CHORLTON’S Arts Festival returns this May for another month of cool culture, cracking musicians and a collection of great poetry and writing.
The festival is celebrating its twelfth year. Last year there were over 200 different events, attracting an audience of 28,000 people over 12 days. 2012 is bigger still.
The festival will run from until Sunday 27 May and will involve events such as a Comedy and Cabaret Act, which sees three performances coming together: The Tourist, who have been named the ‘finest sketch group in the Chorlton area’; Mish Mash a night of comedy, saucy dancing and live music hosted by radio presenter Chris Holliday; Gill and Malcolm’s Hot Cross Swan by Nick Oram and Tim Grewcock.
As well as comedy, there’s Snap: a sound installation by Sunshine Gray, a guided walk around the festival itself, poetry readings including special guests, the poet and academic John McAuliffe who will be reading from his most recent collection for Manky Poets.
For music lovers there are lots of bands and musicians to go and see, including alternative jazz artist Stuart McCallum, a presentation of uplifting acapella from Manchester Community Choir and a selection of top acoustic acts from across the UK, including In Quarantine We Trust, Terry Gallagher and Lesley Anne Davies, in Mike Nash’s Acoustic Sessions.
Singer/songwriter Jesca Hoop will also be among the acts playing over the course of the festival.
I was lucky enough to catch up with the Californian-born, Manc-loving lady herself.
RH: So you're playing Chorlton Arts Festival?
JH: Yes, looking forward to it, I'm sure it’s going to be great.
RH: Good to hear. How old were you when you started singing then?
JH: I was only wee – I’ve been singing since I could speak. I’d sing when I was riding my bike, I’d sing when I was skateboarding down the street, all the time I’d be thinking of new ideas for songs and lyrics.
RH: How old were you when you started writing your own songs?
JH: I’ve been writing songs since the age of 16, it has always been a past time for me – I’d always be writing on the way to school.
RH: Who are your musical influences?
JH: When I was growing up my parents would listen to old country music, so that influenced me a lot. Barbara Streisand was an influence but I don’t have any particular icons. If I like a song, I think ‘I may treat this song the way Black Sabbath would have treated this song’, but it doesn’t sound the same because my music is different. My interpretation, in terms of material and tones of the music is different and the result is unique.
RH:Tell me about your new upcoming album The House That Jack Built? What elements does the album explore?
JH: Yes – there are threads throughout my writing, about death, sex, war – I like to sing about these subjects because I don’t have any crushes on boys. I think there are plenty of people writing about crushes on boys at the moment. All the songs on the album are meaningful, they all come from a place of much intent and one of the most personal numbers is The House That Jack Built. The album will be released on 25 June this year.
They’re not diary entries, they’re experiences. There’s more than just a few who know what I’m talking about.
RH: Is there a particular genre of music you feel close too?
JH: I wouldn’t say I have a genre. I call my music Avant-Pop because it doesn’t fit into a genre. It’s the hybrid of sensibilities that doesn’t allow a slot anyway. I’m a songwriter. Me, myself and my trade.
RH: Tom Waits (American singer/songwriter, composer and actor), has described your music as being like ‘swimming in a lake at night’. How does that make you feel?
JH: Amazing. Swimming in a lake at night is my favourite thing to do – especially in Arizona. It’s a great honour to have Tom Waits endorse my music like that.
RH: What does the future hold?
JH: I want my home life to be outrageously involved with my working life. My art of living at home is more simple than I would like. For now I tour and travel a lot and my home is my little haven. I’d like to work hard enough for my home culture to reap the benefits. I’m very proud of my records and I hope they find the right home and listeners.
You can purchase tickets for Jesca Hoop's performance at St Clements Church here, as well as all other events taking place at Chorlton Arts Festival.
Alternatively, pop into the Festival Hub from Saturday 5 May. The hub is the main festival and ticket point for the Festival and is open Thursday - Saturday 11.30am - 5.30pm, Sunday 2pm - 5pm.
It is advised to book early to avoid disappointment.
You can follow Rachael Heslehurst at @rheslehurst
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