Stripped down Syfta soothe the Acoustic cafe.

Top local band ‘Syfta’ were the headline act this week, and what a job they did. Appearing with a cajon, electric guitar, bass acoustic guitar and Vocals, Harry, Joe, Jake and Olly took to the stage and impressed the crowd.

Their opener caught the crowds attention, being upbeat, displaying a solidified unity throughout the band and a real rawness.

They continued into their super cover of ‘Naive’, the famous hit by ‘The Kooks’, which ensured they were going to be heard.

Their next song was their new single ‘Breathe’, a fast tempo track containing grit and guts, high energy, a simple hook, ‘I just need to Breathe’, which sticks in your head like glue as Harry roars it down the mic.

The band display a broad knowledge of their instruments, and music in general. Olly doesn’t sit on root notes, he times fills efficiently and uses the fretboard to the whole band’s advantage.

Harry sings every line with true passion, holds strums the guitar chords to perfection, and driving the rhythm whilst Jake expands the sound, convicting the Caged system of the Guitar to colour in the chord progressions Harry provided, as well as various melodic work, and expressing his personality and the context of each song with the logical selection of notes.

Joe is a specialist on drums, knowing what to play and when. His technique is impeccable but he drums with his head, knowing how little or much to play. His fills kick through you on the full kit but he adapts them to the cajon personifying excellence.

I know this band haven’t been together long in the current line up, but having recently hit the studio as well as the O2 Ritz supporting The Ks, it is clear, this band are on to something big and I am glad to say that I have seen them before.

Click the links below to hear some!

Best of luck boys.

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Featured Artist: Ruins 03/03/20

It was amazing to see so many new faces at Tuesday’s open mic, one of which being Lloyd from Liverpool duo and our featured artist Ruins. Listen to them on Spotify and you will hear that Ruins have a beautifully crafted sound that contrasts bright soprano vocals with harmonic bass lines and pumping drum machines. I was already intrigued as to how this would translate into an intimate acoustic setting but we also found that due to unforseen circumstances, Lloyd would be playing the set by himself.

He brought a real friendly and welcoming presence to the open mic and on a night already full of new and surprising performances he hit us with his incredible falcetto tones. He took the time to explain how he isn’t usually the one in the duo to play the acoustic guitar however confidently and faultlessly played a mix of dynamic rhythms and arpeggiated chord progressions. He certainly held his own and proved himself as an excellent solo performer.

The set was made up of Ruins originals, all of which had a chilled out and melodic vibe. It was a set that held the attention of the audience throughout and with Lloyd going solo I feel that we were treated to a rare version of Ruins music in it’s purest form. Since Tuesday I have repeatedly revisited their releases on Spotify. It really is great to have heard the songs in a more stripped back manner but I now want to invite them back to give them another chance of performing as a duo!

Listen to some of lloyds set here:

Listen to their spotify here:

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Matty Hignett featured artist

Matty Hignett of Filthy Tricks played our open mic as featured artist and it’s been a long time coming.

Matty is a huge name in the Warrington music scene.

He opened with his original song ‘Sweep’ and smashed it in front of our attentive audience.

‘If you go down I’m following’ a hugely memorable lyric from his 2nd song.

The real grit in Matty’s voice roars above the guitar he beats into the ground. (His poor strings).

Matty displayed an exemplary display of his vocal range in his cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’.

Matty’s Guitar rhythm is consistent and despite off beat rhythms Matty, never strays from the beat and sustains his timing.

His songs rarely use the same chord patterns and he really knows how to introduce a song using comedy to tell stories about his songs.

Aggressive, hard hitting guitar playing appears to be a theme in his music.

Matty proves to be confident and way above competent as a performer, he performing riffs and chord patterns.

If you haven’t seen or heard him play, then get out to his regular open mic at Austin’s on a Sunday or get out and watch him perform with Filthy Tricks! An exceptional band with all the pedigree to go the distance.

Check out their latest single ‘Walk in Line’ via the following links.

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Featured Artist: Abi Rose Kelly 18/02/20

Usually we book our featured artists based on seeing them play before and because we already know and love them as an artist. To be completely honest I didn’t know too much about Abi before Tuesday other than the fact that Dylan Rodrigues, one of our previous featured artists, had recently supported her. She was actually recomended to us by local music champions WAM –, who were subsequently ‘taking over’ the night and filming all of the artists. I trusted their judgement and was excited to meet and hear Abi play for the first time.

