Acoustic At The Vault

June 14th.

Simon Wilson, the Vault’s own, kicks off the venue’s second acoustic only night the venue with Soul Ayslum’s “Runaway Train” to great reception in a set covering some of Simon’s own time in bands Any Given Day, Newtown Revival and Jukebox Junkies. (Growing venue with lots of history, earlier in the day tonight’s sound engineer Tom Long had hosted a chat about his life in music - remember Pinkerton’s Assorted
Colours anyone ?).

Simon also quite a storyteller, regaling us with tales of his youth and father, fitting tribute in Neil Diamond with Fathers Day tomorrow.

All to short a set rushing towards a climax but not before an important message for all in the venue - sign the petition!

Hard times for the venue with planned development next door to build sheltered accomodation/retirement flats, Springsteen’s “My City Of
Ruins” perfect clarion call.

Following a surprise debut at The Squirrel on Wednesday night when Becki Morgan and Andy Dove revealed their acoustic duo Becki And The Dove to ecstatic applause leading to addition on tonight’s bill.

A partnership only forged 2 weeks ago combines a pairing of equal talents. Teen Becki sought by musicians for her exquisite vocals while Andy’s exceptional fretwork returns great demand as a teacher.

Tonight both deliver faultless performance with 6 originals, “Ran Out Of Words” already recorded in readiness for the debut EP.

Workaholic teen (she gets everywhere) Emilie Rackham ever growing in stature with a haunting performance, especially on “Too Close” in
her arsenal of covers. 

Emilie also busy on her own set of originals which includes writing alongside James Herring on ” When I Looked Into My Mother’s Eyes” a
song devoted to her Uncle Matthew, who sadly passed away the day before Emilie’s eighth birthday.

Sophia and Kate Vassalos headline with a set of blues and jazz thrilling the now gathered throng. Kate as ever delivering masterful 12 string guitar accompaniment to Sophia’s vocals .

Third occasional recently we’ve had to see both, previously enthralled by the parts we had managed to see.

Tonight the first time able to stay for the whole performance and justly rewarded with Sophia in playful mood jesting about her baking skills while performing in their set “Summertime” “Roxanne” “Hit The Road Jack” and a spine tingling “Amazing Grace” which Sophia had considered out of place yet reluctantly added.

An evening of new songs and classics both timeless alike, let’s hope it’s two things - not too long until the next and Simon not another six year wait.

Do remember to sign the petition (at The Vault).

Stepping Out

Skint but still looking forward to a busy second half of June as tickets all paid for.

Tonight (June 14th) another acoustic night at The Vault, support from Simon Wilson, Becki And The Dove (second performance, following their awesome debut at the Squirrel on Wednesday, Emilie Rackham (doubtless something new in her extensive set-list and headline Sophia Vassalos (with Kate another duo that never fails to please).

Recording session with Tim Kirby during the week before the Eydon Beer Festival on Saturday June 21st (mine’s still an orange juice). Blues on the bill with Zeppelin inspired Marcus Bonfanti and the Micky Moody Band headlining.

Map to venue (from Rugby Town Centre)

24th off to Nottingham to see Elton John play the Capital FM Arena before a return to Eydon for a house concert with the remarkable roots of singer/songwriter Luke Jackson.

Tickets £10 strictly limited (David will send directions once you have booked) so I’ve also linked a list of upcoming tour dates together with a brief history.

The same night (27th) a gig I’ll miss and hoped would come to Rugby town centre (but close enough) is that of Fiona Bevan and Kal Levalle - instead the second date of the tour stops off at The Boat in Stockton. Song writing workshop too (especially for girls).

Our last call of the month will be on the 29th to see part of Folk On The Water which opens on June 21st and continues until July 5th.

We will be dropping in to see Henry Parker at The Folly (Napton On The Hill). Henry’s 2 previous visits to the Vault reviewed earlier on this blog.

Map to venue (from Rugby Town Centre)

Other artists booked to perform the same night:

Steel Threads, Jenny Hepton, Black Scarr and Roxanne De Bastion.

Among the other 30 + artists, many represented by Big Help Management, performing at the festival are Jack Blackman, Kenneth J. Nash, Speak Brother and Hollie Aires.

Catch you at one of these or around the favourite haunts during the month, remember mine’s an orange juice unless you can suggest something non alcoholic!

Any news or gigs you wish to share, please contact us on facebook, twitter, soundcloud or better still send an invite.

