Brewtown #18: Green Fortune

Emerald Luck from left to right: Sutton, Faint, Mark Knight, Kay Knight

Emerald Luck from left to right: Sutton, Faint, Mark Knight, Kay Knight

Folk has already been represented on this site’s What Else Is Out There? section with The Offbeat, but today, it’s time to give props to a bit of Brewtown folk with a lot of members both past and present! As luck would have it, it’s Green Fortune.

Mark Knight (mandola, lead vocals), Kay Knight (percussion, backing vocals), Rhys Jones (Harmonica), Carl Sutton (Guitar), Andy Faint (percussion), Stiv Hogg (bass) and Rhys Knight (occasional percussion or bass) make up this Midlands folk collective who have been described as a band that John Peel would have loved!

Though they have not been featured on Radio 1 by John Peel (they formed after he died but still), they still have gained a modest Midlands following and have added some much needed folk variety to the Brewtown scene…besides the Wurzels!

Oh they're not from round 'ere, but they left their mark...on my poor eyes!

Oh they’re not from round ‘ere, but they left their mark…on my poor eyes!

The leader Mark Knight, like Scott Milligan of Kitten Pyramid, always had been into music since childhood and had grown up listening to Johnny Cash, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie who were modern day legends back then. How times change and the nostalgia whores weep!

His first experiences with bands grew mostly out of his love for punk music in the 70s and 80s such as with beyond obscure bands like Filth and Mad Dogs (who I WON’T be doing pieces on, research would take forever!) and also joined The Gift with fellow veteran Midlands musician Bruno Gallone in 1985. After a few outings in the 90s with bands like Rezist and Digweed, Mark bought a slightly contrasting instrument to his punk years in 2005; his trusty mandola which he plays in GF to this day.

Though it's not THAT uncommon for the mandola and punk to go together.

Though it’s not THAT uncommon for the mandola and punk to go together.

It wasn’t until 2007 that the idea of Green Fortune came to the heads of both Knight and childhood friend Jude Hackett during a drunk curry night out because hey, they weren’t getting older and they had nothing to lose but their dignity, which let’s be honest, is entirely overrated. Isn’t that right Kanye?

The yellowish-blueish gamblers were officially formed in the summer of 2008 with the original line-up of Mr and Mrs Knight, Hackett (bass), Sarah Devine (vocals) and Scud Stevens (percussion).

Hackett and Mr Knight started writing music before adding these new members to the line-up which would be changing quite a bit over the next five years. Not to Iron Butterfly levels but they’ve had a fair few members.

Plus their songs aren’t 17 minutes long either so this is the mootest of moot points!

After beginning to rehearse both at home and in Moira along with the first couple of live shows (one with a bar patron expecting Metallica and getting Fleetwood Mac from them, supposedly!), GF showed that folk had a place amongst it’s heavier rock contemporaries in the Midlands music scene.

In 2009, they requested the help of Burton College to set up some sessions for their first set of tunes such as The Rose, Running in Circles and Permanence in Change to be recorded and stored on Myspace (ah those were the days…) and Reverbnation for all to see.

Although they were an originals band first and foremost, which is good since I mainly cover those here (COVER ORIGINAL bands? Aren’t I confusing?), they did do a folkified cover of the Buzzcocks most famous hit Ever Fallen In Love which later had a video directed by Derby-based film-maker Adam Stevenson.

Despite Hackett leaving in 2009, the line-up soon became larger the next year when stand-up bass player Louise Hughes replaced Hackett, violinist Joy Gravestock and harmonica player Rhys Jones joined the fray also with Jones playing on the same bill as GF one night. Faint also replaced Stevens later on in the year.

Music-wise in 2010, GF released their first single which was My Daemon Lover/Gypsy’s Curse, the former of which also had a music video directed by Adam Stevenson. A big highlight for them was to play at the Midlands’ largest creative arts festival Bearded Theory supporting The Wonder Stuff and Doctor and the Medics.

With 2011 came new members such as guitarist Carl Sutton and percussionist Andy Faint with the departure of Devine and Stevens and news delivered to them in April that the video for My Daemon Lover would be played on the BBC Big Screens in both Leicester and Derby!

High vis' an all!

High vis’ an all!

