Tim Manning aka Blind River Scare is quietly building an extremely beautiful portfolio of gigs down at the Barnabas Arts House in Newport, South Wales. He calls them Down By The River. Now on gig number 8, his Down By The River presentations continue to bring quality singer songwriters from the UK and USA to the cosy basement of Barnabas Arts House.
It's a 'bring your own drinks' (and nibbles) evening and for the price of admission, is an absolute steal to hear almost 3 hours of quality music.
Tonight, Tim welcomed Welsh Singer Songwriter Christopher Rees and Liverpool Singer Songwriter Hannah Rose Platt.
The Down By The River evenings always kick off with Tim playing a small selection of his songs. An excellent songwriter himself, Tim picks up his Gibson acoustic and launches into Pastures New.
Tim is currently putting the finishing touches to his latest album - this time on his own.
But Tim would rather give the stage time to his guests on these evenings so we are only treated to another three songs - Restless Soul, Straight & true and No Remorse, Guilt & Shame.
Here is The Straight and True from tonight's performance.
Remorse, Guilt & Shame
It was my first time to see Christopher Rees live. And I must say I was mightily impressed.
Christopher has been ploughing the musical furrow since his first trip to the USA in 1994. Now a seasoned performer of quality Americana, Country & Country/Soul he dipped into his 6 released albums and his imminent No7 album for tonight's performance.
Christopher, who also plays with a band, is solo this evening and takes to the stage armed with a gorgeous Chet Atkins Signature Gretsch Country Genleman electric guitar and launches into a spirited performance of What Walks Outside My Window? - you'll find this opening performance on the video below.
Christopher accompanies his songs tonight with engaging stories of how they came to be and the songwriters who have had an influence on his songwriting and career to date.
Christopher has spent time in Nashville both playing and writing and this can be seen in his songs tonight.
Christopher's set tonight included A Place For My Face and Dance With Desire.
Christopher also took the opportunity tonight to showcase a selection of his new songs from his as yet untitled forthcoming album including A Familiar Road and Don't Fail Me Now.
Chris also uses a Gretsch acoustic and a selection of harmonicas tonight - not forgetting his splendid banjo playing
Chris performed many excellent songs in his set tonight proving what a particularly gifted songwriter he is - and the fact that he's homegrown makes it all the more pleasing. I'd like to see him with a full band although it's always nice to see how songs are actually written using the one instrument.
It's always a good bet when a musician tells you to check out another Musician. So it was at the beginning of 2006, Fin Kenny, the drummer from the band Society and occasionally The Dreaming Spires sent me a message and stated that I just HAD to check out this female singer/songwriter he had just seen called Hannah Rose Platt. Well, the first stop was Youtube to see if anyone had uploaded any videos. I clicked on one of a few called 1954. And I was just blown away.
I immediately sent off to Hannah for her debut album Portraits. And what a beautiful thing it is. 12 Beautiful little vignettes of life and love. So it was with eager anticipation that I awaited tonight to get my first taste of Hannah live. And she was certainly worth the wait.
Her voice reminds me of the Country great Emmylou Harris in that high, clear register with a delicate vulnerability but a certain steeliness that provides the sour to the spice in her excellent songs.
Joining her tonight for a portion of her set was Multi-instrumentalist Tom Collinson, who has recently worked with The Dreaming Spires and American singer/songwriter Don Gallardo. Tom provides electric guitar, Steel guitar and keyboards to Hannah's acoustic six string.
Hannah is currently working on album number 2 which is due out later in the year and took the opportunity tonight of performing some of the new songs in the intimate atmosphere of The Barnabas.
Hannah starts her set alone by performing Dancer from her debut album - it's about one of her favourite cafes in London, where this Liverpool girl now lives. It's a lovely observational tale of the waitress.
Stripped of it's additional instrumentation from the album it still sounds passionate and dances around your ears.
Next, we have two new songs, the excellent Josephine, which it turns out is about Josephine Baker (don't be lazy - look it up) and Checkmate.
The quality of her new songs is immediately recognisable and bodes well for album number 2.
Between these songs, Hannah slips in the opening tracks from Portraits, another observational track called Little Screws.
Another new song follows - this one is called Brooklyn and has been inspired by the film of the same name released last year (I think). I really can't get over how good the new songs are. I thought Portraits was a cracking record but the new one is REALLY going to something special.
And just to put the icing on the cake, Hannah plays another two new songs straight after - Chanel & Cigarettes, which really is a peach of a song and Sculptor.
Tom then comes to the stage and the duo play another new song Audrey.
With Tom on stage, the sound is given another dimension and it's amazing how by only adding another instrument to Hannah's guitar the songs sound different yet again.
Yellow Roses from Portraits comes next then another new song Your Way before the glorious final song called 1954.
1954 is a truly special song - I won't spoil the song by explaining it to you - just watch the video below which Hannah recorded for Bob Harris and listen to the words. If you don't get it's heartbreaking message - well, you haven't got a heart.
There was always going to be an encore and tonight it came in the form of Hello Central, Give Me Heaven, a very old song brought back to life by Hannah & Tom tonight.
Hannah is a very special artist indeed. You should seek her out and catch her before she goes stellar and you won't be able to get a seat!!!!
It was a privilege to be here for another very special evening and another successful Down By The River gig. If you haven't been there, you really need to get to the next one - sometime in June I believe. You won't be disappointed. Trust me.
Chris Rees can be found via his Facebook Page