What do you think of when you hear music? joy? sadness? or do you simply let the tones wash over you, transporting you away from the daily grind to a place where nothing matters, work takes a back seat and just lets you….be....for a short time before you come crashing back down to earth, well, this is exactly how I felt after I saw 3 heavenly acts perform at The Barrel House in Totnes on a cold Wednesday evening in March.
It was a triple header, opening up was a Truro based young lady called Abbie Piper (no relation to Billie), then onto a Vancouver based chanteuse called Che Aimee Dorval prior to the headline act, Australian born and bred one man musical powerhouse, Kim Churchill.
Abbie Piper took to the stage first, cutting her teeth on the scene alongside a 13 piece R&B band, she now plays on her own and has made something of a name for herself after being invited by Hub Radio & Source FM to play live in their studios. Opening up a show is always a tall order, I will add that the constant chattering of the crowd wouldn’t have done anything for her confidence but being the true professional that she is, she soldiered on, keen to sing her songs in her unique style accompanied by her beautiful, soulful voice.
She played many of her own penned tracks such as ‘Waterside’ and ‘Beyond Reason’ and threw in a couple of cover versions including Ed Sheeran’s ‘Make it Rain’ (if you’ve been watching Sons of Anarchy, you’ll know the track well) and also an ice cool version of Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggety’ which sounded sublime.
Abbie Piper is a name to watch, she’ll soon be the toast of Truro and everyone will be wanting a piece of her, check out a great track of hers called ‘Beyond Reason’.
After a short break, Che Aimee Dorval took to the stage to grace the audience with her take on alternative folk music. She spent a couple of minutes talking about dancing with 7 year old boys, I’m sure she was referring to when she was also 7 years old as the thought of a grown woman standing around at a party, waiting for a willing 7 year old boy to dance is clearly wrong….
She opened up her set with ‘The Dinosaur Song’, her powerful voice was fighting for dominance in a room of people who were clearly happy to part with £10 on the door and then stand around shouting at each other! (I might have mentioned this when I was talking about Abbie, it is one of my PET HATES and I wish that people would have the decency to shut up for 25 minutes and LISTEN….)
Her songs ranged from upbeat to heart wrenching ballads that pulled at the heartstrings, her influences ranging from Cat Power, Nick Drake and Nick Cave clearly coming through in her songs. Her music would have been perfect in a quiet smoky club, the noise of the bartender in the background and her soulful tones resonating around the room, I’d love to have heard her properly rather than having to put up with some local ladies gabbering on in my ear about the traffic problems that Totnes are currently facing….
Che played some amazing songs including ‘Under Achiever’ and her final track of her set ‘Lights Out’ which was played with such emotion, absolutely beautiful stuff.
Why not grab yourself a drink, sit back and check out her 6 track ‘Volume One’ EP below, you’ll be so glad you did…
I had the pleasure of meeting Kim Churchill in Perranporth in the summer of 2014, he was playing at a pub on the beach called The Watering Hole, sadly, we were unable to stick around as the kids were getting cranky after a long day on the beach. He handed me a flyer and I saw that a few days after the Perranport show, he was due to play n Exeter, I said that I’d see him there and see him there I did!
Kim is quite possibly THE most unique musician that I have ever had the privilege of seeing play live, he is a music chameleon who never ceases to amaze his audiences all over the world. The show is not only about some incredible music, he is also a feast for the eyes, don’t get me wrong, he’s a strapping, young, handsome man with sun bleached locks that the young ladies go crazy for, I was referring more to his stage setup. He plays seated, percussion instruments to his right, a tambourine attached to a kick pedal and a large bass drum with a couple of kick pedals attached to that, a harmonica sits around his neck and over his shoulder sits his guitar. I’d like to see Kim kitted out as a true ‘one man band’ with the bass drum on his back and bells at the bottom of his trousers, come to think of it, he probably wouldn’t be able to play as well as he does so let’s just leave him as he is!
Kim played a blend of his own penned tracks, interspersed with a few choice cover versions including a great version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Californication’ and a wildly addictive version of Bob Dylan’s classic ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ which Kim transformed into a true stomping masterpiece that left the local crowd screaming for more.
Kim is a profound storyteller and each of his tracks had a detailed story behind it. He told us of the time that he and his family travelled across Australia to attend the funeral of his late Grandfather and after the event, he felt short changed, how this great man’s life could possibly be celebrated by one day where the family got together and mourned was beyond belief, so he decided to pen a track in his honour and ‘Smile as he Goes Home’ was crafted. He played the track and you could see how much the song meant to Kim, pure emotion emanating from his soul, singing the truth about how much his granddad meant to him and how much he had influenced him during his life.
‘Window to the Sky’ was a real crowd pleaser and featured some amazing harmonica that sounded JUST like a large brass section at the end, okay, it was never going to replace a large brass section but as Kim alluded to, he was getting tired of asking old jazz hounds to come to his shows with their brassware to squeeze out what equated to 3 notes, played for about 30 seconds at the end of the track!
He told us a story of when he was posted on a French Polynesian island to ‘entertain the locals’, everything he could have wanted was available to him and despite all of this, he was suffering under a black cloud. One day, a local chap offered to take him out to a reef where they did some of the best surfing that Kim had ever encountered and it was at this stage, he decided that life wasn’t that bad after all, he penned a track called ‘Bathed in Black’ which he proceeded to play, it’s twisted music wrapped around Kim’s moaning vocals prior to the slightly distorted guitar kicking in was a great way to banish the blues.
Another story Kim told was about when his grandmother was in a hospice in Australia in her latter days and there was a guy called George who fell head over heels in love with her and, with agreement from Kim’s father, was given permission to sit with her when they weren’t visiting. It was later that Kim found out that George had actually spent every hour of every day sat with her in their absence, this touched Kim and he wanted to write a song that would not only bring back the memory of his grandmother but also, look at things from the perspective of George and what he was feeling in her final days. The song was beautiful, sung from the heart with real meaning, utterly spellbinding stuff.
Kim ended his set with an utterly bewildering version of Bob Dylan’s timeless classic ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ which, after Kim had added his slant on the track, brought it from it’s original state into the 21st century, a real heavy stomper of a track complete with some gritty guitar effects and great harmonica. Kim thanked the crowd for coming to see him and reminded people that there were CD’s available at the merch table prior to leaving the stage and taking up his position at the merch table to sign autographs and chat to anyone that wanted to say Hi.
As I said earlier, I don’t think I have ever come across a musician as varied and as talented as Kim Churchill, if you EVER get the chance to go se him live, be it at a show or a festival, please do so, you are in for a treat and he’s the kind of guy that you’ll find yourself telling all your friends to go check out after you have had the chance to experience him playing live.
Kim is on a UK tour until March 13th, for details on dates and venues, please check his website
Check out Kim playing live below;
Review by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Bruce Benson 241photography.co.uk