The last Hockley Hustle Music Festival was in 2010. Regardless of this, I fail to see how anyone who works, shops, eats, or is otherwise connected to Nottingham could not be aware of it.
Hockley Hustle 2014 was certainly well advertised. I’m not sure where I first saw it advertised, but Sunday 19th October was written on my calendar weeks ago. There was also a printed booklet that was kicking around at home.
Despite a number of commitments, illness and a funeral in the days before it; I made my commitment and purchased the tickets online the night before.
On the morning of the festival, I read the guide, chose the acts or venues I wanted to see and hit the town.
With a choice of 40 venues and over 400 local artists playing in cafes, pubs and larger venues; for once in my life I was determined not to ‘follow my nose’; I had a plan and I was going to stick to it.
Venue 1: Lord Roberts to see ‘Lord Ha Ha’. For anyone unfamiliar with either, and had this been the last place to visit, It could have provided a comedy moment for anyone being asked directions.
“Pleash could you help me, hime lucking fer Lord Robertsh who ish at Lord … erm HaHa!”
Lord Roberts is the only traditional looking pub on Broad Street, being surrounded by arty cafes and the Broadway Cinema. A no frills place that looked very quiet on arrival at 2.30. The performance area was in fact in the basement/cellar. A dark and damp place more suited to a rebellious meeting of outlaws! The first act ‘Daudi’ was still playing so we fumbled our way to a seat and enjoyed his last few guitar ballads. ‘Lord Ha Ha’ then set up and gave us a 20 minute set of non-stop psychedelic rock. Having been a teenager in the late seventies I was never a fan of this genre, which had become a bit ‘stuck up its own arse’ and, as a consequence opened the door for the raw energy of punk. However, I had seen this band once before and have to say they are a pleasure to hear live.
Before leaving this gloomy basement I couldn’t help but notice a couple of cheap looking glitter- balls hanging from the ceiling. Maybe those conspirators used to end their secret meetings with a disco!
Venue 2: Antenna to see The Golden Troubadours perform their dreamlike soul, folk and blues inspired music. I was keen to see the facility at Antenna and the bands biography sounded good. Antenna is a private members business centre for the creative industries that are so important to Nottingham culture. The performance area was in the large modern meeting room that had been adapted into a hi-tech studio by the NottsTV production team. After purchasing a drink at the bar, the sound checks had been completed and we sat down behind the cameras. We were in for a treat. A six piece band including a cellist were set up on the large stage. They seemed to relish their performance area. Musically very tight, they delivered a fantastic set that was filmed by the NottsTV crew. The lead singer had the rugged looks and charisma of a certain Ronnie Lane. Their songs had a hint of the Small Faces too. No mean feat.
As we left, I glanced around the room. Tucked away at the side of the lighting rig I couldn’t help noticing a state of the art glitter-ball.
Our short walk to the next venue was time perfectly for the next act. I was now in search of the next glitter ball but knew that I may be disappointed.
Venue 3: Jam Café to see ‘Jiallo’ and some jazz funk (minus glitter ball).
The Jam Café is a small European style bar on two levels that is used to staging musical acts. Up close and personal, this young quintet played a really enjoyable set of jazz numbers. Many were old familiar tunes with a jazz makeover. The last couple of tunes showed their funk credentials and showed that they can get their audience dancing too. The place was very busy with people waiting outside. Before we moved on I double checked for the elusive glitter ball. I found this instead.
Venue 4: Nottingham Contemporary to see Gallery 47
Anyone unfamiliar with Nottingham Contemporary should be ashamed of themselves. A nationally recognised art centre that is free to enter and explore. It has a shop and large café bar. There is a large exhibition space in the basement that also doubles up as a superb performance area. Due to the audience capacity, the acts listed for Hockley Hustle were those that had already achieved national acclaim. Gallery 47 is a folk singer/songwriter from Nottingham who has impressed many people recently, including Paul Weller. At that stage I knew very little more about him.
The man behind the name apologised for having a heavy cold. Between numbers he gave us an insight into his personality and origins in Nottingham. At 25 he has a very slight frame and fragility to his performance that endears him to his audience. His guitar playing is very delicate, as is his voice. What cuts through all this is the emotion and clever construction of his songs.
We stayed the The Contemporary for one more act, The Gorgeous Chans. A feel good indie-pop band complete with brass section, but sadly no glitter ball.
My first Hockley Hustle will live in the memory for some time. Short sets of great music performed in some interesting locations.
Long may it continue and credit to the organisers.