Seagull Theatre – Saturday 27 April 2019

An intimate indoor “mini – festival” with great artists and sound

A miserable day outside was blown away for those inside the Seagull Theatre during 7 hours of great acoustic based music. An enthusiastic audience was treated to 7 artists from all over the UK


First up was local traditional singer and table harmonium player Megan Wisdom from Wissett. Megan won the right to open the show at auditions held in February – indeed she is no stranger to winning competitions having won the Percy Webb Memorial Cup in 2015 and the Bobbie Callas Cup in February this year for her singing.

Megan sang several songs from her debut CD “Tracery” as well as a number of other traditional songs, earning a well - deserved encore and making many new fans.

Next up was another artist with a Suffolk connection – singer/songwriter Hannah Scott who was accompanied by Stefano Della Casa on cello. This particular musical partnership has been going for some time now and has notched up several albums and an EP, all featuring Hannah’s memorable original songs.

The set drew heavily on latest CD “Pieces of the Night” which was released to great critical acclaim in June 2018, including songs drawn from family experiences such as the excellent “Boy In The Frame”. My 22 month old granddaughter sat transfixed for 60 minutes…..
…  but she was ready to dance when Oka Vanga took to the stage, particularly with their more rhythmic, driving songs and instrumentals. Angie Meyer (on vocals and guitar) and Will Cox (guitar, mandolin & ukulele) come from Hertfordshire and featured mainly original songs from latest CD “Dance of the Copper Trail”, but also several tunes from their FATEA award winning CD “Pilgrim” and a dip into their EP about the plague village of Eyam.
The afternoon session was brought to an end by Lincolnshire based duo Winter Wilson. Kip Winter (vocals & accordion) and Dave Wilson (vocals, guitar & banjo) have been full time musicians for over 10 years and have put together a wealth of great CDs during that time, mainly full of Dave’s wonderful original songs. The audience were treated to examples drawn from across most of these releases, full of cracking vocals, subtle harmonies and impressive guitar work from Dave.
The evening session got underway with Woodbridge based duo Honey & The Bear. The stage contained an impressive array of guitars, a double bass, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, cajon and percussion equipment, all used to stunning effect during their set. This concentrated on great original songs from their first full length release which should be out very soon (but sadly it had not arrived in time to sell at this show and their previous EP was completely sold out too, much to the disappointment of the audience). Jon & Lucy are the real deal and expect the new CD to do great things when it does finally arrive!
Norwich based trio Alden, Patterson & Dashwood were up next with their own versions of traditional English and American folk and original songs and tunes from their 2 highly regarded studio albums “Call Me Home” and “By The Night”. Highlights included “Bonnie Blue Eyes” and “The Cobbler’s Daughter” both of which are featured on their new live CD, recorded on tour in 2018 and which was thankfully available for the enthusiastic audience to purchase. For their encore, Christina, Alex and Noel stepped beyond the mics to deliver stunning, totally acoustic, harmonies.

The evening was brought to an end by a band who had travelled all the way from Manchester – Harp & A Monkey. This highly regarded trio from Lancashire are storytellers par excellence. They have a number of themed shows, but this performance was a “greatest hits” (or greatest “non-hits” as the band joked), drawn from their 3 CDs – the self - titled debut, “All Life Is Here” and “War Stories” (from a film and show put together with the aid of the Arts Council to commemorate veterans of the Great War). These great songs were delivered with the unusual backing of glockenspiel, banjo, viola and guitar; the absence of the monkey was explained in a tale too long to repeat here!

Thus concluded a brilliant day of music and special mention must go to the staff and volunteers at the Seagull Theatre for the smooth running of the event – to Jo and Tegan at the box office, Derek and Steve behind the bar and Josh and his team (Liam, Elena and Lottie) for the brilliant work on sound and lights. The sheer variety and number of instruments that had to be sound checked and managed was a challenge that was well and truly met, and much appreciated by the audience and the artists.

A full, varied and rewarding programme of music sent the audience away in a happy frame of mind and I can report that we will be running a similar event at the Seagull next year on Saturday 18th April. Make sure you don’t miss it!

Martin Lovett

Suffolk Folk

Norfolk Folk Association