In May, they had their first radio interview with Ashby-based community station Hermitage FM and they took part in the Ashby Arts Festival to coincide with the interview.

To round off the year, the band released their second dual single Ever Fallen in Love/ On Icarus Wings on iTunes like they had done with their previous single and would do with their third dual single in 2012 Empty Skies/ Where Do I Begin?

Also in 2012, they joined the likes of Scott Milligan and Star From Ivy to start the Arch Creations Revolution to help build more interest in the Brewtown scene in the run-up to Burtfest.

When you think revolution, you think googly-eyed broccoli. Guevara be damned!

When you think revolution, you think googly-eyed broccoli. Guevara be damned!

Though they were not on the card for Burtfest, they were on the card for the first Gladefest taking place at Rosliston Forestry Centre at the end of August alongside the Roz Bruce Infusion and The Offbeat.

It was also the last gig for Hughes who was replaced by Mark’s son Rhys Knight who you may know from Mario’s Nicotine Parlour and debuted with the band at the Moira Folk Furnace Festival.

In November, they had a big support spot for a gig headlined by Derby folk musician and BBC Horizon award winner Lucy Ward at the Snibston Discovery Museum. She has a Wikipedia article with a decent amount of information so that’s nice.

Not Icarus’ Wings but it’s close!

As 2013 rolled round, the position of bassist was batted around from person to person including Rhys Knight, Leicester-based bassist Mark Kinton, formerly of Three Legged Dog, Burton music promoter and former Star and Garter pub owner Paul ‘Lavy’ Latham and former Deadtime Philarmonic bassist Stiv Hogg.

Rhys Knight also would deputise on percussion when Faint was unavailable such as at 2013’s Moira Furnace Festival and Gladefest II which had support from Tilted Smile and The March, a band they would later support at the Wetmore Whistle in September.

But in October was when they had a true triumph! How so? After a number of months of leaping into the Top 10 of the Midlands Folk charts on Reverbnation, they finally achieved No1 status, even beating out Lucy Ward! So who supports who now then, hmmm?

It's like being top of the Conference North division, but still, it's a victory!

It’s like being top of the Conference North division, but still, it’s a victory!

And coming into 2014, they continue to gig and record their music in and around the Midlands with Jones on temporary leave and Rhys Knight as temporary bassist. Temporary tempura tempest! (Let’s just go to the music part of the article now please!)

So music-wise, how do the Overseal gypsy band fare? Well this is the other side of the folk spectrum compared to The Offbeat. Whereas that band is innocent and bouncy, Green Fortune is more raunchy and gritty with the punk influences and mature subject matter.

Each band member provides and past members have provided a layer of great importance. Not even the bells provided by Kay Knight feel insignificant alongside the bass of Hughes or the mandola of Mark Knight. Their music is both enjoyable and enchanting to listen to.

Their songs can range from being about gothic romance (My Daemon Lover) to a rousing sing-along (The Seventh Magpie) all done in the style of a traditional folk band with a punk edge to them along with very interesting arrangements of old punk classics such as the before mentioned Ever Fallen In Love and the Stranglers’ hit Golden Brown.

THE GYPSY’S CURSE

Two tracks that I will recommend here are The Gypsy’s Curse and Empty Skies. To start, The Gypsy’s Curse shows off the band’s energy and flair whilst telling the story of a man who fell in love with someone he shouldn’t have fallen in love with (I’m honestly not talking about their Buzzcocks cover, shut up!)

The vocals go back and forth between Devine and Mark Knight with both providing their own vocal strengths with Knight’s being more rough and worried and Devine’s being more calm and conniving.

Music-wise, it’s quite upbeat whilst keeping the sinister minor key, keeping with the theme of the song which the lyrics reinforce whenever the chorus comes along:

Since I met that gypsy woman

There’s a black dog crossing my path, a raven at my shoulder

Touched that wild rover and brought down the gypsy’s curse

The second song Empty Skies however, is much calmer and beautiful sounding with the violin, harmonica and mandola featuring prominently throughout. Knight’s vocals are softer this time around and have a more emotional weight here and are the main vocals in the song.

It’s a song that tries to seek out the clarity much needed in life’s journey that could only be seen through an un-clouded ’empty sky’. Not to be confused with the Elton John album or 2011 film though!

