Saturday, November 24, 2018

Sarah Vista at Aces and Eights in Tufnell Park

The Aces and Eights, a pub opposite Tufnell Park tube station, has a bijou basement where Sarah Vista and her band host a monthly night with an DJ and invited artists. We first met at Drew Morrison's Country Soul Sessions where we were playing support to his band, Drew Morrison and the Darkwood, at their album launch. I loved Sarah's music that night and luckily it was mutual: they invited me down last night to play a set and it was an irresistible invitation.
The sound guy at the venue is proper- he asked us all to be quiet while he sound-checked everyone and that was pretty impressive. Having witnessed a sound engineer at a major London venue spend the entire gig on Facebook, such care and attention deserves a medal.
Sarah's audience is amazing- very male on this particular night but not always, stylishly dressed and very vocal, and also very sweet. They absolutely adore the band, and roar with approval at the end of every song, with lots of bantz between them and Sarah in between.
In fact, the posse in general is really lovely and genuine. Me and the girl crew who came along had some great craic with the tall cowboy Michael from Whitley Bay who sells the merchandise. He is really good fun and so is his husband Peter.
Sarah's music is well-arranged, tightly played and really shows off her songwriting, which is playfully dark and features coffins, poisonings and shootings, all delivered with spiky charm in a lovely clear voice with a husky tone and a hint of a yodel from time to time. I was intrigued by some of the chord changes, which had a definite Tex-Mex flavour that distinctly veered the songs away from straight country or Americana into a territory of tumbleweed and dustbowls, via the Holloway Road.
Jeff Meads on guitar, banjo and mandolin adds haunting atmospheres and textures to the mix, and Emma Goss on double bass carries the rhythm with excellent tempo, with just the right number of skips to show just what a subtle and confident musician she is.
This was perfect music for a dreich north London Friday. Take a look and listen here:
It was very hard to follow such a vibrant performance but the audience were really up for whoever Sarah presented (thank you for such a positive introduction) and seemed to really enjoy my songs, even laughing at the little hidden jokes that people don't always latch on to. Those little snorts of laughter were much appreciated! And at the end, they made a collective vocal horn section and sang the trumpet parts of Freight Train at the tops of their voices (had they been practicing at the football yesterday afternoon?), which I swear you could have heard at the top of Hampstead Heath. They were brilliant; thank you for listening so closely and thank you for singing so magnificently, loud chaps; and thank you also loud women, and to my girl pals who sat at the back and sent good vibes all the way to the stage. I hope the couple from Whitley Bay who came along after seeing the gig at the Surf Cafe in Tynemouth last year, have a fantastic weekend of London partying too.
It was just a great, warm-hearted Friday night and I do so encourage you to go to see Sarah and her crew: you will love them. Live music RULES, believe me!

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