Sunday, 3 July 2016

Caffè Nero at The Cornbury Music Festival 2016

The festival has been held for the last 13 years, originally staged at Cornbury Park, near Charlbury, it changed venues in 2012 to the Great Tew Estate where it is now well settled – although they are still tweaking the layout.

For the last seven years Caffè Nero have extended their musical offering with a full schedule of sets covering all three days of the festival.  Once again, directed by the musical enthusiast Pablo Ettington, they presented a full range of the finest unsigned artists in the UK. The Imagesound stage had a program of 25 acts – a mini festival in its own right.

Pablo is the co-founder of the Caffè Nero coffee house chain, a business credited with helping launch the musical careers of Passenger and Jack Savoretti.

Both singer songwriters were first spotted playing live in one of his branches, with many more musicians also receiving a vital lifeline through the company’s various artist development schemes.

Across Pablo’s 800 cafes, curated playlists play a huge part in setting the right atmosphere for customers and staff – and offer crucial exposure to upcoming classical, jazz, folk and pop songwriters.

The Caffè Nero team also run an Artist of the Month scheme, promoting a different act every four weeks and hosting gigs at their venues around the UK and beyond.

Previous featured artists include Savoretti, Passenger, Ludovico Einaudi, The Dunwell Brothers and Newton Faulkner, who have all gone on to achieve mainstream success.

Pablo is an avid music fan, songwriter, recording artist and pianist, whose love of music was encouraged at an early age.

Friday saw a performance by Roxanne de Bastio fresh from her debut at Glastonbury, the week before. Her song, “Train Tracks” just released on BandCamp, seems more relevant with its references to the joys and freedom of moving around Europe.

Saturday started with a fantastic singer songwriter and returning performer Lenny Filipova, an acclaimed Czech musician. She played a passionate set. Her voice has a distinct lower tone.

Hattie Briggs treated the packed marque with a set of mostly new songs from her latest album ‘Young Runaway’, that was only release the previous day. The one exception was her version cover of Eva Casady’s cover of Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’.

She started her beautiful and engaging performance with ‘Move Away’, a song about taking chances. ‘Have We Met Before’, Co-written by Jake Cookson – her companion today, about all the people who she has met since she has been playing music full time, after leaving her Russian Degree at Oxford.
‘Hears to Hoping’, a song about the house Hattie grew up in, for this song she swaps her guitar for a ukulele. ‘Castle on The Sand’, is loosely based on an old friends love life, and how she kept getting her heart broken. After her version of ‘Fields of Gold’, she finished the set with a summery song, ‘Summer Time Man’ which she played on piano.

With influences including James Taylor, Norah Jones and Eva Cassidy, Hattie’s music crosses multiple genres including pop, folk, soul and blues.
Her lyrics and composition have shades of Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman, and her vocal delivery has a crystalline clarity with subtle hints in her phrasing that give away her Gloucestershire roots, which gives a special character to her voice.

Sunday’s line-up featured Caffè Nero’s June ‘Artist of the Month’ - Dave Hanson Band.

After touring with Mumford and Sons and Sheryl Crow as well as performing on the Tonight Show, Dave Hanson decided to leave his successful band The Dunwells (who also appeared on the main stage at Cornbury and an acoustic set on the Imagesound stage on the Friday) to pursue his dream of making his own music. Spending the last 5 years touring across America provided Dave with inspiration to write and create his new album that has a laid back, rootsy vibe inspired by his love of JJ Cale, Dire Straits and The Black Keys. Working with producer Tim Palmer (U2, Pearl Jam, David Bowie), Hanson has succeeded in making an album of material that sounds warm and familiar but with a modern production value. Hanson’s easy going persona translates into his music which has a sophisticated and effortless feel.

The set included a lot of new material from his recently release album ‘Almost Horizontal’. On the small stage they managed to pack Dave – lead vocals and guitar, Keira Kendry Bass, Becca Ward harmonies/backing vocals, Martin Milhorn Keyboard and the very young Steve Hanley on drums.

Opening the set was the ‘Joanna’, followed by ‘Do You Get The Fear?’ a very funky track which reminded me of the "Starsky and Hutch" theme tune by The Hollywood's Martins – it has the same vibe and is about waking up early and not wanting the day to start. Next up was a song whose inspiration was drawn from
way back in ’69, a great articulate guitar and a jazzy keyboard.
‘Blind Faith’ is a song about making the leap from the comfort of being in a band, to going solo and writing your own songs.
‘Island Sky’ the time Dave spent on Mackinac Island in the middle of lake Michigan, and reminds him of what it felt to be there.
‘Things will get better in a little while’

Next time your at Cornbury, you would do well to spend some time in the Caffé Nero and hear some great music, have some coffee and a snack – you’ll pick up some great new music.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Big Feastival 2013

Jamie Oliver and Alex James present The Big Feastival, a unique weekend celebration of music, food and fun for all the family, set on Alex’s idyllic Cotswolds farm.

