Jumpin’ Hot Club
Country Cantina 2021
Friday 23rd July 2021
I’ve been a huge supporter and a small cog in the Jumpin’ Hot Club team for decades; yet this was the first of their 6 (or is it 7?) previous Country Cantina Mini-Festivals for work/holiday reasons I’ve managed to attend; and even then I missed the headline act!
At the other end of the afternoon I set off in plenty of time to make the 25 minute journey; yet because of punching the wrong Sat-Nav coordinates into the car and then trying to follow a hand drawn map around the maze that is Easington Colliery (home of Billy Elliott) I actually took 87 minutes to find the site; a derelict farmhouse and barns that have been converted into an outdoors Community Centre; which is actually the perfect setting for a small Country Music Festival.
So; instead of arriving nicely relaxed, I turned up desperate for the toilet near the end of opening act, Shipcote & Friends’ set.
Hey ho – I did get to sit in the glorious sunshine to see and hear the trio perform a beautiful version of one of my favourite of their songs; Lucky Fell then after some debate and audience riposte; a stunning encore song; Amy about; and dedicated to Amy Winehouse who died ten years ago to the day.
The 15 minute break meant I got to say ‘hello’ to a few friends in the audience and also Gem Andrews who was going to be part of the Songwriters’ Circle which was imminent; and the reason I took a day off work.
It soon appeared that there was a delay and it was because Lady Nade, who was making her way to the NE from Bristol 300 miles or more away was delayed; but nearly there.
So it was determined that Gem and another RMHQ Favourite Ver Van Heeringen would start without her.
A slightly nervous Gem introduced herself then opened the first of her first three songs with Letter; a rather beautiful love song; and a lot more Country, courtesy of Gem’s rich voice and new-found ‘Twang’ in it.
With that out of the way she visibly relaxed and followed it with a staple of her concerts pre-2018 pregnancy; Two Lighthouses, Gem’s adaptation of Julia Darlings’ poem ….. and when played in the right key (not the last time today!) was absolutely delightful.
Then; baring in mind where we were, Gem thought it appropriate; and she was correct ….. to include her ode to coal miners; Lungs, which in the shadows of a village that saw some of the most violent clashes in the Miners Strike was listened to in awe and received a noisy round of applause at the end.
Word went around that Lady Nade had arrived; but as she sorted herself out JHC regular, Vera Van Heeringen carried on regardless; starting with telling us the background to Gods; from her latest album which I loved and held the 50 strong crowd in awe.
She followed this with Enough Time; then throwing caution to the wind performed a brand new song; either called Nora Lee or Let The Tears Come Raining Down; which was the heartbreaking chorus; and as uptempo as Vera ever gets.
It was finally time for Lady Nade to make her appearance; and while not quite the London Palladium; she made quite the entrance huge ….. and I mean HUGE beaming smile, short floaty dress and magnificent silver boots. After a short apology she launched into her set with her ‘radio hit’ Willing, which left the majority of the audience open mouthed.
Nade then explained how she got ‘into songwriting’ via writing poems after a close family member died, which evolved into songs and introduced her to Folk Clubs ….. and the song Complicated came from that period.
As I sat on the grassy knoll near the stage I was amazed at how clear and soulful her voice was/is live; and possibly aided by the oddly wonderful acoustics from the outdoor barn setting.
One of the joys of gigs for me is hearing the stories behind songs; and while it was no real surprise, but we all chuckled when Nade explained Call Yourself a Friend was about her ‘best friend’ going out with her ex-boyfriend …….. “never upset a songwriter!”
I know and already love the song; but watching the faces of people hearing it for the first time made my torrid journey well worth while.
It was now back to Gem; who regaled us with Carol; about a friend who got cancer in her 70’s and decided to go out with a bang …… trying all of the Class A drugs she could get her hands on! (Who knew you could see flavours of muffins????)
This was followed by a new and unfinished song Gem had alluded to earlier in the day; her Covid Pop Song (Back To Colour); written in the wake of her Grandfather’s demise from this horrible virus; and made all the more raw and cathartic when we found out one of her uncles died of it the previous Wednesday.
Gem’s finale was another favourite of ours; and several other friends in the very appreciative audience.
I know it doesn’t mean much; but I was just as impressed with Vera’s Adidas SK8 shoes as I was with her songs; and I lover her songs.
Her three in this set were as cool as they were fascinating; none more so than Man With a Gun; which featured some really impressive guitar work to accompany her songs and the darkly passionate You Won’t Be Broken.
For a variety of reasons there hadn’t been much interaction between the three singers; but this changed during Pass the Whiskey; which would normally feature band members doing solos; but today we had Lady Nade adding a scat-trumpet in the middle.
Quite the raconteur Lady Nade really did have the crowd in the palm of her hand during her intro to Last Dance; which she wrote while preparing for her wedding; even though she hasn’t even got a boyfriend!
While most people hadn’t heard her first two albums; she still got a cheer when she introduced the as yet unrecorded One Sided from the proposed third album.
For a finale Lady Nade asked for requests; notably picking on me …… and my mind went totally blank!
Thankfully she decided on the introspective Ain’t One Thing; about being ‘body positive’; which if I hadn’t been so ‘shy’ would have been my choice … honest.
While obviously not Glastonbury; it was cool to see both Lady Nade and Vera (who also had her own brand hot sauce with her) selling a few CD’s and tote bags.
Now running slightly behind schedule; Goat Roper Rodeo Band decided to forgo a proper soundcheck and more or less ‘went for it’!
That ‘Rocking and Rolling’ attitude; really won the crowd over and right from the get go the Welsh acoustic trio ‘went for it.’
I’m not really sure where to fit them in; as opening song Space Cowboy (NO! Not that one) was very Flying Burritos in the way they harmonised and used a bouncy melody to get at least two women dancing.
Next up was a smartly constructed Since You Been gone and with barely time to draw breath as they changed lead vocalists for the third time; Honey Bee was what I can only describe as Welsh Grass; and mighty impressive it was too.
Annoyingly I was ‘on the clock’ and nervously checking my watch by the sharp as a tack Latino Ballerino; and grumpily had to leave the Festival at the end of the magnificent slice of Country Rock that was Key Lime Pie!
I genuinely wish I could read maps; then I would have seen all of Shipcote’s session; and despaired at missing the last two acts; but what I did see reignited my love of Live Music after the last two years ……. it’s only Folk and Rock and Roll; but I love it.