Kal Lavelle – The Ocean

Kal Lavelle 2

Today (14th May 2013) sees the release of new single The Ocean by talented Irish musician Kal Lavelle. A single which will only enhance her ever-growing reputation as one of the best ‘undiscovered’ singer/songwriters around. A favourite Of Perez Hilton, the single features on his latest compilation.

For those unfamiliar with her work The Ocean showcases her ability to write passionate songs with real emotional depth. Many try but few manage to create such raw sensuality in their music. And of those who succeed nobody does it better than Kal Lavelle. Of course it helps to have a gorgeous voice. A voice that conveys lust and longing in equal measure. A voice like warm, melted chocolate flowing over shattered glass. There are not many artists who can conjure such unadulterated desire for another person in their lyrics. Lyrics that almost insist you take hold of the person you feel so close to and make hot, passionate love to them. And never stop.

If you like this song you should also check out her Shivers EP, which is a thing of sensual beauty. Here is the lovely little video made to accompany the single. Enjoy.

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It Goes Like This for Rhiannon Mair

 

Rhiannon Album

Rhiannon Mair has music in her blood; her DNA a dancing double-helix of vibrant musicality and song-writing savvy. Currently unsigned, the April 2013 release of debut album, It Goes Like This (entirely fan-funded through Pledge Music), showcases the talent of a fresh, credible recording artist.

Born and raised in Colchester, she was surrounded by music and musicians from an early age. Her mother was also a singer, with Celtic folk and rock bands, including ‘The Lucys’. “Without a shadow of doubt my mum is one of my biggest influences,” she says, proudly.

A childhood love of drums progressing to acoustic guitar in her teens, playing in bands and writing songs seemed ‘more interesting than doing GCSEs’. Groups like The Offspring and Nirvana were among favourites during a heavy rock/grunge phase of her musical development.

In London to study Music Tech, Rhiannon continued to play and write songs, admiring the work of musicians such as Brian Molko (Placebo) and Matthew Bellamy (Muse). “Matthew Bellamy became one of my idols, as a guitarist, singer and song writer.”

A growing interest in folk and singer/song-writers led her to artists like KT Tunstall, Bjork and John Mayer. “My mum played me KT’s first record, Eye To The Telescope. I fell in love with her voice, the husky tones and the power behind it.” She began recording her songs and formed a new band, ‘Just Like Little People’, gigging in and around London over the next five years.

Her eclectic playing experience has produced an exciting and energetic live performer with an edgy style and engaging stage presence. A hybrid of Avril Lavigne and KT Tunstall – but with her own distinctive voice and vocal delivery – Rhiannon Mair is impossible to ignore. Live or recorded she evokes raw emotion with the heavy crush of broken dreams. When increasing the tempo she becomes a force of nature with a point to prove, tearing her heart out in the process.

By this time (2012), an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and sound engineer, she took the decision to launch her independent solo project, writing a clutch of new material during the course of a productive summer. “It was my new year resolution to overcome my fear of performing on my own, having always played with bands. I began to do more and more of it – and was loving it!”

Lyrically, Rhiannon wears her heart on her sleeve penning emotionally charged songs about the duplicity of love, the pain of loss and soulful longing, executed to great effect on the album. “Writing has always been an emotional outlet. I’ve always sung about things I could never say to people.” But this is not a sad record. It’s a passionate, bravura piece of work and the definition of contemporary folk-rock. Mastered at Abbey Road Studios, it is pitch-perfect throughout – from the guitar riff of opening number Something Special, to the bitter attack of the album’s finale Love And Hate – she never misses a beat.

Currently on tour with the brilliant Antonio Lulic, the official album launch is on 17th April, at The Bedford, Balham. If you can, I suggest you get yourselves there, because it will be a fantastic night of music and celebration.

The release of It Goes Like This represents a perfect storm of talent, determination and timing. It also heralds the birth of a bright new star in the musical firmament. A star by the name of Rhiannon Mair.

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We Love Sundays With Kal Lavelle

The World’s End, Finsbury Park
Sunday 24th March 2013

The World's End

I had heard many good things about this regular and well-regarded music night in Finsbury Park, but whenever plans had been made to attend circumstances beyond my. . . blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I finally made it and am very pleased I did.

