Billed as a night of local 0121 artists, Six String Social delivered an exciting night of emerging music from two great musicians, IX and Jack Cattell. Greeted at the door by Harry Bozman, producer and presenter at BBC West Midlands and organiser of the night, he was keen to share his sense of excitement to be part of creating a platform for new Birmingham artists to share their music, especially following the turbulent closure of the live scene over the last few years.
Starting off the night was singer-songwriter, IX, whose soulful vocals were immediately captivating. Beneath the shimmering fairy lights emitting a soft yellow glow, his chill romantic R&B set the tone for the evening, allowing everyone to sink into the music. With the flowing melodies of ‘Am I a Fool?’, the singer’s latest release, IX introduced his lyrical style which plays with fairytale ideals. At only 17 years old, his vocal dexterity is impressive, with a mixture of alluring melodies and quick runs in tracks like ‘Die For You’.
The low-level chatter and feeling of excitement continued throughout the night and, as IX began his final track, ‘Love Will Find a Way’, it was clear that this was the song many wanted to hear, with Harry Bozman himself confiding that he had hoped it would be on IX’s set. Speaking to me, IX explained that this was the song which had got him noticed by BBC Introducing, and I can see why. It is hypnotic and one of IX’s strongest songs melodically, which got the crowd engaged and singing along.
The choice to host a chill, acoustic gig gave the chance to showcase IX and Jack Cattell’s songwriting skills with stripped back versions of their songs highlighting their lyrics and storytelling, with each musician creating an individual musical world. What was particularly exciting about the night was hearing unreleased acoustic tracks from these artists, and hearing about what inspired them, with everything from romance in IX’s set, to nostalgia and home in Jack Cattell’s.
The community Harry Bozman wants to create came out in full force at this first gig. Members of local bands, Paradise Circus and The Nu, came to support the acts, representing the great spirit that has been fostered locally through BBC Introducing and live gigging in the area. For me, it was lovely to see different local artists supporting each other and working together to create a positive performance environment. Even during technical difficulties with the microphone before the second act, Harry Bozman entertained the crowd with a witty rendition of ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ and it was little moments like this which showcased to me how the audience was really engaging with the music being performed, joining in with both songs they knew and others they didn’t.
Following IX’s smooth blend of R&B and soul, Jack Cattell’s retrospective indie ballads highlighted his own focus on lyrical storytelling. The soft singer-songwriter seemed completely at home on the stage, frequently chatting to the audience between songs and sharing the stories behind their creation. ‘Time To Kill’, he told us, was written with his friend by a canal on a summer day, and its bright feel and lovely message of remembering that time is passing felt like a welcome departure from the cold winter evening outside. The feelings of nostalgia and emotion were harnessed through his voice, and I could tell he was really feeling the music he was sharing with us.
I particularly enjoyed his rendition of the new song from his band with a more experimental feel. The upbeat, fast and exciting chord changes felt urgent and the lyrics paired well, creating a whole story ‘if these walls could talk’. It was interesting to hear this song as a raw version with only vocals and guitar, paired alongside a soft introspective track about nostalgia and home. Combining solo tracks and ones written and performed with his band, I got a sense of the rich variety of tracks Cattell has up his sleeve and the intriguing way he blends the indie, rock, jazz and pop genres.
Even as the microphone was occasionally crackly, Jack Cattell showed professionalism through these problems. This was a great way to give the performers a space to hone and display their performance skills. The highlight of his set was the joyous track, ‘Sunshine’. Announcing this track, there were whoops from behind me and everyone seemed ready to join in. Jack Cattell played with this, stopping his guitar stumming and moving away from the microphone at moments in the chorus to allow everyone to join in. We became the backing vocals for the song, which fit perfectly with the lyrics and the bright melodies.
As Jack Cattell played his song, ‘Forever’, Harry Bozman told me that the gig was going ‘exactly as I pictured it’ and for me it was the proof of people singing along which made me realise how much fun everyone was having. The gig was a brilliant way for members of the community to find out about wonderful new artists who are regularly releasing music in the local area. I am looking forward to hearing which artists will perform at the next Six String Social gig!
Find out more about the next Six String Social @six.string.social and tune in to UP ‘N COMING for an interview with Harry Bozman.