Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Thea Gilmore and Kirsty McGee and the season's first strawberries

You might remember in one of the early posts on this blog, I talked about going to see the talented Anais Mitchell with Jefferson Hamer in Brighton. We had previously seen Anais several times including an amazing gig at Union Chapel in London where she performed her folk-opera Hadestown with a cast of invited singers. One of these who impressed us was Thea Gilmore who sang the part of Persephone. Although I knew next to nothing about Thea’s own music, we took advantage of an opportunity to see her sing at Shoreham’s Ropetackle Centre yesterday evening. Together with our friends Andy and Barbara, both Dave and I were blown away by how brilliant a singer and songwriter she is.

Joined by husband, Nigel Stonier on guitar, piano and vocals, Liz Hanks on cello and Susannah Simmons on violin, the sound created by Thea Gilmore’s quartet was unusual and gorgeous to hear. I love the cello being incorporated into popular music, also being a fan of Ray Cooper and Crooked Still, and the combination of Thea’s voice and Liz’s playing made last night’s gig an emotional experience. We hadn’t taken a punt on a gig for ages so I’m very glad this was the chosen one! I’m not sure if I will feel the same about her recorded albums or if Thea will be more of a ‘jazz thing’ for me in that I love the live performances but am not so taken with listening at home.

My musical taste is definitely changing over the past few years as I am drawn to search out strong women songwriters, whereas previously most of my favourites seemed to be men. My support on crowdfunding platforms has been rewarded by great new music from American artists including Rachel Ries, Kris Delmhorst, Rebecca Pronsky and BettySoo and British group Sunday Driver. Currently I’ve pledged for Kirsty McGee whose Kickstarter appeal has about a week left to run. Kirsty is from Manchester and has a wonderful turn of phrase to her lyrics. What I’ve heard of her new album, Those Old Demons, sounds beautiful and how could anyone resist the deer in a bikini artwork? Pledge now!

On a different note, Thea Gilmore wasn’t the only good thing about yesterday. I also got to taste the first few of our new season’s strawberries fresh from the garden. They were delicious and there’s more on the way. We’re hoping we might still be in Southfield for the harvest of our other garden fruit in the summer. The plum tree is doing very well, plus there are pears and apples. This might be the year that the pears actually ripen by themselves – if not, I can poach them in red wine again which usually makes them perfect!

And all that after a busy day at work. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m currently temping on the Procurement Hub at Wealden District Council. Today I helped set up their brand new departmental twitter feed. They’re @ESProcurementHub If you’re also on twitter, give them a follow and welcome them aboard!

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