It’s a great demonstration of their soft-spoken side that goes well alongside their more upbeat and energetic songs that provide a good variety to their catalogue. As always, check for yourself if you don’t believe me!

Summarising, Green Fortune provide some good folk variety like Great Scott provide good hip hop variety to a predominantly electric rock scene. Their lyrics tell an interesting tale and their music provides an entertaining backdrop. Highly recommended for lovers of the Pogues and The Levellers.

As always, this has been Brewtown Music serving you another fine brew of Midlands tunes.

Green Fortune’s stuff

Official Website (currently down but could be back up again): http://www.greenfortune.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Green-Fortune/

Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/greenfortune

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GreenFortuneUK

Twitter: https://twitter.com/greenfolk

GF

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Brewtown #14: Lucida Scroll

Scrolling left to right: Jackson, Hughes and Jordan

Scrolling left to right: Jackson, Hughes and Jordan

To begin this new part of the Brewtown posts called Throwback Thursday (bandwagon I know, sue me!) which I will be using to put forth acts who are either on an indeterminable hiatus time or entirely defunct but still great to listen to, I will look at a folk punk trio that always gave a rowdy, yet traditional performance whenever they were on stage. Have a read of the Lucida Scroll.

The folk threesome consisted of Stuart Jordan (vocals, acoustic guitar), Paul Jackson (bass) and Sam Hughes (drums). From the start though, there was Joe Evans (vocals, electric guitar) until Jackson replaced him in 2012. They became quite a unique addition to the Burton music scene sounding as if Mumford and Sons were a bit more scruffy and listened to a lot of punk.

Probably as punk as they'll ever get!

Probably as punk as they’ll ever get!

The band itself was formed in November 2010 after Jordan and a few mates had a jam after an afternoon of playing football and thought that this could potentially lead to something great. Ah, the beautiful game will do that to ya!

At this point leading into 2011, Lucida was made up of Jordan, Evans, Danny Scott, the second guitarist for the band and occasional third guitarist Kevin Bayliss. All they needed was a drummer for people who only needed a beat for their acoustic punk-folk collective. After booking studio time for a demo in January at Arch Studios, they found their drummer in long-time friend Hughes the next month, giving the band even more energy.

After a positive response to their gigs and releases on Myspace, they were able to go on tour less than half a year into their inception! Well it was a tour of Edinburgh, but still, international tour! Technically.

Shouldn't that be "thy bank holiday weekend?" Be consistent lads!

Shouldn’t that be “thy bank holiday weekend?” Be consistent lads!

Two more dates were added in May to perform in Pomona, Sheffield. One for just another gig and two for a Battle of the Bands which they didn’t win but were received well either way. In July, they participated in another Battle of the Bands competition, this time in Burton at the Wetmore Whistle where acts like Great Scott, The Myways and The Distancing were taking part in. Why battle? Can’t they all just get along?

By August/September, they had built up such a live/online profile that not only were their T shirts that they released the first month being sold as far as Budapest, but also for the release of their debut E.P. Monologues, they had two launch nights. One, naturally, in Burton and the other in Rotherham, near Sheffield where they had performed previously, obviously leaving a ripple effect oop north!

Both nights had great support from Alex Canner of The Dark Horses and comedy musician Bill Cort for the Burton night and Jim Marston and Manchester-based Indie rockers The Loaded Dice but of course the highlight was the Lucida boys, giving each crowd member a reason why they needed a copy of their new EP.

And because I need a relevant segue, here’s Marston and Jordan singing Fairytale of New York at the Whistle! Works like a charm!

With a new year brought a new line-up with Evans, Scott and Bayliss having other band commitments such as with Phoenix Salvation for Evans, a position for bassist was taken up by Jackson who would stay on as bassist for the rest of LS’s run. Jordan had his own music commitments with himself, meaning his solo act Son of Roger with a setup consisting of a guitar/banjo and a tambourine/bass drum/foot pedal combo! Typical folk soloist showing off!

One of the first major gigs of the year for them was supporting another band’s EP launch, Black Wolf Catch’s new EP Crackpot Summer Lounge (Don’t ask!) filmed and organised by Arch Creations. It all comes back to Arch!