You can enjoy music from top acts, tuck into top chef demos in the Big Kitchen and have your fill from The Menu, featuring the cream of the UK’s street food crop. Browse local producer stands, join a cookery class or get your foodie fix joining top chefs for intimate Q&A sessions. Keep little and big kids happy in the fun-filled Little Dudes Den, join an arts & crafts workshop, enjoy the Big Top games or take a spin round the vintage funfair.

Once again the weather was great and that was reflected in the size of the crowd. Promoting the usually comfortable, relaxed an well mannered family friendly festival. 

As you expected at a well healed festival it was attended by local celebrity Jeramy Clarkson, Peter Jones - Dragons Den, Peter Crouch - Stoke City, and former Spurs football player. 

Having settled into it's now location away from the nearby railway, the arena has the entrance in to the next field where the fair and kids entertainment in the Little Dudes Den. Although the Big Kitchen stage was smaller this year the Cookery school was much bigger than in previous years. 

The whole of the arena was much more finished and now had a coherent theme running through its design. Between the two main stages there were various stalls and food outlets including Adam Heson rare bread pies, gin & tonic, handmade sausage rolls,  the Wondering Wine Company, Pizza pilgrims, Juice shack and a Food Market featuring many artisan food and drink stalls. Aside from the Chef's Table restaurant there was Alex James' cheese shop where he launched his new cheese 'Blue Monday' and a food tent featuring Jamie's Italian, Union Jack and Barbecoa. 

The first act to play on the Saturday was on the new mini stage in the Pimm's Garden, with an introduction by Mr Oliver, Bright Light City played to an appreciative gathering populated my many of their fans.   

On the Lexus Main Stage Jamie and Alex introduce Fickle Friends, from Brighton, who were the winners of the music contest sponsored by Jamie, together with his Union Jacks restaurants. Jamie's Summer Jam is a great opportunity for super-talented musicians to get in front of their audience and gain huge exposure. Jamie knows his music. Ten years ago he launched a similar competition and, before going on to sell more than 10 million albums, Keane shared the glory. Fickle Friend are Natassja Shiner - Vox/Synth, Sam Morris - Drums, Harry Herrington - Bass/Backing Vox, Chris Hall - Guitar, Jack Wilson - Synth/Backing Vox. Their opening song was 'Girl Like That' having a great riff and lead vocals that were very strong and confident. Demonstrating their 80's new-wave pop and why they won the competition. 

Next on the music stage was Jasmine Hill. A local singer and talent graduate of Chipping North School. Her set opened with 'Cuspids Grow Up' showed off her light airy voice with a soft gentle delivery, raising to a powerful Ballard. 'Stone Cold' was a more dynamic piece with a strong drum beat. 

Duke, from Cheltenham, were appearing at the festival before embarking on a twenty date tour throughout september. They wear bought to the publics attention via Britons Got Talent. The group consists of Markos Pandazis – Vocals/Vocal Basslines/Beatbox, Edward Travers - Beatbox, FX, Vocals and Flynn Stronach - Guitar, Vocals. Aside from the support from Flynn there are no tape loops or backing track, everything else is created by their voices. Although their repeatuare is all covers, what they produce is amazing not only audibly but visually captivating. The performance included 'Blurred Lines', 'Do You Like It', 'Fresh Prince' and Seal's - 'Kiss From a Rose'. As well as know songs they also created a medley of drum 'n' bass, which captivated the audience and earned the a round of applause and cheers from the appreciative crowd.  

Will Joseph Cook, with his band comprising of Jack, Liam and Luke, play Jazz/funk. Will has an mature vocal style. 'Running to Rocks' reminded me of a combination of Paulo Neutine  and Amy Winehouse. Will played a solo acoustic number 'Catalyst' which was about breaking up. The final song of the set was 'Hannah' where Will's vocals were supported by a mellow guitar and a slow procession. Many of his songs build to a big finish. 

Rachel Khoo, cooked a recipe from my new book My Little French Kitchen (coming out in October). She whipped up a savoury Paris brest, a Choux pastry ring filled with brie, baby spinach, thinly sliced apple and a mustard mousse. She said you can use any sort cheese. 

Appearing on the stage late afternoon, Norman Jay MBE, known for his involvement as a DJ at The Notting Hill carnival, played a variety of tunes on the decks and the  crowd were loving the beat, dancing and cheering. 

