Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A Honey Pot of Acoustic Goodness: Jess Hall, Tamara and the Martyrs, Goodwin Sands

Goodwin Sands
Last night saw a honeyed mix of musical talent as part of the Oxfringe festival. The Honey Pot is one of my favourite pubs, and the back room can be one of the more intimate performance spaces in Oxford. Tom and Leanne create a friendly and warm atmosphere, and treat musicians well. They also cook some of the best pub grub around. The evening was kicked off by singer/songwriter Jess Hall. It was the first time I'd seen her perform. The spell of her clear, soft voice floated me in from the bar where I was nursing my bowl of massive chips ("Oi, hands orf!"). Huck and I then graced the stage with a few Martyrs songs. The atmosphere in the Honey Pot was perfect for some acoustic strumming. Each act even coaxed in the smokers, who were braving the 'warm summer air'. Headlining was a dutch band, Goodwin Sands. What a pleasant surprise! I knew the guitarist, Pete Barnes, from my uni days, when he used to rock out in his Bath-based band,  'A Neat Science'. But Goodwin Sands is a folk band, and a folk band through and through. I definitely think he's found his musical calling. This isn't just any old folk though, it has a real mesmerizing quality, and the lead singer, Anna Curvers, has a delicate and precise magnetism that has you hanging on every word. When the whole band offer backing vocals and switch instruments between songs the deal is sealed, these guys can really play. The carefully crafted compositions are executed with finesse, and as I watched the band I noticed that they're all smiling - and so are the audience. This is feel-good-folk at its intricate and smiley best. Goodwin Sands are touring the UK so catch them if you can, more info here.

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