The Kevin Critchley OutfitMellowtone presents Above the Beaten Track

View Two Gallery, Mathew Street
16th-17th August 2008

Reviewed by Amanda DeAngeles

Note to musicians: Please accept my apologies if I missed your set, I had to get some fresh air, eat or sleep.


Tommy, Musica Del Alma, mixes some Gil Scott Heron 'Gotta Get Out of these Ghetto Blues' along with winning beats.

Mark Byrne opens with a reggae range, then steps way across to his comfort-and ours, of Liverpudlian lending to Appalachian rural. Mellow relaxed rhythms.

Neil Campbell gives 'Methods of Escape' an abstract whirl around the gallery. Campbell and Stuart Todd reunite for 'November Song'. 'Happy Hour at Sunrise': a rock 'n' roll beat kicks away the mellow and the room is 'Blown Away' Neil’s skill as a musician and composer has deservedly won world acclaim. Stuart Todd, another great singer-songwriter, features on their recent album collaboration: 'Campbell Todd' (available now from Zavvi).

Ragz and Malcolm Lunan (guitar accompaniment) Mama always said 'Keep your chin up'. and yet here I write, crying my eyes out. Scousewegian 'End to Ends'. This gorgeous woman, a picture in silhouette, stops the room. Ragz to riches of the heart music.

The Jeff Jepson Band plays JJ's classics plus excellent new tracks (especially 'Claudette'). This ensemble has great songs, great musicians and is full of character. For those who are used to JJ as a solo artist, seek out this band to watch them emblazon a room.

The Trestles - Alan O'Hare is forward and heading 'The Long Road North'. They play rock-acoustic with plenty of charisma. Tom Carroll and Alan O'Hare are raw and raucous sound in a 'Hard-Faced Town' of stone-sharp lyrics skimming the waves of a culture-lapped pool. Violinist: Hannah Peel adds a welcome dimension to this ever-unfolding trestle.

Lizzie Nunnery an innovative singer-songstress (and playwright) belts-out vibrato-acoustic 'Middle Name'. Lizzie is a sparkly gem in a Liverpool crown. We (my daughter and I) are huge fans of her music. Get to know her while the tickets are affordable. Don’t wait too long. Monkeys and Devils EP

The Nihilites Garth Jones and Carl Kenneally reggae as they "charm the birds out of the sky". A masterful duo of well-received vox, play lead and bass guitar.

Jez WingSunday

Jez Wing (right) exquisite pianist singer-songwriter delivers smooth flowing melodies. Jez has a soft husky tone and he is a great pianist (though he thinks he crashed it just the once). Romanticism and sensitivity resound about his 'The Magic Tree' (dedicated to a recently married couple). Snippets in the melody are reminiscent of recessional church wedding-music. Jez’s songs have similarities, perhaps in the rhythm or feel. Jez’s music has an uplifting and comforting quality.

Strawhouses, male duo playing acoustic melded into punk over metal. I first saw them do acoustic in January 08 and now I’m hooked. Rather than with their full band set-up, we are treated to quieter but not much quieter versions of 'These Are The Willing' & 'D-Day' (decision day). Plenty of extra sound devices are at guitarist’s Chris’s feet, as he demonstrates skillful 'Snowboarding' with some slide electric. The lead singer, Paul has an amazing voice and is a guitarist and a pianist (read that right!). I like the enthusiasm of Strawhouses and could imagine their drumbeats through the acoustic rhythm. EP is available on iTunes from 15th September 08. They ended their set with 'Runaway Child', “You only hear what you wanna hear…”

KAYA stylish, funky, jazzy and all heart…Kaya has a wonderful voice and she has a wonderful way with words. A Norwegian-Liverpudlian who sometimes feels like “a balloon in a cactus field" or "a glass in a parachute” she has a way of making something sad into something joyful. Go and see Kaya Metrocoustic at Metro Bar, Victoria Street in Liverpool (every Wednesday). Kaya is also a member of recently televised Sense of Sound Choir (they did very well indeed, though I dislike musical competitions). Kaya will release an album 22nd September on Ultimate Fake Records titled: 'Balloon in a Cactus Field'.

