Had another great night at Bohemian Jukebox last night. I was chatting with programmer and promoter Ben Calvert before the gig about the joys of visiting and potentially living in Bristol – if he does ever move away, Birmingham will have lost an indispensible figure from the music scene.
The small room (actually its only marginally smaller than the other room, but has much cosier and intimate vibe) at the Hare & Hounds once again made for the ideal setting for a great evening of acoustic music.
I had the pleasure of kicking things off. I’ve once again reshuffled my set – drawing on the experience of playing live over the last few years and noticing which songs I enjoy most live, also making a conscious decision to avoid too many introspective lyrics in the set. The uplifting instrumental Gudonya is now back in the set.
I missed Banksa’s set but had caught a few of Rowena and friend’s tunes earlier in the sound check – she plays guitar well in a folksy style, with a hint of bluegrass at times, and there were some nicely done two part hamonies.
Next up Erinn Williams, whom I’ve seen at Bohemian Jukebox once before and had enjoyed so much I asked Ben to put us on the same bill on her next visit (she’s from LA but tours regularly). I wasn’t disappointed, the undistorted electric guitar she plays provides a great, rich backdrop in a style that brings to my mind minimalist rhythms and trip hop warmth. She has the skills to pick out a melody in the guitar over a picked rhythmic background with considerable sensitivity and phrasing. As well as rhythm there’s some very interesting and effective harmonic changes in evidence too.
Vocally Erinn can produce a strong clear tone then effortlessly, say, at the top of a rising phrase, throttle back into her head voice and allow a controlled vibrato to creep in or come back still further to a breathy softness. Very effectively done – she has some operatic training in her past and it shows in the great control she can exercise seemingly effortlessly.
The overall experience of Erinn’s performance is greater than the sum of these ingredients, thanks to an instinctive grasp she has of communicating – or creating, an emotional experience through her music – with shades of dark and light throughout.
Finally, Frankie Ward and friends comprise the outfit Get Frank, here appearing as a full band albeit with the drummer experimenting with bongos as an alternative to a full kit. Frankie is a talented young performer and is generally active on the Birmingham creative scene – onstage there were hints of nerves but also a big bag full of confidence and charm – I would think in a very short time she has what it takes to be a top notch performer. She’s a good songwriter offering witty lyrics and lively, tunes embracing both pathos and humour she has a rich, versatile voice.
In the rest of the band, Sebastian Bonfiglioni was noticeable for some sensitive sax playing and some intricate and lively guitar solos.
A great end to a fine evenings musical entertainment and good company – the only thing that could have improved it for substantially would have been an extra 20 odd audience members, so if you want to make the next gig even better, get on down there on July 9th – you wont regret it.