Stan's Schowcase Promotes Original Acts
Just a couple of years ago, American chat show host Ellen DeGeneres predicted live on her chat show that Ellie Lawson would become 'the hugest, hugest star.’
Despite live TV appearances, a deal with Atlantic Records, an ambassador role for the clothing brand Quiksilver
Women and even tracks produced by William Orbit, Ellie just fell short of making a significant breakthrough. But she remains a polished live act with beautifully constructed,vibrant folk songs.
We see Ellie performing on a cold and wet Sunday night at The Anchor Pub in Market Square, Horsham. Only a handful of people are there to see Ellie, accompanied by Dave Harewood on guitar and mandolin, give a sublime acoustic rendition of the Trance Single ‘Place In The Sun’ by Menno de Jong featuring Ellie Lawson.
Ellie, from South London, is one of four performers on a night of live music put together by Jamie Stanley, commonly known as Stan. As a music lover and a singer/songwriter himself (usually performing under the name The Mailman or in his band ‘The Tandem’) Stan puts on a monthly showcase of live, primarily original music.
It has been a struggle to generate big crowds as the event is always held on a Sunday (the last of the month) and most of the material is original music, so crowd-pleasing classics are kept to a minimum. Stan said: “I’ve only been in Horsham for about five years, but I’ve always been in and around music. When I came here I was pleased to find there was a thriving ‘open mic night’ scene, and I was keen to get involved.
“But whilst there are plenty of venues locally for covers bands to play at, there are limited options for people wishing to sing their own songs. So I created Stan’s Showcase and The Anchor was the obvious home as there is a ready-made stage.
“The management took a little persuading initially, but the manager now really enjoys live music and is very supportive. We’ve now been going for almost two years. It was hard to book acts to start with but now I get people that I have never met contacting me and asking if they can play.
“It has had to be mainly acoustic because of licencing issues and because there are neighbours to consider. But I would like some more rock bands in the future as the rock acts we had on at the special end of year concert went down really well.
“We are fortunate that there are some fantastic singer-songwriters in Horsham and Crawley. If you go to an open mic night you normally end up seeing someone who is really good. I think Horsham had a tradition long before I arrived of putting on good nights of music and championing original music. It’s not something I started – I’m just giving it a bit of a kick.”
And kicking us off tonight was Simon King, a founding member of former Horsham Battle of the Bands winners and local favourites The Collector. Simon has recently started recording and performing solo and acoustic. He performed a mix of songs by The Collector, new material, and even a stripped down version of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Us Apart’. It’s not strictly original music only at Stan’s Showcase, so the odd cover is thrown in!
But as a singer/songwriter, Simon is grateful for any opportunity to perform his own material. “It is important we have these nights,” said Simon. “There are very few opportunities for original bands to play as pubs are full of cover bands at the weekend.
“Stan’s Showcase is great as there is real variety. It is frustrating when people just want to hear covers. I play the occasional cover but I’m not the best singer in the world and I’m not the best guitarist in the world, so if I cover a track I do it in my own style.”
With Rachel Hawker pulling out of the gig, Stan himself (as The Mailman, although sadly he did not change into a delivery uniform) proceeded to confidently belt out a couple of his feisty, acoustic rock songs. He performed a couple of classics too by the likes of Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers, before Ziggy Stardust went down well with some casual drinkers at the opposite end of the pub.
Ed Reed recently returned home from a ten year sabbatical in Melbourne where he wrote and recorded his debut solo album 'One Good Roll'. His rousing, feel-good, Primal Scream inspired band gave the dwindling audience (it was gone 10pm on a Sunday night) a spirited performance which deserved a more lively setting. Their stand-out track, Another Night, was extended by a brilliant instrumental finale.
Hopefully, more local people will be willing to give local acts a fair go at Stan’s Showcase. Stan said: “I like to give new acts a platform, but we do this professionally. This isn’t amateur hour – Ellie was signed in America and did a tour across the States – and we’re bringing these acts to Horsham.
“We have a really good mix of acts here, with people just setting out as well as experienced acts, and it would be good if more people came along to support them as they might be surprised by what they see.”
For details of Stan’s Showcase as well as other local gigs visit the excellent Horsham Rocks website at www.horsham-rocks.co.uk
Watch Ellie Lawson's acoustic version of Place in the Sun above