Johnny Sands looks like a beach-bronzed surfer, but if you close your eyes, you hear a vocal heavily influenced by black roots (Sometimes this world-city dishes up wonderful surprises). Johnny is a great singer. I hope to hear him again soon.

Cup of Tea was waiting for me upon my return from dinner. By now, the gallery was looking like a mass-populated squat. Two young men were playing techno mixes through their Apple Mac laptops and all was terrifically upbeat. This was a great sway sideward from the acoustic played so far and followed by…

CANT MIX WON’T MIX SHONT MIX DON’T MIX played mostly eighties popular hits (INXS, Eurythmics and Michael Jackson featured). They were completely serious about the “not mixing” thing they have going on – it was just a great selection of tunes played, and sung along to by the rest of the room as the non-mixing DJs danced! You go guys!

Nila Music & Sketchy Beast – this is a gift and a nightmare to describe - a gift because it was an unusual delight, a nightmare because there is so much to say: Hannah Peel, (also violinist for The Trestles) took to the stage with NILA MUSIC, a major highlight of the weekend. Music met conceptual art: Nila Music’s interesting performance included visual art from Sketchy Beast. Imagine Hannah’s pretty voice and a melody built with layers of loop-recorded snippets (added in front of your eyes and ears as part of the performance). Hannah also added short riffs of keyboard, violin, mouth organ, an old typewriter (huh!), others provided bass guitar, cello, and there may have been more instruments I missed! So much audio equipment utilized and, in addition, Sketchy Beast sketched during their performance - filmed so you could see his work projected on to the back wall.

Jack Roberts is a little bit more than mature with the mind of a sneaky kid. He’s from Little Sutton, Wirral-side (accompanied by the fabulous Mr. Edwards on piano) Jack can KNOCK OUT a song! He is a brilliant singer and a theatrical comic-genius. His song lyrics are masterful and he was a treat better than any dessert, potion or “ointment” as the penultimate act of the night.

Kevin Critchley Outfit (first photo) Two thirds of the Kevin Critchley outfit with himself and cellist/pianist, Luke, gave an exhilarating final performance of the ABOVE THE BEATEN TRACK event. This pair provided great musicianship, loud vocals, great songs and plenty of foot stamping. I believe the gallery curators had to straighten up their pictures the next day!

Please keep your eyes and ears open for all artists featured and support what they are doing right now for your musical entertainment. Go to gigs and buy CD’s!

Following noise (for Dave McTague of Mellowtone)

Wandering here and there
Up many stairs and down
Now and then, for two days and nights
Of non-stop live music & visual art
A creative realm of acoustic original
Cements concrete singers and players
Layering a foundation of sound
Giggers dubbed this one:
“The Mathew St Festival before the Mathew St Festival”
Minus any mention of a beetle
Luli Barzman’s fruity nudity framed the main space
Melons, breasts, cabbages, and kids
Watched a warm gallery with a grand piano
Chairs and tables, cables and fables
Folklore of the future in the making
Acoustic accents plus fragments of bands
Brought light and life to a not-so-secret party
Art aside to mellow and blend vibrant tones
Up under the roof with nowhere to sit
Monkey, soundly engineering,
Barely broke for a break from swinging to & fro’
Save for rhythms of Musica Del Alma and amigos
Lively, listening, lookin’ and lovin’
Photographers constantly posed to snap
As we listened and watched and cared
We were there

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Comment left by Amanda DeAngeles on 28th August, 2008 at 10:22
Luli Barzman - 'Fruitopia' NOW SHOWING at VIEW TWO GALLERY Mathew Street "Following studies in film, photography and art history at UCLA, Luli Barzman has produced films, events and photographic series that address issues relating to women’s bodies, with a particular emphasis on surrealism and contemporary dance, alongside formal research on colour. Luli lives and works in Paris." Comment: Exhibition at View Two Gallery until 13th September. A daring, yet proper look at still-life covering human form in many forms - subjects are clothed and unclothed in uniforms of vegetables and fruits. Earthy, basic, vibrant and voluptuous. Luli Barzman makes nudity less seedy. Amanda DeAngeles

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