• Words Chris Farlie

Midwinterfest Songwriters Preview - Steve Black, Jefferson Ross, Danni Nicholls

Midwinterfest over the course of its weekend always provides many highlights and Saturday afternoon, the Songwriters Round is always a special section of the weekend. Hosted each year by Steve Black who will undoubtedly play something new as well as ending the show with the whole hall in a spontaneous singalong.. Steve's songs are always rich in detail and to be able to hear the inspiration as to how they have come into being is always a welcome treat.

The Songwriters Round provides the opportunity for artists to preview new material and over the years there have been many special moments, with the likes of Ags Connolly, Joe Martin, Liv Austen and Southern Companion Darren Hodson who chose this event to preview a song he had not even played to his band. This years guests are Danni Nicholls and Jefferson Ross

Danni has been a firm #TEAMw21 favourite since we first sighted her headlining a show with Miller's Daughter in Farnham. Easily able to to play with a band, solo or with long time live collaborator Max Milligan, Bedford's finest is sure to impress us with a story or two, and perhaps a glimpse of songs from her forthcoming album ‘The Melted Morning’. She has had a wonderful 2018 playing and writing with names that tick all the right boxes with us, the likes of Kyshona Armstrong, Ben Glover, The Secret Sisters and Callaghan to name but a few. If you still need convincing - why not check out her last album of new material the wonderful "Mockingbird Lane", now referred to as her "break up album" which contains a variety of styles from the ( geographically perfect ) return to Bedford "Long Road Home" with its memorable guitar riff through to the pain and angst "Feel Again", never has hurt sounded so good. It is an album that years down the line sounds as fresh as the day it first arrived,

Like the current album it was Pledge funded and those that travelled the journey with Danni were really made to feel part of the adventure. Our last glimpse of Danni in 2018 was at a show with Hannah Aldridge at the Lexington where she was again outstanding.

Expect rich smooth vocals, and don't be surprised if the room is suddenly turned into a gospel choir - such magic can only occur at a Danni Nicholls show!!

When Jefferson Ross was announced for the Songwriters Round, I'll admit to not having been aware that in many ways Jefferson has been a presence at all of the previous Midwinterfests. His 2008 album "Azalea" forinstance provided the original versions of "Hornet Hawkins" and "The Prophet Elijah". which have both provided memorable moments over the years when reinterpreted by Alan and Steve.

Jefferson's versions from 2008's are perhaps somewhat higher pitched than we are used to hearing but retain a definite charm. They are also possibly not even the best 2 songs on a quite exceptional album that keeps on giving which should give an idea as to just how good it is!. The lyrics and observations in "Change" give you much to ponder and appreciate long after the song has completed, while the title track "Azalea" welcomes you like an old friend even on hearing it for the first time

A more likely indication of what we are in store for can probably be gained by taking a run through his last album "Live at Hillbilly Haiku". The intervening 10 years seem to have given Jefferson a deeper richer timbre that will dovetail nicely one would imagine with our esteemed hosts and the opportunity to hopefully see all three on stage at the same time does somewhat whet the appetite for what might await us,

One thing that has never dimmed over the years is his ear for an excellent tune and a mastery of the art of storytelling. Listening to "Arvin" which according to Jefferson's blog is "a combination of several of my smart, quirky, complex friends" - you get such a picture painted that he is virtually standing in front of you and it includes lines that will strike a chord with many in the Midwinterfest audience when he describes his record collection as his "one true Love" - "they don't talk back but they sing along, and they keep spinning in the right direction and Lord that's a comfort when everything goes wrong!",

If you listen to "Isle Of Hope", which comes with a touching introduction you'll appreciate just what sort of talent we are about to witness. He is a raconteur, and an artist and I suspect we will both be the richer for time spent in his company and the poorer for shelling out on the merchandise that he will hopefully be bringing along.

MidwinterFest runs Jan 11th-13th - Last few rooms available Contact 01297-639268 or WWW.NEO-MUSIC.NET

#DanniNicholls #JeffersonRoss #SteveBlack #Midwinterfest2019

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