Kathryn Williams, Roddy Woomble and Rachel Sermanni 23/2/17, at Abriachan Village Hall.
First of all the venue. What a fantastic little hall. With a capacity of 60 people , rich old wooden panelling and a hatch in the wall where tea, coffee and cakes appear at the interval it is just sublime. A real community asset and well attended by local people who filled the place right up to the back row.
This evening was a joint venture arranged by the hall board and the lovely people at Moniack Mhor.
It was a part of the songwriting course the Moniack Mhor creative writing centre run for budding songwriters who come from all over the UK and further afield, one participant was from Finland.
This week long course was hosted by Kathryn Williams and Roddy Woomble who had Rachel Sermanni come midweek as guest writer and host.
I have attended one of these courses myself before. Mine was hosted by Boo Hewerdine and Darden Smith but I was happy to see that the course participants here tonight displayed the same camaraderie and unbridled enthusiasm I experienced in my own visit.
The format for tonight was that of a concert by the three hosts along with performances by course participants of songs written this week.
Kicked off by Kathryn Williams singing two songs from her fantastic “Crown Electric” album before introducing Jamie MacRae who was only this week performing in front of anybody for the first time. As he was about to sing Rachel Sermanni was fussing around sorting out a mic stand for him and he joked with the audience about the absurdity of the situation. This was to be an indication of just how down to earth this evening would be. His song “Wolves” was very atmospheric and he pulled it off with aplomb.
Back on stage Kathryn is now joined by Roddy Woomble, lead singer from Idlewild and they sing a duet . She goes off and he continues alone before joined by Rachel Sermanni to duet . It’s all very relaxed and really quite infectiously comfortable and easy going. Another song from course participants this time Phil from Nottingham (who was nervous but very funny ) and Vera (from Finland) another winning performance.
Rachel Sermanni started her first spot with “Sleep” from her 2012 album Under Mountains . She has such a true, pure tone to her voice it was quite a contrast to the earlier contributions . That’s not to say the others were not very good but more to illustrate just how absolutely powerful Rachel Sermanni’s performance is. In this small village hall she captivated the audience and you could hear a pin drop. She closed the first half of the show and the interval coffee and cakes were served. Fantastic.
The second part of the evening followed a similar pattern and the hosts introduced more new songs from course participants written that week and given rapturous reception by the crowd. All encouraged on by the hosts who were obviously genuinely caring that their charges get a chance to shine as much as they themselves do.
As an illustration of the whole ethos of the course we were also treated to new songs from all three hosts culminating in the Williams, Woomble,Sermanni trio singing a brand new song written that day and again it was obvious they were having a lot of fun which was very infectious and made the night so enjoyable.
So to sum up this concert was fun, it was unusual, it was unique it will be memorable for the course participants and it will be memorable for me and the whole audience. I hope Moniack Mhor and Abriachan Village Hall do many more of these . I for one would make the effort to go again. You never know one of the people you see in this embryo state could be headlining Celtic Connections or even bigger and you’ll be half a football pitch away from them.
This was a great concept and a great night out .
For more information about the creative writing centre go to www.moniackmhor.org.uk