Saturday 15 February // LAMP // Leamington
It’s been a while since such a buzz has been created about a local artist putting out an album – particularly one that hasn’t even been fully recorded yet.
But that’s just what Wes Finch has managed to achieve, as he uses the Kickstarter crowd-funding website to raise the money to complete an album he has been recording with multi-award winning producer Gerry Diver since last year.
Following closely on the heels of press and media coverage about his campaign, there is a genuine sense of interest and excitement as Wes steps onto the stage at LAMP, particularly as, on this night, he will not be performing alone but with his band, The Dirty Band – an ever-changing group of talented musician friends that bring the full-force of Wes’ music to the stage tonight.
There’s almost a party atmosphere – a cross between a gig, a private party and a barn dance – as a nicely warmed-up audience get into the Americana inspired folk rock that’s emanating from the stage, a small group dancing at the front, the rest respectfully tapping their feed with beams of smiles upon their faces.
This isn’t folk music as we know it. This is boundary-crossing, a step into the mainstream that has wide appeal (as demonstrated by the range of age groups present) while still staying true to its roots.
Talking of the range of ages represented at this gig, no more so is this evident than on stage itself. The first act onstage tonight is 17-year-old Joe Dolman, already a very familiar face on the Leamington / Warwick music scene, seemingly taking every opportunity to get his music heard, whether as part of the line-up of a regular music night or at an open mic session.
There is no backing band here – just one guy and his guitar. With a mop of hair that’s purposefully longer than it should be, styled to look un-styled, and his tall wirey frame, Joe looks as if he should be in a boy band. He has been given this chance, but turned it down in favour of doing what he does, which is to write beautiful acoustic songs about love and life, with a mature understanding of both subjects.
These are interspersed with carefully chosen covers of fellow singer/songwriters such as Lewis Watson. You sense that the covers are included as a mark of respect to the writers – and simply because Joe likes them – rather than because he lacks a full repertoire himself (a couple of new songs are debuted at LAMP tonight).
Second on the bill are Supine Orchestra, the duo of Rich Sykes and Joel Kendrick sharing guitar and vocal responsibilities.
Certainly the difference in years of performing experience is evident here, and the mood lightens as the band shift from the serious and heartfelt to the light-hearted and observational, some tracks having lyrical ‘laugh out loud’ moments as tales are told of experiences past.
The crowd are now in very good spirits indeed and ready in anticipation for Wes Finch. Some had seen him many times before, others had seen his recent media coverage and were clearly curious as to what this guy is all about.
Wes epitomises the cool end of folk, that cross-over boundary with an indie-rock vibe, if it wasn’t for the instrumentation that clearly pins this music to its roots. His Dirty Band are all accomplished musicians, enjoying the opportunity of being part of this exciting project and loving the love being shown to them by the very receptive audience.
But this is Wes’ project, his dream, his ambition, and he is the driving force behind it all, the one putting in the time and effort to find ever quirky ways to grab people’s attention and get the money raised for his album (a series of videos posted on social media where Wes threatens to extinguish the Easter Bunny if people don’t contribute, being one example).
Anyone who makes that sort of effort (and those sort of threats) deserves your support.
The Kickstarter campaign ends on Sunday 9 March. To make your contribution (there are a range of exclusive benefits for donators) visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/wesfinch/wes-finch-and-gerry-diver-album-project.
Photos courtesy of Jo Taylor Media