A Little Gem

The Apex and Colchester Arts Centre haven’t got much in common in the looks department but they do share a vision to serve up an eclectic mix of music. The former has made Bury St Edmunds a destination for concert goers while the latter has become something of a blueprint for breathing new life into church.

I’d advise looking very carefully at the latest Apex brochure to ensure you don’t miss out on a show that you might not spot at first glance. This month, for example, you can wallow in 70’s nostalgia with 10cc, Slade and Mud II, re-live the 80’s courtesy of Midge Ure and Heaven 17 with the British Electric Foundation or go back to the Ally McBeal years with Vonda Shepard. There’s also the wonderful world music of Christian’s Garrick’s Budapest Café Orchestra and Afro Celt Sound System.

November sees a return by blues-rock star Joanne Shaw Taylor with special guest Aron Keylock, an unplugged trio show by Suffolk-based Steve Harley and double delight for folk fans – Eliza Carthy and the Wayward Band followed by Billy Bragg and Joe Henry and then Jon Boden.

Billy Bragg and Joe Henry guested on my radio show recently to talk about their field recordings made during a four day train journey from Chicago to Los Angeles. I dare say their visit to Bury on Tuesday, November 15 will include all the songs on the resulting album Shine A Light plus a selection of Bragg favourites.

There’s no doubt The Apex has benefitted greatly from its link up with the Milkmaid Folk Club. The same can also be said for the Colchester Arts Centre and the town’s folk club who have been working as one for longer than I can remember.

My first visits to the Church Street venue were to see blues greats like Jimmy Witherspoon, Carey Bell and Lowell Fulson as well as Colchester’s very own Howlin’ Wilf (now James Hunter). I then discovered the delights of the folk club when Clive Gregson and Christine Collister were on the circuit.

This month’s folk attractions include the delightful duo from Huddersfield – O’Hooley and Tidow – who graced the main stage at the recent FolkEast festival near Woodbridge. Belinda and Heidi have just issued an outstanding album entitled Shadows which I’m sure will be picking up gongs when the awards season returns next Spring.

A few days after their appearance another Heidi – Talbot – has a Saturday night gig followed later in the month by the highly-rated indie-folk experience that is Keston Cobblers Club. On my birthday, October 31st in case you’re interested, the trio Faustus will be in town as part of a tour to promote their new album Death And Other Animals.

Away from the folk scene, the Colchester Arts Centre will be hosting a solo gig of Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze and a rare performance in our next of the woods by Pete Wylie and The Mighty Wah!

I haven’t got the space to go into greater detail of both venues’ autumn and winter programmes so I’d urge you strongly to check out the websites, ensuring you give them both a thorough look. I wouldn’t want you to kick yourself having discovered a little gem too late in the day to buy a ticket.