A lazy cliche of recent years has been that live, original music is dead; that the unsigned singer/songwriter has had his or her day – audiences want what they know; the same tired cover songs, the same Friday Night formula.
But what passionate music supporters like Thea Gilmore and Nigel Stonier have been doing to change this preconception with festivals like the Words and Music Festival in Nantwich (in it’s 10th Year this year) is finding a platform for the best of original music to shine through and to prove to people that there is incredible music still being made on their doorstep.
And news between artists travels fast; with big artists like Therapy?, The Tom Robinson Band and Beth Rowley playing this year, as well as world renowned poets like Roger McGough and Poet Laureate Carol Anne Duffy all signing up to come to our little town to play to audiences that really want to listen.
And in some ways, this is what separates this festival to me from countless others. Whilst I love the ‘party atmosphere’ of other local festivals as much as anyone else, sometimes the music can feel like the ‘background’ to the party; fun, appreciated, but not the priority of proceedings.
Even as a relative ‘small-fry’ local unsigned singer/songwriter, I never feel afraid at the Words and Music Festival to play my original songs that the majority of the audience have never heard of before. Such is the respectful and supportive feeling you get as a playing participant. The organisers too are supportive and encouraging, and it really does make a difference to how you feel about yourself as a performer and ultimately, how you perform as a result.
I was back for my third year at the Words and Music Festival today, at the cute and quirky setting of Bloom Cafe in Nantwich Town Centre. The venue was PACKED to the rafters; which I would like to lie and say was for me, but in truth they were there for the ‘main act’ I was supporting; the WONDERFUL, inspirational, Radio 2 Folk Award Winning Blair Dunlop! And he didn’t disappoint his fans, old or new, with his combination of Bert Jansch-flavoured gorgeous folk guitar or his wistful, beautiful singing.
The brilliant Blair today at Bloom!
But, as I said the audience were respectful and supportive, even for the support act to the guy they’d come to see, and I was humbled and honoured by their reception.
Organiser Nigel Stonier (check out his resume, it’s really something!) opened the concert, telling the crowd of music fans that this wasn’t their usual acoustic gig – there would be no ‘Ed Sheeran Covers here.’ For my part I played up to this by starting the gig with … ‘here’s a song by Ed Sheeran,’ before going into my own song ‘And Into the Woods‘ (always the joker).
From here on in, it was a really nice gig, as it always is at the festival. People were really encouraging and the welcome (as well as the venue) was super-warm.
Thank you so much to Thea and Nigel and the Words and Music team for all their hard work (which starts some 7 months before the first band/performer takes to the stage). And thank you to all the original music fans, who still travel far and wide to give their support to us singer/songwriters, whether we’re big or small.
Original music is still very…much…aLIVE.
- And Into the Woods
- How the Other Half LIve
- Midnight Logic
- A Curious Cure
- Sophie Draw
You can listen to my ‘Words and Music Festival’ Specials on my ‘Doorstep Mixtape’ Show here:
And you can stream my brand new album ‘And Into the Woods’ here.
Thanks for reading.