NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS HERE’S THE LIVERPOOL ACOUSTIC FESTIVAL

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The Liverpool Acoustic Festival returns to Hope Street next weekend (March 17-19). The festival has spread its wings this year and will be taking over The Music Room at the Philharmonic Hall, as well as its usual home at the Unity Theatre on Hope Place. Who’s playing? Who do we know? Who should we get to know? All that, and plenty more besides, right here. By Alan O’Hare.

There are too many open mic nights in Liverpool. Well, let me qualify that. There are too many singer/songwriters in Liverpool who think of an open mic night as a gig and a Facebook page as a brand.

Sure, they’re brilliant for newcomers to get their feet wet. They’re great for up and coming artists to try new things and meet new people. And open mics come to life when established songwriters mingle with the rest and everyone’s a winner. But they’ll never take the place of a gig, building a following and putting out (by any medium) an album. There are singer/songwriters in this town who have played every venue in the town, but have yet to put their chopper on the block and make a statement: this is who I am, this is how I sound and this is the sum total of where I’m at.

The open mic circuit can place art in a glass case and keep the aspirant on a perpetual treadmill. The Liverpool Acoustic Festival, hopefully, has the chance to change all that for lots of performers. The event has released details of stages, times and artists – and punters have got something tangible to get excited about. Want to see a name you’ve read about online up close and personal? Here’s your chance. Find out all the where and whens here.

It’s not just about newcomers, however. The festival has stepped up this year and brought in some heavyweights to help shift tickets and build interest. It’s the right thing to do and a move we wish them well with. Let’s take a look at the big names, and newcomers, who we think will provide the memories we will be taking home with us.

WHO WE KNOW

Scott Matthews
The Wolverhampton troubadour is a little bit different to your average acoustic guitar-wielding songwriter. Eclectic is the most overused word in music journalism… but I’m using it again here. Find out why for yourself at 9.50PM on Friday 18 March at the Unity Theatre.

Asma Elbadawi & Isaiah Hull
Who said it was all intimate and unplugged? This is a great booking from LAF as they welcome BBC 1xtra Words First finalists, Asma Elbadawi and Isaiah Hull. Spoken word, visual art and the tearing up of the rule book. Don’t miss it on Friday 18 March at 6.30PM in The Music Room.

Ian Prowse
One of my favourite songwriters and a performer who always delivers live. Songs of fire, heartbreak and wounded determination all shine through and Ian is always accompanied by a musician who will provide the Celtic soul his tunes feed on. Catch him on Saturday 19 March at 10.30PM at the Unity Theatre.

Lizzie Nunnery
Quietly going about her business for almost a decade now, Lizzie Nunnery is a must-see next weekend. A fellow Irish Sea Sessions veteran, alongside Prowse, Nunnery’s laments drip with melancholia, melody and mood. She’s also a fabulous singer… and singing live on Friday 18 March at 7.05PM and 8.25PM in The Music Room.

WHO WE SHOULD GET TO KNOW

Eleanor Nelly
A 16-year-old with a style all of her own and getting better all the time, Eleanor is another artist who will soon make the break from open mics to contention. Maybe the LIMF award winner can start here. While still a teenager, however, time is on her side. Catch her on Saturday 19 March at 2.15PM in the Unity Theatre.

Nick Ellis
We’ll let you into a little secret: we’ve heard Ellis’ new songs and they’re fantastic (watch this space for more coming soon). The ex-Maybes man has stepped out the shadows and found the space he was always meant to occupy. He’ll be live in The Music Room at 6.40PM on Saturday 19 March.

Mark Pountney
The ex-Mojave Collective singer ticks all the boxes you’d expect for a festival like this… though, and this is the key point, he ticks them all with a bit of class. Good songs, great singing and a boatload of soul. Catch him on Friday 18 March at 7.45PM in the Unity Theatre.

Jo Bywater
Here’s a performer with that intangible ability to stop the room. It’s not just her voice, it’s the liquid guitar style that brings the Delta and Mississippi mud straight down the Mersey. Jo’s style is in a tradition… and it’s a tradition that’s disappearing. Catch her in The Music Room at 7.15PM on Saturday 19 March.

Liverpool Acoustic Festival 2016
March 17-19
Various venues
Tickets here

Pic courtesy of Liverpool Acoustic Festival

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