Sunderland Soundscape

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Sunderland Soundscape

Posted: 29 Apr 2013

Sunderland Soundscape

20 April

Sunderland’s thriving local music scene saw 14 venues – including sweet shops as well as cafes and bars – throw open their doors to a smorgasbord of young musicians. Many of the performers served teas and coffees as part of their day jobs before later popping up on stage. On a beautiful spring day it was a feast of delights as the musical menu was as wide as anything the venues had to offer.

I started in Lush where Morris Ford sat in a corner hidden under his hoodie while I perused the soaps and shampoos until he peeked out and hesitantly began to sing. Gaining confidence, he said: “It smells nice in here”, and before long it sounded nice too. Next stop was a highlight as Martin Longstaff, aka The Lake Poets, performed his beautifully crafted songs in Serendipity, one of Sunderland’s smartest cafes.  If The Lake Poets were a cake they’d be as good as anything served in Harrods, let alone Serendipity.

Heading to Hot Rats record store to see Barrie Hyde of The Futureheads I was drawn by the sound of The Jar Family playing in the centre of The Bridges shopping centre. This seven piece maelstrom of musicians were performing something they branded industrial folk. They were so good I made a point of catching them again in the evening at ‘PURE’.

I could hardly get in to see Barrie Hyde as people crowded into Hot Rats where Hyde – a leading light of the Sunderland scene – had everyone enthusiastically joining in with a typically excellent performance.

My next stop was to see Hannah D’Arcy at The Ivy House, a pub near the main bus station. I’d just caught her last song earlier in the day at Serendipity and then, as she served me tea, I said I intended to see her again that night.  In her mid twenties she looked at me – I was in my mid-twenties once, honest – and wondered if I’d be easily offended as the evening set was the unexpurgated version. She needn’t have worried: I’ve heard the odd rude word before and in fact she was tremendous.

Finishing my day in PURE, after seeing The Jar Family downstairs I ventured upstairs – and boy that was an adventure as my husband felt like the oldest swinger in town. Stumbling upon Goy Boy McIlroy I found he was on another planet to me – but he seemed happy there in his own world which extended to singing while wandering half way out of the venue, around the bemused audience and collapsing more than once with theatrical effect. I’d gone upstairs to see the recommended ‘Let’s Buy Happiness.’  About to release their debut album, LBH have already supported Primal Scream and while they weren’t especially my cup of Darjeeling they went down well with the crowd including the lad who insisted on dancing with me even though he appeared to have hoovered up every cake in Serendipity.

Congratulations to everyone behind Sunderland Soundscape. It was like Wearside’s very own version of ‘Later’ and what’s more it was all entirely free. If it happens again next year don’t miss it.

Barbara Mason

 

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