Lianne La Halvas fronts her band with lead vocals and guitar. She is supported by Jay Sikora - Drum, Chris Dagger - Bass, Rhianna Kenny - Backing Vocals, which Lianne did herself on tour with Paloma Faith. Following on from the release of her debut album she has been touring non stop for the last year. Alex & Jamie are big fans. Her set included 'No Room For Doubt' which she performed solo. She was very comfortable with the crowd and got the audience to join in with the chant in the courts of 'Forget'. 'Cinema' is a beautifully swooping melodic song with a Parisian feel. Lianne performs 'Older Man' solo, a rock track followed by soulful ballad - 'Hate Myself'. 'Is Your Love Big Enough', title track of debut album, has a more spanish feel, the crowd kept time with flamenco style clapping. 

Rizzle Kicks an English hip hop duo from Brighton, are Jordan Bootsy Stephens and Harley Sylvester Alexander-Sule.  They really clicked with the audience, young and old, with their high energy hip hop. The two singers were bouncing around the stage and transferred their energy to the crowd. Their music is very infectious, so much so they have an unlikely fan, in that of Stephen Fry who proclaimed over Twitter that he was "unexpectedly loving the old school hip hop sounds of Rizzle Kicks."

Closing the festivities are Basement Jaxx, a British electronic dance music duo, formed by Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe play there unmistakeable hits 'Music keeps turning', 'Rondezvue' and 'Oh My Gosh'. Will Joseph and his band were in the audience getting down to the great beats during the instrumental break, while a group of professional dancer filled the stage. Continuing their set they play 'Children Of The Night' and 'Back To The West' with the addition of two new asian/indonesian singers. 

Sunday started well with Jamie Oliver & Adam Henson on The Big Kitchen stage. They were joined by the amazing DJ Bar-B-Que, famous for his pulled pork. They discussed how old spot pork was a great choice for pulled port. Adam was expressing his views about Food Quality. He agreed that in Post War Britain, mass production was a necessity but we nearly lost some of the older quality British breeds. He explained that mass production has been seen as the only option to sustain supply but given the proper care and an extended life to our livestock, makes a far healthier animal, is more humane and produces a more flavoursome product. The UK has the highest standards in Europe but they can be better. Jamie, using meat from Adam's farm demonstrated how to make Pulled Pork from a shoulder cut. This type of cut, from the pigs shoulder, is relatively inexpensive as it is considered tough, but with careful preparation and a really long, slow and low cook the meat becomes tender and can literally pulled apart. 

On the main stage Justine Fletcher aka 'Mr Tumble' proved a great hit with the Pre-school/junior festival goers. It was great seeing everyone in the audience engrossed in Justine's performance as he seamlessly moved between his various characters.  

Jamie then took to the stage to welcome everyone to the days festivities. He thanked everyone for coming and explained how FIFTEEN people, plus a few more, people from various backgrounds would be given the chance to train as chefs and give them something to build on and that is what behind the festival. The foundation hopes to raise £25,000 person. Thanks to the money raised by the festival they are able to train an extra three people. He explained that just by eating at the festival they were supporting the foundation as 50p from each dish goes to the fund. 

Laurence Fox, well known for his acting, was showcasing his musical talents. With his acoustic guitar he was supported by his musical friend Greg, who played an electric guitar. Laurence's songs are emotionally deep and melancholic. These included 'Go Hard, Go Hungry', 'Gun Fight', 'Shelter', 'So Be Damned' his first single, and 'Figure You Out'. During most of the set he just played, but for 'Mostly Water' he explained it was about love for his children and how, with his filming schedule he missed them children after work. The crowd were so impressed with his performance the wanted more, but the compare explained he only had one album, and did not have any more. 

While Laurence was charming the audience Billie Piper-Fox was keeping the children happy. 

Next up were The Milk, a rock band from London - are Rick Nunn (lead vocals/guitar/keys) Mitch Ayling (drums/vox/keys) Dan Legresley (lead guitar/vox) Luke Ayling (bass guitar). Rick's vocals were a mix of Toploader, Rod Stewart, and Robert plant. Broke Up The Family, was very much a rock track. Mr Motivator, has more of a funk vibe, while 'Delivery Me' was a much more mellow song. They closed their set with 'Favourite Worry'. They added they had just finished recording their second album. 

To lighten the mood and injecting a bit of fun to the musical stage the Cuban Brothers were introduced. Started with Miguel Mantovani in the crowd talking to the ladies, while Kenny 'the bastard' and Archerio danced to James brown. Miguel surveyed the audience making risqué suggestions, much their amusement. They were then joined by 'One Erection', who's members are Jamie 'Oliverio' on drums Alex 'Jamio' on bass, played as the brothers danced to JUMP. Jamie and Alex were special guests with The Producers, last year. The Cuban Brothers rocked the stage and the crowd, with fantastic break dancing by the boys, while Miguel sang and danced. 

