Outdoor Activities

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We are fortunate to have a large garden in the centre of Leek, which is popular with visitors in spring, summer and autumn.  The terrace allows al fresco eating and drinking and overlooks one of two spacious lawns.

Children are particularly welcome to run around and explore, although we do ask parents or carers to keep an eye on them and encourage them to respect the plants and wildlife.  Dogs are also welcome.

Café

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The Café rapidly proved to be very popular after the centre opened and continues to provide a wonderful atmosphere with good food and drink.  We serve a wide range of Fairtrade coffee, tea, hot chocolate and a small but perfectly formed selection of freshly prepared hot and cold dishes with a great selection of vegetarian and vegan meals.  Yummy cakes are available throughout the day.

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Many of those who visit say how much they enjoy eating and drinking in this warm and friendly place.  It is thanks to the amazing band of kitchen and café volunteers that the Foxlowe Café has become one of the key places to go in Leek.  But don’t just take our word for it. Read our reviews on TripAdvisor. Trip Advisor image

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Foxlowe Café is open Monday to Saturday every week: 10.00 am – 4.00 pm. We are also open (10.00-4.00) on the first Sunday of every month to coincide with Leek’s Sunday Supplement Market.

The cafe and garden are dog friendly.

Foxlowe Film Summer Programme

Your local cinema is back soon with fantastic improvements to the Rainbow Room (new curtains, sub-woofer and stair carpet)  made possible by a Staffordshire County Council Community grant from Councillor Charlotte Atkins’ allocation.  The room looks cosier with the curtains and this and the new sub-woofer should improve the overall sound which is great news.

Thanks for all who came along in the spring season, we had a rise in audience numbers with a number of sell outs which is heartening and good to have so much positive feedback about our programming choices.  We’re back with a varied Tuesday night programme, with something for everyone.

We kick off on Tuesday 7th May with Leave No Trace – a wonderful film about a father and his teenage daughter living off-grid in Oregon.  Mark Kermode declared this his favourite film of 2018 “a film which just doesn’t put a single foot wrong” and Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian awarded it *****.

On 14th May we have A Private War staring Rosamund Pike as Marie Colvin, one of the most celebrated war correspondents of our time.  The film charts this fearless and rebellious reporter, as her mission to show the true cost of war leads her to embark on the most dangerous assignment of their lives in the besieged Syrian city of Homs.

We’re delighted to bring you the outrageous period satire The Favourite, screening on 21st May.  Olivia Colman won the best actress Academy Award and BAFTA for her performance as Queen Anne, ably supported by Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone.  “A bawdy, brilliant triumph”.

On 28th May we screen Beautiful Boy, starring Timothee Chalamet and Steve Carrell in a powerful, soulful and intensely moving drama about addiction, its tragic consequences and reverberations through a family.

Colette, screening on  4th June premiered at Sundance 2018 to rave reviews.  It stars a radiant Keira Knightley giving a career-best performance in what is an exhilarating and timely film about the life of ground-breaking French novelist Colette.

Later in the season we screen:

Vice – Tuesday 11th June

Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Tuesday 18th June

Stan and Ollie – Tuesday 25th June

If Beale Street Could Talk – Tuesday 2nd July

Green Book – Tuesday 9th July

Wild Rose – Tuesday 16th July

Full details are now available in the What’s On calendar  and a copy of the full programme can be downloaded here.

Tickets and programmes will be available by this weekend (27th April)

Johnny Dowd and Park Doing

It has been a great couple of months for fans of Americana and Blues in Leek, as the Foxlowe has recently staged amazing performances from some of the top exponents of the genres.

Hot on the heels of Kris Barras and the Jack J Hutchinson Band, Gemma Ray and Thomas Truax, and the mighty Bob Log III and Husky Tones, the legendary Johnny Dowd brought his trademark Twisted Americana Country Blues to the Foxlowe on Friday the 12th of March, 2019, ably supported by Park Doing and Michael Edmondson.