CCTV the gig! I don’t trust an EP title like Crackpot Summer Lounge do you?

After winning a cash prize from a music competition and performing on a lorry container in the High Street as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, both in the Spring and in Tutbury, LS prepared themselves for an event I have mentioned before and will mention again because of how big and unfortunately money-consuming it was, Burtfest. Competing with bands like Max Raptor and Follow You Home, they were able to pull off a great set at the Arch Creations stage. Once again, back to Arch!

Along with their gig input, they also had a lot of recording output, recording, mixing and mastering whenever they were able to with the new material that they had in mind and always experimenting with them for certain gigs. This led to talks of a possible full studio album at the end of the year.

LS in 2013 supported The Distancing for their final headlining gig at the Star and Garter, were supported by politically driven rock group The Downpage Liberation, covers/originals band Fantastik 4 and Midlands folk collective Green Fortune. But in May of this year was the last of their online updates before Jordan left Burton to study at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford to bring the band into hiatus. When will they return? Who knows! Still, it’s good to speculate isn’t it?

They're just preparing themselves for battle...of the bands mind!

They’re just preparing themselves for battle…of the bands mind!

But of course we look at the music at this point. I did mention at the start that they were a folk-punk collective, but honestly, their music has the tendency to cross over into even more genres!

Indie, Spanish music and straight up rock n roll are touched upon with LS’s music being led by the powerful strums and passionate vocals of Jordan who in a way, sounds like if Jamie T started covering The Pogues. I do mean that in the best possible way! The chemistry between instruments and enthusiasm from the other band members cannot be ignored either, with Hughes and Jackson being a great drum and bass backing and Evans and Scott providing an even bigger dynamic to the proceedings earlier on in their run.

One song of theirs in particular I will be looking at is one of their most popular tunes Perfection. Now some of you who regularly come here think “Wait a damn minute! I’ve been here before haven’t I? Didn’t you already look at a song called Perfection from Star From Ivy?” Calm yourselves Brewtown lovers, tis just a coincidence!

Yes it’s got the same name, is in the key of D minor and has a flamenco influence. Tis just a coincidence I say!

Of course, the same themes are touched on as the SFI song of the same name, but LS’s idea of Perfection sounds and is performed much differently than SFI. The song starts off with a calm bass drum leading into an Evans electric riff and a Jordan acoustic riff that steadily builds over the first minute until it is kicked into high gear with a “Hey!” from Jordan.

The song has a great Latin-folk energy that rarely lets up and the lyrics from Jordan are just as thought-provoking as Baldwin’s SFI:

Count your stars, see how many you own

I assure you it’s not much, but it’s less than I know…

One of the lyrics later on in the song name drops the title, but in such a good way:

Perfection is just an illusion of the mind

This phrase is so good at summarising the whole idea of what it is to be perfect and think is perfect that it’s on the band’s T-shirt for God’s sake! I own that T-shirt so I know! Even if Jordan’s vocals crack at times and aren’t perfect, of course, it could just be an illusion in my mind, so what the hell do I know? Check the song out and links to their music below.

Even if they’re not currently about as a live band, I still suggest you check Lucida Scroll out some time. Their brash, powerful folk tunes have helped them stand out in a big way in Burton and beyond and the complexities that lie in their recordings when they get the chance to experiment is something to behold. Here’s hoping they return soon! I hope you’ve enjoyed the first Throwback Thursday. May it bring you another vintage Brewtown Tune soon.

Lucida Scroll Archives

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LuicdaScroll

Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/lucidascroll

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/LucidaScroll

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucidaScroll

LS Logo

Old LS

Brewtown #12: Jamie Beau

Beau Diddley!

Beau Diddley!

It’s soloist time once again in Brewtown with a finger-picking guitarist from the Mining town of Swadlincote who has made quite an impact in his first year of performing. The dandy young man Jamie Beau!

Beau (real name James Burton, fitting given this website!) is a singer/guitarist by performance and mix engineer by production which has him both sides of the glass when it comes to recording. Despite only being around for just over a year in the scene, he has made a great impression gaining opportunities to perform at the best festivals.

The VERY best!

The VERY best!