The crowd swelled in numbers in anticipation of Mark Owen. Having gone solo in 1996 after his successes with 'Take That', he returned to touring 2012, supported by his band. He was both sad and relieved that this was his last festival this year. Opening his performance he sang 'Shine', 'Raven', and 'Stars'. Next up he announced that this was one of Jamie's favourite songs, and an older track 'Time'. The audience were really appreciating his set as he followed with 'Kind', and 'One Minute Wander'. When he announces that 'Sweet Surrender' was his last song, the crowd cheered and applauded. Encore - star dust theme 'Rule The World', which Mark plays solo on piano. 

KT Tunstall was next up on the music stage, as she introduced herself the audience the loop box accidentally engaged just as she said 'hello Big Feastival' it looped. Opening with Two new songs, from her latest album 'Invisible Empire', she followed with the much loved, 'Other Side of the World'. Introducing her next song she said "When you find a song you really like, we like to perform it like we wrote it" and played an excellent cover of 'Boys of Summer'. At the conclusion of this track the band left the stage and was left her on own to perform 'Black Horse And The Cherry Tree', which was a song she originally did busking in Edinburgh and was the song that bought her to public attention with a 2004 live solo performance on 'Later... with Jools Holland'. Unfortunately to loop box played up again and cut out, being a well experienced performer she suggested it was having a bad day, so she just re-looped and started again, adding a kazoo. With her band back on stage they played the title track from the new album 'Invisible Empire'. Getting well into their stride Kate introduced the next song 'Funnyman', as being about a crazy person. To her surprise, after writing and performing what she had thought was an original song she realised it was based on Amadeus. For 'Suddenly I See' the band was trying new busking version. Bass player beat boxes while the drummer play maracas. To close they played "One by the Boss" 'State Trooper', which the whole band enjoyed rocking out to. 

Emma B introduced a special guest, Grammies nominated, Leslie Mendelson, how had played earlier in the bandstand. She played 'Jericho', with her acoustic guitar, her  Clear crisp voice illustrated why she had been nominated. 

Just before the closing act Alex James came on stage and said he had know The Feeling for a long time and had got to know their wives, parents and then their children. A few of the bands bought had their families with them too. With his family and all the festival goers and theirs its created a great family atmosphere to the festival. So we'll have to have another next year. 

The mood was now set for a great closing set by The Feeling, Dan Gillespie Sells - lead vocals, piano and guitar, Richard Jones - bass guitar, (Sells and Jones met at Brit School), Kevin Jeremiah - guitar, Ciaran Jeremiah - Keyboard, and Paul Stewart on drums. They started set with 'Lonely' the very first single they released. They then played 'Fill my world' the song that really bought them to the publics attention 8 years ago. . They've bought a studio in a pub in London and they have been working on an album. They played a good mix of old and new tracks - 'Blue Murder' from their forthcoming album and 'Never Be Lonely' from their first. They were airing several new tracks including 'Like New' they had only playing the last couple of days. Dan announced that the next track was about 'My favourite things in the world - helicopters' the first single from their last album. Then the rest of the band left the stage and Dan played 'Rose', solo on the piano. Sophie Ellis Bextor, who is married to base player Richard, was sitting at the back of the stage with the children. She was singing along. A fantastic set, with the light fading, the stage smoke & lights made for a spectacular display. The strong crowd were in the mood for a great time, and we're not disappointed. 

This is both Alex and Jamie's third festival and it is really taking shape and developing its character. If you love food and music as they do it's a great festival with a wonderful atmosphere. 

