Friday, 17 May 2013

The Oxford Country Folk Songwriters Circle

What do you get when you ask a bunch of musicians to sit in a semicircle on stage, play songs in turn and talk about their music to the audience? Not only a great night of music, but the Songwriters Circle-a unique night of unplugged music hosted by Dava of Swindlestock and Olly Wills of The Epstein
I’d been to their previous night in April when Dava mentioned he would like to invite me to play one of them.  At first I couldn't think of anything more horrifying. Sitting with other musicians talking about the meaning of our songs and why we wrote them; awkward.  I was worried it would look too staged or resemble a chat show and be a bit cringey for the audience. How wrong I was.  Watching the musicians play a song each, and hearing the other guestsquestions about their songs and style was interesting. After all, this wasn't musicians being interviewed by fans or uninspiring reviewers. This was musicians being asked questions by other musicians.  And this is the genius of the night.  Where musicians can sometimes be insecure, arrogant or competitive, in this setting they are quite the opposite. 
Photo by Pier Corona
And watching them listen to each other so intently seems to hold the audience captive--when else do you see some of your favourite musicians sitting on stage listening to some of their favourite musicians? And for me, it was a great pleasure to be sat right next to Huck, Matt Sage, Dava and Olly and hear their songs.  It is rare and intense to be sat so close to someone as they sing their heart out. Olly sang a song about his Grandmother’s funeral that brought me close to tears and Matt Sage told us a story of young love with an academic which brought us close to tears of laughter as he sang out ‘I trained a spy’.  Huck and I met up a few hours before the gig and had a nostalgic afternoon playing through Huck and the Handsome Fee songs. We decided to perform The Fall and Staggerlee. It was great to have the opportunity to sing together and a reinvention of the Fee is in discussion (although it would have to be an acoustic version named the Handsome Two, of course).

So, if you get a chance to make it to the next Songwriters' Circle then I highly recommend it.  You won’t be disappointed.

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