After a busy start to the night and a varied and high standard of performers preceeding her, Abi seemed unphased by the occasion and began to show us why she was the featured artist. Her voice has so much style and edgyness to it with plenty of grit, subtle vibratos and varied dynamics. It’s such a satisfying sound and one that you would not usually expect from a female artist. She reminded me of a female Van McCann, and although her songs have a bit of a Catfish and the Bottlemen vibe about them too, there is something else there that is just Abi Rose Kelly. She instantly stood out to me as a star in the making, with confident and consistent guitar playing and lashings of style in everything that she does.

Evidently already on a lot of people’s radars and with a very high standard release on Spotify (listen to James’ Corsa) Abi is still very young and it seems to me that she has a very bright future ahead of her. You can catch some of her performance  from Tuesday here;

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Rhys Hopkins Featured Artist

The acoustic cafe brought the glowing young Musician Rhys Hopkins. A fantastic singer songwriter who at the age of 15 has done a fair amount in a short time. His time to show the Tuesday night crowd what he could do as a vocalist, guitarist, harmonica player and songwriter was only a matter of time away.

Rhys started at a fast pace, with his song, ‘Hey you’ being the opener. A great introduction which is certainly one to look out for.

Rhys keeps his introductions short and simple, describing his 2nd number as a story about 2 people. It was received with humour. A wonderful insight into his genius as a songwriter.

Rhys played two show stopping covers in his set, firstly a Gerry Cinnamon song, followed by a brilliant rendition of Neil Young’s ‘Hey Hey, My My’, both in which he displayed excellent use of the harmonica.

Rhys uses various types of standard open chords as well as various single note runs using alternative picking, proving himself as an able and competent guitarist.

He performs with passion, and his voice carries the emotions of each song clearly throughout.

‘That’s just how we live’ was a prime example of his songwriting ability, telling ‘a story’, as once again he introduces without giving too many secrets away.

Rhys’ is consistent with using 3 – 4 chord patterns over memorable melodies, which work against the norm and their uses are incomparable to any songs I’ve heard prior, making Rhys a stand out figure to anything I’ve heard in the scene.

Despite him giving no indication into the song contexts, it is obvious he sings about varying subjects and emotions!

Rhys appears to be a well liked songwriter amongst the Warrington scene and I know for sure that with his attitude and application, combined with his musical knowledge and ability, we will begin to see a lot more of him over the next few years.

Remember the name Rhys Hopkins, because it won’t be long before his success begins to show.

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Featured Artist: Gareth Heesom 04/02/20

Gareth’s voice alone tells a thousand tales. It welcomes you with a warm familiarity, bringing with it feelings of wisdom and experience. Struggling to put this into words I visited his artist profile which claims him to be the ‘most authentic sounding country singer’… and that’s just it. It’s as if he has stepped through a portal and somehow ended up in front of you in a world so far removed, continuing to do what he has always done.

His guitar playing rings out sustained open chords which drive you through his heartfelt music. His songs are solid, well written tracks which I believe would flourish with backing vocals and a full band behind him. That said, he is an outstanding solo performer with a relaxed prescence on stage and confidence in his ability. Have I mentioned his voice yet?

He showed great support for the night and the other musicians and we would love to see Gareth back at the open mic soon.

See a video from the night here :

Review by Scott Laywood

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Ellie -Jayne Featured Artist

I watched Ellie play at a Charity event a while back and saw her singing and playing ability in front of a big crowd straight away! She was always going to be brilliant for the Acoustic Cafe!

Ellie is a young Singer Songwriter from Liverpool who is signed to Big Condo Records. She has a number of relatable songs that show off various skills in her locker.

Ellie began her set with a song called ‘Shake off the Sadness’, starting off as though it was a ballad before transitioning into a four to the floor style rhythm, you could expect in a chart hit. The song is about getting up and getting on with life after a set back.

Ellie went on to perform 2 more brilliant original songs, the first being ‘Bored’, which tells the tale of being stuck in a 9-5 routine and coming home just to sleep. I think we can all relate to that one at some point.

The 2nd being ‘Old English Town’, which shows a more folk sound that Ellie brilliantly executes, with a finger picked playing style.

Ellie’s specialist features in performance are;

her emotional connection with her song subjects.

Her ability to sustain a strong technical vocal throughout, consistently demonstrating good quality legato runs over vowel sounds, controlling pitch exceptionally and solidifying diction on the most fast paced and wordy songs.