Park Doing and Johnny Dowd both use drum samples, loops and pedals, in the vein of fellow US guitar mavericks Thomas Truax and Bob Log III, and Johnny and his band also inhabit the same twisted David Lynchian Americana universe as the aforementioned Truax and Gemma Ray. However, each individual’s sounds and stagecraft set them apart from their contemporaries. A fantasy future Leek Blues and Americana festival lineup of Gemma Ray, Thomas Truax, Bob Log III, Park Doing, Mike Edmondson and Johnny Dowd on the same day would be awesome, but who would go onstage last? Hmmm…

Anyway, back to Friday night’s gig…

So, first up onstage was Park Doing, who describes his music as “Psychedelic Disco Blues”. Sporting a corduroy jacket, and a hat that looked to have been styled upon the one worn by Brad Dourif in Wise Blood, Park plugs in and attends to his bank of effects pedals and sampler before introducing his first song.

With “These machines kill cashists” emblazoned on his road-worn electric guitar – a clever twist on the message immortalised on radical folk singer Woody Guthrie’s acoustic guitar (“This machine kills fascists”) – Park and his sonic armoury of effects pedals, samplers and loopers, and beat box crank out such idiosyncratic songs as Punk Rockers Don’t Need To Wear Watches; If You Don’t Say It Right, Don’t Say It At All; and You Know What To Do, So Do It – words of homespun wisdom set to an accompaniment of live guitar, loops and lo-fi trip hop beats.

After ably setting the tone for the evening’s entertainment, Park leaves the stage, changes into his blue velvet jacket, and loses the hat.

Talking about this latest tour together, Park said:

“I got a call from my good friend Johnny Dowd who asked me to tour with him again, this time in the Netherlands and England. He also asked me to sing with him during his sets, so I am doing double duty (the hardest working man in show business!). It’s an honor to perform with him — he has taught me so much over the years.  He has taken to calling me and his guitar player Mike Edmondson “The Hummingbird Singers.””

Park then joins Johnny onstage for his set as part of backing band with Mike Edmondson. This backing band may or may not be called The Bluebells or The Humingbirds (it may even change from gig to gig). I could have sworn that the band are introduced as the Bluebells, possibly or probably because of their natty blue velvet patterned jackets.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, and hailing from Ithaca, New York, Johnny Dowd’s sonic brand of dark and ramshackle alternative country-blues noir, with boom box beats, calls to my mind the recorded spoken word output of William S Burroughs (especially The “Priest” They Called Him, by Kurt Cobain and William S. Burroughs), early lo-fi Beck, and white blues guitarists such as Johnny Winter and Peter Green. Typical of Johnny’s style are the experimental, noisy breaks in his songs and strong gothic elements in the lyrics as well as in the music. There is also a strong undercurrent of black humor and the absurd in his work too.

The use of samples and technology mixed with good old fashioned stagecraft places the performance firmly in the 21st Century, although the music of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s is paid homage to, including a Bo Diddley medley, and referencing James Brown and Blaxploitatation (the song White Dolomite). Johnny cites James Brown’s Live at the Apollo as his lifelong favorite album, and Live at Paris Olympia 1971 “has got to be high on the list”, according to Johnny’s interview with Americana UK. Avant garde jazz musician and cosmic visionary Sun Ra, and godfathers of grunge Blue Cheer, are also big favourites too. Johnny and his sidemen put on an entertaining show, which includes incendiary guitar playing from all three musicians, sweet harmonized backing vocals, spoken introductions to the songs, poetry and even some coordinated choreography with audience participation!

Johnny Dowd’s songs, stories and poetry are about the perennial topics – love, sex, death, religion, life on the road, and (dysfunctional) relationships (both familial and romantic) and break-ups and their aftermath – but delivered with enough self-awareness, self-deprecation and tongue in cheek humour to stop it from all becoming too maudlin and depressing. This ain’t no country music- or blues-style “born-under-a-bad-sign-my-woman-left-me-my-dog-just-died-I’m-so-lonesome-I-lost-my-job-and-the-man’s-repossessed-my-car-and-the-bank-has-foreclosed-on-my-mortgage-it’s-raining-hard-the-leevee-has-broken-and-the-water’s-three-feet-high-and-rising-and-I’ve-finished-my-last-bottle-of-whiskey” cry-fest! No, siree, Bob. There are laughs a-plenty, both in terms of the interactions between the musicians and the audience, and in the songs themselves (the humour is dark, but it’s there). There’s even a goofy dance routine to lighten the mood!

