Words & Photos By Ged Camera.

“Out with the old and in with the new” goes the saying that normally accompanies the introduction of a new year. Well, John Haycock has combined the two concepts of old and new, with a combination of the kora, loop pedals and clarinet. Whilst not everyone will know what a kora is by its title alone, many will be familiar with the sight of it amongst the buskers that gather around Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester. It’s a 24 stringed instrument that has been around for a few hundred years, but one that must be a nightmare to tune, yet is capable of creating wonderfully sharp and enticing sounds, like wind chimes on a windy day.

So whilst Haycock is sat down, picking the strings, he is also creating beats with his hands that are recorded on 20th century created pedals then fed back into them in order to form the underlying rhythm. Once that is done he can begin to focus on the kora, manipulating the long necked instrument that is prevalent in parts of Africa (and Piccadilly Gardens). It’s an incongruous blend that is emphasized even more when he leans back to fill his lungs in readiness for his playing of the clarinet. It is all about the rhythm and vibe, which varied considerably throughout the set, drawing the listener in, receiving a warm acknowledgement from a crowd that braved a cold January night.

So the second of three acts from this ‘Three 45s’ monthly event saw the trio that formed the Beulah String Band perform an acoustic set. When Andrew Butler (banjo, sometimes member of Dr. Butlers Hat Stand band), Dom Dudill (fiddle) and John McKay (guitar) get together, a tour of the American musical history is guaranteed. If music is timeless, then this trio are exploiting its potential and exhibiting it to an open minded audience. No Beyonce covers, but covers of songs that in their heart and sentiment may be from the 1930s but their validity remains in today’s society. So if you have never heard of Blind Alfred Reed, an evocative name in its own right, then his song “How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live” seems just as valid today as when it was published in 1929. The contrast between all three acts is a deliberate ploy by the organisers, such that if there is a act you didn’t like, then the likelihood is that the next one will hopefully tickle your musical taste buds.

Brandishing themselves as R&B, soul-hip/hop influenced outfit, the third and final saw Lucy Mae and her band take to the stage. Well, I’ve seen people wearing higher heels when compared to the performance area. It’s a tight squeeze but well worth the effort to get the keyboards (Christian Van Fields), guitarist (Luc Phan), bassist (Tom Chapman) and drummer (Phil Howley), along with the rapper Wherezneekz (aka Nico Walber) in the confined space. With a low, sultry voice at times reminiscent of Sade, Lucy Mae led the band into each number, but then allowed the superb musicians to come to the fore in their own right, especially the rolling keyboards that raised the tempo, they made the snow falling outside seem enjoyable

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The Three 45s took place at The Klondyke Club on Thursday 12th January, 2017.

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