For the first time ever, the (broadly) acoustic sessions on a Thursday night at Pontypool’s Unicorn pub, by way of festive celebration, run to two consecutive events during December.
First up, on December 8th, the sessions welcome the passionately sublime, personable, downright funny singer/guitarist, Huw Chidgey. Huw has toured Europe with the band, Hanky Panky, played with flautist extraordinaire, Catherine Handley, and also finds time to inspire others in his role as a guitar teacher in mid Wales. Huw is a particularly fine creator and interpreter of songs and an effortless generator of musical intimacy.
Then, on December 15th, the sessions present a hugely varied and lively ‘Christmas Special’, featuring new Welsh bluegrass band, Dark Valley Revival – an exciting six-piece arising from the now defunct Gwair and also including a couple of musicians from psych-folk band, Soft Hearted Scientists. Also on the bill is the elusive folk-prog-rock band, Dennis Remme, and at least one other very special guest who, at least presently, will remain anonymous.
Both nights begin with an open mic session at around 7.30pm. There is a suggested donation entry of £3.
Upstairs at The Unicorn: the ubiquitous Mr. Rob Lear
The newly established monthly music session – christened ‘Upstairs at the Unicorn’ – continues, in its Pontypool home, with a December 10th appearance by much vaunted singer-songwriter Rob Lear.
Rob’s new album, titled Motorcycle Heart, has been released very recently, on which he teamed up with Richard Thomson’s Grammy nominated producer, Simon Tassano, as co-producer together with with Ty-Drwg’s Frank Naughton. The album blends all the skills and influences of Rob’s stela band: twelve track, each taking their inspiration from Rob’s experience growing up in a home dominated by motorcycles and motorcyclists, with the unique characters (man and machine) and the stories that flowed from them. In terms of style, the record – and Rob’s performance in general – bridges Americana, folk, country and ‘even good old pop’.
Rob’s musical career to date has seen him tour across the UK and mainland Europe, including a residency at Liverpool’s Cavern Club, performances at Wembley Arena and support slots with Amy Wadge, Henry Priestman, Bernard Butler and Ian McCulloch. His stylistic adaptability is evident in the breadth of genres he has written for. Filmic work can now also be included on his CV with Rob’s musical contribution to a new motion picture musical – Rain – released by Tornado Films.
Upstairs at The Unicorn begin at around 7.30pm with an open mic. Rob will take the stage shortly after 9pm. A donation of £3 is requested from all attending.
After a tremendous start at the new venue in September, the club returns with an open mic session on the evening of Thursday, October 13th. Things will kick off in the Upper Room at the esteemed Pont-y-pool location at around 7.30pm.
The open mic sessions have included both renowned musicians (many of whom have had their tunes or their instrumental veracity exposed on radio/tv/international media) and those just starting out, voicing their thoughts or exploring an avenue.
Come along and do your thing! It’s not just music – we welcome the spoken voice – and it’s not just acoustic – none of us belong to the folk police. We sort of prefer self-penned stuff but wicked, idiosyncratic interpretations of anything ancient or modern will be appreciated equally.
The Unicorn is a fine venue: good atmosphere, acoustics and the provision of a class PA under the guardianship of Mike and John and their attuned ears.
We ask for a £3 donation from all just to keep the club afloat in terms of booking guest performers.
Acoustic session moves to new venue
The Open Hearth Acoustic session – the monthly extravaganza of acoustic-based music (very much ‘based’: the club is certainly not disinclined towards amplification), the spoken word and comedy moves, to The Unicorn in Pontypool, and the pub’s large upstairs room, for the visit of Shootin’ the Crow on Thursday, September 9th.
Shootin’ the Crow present a wide repertoire of toe tapping material, much of it their own, conveyed with an easy, infectious manner. The band’s self-description sums it all up very well: ‘Think Hillbilly meets Country Rock meets Rock n Roll meets Folk .…if we can get away with it we do it….don’t get hung up on genre’s ..pinning a label could kinda hurt ya head’. Skilful musicianship from three guys who draw audiences in to the camaraderie of a band that clearly enjoys what it’s doing.
Despite the venue change, the basics of the session will be maintained: an open mic starting at around 7.30pm with the band on stage at around 9pm; the suggested donation of at least £3; the raffle; etc.
The next OH Acoustic session, on Thursday 8th September, featuring the exciting music and not inconsiderable skills of Shootin’ the Crow will NOT be at the Open Hearth but at the Unicorn, just a mile or so down the road on the outskirts of Pont-y-pool. The Unicorn will become the new home of the the sessions.
A fuller story about this change – and a preview of the September session – to follow, but just to say that the change was brought about due to events beyond our control or the control of the Open Hearth staff, who have given us great support throughout the time we have enjoyed their hospitality.
It’s with regret that we have to announce that the planned appearance of Leif on July 21st will not now take place. The band have given their regretful apologies also – which we appreciate.
Instead, we will move to our usual second Thursday in the month date – so Thursday 14th July – when we will host one of the very popular open mic sessions.
As usual, a kick-off as near to 7.30pm as we can is anticipated.
Our apologies, again, for this change.
Due to the Folk on the Lawn festival links, we are honoured to host the extremely talented Irish band, Leif, on July 21st. The musical tradition from across the water is a long one and seems to produce, time after time, artists with creative sensitivity and musical knowhow.
Leif hail from the southwest of Ireland. As a pairing, Leif is a new project, although individually the band’s two funders – Eoin O’Brien and Conor O’ Sullivan – have performed and recorded with some of the country’s most high profile musicians.
They come to Gwent soon after recording a new album (to be found on iTunes), which was followed by a brief but intensive tour of Russia, playing eight concerts in seven days!
In Eoin’s voice, you will hear sincerity – a total immersion in each song, each phrase. Conor’s dexterity allows accompaniment ranging from the beautifully sparse to the wildly intricate. Blending traditional, contemporary and brand new folk music, Leif really will, as the plaudits claim, ‘leave you captivated by the storied music of songs old and new.’ Samples of their sound can be found at www.eoinandconor.com
Leif will take the stage at around 9.30pm following the open mic beginning soon after 7.30pm. The usual donation of £3 is requested.