Johnny stands up (he stays sat down for the set up to that point), places his guitar on his chair, and exhorts the seated audience to get up on their feet and mimic the band’s choreographed dance moves. The band are doing the Butterman Dance – whilst shouting, “Butterman, oh yeah!” – and Johnny joins in and we all do too: a surreal but funny couple of minutes during the set. Park cleverly and expediently dedicates the song and dance to Leek’s very own Butter Market. Nice one. Good local knowledge.

When the song and dance is over, Johnny compliments the crowd for their audience participation and enthuisiasm, saying “There’s no fear in Leek”. There may be no fear in Leek, Johnny, but there is very definitely an “eek” in Leek! Sorry, I’ll get my coat…

Other highlights include a rocking Bo Diddley medley of Hey, Bo Diddley and Who Do You Love, How Much Emptiness Can you Swallow?, a coruscating but poignant grunged-up version of Frank Sinatra’s It Was a Very Good Year, Jesus Loves Me by Joey + Rory, and Country legend Conway Twitty gets a surreal namecheck too!

A love for late 50s and early 60s Death Discs is also evident. A cover of the ‘splatter platter’ paean to twisted metal and mangled bodies, Teen Angel by Mark Dinning, is played in a respectful homage to the original, and as a rendition it would be wholly in keeping as a Twin Peaks: The Return end of episode performance at The Roadhouse tavern.

The Death Disc, also known as a ‘splatter platter’, ‘car crash song’ or quite simply a ‘teenage tragedy song’, is a style of ballad popularised in the 50s and 60s sung from the point of view of either a dying (or dead) teenager or the dying (or dead) or surviving teenager’s sweetheart, as is the case in Teen Angel.

Teen angel, teen angel, teen angel, ooh
That fateful night the car was stalled upon the railroad track
I pulled you out and we were safe, but you went running back…”

David Lynch and the clientele at the Roadhouse would approve, I think.

All-in-all another memorable night at the Foxlowe, in front of a select crowd of appreciative and knowledgable Americana fans. Thank you to everyone who came out to support the venue and the artists. We hope to see you again soon.

Any milage in that fantasy festival lineup suggestion…?

Park Doing at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Park Doing at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Park Doing at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Johnny Dowd at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Johnny Dowd at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Johnny Dowd at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Johnny Dowd at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

All photos by Giles Metcalfe.

 

Qigong Classes – Spring and Summer Dates

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Twice-monthly classes in the Rainbow Room on a Tuesday from 10.00am to 11.30am on the following dates:

30 April
14 May
28 May
11 June
25 June
16 July
30 July
13 August
27 August

Qigong is an ancient and powerful system of energy medicine from China:  it means ‘vital energy (Qi) cultivation (Gong).  It uses breathing techniques, gentle movement and meditation to cleanse, strengthen and circulate Qi.   Working with Qigong exercise will relieve stress, balance the hormonal system, release toxins and strengthen the immune system, as well as slow ageing and help accelerate healing.

£10.00 per class payable on the day, but please book in advance with Lindsay.

For more information, please contact Lindsay Trevarthen, Three Treasures Qigong on 07989-986672, email qigong@w3z.co.uk or visit www.threetreasuresqigong.co.uk

Leek Arts Festival

WE’RE PROUD TO BE THE HOME OF THE LEEK ARTS FESTIVAL

Headlining the 2019 programme will be folk superstar Cara Dillon. Cara has risen to become one of the finest exponents of traditional Irish song anywhere in the world. She has a rare and unique voice that has been lauded since her very beginnings, winning the All Ireland singing trophy in 1989 – aged only 14. She’s won countless awards and accolades including “Album Of The Year” at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, The Meteor Music Award for “Best Irish Female”, and Tatler’s “Woman Of The Year in Music” and has appeared in prestigious concert halls and at festivals the world over.

