Phew! 8 bands and 7 hours of music all for a tenner in aid of Martlets Hospice.
Wildwood and Shhh! promotions teamed up to bring us a marathon of local and Brighton affiliated bands to help raise money for Martlets, who are in dire need of funds at present. Westhill Hall was a lovely setting for this gig, giving it a mini-festival feel and thankfully lacking in hipster pretensions.
First up was Tandy Hard, performing as a duo and providing a very warm welcome with rich vocals and storytelling charm with dual finger-picking guitars. Replacing Birdengine, who had to cancel due to losing his voice, was Mary Hampton. She performed just three songs solo, starting with an a capella traditional folk song about a miner playing the field, moving onto ‘Honey In The Rock’, her recently released 7″ on Rough Trade records (who scouted her) and finishing with another a capella song, this time a negro spiritual. The audience were captivated the entire time she was on stage. 2012 looks like it’s going to be a big year for Mary Hampton, as she’s been featured on countless end of year ‘Best Of’ lists.
Lianne Hall was next, giving us her abridged version of ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ and her own country laden breathy ballads. Following her was the outstanding Diamond Family Archive complete with long beard and sharp witticisms bringing to mind the cause behind today’s event, whose sparse songwriting style mixed with intricate finger picking and a simple clear folk voice had this audience member welling up.
Something Beginning With L are based in London but have played with many Brighton bands and provided us with possibly the best indie xmas cover: a folk version of Slade’s xmas classic performed with harmonies on 2 acoustic guitars and a cello. The band have definitely been working hard since they last played Brighton’s Bleeding Hearts night a few months ago, and it showed in their playing.
Next up was 30lbs Of Bone, a familiar face in Brighton since the days of Gilded Palace promotions. After a few false starts we were treated to some delicately written folk songs using a traditional structure evoking imagery of pastoral life. The alternative xmas song concerning the unwritten rule of not breaking up with someone at xmas was a particular gem.
King James turned out to be the delightful combination of 30lbs of Bone and Diamond Family Archive. Their set featured banjo and acoustic guitar with harmonies using the nearness in tone of their voices, as well as a beautiful audience participation singalong. Unfortunately their album is currently in record label purgatory, but keep your eyes peeled as it will be well worth a listen.
All the bands played for free, as did the DJs, the sound was excellent and the evening ended with a raffle (so appropriate for the venue!) followed by an acoustic set by Electric Soft Parade. Lovely to see Brighton bands and promoters getting together for such a good cause.
Words by Ingrid Plum
Photographs by Jon Southcoasting