Christchurch Park, Ipswich was buzzing from 8am as always on the first Sunday in July as the six stages and all the stall holders were putting the final touches to make everything run smoothly for the annual free music extravaganza that is Ipswich Music Day.
It was lovely to see a large range of audience members visiting this year’s Grapevine Stage, which is the park’s acoustic stage for the day. The grassy area in front of Christchurch Mansion providing a nice chilled area to showcase a good variety of talent. With a full program from midday to 7pm, it was non-stop enjoyable music, all introduced by our trusty master of ceremonies – the irrepressible Webby!
Opening the Grapevine Stage at midday was Jon Halden, an acoustic guitarist with a vast range of covers material. Toughest slot of the day to get the crowd in as they were starting to arrive but his variety of song choices were good and he smashed them out to get the most out of his half an hour slot – I think he has the record for the biggest number of tracks today!
It was nice to hear non-guitar tracks being covered, for example, ‘Blame it on the Boogie’, and a good few dancey tracks mixed in and having Sam the Drum Man with his cajon was a great complimentary instrument. Jon has a nice tone to his voice and particularly on the high notes, that’s from someone with a strong beard. Jon brought a couple of fans with him who planted themselves dead centre for maximum engagement and they looked like they had a fabulous time. It was a good first set of the day.
Next up was James Nunn and he was certainly getting some good vibes out of his guitar. James played a lot of his own catchy songs on his set and interspersed it with a few covers. His sound is very easy to listen to and a good mix of styles. A lovely rendition of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’. He managed to get the fabulous grove tight for Jason Mraz’s ‘I’m Yours’ and he got a few of the crowd singing along as the audience was building.
Brooke Telling has a lovely, beautiful yet strong voice with a hint of that folk lilt. She was accompanied by Matt and Adam on the bass and mandolin – this is the first time the guys have performed together live and you really wouldn’t have known. They played a mix of own Brook-written tracks and a couple of covers.
Brooke’s songs are filled with emotion and her voice touches you. There was a song for her Gran ‘Nothing Will Be The Same’, a lovely honour. Didn’t realised she was only 19 – wow.
Experience oozed from Rob Lewis and his stage presence upped the ante on the stage at this point. Flying solo for this slot as Rob is part of several bands on the local circuit, he was also able to command the stage and fill the tent with his voice and sounds. Rockier tracks on this set which suited his gravellier voice and his song choices were spot on. His personality came across and he owned the stage for the whole set. Rob performed a mixture of covers and his own songs which were very enjoyable to listen to. He used the guitar to great effect to create the rhythm, for the tracks. His voice really draws you in and you can feel the passion for the music. Lovely to have the John Denver track and he had the whole audience singing along.
Fresh from their album launch at the John Peel Centre some weeks ago, Dusky Sunday were back to their more familiar line-up without a full band backing. This indie-folk, multi-talented duo create a delightful sound and with the addition of the tumbadoras and Sam’s baritone backing to Fern’s beautiful tones was a wonderful mix to give their songs such depth for a duo. A wonderful combination of sounds and their voices complement each other. They mostly played their own tracks which were telling stories and with a few covers, such as Tracy Chapman and Fleetwood Mac, their connection between themselves and the audience was wonderfully heart-warming.
Traffic Issues in Ipswich led the team having to make a last minute change to the running order (we just love live entertainment!) and kudos to Adam Thomas for being ready and prepared to perform slightly sooner than planned.
Adam opened his set with a perfect Ed Sheeran cover. His choices of covers were varied and suited his voice and solo guitar sound perfectly to make a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining set. A mix of pop tracks and emotional love songs, with his own songs scattered in. His use of the guitar was more ‘traditional’ if that is such a phrase these days, however Adam used his instrument to showcase his talent and his expression of the emotion was engaging. He has certain emphases and nuances that are just right.
Safely through the traffic, country/pop singer songwriter Beth White entertained us with plenty of stories and emotions in her songs. A lovely smooth tone to her voice and a set filled with original tracks which all tell a heartfelt story. Several covers to please the crowd however her own tracks were crowd-pleasing enough. Accompanied today with a bass guitarist for the perfect accompaniment, Beth’s songs could be heard on the radio for an easy Sunday afternoon of listening to great tunes.
No stranger to live performances, Lisa Redford is engaging from the off. Incredibly heartfelt songs sung with a gorgeous easy listening voice you listen to all day. On the stage solo with only Morris for company, she owned her set and had the audience compelled from start to finish. A treat for us all, Lisa had a classic, yet modern sound with engaging melodies, she is a country pop star in the making.
Guitar, organ and the flute proved to be a lovely combination of instruments to accompany Holly D Johnson’s folky melodic storytelling songs. The balance of the instruments were just right to showcase her voice as it truly was the focus. The tumbling along piano sounds enhanced her voice and the guitar kept it together with the wonderful melodies, Holly’s beautiful, warm and nurturing voice with her sentimental lyrics made for an emotionally loving and inspirational set. With a hint of Gallway to top it off nicely.
American Philip Marino provided the penultimate set of the day. Philip now resides in Colchester and can regularly be found gigging in the region. He produced a thoroughly enjoyable set of acoustic originals. Joined on stage by Pamela on the fiddle and Louisa on the cajon, together they added a fabulous mix of sounds to complement his deep-Midwestern voice and added a depth of authenticity to the set. Foot tapping songs which the audience enjoyed.
Lightbody bought the day to a close on the Grapevine Stage – a five piece band and an hour of blooming good music. Talent and experience dripped off the stage as their sounds infiltrated the airwaves and embodied our ears with delightfulness. Dare I say Donald Fagen meets Yes? Soft bluesy funky soul… is that a category? We had a tight band giving us smooth sounds to end the perfect day – I cannot wait to hear them again….very soon!
This review first appeared on GrapevineLIVE.