The now annual tradition of The Larmer Tree breakthrough awards has a habit of unearthing hidden gems and this year’s edition was no different.
The Breakthrough award is a method of finding the best of local talent and giving it a prime spot at the Waitrose of festivals - The Larmer Tree.
Based a mere few miles from the hotbed of live music, Bournemouth, the Dorset based festy is a long lived and very well mannered affair.
It's not a huge event but they do put on an absolute shed load of bands and so the need for new talent is insatiable and 60 Million Postcards is the ideal venue being as it is one of the areas better live music venues.
First off a confession. Due entirely to a malfunctioning vehicle I ended up getting a beasting from being late from the lovely ladies of Flint PR and Abby from the Larmer Tree. Deservedly so as I missed the first band up, The Neighbourhood Strange. This was annoying because I wanted to see them and I'm told they were good. Grr.
First act for me of the night was the lovely Jazz Morley.
I pinged off a few shots and then watched as she enthralled a noisy crowd into silence with a wonderful synth/accoustic set that showed off her beautiful voice to perfection.I loved her song 'Set her free' and judging by the reception she got from the punter so did they.
On the subject of punters, the place was full from the off which is great to see. It might have been National Record day but live music is the bedrock of the industry and successful nights like these are badly needed.
Next up Bare Jams, a band so mixed up about it's origins that I proffered the idea that maybe they should attend rehersals using personal jetpacks.
Reminding of festival luminaries such as Will and the People, Bare Jams tread the line between ska and reggae with aplomb. Did they look like they were enjoying themselves? I think so. A proper vibe was going on with the crowd dancing and the band well into it.
I personally loved their stuff and they have a new fan. By this point I thought I'd seen the two winners!
One of the great things about the Breakthrough Awards night is that you get to see loads of friends from all over the place and the time between acts was spend catching up and sharing gossip about the industry and the festival scene specifically.
Elixir were probably going to struggle thought I having heard a grand total of 1 of their songs! Wrong.
The Southampton lads grabbed hold of the stage and gave us a incredibly energetic rock filled performance that not only proved me incorrect but got a great reception from the crowd. Inspired by Zeppelin and Hendrix they not only treated us to an amazing live performance of their original stuff but also a superb rendition of Foxy lady. It was such a good performance I figured they could well win it.
"I get snappy when I'm nervous", announced penultimate act Bella Fitzella before going on.
If there were any nerves then they certainly weren't in evidence as lead singer Rachel produced a super performance. Despite missing a horn section the songs that conjure up the whole Andrews sisters/boogie woogie/Caro Emerald thang were really good and perfect fare for a Sunday afternoon sitting on the main lawn and sipping a cheeky beer. I reckoned she was well and truly in with a chance of winning it.
My Bournemouth based reader will probably have heard of local lads Coosbay, one of the brighter originals bands in the area. Immensely likeable and talented the guys would have to go some to top the array of talent that had been on show.
A strange phenomenon then ensued. Whereas before it was easy shooting the show and I could move around the stage with no issues, the crown now gathered in and the place, which was already full became fuller.
Probably the only proper 'indie' band of the night they raised both the bar and the roof, showing that live original music is alive and well in Bournemouth. The crowd became the fourth member of the band and cheered, sang and danced all through the set. They've definitely won it, thought I.
So to the judging. By all accounts a difficult process and, fortified by some of the food from 60s (which I can say is very good stuff) they proceeded to argue it out and at one point even went outside. I thought it was going to end in a fistfight but as it turns out they were only wanting a bit of fresh air.
6 very good acts and only two spots on the bill at Larmer Tree. A difficult circle to square.
The choice of Coosbay and Bare Jams was a good one, but the truth is that once again any of the bands would have made a good addition to the bill.
If you're at a loose end during 13th -17th July then you could do worse than spend it in a nice bit of Dorset enjoying the sun, music, comedy, beer and jolly nice food.
check it http://larmertreefestival.co.uk/
Linky linky linky link link
The Neighbourhood Strange - https://www.facebook.com/The-Neighbourhood-Strange-1507317059515685/
Jazz Morley - http://jazzmorley.com/
Bare Jams - http://www.barejams.com/
Elixir - https://www.facebook.com/Elixirsouth
Bella Fitzella - https://bella-fitzella.squarespace.com/
Coosbay - https://www.facebook.com/werecoosbay
So here are the images from the night.
Click on any of the photos to get a bigger version.