Kal Lavelle 2

W.E. Love Sundays (as the event is known) is hosted by the no-nonsense but lovely Kal Lavelle, a talented musician in her own right. Like me, she finds it infuriating and inconsiderate when certain people turn up at gigs and are boorish and selfish, making a noise and generally behaving like cocks while others are trying to enjoy the music. Kal, politely but in no uncertain terms, laid down the ground rules – basically, shut the fuck up or piss off into the bar next door so that the rest of us can enjoy the show. She is to be applauded for so doing.

The opening act of the evening was unfamiliar to me, a singer/songwriter called Jon Paul Jon Paul PalomboPalombo, from Halifax, which I’m told is somewhere in the north. He has a terrific voice and plays with energy and aplomb. Comparisons to someone like Jason Mraz are not a million miles off the mark and the crowd thoroughly enjoyed his performance, setting the bar high for the rest of the evening. I shall be keeping an eye out for this talented guy as I would like to see him play again.

Rhiannon Album

Next up was the wonderful Rhiannon Mair. Regular readers will be aware of my enthusiasm for this girl and her music so I shall not labour the point. Suffice to say her effervescent style and unique vocal quality did not disappoint and the crowd became fully involved in her set. A particular highlight was a stunning and tender rendition of her song Letting you Love Me, a track from her debut album It Goes Like This, due out in April.

Raphaella Idiot

The final act of the advertised line-up was a pretty young thing by the name of Raphaella. It was something of a surprise when this softly spoken, slight-of-frame girl began to sing because she had real power and depth to her voice. There is an emotional maturity in her songs, a rarity for one so young. Of English/Persian extraction, she reminded me of an early, soulful Alicia Keys before she got all pretentious and up her own arse. With a guitarist for company she played keyboards and sang her little heart out.

However, a couple of songs in she told us she was going to cover a Justin Bieber song. I considered leaving immediately, rarely have I felt so insulted. Normally, I couldn’t be persuaded to cross the road to piss on someone like Justin Bieber, even if alight, but I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. I’m glad I did. I couldn’t tell you what song she covered (and I don’t much care) but she stripped it down to a keyboard ballad and nailed the sucker as her own. Justin who? Raphaella is a very talented songsmith and musician and has one hell of a voice – don’t say I didn’t warn you. Her debut EP Idiot, is due out on 1st April.

An unexpected pleasure was having Antonio Lulic in the house, who was persuaded to play a couple of songs. Borrowing Rhiannon’s guitar, and with Kal on backing vocals, Antonio tore the place apart in his own inimitable way with a quite brilliant cameo.Antonio Lulic

Closing the show, Kal played a couple of her own songs. Songs about. . . well, sex. Because she can. Her gorgeous voice and passionate delivery are perfectly suited to the subject matter, describing the physical, emotional yearning for someone else we all feel. Few people write and sing about sex like Kal Lavelle. And nobody does it better.

So, without reservation this was a fantastic night of music courtesy of a great pub, a fantastic host and some very talented musicians. Kal Lavelle deserves much credit for the calibre of the talent invited to play and I cannot recommend this regular music night highly enough.

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Music Mondays at The Angel, Woodbridge

The Angel 1

On the face of it The Angel is just another local pub. But scratch beneath the surface and you will find so much more. Not only does it offer a large selection of spirits (including more than 120 varieties of gin) and a good choice of real ales (featured in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2012/2013), it also serves delicious food, prepared on the premises, with ingredients sourced locally wherever possible.

Husband and wife team, Chris and Sarah Mapey, have taken this business from humbleThe-Angel-Woodbridge beginnings, three and a half years ago, and turned it into a favourite among the many regulars and visiting guests. However, it is their featured music nights I am concerned with here. As someone who attends these events whenever possible (work and restraining orders permitting) I feel well placed to offer an opinion. And the first thing to say is that our strange little town is indeed blessed in having a small, local pub willing to put on such events – free of charge.

