Wednesday, 7 September 2016

We find a superb gig venue - Kingskerswell Parish Church!

Both Dave and I agreed that the major omission of our travelling lifestyle was the bursts of culture we enjoy. We can appreciate art in pretty much any language and I did find ballet in Portugal, but theatre and gigs can be tricky when you have a very limited grasp of what anyone else is saying. Therefore we agreed that culture opportunities were a vital prerequisite of our static base. And we have certainly struck lucky with Torquay. Not only do we have our beloved Event Cinema and an excellent live theatre both within a twenty minute walk of our flat, but this week we were delighted to attend two superb gigs just a twenty minute drive away in Kingskerswell.

Kingskerswell Parish Church dates from the fourteenth century and is an interesting building architecturally that also contains unexpected details inside. Whilst wandering around before the first gig, I spotted footprints preserved
on the wall at the back which turned out to be eighteenth and nineteenth century engravings etched into old lead that had previously been part of the roof. The etchings are believed to have been drawn by workers called upon to repair the roof at various times and contain their names within the foot outlines. Stonework around the church includes old tombs topped by sculptures of armour-clad men and also small figures underneath. I had to crouch down between pews to see this one properly.

Annie Rew Shaw at Kingskerswell Church 
Gigs at Kingskerswell are organised by World Unlimited, Graham and Kate, who bring incredible musicians to rural Devon (and to Birmingham) and we feel so lucky to have discovered them. We knew pretty much nothing of any of the three performances we booked to see, but have been impressed by them all in different ways. Certainly we now know we can rely on World Unlimited to present high quality music - and in fantastically different styles so will keep an eye on the rest of their Kingskerswell season too. They also provide coffee and a wide range of teas in the interval together with excellent cakes baked by Graham. We can already highly recommend the Carrot Cake and the Chocolate Orange Cake. We now need a third gig so we can try the Lemon Drizzle!

Our first Kingskerswell gig on Sunday evening was Lauren Housley and her band supported by singer-songwriter Annie Rew Shaw. Annie has a gorgeous voice which truly soared through the church and there was a brief pause at the end of her songs which I hope she didn't find too unsettling. We were all appreciating the fading ripples of each final note!

One instrument in Lauren Housley's band was what had initially attracted us to this gig. She has a pedal steel player, C J Hillman. It's a rare instrument to see played and this guy is a master! Having said that, all the band were excellent musicians and we thoroughly enjoyed their country-tinged set, especially the unplugged sound. I think the Jolene version was the best I have ever heard! Lauren opened with Nice To See Ya, a song inspired by her grandmother, and I have added the YouTube below for you to hear:

Our second Kingskerswell gig last night is probably best summed up with the phrase 'something completely different'! Transylvania are a Romanian band from Bukovina who play their traditional music on brass and accordion, but with a dance beat and expert DJ on decks, who also coordinates animated and vintage visuals on a large screen. Sounds odd, is odd - but it works! Kate said we were in for a wild night and she wasn't wrong! I loved this band and was up dancing in the aisles. We've even bought their album, Mister Vlad, or will have done when the wifi picks up enough to download it. Transylvania reminded me a little of Gogol Bordello and Balkan Beat Box, but without the American influence and with their own fabulous Dracula-meets-Adam-Ant style. If you see they are playing anywhere near you, snap up your tickets, goth up and go!

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