Beau comes from a family with five siblings and grew up in Swadlincote. He first started playing the guitar at 7 years old, took a break from it (since you have a very busy schedule at 7 years old) and then developed his musical interests further by taking up singing and performing in his teens as he rediscovered his passion for music.

Throughout his teens, he was in various bands and got his first taste in music production in 1996 when he went to his then guitar tutor’s studio to record the first song he ever wrote. As much as he was drawn to performing music, he was just as interested in the production aspect of music which he described as becoming “hooked on the process of recording then mixing, the meticulous attention to fine detail, the musicality and expression you can create and ultimately, the satisfaction with the end result.”

After graduating college with a distinction grade in sound engineering, he went for various music-related jobs such as a music teacher in Long Eaton in 2003 and going from a freelance sound engineer (started in 2005) to starting his own SE business JBB Studios in 2012. That kind of dedication is why sound engineers are well-respected by musicians for doing the job they do for whatever price.

And if bands try to slip out of paying them, something like this could happen!

It was also in 2012 when he decided to officially get back in the gig game in September and writing some new material while he was at it. Having been performing on and off as a solo artist since the early 2010s, Beau started using the experience he had gained in the industry through bands and sound engineering to make it on his own merit.

After this new start, one of Beau’s next gigs was amongst other sultry performers as he was put on as live music entertainment as part of a burlesque show in Derby in November run by Spotlight Burlesque and Cabaret. One of the burlesque performers on this night was Beau’s girlfriend known as Cadillac Arrest.

Some steamy burlesque night action here for you!

Some steamy burlesque night action here for you!

He would go the next month to perform at another burlesque show in Birmingham with Cadillac Arrest on the card once again as well as Great Scott! Great Scott Boylesque that is! Not the two muppets I’ve already written about! If they did burlesque…I can’t even come up with a fun analogy. It’s not pretty to think of!

But it was this year that Beau’s talents were able to flourish on both sides of the recording booth as well as getting some big time exposure. An off-stage example of his growing popularity in January when gained a new follower on his Twitter in the form of The Darkness! Spangly falsetto singing metal band you know? Gotta love their solo acoustic balladeers!

In February, one of his first gigs of the year came to be at Burton’s Royal Oak which was unfortunately interrupted by an abrasive heckler who Beau was able to fortunately able to sort out to continue the show. In between plenty of other gigs in the Midlands through Spring, in April, he announced the title of his first EP Shedding Skin as well as releasing a rather unique acoustic version of the Terminator theme! Yeah you saw that correctly, Terminator meets James Taylor!

You've got a friend John Connor!

You’ve got a friend John Connor!

The next month he went from one sci-fi classic theme to another as he was booked for a Boxman Media gig in Burton called StarFest on, appropriately enough, May 4th which would also feature the likes of Chris Baldwin, Lady and the Tramp, For the Kill and The Vibe. Two weeks later, he would be back in Burton again for another varied musical event which was Get Cubs‘ post UK tour homecoming show.

In June, Beau got some radio airtime on BBC Radio Derby where he along with Matt McGuinness of Derby folk act Karl and the Marx Brothers were interviewed about all things musically in the Midlands by Sally Pepper.

Later in the month, he was not only an attendee but also one of the performers at the world’s most famous music festival Glastonbury! OK, not on the main stage like the Rolling Fossils but just having a low key busking session amongst the organised chaos at Glasto! Also, one of his tweets was actually favourited by the Rolling Stones’ Twitter so that was cool too!

Go on, see if you can spot him!

Go on, see if you can spot him!

A week after his time at Glasto, he released Shedding Skin to positive reception from the likes of BBC’s Phil Trow taking note of his “Really powerful vocals” and event organisers Sidefest who said: “I can imagine seeing him perform at Glastonbury, Isle of Wight, Strawberry Fields, and to an extent, Reading and Leeds, and believe he has the talent to do just that.” Well, he kinda has done one of those already so it sounds like he’s well on his way!

An official launch party for the EP took place on July 19th at The Blessington Carriage in Derby which also featured fellow Derby acoustic acts George Simpson, Brookfield and pianist Eleanor Lee.