Co-hosted by The Angel and Blue Bus Tour, Music Mondays take place fortnightly – not surprisingly, on Mondays. The range and depth of singing/songwriting talent to have graced the stage is quite staggering. Acts including: Paper Aeroplanes; Fiona Bevan; Lucy Sampson; Jake Morley; Antonio Lulic; Kal Lavelle; Liz Lawrence; Rhiannon Mair; Aartwork and Al Lindsay among many others.

On 4th March, Russell Swallow and The Wolf (Australian beauty Jess Kennedy) played forRussell Swallow and the Wolf our enjoyment. And how very enjoyable it was too. Russell has a smooth, soothing voice, writes lyrical, moving songs and plays guitar with the relaxed confidence of a skilled musician. Accompanied on keyboards by the quietly gorgeous Jess Kennedy, the sound of the music they produce, together with some lovely vocal harmonies, is simply wonderful. This is what the best contemporary pop/folk sounds like, not a bum note in the whole set, with encore track Paper Aeroplanes providing a perfect finale. A handsome pair on stage they were also lovely to chat with after the show, and I wish them every success in the future.

Now, not wishing to only tell you about what you may have missed, on 18th March (this comingKevin Pearce Monday) the utterly brilliant Kevin Pearce is playing. If you have never heard or seen Kevin before (shame on you) I urge you in the strongest possible terms to make the effort. His music has an ethereal quality to it and his voice has the pitch and soul of Art Garfunkel at his best. He is a unique talent and an outrageously gifted singer/songwriter whose fame can only increase. On top of that he’s a bloody nice bloke as well. Do yourself a favour and see him play.

Being a small venue, The Angel is conducive to an intimate atmosphere which really enhances the subtle nuances of the music and enables you to get up close and personal with the artists which, to my mind at least, gives these nights a rather special feeling and ambience that you would be hard pushed to get anywhere else. So, keep an eye on The Angel fb page for details of upcoming gigs, then you won’t miss out.

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Too lovely – Beatie Wolfe at Jazz Cafe, Camden

Beatie Wolfe and the Pack, Jazz Cafe, London
Sunday 24th February 2013

Beatie Wolfe 2

In Camden you are spoilt for choice when it comes to music venues, with most tastes catered for. One of the most well-known being Jazz Cafe. Opened in 1990, and part of the Mean Fiddler group it is a cool, stylish space with a solid reputation for the high standard of its shows and sound. Last night was no exception.

The act I had come to see was Beatie Wolfe and the Pack. Having heard her recorded output I was keen to see what she could do live – but more of that in a moment, because I have to tell you about the uniquely talented supporting act, Tallulah Rendall.

Having recently emerged from ‘the bubble’ (her words) of finishing third album TheTallulah Rendall Banshee And The Moon, this independent artist was keen to showcase new songs from the recording, having sole responsibility for all the music on it. This she did by switching between guitar, keyboards and bass, looping some wonderful vocal harmonies in the process. The strength and range of her voice is impressive, with a soulful, almost operatic quality. Tallulah Rendall pens lyrics which are deeply personal, is a mesmerising performer with an abundance of energy, and received enthusiastic encouragement from her attendant fan-base throughout. A fan-base I can only see growing. The album is due out soon and, following this preview, I for one am looking forward to hearing it.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes – Beatie Wolfe. This young lady is a gorgeous creature, Beatie Wolfe Too Lovelyand I mention this because (apart from it being bloody obvious) popular culture in this country has a tendency to categorise people by the way they look. In other words, if you are too lovely, too good-looking, this is all some people see or are interested in, and they overlook the talent. This is always shallow and often a mistake. A mistake because in the case of Beatie Wolfe what you have – first and foremost – is a very talented musician, singer/songwriter.

Her speaking voice is a little deeper (and a little huskier) than expected and she has a sultry vocal style. A style in keeping with her mature songs about love and passion, lust and desire. And with the sexy warmth of glowing embers on a cold night, Beatie Wolfe’s songs draw you in to give a reassuring, passionate hug. Musically, she plays with the accomplished ease of a true professional and had excellent support from her band, The Pack ( Yaron Stavi on double-bass and Adam Hayes on drums).Beatie Wolfe 1

Like Tallulah Rendall before her, Beatie Wolfe played some new material from her forthcoming debut album (due for release April/May ?), alongside favourites (including Pure Being and Never Ever). An altogether exquisite set of songs ending with the wonderful 1000 Kisses Deep, this talented young woman exudes class like the perfume from a rare, exotic flower. I am really looking forward to hearing the album and seeing her play live again.

