Free Range Music – The Fermain Tavern – 18/10/08

The John Wesley Stone - The Fermain Tavern - 18/10/08
The John Wesley Stone

Back in 2008 The Fermain Tavern started a series of regular monthly events in different styles of music. We’ve already seen reviews from blues nights and one of the Discharge nights focussing on punk but this comes from the first ‘Free Range Music’ night which featured more esoteric and acoustic styles.

The first ever Free Range Music night took place at The Fermain Tavern on Saturday 18th October 2008 and featured a varied and undeniably different sound to most gigs taking place in Guernsey.

Organised by Jamie-Lee it was him, and his trusty acoustic guitar, who started the evening’s live music.

Taking the old instrument and doing something highly new and inventive with it is Jamie’s real strength is he plays the guitar like a guitar, piano and bongos, all at the same time.

Jamie-Lee - The Fermain Tavern - 18/10/08

This style of percussive guitar leads to a very impressive sound which, in the form of Jamie’s semi-improvisational instrumentals, started the evening off in a very mellow mood while maintaining a great sense of musicality and skill.

Second to take to the stage were the first of the evening’s ‘jam bands’, Parched. Mixing reggae, rock and more ambient sounds Parched played three or four extended jams, often surpassing the ten-minute mark, that veered from mellow and relaxed sounds to crashing rock.

These heavier moments were often driven by the drums, which were played in a unique manner that produced a sound at times reminiscent of the great John Bonham of Led Zeppelin.

The only real criticism that I can find of Parched is that at times they overused certain sounds, especially on the lead guitar, and seemed to have difficulty ending their jams which often had the feeling they could continue forever – but I got the impression there were things the band would lose as they grow and develop.

The Fuzzey Group - The Fermain Tavern - 18/10/08
The Fuzzey Group

The night’s second ‘jam band’ were up next in the form of veteran three-piece The Fuzzey Group who play a style of music ideal for losing yourself in.

Using drums, guitars, keyboards and saxophones the Fuzzey’s created sounds that ranged from apocalyptic post punk to heavily jazz infused rock and covered most things in between.

This amazing variety of sounds, and the ways in which they create, shows a level of musicianship rarely demonstrated on any stage (not just in Guernsey) and was coming from a band who seemed to gel much more than the last time I saw them play the Fermain around a year ago.

To close the night things took a more upbeat and entertaining slant as bluegrass-rockabilly-country-and-western-skiffle-rocksters The John Wesley Stone took to the stage and soon had feet tapping.

The John Wesley Stone - The Fermain Tavern - 18/10/08
The John Wesley Stone

Another band who use quite a range of instruments including guitars, banjos, violins and even a homemade tea-chest bass, the four members put on quite a show with Hillbill often standing atop the tea-chest bass and “yeehaws” a-plenty ringing from the stage.

The band’s highlights tonight came in the form of their “truck driving and drugs” song Caffeine, Benzedrine, Nicotine and a Little Bit of Luck and their closing run though of Johnny Cash’s Cocaine Blues both of which had people up and dancing and left everyone with a smile.

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