Ellie seems to be able to keep the tempo high and appears to have convicted the art of melody writing, both of which, are ingredients of an excellent songwriting recipe.

Ellie’s cover medley including Dua Lipa’s ‘One Kiss’ and Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ amongst many more was another attention grabber and allowed more audience interaction.

Ellie is an artist that will only get better and has set the bar high with a great debut performance in Warrington.

We hope to see Ellie Jayne at the Acoustic Cafe in the near future.

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Featured Artist: Dylan Rodrigues – 21/01/20

We really felt like we witnessed something special on Tuesday night. In the last year Dylan has transformed from a nervous first time performer to a confident artist with great prescence, character and ability.

Musically, his vocal style is relaxed and true to his own voice with a tone that sits beautifully above his strong, confident strumming patterns. His song writing is intelligent and well thought out whilst being catchy and memorable. The main point proven on Tuesday night however is that his performances have now become so much more than this. Dylan is really starting to connect with his audiences. He has always been good at talking to the crowd between songs and giving back stories but last night, around midway through his set, he asked the crowd to start clapping along with him. It sounds basic now, but you don’t really see that in a setting as intimate as the Acoustic Cafe, and it really worked to focus the audience further onto him. It takes confidence to ask this from a realtively small room of people! Before his next song he asked everybody to get out their phones and to ‘be his stars’ by turning on their flashlights. This again, in our intimate setting gave an amazing effect, and also encouraged people to take pictures and share the experience online.

Dylan certainly proved his right to be our featured artist. I feel that he is a great credit to the local music scene at the moment and how Warrington’s seasoned artists, promoters, music journalists, venues and even Priestly College work together to nurture and support young talent. Dylan seems to have embraced this, immersing himself and making many talented and influential friends along the way. He certainly listens, learns and is only going to get better and better. We will continue to follow Dylan’s progress and hope to welcome him back again soon!

Review by Scott Laywood

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Janet Wilson Featured Artist

Janet is a dedicated regular at the Acoustic Cafe Open Mic and it was about time she had the opportunity to showcase herself in a longer set form.

I met Janet at Hideouts open mic and always remember her powerful mid range and brilliant cover songs. Only recently have I begun to witness her writing ability.

Janet begun her set with a solid cover of ‘Riptide’, the famous Vance Joy song. A solid cover in which Janet put on a perfect display of her ability to slip in and out of her falsetto voice.

An original song called ‘Scapegoat’, a dark sounding song, with great lyrical content and incorporates a sinister key change into the Chorus.

The song is an example of Janet’s melodic structuring and ability to work against the predictable 4 chord song!

Janet is able to embody the character and emotion of a song and put herself in the persons state of mind by carrying all of the emotions of the 3rd person into her singing, delivering a more intimate display during performances.

Janet was brilliant between songs as well, communicating exceptionally with both the Audience and accompanist Mike Hilt; AKA Metal Micky.

Janet completed her set with a phenomenal cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Go your own way’, including some audience interaction.

I was thrilled to see Janet finally getting her shot as a headliner and she took it well, and it will be great to see her filling up her diary very soon.

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Featured Artist: Edward Thomas – 07/01/20

It was the first open mic of 2020 and Edward Thomas was our featured artist. We first saw Ed when he came to support his friend Ade’s featured set in November. He blew us away with his technical ability on guitar and incredible vocal talent. I said at the time I was his new no.1 fan and I knew we had to have him back.

Ed began his set by denying that he was the main act, which was a testament to his modesty and also respect and appreciation for the other musicians. He then continued to play his first song, an original, and I was instantly reminded of how good he is! His playing style is intricate but at the same time rhythmic and striking. The kind of playing that you may attempt at home but then simplify if you were to play live! But Ed pulls it off flawlessly and his vocals ooze confidence and power accross a wide range. His use of vibrato creates stunning shimmer and the fingerstyle playing leads into his quick chord changes which lock in perfectly around his vocals. He captures your attention and you sit in awe, thinking that this performance would not be out of place on an arena stage.

Ed has a range of songs from slow and intimate to powerful and upbeat. He also played a great version of Carly Simon – You’re So Vain, which I’m convinced is about me. Ed’s style translates perfectly into this track and also went down very well on the live stream, racking up a fair amount of views (despite the poor internet connection!) Following his set Ed stuck around to watch all of the other artists, showing great support for them and the night itself. It was a pleasure to have him and of course Ade back over from Manchester and we hope to welcome them again soon.

By Scott Laywood

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