Feb 4 2019

Vishtèn, Friday 1st February 2019

Review and photos by John Bentley / Arc https://www.flickr.com/photos/john_arc-images/

Also see review on Gig Junkies

It’s great to discover good new music venues, particularly ones like The Live Room, situated in the Caroline Social Club in the World Heritage Site-designated village of Saltaire, near Bradford. Saltaire was a ’model village’ established by nineteenth-century industrialist Sir Titus Salt, with the aim of providing good housing, employment conditions and facilities for his workers, contrary to the prevailing squalor and exploitation of the industrial revolution.

The Live Room specialises in folk, roots and acoustic music, aiming to present a varied programme featuring both established names and up-and-coming artists. It will be celebrating its 200th gig in March. The club is obviously about real enthusiasm for music and MC Hilary tells us that the club will be closed for three weeks while she and Ron go off to Canada again in search of new acts. Indeed tonight’s band, Vishtèn, are one of their discoveries from a previous trip.

Vishtèn are a trio from Eastern Canada whose répertoire is focussed around French-Canadian traditional music, with many songs derived from archive sources. They tell us that they look for joyous folk songs, but invariably they end up with songs about heartbreak. Vishtèn particularly celebrate Acadian music culture, which derives from the French settlers who made their home in North America in the 17th century, including America’s southern states, where it morphed into Cajun.

The band are twin-sisters Emmanuelle and Pastelle LeBlanc, from Prince Edward Island, and Pascal Miousse, a direct descendant of the first colonial families to inhabit Quebec’s remote Magdalene Islands. As well as singing, these three talented multi-instrumentalists play flute, fiddle, guitar, accordion, piano, mandolin, and bodhràn. Vishtèn enthusiastically engage with their audience throughout the evening, providing an ongoing witty but informative commentary on the music, matters French-Canadian and their own personal backgrounds. Pascal informs us that it is the twin-sisters’ birthday and the audience obligingly sing them ‘Happy Birthday’.

Vishtèn’s energetic music is absorbingly varied, with band members frequently changing to different instruments. Most of the material tonight comes from their latest album, ‘Horizons’. Some of the songs are self-penned, like highlight ‘Les Sirènes à Roméo’, which features some nice melody, delicately played on flute, guitar and piano. Occasional percussion is provided by the bodhràn, but also, interestingly, by the sisters ‘tap-dancing’ their feet while playing other instruments. Pascal provides some fine fiddle and guitar, in an amazing variety of styles. In fact the cross-pollination of musical heritage is one of the most interesting features of the evening, including for example, Cajun and Irish music. Vishtèn finish with a triumphant finale of jigs and reels.

Pre Show Interviews

Interview with Rob Martin from BCB Radio's 'Into The Buttercup'

Jan 22 2019

Sugaray Rayford Band, Friday 18th January 2019

Friday 18th January 2019. The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire hosted the Sugaray Rayford Band on their first UK tour.

Sugaray had a stunning 6-piece band with him comprising Lavell Jones, drums, Alastair Greene, guitar, Drake Shining, keys, Allen Markel, bass, Giles Straw, trumpet and Aaron Liddard on sax. It was snowing lightly outside but inside, as requested by Sugaray, the floor was mainly cleared for dancing and much dancing there was. The audience coming from far and wide (even Lancashire!) to see the man on his first UK tour and I think, judging from the crowd reactions, that most thought it long overdue but well worth the wait.

What they had waited for was a night of very infectious soul, rhythm and blues, blues, rock, jazz, a touch of reggae and even a small sprinkling of country from a very tight band led by a 6 foot 5inch front man with a huge voice and even bigger personality who made serious use of the space available for his own pretty slick moves. He took some time at the start to chat to and acquaint himself with his audience before launching into “Big Legs, Short Skirt”. The show included many of his own songs and some inspired covers such as Albert King’s “Born Under A Bad Sign”.

The band were extremely tight, often improvising with extended solos, always accentuating and punctuating Sugaray’s powerful vocals. At one point, Aaron left the stage and circulated through the dance floor playing an unamplified sax solo. Spontaneous almost scat type jazz singing from the audience and a light backing from those on stage amply illustrated just what makes live music so great. You don’t get this vibe from your CDs or radio or whatever means you use to listen to recorded music. Throughout the show and especially the end of set 1, all the musicians showed just what they could do on their solo instruments, pretty impressive but not a surprise when you consider their musical pedigrees.

Sugaray stated a simple ethos of we only get one shot at life, make the absolute most of it, saying ” Music was never meant to be serious”, “It’s not a concert, it’s a party”. It certainly was and one that tonight’s party goers would have liked to go on all night long. Set 2 opened with a sing along of the Louis Armstrong classic “What A Wonderful World”. After a night of great mainly R&B they left the stage with “If I Live To Love Again”.

There was a superb, if somewhat unexpected encore of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” with Drake on lead vocals I have to say that took me by surprise. Yet another act that it’s safe to say will be very welcome back next time they tour. Even at this early part of the year this will definitely be a contender for gig of the year.

Review and photos by Keith Belcher