Another newcomer to Leek Arts Festival in 2019 will be American singer-songwriter Dean Friedman who gave us silky hits like Lucky Stars and Ariel in the 1970s and is championed today by our very own Gaby Roslin and Jonathan Ross. Dean’s never really gone away – he’s just been busy over the years  producing a string of albums of precision-crafted songs in his own inimitable style.

Adding a touch of humour to the 2019 festival will be three lads who claim to be the illegitimate sons of a hugely popular and much-missed Irish entertainer. The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser whose hilarious parodies of popular songs by some of the world’s biggest artists – including The Police, Abba, the Bee Gees and Chris de Burgh – ensure sell performances wherever they play.

Festival favourites Fairport Convention, together with the fabulous Birmingham Conservatoire Folk Ensemble and the Peak District Big Band will also feature in the 2019 festival programme, along with many other events, both at the Foxlowe and other venues in town.

Full details of events at Foxlowe Arts Centre can be found on the What’s On calendar.  For details of the full programme, go to Leek Arts Festival 2019.

Tickets are available at the Foxlowe Box Office, or on-line (see details on individual event posts).

Prints, Sculptures, Paintings! Exhibition

Some stunning artwork in the current exhibition.

Bob Log III and Husky Tones

The mighty Bob Log III returned to the Foxlowe Arts Centre on Sunday the 24th of March, 2019. With support from Husky Tones – the perfect girl/boy, punk-blues alchemy combo, a blistering Bristol-based punk blues duo who hit with the force of a much bigger unit – the Foxlowe audience was treated to a unique gig experience that will stick in the memories of all those present for a long time (assuming that they were sober enough to remember the events of the night!).

First up onstage were Husky Tones, who are Victoria Bourne on drums and vocals, and Chris Harper on guitar and vocals. Both Husky Tones and Bog Log III make a mighty fine racket, using a single guitar and drums/percussion attack strategy that hits you in the gut (and other areas) and gets the audience up and moving. Victoria comes from the Maureen Ann “Moe” Tucker (stand-up drummer of the legendary The Velvet Underground) and Meg White (sit-down drummer of the also legendary The White Stripes) school of hard-hitting, primal drumming. Victoria bounces up and down in her Dr Martens AirWear soled boots and punishes the drum skins like they’ve been very naughty indeed!

Victoria states:

When playing live I want our gigs it to feel like a special party that Chris and I have invited you to. Performing is one of those extraordinary experiences where some gigs I feel like jumping around and screaming in a bright red PVC dress and fishnets and others where I feel exposed, intimate, vulnerable. Just like our songs, sometimes wild and full of punk attitude whilst others are stories of beauty and love. Keeping you engaged without knowing where we might take you next. I want you to sweat with me, dance to me, cry with me, to make you feel alive…”

We did, Victoria, we did, and you did. Thank you. Sunday night was definitely a “jumping around and screaming in a bright red PVC dress and fishnets” night!

Chris also attacks his guitars hard, in a crunchy, dexterous, raging style. At times his right arm is a blur of motion as he hunches over and chops and slashes at his black Fender Strat, or switches to a battered Fender Telecaster, leans back and plays with a slide.

Chris states:

“I’ve played guitar for many years, wandering in and out of many styles but I always come back to the blues, a smashy, trashy, crashy version of it that is. Husky Tones gives me the chance to be a riff machine and to jump around on stage making a big, fat noise. I like riffs, I like grooves and I like good lyrics, the lyrics have to have something individual about them. I like songs to be about something not just relationships, I like songs about the world, about politics, about living a better life and of course, about love in all it’s forms. But it has to make me tap my feet or sway in time.”

Chris has an impressive array of effects pedals, including Fuzz and Wah-Wah, but, as any quality guitarist will tell you, its not about the effects pedals, its what you do with them. Right? You got it.

I’m sure we’ll see Husky Tones at the Foxlowe again in future, and look forward to welcoming them back.

Next up was the one-man force of nature that is Bob Log III! Robert Logan Reynolds III, to use his full Sunday name, and the one his ever-loving Mom calls him by, is an All-American slide guitar one-man band, based in Tucson, Arizona, and Melbourne, Australia. During performances, he plays his old Silvertone archtop guitars, wears a full body human cannonball glitter suit, boots made for stomping, and a helmet wired to a telephone receiver. This allows him to devote his hands and feet to guitar and kick drums.

