Live @ The Church is one of Berkshire's newest music nights, set in the idyllic location of Holy Trinity Church in Cookham. It seems an unlikely location for such an event. Cookham is a small village in Berkshire, albeit a beautiful one featured in some of the paintings of Stanley Spencer. The setup at Holy Trinity Church is a far cry from what you would usually expect however. Live Wire Productions turn the Church into a premier venue, with professional lights and sound that would be the envy of major theatres.
While they don't put on many events (just four in 2019), their list of performers includes the likes of Jacob and Drinkwater, Fly Yeti Fly, Velvet and Stone, and Stables. The events are double headliners, and this time around it was the turn of County Durham based singer songwriter Harri Endersby, and Bluegrass band Hot Rock Pilgrims.
Performing just a few weeks before her new album, Mazes, is released, Harri Endersby performed a fantastic set to open the evening. We enjoyed a mixture of new songs, old songs (including the first song she ever wrote), and even a couple of covers. Accompanied by husband Rich Marsh on the Cajon, Endersby started with Mountainside, written about the "naughty Yorkshire landscape". Golden Hour was is another new song, inspired by beach walks on the Isle of Harris.
In a set full of great songs, there were some notable highlights. The first of these was the first song that Harri Endersby ever wrote, a love song about a willow tree that falls in love with a girl. It's a quirky story perhaps, but a sensational song, and even more impressive given it's not the product of many years of song writing.
Stars Fall Down is a rare love song from Endersby, which arose after Harri and Rich moved into their first house together in Durham. With Rich providing support on the tambourine, Harri's ethereal voice took centre stage, captivating the entire audience. Close To Home closed out the set with a touch of irony given the drive that awaiting them back up to County Durham, but the intricate picking was the perfect way to end.
After a short interval, the bluegrass foursome of Hot Rock Pilgrims strode onto the stage, their fifth member Bruno currently being over in Asia working on laser microscopes. There were no introductions, no opening banter, just three songs in quick succession to blow away any cobwebs that may have formed while the audience were getting drinks. After the briefest of introductions to say that the next few songs were from their previous album, Squirrel Hunting, they then launched into three more, including the excellent Sitting On Top Of The World.
The performance from all four was stunning, especially the dual vocal performances from Hubert Murray and Dan Edwards. Considering all four had travelled from various locations to meet for the gig, you would have thought it may have been a struggle to it a consistent performance, but they were impressively cohesive. The musicianship on display was simply stunning.
Among the highlights were some of the tracks from the album, including Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor, and Walking The Dog. We got a version of Wild Bill Jones (a "sad" version) which was spine-tinglingly good. Their set closed out with the one two of Squirrel Hunters and a version of The Belfast Mill, also known as Aragon Mill.
The event was the perfect encapsulation of what Live @ The Church is all about. These were two very different artists, and two very different genres of music on display. While both halves were very different though, they were both absolutely wonderful, and greatly enjoyed by the sizeable audience. These gigs are fast becoming the live music highlights of my year, and hopefully Live @ The Church can continue producing these fabulous evenings for the foreseeable future.
Next up are Devon based folk duo Harbottle & Jonas, along with country band Steve & Ben Somers Band on November 9th. It's sure to be another memorable evening.
Adam Jenkins words and pics
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