Category Archives: Promotions

Discovering Wide Lying Smiles…

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Being an ‘events blogger’, I imagined at the end of Folkstock Festival and its post-event buzz that I would log off and submit my Folkstock Festival Musical Notes to the cyber pages of internet history. An archive of reviews and ramblings, pretty pictures and ever less impressive video qualities (Youtube videos of tomorrow are going to project life-sized, holographic images of bands directly into my bedroom so that I can go to a gig without so much as moving my hand to wipe the drool from my ever fresh-air depraved mouth, right?) that would serve as a good point of reference for all involved to see how far they’ve all come – artists, Folkstock brand and all.

But as my blog’s lain dormant, the Folkstock community has remained very much alive and kicking in the heart of …well, Hertfordshire (too much?) and as I’ve tagged along for the ride; dropping in and out of the local music scene at various stages of its bubbling progression – much the same as I did over the festival period itself – my blogging fingers have itched to dance over a laptop keyboard to the catchy melodies that have surfaced over the last few months; attempting to articulate with words alone the talent that I’ve seen growing.

Joining Folkstock Founder Helen Meissner and Nick Stephenson at the Alban Arena, for Nick and the Sun Machine's album launch.
Joining Folkstock Founder Helen Meissner and Nick and the Sun Machine’s Nick Stephenson, at the Alban Arena, for the album launch: Wide Lying Smiles. 08.03.14.

However, it can be daunting to try and capture the passion and inspiration that flows out of guitars, vocal harmonies and lyrical genius on the pages of a website; and quite frankly, I didn’t really have a clue whether I was doing it right the first time around!

But the Krakatoa moment in my music blogging ‘career’ came last weekend, Saturday 8th March, as Nick and The Sun Machine’s debut album Wide Lying Smiles burst onto the scene.

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From my seat in the dark corner of the  Alban Arena stalls, subtly trying to peer around the couple next to me that were caught up in a mood far too physical to have been ignited by the electric opening chords of ‘Acid Rain Clouds’ (however exciting the immediate burst of music may be!), the energy and flawless musical chemistry that came from the stage for the entirety of Nick and The Sun Machine’s set moved me. So much so, that I knew I was going to have to write about the experience.

nick and the sun machine gig

In fact, the beauty of the album is it, in itself, delivers an experience – stepping away from the atmosphere of a live gig, the smooth quality of the sounds in the album recording easily allow you to drift into a relaxed state of listening; an eclectic mix of rock, pop, and folk, each track manages to flow seamlessly into one another, yet still deliver melodic surprises.

I picked up my copy of the album on my way into the St Albans Arena gig, instantly intrigued by the artwork. Created by St Albans local (and Bass player Joe White’s brother) George White; the cover shows an eye-catching pattern of psychedelic colours overlaying an image of a 16th century Memento Mori pendant: a symbolic reminder of mortality; that we are just flesh and bone.

Wide lying smiles

Wide Lying Smiles album artwork

It was hard to gauge from the curious but modish album cover what kind of sound, or even genre, the music of the album would reveal itself to be. I’d already bought a copy of the acoustic teaser release; Quiet Lying Smiles from a gig at Trestle Arts Base some weeks ago, but the tracks definitely sound somewhat different to the clear-cut, high quality sound of the rock/folk/pop influences at play in Wide Lying Smiles.

Quiet Lying Smiles

Quiet Lying Smiles E.P

So from my chair in the familiar dark surrounds of the Alban Arena, I waited anxiously for the notes of the new album to prove themselves. I already had the CD in my bag; now it was up to Nick and The Sun Machine to convince me that I actually needed to listen to it after tonight.

Having recorded the debut album from April to June of last year, I’m sure the four-piece band – Nick Stephenson (Vocals), Simon Hadwin (Drums), Joe White (Bass) and Michael Scott (Guitar/Keyboard) – were feeling a mix of excitement and pressure as they began to play; marking the official launch of the album in front of a home crowd – but if they did, it didn’t show.

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Resonating through the auditorium, the up tempo ‘Acid Rain Clouds’ was the perfect introduction to the evening. Unfolding to allow each member of the band to present their talents, and lead singer Nick Stephenson the chance to flawlessly showcase the smooth tones to his voice, I wasn’t surprised to learn afterwards that this is Nick’s favourite recording on the album. Other than reminding him of a happy time creatively (which shows in the way he performs it) Nick explains “the arrangement by the rest of the band takes it somewhere I would not have envisaged initially… that’s why we are a ‘band’ as opposed to a singer with backing musicians”.

