If , like me , music is what keeps your heart beating and fires the sparkle in your eyes , then this global pandemic would’ve smothered the flames to a damp pile of dying embers . Yes , most of my favourite local musicians continued to do live streams to keep the flickers of a flame going, but it was real life , in the flesh, live music that took the biggest blow, preventing my gently nurtured campfire from igniting into the wild bonfire I was craving . Sure, as restrictions eased , outdoor live music was once again permitted , and the temptation to dive right into “whatever/wherever” was on offer, was strong. Although I didn’t . Still unsure how it would be with limited numbers, social distancing, and a fear , albeit very mild, of good old Covid 19 , I waited. Subliminal maybe, I was waiting for the right “fit” if that makes any sense at all .
Step forward “The Firefly” in Lowesmoor. Open mic night on a Thursday kept popping up on my news feed . A few local musicians that I know and love became regulars performing there . I had to go, the pull of live music far outweighed my uncertainties of a virus that had held me captive for 4 months.
Thursday 17th September was my 5th time going and its safe to say I have found my happy place again . Let’s start with the Firefly itself . Firstly , staff are amazing . Every member of the team puts you at ease, and treats you like a member of the family popping round for a cuppa . Table booking has become essential for this popular night, and upon arrival, you are escorted to your table and encouraged to order via the app to get food and drink brought to table . As a cider drinker , my thirst served is always quenched by the variety on offer . The food menu is solely, 100% vegan . Although not a vegan myself, I have devoured the loaded fries, and a burger have gone down well within my social “bubble” too . Hand sanitiser is available throughout and around the bar, though if you order via the app you have no reason to leave your table, and to be fair, why would you want to? The setting is perfect, wooden benches, strictly limited to people in their own bubbles, subtle lights and floral decorations dotted around the outside, umbrellas on tables, it’s easy to forget where you are. Good vibes and atmosphere is oozing from this little gem, to help transport you to a better place. A place where live music is allowed.
Now to the event itself. Hosted by popular local singer/songwriter Kringo Blue, the night is always opened up with a little set packed full of his signature style. Laid back, chilled out vibes with skillful, warbling guitar, Kringo offers up his own versions of songs, including a spectacular cover of Seven Nation Army, which is always my favourite. Kringos sound is unique within his covers and originals, a quality hard to find, and even harder to stick to and make a constant throughout a setlist…. Kringo makes it seem easy.
The evening is then opened up to anyone. It’s mostly a pre-booked in running order, but anyone could potentially put their name down on the night to perform a song or two. Over the weeks I’ve been going , variety has been the name of the game, with a host of familiar faces and new discoveries. Among the familiar I’ve seen, Sean Jeffery offers up a set of crowd pleasing covers, and will occasionally throw in a self penned original, with open mics being the perfect platform to get new music heard. Although Sean appears quietly unassuming, he proves he is a seasoned professional time and again, clearly dedicated to delivering a quality performance. “Blinded By The Sun” by much underrated 90s band The Seahorses comes out top for me from his eclectic range of covers. A faultless set showing commitment, and a true appreciation of quality on show.
Bobby has taken to the mic a couple of times, literally letting his hair down to belt out an insanely epic version of Chris Isaaks “Wicked Game”, with the deep and sultry voice to match. Vocally versatile, Bobby can also hit the high notes when needed, and encourages audience interaction with his version of “Old Town Road”.
Both former members of The Fidgets, Max and Ryan, have rocked up on a regular basis, mostly performing individually, but on one occasion they teamed up to do a little set of songs from the bands’ busking days, “I Feel Fine” by The Beatles being a firm favourite, songs to raise a smile.
Ryan’s solo mix includes old, new and original material, with songs that span decades, his delicate but dynamic vocals make for an adorably heartwarming set. Each of his performances will always leave the socially distanced crowd wanting more. Ryan’s versions of “It Must Be Love” and “Its a Wonderful World” have stood out for me, for the very fact his voice has moulded itself around the lyrics and claimed the songs as his own. Simply beautiful.
Max tends to pick up the pace with up tempo covers, songs that allow his personality and passion for playing, burn bright. His energy alone can warm even the coolest evenings. His distinctive voice is one of perfection for the set list he offers up, from “These Boots are Made for Walking” to “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head”, anyone familiar with Max would know its him singing, if just walking past the enclosed safe haven of the beer garden. To be instantly recognisable is not something every artist can claim, but this guy has individuality wrapped up in abundance. By far the highlight of his most recent set was his own song “You”, a beautiful little love song that feeds my desire of hearts and romance. Having only ever heard this song on Spotify and live streams, as released during lockdown, there was something quite poignant about hearing it played right infront of me. A natural entertainer with an infectious stage presence.
Then there’s Matt, who my “bubble” guests and I have decided would be a perfect hotel lounge bar singer due to his dusky vocals and crooning classic covers. Matt is a real cool cat, and has treated us to smoky renditions of “Mercy Mercy Me” and “Lets Stay Together “. An effortlessly awesome, easy listening set of music that actively encourages good times and social get togethers. Another laid back performer who just “delivers” and sets the mood in the aforementioned perfect setting.
To break up the line ups with some much needed girl power, Hannah Webb has teamed up with Ben Hall to add delicate harmonising vocals, and also performed a showcase of her angelic voice for a short set. In an earlier week I heard an outstanding rendition of “At Last” by a female vocalist. Portia Smith has belted out Valerie with Kringo on guitar, and the evenings have seen a real mix of instrumental talent too. There are many more that I haven’t mentioned, but honestly equally enjoyed. Live music, it’s just “my thing”, you know.
Despite the evenings taking on an seasonal Autumnal chill, being surrounded by like minded music lovers in a safe and cosy environment provided by The Firefly, my musical bonfire has finally had its flames fanned by some much needed LIVE music.
To all involved, I thank you. From the bottom of my soppy little heart, you don’t know how much what you all do means to me.