August proved to be even busier for Beau with performances at YNot Festival, Furthest From the Sea Promotions (A Derby-based arts promoter) this time playing with Karl and the Marx Brothers, down south on Newquay beaches and back in Burton for a Bank Holiday Sunday music evening at the Wetmore Whistle with Sam Garrett, Star From Ivy, Exile84 and 5 Days of November.

He would then be constantly going between recording and performing as a solo act and with KATMB, mostly performing in Derby and recording tracks at Piggyback Studios in Bretby.

Expect no big cigars or anyone calling each other comrade here though!

The whole autumn so far has not been any less busy for him as he gigged everywhere from Derby, Nottingham, Hartlepool and back again. One major highlight being Derby Folk festival pulling double duty as a solo act and KATMB member. His recording credits outside of performing have been mixing and mastering works for George Simpson, Hertfordshire-based Tail Dennerstein and a sterling recommendation from award-winning Welsh singer/songwriter Phil Lewis.

So after all that, let’s look at the man’s music itself and see what it’s like. It’s great to see how much Beau has done as far as music in the Midlands goes and as a solo performer, he’s just as great at that as he is a sound engineer.

Beau’s great voice, guitar playing, lyricism and production are all highlighted on Shedding Skin and features four tracks that all have their own merits and don’t submit to generic singer-songwriter syndrome of all the songs sounding exactly the same. Let’s have a look at it shall we?

A great poster for Tim Burton's new Bob Dylan biopic isn't it?

Great poster for Tim Burton’s new Bob Dylan biopic isn’t it? (Artwork design by Becky Ryan)

Beau announced last week that his debut album was in the works and if this work is an indicator, I’m looking forward to it! With the upbeat yet introspective The Mill, the soothing acoustic choir in All Late, heavily instrumental heartbreak song Piece by Piece and simple yet effective live recording Shame I Met You, there’s a variety to his songs that is to be appreciated in order to keep a simple four track EP fresh with each listen.

The two tracks in particular I will pick as my favs are The Mill and Piece by Piece since to me they show Beau’s best qualities on both sides of the recording booth. The first of these two The Mill as said before begins the EP with an upbeat feel with not only the strings of the guitar being used but the hollow body is used as percussion. This method is used not only for live performances but also on the EP but the recording has additional layers to it that makes it stand out.

So I keep head down in the dead end mill
I’ll find a new place to wait
And the Waifs and Strays of the dead end mill
Will keep until I stagnate 
Why forever do I take the long way around?

A look into a man’s repetitious yet jolly existence awaits you.

The second of these being Piece by Piece has the highest amount of production involved with many intricate layers and instruments including guitars both acoustic and electric, backing vocals and xylophone give this song a larger feel but still a subdued, calming nature to it that fits with a relaxing Sunday afternoon.

SideFest who I mentioned earlier said that this song was “written for a group to perform…a boy band perhaps…but handled and carried well single-handedly.” There are hints of an acoustic boy band song in there but it’s mostly a soothing folk number. Still I can sort of see where they’re coming from.

It’s mainly a well done song about heartbreak that serves as a great way for Beau to show off his performing and production talents through and through. Check these songs out for yourself with the links below if you don’t believe me!

Somehow baby I always came to your defence
And I couldn’t hear the voice of reason making sense
It was taking me apart
Taking me apart
Piece by piece 
All I want is to find peace 

Simply put, Jamie Beau/James Burton is an all-rounder in terms of music. Being recommended by many for his own music and music he has produced for others, he is a versatile addition to Midlands music, whether it be in Burton, Derby or anywhere he is needed. Keep an eye out for him if he’s coming your way, you’ll appreciate it I’m sure. This has been Brewtown Music serving you another fine brew of Midlands tunes!

Beau/Burton’s stuff

Beau Official Website: http://jamiebeau.com

Burton Official Website: http://jbbsound.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamiebeaumusic

Bandcamp: http://jamiebeau.bandcamp.com/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jamiebeau

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JamieBeauMusic

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/jamiebeaumusic

Beau 2

What Else Is Out There? #2: The Offbeat

The Young Folks from top to bottom: Boyd, Tunley, Rose and Clark

The Young Folks from top to bottom: Boyd, Tunley, Rose and Clark

When you think of folk music, you don’t normally think of four fresh-faced teens from Lichfield with beat pedals do you? But here they are, to show you what else is out there, they are The Offbeat.