So, no mere eye-candy but a girl who will be, before long (in my opinion), playing much larger venues and selling them out to critical acclaim and universal acknowledgement.

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Moths, Pirates and Diamonds with Fiona Bevan at Theta Cafe, Ipswich

promo pictue

You can’t say I didn’t warn you, having recommended this evening of musical magic in a previous blog. If you couldn’t make it (for whatever reason – maybe you had to polish the cat) you missed something quite special featuring three of Suffolk’s most talented, appealing singer/songwriters.

Opening the show for this Blue Bus Tour event was the lovely Lucy Sampson playing herBBT Theta Lucy 1 acoustic contemporary folk. As always, Lucy’s music was an absolute delight. Backed skillfully by Ian Bearcroft on double-bass and Ben Diffley on djembe (an African hand-drum), she really seemed to enjoy herself in this setting and her mix of lyrical emotive tunes set a high standard of musicality and performance. A beautiful, almost tear-inducing version of Trust being a particular highlight. Feminine and faultless, Lucy played and sang with a relaxed confidence which has become her trademark style. A style backed up by strong writing, accomplished playing and a voice as sweet as an angel crying tears of honey. An appreciative crowd fell a little bit in love with Lucy Sampson.

Next up was relative newcomer to the local scene, Rhiannon Mair. An elfin-like bundle ofBBT Theta Rhiannon 2 energy, this pretty girl was born to make music. And it showed, with her switching seamlessly between soul-searching melancholy and high-octane, guitar-punishing folk/rock ( I’d love to see her play drums). From a punchy opening rendition of Love And Hate, to the heartbreak of Letting You Love Me, Rhiannon was impossible to ignore. Like Lucy, she is a gifted songwriter but with an edgy style. Just as comfortable in the spotlight, she has great stage presence and a surprisingly powerful voice when called upon. Rhiannon Mair wowed the crowd and raised the temperature on this chilly evening with her red-hot set. And with debut album It Goes Like This due out in April, 2013 looks like being a big year.

Last on the bill – but by no means least – was headline act, the fantastic Fiona Bevan. JustBBT Theta Fiona 1 back from a trip to America, taking in the Grammys, Fiona did not stop smiling all evening as she played and sang as only she can. It was difficult to see how she could top what had gone before, but somehow she did. Her unique, slightly eccentric alternative-folk has made many in the music business sit up and take notice. Backed up by superb performances such as this it is no wonder.

From the moment she began to sing the beautiful, intoxicating Moths, to the last note of encore Pirates And Diamonds, Fiona transported the audience into a world of her own creation. A new song The Machinewas a wonderful and welcome addition to her repertoire. A great songsmith (I’m sure you all know by now she co-wrote the One Direction hit Little Things, with Ed Sheeran) Fiona Bevan has a delicate, lilting voice and is quite mesmerising to see live – like an exotic songbird, sprinkled with stardust. Everyone present was completely enchanted by her. This gorgeous girl is destined for even greater things and it was a privilege to see her play again. She must surely be on the music industry’s most wanted list. It all seems so effortless for her on stage but I know how hard she works at her craft, the same being true for Lucy and Rhiannon.

Fiona is receiving a lot of attention and plaudits these days, and rightly so. Despite this, she remains one of the nicest, most genuine people you will ever meet. There is not a hint of the prima donna or stroppy little madam about her, which spoils many a rising star, and says a great deal about her character and personality.

This was a wonderful night of live music with three talented girls performing at the top of their game. The enthusiastic applause, whistles and shouts of approval from the paying customers was testament to this fact. It was a thoroughly enjoyable show with beautiful songs about the stuff of life, love, darkness and light, demonstrating how music can bring people together and take them to some other place, if only for a short while. At the Waterfront building in Ipswich, Theta Cafe proved to be a fine venue with a great atmosphere and I’m confident this music fan will return in the future.

Photos courtesy of Sue Westmore.

