Off The Cuff Bar, Herne Hill, London "5th Singer/Songwriter Night"
Pebbles on the Port, Shoreham, supporting Dick Valentine from Electric Six at his warm-up gig, prior to his band's gig at Brighton Concorde!
Lewes Depot, 'Sunday Brunch' and sonnets, a perfect mix, ending on a high with sonnet 98 - spring brought to the winter chilliness of a December lunchtime.
A freezing night brought a small but perfectly formed audience to the CON CLUB in Lewes for one of our Rock Club gigs. Black stage, bright lights. Fantastic! Aaron was on top form with his one-of-a-kind handmade cajon and mini-bongos. Karl Xavier Bashford opened the evening with a heart-warming set which finished with a great rendition of Starman by Mr Bowie. We stormed through our set, enjoying the electric guitar numbers that can only be done with Mr Power present...he sings them! Chilly outside but toasty inside with great music and a great crowd. Hope to go back soon.
A pub on a hill deep in the East Sussex countryside, straw bales, sunshine – and music! We loved playing Sussex Oxfest – at the Sussex Ox pub near Alfriston. A great organiser, Jonny, a great sound engineer (Aaron’s percussion sounded better than ever, let’s buy some of those VERY expensive mics!), a great laid-back crowd – and Shakespeare’s sonnets. We played two long sets – 12 sonnets per half – storming through our repertoire to everyone’s satisfaction. Jonny supplied us with some very tasty mojitos during the break which served to increase our enthusiasm for the second half. Highlights of the set: 65, a new sonnet about time and love (aren’t they all?), 140 – back with a vengeance after having sat quietly in the sonnet cupboard for a while. And who couldn’t love 29, 39, and 31, even though 31 was accompanied by a selection of large dogs chasing each other crazily around the pub garden in the late afternoon sunshine. A success on all fronts, thanks again Jonny!
We played three shows in the Fringe. The first two were intimate affairs and the final Saturday gig was rammed to the rafters (well, the section where we were playing!) The bar did a roaring trade before, during the interval, and after the show. We got plenty of good-humoured heckles and various conversations between band and audience developed, which is how we like it! Nevertheless, the mighty St Mary's sound soared above the enthusiastic crowd and the wonder and majesty of the sonnets was revealed once again. What with the words projected behind us on a wall this time, the overall effect was magical. We got a 99.9% standing ovation at the end (for complicated reasons involving greeks and the dutch!), everyone stayed for drinks after, plenty of people wrote great comments in our Book of Comments (check them out on our facebook page), and we sold some CDs. A great festival for TSH!
Leading up to the Brighton Fringe Festival, Jeff Thomson and Allison Fern from BBC Radio Sussex interviewed us about our show, 'From Muses to Music'. We also played sonnet 54 live on the programme. You can listen to the full interview HERE
A seventy-strong crowd of all ages came to the Music Conservatoire of Kavala in Northern Greece, on Sunday 26th Feb, to be entertained by the Greek section of the Shakespeare Heptet. Along with Richard (6 string, 12 string, and vocals) were Eleni Galanopoulou, vocals; Glen Capra, piano; and Kostas Katianis, classical guitar. Playing a mixed set from the first two CDs, plus some other yet-to-be released material (new and old), the group entertained the crowd and brought Shakespeare to Greece once again. Eleni provided an excellent translation service for Richard’s comments on the various sonnets, involving the crowd to the point where a discussion (in English!) broke out regarding the correct Greek translation of a certain word of turn of phrase. After the gig, the positive comments came in thick and fast. "Absolutely brilliant, an amazing marriage of poetry & music", said Warren Dewsbury, an English teacher who came along to see what we were up to and enjoyed what he discovered.) With everyone asking when the next show would be, a return to Kavala is guaranteed!
We played at the beautiful St Mary's Church in Kemptown - Shakespeare's Sonnets reimagined in a stunning setting, with a three-second reverb and brand new additions to our repertoire, such as Sonnet no. 8 and old favourites, like Sonnet no. 20! The set was carefully selected to suit the church's impressive acoustics. We projected images and the words onto the brick wall behind the baptistery, bringing the Sonnets to life. As Richard told our lovely audience, "we provide the soundtrack to the Sonnets"!
We played at Worthing Library’s lecture theatre on Thursday 29th Sept. Taking advantage of the library’s overhead projection facilities, we built a visual show to compliment the music on offer. Having the words visible while the sonnets were being sung was a revelation! Like adding subtitles to a foreign film, the audience – for the first time – could follow along and make sense of what was being sung rather than only appreciating the beautiful sounds. This is definitely something The Heptet plan to introduce into their future gigs. And finally. . . “I’m 79,” said a lovely lady who came up to Richard at the end of the gig, “and I’ve always loved Shakespeare, but I’ve always struggled with his sonnets. Tonight, it was all made so clear, I understood every word, and I’ll leave here invigorated to read them again!”. Those are the kind of compliments we like.
MADHURST FESTIVAL - We had a sell-out performance at MADHurst - Music, Arts and Drama Festival, playing in All Hallows Church in Woolbeding. The church has a fabulous acoustic - and no electricity! The venue was lit by candles in candelabras, creating an intimate feel. We managed to get 75 people (a full house!) to sing along with sonnet 106; Dipak's guitar sounded sweet through a battery powered amp; Richard, Silvana and Rebecca sang beautifully, accompanied by Richard's 12-string guitar magic; Adrian (the church warden) played wild improvised jazz at the end of the gig on the 400 year old bell (cast in 1616 - talk about coincidences!) while the crowd sang along to the climax of sonnet 29 (our usual finale sonnet). The night was warm, the audience were enthralled. . . A great gig!
SHOREHAM WORDFEST saw the Band play at the very funky Shoreham West Street Loft on 22nd April which was of course the eve of the 400th anniversary of our beloved Bard's departure from this mortal coil (also his birth date, and St. George's Day!). We decided to mark the occasion by launching our second album. The sold out performance went swimmingly: after an interesting introduction to the Sonnets, the band delved into our classic catalogue for our first set - a mixture of first album favourites and some newer arrangements. To honour Shakespeare's mortal anniversary we wore black for this section, but later returned to the stage for our second set wearing a palette of reds and florals to celebrate the album release, and performed the tracks in order. The band was there in it's fullest form, with Richard on twelve string guitar and vocals, Dipak on six string electric guitar, Nick on bass, Aaron on percussion and vocals, Silvana and Rebecca on vocals and a guest appearance from Evie, who performs sonnet 81 on the recording. It was a beautiful and genuinely moving experience, and the venue felt very intimate despite being ram packed. This was the first time we've had to sign autographs after the show!
LIVE AT THE TOWER 2016 - We had a very special Valentine's weekend this year as we played at the Tower of London for two nights sharing the bill with stars of the West End. The event was organised by the Yeoman Warders to raise funds for the restoration of the historic Chapel. The atmospheric old armouries building provided a fantastic setting with a wonderful view of the White Tower. We performed during the cocktail hour as the audience mingled in the historic chamber; playing from a leafy bower created for the band by the Historic Royal Palace's Tower gardener. We chose a range of sonnets suitable for a Valentine's event and the audience members were encouraged to pick one they liked from our selection and we would then dedicate that sonnet to them.