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Upstart Crow Festival - Profile

  by Owen Peters

published: 25 / 9 / 2015

Upstart Crow Festival - Profile


Owen Peters profiles the Upstart Crow Festival, a free singer-songwriter's festival which now in its second year will take place at Spitalfields Market and this year will include on its bill John Murry, Michele Stodart, Pete Greenwood, Felix Indiana and Brooke Sharkey

Not all festivals are expensive, require a tent, strong bladder, sat nav, a knowledge of cattle and fields, with cries from the back seat of "Are we there yet?" Tucked away in late September (the 27th to be exact) at London’s Spitalfields Market area is a coming together of multi-talented singer-songwriters, performing at The Upstart Crow Festival. The festival is free, in its second year and for one day only. Check out the festival website (http://www.upstartcrowfestival.com), as updates are being added each week. I’ve been fortunate to see many of the festival's artists live, or had their CDs on replay. If you haven’t seen the likes of John Murry, Michele Stodart, Pete Greenwood, Felix Indiana or Brooke Sharkey live, get hold of a ticket - this line-up won’t disappoint. I spoke with some of the artists scheduled to perform at Upstart Crow. I also grabbed time with busy spokesperson and committee member James Burton. He told me how this new, vibrant and independent festival came into being, explaining its second year challenges and objectives. Firstly I asked him about the origins of Upstart Crow. The name comes from the famous writer Robert Greene, who described William Shakespeare as an "Upstart Crow", reportedly from his deathbed. He was calling him a thief, stealing ideas, reworking them and in some cases calling them his own. Someone who has risen above his station in life. Hey, I can relate to that, along with many more artists. From 16th century matters Burton bring us back to the upcoming musical ones. "The festival was born out of the London clubs and pubs music scene. Its foundation was inspired by the dogged enthusiasm of singer-songwriters who frequent these venues and their determination to get their music heard. A few clubs, like the Lantern Society, attract the very best writers and performers. The atmosphere is incredible. On any given night you can watch 20+ performers singing their hearts out, all original compositions. It's all about being in the moment, letting yourself be transformed. Trying to submerge yourself into lyrics and tune. Capturing that moment when you forget about yourself, and the song and singer take you over." "I formed the Upstart Crow collective, along with all the other singer-songwriters we created a festival dedicated to the art of singer-songwriting. I hate the term, but what else can you call it? What it isn't is Folk Music!" "To get the idea moving we needed a venue. So we approached Spitalfields Market because of its location, its architecture, its history and its access. Oh, and it's a cool place as well. They bought into the idea and agreed to support the project. They have been simply amazing." "We offer everything the festival goer needs. A sound system provided and engineered by the same team who run Glastonbury. We also have locally sourced street food and drink. Somewhere to sit and chill out in the last glorious rays of a London Summer. Plus we are featuring some of the best singer-songwriters in London." The Upstart Crow Festival brings together a diverse and eclectic range of talented artists. Peter Greenwood and Joe Wilkes are about to release their third and fourth albums. Gabriel Moreno has just finished his debut album, 'Love and Decadence', in collaboration with fellow artists. Brooke Sharkey is already planning for 2016 with writing underway towards her second album. Then we have the talented Felix Indiana working hard on his first EP, which he hopes will be a springboard in getting his music heard by a much wider audience. One act UCF performers are more than keen to see perform is Robert Chaney who I gather is scheduled to play right after John Murry's early evening headline slot. However heading the festival are John Murry and Michelle Stodart, which is a double coup of some magnitude by the organisers. Murry in his inimitable style sums up the Upstart Festival: "I'm stoked to be invited to play UCF. I'm super excited to lay some of my new material on you folks, and I'll have Grum Gallagher along, he's my Warren Ellis. Goddamn it, the man can play guitar." Everyone I spoke with or interviewed connected with the UCF have a consistency of message - the Festival is about music, pure and simple. Under different management you would be paying big bucks to see this line-up. I hope the weather is in the organisers' favour. They deserve a day in the sun.

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Spitalfields, London, 27/9/2015
Upstart Crow Festival - Spitalfields, London, 27/9/2015
In only its second year Owen Peters watches a talented line-up at the one day Upstart Crow Festival at Spitalfields Market in London

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