Bryony Rose/Simcox (Violin, Vocals), Daniel Clark  (Guitar, Ukulele, Banjo, Vocals), Hannah Boyd (Violin, Viola, Vocals) and Rosie Tunley (Cajon, Percussion, Synth, Vocals) make up this multi-talented group of Midlands youngsters who like many indie roots acts set out to put a contemporary spin on folk music, a genre that this writer has a soft spot for.

Although I couldn't commit to growing a folk beard like this!

But I couldn’t commit to growing a beard like this!

With so many instruments being played between them and such a professional attitude towards their performance, it’s no wonder that The Offbeat have become a highly sought after group all over the Midlands whilst keeping a happy disposition and cranking out catchy and energetic tunes.

The story of The Offbeat officially began in 2010, but two years before when a young folk collective amounting to 20 members (Looks like Kitten Pyramid have rivals then!) formed known as Wildfire Folk. This ensemble came about as part of the Lichfield Arts organisation and wanted to play folk “as it should be played – with enthusiasm, energy and style.” But more on them another time.

It was and has always been in this ensemble that two long-time friends (Tunley and Rose) would team up with fellow musician Boyd and Rose’s boyfriend Clark to form their own band that would look to combine roots, indie, folk and pop music to create enjoyable music that would be as fun for them to play as it would be for the audience to listen.

Well it get’s more fun after this, trust me!

In 2011, they would be performing in any building that can put on music from the offie down the road to the local church hall. It would also be the year of two big festival performances that really got people’s attention. One was in July at the annual free festival, Lichfield Fuse, where they played in the acoustic tent where they got such a good response they ended up returning there in 2013 with a lot more material. Once again though, more on that later.

Another of these performances occurred at Shrewsbury Folk Festival in August where they ended up receiving a very positive review of “Simply breath-taking – absolutely gorgeous vocals.”

Why didn't their interpretive dance clearly about pregnancy get rave reviews too?

Why didn’t their interpretive dance, clearly from Clark’s stance, about pregnancy get rave reviews too?

It was during this time that they were in the process of recording their first, self-titled EP which was released in November 2011. Also during November, they would start a tradition of performing at the all-day weekly festival The Free Love Club in Birmingham which they continue to do on and off to this day. The Free Love Club has also had on the likes of Roz Bruce, Sam Garrett, Kitten Pyramid and Call-Me-Unique.

2012 was twice as eventful for The Offbeat starting off with the announcement that due to the high amount of votes they received after entering a competition called The Next Brit Thing the year prior, they were placed on the shortlist of the Midlands Final hosted by PRS for Music (Performing Rights Society) with the prize being a chance to record at Abbey Road! Although they didn’t win the whole Brit Thing, their song Don’t Make the Call was placed in the top 7 of the PRS Songwriters Competition!

Their profile was boosted even more when they supported The Musgraves, an already famous roots pop band who received radio play from Tom Robinson on BBC Radio 6 and their song Last of Me was played on Graham Norton’s Radio 2 show and they did end up playing on Norton’s national talk show in February of 2012.

Miranda July knitting a heart-shaped doily couldn't be as twee as that!

Miranda July knitting a heart-shaped doily couldn’t be as twee as that!

They would then go on to support another indie folk act in May in the award-winning and BBC folk award nominated Gilmore and Roberts in Birmingham. G & R themselves described The Offbeat as “sounding great and very inventive.” Later that month, they would get their own slice of radio play having their free single (If It’s No) Then Just Say No played on Harrow Community Radio.

The same single would then end up being reviewed by Lucy Onions of Born Music Online which pointed out the similarities to Charlie Simpson that the band had described themselves as.

Here’s a screen-cap, cos the link to the review itself is broken. Ah Internet!

Highlights from the Summer of 2012 included The Big Lunch in Lichfield Cathedral which had BBC coverage, a radio interview at Scratch FM (Birmingham Student Union Radio), a set performed around Burton at the Rosliston Forestry Centre as part of GladeFest and the announcement of their belated album launch for September 5th.

