Kidz music and suprises... The two acts in this issue's column have one thing in common: They were a bit of a surprise. An album which was much more attractive than its cover suggested to me and a band which was much more child friendly than I expected. Lesson: Never judge music too early!
Folk at the Froize is Suffolk’s folk and food heaven. These folk concerts are very special affairs: not only do you get to see a top folk act, but you can also fill your plate from a buffet table laden with delicious tapas. Yummy food and great folk music - a perfect combination for my foodie 8 year old daughter... if it wasn't for the fact that the concerts are once a month on Sunday evenings only - with too late a finish if the next day is school day.
Finally, after many complaints of not being allowed to join, there was a concert on a night before May bank holiday Monday - so no excuse not to take her.
The act playing that night were the Rubberwellies, a band I didn't know – so I wasn't sure what to expect, and even less how much they would appeal to a 8-year old (although the name does sound appealing for a child!). And what a treat it was for both of us - and the grown-up rest of the audience.
After the support act, Suffolk band Ludlum Pike, and the tummy full of yummy food, Harry Bird and his trio started with a song about the metamorphosis of butterflies – a truly beautiful song to start the night, appealing for young and old.
Harry had a wonderfully relaxed style, and his songs are full of love of life, and with an innocent sense of humour. His warm singing was accompanied by his guitar and at times a harmonica or kazoo, joined by Christophe Capewell on ukulele, banjo and to my daughters delight a quirky yet very well played melodica, and by fiddler Kate. And boy did he manage to get the audience involved - be it to provide the cheers of the crowd of a cycling race,, singing along to a Spanish song or even shouting aaarghs in the pirate song.
This was an evening full of sunshine, happiness and good humour, with songs that could quite often have been written with children in mind - yet the adults love them just as much. As my daughter remarked with some bemusement after the concert: “the grown ups were behaving just like children” - and that has to be good sign if a musician can get the child out of all of us. I don't know if the Rubberwellies also play children's concerts but it is very clear that their music is great for the whole family, and we both cannot wait to see them again in a concert.
Now an usual day in the life of the reviewer: A new pile of review CDs arrived. A quick look at one of the albums, "The Lullaby album" suggests to me another one of those plethora of commercial albums targeted at young parents - the cover shows a cute baby asleep with its teddy, and gives no real indication who is behind this album, or where this album was recorded - is this another one of those "no name" albums which does not even bother to list the recording artists?
But hey there's a pleasant surprise: Closer inspection of the album reveals that the "Song Circle - fun for wee ones" is the brainchild of acclaimed Scottish singer/songwriter Gill Bowman, who sings all the lullabies on this album, arranged with guitar (played by herself) and clarsach by harpist Siannie Moody: This has to be good after all!
"Song Circle" is Gill's independent singing group for babies and toddlers up to the age of 5 in Edinburgh. This is its third album, and as the title suggests it features gentle dreamy songs perfect to get the parents (and perhaps also the little ones) off to sleep. The songs are a mixture of traditional Scottish lullaby songs and new songs written by Gill. There's also a few clarsach tunes composed by Siannie. The music is of high quality; the beautiful clarsach sounds create a calming atmosphere, and Gill's warm singing is lovely - all in all a perfect blend to get its listeners all sleepy (says the yawning reviewer). An album that reminds once again never to judge an album by its cover.
Photo Credits: (1)-(2) ?? (unknown/from website).