‘Ask Me For My Name’ and ‘Baby A’ were among the crowd-pleasing tracks that followed, but the pinnacle of the evening for me came with the change in pace and atmosphere that ‘White Chalk’ brought with it. The haunting acapella harmonies that make up the first few bars of the song were spine-tingling as they echoed out through the venue, making the performance seem all the more intimate than before. Given how distinct this song is, I was pleased to find it’s the opening track of the album.

The real gem in Nick and The Sun Machine’s song writing crown however, (can you put crowns on sun machines? Do songwriters even get given crowns – or do they just shack up with Drew Barrymore and sleep under pianos like that average yet pleasant Hugh Grant film? … I diverge…) was the brand new and (as yet) unrecorded song; ‘One Thing’. With an edgier rock feel and an undeniably strong rhythm, this seemed to the song most people were discussing in the foyer afterwards.

Concluding with ‘Fast Learner’, Nick & The Sun Machine ended the set to rapturous applause, and the kind of support that makes me so fond of St Albans – though I have no doubt they would have (and will) provoke the same reaction elsewhere.

Nick sun machineI thought about Nick Stephenson’s words that many of the album’s songs were penned in a creatively rich period ignited by listening to the album ‘Let England Shake’ by PJ Harvey:

“… I heard that and thought it was one of the most powerful records I’d heard in years, and it just set me off writing most of these songs – it influenced not ‘how’ we sound but more the thing that drove the writing,” he’d explained;

and I found myself concentrating harder for the signs that Blur, Jane’s Addiction, Wild Beasts, The Beatles and Beach Boys were also all creative influences for this album, as I listened to it for the second and third time on my journey home.

Oh yeah, and something about Toploader.

wide lying smiles cover ‘Wide Lying Smiles’ is now out. More info can be found at http://www.nickandthesunmachine.co.uk

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Folkstock Celebrity Support

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This week, celebrity & VIP gossip mega blog; Live Like a VIP, allowed me to write a piece about Folkstock Festival for their site. In-keeping with their style and content, I covered some of the celebrity support Folkstock has gained.

VIP Meet&Greet: Planning an independent music festival

Many of us go to festivals over the summer, but most of us don’t spend the summer months planning our own! But that’s exactly what cancer survivor Helen Meissner has been doing to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Folkstock Arts Foundation; a community interest organisation created to provide a platform for up and coming acoustic artists looking to get signed.

READ THE REST OF THE POST HERE

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Espiritu Salon & Spa to launch at Folkstock Festival

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Festivals are usually associated with ‘roughing it up’ a bit: think mud, camping and – if you’re anything like me – wild banshee hair. But Folkstock Festival is all about challenging conventions, and blogger ‘Mummywhisperer‘ is lending a helping hand, by offering a range of beauty treatments on the day of the festival and family fete.

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On her own blog, she says:

Never been to a Folk Festival? Nows the time to try it

By MummyWhisperer, on September 9th, 2013

To finish off the summer you can go to Folk Stock on Sat Sept 21st at Aldenham Country Park.  Doors open at 10.30 and it finishes at 11.30pm.  Folkstock is slightly different in that it is not just folk, but also acoustic artists, and the amount of choice is going to be phenomenal.

Check out their wicked jingle (I KNOW how cool is it that they have a jingle!) .. <listen here>

Plus, there is a big bonus in that we will be launching Espiritu, our new Salon and Spa there – so you can come and get free hair consults, hair colours in your hair (using hair chalks), braids, reflexology or indian head massage.  Come on over and we’ll give you a bit of a pamper and pep up!

Read more by clicking here.

mummywhisperer

I personally can’t wait to try out hair chalks – I’ve been curious about having these done for ages! – And the Indian head massage sounds pretty good too.

ESPIRITU SAYS:

We are so excited at Espiritu to be pre-launching ourselves at Folkstock Festival on Sept 21st, as we have so much in common with the ethos behind this wonderful festival.
Our Salon is about giving you that moment in time to bring you back to ‘you‘ in the midst of our hectic world.  Live music is wonderful for this, but there is something extra special about Folk and Acoustic music, as it is about our roots and something stronger than just the ever changing and moving modern world.
We love to embrace the old style glamour of simpler times, whilst enjoying modern miracles like iPods and gell nails, it is this fusion that we are looking forward to at Folkstock.  So come along to our tent (you wont be able to miss it with our big flag) and enjoy one of our treats for you:

 

  • Braids in your hair,
  • Fun Colours (from hair chalks)
  • Hair Beads for children
  • Free Consultations
  • Reflexology (feet or hands) taster sessions
  • Indian Head Massage taster sessions
  • Hand massages
  • Balloons

 

 

And remember to pick up a 25% off voucher for your first visit to our salon!