This debut album titled We Are The Offbeat was recorded and produced at both Mighty Atom Smashers in Kidderminster (co-founded by Robert Plant) and Monochrome Studios in Warwickshire. The launch took place at the Lichfield Guildhall which brought in a sell-out crowd for the eleven track LP. This album’s fourth track Running Backwards was played on BBC Radio Introducing in the West Midlands round this time too.

After a brief three-month hiatus due to Uni for both Clark and Rose, they set out to further promote their new album and new set material which brings them into 2013. With a new year came a new release in the form for a music video for Running Backwards in April.

Take the spotlights and glitter! TAKE THEM!

Along with another piece of radio play that month on Radio Warwickshire and various York and Newcastle radio stations, a chance to support Top 10 busting folk artist Gabrielle Aplin in Newcastle-under-Lyme came their way which they took full advantage of urging fans to give them enough votes to gain the opportunity. Unfortunately, this goal wasn’t achieved but the support they gained from the competition was encouragement enough.

During the Summer 2013, they performed at the Leamington Peace Festival, one of the UK’s longest running free festivals (since 1978) and in July, they went on a summer holiday (Play Cliff Richard and I’ll kill you!) travelling to a nice little cottage in Nefyn to take in the scenery, write some new songs, play some old ones and busk where and when they had the chance.

And perform a tight set (badum tch!) in the cottage kitchen. Relaxing!

Following their holiday, their new song Turn received some radio play on both Stafford Radio and BBC West Midlands Introducing (just GO AWAY already!) and the song itself was released as a free download by then band in light of their Facebook page reaching 1000 likes! Hint hint Brewtown fans!

Along with a brief stop off at the Rosliston Glade again with Wildfire Folk, the band announced they would be performing in London in November as part of the ‘A Few Friends’ exhibition in Battersea where they will perform throughout an evening of art, design and architecture in a one-night show curated by architect Will Alsop.

But here we go, that time again, how does the music itself hold up? As I said at the beginning of this article, I love folk music and am always into energetic, vibrant sounds so their music sounded right up my alley!

That and...can you blame me looking at this cover?!

That and…can you blame me looking at this cover?!

Some people might think that roots music is a bit too sweet and saccharine to get behind, but this band hits my sweet spot in just the right way. With a consummate attitude to their performances and recording, they show experience that might be seen from artists double their age, while they play some intensely catchy and happy tunes.

They remind me of the Corrs in this regard and not just because they are three women with folk instruments and one guy with a guitar! Influences from Noah and the Whale are pretty apparent too, especially with this cover of their hit song 5 Years Time.

The two songs of theirs I will pick out as favourites of mine are Running Backwards and Turn. The first of which (video posted earlier) is an upbeat number that gives you the perfect introduction to their repertoire. A jangly acoustic guitar opening, stompbox beat and catchy as hell violin riff are what gives this song its identity but the lyrics, sung by Tunley, show a more steady and reflective tone showing how samey a relationship can end up being and the only solution is just to move on from it:

“The sun sets In the east today,

I know I’m wrong, you know another way

But it’s so far, running backwards

in the shoes you gave to me…and so we go on.”

The second song Turn is more down tempo than the first song mentioned with a softly strummed guitar, tightly tapped drum beat (which almost sounds like the beginning to a Tilly and the Wall song) and beautiful violin work guiding the track along. Clark this time on lead vocal gives a very concerned yet frustrated voice to this song being worried for himself and his partner about her persistently odd behaviour:

“Whatever you say, I’ll just agree

It’s been a long time since you’ve made sense to me.

My dear, have you lost your mind?

You spend your dark days in the brightest light.”

It sounds like it has an undertone of not understanding someone with a mental illness but then again, it’s just my speculation. It’s all subjective with my stupid arse so you can check it out on your own time!

If you are a fan of Indie Folk artists, these guys are an essential listen. If you aren’t or the genre kind of grates on you, I still recommend them to show a side to the genre that although young, doesn’t mean inexperienced, unprofessional or overly sweet. For those of you who are indifferent, thanks for stopping by to see the history of a great band and hope you come by next time for the next serving of Brewtown tunes, in Burton and beyond!

The Offbeat’s Stuff

Official Website: http://www.theoffbeatmusic.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/officialoffthebeat

Bandcamp: http://theoffbeat.bandcamp.com/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/theoffbeat

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wearetheoffbeat

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/theoffbeatmusic

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