Bleeding Hearts Christmas Party

Is there something in the water that nobody’s told me about? After Friday night’s Miserable Rich gig being their last gathering for the foreseeable future, it seems that The Bleeding Hearts Club have also hung up their hat for now too.


Whereas most Bleeding Hearts have involved three or four acts, each only playing three songs, last night involved over a dozen bands, each only playing a song or two, with a rule that it had to be a Christmas related cover. I didn’t catch the names of everyone but Fire Eyes, Self Help Group, Nick Hudson, Ingrid Plum, Jane Bartholomew, Things in Herds, Clowns, Crayola Lectern, Tandy Hard and Seadog were amongst the bands who played, some onstage, some in amongst the crowd. Some bands embraced the Christmas theme more than others, and somehow we ended up with two versions of Brass in Pocket by the Pretenders. I’m sure the Pretenders’ Christmas song was 2000 Miles. It was some of the more leftfield covers which raised the biggest smiles. Clowns covering The Sex Pistols God Save the Queen was brilliant, and Crayola Lectern doing Bat Out Of Hell was a moment of warped genius.


We’re going to miss Bleeding Hearts every first Monday of the month, and we hope that it’s only a temporary break. This isn’t be the last we’ll hear of them though – they told me to pencil in the release of the Crayola Lectern album for next April.

May Bleeding Hearts Club at the Prince Albert

This month’s Bleeding Hearts Club fell on a bank holiday, which threw me a bit off kilter. Normally the timings work out quite nicely for me to come home from work of an evening, have a spot of dinner, and then head out to the Albert, but what with it feeling like a Sunday my timings were all out, and I missed out on all of this month’s first act Tandy Hard and most of Davo. Oops!

Thankfully the last two acts of the night were both amazing. Jane Bartholomew was positively magical – Beautiful yet fragile tunes backed with lush arrangements on accordion, violin, drums, guitar and autoharp, with a voice reminiscent of Joanna Newsom stripped of the cloying annoyingness.

Jane Bartholomew

Headliners Crayola Lectern are cut from a different cloth to most bands. Disregarding the normal constraints of verses, choruses, and for the most part vocals, Crayola Lectern are more a contemporary pianist act than a traditional band. Piano is augmented by trumpet, sometimes played normally, and other times used to create the effect of heavy breathing or snoring. Piles of percussion are spread across the stage and played seemingly at random, although I suspect that actually everything is perfectly choreographed. The rule book was left at the door. As wilfully independent as the setup of the band is, it’s not at the expense of accessibility – their songs are warm and engaging and intelligent and funny. By the end of the evening the whole room was smiling – entertained and inspired by a band who are prepared to be a bit different.

Crayola Lectern

Live Review : Jane Bartholomew at The Basement 6/12/11

This was going to be a review of what was pretty much unanimously gig of the week in the local press – Meg Baird at The Basement last Tuesday. The focus wasn’t going to be Meg Baird – she’s an American folk singer – but the support, local singer songwriter Jane Bartholomew. I’d been given a heads up about the gig by Jon, who’s written a few posts for the blog, who told me it was going to be a good gig, but I hadn’t heard of Jane before the night.

And it was an amazing gig. I don’t really have the vocabulary to fully describe it – not being that into folk, I can’t make the meaningful comparisons with other artists and sub genres which would tell you that much about it, and my enthusiasm about the gig won’t make things much clearer either.

What I can tell you though is that the gig was exactly why I started the blog. I know quite a few local bands, but what I also know is that there’s some serious talent around town which deserves to be heard but so often goes unrecognised, which I want to find out about and shine a light on. For me, it’s all about the discovery of these artists, the pride that we live somewhere that generates such creativity, and the ongoing support.

So I guess I should write a bit about Jane Bartholomew, and the gig. Jane makes quirky, magical folk music, which was ideally suited to the small intimate environment of The Basement. Most of the time she played alone on the guitar or autoharp, but on some songs she was joined on accordion and violin, and on a couple of songs, the vibraphone. However, whatever the instrumentation, it’s Jane’s voice that really captivates. It’s almost childlike and brings something rather special to her songs. Musically, everything seems so accomplished and rich – far more than I would expect from a support band. It was all so good that at the end of the show, I bought the cd and it hasn’t left my stereo since. And I guess Meg Baird was pretty good too (she was fantastic), but she’s not from Brighton, and I know that there’s been plenty of other reviews written which will say how great the gig was and how ably she coped at the end of the gig when one of her strings broke.

You can buy Jane Bartholomew’s album on her website here.