Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Umbrella Fair: Stripping back for Faulkner's Acoustic Stage

It's been going for an age now showing no sign of stopping, The Green Festival now known as The Umbrella Fair returns to liven up The Racecourse once again with a weekend jam packed with enough excitement to keep us going for a year. The name almost tempts fate with the weather however if you're prepared to grab a brolly and brave the heat there's a fantastic line-up for an even more fantastic eco cause. The Acoustic Stage has been put together (not literally) by the brilliant Hannah Faulkner featuring a line-up of over thirty performers with blink-and-you-miss-it sets. So if the excitement all becomes too much why not lend your ear of one of these lot for a lovely twenty minute chill out.


12.00pm - Mark Gresty
Ahead of his snappily titled third album Love And Other Cosmopolitan Diseases, the tongue in cheek singer-songwriter current living in Omam kicks of this year's Acoustic Stage with a groovy mix of pop, blues, folk and jazz from the stripped-back gentle talent.

12.20pm - Paul Davis

12.40pm - Jasmine Burns
Upbeat folk guitar riffs, powerful jazz fusions and a tender edge; Jasmine's got it all. With her Veins EP out soon, she's an artist much in the same vein (if you'll pardon the rather atrocious pun) as the glorious Florence and the Machine.

1.20pm - KRAB
At last the mellow covers duo are coming out of their Wildfire shells, foky twanging and gentle harmonies to brilliant reproduce classics I'm sure you can (and will) sing along to every word of. Two lovely musicians actually, not crabby one bit.

1.40pm - Vickii Stocker
Gorgeously soulful, this isn't just another acoustic singer-songwriting teenage guitarist posting folk covers onto YouTube in an attempt to become the next Ed Sheeran. No way! Vickii Stocker I'll have you know plays the harmonica as well which makes her automatically cooler than most.

2.00pm - Johnny StocK
A gorgeous stand out performer on the Acoustic Stage, the ambient "Bob Dylan of West London" (the words of Paul McCartney's ex-publicist Geoff Baker) with a luscious trippy twist holds blissful ditties to keep an audience mesmerised, surprised and generally refresh(alised). Not only that, Johnny has supported multiple big named indie bands (that's well known indie bands, not just ones with really long names), performed at several major UK festivals and been played across the radio spectrum to attract a whole lot of love from all angles. The soundtrack to a gentle meander across a hazy summer's beach methinks.

2.20pm - Simplicity
"And I love the thought of coming home to you, even if I know we can't make it." Oh, sorry, wrong band; Maggie Griffiths and Mark Wylie are the vocalist-guitarist collaboration that make up acoustic pop duo Simplicity. Upbeat melodies and feel good choruses all round!

2.40pm - Abigail Hunt

3.00pm - A Quiet Riot
Forgive me if I'm wrong but I can't really see a two man silent riot being that effective, can you? In fact I can't really see this duo rioting at all: their vocal harmonies too upbeat, their guitar melodies too chirpy, the whole thing just too brilliantly joyful. So I think we'll use the name A Lovely Little Peaceful Protest, a much more apt title.

3.20pm - Stevie Rigsby
It's a wonder Stevie Rigsby ever has time to perform the amount of music he writes - sixty songs this year already according to his MySpace with the lifetime total somewhere in the region of a thousand ("not bad for someone so young looking" apparently) - however the singer-songwriter picks up his guitar again for forty minutes of well-written, energetic acoustic tunes.

4.00pm - Lew Bear
Lew Bear is Daventry's grizzly singer-songwriter and covers artist, paw-some melodic folk and country ditties with often hilarious lyrics from one already released albums with two more upcoming. So forget all that overproduced fifteen-piece band nonsense, all you need is the Bear Necessities.

No, not the B-Side to Tell Me Why I Don't Like Mondays by Boomtown Rats, Trouble With Tuesday are a rip roaring rock 'n' roll trio from Stevenage, thundering onto the Acoustic Stage (???) for a cracking performance running seamlessly from a softer, more mellow sound into an energetic beast of a chorus. The success of their Where We'll Go EP at both local festivals and on the radio set the band up for an amazing 2012, and - eight months in - it looks like Adam, Stephen and Steve are enjoying just that.

4.40pm - Issy Ferris
At the age of just fifteen, Leamington Spa's folk star Issy Ferris is an upbeat crystalline performer bringing her young-sounding singer-songwriteryness into Northampton for a beautiful little set. This year alone she's already been crowned Young Musician of the Year at the Cambridge Folk Festival, made the Open Mic UK finals at the O2 Arena (which is probably where she met Hannah Faulkner) and performed a fresh reworking of Those Were The Days in front of thousands for Wolves F.C. Issy Ferris - you heard her here first!

5.00pm - The Bighead
No ego clashes or arrogance here, just twenty minutes of fantastic deep roots reggae from the seven-piece ska sensation with a soulful liquid groove, comprising mainly of harmonious vocals, funked-up basslines and a bit of the good old saxomophone to top it all off.

5.20pm - Deano Arnott

6.00pm - Pat Fish
One of Northampton's biggest musical legends, his band The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy released twelve massive studio albums over their career, reaching the UK Indie Charts on several occasions. A favourite among spoonerism fans, the pop rock magnificence that the supergroup once held is slowly morphing into a whole stripped back, acoustic, velvety new chapter of purely Patrick proving what an incredible musician he actually is. You can expect a brand new studio album and film (yes, you heard me, an actual film) coming out real soon.

Evening Stage

Taking place in (believe it or not) the evening, it's the turn for a bunch of much noisier bands to invade the Acoustic Stage as it transforms magically into the Evening Stage. It's the rougher post-watershed stuff, the storm after the calm (may have got that the wrong way round) so buckle in as things take a turn for the rockier and rollier.

6.15pm - The Marz

7.15pm - The Dave Vegas Project
Started off as the solo project of (believe it or not) guitarist Dave Vegas, The DVP grew majorly last year into one huge raw-sounding and almost erotic ("e-raw-tic" it could be said, although maybe "raw-nchy" works better) five-piece fulla fuzzy, rocky goodness. Now fronted by Gemma "Mowgli" McMillan they Shere Khan't go wrong, merging gritty garage and Stripes-esque blues into one big awesome sound. But remember: What happens in Dave Vegas stays in Dave Vegas, once and for all.

8.15pm - Stereotypical Blues Train
Choo! Choo! All aboad for the Stereotypical Blues Railway, taking you head first into a pit of raucous heavy metal from the band, deafeningly brutal hard rock infused into every hook, every riff and every anthemic chorus. Their album out late next month draws on influences from Judas Priest to Motley Crue, Deep Purple to Rage Against The Machine and Motley Crue - with an amazing prog-rock side too.

9.15pm - The Operatives
They may be called The Operatives but I wouldn't even trust this band to amputate my little toe! We can however rely on the incredibly inventive four piece to redefine versatility for the county, instead of albums producing insane musical Milk Trays full of in your face punk, fiery rock 'n' roll, brutal heavy metal, hip-wigglin' ska and funktastic grooves. It's rare these days to find a band that's been together seven years and can still remain as fresh and innovative as ever, but Matt, Ali, Deon and Alex still have so much more to give (namely their second album out some time soon).

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