St Kilda Festival is in full swing! If you're at a Live N Local gig this week and fancy writing a review to be used on the Festival website, blog, facebook and newletters, send it in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JOHN FLANAGHAN AND THE BEGIN AGAINS
Sunday 6 February, Pure Pop Records
The room was brimming over - restlessness pervading as we packed together. But with the first strums, a weekend's worth of mopping up was delightfully undone; John - and his accompanists - silenced us.
Warm, flowing arrangements of acoustic guitars, violins, and mandolins temepered by an effervescent electric bass, all moving effortlessly through the immaculate tones of four part vocal harmonies. John's voice was gripping, lyrics leading us to the forgotten optimisms of youth; his presence goofy in the most sincere and welcoming way.
A particular memory: Toward the end of the afternoon, John, banjo in hand, picked out something I thought was going to take us toward Mumford and Sons. But then, a voice broke through: the most wonderous sound cutting through the slight murmur of a sold out space. The young female violinist sang out alone, so like a young, tender Tina Arena that I saw more than a few moved to tears. The room was entirely enamoured: gripping tightly to the edges of their seats as this young, tiny little woman took us to another world.
I can't remember the name of any songs (Prodigal Son perhaps? One of my favourites). I can't remember the name of the musos.
But, I can remember this: John Flanagan, and his merry troop of Begin Agains, had it all.
SKF, you made my weekend happy again.
CM, South Yarra.
Sunday 6 February, The St Kilda Branch
I was running late to Jenny's gig on Sunday afternoon. Walking down Barkley Street with a guy I had only just met who was directing me towards The Branch, we were interrupted mid-conversation by a voice as gentle and as breathtaking at the sea breeze on my skin. It was Jenny, and her acoustic melodies were leading me towards her.
I was introduced to Jenny six months ago at a poetry gig I was performing at. She had only moved to Melbourne recently to pursue a career in music. A friend of mine also performing that night saw her busking the day before and was so enthralled by her music that he sat beside her for two hours and wrote poetry. If that's not inspiration, I don't know what is. Since then, Jenny has gone on to win the best busker in Melbourne award, and has taken her music out onto the highway and is touring everywhere.
I had never heard her music before her performance at The Branch, and hadn't seen Jenny since that day six months ago, but to say I was enthralled by her performance is an understatement. With a drummer playing in the background, a harmonica between her lips, and alternating between a keyboard and an acoustic guitar, Jenny captivated me, and held my attention for song after song - I almost felt like I was neglecting my friends, and the yummy $5 pizza I was munching on.
Jenny's lyrics are poetic, with imagery that takes you on a journey, to other places. Jenny writes about real issues, things we all deal with: love, loss, our fears, hopes, the challenges that life throws at us. It is music that people can relate to, and it isn't artificially constructed, like so much music these days, to appeal to the mainstream - Jenny is the real thing, she writes from the heart, from the soul, and you can hear that with every emotive stroke of her guitar, with every note she holds with her evocative voice. Her music is so powerful, it inspires change.
The song that resonated with me the most was 'The finish line'... the sooner you can make the jump, you can race to the finish line…don't wait and hide, you better start to climb, don't just stand there at the bottom of this mountain, head straight for the finish line" - well, Jenny you've made the jump, and I'm certain you're going to make it to the finish line.