If you have kids, then folk festivals are the perfect family friendly way to introduce them to live music, and we too think that families are important, which is why we have created ‘Mummy Mondays’ at the salon to support you mums.  Check out my tips about festivals over on the MummyWhispererBlog.
Community is important to us; we will be supporting local businesses, authors, musicians and charities at Espiritu and making sure that the products and services that we offer are ethical and environmentally friendly.  Folkstock is actually a charity event being organised by the Folkstock Arts Foundation who among other things supports folk and acoustic musicians.
Check out some of the lovely line up here on sound cloud or listen to the lovely Tamsin Rosewell’s delicious radio show about folkstock.Hope to see lots of you there!Poster-1694x2338-741x1024

‘Mummysphere’ Folkstock supporter has a family ticket up for grabs

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Folkstock Acoustic Festival has evolved from its first days of planning. It has evolved to include many more stalls, stages and events than we had first imagined – and as a result has become billed as a ‘family fete’ as much as it is a festival.

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In support of how ‘family friendly’ the folk and acoustic festival is, ‘themummysphere’ blog has opened a competition to win tickets for four…

Folkstock 2013 Giveaway

31 August 2013 by 3 Comments

Folkstock Acoustic Festival is a family friendly music festival in the beautiful surroundings of Aldenham Country Park in Hertfordshire taking place on Saturday 21st September 2013.  The fun begins at 10.30am and the music starts at 11am, carrying on until 11.30pm. As well as two main stages and two tents packed full of award winning national and local musicians and bands there will be lots to see and do including face painting, ukulele workshops and a village fete. You can hear listen to the line-up here.

I have one family ticket (4 people, minimum 1 adult) to Folkstock Acoustic Festival 2013 to give away.  If you would like to be in with the chance of winning simply answer this question in the comments below…

CHECK OUT THEMUMMYSPHERE TO VIEW THE QUESTION AND ENTER THE COMPETITION! Best of luck!

 

A fabulous weekend for folk

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Folkstock artists have been busy, as usual, this weekend. The Folk, Garry Smith, Daisy Mae LewisZoe Phillips, Kaitlyn Sings, The Tritones and Nick and The Sun Machine were entertaining fans at Wilkestock Festival, whilst Daria Kulesh and her band KARA were kicking off Saturday night’s Live Music Project at Trestle Arts Base.

Folkstock Managing Director Helen Meissner spent the weekend at Wilkestock, taking amazing photos of the performances, as usual – which I’ve put a sample of here. It looks like it was a blast!

A little bird also told me that Simon Hadwin (the drummer of Nick and the Sun Machine, whom I meet at the Marketing Matters event) impressed the crowds with an impromptu spot on the acoustic stage to fill in for an artist who had to cancel – nice one!

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I, on the other hand, headed over to Trestle Arts Base, to see KARA’s folk performances with a Russian twist. Daria Kulesh was the first Folkstock act I ever encountered, having met her at the St Albans Film Festival, so I definitely wanted to see her joined by her band on stage.

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This was my first experience of hearing a hammered dulcimer instrument being played, and it certainly added another dimension to KARA’s musical sound.

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Four bands played in total last night: KARA, Starseedz, Broken Boat and The Neverists. It was great to see the space at the arts base being used so well, and lots of people enjoying the local talent that Herts seems so full of. The Neverists themselves summed it up with:

“The show we played last night was incredible, I have never felt a reaction from an audience like last night, people we’re dancing to our songs, we played the longest set we have ever played and really got to mix it up, with Jimmi leaving the drums to play harmonica.”

I love finding new music, and hearing Broken Boat for the first time last night was a real treat. I’m looking forward to seeing the performances of other Folkstock artists at Trestle in the coming months, and discovering other local bands. Hopefully some of these guys will be heading along to Folkstock Festival in 3 weeks time, to give us a few impromptu performances at the ‘on the day sign up’ slots?!

Coming up at Trestle Arts Base:

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