its tail.’ Blood Money is a hoot; masochistic and jollying in the evil of the world! Everybody roll!
- Stuart Woolfenden-Are You Vulnerable Or Just Insane?
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- Notorious Brothers Live @ The Prince of Wales, Ledbury, 9/11/14
- John Mayall/King King Live @ The Birmingham Symphony Hall 5/11/14
- Virgil And The Accelerators Live @ Robin 2, Bilston 12/11/14
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