By Ian Haughey - 13th April 2012 7:45am
So, last Thursday I took in the normal trip to the Lord C in Audlem, and watched the superbly talented Garron Frith. A singer/songwriter who can write lyrics and perform and you just know its a matter of time, with lady luck alongside, before he gets his break.
Don't get me wrong here, I am just amazed at the level of the quality of grass roots talent that's around, and not only that, but performing at your local, in a small Cheshire village for free.
Anyway, let's not go there again, but that was my preparation, if you like, for the Nantwich Jazz and Blues over the Easter weekend. Full of top quality artists, as well as grass roots performers, as long as you buy a ticket and a wristband to see them.
Again, I'm not adverse to paying to see the artists, and as a 'musician', I like the fact that you get paid for performing, but you cannot help drawing parallels at times.
My main day at Nantwich was the Sunday, local performers were playing, and I took the opportunity to take to the streets of Nantwich and sample the atmosphere. The weather was OK and there were people about, but it lacked an atmosphere I felt. The music was good, a lot predictable, but hey it is the Jazz and Blues, what would you expect to hear.
Personally I feel that the festival has, following previous years, been more about queuing up outside popular pubs, more for the 'being seen' and having a drink value, than to see the artists performing. There are pockets where it retains its original values and the music takes precedence, but not the festival it used to be.
What I did take away, were some of the cracking performances I witnessed, and reports of performances I couldn't get to, about local bands from Audlem. Heidi Browne and Jack Marshall performed a few sets over the weekend, and I listened to audiences waxing lyrical about them, and 'how they were so pleased to get to see them again', they certainly left their mark.
The Wash, rocked the Union with a very tight set, and Gambler absolutely rocked the White Horse. The Folkwits stole the audience at their gig in the Crown ballroom. I know because so many people told me, to the extent that I thought I was actually there.
Back to Audlem
However, I left early Sunday evening and wended my way back to the village and the Shroppie Fly, mainly to see Heavy Weather. Bearing in mind that this was Jim Kirkpatrick's third gig of the day, and umpteenth of the weekend, it had to be the best.
A fairly light crowd it would be fair to say, saw Jim perform with with his band. An absolute stunning set, relaxed, but tight, the 'rehearsals' earlier in the day culminated in a stunning performance at the Shroppie Fly.
It was a free performance I would gladly have paid my Jazz and Blues £6.00 wristband fee for. I left having enjoyed a good, no, great gig, with a good group of friends less than half a mile from home.
No noisy, drink influenced crowds to disrupt the music, after having paid a fee to enter, and in some instances queued, to get in to see a band I wasn't sure I wanted to see. Far more enjoyable.
Then, a week later, I walk across to my local pub to watch local musicians Kel Brammer and Dave Nettleton playing at the Lord C. I buy a drink or two, I meet friends and I get to listen to one of the most talked about acts from Nantwich Jazz and Blues weekend, The Folkwits.
Not only that, but you get to see and hear a performance that was more than amazing, entertaining and involving than you thought possible for a pub gig. Such harmonies, controlled playing, and a more heartfelt performance could you want to witness, it was sensational.
This duo has hit another level, and for one who has seen them from day one, the level of performance if you saw it on Jools Holland you'd rush to your laptop to download the album from iTunes!
Seriously brilliant, and you did not have to watch it on your telly, the downside for those that missed it is that it's not on catchup, but just ask anyone who was there, you'd wish you had been.
Audlem Music and Arts Festival
Well, you can watch a repeat at the up coming Audlem Music and Arts Festival at the end of May. No wrist bands or entrance fees, just you, your family and friends and 79 more acts.
Monday 20th May
Audlem Methodist Church
Audlem Town Hall