‘phone call this morning from a croaky and coughing Stu Hanna this morning regrettably informing us that he has picked up a virus which means he will be in no fit state to perform tonight. Apparently this is the first gig he has ever had to cancel due to his health.
All tickets for Police Dog Hogan and Case Hardin gig on 14th November have all been sold! We knew both bands are popular around Newbury but we didn’t expect to run out of tickets over 2 weeks before the gig. We will maintain a returns list so if anyone with tickets they can no longer use let us know and we will provide a refund if we have someone on the returns list. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or ‘phone 078911 76940 to get on the returns list.
The first Friday of the month and has come and gone, leaving applause and empty beer barrels behind it. Unplugged was kicked off by an introduction to Banjo, the adorable service dog. Banjo has joined the Kotz family in order to assist seven year old Estella with day to day tasks she can struggle with, due to her autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Some ACE Space attendees have donated towards the cost of Banjo, and he received a very warm welcome indeed. After thanking everyone who had contributed, Adam Kotz launched the evening with a couple of bluesy tunes on his guitar.
Two piece band Loreley quickly followed with tongue twister lyrics and fast paced banjo playing. Their EP launch party is on 12th March at 8pm, The Retreat Pub in Reading and will be well worth attending!
Splodge put in another appearance with his topical comedy songs walking, and occasionally dancing boldy over, the line of offense (our favourite lyrics came from a tune about Madonna’s Brit Slip, and went a little something like “Pedro was dressed so kinky, then I was off down the stairs like a slinky”).
A big ACE Space congratulations to James Creed for passing his driving test! James leant his deep tones to two soulful covers from Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen. He then joined friend Josh Fiddler for Josh’s second song, a funky interpretation of “Lean On Me” which both men performed with talent and infectious fun.
Many of us had been disappointed not to see Glyn’s contribution at the XMAS Bash due to his untimely throat infection. Glad to hear he was fully recovered, we were somewhat surprised to find him taking to the stage resplendent in sling and bandage bandana. Luckily, it was all part of his heartily appreciated performance of “The Bricklayer’s Song”, a hilarious song recounting a man called Murphy’s accident on a building site.
More comedy followed from Graham Coulam who had us all tittering along to witty observations about marriage, injustice and each one of Newbury’s totally unique coffee shops. Talented Tilly Minchin was up next with two of her own songs about friendship and heartache, “Are You Coming Home Tonight” was a particularly touching piece.
Something a bit different from local poet Ken Rich. His new poem “Linguist” went down well, as he considered a wealth of possible careers including “Freelance Gynaecologist”. He followed up with an ACE Space favourite, an unfavourable account of Basingstoke that earned more than a few cheers. Debbie Murphy impressed us all with her fast finger work, accompanied by her accordion and clear dedication. Stephen Baker’s bittersweet covers were the perfect thing to mellow out to as the last of the bars’ lager started to dwindle.
Newcomers SixPack (video below) were a charming twist on the traditional boys’ band. This six piece ukulele group had a feel good, unified sound that certainly benefited from the cheerful audience harmonising.
Slight technical difficulties were overcome with humour and grace by regulars Skyport, who spun out an ode to parking wardens on guitar, violin and drum. William Wallace stirred up solid support for his protest songs, especially from the younger people at the back of the audience who heralded him with cries of “Freedom!”.
Next up were Serin, Daniel, Diarmuid and Nina. Probably our most enthusiastic audience members that night, the young multi-national foursome did covers on banjo, guitar and violin – with Serin and Nina also contributing stage shaking vocals.
Edinburgh Fringe veteran Ben Champion admonished us for our abysmal clap-a-long skills and made us all think long and hard on the question “What if Johnny Cash had been born 30 years later and worked in IT?”. Then it was time for the Kotz family (minus Banjo, plus Calum) and their musical account of their 15 years by the Newbury canal. First timer Josh Smith caught our attention with his guitar and a crooning whisper, it was truly a shame he only had time for one song.
The evening was rounded off by Serin & Nina who returned to the stage after high demand. Their accapella version of HRH Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” was spellbinding, particularly for a performance devised not five minutes earlier in the ACE Space toilets.
Join us at the next Unplugged, Friday 3rd April. Performers free, everyone else £4.
Newbury Unplugged took place yesterday, as usual it was a great event with some fantastic talent. To show this event (and others) off to a wider audience we now have a YouTube channel, please subscribe through YouTube if you like live music and want to see more.
In case you missed it (in which case shame on you!!) and to christen the new channel, here is one of the acts with Adam Kotz our very own Chairman on banjo!! If you have footage from Unplugged or any other event hosted at ACE Space that you would like to appear on our channel please get in touch!!
Ace Space: Exhibition by Simon Sonsino and Yvonne Sonsino
Husband and wife Simon and Yvonne Sonsino are showing work in a joint exhibition in the bar at Ace Space, Newbury.
