Eleanor Nelly has been a woman to watch on stage for an awful long time, anybody who has the slightest idea of what makes somebody so eminent, so very cool as a performer will understandably nod their head in satisfaction and admiration when the young lady’s name comes up in conversation. To be held in such high esteem in Liverpool, the city in which she comes from and by people that have the pleasure, the honour of writing about and performing music in the city day in day out, it comes as no surprise that the talent, the sheer and exhausting hard work has paid off for Eleanor as she takes the next step in being signed to a major label, Decca.
Nick Bagnall sits down in one of the many chairs that regimentally line the ground floor café at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. A look of wide eyed humour that always seems to bring out the very best in who he is in conversation with fills the room and somehow, as if by some Shakespearian magic, manages to drown out the world surrounding him. The sound of the music that had the ears flapping in enjoyment before hand is now silent, the sense of nerves one feels when meeting someone who has done so much for the city’s artistic front in the last couple of years, is dissipated and sent packing into the ether as if carried by the Tempest or the heavy hand of Bottom.
There is a danger of meeting a hero, even if it is one dressed in flamboyant oversized dress, a huge wig that would not be out of place in a revival of a Georgian period comedy and the sound of laughter forthcoming across the various parts of the Epstein Theatre as they wind down on a day in which their Pantomime cast has run a mock and been interviewed to within an inch of their lives.
It is a battle cry but not one that is steeped in any political agenda, it is an urge to remember that once upon a time we cared for all in society, for it used to be that a whole village was responsible for the upbringing of a single child, the care of one is the care of all. Yet somehow we have become beleaguered, convinced that it is the right thing to do to ignore all the bad aspects of society, to not care about the homeless, the sick, those we perceive to be living a life of feckless abandon; it is a society that is on a tightrope, precariously balancing between keeping head held high and toeing the line eagerly signposted by many politicians or falling into the void themselves.
September comes around so fast, the first squeals of the autumn deluge, the days in which humanity’s first natural thoughts are to the dark days of winter that are just over the horizon. It is the autumn that perhaps reflects the mood of aging better than any other season, life in a three month cycle summed up against the flower of youth, the heady days of summer which whispers of all the potential experiences that can be had and the quiet of old age winter, autumn in life is the best we might be able to attain, the final flourish in a life well lived.
The mould has been broken, the dominant aspect of Country music in its own backyard taken apart, its historical birthplace, has been, if not smashed, then certainly demolished brick by brick, blade of grass by white picket fence and tales of the homely and beautiful swept aside. It is the mould set out by the American Country genre to which The Shires, Chrissie Rhodes and Ben Earle, have become quite rightly known as the band in which sit up, take notice of and toast as the modern day British saviours of a genre that was wobbling under its own weight across the pond.
One of the honours of packing up your bags for a while, forgetting the steamy hot sweat of the city where no one has anything on their mind with perhaps the exception of the oncoming football season or the complexities of the latest England cricket score, is arguably heading off to the other capital of culture in the U.K. and immersing yourself completely in the Edinburgh Fringe. It is at the Fringe where some of Liverpool’s much loved actors and performers find themselves and test out new material for the first time, where they experience every crush, every agonising line of perplexed worry on the face of the audience and the thrill of delight that sits in the deepest heart when the play, the song or the joke is appreciated fully and with respect.
The concourse at Lime Street Station on a Friday afternoon always seems to be incredibly congested, the heaving sense of humanity on the move as they find their way to different pastures for the weekend in search of fun or the locked doors of their own palaces and castles, is at times a wonder to behold. Ant like but striding with purpose, the evening concert in the city bringing people in, the thought of a late summer’s drink at the local spurring them on to catch the stopper between Liverpool and that other bended finger of North West music appreciation, you cannot help but be entranced by this weekly dance.
One of the great albums of 2016 so far has come from the Lincolnshire based band The B-Leaguers. The ear-catching and phenomenal Death Of A Western Heart is not only a truly fine and well produced album but it reminds people that music is not just confined to the hearts of places such as Liverpool, Birmingham and London but is actually something so intrinsic to society that it is to be celebrated anywhere and at any time.
Spending time with a musician is almost like spending time with a favourite member of your family, when the time comes that they have to leave, it can be a wrench to the soul; especially if they are one that captivates with such distinction on stage, if they have a persona that just radiates cool.
Canterbury’s Alison Green, or her musical alter ego Whisky Ginger Johnson, is one such musician. Firmly entrenched in the idea of the Progressive, even if she doesn’t quite realise it, Alison Green is a firm favourite of the I.P.O. A woman whose music straddles the Canterbury set with ease and to whom as soon as you listen to the stories that hide, camouflage themselves, only to appear as chronicles of a life so well lived, so endearing, that you cannot help but fall in love with them.