For us here at Square Roots towers, one of the unconfined joys of attending this simply awesome festival (organiser Paul Spencer is surely a Carlsberg drinker…..) is the opportunity to discover our new favourite music. Yes of course there are plenty of top notch artistes here operating within this genre that we all love, but there are just as many unsung heroes that are new names, and to us that’s surely one of the salient points of “non-commercial” festivals such as Maverick.
The initial highlight for Square Roots as promoters was of course to attend the 2nd annual Americana Music Association (UK) conference, where we were treated to addresses by the always fascinating Bob Harris (could sit and listen to his stories all day!), songwriter and performer Benny Gallagher (Gallagher & Lyle), and an absolutely riveting key note speech about the art of songwriting (in the form of a letter to a young aspiring writer) by top Nashvillian songstress Mary Gauthier. Lots of interesting and pertinent panels, and a great chance all round for networking made for an excellent day. Big thanks to all those involved in the organisation of this growing event!
But of course the real stars of the weekend were the musicians themselves, and we managed to get around and listen to 20 different acts – and still missed more that we wanted to see! Here were our highlights (in no particular order!):
The Jamie Freeman Agreement – high energy, kick-ass Americana driven along by hook-laden melodies, just the right amount of jangle, but slightly frayed around the edges to keep it vital. So pleased we have this great band playing for us in the Tower in October!
Goat Roper Rodeo Band – Everly Brothers on speed! Full of life, clearly love what they’re doing, and it’s highly infectious! Slightly quirky tunes allied to excellent musicianship and 3 way harmonies. Would love to get these boys down to Portsmouth some time!
Mary Gauthier – sincere, honest, soul-baring songs that resonate deep in everyone’s heart and consciousness. One woman, one guitar and a world full of emotions.
Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin – have been meaning to catch up with these two for a long time now. What took us so long?! Virtuoso fiddle, slide guitar and harmonica playing, voices to die for, and beautifully crafted songs to hang it all around.
Thom Chacon – if Springsteen were 35 years younger!! Music with a distinct message. Thom cares about what’s going on in the world around us and isn’t afraid to say it how it really is. Encapsulates all that is great in the singer / songwriter.
Danny and the Champions Of The World – big sound, big talent – big smiles all round!
Marty O’Reilly and the Old Soul Orchestra – raw and passionate tunes that sneak up on you, grab you by the neck and shake you inevitably into submission.
New Essex Bluegrass Band – perfect way to end the festival. Gentle gospel bluegrass around a single mic, done to perfection.
Apologies to all those that we saw but didn’t mention above – we’d have been writing for days! Suffice to say you were all top banana, and look forward to seeing some of you at Maverick 2015.