The last Sunday Sessions event of the year, in conjunction with homeless charity Emmaus

PUBLISHED: 17:15 17 October 2016

Band of King on stage at Sunday Sessions at The Portland Arms, 16/10/16

Band of King on stage at Sunday Sessions at The Portland Arms, 16/10/16


The last Sunday Sessions event of the year

Blue Kubricks on stage at Sunday Sessions at The Portland Arms, 16/10/16Blue Kubricks on stage at Sunday Sessions at The Portland Arms, 16/10/16

Sunday Sessions is the brainchild of Paul Mayer and Ben Piper and is a monthly event held at The Portland Arms that strives to celebrate the very best in local talent. The programme has been running for a year and the gig held on October 16 was the 12th and the last of 2016.

The event is filmed and then edited for transmission on Cambridge TV, where snippets are then broadcast consecutively over a four-week period. Previous sessions have been recorded with and without a live audience, though more often than not with the former. Tonight’s showcase was held in conjuction with Emmaus, a charity which sells everything from furniture to clothes, helping the homeless – and providing them with housing and work – in the process.

The intimate venue, which recently played host to chart-topping country duo Ward Thomas, was laid out like a living room with sofas, armchairs, cabinets and various decorative objects. Everything in the room being sat on, and to a certain extent on view, was for sale, with all the proceeds going to the above-mentioned charity.

“We thought it would be really nice to work with Emmaus because they’ve done a lot for us in terms of Strawberry Fair,” said Anna Osborne, who takes care of PR for Cambridge TV, before the show. “We had a stage there and they lent us furniture for that. That seemed to spark an idea of sofas, Sunday, make it kind of cosy...

Melody Causton on stage at Sunday Sessions at The Portland Arms, 16/10/16Melody Causton on stage at Sunday Sessions at The Portland Arms, 16/10/16

“It just seemed a really nice idea to try and bring in a fundraising element to the whole thing, and it might draw a few more people to come tonight.”

Commenting on Cambridge’s vibrant music scene, Ms Osborne stated: “Cambridge has such a wealth of local talent that in some ways it’s not hard to find really good acts. But at the same time, we’re in a position where people are sending stuff to us – we don’t have to look very far.”

Impressively compered by Jon Elenor and Jamie Osborne (known professionally as ‘Jon and Jamie’) who “definitely weren’t comedians,” the proceedings got underway with Band of King, the stage name of Andrew King, a full-time musician – and busker – from north London visiting Cambridge for only the second time, his first time as a performer.

The young man has a beautiful voice and backed himself up brilliantly on his acoustic guitar, which managed to omit the type of effects normally associated with an electric. He treated the crowd, who at that point consisted of about 30 people, to a selection of his own material and a couple of covers, which included an energetic take on Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile. A solid opening act and a genuinely friendly guy.

Alton Wahlberg at Sunday Sessions at The Portland Arms, 16/10/16Alton Wahlberg at Sunday Sessions at The Portland Arms, 16/10/16

Next up was a duo, made up of James Duah and Sam Joy, called Blue Kubricks, a Suffolk-based act who normally perform as a four-piece. Duah sang and played an acoustic guitar, often very animatedly, while the bespectacled Joy stood motionless (in stark contrast to his surname) and played lead on a telecaster.

Although the pair had their moments, musically speaking, I found their set – particularly Duah’s vocal delivery – a bit too loud at times, though their enthusiasm and self-belief is to be admired.

The third performer of the evening was Melody Causton, a delicate young songbird, whose parents are both folk singers and who is Cambridgeshire born and bred. Her slightly nervous stage presence, between-song politeness, beautiful singing voice and imaginative guitar playing elicited a warm response from the audience. “She’s so sweet!” I heard one person say.

The talented singer/songwriter recently won Best Female Solo Artist at the NMG Awards and, as this showing proved, she was a worthy winner.

Last, but by no means least, was Alton Wahlberg from Bury St Edmunds. The open and down-to-earth tattooed and dreadlocked figure, also known as ‘The Bearded Busker’, had a powerful stage presence and used his loop pedal to stunning effect, creating some acoustic rap/rock gems.

A number of his self-penned tunes were truly heartfelt, from the one about his son asking him all sorts of innocent questions before bedtime (Questions) to the one where he once doubted whether he wanted to continue in the notoriously fickle music industry (Sing a Little Louder). His choice of cover song was curious too: Informer by Snow. A fine conclusion to a fine evening’s worth of entertainment.

At the moment, it’s unclear whether Sunday Sessions will return next year. I for one hope it does.

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