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Review: WOMAD 2013

WOMAD 2013 … or to give its full title ‘World of Music, Arts and Dance’ is an international arts festival.
The central aim of WOMAD is to celebrate the world's many forms of music, arts and dance. Now in its 21st year, having been started by Peter Gabriel, musician and artist, and Mark Kidel, a music documentary maker, the UK festival is held in Charlton Park, Wiltshire. The main arena holds four stages, with a further four in the Arboretum – including the BBC Radio 3 stage.
An old fashioned steam fair, global market, children's area, and wellbeing section are also found on the WOMAD UK festival site. As you would expect there is a diverse selection of food from all over the world, including Italian, Australian, Indian, Philippine, Greek, Mexican, French, Caribbean, Thai, and the usual burgers – although they are made from top quality organic beef.
In the market area there are many stalls selling New Age jewellery, scarfs and bracelets, flower garlands, Saharan arts, Eco gadgets, reed baskets and mats. Of course, flower power shirts and dresses are also available.
The World of Wellbeing is set in a beautiful and tranquil section of the site shaded by the trees in the Arboretum. There are various massage tents and variety of soothing therapies, to help you relax and recover from all of the dancing – or you can simply enjoy some tea and cakes away from the busy arena.
Carminho, a young Portuguese singer who is following in the Fado tradition of music, played in the Siam Tent, supported by the usual acoustic backing of classical guitar, acoustic bass guitar and a traditional Portuguese guitar. Like many of the performers at the festival she does not sing in English, however her clear and crisp voice swoops and soars with optimism conveying the emotion in her songs. After the first, very emotional, song she paused and spoke in careful English saying that ‘this (festival) was a spectacular moment in the life of everybody who loves music’.
While exploring the ‘market’ area in the centre of the main arena it was hard to miss the irresistible African beat of Dizu Plaatjies and the Ibuyambo Ensemble. Their influence had the crowd bouncing and dancing. Between the songs there was a tribal hunting dance which finished with a great round of applause.
Yesking Live, originally formed with Mark Rae and Rhys Adams, play a blend of hip hop, dancehall, ragga and skank–ska. The band is backed by lead and bass guitar, trumpet, saxophone, drums and keyboards (played by Rhys Adams). Their set opened with guest vocalist Mystro for the first two songs – ‘Run Boy Run’, ‘Friends Like Mine’, bring his hip hop flavour to the group.
With Mel Uye-Parker and Ríoghnach Connolly taking over the vocals the mood shifts to a more mellow tone with ‘Just Like Me’, ‘Devil Inside’, ‘Overproof’ – the group’s first single, ‘Hardground’, ‘Chicken Chops’, ‘Rainbow Country’ - a Bob Marley song, was sung by the bass player Kodjovi Kush. The set finished with ‘Circles’, and ‘Secret King’ whereMystro re-joins the group on stage, swelling their number to 9.
Fimber Bravo is a famous steel drum artist. He has toured with Blur, worked with Electro-pop band Hot Chips and was a pivotal member of the 20th Century Steel Band whose mid-seventies hit ‘Heaven And Hell Is On Earth’ has been sampled by many of the hip-hop elite – even appearing on Jennifer Lopez’s hit ‘Jenny From the Block’. His music breaks the stereotype of what you would normally expect from a Jamaican steel band, with support from Electronic keyboard, electric guitar, rock drum kit and the new addition of an African Kora.
The set was very lively, with Fimber playing the steel drum with amazing speed and passion – the whole audience responding to the beat from the very strident drummer and guitarist. Fimber, paused for breath, saying although it was his first time at WOMAD he was enjoying it, as the feel of the festival was good.
Babylon Circus, are a SKA and reggae group who mix punk, rock, swing and jazz influences into their sound. This is their second time at WOMAD - they remember how good it was last time and said they planned on helping everyone enjoy this festival as much as they did on their last visit. This flamboyant French group is headed by two singers, a brass section with a trombone, trumpet and a saxophone, keyboard, drums, bass and lead guitar. Their energy and enthusiasm flowed from the stage and into the audience in the tent and dancing spread out into the arena.
WOMAD is truly a multi-national musical experience and if you are open to new forms of music and appreciate the passion and energy of talented performers, whatever the language, this is the festival for you. It is a vast and well organised festival, but the people and the ethos of it, make you feel like you’ve been invited to an intimate gathering of people who just want to share their music.
Review by Michael Butterworth

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Review: Bleech at Barfly, Camden - 2012

Barfly is situated in Camden just down the road from the Roundhouse. It's a small pub with an upstairs venue which features live music every evening. The evening opened with Night Business whose striking lead singer has vocal tones and delivery like his hero David Bowie. Although they do convincing covers they play their own compositions including ‘Lets Out’ and ‘Moving On’. The latter having a sound reminiscent of what was good in the 80's.

Gaoler's Daughter, fronted by John Sterry, played a combination of good rock songs like ‘Invisible Man’ and mellower songs such as ‘Three Days Rain’, followed by ‘Cordelia’. ‘How to Make Time’ was musically the most interesting. The audience really got into ‘When We Were You’, their most recent single, encouraged by its staccato rhythm.

Eyes On Film, with five members, a drum kit and keyboards had difficulty fitting on the small stage. Fronted by Dan Mills, with Libertines singer Carl Barat on guitar, they played an energetic set with aggressive lyrics and delivery.

Back from their successful German tour and in front of a home crowd, Bleech: Jennifer O'Neil - Lead vocals and guitar, sister Katherine - Backing vocals and bass guitar, and Matt Bick - Drums and backing vocals; gave the audience what they came for, a rousing and powerful rock/grunge adrenaline fuelled set.

They opened the set with an extended version of 'Dancing Without You', that fans of the group and their debut album 'Nude' know and love. Before playing some new songs they powered through, five more songs from their album including their last single 'Break My Nose', a cover of David Bowie's ‘Is It True Boys Don't Cry?’ and the self-affirming, often mis-titled, ‘I Want to Be Me’.

New songs included, ‘Here I Am’, ‘Taking Over’ and ‘Control’ - taken from their current EP. I found ‘70's Child’ very reminiscent of Elastica with Jen singing in a much higher key than usual. As Jen announced that this would be the last song there were shouts from the audience that they wanted more. Jen pointed out that 'you are supposed to say that when we have left the stage' much to the amusement of the crowd.

