Tramlines, tramlines…what can I say? Sheffield’s really struck gold. The biggest free festival I know of, 600 odd bands and a shedload of venues, what more could a live music lover ask for?
Maybe a time turner…
There were so many things happening simultaneously, my only regret is not getting to see enough. More venues were involved than last year and the year before, which meant less queues in general (good thing) but more clashes (bad thing).
I saw a mere snippet this year, giving myself a well earned break after a week of work. Last year’s Tramlines posts(http://lovesheffield.wordpress.com/2010/07/24/tramlines-friday-night-dead-like-harry-the-crookes-dq/ http://lovesheffield.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/tramlines-the-chosen-family/ http://lovesheffield.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/tramlines-saturday-evening-the-ruby-kid-interview-renegade-brass-band-jehst-micall-parknsun/ http://lovesheffield.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/tramlines-interview-with-jehst-micall-parknsun-joker-starr-dj-jazzt/ were largely journalistic, but this year, I’m going to give you more of a punters’ p.o.v.
Gotta get down on Friday…
There was only one choice on Friday, which was being a mega-fangirl alongside my chums and heading down to Bungalows and Bears (nice and early – got stuck in the queue with a can of Pimm’s two years ago. Terribly unladylike), to watch some top drawer UK hip-hop in the shape and form of The Ruby Kid, Jehst, Micall Parknsun and DJ Jazz T. Not much to dwell on as you can see an depth interview with all of these kids, which I undertook at last year’s tramlines (see above links). They were all on top form, The Ruby Kid absolutely nailed it, and Black Jacobins were killing it on stage. The welcome addition of beatboxer Unome of Sheffield’s Burleskimo pushed their sound sky high – beatboxing as an instrument equals awesomeness. Funny to consider how although the sounds and styles are worlds about, beatboxing ain’t that far away for the diddling I was discussing a few weeks ago in my review of Lady Maisery. That would be a pretty awesome collaboration.
Bungalows and Bears became a sweaty hip-hop fest, packed to the rafters with people dancing, bouncing, and drinking. My only criticism is that the bar was three deep at all times and there really didn’t seem to be enough staff on. Getting temporary workers in for the weekend might be a tip for next year.
I danced my little vintage heels off (literally. heels aren’t made for skanking) and top props go to all involved. A stellar opener.
Saturday Night’s Alright
Sleeping it off on Saturday morning, I rather failed to make it out of the house before a late lunch. Burgers in Spoons and a trip to the Nando’s Stage in Barkers Pool to watch some terrible punk (I’m not out to name and shame, but whatever it was, was not enjoyed), the boyfriend and I went vintage sunglasses shopping at Freshman’s after this happened:
New aviators and cat-eye specs looking cool now though. We headed off to see our friend Kas’s band, Generation Kill at the Tiger Works. Tiger Works is one of those bars on West Street that I would never normally go into. Conjured images of bad R&B, overpriced vodka and cocktails with milk in (vom)…not my scene. This unfortunately showed, when they were clearly ill equipped to be staging live bands this weekend. I think it’s great that Tramlines brings live music to venues that would never normally have it, and hopefully creates a longer term culture of live gigs, but Tiger Works really didn’t step up. The guys were not properly soundchecked, leading to a very underamplified vocal/overamplified bass and guitar. This wasn’t helped by the fact that the sound engineer disappeared for the entirety of their set. Not withstanding this, however, a review of the band.
Generation Kill comprise female vocalist Claire, Kasun Witana on guitar, and Dan Westwood on bass. Claire’s brooding vocals and the post-rock sound jetted me into a canon of awesomely understated female fronted Sheffield bands – Screaming Mimi, Black Cat White Cat, and to a lesser extent, the Long Blondes. Sheffield can’t help but keep producing wicked female rock stars, and Claire fits the bill. It was a crying shame that these guys were let down by the sound mixing, and getting Claire’s vocal to stand out is a must, as it makes the sound. My only criticism is that the guys seemed a little nervous on stage, and that the aloof cockiness to match the sexy sound must come with time, but overall, a thumbs up.
I was determined, after this, to go and watch the aforementioned Black Cat, White Cat at the Frog and Parrot, but one thing that I learned over the weekend is that you usually end up following your friends around at these things. Which is what I did. So, low and behold, off to watch The Ruby Kid et al again at the Raynor Lounge in Sheffield University Union. Very good again, got some rather lairy blokes dancing about at the front spilling beer on me. Nice.
