Wednesday, September 20, 2006
End of the Road Festival - Friday
After a spot of hammock-swinging, my musical day on Friday started with M. Craft in the Big Top, where I remained for the rest of the evening. One of the great things about End of the Road was that there was a deliberate intention to give bands longer slots than they nornally would have for festival gigs. So more music then.
This was the second time I've seen M. Craft at a festival this year, and thankfully I get to see more of him and his brilliant band than I did at Summer Sundae. The songs from Silver and Fire still sound great. His swinging folk-pop still charms. And the wobbly funk of You Are The Music still makes up one of my favourite songs of the year. This time he gets out his electic guitar for Lucille, which is probably the closest he gets to 'proper' rock. Good stuff. We even get a drum solo during an unexpected technical hitch (incidentally just about the only one of the weekend - the sound on all stages was pretty much flawless).
Download: M. Craft - Lucille (Where Did the Love Go?)
Next up in the tent is Kathryn Williams. She's someone else I last saw at Summer Sundae, but that was two years ago. Her style is a bit more stripped down. Just her, another guitarist and a cellist. I'm only vaguely familiar with her Little Black Numbers album, so most of her set is new to me, but it's all quite beautiful. She has a slightly hestiant Northern wit sprinkled between her songs. But largely she just gets on with playing her lovely music. If that sounds like I'm damning her with faint praise, I'm really not. I loved her set, and at a push I'd say it was my favourite of the evening. Her loop-tastic rendition of We Dug a Hole at the end was spine-tinglingly good.
Download: Kathryn Williams - We Dug a Hole
Micah P Hinson has a lot to live up to in my mind. The last time I saw him with a full band (most of The Earlies acutally), at the Scala two years ago was one of my best gigs of recent years. This didn't quite reach these heights, but that's a bit like complaining you've won a million on the lottery because someone else won two. He's got a new album to promote, so his set was drawn from both The Opera Circuit as well as 2004's Gospel of Progress. He's a gusty, soulful, passionate performer, often stretching his already gruff singing to a hoarse roar. All that smoking must help cultivate that vocal style. It's been a while since I saw someone do the old cigarette stuck on the fretboard thing. He happily swigs from a bottle of wine too, as he sings his lyrics of pain and sadness. He tells us about his back problems and operation. Maybe you'd write lyrics of pain and sadness too, if you'd been through all that in the least year. But in a perverse way, I'm glad he has. He's got an album that could well be up there with his stunning debut. Then he drinks some more, and rocks out again. Don't You Forget, The Day Texas Sank into the Sea and On My Way are monumental set closers. He's a talent to treasure. And hopefully, his still relative youthfulness means he'll be around for a while to come.
Download: Micah P. Hinson - Don't Leave Me Now