Live & Local

Rugby has so many different music nights to perform at or just like us sit, watch and hear. However after a hectic May and being skint a slow start for us, especially with tickets to see Elton John’s Nottinghams show at the end of the month.

Despite this a couple of return visits having finally managed to live up to the promise we made to ourselves and catch another Awkward Silence Presents… Choice of 2 either Rugby’s Style Bar or The Gauntlet Hotel in Kenilworth, setttling on the former with the event now in the newly decorated rather spacious venue upstairs. Even with the extra space soon a crowded house.

Host Rob Low has a full bill with performances from Joel Ernest, Jen Elvy, Eve Singleton, George Holmes, Dinesh Fernado and feature set from former Cambridge resident and relative newcomer to the Rugby music scene Expendable Friend.

Entertaining sets from all, Eve Singleton still available for House Concerts as she seeks funding for her debut EP - come on 35 days to make the target:

As always Dinesh Fernado delights with a short set of originals and covers taken from his long career while Expendable Friend (good to catch up with Jacqui having missed her set during May at The Boat) holds the stage with a feature set of originals many written especially for song writing competitions and available as free downloads:

CD purchases (more about them another time) start to fill the player but we do catch news of new partnerships announced following the recent succesful duets of Matthew Powell and Paula Flynn, The Medicine Man reborn. 

Next is a return to the Kilsby Open Music Collective again unplugged however this time a guitar amp and microphone are put to use.

Folk and some contemporay pop rock on the bill, without mentioning names we have a pre teen guitar player offering up Hendrix - Shadows and The Pink Panther. Americana with covers of Paul Thorn and Guy Clark, and feature set of originals from Dinesh Fernado, with songs taken from his time in Deep Sea Divers and Powderblue including a deft re-visit to “No Place for You”  among the very first written by himself.

Apart from performing solo, Dinesh can be found in duo Small World alongside Des Fraser and in Laurel Canyon, again with Des but also joined by Irenie White and Mark Ernest.

Reminders to ourselves to complete the CD reviews and finish writing about that Northampton based guitar maker,  hopefully next time. 

Wednesday 11th June and a late invite to a new duo playing.

Although wrong on my guess of singer, but only just,  Becki (Morgan) And The Dove (Andy) received great applause on their short debut set at The Squirrel. Both had been busy writing and rehearsing a strong collection of originals, half of which we’re treated too tonight.

Commanding introduction from Becki as she introduces herself and Andy and reveals a little about the work completed in 2 weeks in readiness to deliver their debut.

From the start the audience captivated by the entire set with powerful vocals from Becki complimented by a guitarist normally displaying his prowess on lead, tonight shows he is equally adept on acoustic.

Awesome, cries from Chris Morgan at the Squirrel were echoed by the full house at the Squirrel who were proud and excited to be the first to see Becki and the Dove play live.

So much has come together in a very short time for Becki and Andy, who are  recording a debut EP and promotional video before embarking on a full album . Stylish image for themselves too:

Becki And The Dove can be seen at to the The Vault this Saturday as part of the Vault Acoustic night (Sat. 14th June).

Alicia Catling “Sprinkled Pepper”

Alicia Catling

Cambridge based indie/folk singer Alicia Catling moves at times with a darker beat in her latest songwriting on her new EP “Sprinkled Pepper” released on iTunes 6th of June. Lead cut ‘Plants’ is an early indication of an electronic road being travelled since establishing herself on the choice “Building Me” walking the pathways of folk.

Sprinkled Pepper

Always pleasing to see an artist evolve, the change revealing the strength of Alicia’s talent which continues to flourish on a yearning love theme in “Mighty-Fine” (drums by Matt Hart).  Layered instrumentation, and vocals are captured to perfection throughout at Strawhouse Studios (Rugby) with faultless production by Matthew Cotterill.

Songs tend to hide a truth in the lyric, missing the clues on track 3, “Clown Face”.

Alicia explains how the song was inspired by ‘The Clown Punk’, a poem written by Simon Armitage. The abstract image in the lyrics state how boring and dead people can be, and how they merely appear to be “empty figurines”.

Surprised in “Rinse Your Mouth”, as I was expecting to hear of a bitter taste which harsh words and regret often leave, the depths of the lyrics on display very astute, humility a lesson for all.

