Words by Ged Camera

As the sun beams down over Chorlton on a Bank Holiday weekend, catching everyone by surprise, the long, narrow, darkened room upstairs at Dulcimer is packed. The reason for this avoidance of grasping an all too rare opportunity to top up on vitamin C is because it’s the last day of Chorlton Arts Festival and a series of bands are lined up to perform. These bands form part of a whole series of entertainment that spans the audible and visual ranges, from young to old, from the inquisitive to the passionate. Throw in free admission to most events and the organisers are on to a winner.

gildings-Ged Camera

The Gildings have drawn a large crowd into the dark recess of Dulcimer. With keyboardist and vocalist Edmund Cottam successfully overcoming Graves’ disease, the group are out to make up for lost time and also appreciate things second time around. Moving between Americana-tinged sounds flecked with deft guitar works allows Cottam’s lyrical romanticism to be highlighted. And the occasional sidestep to a bit of slow stomp blues sets the afternoon off to a great start.

After the beauty comes the brutality in the form of Turf. Brash, loud and passionate, they deliver a cover of Prince’s ‘Kiss’ that’s a demonstration of how other musicians’ songs should be interpreted. It annihilates the original’s beat, but captures its spirit. In a few hours, they will play again at another venue, but that won’t stop the Parker brothers, Danny and Jake, leading this foursome (supplemented with Adam Farr on drums and Pete Crowder on bass) along a sweaty, passionate path that’s obviously enjoyed by the crowd.

As the day progresses, the crowd has diminished proportionately, to the point where there are one man (me), two women and a sound engineer for Karen Turley. The low numbers aren’t a reflection of her musical ability. She is perhaps suffering from the fact that, unlike the first two acts, she isn’t based around Manchester, but has journeyed across the Irish Sea from Omagh, Northern Ireland.

karen tully by Ged Camera

Her voice is warm and enticing, matching the sentiments espoused in her lyrics, starting with a cover of the country & western classic, ‘Jolene’, as an entry gate into the set. She does a mean turn at whistling and pays homage to Patsy Cline with ‘Lovesick Blues’, whilst elsewhere she sings, “They say having fun can set you free”. Turley’s own compositions have seen her win a competition in Liverpool that took her to the Nashville Blue Bird cafe (USA) and now to a near-empty venue in Chorlton. I’m sure this won’t be the last stop on her tour.

The gig took place on 29 May at Dulcimer bar as part of Chorlton Arts Festival 2016.

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