For the past few years the Fringe Festival has grown into a major event for Llangollen.
Acoustica has become a part of that festival, taking place on the Saturday afternoon between 1.00pm and 8.00pm.
This is a purely Acoustic event introducing new acts (to the area/event). No Amplifiers or effects pedals, nice and simple, and back to basics, with just instrument and vocal mics to reinforce the sound.
This year’s Acoustica event took place on Saturday the 16th of July at The Hand Hotel, on Bridge Street.
The event was opened by The Glaaswalkers featuring the event’s organisers, Brian Connaughton and Mike ”Squeezebox” Clark.
The Glaaswalkers describe themselves as “Three Blokes , one woman, one fiddle, one bass, a guitar, three squeezeboxes, seven gob irons, and various whistles playing mostly their own stuff A touch of folk, blues and countryish music. The other main band members being Matt Moose, and Sam Rex Edwards.
After their opening spot, Brian jumped onto the sound desk and generally made sure everyone was mic’d up correctly and Mike talked himself hoarse introducing all the afternoons’ acts whilst perfecting the art of speaking through the widest and most genuine smile you have ever seen.
Next up was Denbigh’s Penni Neal. Penni is a retired lecturer, born in Pwllheli, who developed her love of singing at an early age.
Penni is an active member of the local music scene involved with the Denbigh Folk club and more recently the Ruthin All Styles Music Club.
She sang a wide range of songs in in both Welsh and English leaning heavily on her Folk, Country and Blues roots. Her version of Highway to heaven had the room spellbound.
Next up was Chris Birchall aka The Hairy Photographer, Chris first got into music in his teens as bassist and vocalist with sixties Merseybeat band, The Executioners.
During his career as a photojournalist, Chris snapped dozens of high profile musicians, including the likes of Clapton, Blondie, The Who, The Jam, The Clash, Sting – the list goes on. And all the time hankering to get back to performing but never having the time.
Now retired he brought the songs of Bob Dylan, Willy Nelson, The Beatles, Christy Moore and Damian Rice to Llangollen, alternating between his his vintage EKO Ranger and Washburn 12 String.
Hailing from the Wirral, John Williams is a singer/songwriter with folk roots as his main genre. His set included some of his own compositions and songs by the likes of Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler.
He performed Romeo and Juliet as you’ve never heard it before, played on an eight string baritone mandolin. Being a multi instrumentalist, for this set he also used a four string tenor guitar.
Isabella Crowther was next up. An Indie/Acoustic artist with a lovely voice. Although from North Wales she is currently based in London, gigging the local music scene. Her set included songs from her debut E.P. released this summer.
In a nice touch, the organisers invited local pensioner Peter Meilleur on stage to recite a William Blake poem.
A last-minute addition to the line-up was local musician Chris Burton who gave us a taste of the songs he can be found busking on the town hall steps on the weekends, raising money for the air ambulance.
Next up was Theo Laughlin is a talented and colourful musician performing as something of a one-man band with guitar, foot drum and stomp tambourine, He sang a mixture of his own humorous and serious works with a few well known sing-alongs too!!
Listing his main musical influences as the delta blues, jug bands, country blues, Steely Dan, Ry Cooder, Clapton, and Dylan, Andy Bob Beaumont did a fine set including his song Red to Blond. before dashing off back to Bangor for another gig. Andy Bob also has a live session booked for next Monday night on Tudno FM at 10.00pm.
The headline act this year was the locally-based Alt-folk, Sunshine Pop band, Campfire Social. They took to the stage for the last hour with a highly entertaining set. Undeterred by a gremlin in the PA system, they jumped off the stage to get up close and personal for the last half of their set.
All in all it was a wonderful afternoon’s entertainment thanks mainly to the hard work of the two enthusiastic organisers Brian Connaughton and Mike Clark.
(Click the pictures to enlarge)