You can hear the forthcoming single prior to it’s release here :

Hopefully we will catch Alicia on her current tour, having earlier quoted her performance at The Vault Rugby as “Well crafted performance from songwriter who sings of a brief relationship in “168 Hours” and may have a thing about clowns in “It’s Only Comedy..Right?” just 2 of the songs in a set holding an attentive crowd and establishing the precedent for the evening.”

Tour Dates

Late Blog

Sorry, we missed blogging during May. Busy working late shift and travelling in our puppy search for a Goldie, happy to say we are on a breeders list and should have a new puppy around mid August.

Not to say we did not get to see any live music, getting along to watch around 30 bands/artists both local and touring, some of you more than once.

Kilsby Open Music Collective was the first stop, a group of friends who meet at The George. Folk order of a totally unplugged session (not even a microphone), lovely to hear songs handed down on scraps of paper with covers of Fairport Convention among the originals.

It would be good to have the chance to record these n a live situation, before like so many other tunes lost forever.

Especially enjoyed the visit to Rugby’s The Vault, a small venue with a growing reputation, of Fahran (Matt Black’s voice the sweetest),  sharing the bill with Honeycomb Love and headliners Falling Red.

A busy night also visiting The Squirrel to see One More Night and into Londons Calling for Pact.

Regular haunt The Boat Inn Monthly Music Night, introduced us to Sky Martle a wonderful talent on her second appearance and the cool tones of Sophia and Kate Vassalos returning from their performance here last month.

Love this venue as it is also opportunity to support a local charity, proceeds from the evenings raffle being donated to good causes. This month was to Guide Dogs For the Blind, thanks from the Rugby Branch - see their news here:

Great  and deserved success for Rugby Bike Festival, over 300 bikes on display with over 1000 visiting bikers bought the town center alive.

Crowds everywhere with a live music stage under the clock tower. Having 3 assignments for the day, music lessons and Dad’s taxi service. Sadly we missed most of the bands playing, though did catch songbird Hollie Aires and Spitfire rocking the stage.

Fellow classic rock band Ol’ Rosie in manic form at The Paddox on the 25th, repeating their success at The Vault eight days earlier at the Rugby Bike Festival Launch Party. The Bad Flowers that night excellent support, catch them on their UK Tour.

Remember we like to hear your news through fb or pm, some to share is from Eve Singleton, the girl likely to turn up and play anywhere, Eve is busy recording cuts for her debut EP and has launched a crowd funder appeal to help fund the sessions. Go on have a house party, we would love to come too.

Missed lots of you out this month, we could be here a long time so apologies for those I have. Next few months shaping up just as busy with Festival Season upon us and in June a special with a local guitar maker.

Tell you about that soon, mine’s an orange juice. 

Hollie Aires

Hollie Aires + Eve Singleton + Alicia Catling + Jasmine Ward + Henry Parker
The Vault
 April 26th

Culminating in her home town, Hollie reaches the end of her “If I Should Break” spring UK tour at the Vault Rugby where the crew extend the friendliest of welcomes to everyone on tonight’s bill for something completely different .

Traditionally a rock venue/nightclub but home tonight of  21st anniversary celebrations for Big Help Management, fronted by Dutch Van Spall who stages 4 artists from the Big Help roster together with video highlights of current acts they represent, while past successes feature too, independant Eve Singleton is guest support.

In essence a roots/folk vibe to the party though a touch of late night blues with some guests having travelled far,  producer and long term friend of Dutch, Tony Collinge having flown in from Italy.

Party gets started with guitarist Alicia Catling, who is not quite so distant from home having journeyed much shorter from Cambridge while on a short break from studies to promote new EP ‘Building Me’ on sale from the merchandising booth.

Well crafted performance from songwriter who sings of a brief relationship in “168 Hours”  and may have a thing about clowns in “It’s Only Comedy..Right?” just 2 of the songs in a set holding an attentive crowd and establishing the precedent for the evening.

Video :  Alica Catling - It’s Only Comedy .. Right?

Jasmine Ward, member of The Strawhouse Singers also managed by Big Help Management,  a talented vocalist demonstarted on cover of 
"Valerie" in a set composed of mainly pop, Jasmine confident too across a broad spectrum of music styles.

Video : Jasmine Ward “Things Are Getting Better” (Jimmy O’Neill)

In 2011 Jasmine was Birmingham regional finalist at Open MicUK (under 16’s category) with “Other Side Of The World” (KT Tunstall). The following year Jasmine returned to Birmingham this time in the regional finals of Diamond Kids her entry dipping into musical theatre further example of her potential.

Video : Jasmine Ward “On My Own”

Last minute arrival’s settle as local singer/songwriter as Eve Singleton, winner of Rugby’s Got Talent in 2013 (held in The Vault) and the same
year regional finalist in OpenMic UK aged 14, graces the stage with a self assured set of her own work,  “The Break Up I Never Had” a fine
example which merits inclusion on Eve’s first EP to be recorded during June at Flipside Recording Studios.

Homegound has it’s benefits as many of her school friends are present to witness a consumate perfomer invite everyone to the stage front and
welcome the late-comers with ease. Skills which will prove invaluable as Eve undertakes financing the EP herself although any help or advice
will be gratefully received.

Video : Eve Singleton - “The Break Up I Never Had”

A hectic schedule while continuing her studies, Eve embraces the main stage at this year’s Rugby Music Festival:

Final breather from live music with video montage exhibiting the reaches of Big Help Management, which encompasses talent coaching, recording & production services (audio/video) and artist representation.

Loudest cheer of the night as the music reprises with appearence of Rugby’s songbird Hollie Aires, the only artist tonight complemented by a
full band composed of Gary Michael Hill (guitar & piano) Jamie Clayton (guitar) Harrison Clewer (drums), tonight’s headliners take up the baton
delivering a compelling perfomance on the final leg of the current tour yielding another opportunity to promote sales of current EP “If I Should
Break” .

Video: Hollie Aires “Heal My Bones”

2013 was a chaotic year for Hollie as her career with appearences at Rugby’s Music Festival and Battfest sparking intense media and public
attention, the aching “Lonely” sufficient reason.

RMF 2013

Video :  Hollie Aires “Lonely”

Sympathetic piano accompaniment provided by Gary on “Lonely” which is also on the 5 track EP (CD) as is cover of “Big Yellow Taxi”,  the whole band affording effortless support.

Evening completed by a name revered alongside the likes of  Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page with returning visit of Henry Parker incandescant on a captivating solo set of acoustic blues. Last at The Vault on March 27th when Henry played up a storm on his twin neck Gibson with backing from The Velvet Loons (Derik Timms , Bob Henrit).

Video : Henry Parker & The Velvet Loons - “Red Fox”  (electric).

Worthy of it’s forthcoming EP release recorded on April 8th at Rugby’s Strawhouse Studio, self penned single “Red Fox” gets a live outing in acoustic form,  which while toning down the volume loses none of its vibrancy.

Video : Henry Parker - “Red Fox” (acoustic)

An engaging cover of “Almost Cut My Hair” before Del Shannon’s “Runaway” testament to Henry’s desire to leave everyone satisfied, the decidedly appreciative crowd sure to remember his name.

Video : Henry Parker - “Runaway”

Exceptional hospitality to all artists, crew members of visiting promotions team (Big Help Management) and punters provided by The Vault gets a last thank you from Dutch as does house sound by veteran Tom Long whose career stretches back into the mists.

Since the occasion, The Vault have announced future intent on similar events and welcome inquiry from interested promoters in a bid to offer live entertainment across all music genres.

The Boat Inn Monthly Music Night (April)

The Boat Inn Monthly Music Night
21st April

Another full bill tonight on which traditionally Peter Stokes would start the night but while away host Matthew Powell invites Paula Flynn to share the honours.  Lauadable takes on Gotye, Lorde (complete with audience partipation from Kerrie’s corner),  “You Got The Love” (UK hit several times for different artists, original Frankie Knuckles) followed by alluring “My Aphrodisiac Is You”.

Robert Low a few solo gigs of late, Callum and Rob resuming asThe Record Covers on May 3rd (see their fb page for details,  with a lush set pleasing by design.  “Pompeii” “She Sells Sanctury” captivating cover of “Songs For The Lovers” and new songs auditioned merit continued recognition of one of Rugby’s hardest working bands.

With confidence ever growing and another of Rugby’s hardest working, teen Emilie Rackham dips into a seemingly endless set-list across different genres of music richly illustrated with covers of Ed Sheeran, Gnarls Barkley, Alex Claire, Deep Blue Something and Coldplay.

Following a succesful UK tour, European appearences already booked, George Simpson plays “You Make Me feel Good” taken from his first album “Playing For Strangers” already receiving airplay on national radio. Covers of Ce Ce Peniston and Jason Mraz before another appetizer from his album on  “Crazy”.  

Feature set of Emilie, her father Paul with an adept first public performance on ukulele with “King Of The Swingers” expanded by Matthew and George on “Stand by Me”.

George like myself has an early start tomorrow, however with a journey to Melton Mowbray manages to stay another 30 minutes or so before his drive home.

Sophia Vassalos with mum serving accompaniment on guitar with some delectable folk and jazz that included renditions of “Summertime” and “Roxanne”. Unfortunately for myself I have to head home for another 4.30am start so miss the rest of Sophia’s performance and also that of the ever favourite Becki Morgan and closing blues set from Andy Dove with Matthew Powell complete with an acoustic  take on “Sweet Child Of Mine”.

A welcome return to surely Rugby’s busiest live music Inn, check dates first  but you can find live music here Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and every third Monday for this event.

Hot Rock

April 15th
The Wharf Inn Fenny Compton

Regular fridaynight haunt for a growing number of Rugby bands, tonight turn of statesmen Stonefire with some balls out rock and roll to an exuberant throng led a merry dance by lead singer Simon Thompson, guitars of Simon Ashby and Danny Bird, Ian Roberts on bass and drummer James Hume through 2 hours of classic rock played loud and hard.

On the word go “It’s A Long Way To the Top” “Purple Haze”  whip the party to raw groove, things kept running with Spencer Davies Group, The Rolling Stones, Thin Lizzy and  b side “Burn On The Flame” proving Sweet were much more than just glam rockers.

Blues in the shape of Robert Johnson before the assault continues with “Are you Gonna Go My Way” singer Simon Thompson referencing Madonna before “Sharp Dressed Man” and a storming “Day Tripper”. 

Doctor Feelgood  and Stevie Wonder both receive a vigorous workout, the latter with traces of Hip Hop thrown into a set that also includes covers of MSG, Beatles, Johnny Kidd And The Pirates. “Rebel Yell” validate Stonefire almost “Too HotTo Handle” .

Video: Dexeter “Something Gold”

Dexeter - Tristan Maxted
April 8th
The Merchants Inn

Things could not get much better, guest at recording session with Henry Parker earlier and now watching Dexeter live.

Heady off the success of their appearence during the Country 2 Country Music Festival at London’s O2 Arena Dexeter make a visit to Rugby promoting album “Brighter Skies”.

The Merchants home to live music every Tuesday night in what is hopefully a new regular event hosted by Simon McAusland, who brings a taste of Country to town. Debut opens with solo set from Tristan Maxted, who along with brother Toby appeared at London’s Hammersmith Odeon alongside McFly.

Headliners Dexeter, joined by Tristan who also will share the stage with Dexeter throughout the summer festival season, hold the crowd enraptured by  “Something Gold” and “More Than this”  evocative of The Corrs circa Breathless or 90’s favourites Wilson Phillips, iIllustrious company to be cited alongside.

Prominently an originals band the set incorporates a cover from Fleetwood Mac “Don’t Stop” a sulty “Trouble” and “Grey” before pivoting to a close on a  towering “Another Day”, embrace Dexeter without question.

Video : Henry Parker “Red Fox”

Henry Parker - Captured Alive

April 8th

Gathered tonight with an invited audience at The Strawhouse Studio for a recording and video session of luminary in ascendance Henry Parker, a name already revered in the same company as Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton.

 As we wait, other guests include Ed White of Absinthropy and freelance producer Simon Cliffe, studio engineers Gary Hill and Sean McCabe make final placement of microphones, consisting an array of 3 for guitar and 4th a renowned Neumann to capture vocals, Henry takes everyone through a dry run of the 4 songs he intends to finish today while in the control room Gary and Sean record the rehearsals and make last adjustments. 

The respite moment for Henry to enthrall with a Q&A session richened by his genial humour and passion of guitars steeped in lore while Dutch film’s the event for the video release.

Treated once again to his silky voice and lush toned acoustic (1946 Martin) as the recordings get laid down and playback in the studio before retiring to the control for another listen on superb Genelec monitors as Dutch continues role of perfect host offering soft drinks to those driving or tee-total.

The Party over all too soon, friends leave as discussions begin on release date and future such sessions. Onto The Merchants for Dexeter.