The crown prince of punk blues, and a Fat Possum recording artist, witnessing Bob Log III live is an unmissable and unforgettable experience. Bob unleashes a torrent of hardcore Mississippi Delta blues, hip hop beats and punk rock. The crash helmet telephone distorts the vocals and his hands, arms, legs and feet become a blur of jump suit clad limbs as he plays slide, triggers drum machines and drums with his feet simultaneously. Bob then adds extra ingredients to this punk blues bouillabaisse with his unique version of audience participation. More often them not he’ll bounce a couple of audience members on his knees while playing (this certainly happened, see below), and then brings on the infamous Boob Scotch. The audience are invited to literally stick their boob in his scotch which he then drinks. If Bob feels satisfied he will then launch into his anthem Boob Scotch!

Bob wasn’t drinking (much) on Sunday night, and there was a distinct lack of drinks bought for him on stage (sorry, Bob, that was very remiss of us!) but he still wanted to toast the audience. Luckily, he had the foresight to bring a toaster, a loaf of sliced bread, and paper plates onto the stage, and the bread duly got toasted throughout the set, assisted by a couple of impromptu Toast Techs (Andy and JR), before being distributed to the hungry audience. Apparently, that was the onstage debut of the toaster, but no doubt it will become a feature of his stagecraft going forwards.

Gigs at the Foxlowe can be quite genteel and civilised affairs, but a polite, sedate, seated gig this was not!

Balloons – blown up and then burst; Prosecco, an inflatable duck, me ducks!, and a dog bowl; bread and the aforementioned toaster all featured; along with a few technical hitches; audience participation (not all of it solicited); and wild dancing all contributing to the pervading vibe of chaos and good-natured anarchy! Victoria and Chris also contributed to the performance during Bob’s set, with Victoria drinking Prosecco from the dog bowl, and both Chris and Victoria taking turns to sit on Bob’s knee when he invited the audience up on stage to get selfies and a little knee bounce action! The Prosecco filled inflatable duck was passed around the audience and quaffed from until it was empty, before finding it’s way back to the stage.

No inflatable dinghy crowd surfing on this occasion, unfortunately, as both the stage and the ceiling are too low for that. Bob did venture out into the crowd to high five his appreciative audience and get up close and personal though, despite “not being able to see shit!” through his visor.

In this current world of homogenised and mass marketed music, we need true mavericks like Bob Log III more than ever. Missing you already, Bob. Come back soon.

Husky Tones at Foxlowe Arts Centre

Husky Tones at Foxlowe Arts Centre

Husky Tones at Foxlowe Arts Centre

Bob Log III at Foxlowe Arts Centre

Bob Log III at Foxlowe Arts Centre

Bob Log III at Foxlowe Arts Centre

Bob Log III at Foxlowe Arts Centre

Bob Log III at Foxlowe Arts Centre

Bob Log III at Foxlowe Arts Centre

Bob Log III at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Bob Log III at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Bob Log III at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Photos 1 to 10 by Giles Metcalfe, Photos 11 and 12 by Mark Brammar.

 

 

Marty and Olivia Willson-Piper

Marty and Olivia Willson-Piper played an intimate semi-acoustic and spoken word set to a seated audience of dedicated and knowledgeable fans at the Foxlowe Arts Centre on Wednesday the 20th of March, 2019.

Marty Willson-Piper is a British guitarist & singer-songwriter who has been writing and performing with many bands and artists all over the world for the past 35+ years. He is best known as a long-time member of the Australian psychedelic rock band The Church. Willson-Piper contributed to all of the Church’s studio releases until 2013 and was a touring member from 1980 to 2013.

Well known as a man whose music voices the paradoxes of pain and beauty in a lyrical and musical style that snags the attention of the audience and remains in their consciousness long after the music has ceased. In live performance, this penetrating depth of music is coupled with fabulous humour that is nothing but British, intelligent, and vastly inappropriate (in all the right ways).