As the fans so enthusiastically requested an encore they were treated to an acapella version of ‘Flower Hands’ and closed with one of their first recording, ‘Are You Listening’ - which has a great combination of bass and lead guitar.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Review: Mastering Apple Aperture 3.X

I've not read a whole book electronically before, so I downloaded to eBook and the PDF version. 

I found the PDF a better format because this is a technical book and not a novel so the layout and links to the screen shots were consistent. With the eBook the structure fell apart as the font size was changed and the initial layout had very few paragraphs per page.

The author makes a very important statement at the start of he book outlining the target audience should be comfortable with using a Mac, shooting in RAW and have already used Aperture. I fit in to this category and hoped that I would discover some of Apertures less obvious features and unlock them to enhance my experience.

I found the book very approachable, although the pace is quite quick this is because the writing style is succinct and does not waste time padding out the text with irrelevant or really basic information. It gets right into the product and explains what features it has and gives insight into what gives the products it's performance.

The structure of the book is well thought out and the first few chapters cover key theories about Aperture itself and the digital image processing.

I have done a lot of importing into Aperture and the first chapter revealed some features that I had not seen before. The default import process is very good but the author demonstrates what more can be done just by simply adding some of the extra functions into the import panel.

There is a good explanation of how the import process works, how to handle shooting RAW+JPEG, shooting with the camera tethered and filtering the import to only import RAW, JPEG or Video files. The guidance extends into the pros and cons of importing into Apertures Library or linking the files from your local storage. As in many of the other chapters in the book there are tips and recommendations on how to organise your photo imports and real world examples to aid the reader in applying the knowledge to their own processes.

After the images are imported the next obvious thing to do is to teak and edit them. The book reinforces the fact that Aperture is primarily a management application, however it does have some very good features making adjustments to images and more importantly that these are split between ones that work on the RAW data and others that work in the RGB colour space. There is a discussion on how these differences affect the changes to the images but most significantly that Aperture makes changes using 32-bit math, no matter what the source image is and as such these changes are much smoother than other applications. Equally significant is the reminder that some of the tools are only adequate and other programs do some of the adjustments better.

Building on the topic of adjustment tools there is a whole chapter devoted to the subject of using the curves function to archive various adjustments and how in some cases, with knowledge of how they work, they can do some types of adjustments better than the more obvious adjustments. The explanations of what curves can do and how to use them is not only discussed in detail, but practical examples are given to put this into context, aid the understanding of the principles and how to archive great results.

Once you have been guided as to what you can do the product the author brings all of the knowledge bought to you from the beginning of the book into further real world examples.

In spite of pointing our some of Apertures shortcomings, the author points out that there is a great number of plug-ins that can augment the process of enhancing the images in the library. He then guides the reader through some of the most useful add-ons, gives details of where they can be purchased from, as well as illustrating their use and scenarios where you may want to pop outside of the main program. In an unbiased way, which is visible thought the book, the author also points out the possible pitfalls of this side of the product.

Obviously it is all well and good taking a lot of images and organising them well, but unless you do something with them it dies not matter how good a program is. With this in mind two of the chapters explain, in good detail, how to export images for the web, social networking and photo sharing - this can be done from within Aperture. The author also goes into detail about how to watermark your images and the pros and cons of direct publishing or export and upload. The second chapter goes through, in detail, on how to print your images the way you want, the quality settings and how to set profiles for more accurate printing.

Finally the book examines, in much greater depth how to make Metadata work for you. He goes through the extra options you have in managing your library of photographs as well as how this can enhance the visibility of your images on the web. There is also mention of other areas where you might need to add special or custom data to your images, say for stock libraries or publishing houses.

All-in-all this is a great no frills guide to Aperture, but it is also a great tutorial in the essential understanding of digital imaging and management that I feel would help even if you we're not using Aperture. It is also apparent the author really understands the subject and is very capable at expressing his knowledge in a clear and understandable way.

The Big Feastival 2012

The Big Feastival or to give it its full name - Jamie Oliver presents the Big Feastival with Alex James – a, perhaps aptly, mouthful of a name.

Last year saw the inaugural, very successful; Big Feastival launched by Jamie Oliver and held on Clapham Common. It also saw the short-lived and somewhat notorious Alex James Presents Harvest Festival promoted by the now defunct Big Wheel Promotions Ltd Company. The latter being held on the west Oxfordshire farm of Alex James the Cheese maker, and Blur bassist.

Both were billed as the perfect music festival for a foodie and their family. This year’s Big Feastival combined the two with Oliver’s festival relocating to James’ farm. The site layout has changed since last year; the old arena is now the car park and the festival is in the field next door, a big improvement during the event but not so much before and after.

