Tag Archives: tickets

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

Reflections and Re-blogs

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It really is great to see so many positive responses and warm words of thanks in response to Folkstock Festival.  If you went to the festival, you might be interested to know that we are collecting feedback for Folkstock Arts Foundation to assess the social benefits of music festivals and would really appreciate a few mins to complete this easy to do survey. Click here to access it.

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I’ll leave you with a few more words of reflection from the wonderful FRESH ON THE NET blog…

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by Johnno Casson

I was lucky enough to attend (& play) the inaugural Folkstock Festival this past weekend & what a lovely festival it was too.

Folkstock is an acoustic festival whose proceeds go to the charites Cancer Research UK and the Folkstock Arts Foundation (helping support and develop acoustic artists).

A new boutique festival has no right to be this friendly,this welcoming & this well organised has it? Well Folkstock most certainly was.Stages were managed with military precision yet with a warm & personal touch that was charming.

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Set in the beautiful grounds of Alderham Country Park they had 4 stages of music & an assortment of homespun stalls & activities for everyone.

READ THE REST OF THE BLOG POST HERE

Who’s playing at Folkstock?

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I’ve been busy this week trying to think of all the ways to get information about our amazing Folkstock Festival (and the talented  line-up) across to our followers, and those in-betweenies that are thinking about buying a ticket but not yet sure…  (just remember, you always regret what you didn’t do, not what you did 😉 ).

I have previously introduced some of the main acts playing at Folkstock, but seeing as that was a while ago – and likely to have gotten lost in the mass of blog posts, I thought I’d bring you a quick and easy way to get to know some of our artists: via my Pinboard.

If you are – or know of – any Folkstock Festival artists that aren’t on the board, please help a blogger out and go ahead and add them – I’d love to see all of the acts’ websites on there by the weekend!

Follow the board through to Pinterest to see the larger range of our artists – all image will take you through to their websites.

The stage is set…

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It’s getting so close, isn’t it? Only 6 days to go until Folkstock Festival. We’ve put together a full set list now of acts, times and stages (click the image below to view) – so once you have your tickets, you can get planning your weekend already.

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Andy Shepherd of Shepherd Audio has kindly supplied us with this plan of how the area is going to look next Saturday, so you can get a good feel for the size and area its going to take place in. Excited doesn’t cover it!!

Folkstock merchandise, including the t’shirts (as modeled by festival director Helen Meissner and folkstock artist Amy Pettingill below), are now also available to buy via the website. Those of you who read the previous post about t’shirt designs may be pleased to see both designs are available to buy, with a list of various artists on the back.

If you can’t wait until  next weekend to have a listen to some of the artists that will be performing at Folkstock Festival – click here. Last Wednesday I headed to Nick Stephenson‘s Mid-Week  Music Open Mic night at The Boot, St Albans, to see Zoe Wren perform ahead of Folkstock – and if her set at The Boot was anything to go by, the Folkstock crowd are going to love her!

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‘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!

 

Facebook offer for discounted musicians’ tickets!

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As many of you know, Folkstock Festival will be offering ‘sign up on the day’ slots of 2 or 3 songs a time at the Flaming June’s Troubadours gazebo. Many of my Twitter followers have been asking if there is a possibility of playing at Folkstock, and at this stage in the planning, via the Flaming June’s Troubadours is certainly the best way to get involved.

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To add to this, Folkstock has decided to launch an opportunity for musicians to receive discounted tickets with the view to perform an on the day slot. To find out how to be in with a chance of taking advantage of this offer, head to our Facebook Page. Good luck!