He was also the guitarist for the English alternative rock band All About Eve from 1991 to 1993 and again from 1999 to 2002. In 2005 he joined veteran Australian band The Saints to record and tour.

Marty, on a well-loved and battered Takamine 12-string semi-acoustic guitar held together with copious amounts of gaffer tape, and wife Olivia, on violin and wearing a lovely pair of Cowboy Boots, mixed songs from Marty’s long and varied career with extended spoken word interludes and banter with the intimate, seated audience of loyal and long-standing fans.

Sometimes seated themselves (somewhat precariously in Marty’s case, on a rather wonky high stool) and sometimes standing, the married couple presented their lyrical and beautiful songs to the appreciative audience, interspersed with double checking which song was coming next (the setlist had been misplaced), spontaneous on-the-spot stream-of-consciousness song writing based on conversations with the audience and tangential observations from Marty and Olivia, musings, observations and expositions, and tall tales from Marty’s long music career.

An entertaining raconteur, Marty’s topics of conversation, tall tales and shaggy dog stories included bucolic pastoralism; the best way to fill up empty space in your house; descending chord progressions in songs; Onesies and Womble Suits; whether there was anyone famous from Leek; local radio interviews – leading to discussing Stoke-on-Trent and the Six Towns that comprise it; touring with The Cult, Italian Police with machine guns and the exact sartorial definition of good and evil as far as the Italians are concerned; Venice sinking under water; having a near death experience when a plane he was on suffered a catastrophic engine failure on an internal flight in Australia; Bryan Adams; Prog Rock – Olivia hosts and curates the Night of the Prog Festival in Germany – Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets, with Gary Kemp on vocal duties (how and why did this happen?!?); telephone calls with David Gilmour and asking him to produce and guest on an All About Eve album, then being starstruck upon seeing him in the studio and asking him daft questions; disclosure on who actually played the famous baseline to Money; and skiing and song writing with Madonna!

During the interval, dedicated vinyl collectors and fans of Marty’s previous bands got their rare records signed, including records that Marty himself doesn’t have in his huge archive of vinyl records, before the second half of the set commenced.

Marty has often been photographed in a Big Star t-shirt, and he and Olivia ended the set with a cover of Thirteen from Big Star’s #1 Record, after which Marty and Olivia left the stage to well-deserved applause.

As ever, Marty, Olivia and the Foxlowe would like to thank everyone who came to the show, and we hope to see you again soon.

Marty and Olivia Willson-Piper at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Marty and Olivia Willson-Piper at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

All photos by Giles Metcalfe.

 

Elles Bailey and Demi Marriner

Elles Bailey and band, with special guest support from Demi Marriner, played an intimate seated audience gig at the Foxlowe Arts Centre on Friday the 15th of March, 2019 as part of her Road I Call Home tour.

First up onstage was Demi Marriner, playing solo and acoustic.

The name Demi Marriner is common tongue in the UK music scene, and for good reason.

Armed with a stack of notebooks, a head full of ideas and a collection of incredible jackets (plus a very fetching hat), Demi Marriner is a songwriter well worth keeping track of. Riding shotgun alongside her unique, outstanding songwriting are Demi’s powerful, emotive live performances. Demi’s confidence and professionalism on stage sparkle even more than her guitar strap and matching capo. Whether she’s pouring out her heart in an intimate solo shows, as was the case on Friday night at the Foxlowe, or kicking down the saloon doors with her incredible backing band, Demi knows how to impress.

After a successful debut EP ‘Tracks and Trails’, and follow up EP ‘Dandelion’ reaching numbers 1 and 2 respectively in the iTunes UK Country Album Charts, Demi is galloping forward with even stronger new material and a live EP.

The southwest songstress’ tassel boots have already graced many a great stage, including; The Symphony Hall supporting Rufus Wainwright, the main stage at Wychwood Festival, the Forest stage 2000 Trees, as well as being a regular at Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Demi has made her mark performing in the UK, Ireland, Europe and Canada, including support shows for Jon Gomm, Tia McGraff, BJ Barham (of American Aquarium), Cattle & Cane and Elles Bailey.