The car park entrance being moved from its original back road to the train station has slowed traffic down considerably. However, the boredom of sitting in your car is significantly reduced by trying to identify the wonderful aromas that drift towards you from the site. Some areas of the site were a little too soft underfoot but efforts had been made to address this with bark chips or areas being cordoned off. Overall it seemed much busier than 2011, a positive note given the current economic lows.

Usually at a festival you have a number of stages offering music, the Big Feastival is slightly different, one music stage, two food stages, an artisan food market and an onsite fairground. The Big Kitchen ‘stage’ has big name chefs known to the majority of the audience through their television or newspaper appearances. On the Chefs’ Table ‘stage’ less well known but nevertheless accomplished chefs offer tips and answer questions from the punters.

Also at festivals you can expect a selection of food and drink. This is where Feastivalexcels, aside from the usual suspects of tea, coffee, soft drinks and beer a wide selection of wines and spirits were available. On the food side the usual was accompanied by organic deli, chocolate, ice cream, gourmet burgers, Asian, Australian, Spanish and Italian pies and pastries. A few of the outlets even had chefs cooking the food, freshly prepared on site, and its quality showed. Although expensive compared to the usual fare available at Festival the higher taste and quality of the food made its pricing reasonable – you get what you pay for.

Over the weekend the weather was mostly dry and, on Saturday at least, a bit sunnier than you would expect at the beginning of September. The only downside was the noticeable chill in the air as the nights drew in. Food wise Saturday’s highlights offered Simon Rogan, best known through his achievements on the Great British Menu, and one of only two chefs to achieve a perfect 10 from the Good Food Guide; the other being one Heston Blumenthal.

His demonstration to an eager audience was of great grouse roll faggots with baked beetroot. Great chatter and cooking made simple. Australian Bill Granger opened Sunday’s Big Kitchen with an oiled and spiced rump steak fried in six minutes with pepper, chilli and pineapple salsa. He reminisced about his childhood food experiences back in Australia and how his liking for spicy food came from his parents. His main focus was to give meal ideas that were quick and tasty to help families to eat great food without spending hours in the kitchen or resorting to mass produced, highly processed, convenience food.

Next came Jamie Oliver and John Ralehan from ‘Fifteen’, Oliver’s chef training scheme, produced his signature BBQ sauce and pulled pork with a fresh slaw with apple, cabbage, and onion. This was followed by Jia, also from ‘Fifteen’ - vajora mista – peppers, zucchini, asparagus and aubergine. Finally, Gennaro Contaldo came on with Spaghetti Vongole, anchovies and clams Neapolitan style. GennaroJamie’s Italian Cooking mentor, has a great stage presence with his wonderful Italian mannerisms and kept the youthful exuberance of Jamie in check.

Musically Saturday offered a mixed selection of musical styles starting with the winner of a competition for unsigned acts, Sahand, and topped off with the eclectic dynamo that isPaloma FaithSweet Lights, from Philadelpia, a lone musician surrounded by equipment - providing a backing track and apparently popular with DJs in the know, offered a reasonable set. Alas for him it didn’t receive the full attention of the audience due to a certain Mr. Oliver being on stage elsewhere.

Next were the Cuban Brothers with a quirky comedy music routine including risqué jokes and over the top dancing to a backing track. Despite the backing track the lead performer had a surprisingly good voice. They drew a big frenetic crowd, including Jamie Oliver who really enjoyed this unusual act. Following on were the Producers, a supergroup who are all musical royalty in their own right – Lol CrèmeTrevor HornStephen Lipson, and Ash Soan.

Their set consisted of songs they wrote, recorded or produced during their individual careers or have developed together for their new joint album as Producers includingCounty Jail by Godley & CreamSlave to the Rhythm by Grace JonesAll the Things She Said from Russian duo Tattoo (with fabulous singing from the backing singers); Frankie Goes to Hollywood's - The Power of Love.

The Producers main vocalist, Ryan, did not have the roundness of Holly Johnson’s but a great rendition nevertheless and the crowd sang along. He did, however have hints of Rod Stewart/Robert Plant on their last album track. The last song of the set was the classic Buggles song Video Killed the Radio Star. They stayed on stage and were joined by Alex James, on bass guitar and Jamie Oliver, on a second set of drums, creating 'The Farm Loving Criminals' to perform the infamous FGH song Relax.

Gaz Coombes, one time front man for Supergrass, arrived on stage to perform tracks from his new album Here Comes the Bombs alongside this was an interesting cover of The Beat’s track Mirror in the bathroom'. Then the musical tempo and enthusiasm from the audience really began to climb with the Noisettes’ performing a of a string of recognisable hits including That Girl’s in Love With YouDon't Upset The Rhythm and ending with a rousing rendition of Remember Me.

