Music festivals have been a bit thin on the ground in Crouch End of late. All credit, then, to Tom Bright, a young and enthusiastic musician / producer / festival creator for bringing a diverse lineup to the north London ‘village’ for the second year running; a free weekend fundraiser for the legendary Joe Strummer Foundation, packed with up and coming musicians, providing a surfeit of amazing and surprising talent.
Bright Fest is taking place at The Harringay Arms in what was the old barrel storage room. It’s a small, narrow space but turn the lights down, get going with the music and fairylights and you have an atmospheric, cozy spot, which encourages the crowd to mingle. And it gets rammed to the rafters during the evenings.
Over two days, 24 artists each get a 20 minute slot. Some musicians are known to Tom, some have arrived courtesy of his curation skills, all providing their services to support the Joe Strummer Foundation.
With its tiny stage area, the lineup unsurprisingly features a number of solo singer-songwriters delivering stripped back sets. Although a moment of madness ensues at the entrance of Matthew One Man and Anyway Tha God, who wheeled the biggest loop suitcase through the crowd and presented a superb mash of dreamy loops with Anyway Tha God’s steady rap adding an extra dimension.
Local musician Alex RV Phillips took part, just back from China by way of Paris on a musical, and literal, journey. His performance allows his emotional vocals come to the fore. And Harry Quinn, a musician based in Norfolk, demonstrated his mesmerising, fluid guitar playing – there’s a complexity and maturity about his pop/soul compositions that was very appealing.
Will Purdue delivered a memorable set, namely for his rich, deep baritone which I could have happily spent the whole evening listening to, and his compositions too, nakedly emotional, raw – one memorable song about the death of a friend through drugs. He’s just recorded at The Church recording studios next door with the EP coming out today.
A wow moment came about as the utterly poised Natalie Lindi started her set (main photo). A warm, engaging presence and flawless vocals, soulful with an influence of Ella Fitzgerald, are the hallmarks of this recent graduate. She tells me she’s going to be playing at The Troubadour and Brixton’s Oxjam soon. Natalie steps down from the stage to rapturous applause.
Tom is a confident, engaging performer with a strong, soulful voice. He introduces a moment of levity with a cheeky song about a romance with a much older woman (a non autobiographical tale, he is at pains to tell us) but he can just as easily turn his hand to more serious and political material too.
Bright Fest was a luminous event on a rainy autumnal weekend and provided a platform for a whole collection of artists. And with the recent closure of two main Crouch End venues (Earl Haig and Hornsey Town Hall), it’s great to have The Harringay Arms providing a welcoming home to live music.