Demi’s passion and emotion is so contagious, it is almost impossible to not be captivated from the offset. We’re sure that we’ll see her again at the Foxlowe, and look forward to welcoming her back again in future.

Next onstage were Elles Bailey and her band – Joe Wilkins on guitar, Matthew Waer on bass, Jonny Henderson on organ, and Matthew Jones on drums.

Elles’ headwear game is also strong, as she was also wearing a hat.

They say you get a lifetime to write your first album, and the blink of an eye to make your second. Elles Bailey wins either way, which is why she’s ready to follow the widespread success of Wildfire with the stunningly mature and highly personal synopsis of a year that changed her life in forthcoming album ‘Road I Call Home’ out March 8th 2019

Back in September 2017, Wildfire broke down barriers to win rapturous praise right across the music media landscape. “Every genre,” says Bailey with a smile. “That was such a surprise. The title track, written with her band guitarist Joe Wilkins, also had Bailey racing from Spotify novice to nearly one million streams, while the album itself is close to two million, and still the playlists come in for it.

Now, the great news for all of Bailey’s ever-expanding army of admirers is that she is all set with her follow-up statement. Road I Call Home. Bailey made the sophomore record chiefly at Nashville’s Sound Emporium, with Brad Nowell sharing production duties with Steve Blackmon, but also cut two tunes for it with her own touring band at Mono Valley in Wales, including first single Medicine Man. It’s a remarkable companion to Wildfire that retains all of the fire of the debut set, but adds new maturity, perspective and downright soulfulness.

“Wildfire was written over five years,” says Elles, “Road I call Home was written over one. It tells the story of touring Wildfire, and how my life has changed since. I feel it delves deeper, and deals with loss, love, anger, determination and life on the road, with more than 200 gigs under my belt and many miles travelled.”

Like its chart-topping predecessor, Elles’ new album features co-writing contributions from high-calibre collaborators, including British hit-making legend and Ivor Novello Award winner Roger Cook, storied Memphis and Nashville giant Bobby Wood, as well as Dan Auerbach (of Akron, Ohio powerhouses The Black Keys) on the infectious ‘Little Piece of Heaven’.

Elles and band put in a storming performance, owning the small stage at the Foxlowe. That is, until the unheralded appearance of a spider temporarily halted the gig. Elles is legitimately terrified of spiders, and this one abseiled down from the ceiling right in front of her! Luckily, after telling the audience just how scared of spiders she is, the spider was humanely removed by bassist Matthew Waer and the show continued. Spiders don’t usually play a prominent part in proceedings at the Foxlowe, but perhaps we need to employ the services of a spider wrangler for future gigs, or Elles could specify one on her rider?

As with Demi, the Foxlowe looks forward to seeing Elles and band here again in future – sans spiders. Perhaps as part of the Leek Blues and Americana festival? We wish Demi, Elles and band well with the rest of the tour, and – as ever – thank everyone who turned out for the gig, not least those that travelled from far afield to support Demi and Elles.

Demi Marriner at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Demi Marriner at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Elles Bailey and band at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Elles Bailey and band at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Elles Bailey and band at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

All photos by Giles Metcalfe.

Helen Kaminsky

Helen Margaret Kaminsky

Mixed Media Art – on display until Saturday 27th April 2019.

Helen is a self-taught, flourishing mixed media artist whose diversity appeals to a wide audience of individuals.  She has completed many commissioned pieces and has become of high interest to a multitude of art collectors locally and internationally.  Helen is a member of a number of art societies based in the North West, including Incubation Arts, and has recently joined the Vale Artists Co-operative in Congleton, Cheshire, where she shares a studio with four other artisans.

Quality in her work is ensured throughout every step of the artistic process from creation to delivery.

Artist’s Statement

My work has evolved through various experiments and techniques, from photo transfer, mixed media, collage and encaustic. I love the challenges and excitement of work with different mediums, changing the style to suit the subject and the effects that I want to create. This versatility gives each piece its own mystique.

I have developed my style to interact with the observer as I like to keep a sense of mystery within my paintings, for the interpretation to change with each viewer’s own imagination.  This way the painting will always be a source of creative visualisation, changing over time with the shifting thought processes.

