Upon entering the Stokes Croft venue, visitors were greeted by the wonderful strings, strums and singing of Joyce The Librarian, sound checking.
No.51 had a large table of diners by the window, obviously enjoying the musical entertainment.
As the Oxjam team taped their banners to a circular table, tea lights and a flower next to the collection box, slowly the prettily lit venue filled with music enthusiasts.
The atmosphere was friendly, chatty and pleasant, perfect for launching Oxjam’s series of events before its festival on October 22 – also in Stokes Croft. The music picked for the night also appeared apt for launching Oxjam’s celebration of music close to home. A million times more personable than seeing a former X-Factor contestant playing the 02.
With four acts on the bill, the night started with Ben Woodward, an extremely friendly chap. He and his band performed with smiles and professionalism. Woodward’s voice is relaxing and his heartfelt feelings transferred perfectly through the mic. He never overpowered, just played in unison with his fellow musicians.
Joyce The Librarian had an avid audience for their performance. Their delicately played strings, repeating guitar notes, deeper noted double bass – working like a shoulder massage –and beautiful vocals, mesmerised, ensuring the place hushed to a near silence. In short, they were excellent and Bristol should be proud to have them.
Continuing the soft, thoughtful music for this Thursday evening, Anna Young is a talented guitar playing singer/songwriter. Her voice is strong and confident, her lyrics honest and true, often discussing love, with sway-inducing choruses.
Finally, Andy Valentine ended the evening with a feisty kick. Dressed in a decorated top hat and tails, Valentine is an entertaining, creative spirit. Welcoming chat from the audience, songs from the ’80s and ’90s covered acoustically – from Ace Of Base to Take That and Fleetwood Mac – were met with delight. A definite stage presence and impressive guitar skills. A decidedly a splendid evening to kick off Oxjam 2011.