I know i’m probably going to ram this down your throat but if you ever needed proof that Bristol really does have one of the most exciting independent music scene’s then take in the plethora of things I’ve been to so far this year and guess what all bar two of them were from Bristol based acts. quite incredible if you ask me, if you ever really needed any proof for a pudding take Monday nights Free For All at the Stag and Hounds. Headlining were loveable Bristol Psychedelic Progressive poppers Schnauser, who always put me in a happy mood, because all their songs are so lovely its like the sonic equivalent of a nice warm hug. Their sunshine psychedelia always puts me in a good mood and makes me want to run around hugging people, plants and animals, I’m pretty sure they would all appreciate it. Supporting them were The Brackish and Diving Bell. I have to say sorry for Diving Bell because I was at a Brisfest meeting and so I missed their set, but the Brackish oh my frickin god it was like having visitation of Beefhearts Magic band, bluesy psych rock instrumentals with a musical line-up that pretty much screamed a who’s who of Bristol. Despite having various issues they battled through leaving the place smelling of burning plastic keep your eyes on these guys.
Wednesday saw me take a trip down to Spike Island for an intimate guerilla gig with Howling Owls Oliver Wilde, who played a beautiful stripped down set in the corner of studio 36, celebrating the end of the Howling Owl residency. He along Selia his violinist played a number of songs from A UnNatural Guide to Light Years, also chucking in some new materiel and various Elliot Smith, Sparklehorse and Nick Drake covers. his voice felt perfectly amplified by the studios bare exterior especially during the stripped down rendition of Stomach Full of Cats sounded beautiful.
Thursday saw me hike all the way up to the beautiful St Georges Hall, to see the fast rising folk star Olivia Chaney who was very much cut out of the same sort of loins as the likes of the Unthanks crossed with Carol King with her rich voice tackling both traditional songs, Dylan covers and her own compositions her lyrics proved to be thoughtful and emotionally tender.
But I must admit I was mainly there to see the support act who was former Gonga and Crippled Black Pheonix singer Joe Volk who set the tone with his dark acid washed folk, drawing likeness to Will Oldham. His voice and guitar just shimmered around the building, it felt truly electrifying at points raking over some truly stark emotions not to similar to the likes of the Buckley’s. He is truly one of Bristols forgotten about gems who knows how to hit emotional nerves with his sparse yet enthralling compositions and a voice that felt so sensitive. I could feel tears virtually roll out by the end of his set. It was also great to see both the Elgie Brothers from Gonga in the audience.
Bristol has got some of the best music out there!