Hitting All The Right Notes: The Best Of Lancaster Music Festival

Written by Eden Jinks

Lancaster Music Festival is an annual event that takes place over 3-4 days and is held all across the city in bars, pubs and open spaces. The festival helps local acts create new a new fan base and reach out to more listeners, as well as invite much bigger acts, such as Lake Komo, to bring the best music to our part of the North-West.

Below we have some of our top picks from the festival this year.

Rory McLeod & the Familiar Strangers (Folk) in Sun Square

Originally, I had situated myself in Sun Square for Woof and Wilde’s performance, however it was their ‘warm-up’ act that stole the show on Saturday 15th October. Rory McLeod & the Familiar Strangers’ musicianship coupled with their showmanship outclassed most bands I saw throughout the day. The charisma of front man Rory who engaged with the audience making quips and telling funny stories when he introduced to the songs.

The main reason why I found the music to be so interesting was that they are not just a regular folk band with a couple of acoustic guitars, a tambourine, banjo and violin or fiddle; they introduced the beautiful saxophone too.

This extra dimension really does make what genre that can be a bit monotone at times. The songs of travel as a musician where vivid, poetic and crafted to a high strands. Rory McLeod & the Familiar Strangers embody the spirit of what the festival is all about and I have not seen a better act yet.

Leo Harris & The Bray Katz (Rockabilly) in the John O’Gaunt

A rockabilly group harping back to 1950’s America with the three men in the fitting attire and slicked back hair.

Mirrored by the instruments and musical apparatus, including a green double bass with a flame decal making it really pop, a gorgeous green Gretsch that gave out the crispest of rockabilly tones. The band certainly looked the part. You would not catch an act like these if it was not on at the festival. You hear so much music just walking around coming from all the venues some catch your ear. Since rockabilly is an unfamiliar genre it caught my attention with their time travelling music.

Doing a mix of covers for instance the classic from the Disney movie Jungle Book I Wonna Be Like You with a very, very convincing imitation of a monkey and a few originals. The John O’Gaunt was down for a bit of 1950’s America.

Lyons and La Zel (Hip Hop/Beatbox) in Sun Square

As I walked around the corner towards Sun Square (again), I heard the most odd but brilliant mix of music. I never thought of mixing the two together. Like me I am sure you may be wondering how it is done and what it sounds like?

You may think that there are two people; one beat-boxing and the other playing the flute, this is not the case the same person does both at the same time. Whilst the other member danced beside him, which was rather awkward, but I guess it was better than staying still.

Additionally they weren’t limited to the flute only, there was also a harmonica-influenced beatbox, until he stepped away from the instruments and the lady dropped a beat whilst he dropped a little freestyle.

To prove that it was a freeform rap, he took words from the audience then incorporated them into the act. It went well for the most part but the threat of going on to long and running out of steam.

Hiroshima Twinkie (Twisted Folk) at the Gold Lion

If the name alone was not enough to grab your attention then the genre must have. Curiosity took hold of me and they made the ‘must check out’ list that I drafted. Coming in just as Reaching Out to Indiana began to ring through the pub. Not so twisted I thought. Maybe the next song may lean in a darker direction?

It didn’t. Instead it was a song that professed the wonders of Lancaster City and the surrounding Morecambe Bay area named Blue Sky Morning. By the end of it, I was singing along to the chorus along with few others in the pub. It was a nice reminder of how great the city is and the accompanying geographical space. The last couple I saw where Feet Don’t Fail Me Now and the song that added the twisted part to the genre Lonesome George is Dead. The later was about the last Gallapicus Turtle a sad tale indeed. Hiroshima Twinkie may have not been as dark as expected but enjoyable and catchy nonetheless.

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