Time Out continued their Rising Stars series with a bumper Xmas special ‘Best of Rising Stars’ – six acts with a foothold in the music industry who are being rewarded by seeing their talent and persistence start to pay off. Holding the Rising Stars series is a good move for The Jazz Cafe too, as it helps spread the word about the intimate Camden venue among a younger audience.
As Time Out says, the Rising Stars nights “Feature the freshest faces in blues, rock, country and folk, this is the place to find your new favourite artist”.
I had the opportunity to talk to a few of the acts and it was abundantly clear that although some are in the early stages of their careers, all seem pretty savvy about the potential pitfalls of the music industry, and are careful to surround themselves with a supportive network.
Performing a handful of her compositions, Carrie Haber on vocals and piano opened the evening. Her band included a cellist and two backing singers, adding depth and atmospheric qualities. Her voice is something of a chameleon: depending on the song she can shift from gritty and forceful, to a lighter tone for the pop numbers.
Just over from Nashville, Sonia Leigh (photo, above) and her band, have appeared at Rising Stars before. She may be relatively new to the UK, but she and her band have performed in the States for decades. Sonia delivered a set of bluesy country Americana with a rock vibe, her vocals a warm, husky drawl. On stage, Sonia has an cool southern rock-chick attitude, and there’s a delightful connection between the band members which made her set a pleasure to watch.
The Broken Witt Rebels have been on my radar since their first tweet arrived – a link to the instantly addictive Break Me Down. The Brummie band have been together since school, and the closeness has paid off. It’s no wonder the band have already amassed a faithful and strong fanbase. Baby-faced front man Danny Core has an utterly captivating soul-infused voice, distinctive, heartbreaking, loaded with emotion. And I should mention his charm – he has the audience under his spell. Lead guitarist James Tranter adds some powerful riffs, although turning your attention to anyone other than Danny isn’t easy. I particularly liked new song Getaway Man.
A solo performer attracting a lot of attention – in a good way – is blues singer-songwriter Dan Owen. For one so young, his voice – a deep tremulous rasp with shades of Joe Cocker, comes as quite a shock. There’s an intensity to his performance as he hunches over his guitar, and the tension keeps the audience under his spell. Dan has just been signed, and has a tour coming up in April. I can envisage him doing the festival circuit next summer.
* * Addition… sorry I didn’t review Emily Lee and The Carnabys, and I hope to catch both these acts again, hopefully at another Rising Stars night. Here’s a mean and moody shot I managed to get of Jack Mercer of The Carnabys.
WHO: Time Out Best of Rising Stars
Carrie Haber, Emily Lee, Sonia Leigh, Broken Witt Rebels, Dan Owen, The Carnabys.. I’ll have to see them properly next time. WHEN: December 15th 2015
WHERE: The Jazz Cafe Camden
Rising Stars nights return to The Jazz Cafe in January.
The line up: Mollie Marriott (daughter of Steve Marriott), Alex Bay, Brother & Bones, Of Moths and Stars