Not sure what to do with ourselves for the early evening, we walked down to HUBS – which I was glad of anyway as Devonshire Green was becoming rather too much for me – to check out Under The Stars. Under The Stars is a semi-regular clubnight run by and for people with learning difficulties and disabilities. Everybody seemed liked they’d been having a great day, and I saw people there throwing the best shapes I saw all weekend. Max (of Black Jacobins) had done a moonlight flit and turned up on stage there, suddenly becoming an incredible singer and frontman. The band performed a range of jazz, motown and rock covers, and were clearly enjoying themselves. One person described them as ‘a right motley crew’ – to be sure, but they weren’t half bad.
I had a disco nap…and went to a house party dressed in a feather headress, covered in glitter. Tramlines could wait.
Refreshed and raring to go, a lazy brunch in the fabulous Okeh Cafe! on Abbeydale Road was heartily enjoyed. I’m heading down to do an interview soon, so watch this space. Strolling into town with the Ruby Kid in tow (who is a most excellent house guest), we met up with our respective chums and had a wander. No quieter today than Saturday, to my surprise, my friend Gemma and I went vintage shopping for a bit. I bought the most amazing pair of dusky plum high waisted palazzo pants, which involved exposing my upper half to the entire of Devonshire Street. Luckily, I didn’t care much, and the trousers rock (numerous compliments on them since).
We met back up at SoYo, just in time to watch Neil McSweeneyand his guitar. What a delight. Neil’s self penned songs had the entire room enthralled – his folk/blues style was fantastic, and he is a proper gem. You can listen to his tracks at the above link, and I reckon you should go watch him soon as well. Favourite track has to be London Road, an ode to pointless nights out, and the main road I grew up along. Neil – fancy doing an interview?
After being fully romanced by Neil’s music, it was time to check out the busker bus. We thought we’d just hop on and see what happened. I was charmed by the concept, though the nervous James Harding didn’t really do it for me. Nevertheless, a great way to spend twenty minutes, and spied the lovely Kate of Cocoa fame bobbing along at the back of the top deck.
I hopped off at Hunters Bar, to end my weekend at the Folk Forest. You all know I’m a pretty hardcore folk and trad fan, and so it takes a lot to impress me in this department. Well, what can I say – I was impressed. The Monster Ceilidh band were absolutely rocking the largest stage with their infectious croft house style (that’s dancey scottish fusion to you -plebs) – bouzouki, fiddle and accordion all accentuated by the best bass guitar I’ve ever heard in a folk band. The drum and bass set worked well without being novelty, which will be news to some of you (people have been trying this stuff for a while, and to my mind it is rarely pulled off). Props to you guys – let me know if you need a caller!
Sitting with folkie types as we waited for the last act of the day, Martin Simpson, little Hamish Kerr-Fagan, whose parents had headlined the same stage the previous day, was showing me his morris dancing moves. Pretty worryingly good for a nipper by all accounts.
So. Martin Simpson, what can I say? he’s bloody good. His songs make you cry and wonder why you can’t play the guitar like that, and never will. Martin sings a mixture of traditional and self-penned folk songs, with a few anomalies such as a fantastic rendition of ‘Brother Can You Spare A Dime’ mixed in. His song, ‘Never Any Good’ about his father, a worker from their home time of Scunthorpe, is real lump in the throat material, while his tales of the closure of the steel mills and other political nods appeal to the Trotskyist in me (which is all of me, to be fair). Great stuff. May have even persuaded the boyfriend that not all folk is rubbish.
So, a very different Tramlines to last year by all accounts, and not nearly as many bands seen as would have liked. Missed out entirely on Dananananaykroyd, Los Campesinos and Johnny Foreigner, but no regrets as had a great time.
Another Tramlines post I have enjoyed since is: http://radicaldepartures.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/what-i-learned-from-tramlines-2011
What did you get up to this weekend?
Last weekend was Sharrow Festival – an annual community event with bands, stalls, food…the usual. I popped in to look around, and spied the Nanny May stall, one of the only handmade craft stalls there, so it immediately stood out. It turns out that the friend I was with used to live with said artist, so I asked if I could take a few pics
and write a short review.
I am a bit of a jewellery and accessories fiend, but my eye was particularly drawn to these pieces, which were unique in their basis of fabric, beads, buttons and ribbon over ‘hard’ materials.
Nanny May sells rings, necklaces, and hair accessories, though I was particularly proud to fish a pair of very cute button earrings out of the £1 basket. I also bought a lovely hairband in Autumnal colours (after much deliberation, unsurprisingly!).
You can check out the (constantly changing) products online, at this lovely website: http://www.nannymay.co.uk/. Alternatively, there is a Facebook page you can follow: https://www.facebook.com/nannymaymakes. Or a blog! http://www.nannymaymakes.blogspot.com/. Lots of options!
Last night, folk promotions group Bright Phoebus hosted new folk trio Lady Maisery’s debut album launch at The Greystones, and the room was packed out. A special event for me because the three women that make up Lady Maisery are all good friends who I have known for years, but also that my sister Lucy was playing support.