The audience showed their appreciation with loud applause while Paloma Faith watched from the pit, supporting her fellow Brit School graduates. J P Cooper then quietened things down with a special extra three song acoustic set while the stage was set for headline act of the day - Paloma Faith. Her set had songs from both her albums. She started the set standing on a miniature grand piano that was being played by one of her backing group.

Once off the piano she shook what she termed “what my Mama gave me” for all she was worth. Watching from the pit was Shingai Shoniwa, lead vocalist of the NoisettesFaith closed with 'New York' and 'Streets of Glory'. If Paloma and Shingai are truly representative of the talent that can be found at Brit School long may it help shape our future performers.

Sunday opened, at least for me, with a rather loud rock band called the Chevin. I much preferred the next act, Josh Osho from south London, an up and coming performer who has performed with both Tom Jones and Jessie J. He delivered a mostly acoustic guitar based set with a hint of the blues in a soulful and deep toned voice. Australian actor come chef, Adam Garcia was introduced to the crowd by Kirsten O’Brien, as a celebrity chef of a slightly different kind.

Guillemots followed producing a rousing set. Before Razorlight took to the stage Jamieand Alex came on to thank everyone for supporting the festival and by doing so helping raise money Jamie's charity by simply buying tickets and even the food. Razorlight started their set with 'Back to the stars' and continued with great energy. They did an up tempo cover of Edwin CollinsNever Met a Girl Like You. They played the intro of America and the crowd erupted.

Texas opened with I Don't Want a Lover to cheers from the crowd and bopping, in the wings at the back of the stage, from a new stage dancer in the lanky form of Alex James. Recently, they have been recording new material – their return to the studio being delayed by the brain aneurysm and subsequent recovery of guitarist Ally McErlaine.They played 'Detroit City', one of their latest songs, this being well received by the audience.

An upbeat rendition of 'Black Eyed Boy' really got the crowd bouncing. Followed by 'Summer Son' which was, or at least sounded, fitting as the weather held and the sun was setting to the right of the stage. With the crowd demanding an encore, the band returned to the stage with 'Inner smile' and, as Sharleen Spiteri put it ‘the best song ever written’River Deep Mountain High. Once Texas’ encore was over Alex came on stage with Kirsten O’Brien, with a big grin on his face and said he'd do it again next year – “it’s a keeper!”

Newark Festival 2013

The Newark Festival is a 3 day festival based in the centre of the Nottinghamshire town. When it has been held and who has played has varied from year to year. Initially a tribute acts line-up this year it’s reached the pinnacle of proper headliners.
Saturday was Madness night, heralded by a significant number of Fez wearing two toners in the audience. The evening opened with Siblings a four piece of drum and guitar who are one of the acts being promoted by the BBC under their BBC Introducing scheme promoting unsigned acts. Siblings’ set was a mix of lively and mellow songs closed with ‘Colours’.
Next up were By the Rivers, a young reggae band from Leicester consisting of guitars, keyboard, drums and even a brass section. They opened with One Word and also offered a dedication of Don’t Say You Love Me for a lucky lady called Sarah. Delivering great reggae helped ensure the steadily growing crowd warmed to them.
Also enjoying the set from the stage pit were members of Yes King – the next band up.Yes King, effectively the warm-up for Madness, started their tour at the festival. They are an eclectic mix with nine members who are not all on stage at the same time covering vocals, bass, guitar and brass section.
They started with Mystro (Digmund Freund – not a typo) as front man, giving his distinctive hip-hop flavour to the first two songs. Next to lead were Mel Uye-Parker and Ríoghnach Connolly providing vocals to a mellower musical vibe ranging between smooth reggae and upbeat SKA. Mystro returned for the closing song.
Finally what most of the crowd were there for Madness. One of the original bands when SKA emerged in the mid 1970’s, all seven members mostly from Camden, North London. They opened their set with two classic Madness songs One Step Beyond, featuring Chas Smash’s instantly recognisable introduction ‘Hey you, don’t watch that watch this…..’ andEmbarrassment.
Unfortunately, it soon became apparent there was something wrong with the sound. As they left the stage Suggs said they would be back when the problem was sorted out. Returning to the stage Suggs said they’d reboot the set. To refresh themselves for a new start both Suggs and Chas produced a bottle of their recently launched ‘Gladness’ ale brewed lager.
The new drink follows the launch of ‘Trooper’ ale, introduced recently by rock’s Iron Maiden. Following on from Embarrassment they followed with the song that made them famous, The Prince, and NW5 from the mid- noughties. After singing My Girl, from their very first album they introduced, Oui-Oui-Si-Si-Ja-Ja-Da-Da, the title track from their 2012 album.
The crowd were loving it, singing along to With the Wings of a Dove and many others. They played the crowd well, offering a practised set cover many well-known songs meant the false start was soon forgiven and forgotten.