Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Black Feathers at the Brewery Blues- 15th May 2015

The Black Feathers
Viktoria Gustafsson-Dahill reviewed the latest Brewery Blues show, photos by Steve Fearn...

Acoustic folk tends to be overlooked by the average lover of music. Previous evenings of fluid jazz gave way to this imaginative and soul-invoking display of raw vocal talent put on by the Brewery Arts Centre. All were in wait for The Black Feathers, two locals who were featured on BBC Radio 2 after their debut EP ‘Strangers We Meet’ took off with supportive folk fans. Since then, the duo has toured the UK, Germany, and parts of the United States. 

Hattie Briggs
Ells and the Southern Wild opened first. The frontman -- who happened to be a woman – announced that she was nervous. I struggle to imagine a nervous musician being able to deliver as beautifully as this artist. Songs like ‘The Photographer and the Owl’ and ‘Gathering Storm’ exhausted what appeared to be an already well-worn acoustic guitar. The vocals were deliberately overpowering and righteous, shaking the wine cellar and adding to the homely, almost living room feel.

Hattie Briggs continued the beautiful melodies, partly by incorporating covers of famously tuneful songs like ‘Fields of Gold’ by Sting. The entirety of the room began to sway to the music permeating all those present. One could think we all possessed the same heart simultaneously beating with the music.

The Black Feathers intended to show us a little bit of everything to prove that their versatile vocals and heavy guitars could conquer every human feeling. There was an urge in their deliberate attempts to capture our hearts. Death and life were both expressed in the same sentence as if their harmonious existence stood as something that shouldn’t strike fear into our cores. 

Ells and the Southern Wild
At times the guitar was raw and I could feel the calluses being inflamed and intensified. They sang of strangers, close friends, the occasional lover or one to-be-loved. The room warmed to them in turn. The final performance was done off stage to further back that voice-powered trance of acoustic folk music.

Though I nearly froze on the walk home, the night proved to be something spectacular and boasted elements of blues, folk, and a hint of rock. Tears were shed and hands were clapped into numbness for the local talent of Cirencester and Stroud. Magic was created here and still resonates from the talent and music generated in fond memory of a simple country life left behind, and all for our enjoyment. I look forward to many more nights organised by the Brewery Blues and graciously put on by The Kings Head in this cosy venue.               

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Jack's Coffee Shop Review: Lunchtime Getaway

A mezze outside of the med
 The popular Jack's Coffee Shop has an excellent array of lunchtime options, which one will suit you best?

Reasonable prices and quality products are a consumer delight that local cafe Jack’s obviously enjoys providing. Having a location in the pedestrian only Black Jack Street, you can get there easily from almost any part of town in a few minutes. Adjoining one of the main tourist attractions in town, the Corinium Museum, the relaxed and sophisticated surroundings offer a respite from a busy work day.

There are four seating areas in Jack’s. Whether reading a book or having a family meal, the locale is a broad church. When the weather is reasonable, outside seating allows a good space for sun catching and people watching. By the till lies an array of tables and if one isn’t feeling adventurous they might miss completely the high seating area perfect for writing or having a quick chat over a coffee. Further in there is yet another surprise, a sun room with skylights. In a way it has the feel of a biome at the Eden project. Warm and discreet, this area offers a door right into the museum.

The first thing one would notice when going into Jack’s is definitely the huge cakes. Feeling like I was a child again looking at enormous freshly baked goods, it was hard to stay on track and remember this was about lunch. Being vegetarian I was curious to see what was on offer. It turned out a large degree of variety was catered for. The mezze described on the blackboard sounded delightful and my friend was magnetised by the prospect of a ratatouille.

Is love the secret ingredient?
Considering the size of portions and preparation, in another location the same meals could easily fetch £15. Be that as it may, the meals were below £8 and out competed some restaurants for flavour. I found myself very full and content by my mezze, which despite having rather healthy ingredients tasted good enough to feel like a treat. My friend lavished praise on the bread accompanying her ratatouille. Being one of the few eateries in town she hadn’t previously visited, the delicious nature of her food led her to announce it would be the venue of choice when her parents came to stay. Generous servings of celeriac in the side salads gave us both a fresh feeling after eating.