I’ve written before about the Greystones back room, but it is a pretty special place. While the stage looks entirely professional, the room feels cosy and homely, with fantastic images of local stars (and David Lynch…) on the walls. Add that to the wide range of Thornbridge Ales, and you’ve got a winning combination.
First up was Fay Hield, co-organiser of Bright Phoebus and also an accomplished folk singer in her own right. Fay opened with a song of her own and compered for the night, making the point that it was great to have an all-female ‘cast’ on stage tonight. And it was, and all the better for not having been advertised as such, so as avoiding ‘novelty value’.
The support act was next, and a special one for me. Lucy Huzzard (my little sister) on melodeon, and Jenny Page (oboe). Lucy, to her credit, just graduated from Newcastle University with a first in Folk and Traditional Music. We finally got to see her show her true talent as a musician, and she definitely wowed the crowd (as well as made her family a wee bit emotional) with her ease on stage and musical accomplishment. Jenny’s oboe made the performance, providing a wonderful accompaniment. The two instruments worked fantastically together and we all hope to hear more from them as a duo soon.
Lucy played a range of traditional and newer folk tunes from England, France and Scandinavia, and the arrangements showed a superb connection with the music.
Lady Maisery comprises the not insignificant talents of Hazel Askew (The Askew Sisters), Hannah James (Kerfuffle, Hannah James and Sam Sweeney, The Demon Barbers) and Rowan Rheingans (Fidola). All three of these women are great friends of mine, and I had also been around during some of their development of the album in my sister’s flat in Newcastle, and so it was a very exciting occasion to be watching them perform together.
First up was ‘I Know My Love’, a traditional Irish song which instantly showcased the clear and bright sound of these girls’ voices together. A capella vocal harmony is not an easy thing to do, but throughout the concert Lady Maisery made it seem effortless, consistently tuneful, and powerful without sounding like anything other than their own, very different, individual styles.
Mixing traditional ballads – haunting and historical, with the usual tales of jilted love, with anti war songs such as the brilliant rendition of Portland Town. The repertoire stretches to music hall classics with questionable politics, later redeemed by a brilliant ditty regarding ‘the gender division of agricultural labour’, and ‘diddling’ – essentially, singing wordless tunes.
The first of my two favourite pieces have to be their version of Gavin Davenport and Jess Arrowsmith’s ‘The Changeling’s Lullaby’ – a haunting tale regarding the myth that fairies would come and take a human child and replace it with their own. Hazel pointed out that there had been some theories to suggest that this was one early way that people may have coped with post-natal depression. Wikipedia suggests that it may also have been a way that parents dealt with childhood genetic disability. You may know the ideas of the story from a Midsummer Night’s Dream. The second, perhaps to do with the inclusion of Rowan’s banji-sitar (a unique instrument made by her dad Helmut in Grindleford) is the haunting and surreal ‘Nottamun Town’.
The event was a launch party for their debut album, and so it was full of friends and family, and a lovely atmosphere. Since buying the CD I’ve listened to it a lot, but you should do the same for yourself – go and buy it without further ado!
I look forward to seeing Lady Maisery’s progress, and wish them all the best.
Rosie @ LS
Aah it’s been a while since there was a proper LS night out. I’m sorry we’ve deprived you of new Sheffield fodder to chow down on recently, but get ready for a bumper crop as it’s been a busy weekend!
Friday night is fight night…no, not really. But now that Aurore and I live together it’s more business than pleasure, and so a night on the town with Komal was due. Where did we lay our hats? Penelope’s of course! Komal invited me to come to ‘that gingham thing’, and I was intrigued.
After much digging, it turned out there was a night called, “Emily Strange presents The Gargantuan Gorgeousness OF Gingham Gorgeosity” – which gives rather little away, but hearing that the theme was after one of my favourite patterns (third only after stripes and polkdots, natch), it was a goer.
Turns out I don’t own anything suitably checked though, so Campino-style candy stripes for me it was.
First up after we arrived were the Banana Flavoured Dubcats – a dub/reggae/ska outfit, outputting some sweet vibes for us all to get down to. Even my vintage stilettos didn’t stop the mayhem. One thing all that skanking’ll learn you though – Penelope’s is a sweatbox. It’s not the best place for a glamorous night out, and as such, my Betty Page style fringe was getting a good hammering (stayed in though!).
The venue was set up with cafe-style tables, as you might have in a jazz or comedy club. It did mean there was a certain level of forced continuity to the night – as in, a band came on, stand up, go watch, go back and sit down…which lost the atmosphere somewhat, but if there was one thing that got it back it was surely the burlesque dancer Eve, who teased the crowd in first a changing and dressing routine, and later an incredibly sexy dance involving a stolen bottle of beer and a feather boa. I’m also informed that there were belly dancers earlier in the evening before I arrived.
