"They were the best of times, they were the worst of times"
With this famous line Charles Dickens opened "A Tale of two Cities", his very anglophile take on the French revolution. The times we live in now could be similarly described. For while there's enough gloom around to fill all the cellars of the world, there are yet enough highlights to set the firmament afire.
On a personal level, one of the highlights of the past year for me, and one that promises much joy for the year to come, has been collaborating with "Lokal Heroes" on their new CD "to be continued ..."
The CD will be launched on the 28th of January at a live concert featuring a cast of thousands (well, about a dozen actually) within the prestigious walls of the "Harmonie" in Bonn. Welcome one and all!
Hugh plays at the first Aachener Songwriter's Slam at Raststätte
Hugh wins the first Aachener Songwriter's Slam
Aachen, Germany, Friday 16 April 2010
The first Aachener Songwriter's Slam at the cultural venue Raststätte, organized and hosted by Aachener musician Kai Hennes,
attracted a full house and songwriters from Germany, Holland and Belgium. The enthusiastic audience, which acted as a jury for
the competition, chose Hugh as the winner by the volume of their applause.
For the final of three rounds Hugh sang “I don’t get it” (which appears on his new album 9 on the sub-prime) and "statistic" (which appeared on his 1999 double CD album Me & Miss Wray). The latter is a beautiful but heart-breaking song about a young victim of
a landmine - not what one would imagine would be a big crowd-pleaser. But to Hugh's surprise, after he finished playing, there was
a brief stunned silence and followed by a storm of wild applause.
Astonished and somewhat embarrassed by his victory, Hugh handed the first prize of a guitar to Dutch songwriter Daniel Gilt, the
runner-up. So there is still gallantry amongst songwriters after all.
"Justice has no borders, it is a universal virtue." Abdu'l Bahá ‘Abbas
Hugh has been performing his "Candlelight" concerts for over a decade in support of Amnesty International. He has always been committed to human rights and social justice, themes which are directly addressed in many of his songs.
You can see a video of the Candlelight 2008 concert at Belgischer Rundfunk,
including interviews with Hugh Featherstone and Kim Bastian, at:
It's all in German. To view the video, click on "Video ansehen".
Hugh Featherstone with Kim Bastian and special guest Leo: L’An Vert, Rue Mathieu Polain 4, Liège, Belgium. lanvert.be (in French)
Hugh writes: Due to internal restructuring in the band, plus a clash of calendars, I will be playing the L'an Vert gig as a duo with Kim on Saturday 9th May instead of with "panel of experts" as previously programmed.
Kim and I play regularly together and have a distinct approach to my material, especially those songs that are otherwise "experts" territory. we can guarantee a very relaxed and song-oriented evening with some gems you won't have heard before.
We're also happy to announce our special guest for the evening: Leo is a fine singer/songwriter/guitarist, with a deal of stage experience, who has appeared with major acts and with whom we have already played at the same venue. His highly individual guitar technique, coupled with his quixotic, whimsical and melodious songs must be heard to be believed.
Hugh has been invited to play at "Songwriters' Tafelrunde" (Songwriters' Round Table),
the special edition of the monthly "Parkside" event.
Parkside Café, Jacobshof, Stromgasse 31, Aachen, Germany.
www.jakobshof.de (in German).
Hugh writes: I've already appeared at the Songwriters' Round Table several times. It's a great opportunity to try out new stuff and, in this case, a new guitar. This bumper version also features Renaud Marquat, Soufian, Farah Rieli, Sebastian Sturm, and, of course, our usuual host Cesar. There are more players this time, so a few less songs each, but the quality will be assuredly high.
Slow Night (Hugh Featherstone, Gerlinde Steigerwald and Ali Döhler): Regenbogen, Hauset, Belgium
Hugh writes: It's the first time my new Kraushaar guitar Lisette (I call her Liesl, and she is, i.m.h.o. the world's best electric guitar) gets a gentle evening outing with "Slow Night".
2008 Hugh has finally released his long-awaited solo album "Friendly Skies".
In the sleeve notes Hugh writes:
"All freedoms are subject to gravity. All liberties are freighted with obligations. Thus, in the same way that my 1995 album "Negotiations & Lovesongs" explored the tension between fidelity and integrity, so this one explores the dynamic that must exist between commitment and freedom."
The cover and booklet of the 13-track CD were designed by nemodreaming.
You can find more information, Hugh's notes and the full lyrics for the CD,
as well as a review by our correspondent Gobo in the discography.
Experts: Jünglingshaus, Eupen, Belgium
Solo: House Concert (private)
Slow Night: Adenau, Germany
Experts: Bodega, Imgenbroich, Germany
Solo: invited guest at the “Songwriters Table”, Parkside, Aachen, Germany
Slow Night: Stadtfest, Würselen, Germany
Experts: L’An Vert, Liège, Belgium. lanvert.be (in French)
Tone Poets: Fête de la Musique, Glain/Liège, Belgium
Sommerfest, Langenhain, