Music: Features

Musicport back to its roots

MUSICPORT returns to its Whitby roots this year. The homecoming line-up, from 5-7 October, includes acts from France, Palestine, the USA, Papua and Madagascar.

The annual festival of music from around the world ran at Whitby Pavilion from 2000-07 but switched to the larger Bridlington Spa from 2008-11. However, the organisers were unable to book the dates they wanted on a regular basis and are going back to the Pavilion. Musicport headliners to date have included Richard Hawley, Buena Vista Social Club, Apache Indian, Courtney Pine, John Cooper Clarke and Rolf Harris.

Festival organisers Jim and Sue McLaughlin live in Whitby and are based at Musicport in Skinner Street. Jim says: 'Remember the moving performance from Reem Kelani in 2008, and the Lani Singers, who told their heartbreaking story from Papua? Both will be with us this year, with Dub Colossus Dub Band and Edward II providing upbeat headlines on Friday and Saturday, and the visually and musically stunning Circle of Sound will round off the festival beautifully on Sunday. The programme is, as ever, packed with acts to entertain and surprise you.

'We also have your favourite food stalls, the festival market, circus skills for all the family, salsa with Luis and Claudia, samba from local students led by Claudio Kron and the festival choir,' Jim says.

'And of course, we have the beautiful town of Whitby. Lots of you have told us you're excited about Musicport coming back to Whitby, so don't delay, call us, book your accommodation and bag yourself an October treat by the sea.

'Once you have booked, tell your friends! Use your networks, both real and virtual, to spread the word about our festival. Anyone who’s been knows that it's unique, it's friendly, intimate and fun - and there will always be something unexpected that wins your heart. So tell everyone you can, share the secret and help make this another memorable year for all the right reasons.'

Whitby Musicport Ltd went into liquidation after last year’s festival so this year is crucial for the event's survival. Jim says: 'We formed a new company and gained permission to use the Musicport name. We want to see if the festival, which we love, has a viable future. We also hope to be able to raise some money for those who were left out of pocket by last year’s troubles. If you want to see Musicport in 2013 and beyond, we need you to support Musicport 2012.'

Dave Barry

Festival tickets cost £75. Day tickets cost £20 for Friday, £45 for Saturday and £30 for Sunday. There are discounts and offers for Whitby residents. Tickets can be booked in the shop, by phone (01947 603475) and via musicportfestival.com.

 

Burton brews up

Put together an Elizabethan hall set in 15 acres of beautiful grounds and a mix of of funk, traditional jazz, hard blues and dreamy vocals and what have you got? Answer: the strange and wonderful weekend that is the annual Burton Agnes Jazz and Blues Festival.

 

The festival itself features Stacey Kent and Ian Siegal at the head of a varied line-up. Some events are inside the stately Elizabethan hall where intimate acoustic performances mix with original Elizabethan carvings and French impressionist art to create an inimitable festival experience. Burton Agnes Hall was built in 1601-10 and is in a miraculous state of preservation.

 

The main stage is on the lawn, with rolling fields behind and pristine woodland to the side. The grounds include a walled garden with a maze, a jungle garden, giant games and a woodland walk with forest creatures to find. The festival has a reputation for being family-friendly with tons for kids to do and explore including free face painting and balloon artistry.

 

As if that weren’t enough there’s local food and drink too. At the tea tent and food lawn, festival-goers can indulge in home-baked treats, barbecued local meat, freshly prepared curries and salads grown in the neighbouring walled garden. In the beer tent, award winning Wold Top beer is on tap, brewed five miles away. On Friday and Saturday evening, the Wold Top beer tent plays host to Beverley Arts Trust’s late-night folk, jazz and R&B sessions.

 

A reviewer in the Independent once described a festival performance as 'possibly the most enjoyable jazz concert I've ever attended'. So if you like high quality music to go with your architecture, beer and face painting, Burton Agnes Hall is the only place to be.

Dave Barry

 

Burton Agnes Jazz and Blues Festival, 6 to 8 July, Burton Agnes Hall, between Bridlington and Driffield.

The line-up:
Friday: Octopus, Zena James, John Cox, Bandiqui and Alligators.
Saturday: the Lemon Monkeys, the Zoe Gilby Quartet, the Give a Little Love Jazz Orchestra’s Horace Silver tribute, Stacey Kent, Ian Siegal and the Mississippi Mudbloods, Val Marshall, King Courgette and This Way Up.
Sunday: the Rob Law Quartet with Thom Whitworth, Tribute to Atlantic Jazz, Sean Taylor, Ben Beattie's Jazz Essentials and festival organiser and saxophonist Simon Cunliffe-Lister.
 
Weekend tickets cost £50 in advance, with £2 off for pensioners, season ticket holders, full-time students and children aged 12-15. There is no charge for under-12s accompanied by an adult.
Day tickets cost £35 for Saturday and £30 for Sunday; evening tickets cost £25.
They can be booked online at www.burtonagnes.com <
http://www.burtonagnes.com/> , by ringing 01262 490324 and in person.
Camping is available.

Soaring melodies from sleek Raven

RAVEN have soared to dizzy new heights with their fourth and most accomplished album writes Dave Barry. Near to Me was launched at an intimate soirée at Woodend, where the six performers beseeched their audience, generously plied with “sparkles and nibbles” beforehand, to “let their spirits fly”.

 

They certainly let theirs fly, enchanting harmonies and infectious melodies tumbling forth in an exquisite stream of exuberant, optimistic and spirited songs. At turns jaunty and ethereal, the tunes carried lyrics about love, friendship, nature, the moon and the supernatural.

 

Everyone had fun; the audience eagerly lapped up every number, dousing the sextet with vigorous applause, and Raven were in their element, gelling better than ever and clearly having a ball. Radiant smiles belied terrific musical and personal chemistry.

 

The first set finished with Glass of Vino, featuring a lively salsa middle, and the second began with the evening’s only cover, Annie Lennox’s vampiric Love Song. Two songs, Trois Princesses and Breton Dance, were in French, while Kothbiro was in Swahili.

Many of the themes were as green as the ivy which crawled up the mic stands, the band’s verdant new logo and Sarah Dew’s bass guitar.

 

Otherwise, the colour scheme was raven-black for the women’s garb, apart from the odd splash of gold, blue and red on the sandals. Nia Davidson changed into red high heels for the second set to sing Red Shoes. And during Glass of Vino, Fi MacFarlane of Woodend and most of the Raven husbands dropped red petals on the performers from the mezzanine floor above.

 

From the back, Sarah’s husband John Watton made a smoothly efficient job of the sound and light. The powerful Bose speakers are used at John’s weekly open-mic nights at Cellars. Besides Sarah and Nia, the band are Sally Lidgley, Pat Edmond, Karen Chalmers and the irrepressible Jaye Lewis. All multi-instrumentalists, they play keyboards, recorders (one of them transparent), flute, acoustic guitar, electric bass guitar, banjo, various drums including bongo, djembe and congas, miniature and full-size cymbals, a rain pipe and various percussion pieces.

 

The CD sleeve, designed by James Drawneek, credits Simon Coles for “ever-patient recording, mixing, production and orchestral stardust”.


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