Also playing were a band called ‘Bertie Lee’s Blues Explosion‘, who played a mixture of their own songs, and a couple of blues-rock classics. It took a while for the crowd to get going, and it didn’t seem like their usual scene to be honest, but that’s not a criticism of them. I was rocking and rolling with the best of them, and they were very entertaining.
And the gingham? Well, there was a lot of it, some fabulously hideous outfits ranging from ’80s tartan bridesmaid’ to ‘Spanish restaurant tablecloth’ to ‘naughty cowgirl’, it turned up a few laughs – all in good humour of course.
So – as a concept, did it work? Well, the idea of a mixture of bands and dance and DJs worked, but the choice of acts didn’t really. The burlesque was perfect, but would’ve been better paired with something a little slinkier music-wise. I do enjoy a mixed-up affair, but there’s a difference between ‘something for everyone’ and ‘confusing everyone’, which ended up creating an odd atmosphere.
Still, a good night had by all. Laters!
After receiving lots of positive recommendations for Dhanista’s, I decided it was about time for me to try this new(ish) Sri Lankan restaurant for myself. I also happened to stumble across a voucher online for £30 worth of food for two, for only £10! Very lucky indeed.
After some gentle coaxing to get my boyfriend to go, and avoiding the temptation from the aromas wafting out of the profusion of other restaurants on London Road, I arrived.
On entering I was rather surprised to see how bright it was: it was nearly 7pm a
nd yet it looked like lunch time. Some curtains and candles might be a good idea so as to create a better evening atmosphere.
The staff were very welcoming and friendly. I could smell the aroma of various spices and garlic floating through the kitchen into the restaurant. Looking at the menu I remember feeling a rare excitement, mostly arising from the fact that there were so many dishes that I had never heard of, let alone tasted, before.
We chose masala squid and a mushroom dish to start, followed by aubergine curry, butter chicken, egg kotthu and pilau rice.
Our food arrived shortly after, and I dug past the unwanted raw onions to some very tender and tasty squid. I’ve never had squid ‘Indian-style’ before, but this definitely won’t be the last time! However, I do feel it could have benefited from a dipping sauce of some sort.
The mushrooms were gorgeously rich and had been coated in batter, fried and served with a spicy tomato sauce.
I had been slightly worried, when ordering, about the portions being too big and daunting, but I needn’t have worried as they were spot on. The mains arrived and, with them, mouth-watering smells.
Two whole baby aubergines and a rich coconut and lime leaf sauce made up my brinjal curry. It tasted as good as it smelt. The occasional surprise crunch of a whole fennel, cumin or coriander seed filled my whole mouth with the perfumes. An explosion of taste. The texture of the aubergine was spot on: charred on the outside with a silky interior.
The pilau was perfectly cooked and fluffy with various colours and spices. The egg kotthu (basically a chopped up paratha mixed with chopped egg and spring onions) is pure comfort food. It brings back childhood memories of my mums last-minute meals of fried egg on paratha – delicious!
The whole thing comes to just over £30 and unfortunately they don’t accept my discount code as I’d not printed off the voucher and attempted to show them the e-mail on my phone. Oops, silly me. But, I suppose that this gives me another excuse to come down again another time!
I’m happy Sheffield has a new Sri Lankan restaurant to join East and West. I find that most other Indian restaurants simply do not compare, with their oil-laden dishes that taste exactly the same as one another. Give me more fresh and simple flavours from South India any day.
My trip to Dhanistas has sparked in me fresh anticipation for my holiday to India, thats for sure!
A few weeks ago, a colleague gave me the name of his Flickr profile to check out some photos he’d taken on the March 12th ‘Rage Against the Lib Dems’ and the 26th ‘March For The Alternative’ events so that I could use them (if I so wished, he humbly offered) on our union branch website, and the Sheffield Anti Cuts Alliance website (both of which I manage – another reason this place is becoming neglected!).
Whilst having a look at his account, I was delighted to find some absolutely beautiful collections of what he terms ‘architectural abstract’ shots – here are a few examples, but I urge you to check out his photostream. It’s poignant, I think, to look at one example of sheer talent in my workplace. Both Robbie and myself were both on strike today because our working environment is so terrible, and we are treated with so little respect. The staff in these offices are full of intelligence, qualifications, experience, knowledge and talent, and amongst all the other things we’ve spoken about today (until they disappear, check out here, here at 00:47, and here at 02:16), we’d just like – as all workers would – a little respect. Fact is, to get it, we’re going to have to keep fighting.
There comes a time, sometimes, when every blogger needs a break! Just wish we’d let you all know.
Will attempt to have some lovely new content with you asap, just as soon as I wipe the dust off the old dashboard.