This weekend saw the first of what is hopefully going to be an annual event. Sponsored by MOR Music and raising money for half a dozen local charities, the weekend saw a number of free gigs at venues around the city, all with free entry, showcasing locals bands. A few bands that I like or had members that I knew were due to play so, in order to break the monotony of decorating, I decided to take the family out to sample some live music.
First off we headed to The Red Lion in Merchantgate, where a convenient raised area in the beer garden had been rigged up as an outdoor stage. Thankfully, the day was blessed with some unexpected and quite warm sunshine, so the idea of a beer garden was quite pleasant. Events seemed to be running a little behind schedule as we aimed to get there in time to see a colleague’s band but, in fact, arrived just as All The Spies who entertained us with a set of covers (they are, apparently working on their own material) including Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol), Stuck In The Middle With You (Stealer’s Wheel), Sex On Fire (Kings of Leon), Hearts On Fire (Bryan Adams) and Here I Go Again (Whitesnake), along with a few others that sounded familiar but that I couldn’t put a name to. The band played well and entertained between songs as well. Vocals were shared between bassist Trev and drummer Adam (and were better when they sang together) while Si concentrated on the guitar work. A pretty good start to the afternoon.
Next up were L&P Blues (“Leon and Paul. It’s easy!”). Leon plays various guitars while Paul sings and plays various harmonicas and, between them, they gave us an hour of classic blues tracks including Big Boss Man, Baby What You Want Me To Do, Pride and Joy, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out, Police Dog Blues, Talk To Me Baby and many more. Artists covered included Stevie Ray Vaughan, B B King, Elmo James and Ray Charles. We even got one original – Ultra Smooth, written by Leon. This was the duo’s first official gig and they were very entertaining. Keep an eye out for them.
Holly Taymar took to the stage next. Lovely voice but she wasn’t really getting the attention she deserved from the audience and it was a little difficult to pick out her songs. I did hear her introduce one as being called Toes. Almost certainly worth checking her out another time but, unfortunately, we had to be moving on.
With the sun setting, we were heading off to Fibbers where I seemed to have arranged special dispensation for 9-year-old Elizabeth to be allowed into the usually 14-and-over venue in order for her to see where her Dad spends quite a few of his evenings. On arrival we kitted her out with a pair of (glow in the dark) earplugs and, after a brief chat with members of Morpheus Rising, settled down to listen to the music. Sadly Fibbers was pretty much empty, a sad indictment of the local live scene with people seemingly unwilling to venture out for something new even when the gig is free.
I had deliberately picked a time when a couple of acts I knew and liked were performing and so we started off with Boss Caine who, despite an early broken string gave us half an hour of some of his best songs, including Ghosts And Drunks, Dead Man’s Suit, A Kind Of Loving and Everybody Loves You More When You’re Down On Your Knees. The album The Ship That Sailed is one of Elizabeth’s favourites and she was keen to say hello to Dan when he had finished and even happier when he remembered her from when I introduced her to him a few weeks ago.
Our final act for the day was Morpheus Rising. Again it was a shortened, just thirty minute set but they guys gave their all, despite the small crowd (it had grown slightly but mainly by the arrival of the next couple of bands.) Performing Lord Of The North and Fighting Man amongst others, the band gained a new fan in Debbie who said that she would consider going to see a full gig.