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May the bad not kill the good, nor the good kill the bad… there are no good assassins – Pablo Neruda

behind bars

Their names are on the killing list
And soon they shall be dead
With poison in their veins
Or lightning through their heads

On 19th August 1989 a fight broke out in a car park in Savannah, Georgia, whereby a homeless man, Larry Young, was on the receiving end of a beating. An off-duty police officer, Mark Allen McPhail, ran to the scene to break it up and render assistance to the victim. He was shot dead for his troubles. Sylvester Coles admitted fighting with Young but accused another man present, Troy Davis, of the shooting. In 1991 Troy Davis was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

There was no physical evidence linking Davis to the crime. Seven of nine witnesses whoTroy Davis had damned him in the original trial later recanted their testimony. Troy Davis never denied being present but always maintained his innocence of the crime. Despite serious doubt (never mind ‘reasonable’ doubt) being raised regarding the evidence of his guilt, and possible innocence, the verdict stood. Troy Davis was executed by lethal injection on 21st September 2011.

Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders – Albert Camus

No system of justice is infallible but how can it be that the testimony of seven witnesses was regarded as reliable in the original conviction, yet not subsequently when they recanted that testimony?

Warren Hill was due to be executed on Tuesday night but was granted a stay of execution,Warren Hill just 30 minutes before the appointed hour. For the second time. Although the state of Georgia seems hell-bent on killing him, lawyers are fighting on his behalf to prevent this eventuality. But this is not a matter of guilt or innocence. Rather, it is to do with Hill’s mental condition.

Nine doctors have given expert opinion that Warren Hill is ‘mentally retarded’ (an official legal term used in the US). Twelve years ago, three forensic psychologists gave evidence stating he did not meet the definition of ‘mental retardation’. That remained their opinion until as recently as last week. All three have now changed their minds, saying the original assessment had been rushed and they were mistaken. There is now complete agreement with the other medical experts in the case that Warren Hill is intellectually disabled.

In 2002, the US Supreme Court banned the execution of prisoners who are mentally retarded. Ironically, Georgia was the first US state to ban such killings. However, in so doing it put the burden of proof upon death row prisoners to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, they suffered from this degree of mental impairment. Specialists in the field believe it to be virtually impossible for such people to do so.

The mental impairment of Warren Hill is well documented and should never have been in doubt. He has a history of learning difficulties and borderline intellectual functioning. A sub-average level of reasoning (with an IQ of 70) which is shared by 3% of the American population, he is prone to poor decision-making and impulsive behaviour when under stress or threat.

It is better to risk saving a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one – Voltaire

These two cases illustrate how dangerously flawed the justice system can be. A greatLethal injection number of death row prisoners have been exonerated of their crimes while awaiting execution. But what of those who were not so fortunate? And is it right or hypocritical to kill someone because they have killed someone? Do the ends justify the means?

Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong – Norman Mailer

Furthermore, what of the message that murder is wrong – unless sanctioned by the state? The death penalty is a lottery where minority groups, the poor and mentally challenged are the losers. Those having the wherewithal for a robust defence are rarely sentenced with the same outcome. As for capital punishment being a deterrent, numerous studies by the United Nations and other bodies (supported by crime statistics) have shown the death penalty to be no more of a deterrent than other methods of punishment, to say nothing of the human rights issues.

To take a life when a life has been lost is revenge, not justice – Desmond Tutu

A strong motivating force behind capital punishment is the base human emotion ofnoose and cuffs vengeance, rather than justice, and this is entirely understandable. Who of us would not seek the most dire retribution for the murder of those we hold closest to our hearts? But this is not justice, for there can be no justice for such loss. Nothing can bring them back to us.

And the same is true for the death penalty. There is no coming back. In many interviews with the families of victims in capital cases, the execution of the perpetrator has brought them no solace. For some it has even exacerbated their suffering.

Is it enough that in order to successfully prosecute these cases, to legally kill another human being in the name of the state, proof of guilt must be beyond reasonable doubt? Let me repeat that – beyond reasonable doubt. If the state is prepared to take the life of one of its citizens it had better be absolutely bloody certain of guilt. And no doubt.

All creatures kill – there seems to be no exception. But of the whole list man is the only one that kills for fun; he is the only one that kills in malice; the only one that kills for revenge – Mark Twain

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