Simon Sonsino, who has a design background, works in calligraphy and watercolour. Taking as a theme the fragility, transient beauty and alarming decline of butterflies, three large works share a delicacy and evanescence, with watercolour eddying around, over and beneath the text. All mark-making by human hand carries connotations beyond its form, so here, text is never just text: it conveys meaning and memory, expression and emotion, movement and rhythm.
There is a varying sense of openness and freedom, as if these compositions are not quite stabilised, the areas of virgin paper as important as the painted and marked areas. This is particularly so in ‘A Memory’, where the composition feels as if it is in flux: coolly intangible forms and the movement of the watercolour give a sense of mystery. ‘Silent Pageants’, the most concentrated composition of the three, has more of a sense of closure. It combines two forms of calligraphy: the capitalised form suggests a settled, universalised meaning; the flowing, rhythmic ‘handwritten’ form a greater sense of particularity. ‘On Painted Wing’ is harsher in colour and tone, with amorphous yet more defined forms.
In ‘Time’, the text is dense and less immediately visible, the composition tighter, the palette more varied and saturated, with skeins of white drawn to the centre. In the vibrantly coloured ‘Romeo and Juliet’, the tightly organised design strongly contained within the frame suggests both passion and constraint, a metaphor for the situation of Shakespeare’s lovers.
Some works are purely calligraphic. Here the inks are used like watercolour, with the arrangement of the letters creating form, as in the eponymous ‘Cascade One’ and’ Cascade Two’ , in watery reds, blacks and greys, and the heavier colours of ‘Alphabet Burst’.
Yvonne Sonsino, a passionate gardener, shows straightforward botanical drawings in watercolour, as in ‘Lavender’ and ‘Tulipa Parrotia’, and black and white pen-and-ink drawings, whose starting point is botanical form, but with non-realistic pattern added (‘Magnolia in Paisley’ and ‘Orchids in Paisley’).
Most successful, however, are her six works in painted silk: freer compositions, sometimes inclining towards a pleasing semi-abstraction. Here colour is used both boldly and delicately, with the motif often isolated and centred, as in ‘Dahlia’, a burst of reds and golds against a black background. In ‘Datura’, the black background emboldens the motif, which has become an almost totally abstracted form with a sense of physicality. The strongly diagonal ‘Peacock Feather’, in a rich palette, is a magnified, semi-abstract composition of form and colour.
The show runs until the end of September, and can be viewed by those attending events, workshops and classes at Ace Space, or by appointment with the artists.
Arts review: Paintings by Frank Knott at Ace Space, Newbury
The bar at Ace Space is hosting a vibrant exhibition by painter Frank Knott of landscapes and townscapes, both local and European.
The painter works with simplified forms and an often saturated palette, recalling the exuberant colours and approach of the Post-Impressionists and particularly the Fauves. Thick paint, often in heightened and non-realistic colour, is applied with bold, free, confident brushstrokes, giving this show a joyous feel. Paint is often applied as an impasto, adding to the intensity of the images.
It can be difficult to appreciate the essence of the familiar – we see more clearly and imaginatively in unfamiliar or newly seen surroundings – but these works show Knott steeped in the landscape he knows well: they are deeply observed and decisively expressed.
The works vary from representation to semi-abstraction. In some of the figurative compositions, the motifs are heavily outlined in black, lending buildings both a monumentality and a simplicity of form: in ‘Portuguese Landscape’ this technique is applied on a small scale in a rural setting; in ‘Bagnoregio, Italy’, the outlined buildings and empty urban space lend the picture an enigmatic, surrealist, de Chirico quality. In the two pictures of ‘St Anthony’s Head’, with their thickly and surely applied paint, the dominant outlines almost claim more importance than the forms they delineate.
In the abstracted works, blocks and sweeps of saturated colour suggest the ever-changing typography of the landscape, its undulations and twists, its openness and hollows, and the constant mutation of light upon its surfaces and features. Here some of the simplified forms are stylistically naïve in their boldness and directness, with the smaller pictures particularly successful. ‘Sunrise’, Greenham’ is almost entirely abstracted, with the sky dominating seven-eighths of the composition above the dark earth: it has the palpable coldness of a chilly early morning.
Within his approach, colour range and technique, Knott can find both delicacy and vigour. He uses gentle hues – soft greens, blues and purples – in some landscapes, as in the peaceful ‘From Combe’, imbued with a deep sense of place, and in the light touch of ‘Beech Tree’. Stronger blues and greens are seen in ‘Road to Orvieto’. ‘Towan Beach, Cornwall’ and ‘West Woodhay’ demonstrate both compositional and colourist brio.
This very pleasing show can be seen by all those attending events, classes and workshops at Ace Space, or by appointment with the artist. It runs until the end of January.