The synergies of these techniques combine to establish an intuitive, original and diverse portfolio.

 

eMail:                   hmkaminsky@btinternet.com

FB:                        HMK@valeartists

Website:              www.helenkaminsky.co.uk

Mobile:                07896 869528

Rodney Branigan and the Deadbeat Damsels

‘First Class US import’ Rodney Branigan, supported by local live music scene stalwarts the Deadbeat Damsels, brought his unique brand of ‘Full Contact Folk Music’ to an intimate seated gig at the Foxlowe Arts Centre on Saturday the 9th of March, 2019.

First up onstage were the Deadbeat Damsels, featuring Jill Povey on Guitar and Vocals, Alison Savigar on Vocals, and John Crimes on Percussion (no Steve Giddings on Lead Guitar this time round), and playing a mixture of Americana, (Alt) Country and Country Rock, old & contemporary, with strong voices and beautiful harmonies. Cover versions on the night included tracks from First Aid Kit, and Ward Thomas amongst others. Playing the Foxlowe for the first time – the Deadbeat Damsels are more used to performing in the pubs in and around Leek – we’re sure that we’ll see them onstage here again in the near future.

Featuring a percussive dual guitar sound – ‘One Man, Two Guitars’ – aided by pedals and sample loops, Rodney Branigan performs an original and virtuoso blend of progressive folk, rock, flamenco, classic, bluegrass and jazz guitar (and mandolin, when it stays in tune), mixed with stories from the High Plains of Texas, anecdotes and dirty jokes – all of which he calls ‘Full Contact Folk Music’.

Rodney takes the stage, and after greeting the audience launches straight into his trademark dual guitar attack on his song “about schizophrenia” – Schizophrenia – “just to get it out of the way early”. An hour and a half long set features covers of Creep by Radiohead, The Way You Move by Outkast, and Come Together by The Beatles, as well as Rodney’s own material, including the evocative and moving paean to trying to grow trees on the High Plains of Texas, One Seed, and Devil’s Delight (which he dedicates to his mother, with tongue in cheek), as well as incendiary instrumentals and his shortest song of the night – an accapella paean as to why you shouldn’t leave your vinyl records out in the sun!

Highlights included tales of trashing expensive guitars and trying and failing to get his money back from the manufacturer; innuendos and British expressions for solitary pursuits; the relative merits of George W Bush compared to Donald Trump and the former’s attempts to replace sex education in American schools with an ‘Abstinence Programme’; a dirty joke about two divorcees meeting in a bar; his relatively clean-living lifestyle these days and applying for permanent UK citizenship; why his merchandise stand only had Rodney Branigan tea towels on it; whether or not Leek has any hip hop fans; and his risky and potentially life-threatening act of dual guitar showmanship that has previously left him unconscious twice and with facial injuries needing stiches, prompting the use of motorcycle googles on previous occasions! Rodney, for reasons best known to himself and not made clear to the audience, performs the stunt with one jean trouserleg rolled up and a wink to the audience (perhaps the act of rolling up his trouserleg sets him up mentally, only Rodney himself can say), before hammering his dual guitars so hard that three of the strings break on one of them and then twirling one of the guitars around his head and sitting down in one connected blur of motion, all without missing a note! We saw Kris Barras play his guitar behind his head and with his teeth, Jimi Hendrix style, a couple of weeks back; but Rodney’s act of guitar showmanship was all the more impressive because of the potential – and actual, in previous performances – level of jeopardy and risk of bodily injury! Thankfully, everything went OK this time. Phew.

As ever, both acts who played on the night and the Foxlowe thank everyone who came out to support live music in Leek, and we look forward to seeing you at the Foxlowe again soon for upcoming gigs.

The Deadbeat Damsels at Foxlowe Arts Centre

The Deadbeat Damsels at Foxlowe Arts Centre

Rodney Branigan at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Rodney Branigan at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Rodney Branigan at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Rodney Branigan at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Rodney Branigan at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Rodney Branigan at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Rodney Branigan at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

All photos by Giles Metcalfe.

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