K’s Choice @ Unit 51, Friday 1st November

‘Twas the night after Hallowe’en and ghosties and ghoulies still prowled the cold, dark streets of the Baltic Triangle….!

unit 51 flyer nov

Just as well there was a warm and decidedly not-scary welcome from the lovely Stella who runs the Unit 51 coffee shop in Jamaica Street.  K’s Choice was in residence tonight and a fun night was promised, filled with some of the best acoustic music to be found – and all for free!

First up K’s Choice host, Derek King kicked off with a couple of covers to get us in the mood.  Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”, followed by the old Dire Straits standard “Romeo & Juliet” ushered in the mood for the evening.  Derek then played a selection of original material including his protest song “The Price of Coal” originally written just after the great miners’ strike of 1984-85, and a couple from his “Sometimes” EP.

The stage was now set for our first guest, radio presenter and singer-songwriter, the one and only Billy Kelly.  Billy has graced the K’s Choice stage at a couple of venues before, and he always seems to be playing somewhere in Liverpool.  This evening Billy was at his very best and he played a wonderful selection of his original material.  I particularly liked hearing once again his contribution to the K’s Choice City of Music album “Blue Skies Blue Eyes”, along with the very catchy “Thunderstorm” and his latest release “Wipe it Out”.  A true gent of the Liverpool music scene and a cracking performer.

Following Billy was the musical delight that is Jo Bywater.  I’ve been fortunate enough to see Jo a few times now, and I am still in awe of her guitar style.  The fingers of her left hand strut their way up and down the fretboard, never hurried, always measured, her guitar work is unbelievably intricate though perfectly controlled, and she accompanies this with a plaintive sounding, almost wailing vocal that makes the hairs on the back of the neck stand up.  If you ain’t seen Jo, you ain’t seen nothing!  Kicking off with “Wave”, Jo took us through a set of original materials that perfectly demonstrated the versatility of her style, into “Chopping Wood” and others from her recently released “Chasing Tales” EP.

Now it was the turn of the whirlwind female acoustic duo ME and Deboe (Mercy Elise and Sarah Deboe), who’d travelled from Chester to grace our stage.  These girls manage to meld two acoustic guitars and their two voices into a truly unique sound that is all their own.  Their guitar playing is frantic and fast, often so frantic and fast that their hands blur – guitarists of lesser skill levels wouldn’t have a hope of keeping time, but Sarah and Mercy’s guitars gel perfectly with each other.  As well as their stunning guitar work, the girls’ voices blend superbly with tight and melodic harmonies.  It’s hard to pick a highlight, but if pushed I would have to say “Mother Shipton” is the one that does it for me.

Last, but by no means least, was Wirral male acoustic duo, Simon on cajon, Gareth on guitar, who go by the name of Shoes4Brakes.  These guys make music fun!  Their songs are tuneful and inventive, catchy and fun, and the guys clearly enjoy sharing their repertoire of songs and interracting with the audience.  When asked to play “Minnesota” which was their contribution to the K’s Choice City of Music album, the boys related the story of a friend who lives in Minnesota and wonders why anyone would want to sing a song about a place where there is nothing at all, except miles and miles of barren land and bears!  “The bears sold it to us!” the guys enthused, and launched into “Minnesota”, which is one belter of a tune, as indeed are all their others.

And so, that was that for another fantastic K’s Choice session at Unit 51.  K’s Choice will be back on Friday 22nd November at the Hatch, Hopskotch bar in Mathew Street, Liverpool, with the usual array of top talent.  Bye for now! X

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