On Sunday 26th June I had the pleasure of engineering the MGSO4 Epsom and Ewell Arts Festival. This was a three-day arts festival staged in Epsom showcasing some of the best local talent in the area. The festival website describes the event as follows:
MGSO4 is a dynamic, grassroots charity set up to promote arts and music in Epsom & Ewell.
The name of our festival – MGSO4 – has been inspired by MgSO4, (magnesium sulphate) the chemical formula for Epsom Salts, that made the town famous almost 400 years ago.
Our vision is to restore the arts to their position as a driving force in our community; showcasing talent, building sustainable businesses and inspiring the next generation.
MGSO4 aims to: • Inspire residents • Generate new ideas • Entertain audiences • Represent creative people • Unite the community • Include everyone • Be sustainable
This review will be concentrating on the music stage in Derby Square and on the Sunday where we were treated to a variety of talented local acts.
First we were treated to performances from the winner and runners-up in the MGSO4 young musician of theyear competition. First we had Alex Hancock (16) on bass who gave us a medley of contemporary tracks showcasing why her effortless bass playing had seen her gifted the runners-up prize in the contemporary category. Then Conor Mayer (16) gave us another effortless perfomance as he played the classical piano piece that had seen him given the winners title in the classical category. Finally the overall winner of the competition Thomas Kavanagh aged just 11 treated us to some stunning all out rock guitar playing, a truly talented musician indeed and a worthy winner
Next we had local indie band Project Culture. I really liked these guys, strong vocalist and really decent musicians with a nice balance between the guitars. The bass player filled in at short notice but you wouldn’t have known, their performance all in was pretty flawless and their original tracks fitted in nicely alongside contemporary tracks from Catfish and the Bottlemen et al. Here’s a clip taken by someone on the day, enjoy!
Next up was soulful singer/songwriter Sharlette. Derby square is packed with bars and cafes so this afternoon treat was perfect for this occasion. Sharlette was backed by a lovely acoustic guitarist (apologies I didn’t get his name but he was good!) and the audience was given a flawless vocal performance from Sharlettes soulful catalogue
We move on to winner of Realistic Music Academy’s showcase Ella Cornwell. A local singer / songwriter she possesses a really distinct vocal and has a nack for writing emotionally charged beautifully delivered arrangements. On the day she had the crowd in Derby Square fixed on her stories of life and love, just one girl and her guitar, a talented young lady indeed
Then on to one of my highlights from the day Feral Ghost. Massive songs, strong melodies and a classic pop rock sound. On after a couple of acoustic acts this band got Derby Square up and moving that’s for sure. Melodic harmonies and a strong back catalogue of stunning original material this band really shone for me with their anthemic rock sound.3 guitars can sometimes get a bit cluttered but each one had their unique part to play in the huge sound of Feral Ghost. It wa a treat indeed to witness these guys live. Big shout out to both singers who managed to keep their harmonies on point with everything else going on around them. The male / female pair perfectly complimented each other, I definitely recommend you check these guys out!
So how do you follow that? Well you put on country soul singer Laura Evans favoured by rapper Drake no less! Backed by a band of very talented musicians including festival organiser Ben Thompsett Laura gave the square a perfect afternoon rendition of some country magic. This Welsh starlets friendly persona and undeniable talent shone through and this was an inspired addition to the festival schedule.
Then to another young local indie band Little Grim. The South London four-piece pride themselves on their “dark and twisted” alt rock sound but more than that they’re a great bunch of musicians. They look the part and their jangly intricate Foals inspired guitar riffs are well executed and their music has its own unique quirkiness. Definitely worth checking out
Now to the penultimate artist of the day and we are treated to a rare hometown show from West End lead of Guys and Dolls and We Will Rock You Oliver Thompsett. Backed by the MGSO4 house band including brother Ben Thompsett Derby square is given a masterclass in how to own a stage. His West End credentials are clear to see from start to finish, a class act indeed and MGSO4 are very lucky to have him on board
So to the closing act, The Blunter Brothers. This classic funk, motown and soul band have established themselves as one of the UK’s best revue acts and they do not disappoint! By now the rain has started to fall but it doesn’t stop the Derby Square crowd from putting up their brollies and supporting this truly amazing bunch of musicians.
These guys are all at the top of their game and treat the crowd to flawless renditions of classics from Stevie Wonder to James Brown. From start to finish the crowd is fixed, encores ensue and everyone’s a winner!
The MGSO4 festival was a huge success, great organisation and promotion had ensured a constant crowd throughout the day and carefull selection of quality acts had meant there really wasn’t a weak link in talent throughout the whole afternoon. I myself am already looking forward to MGSO4 2017!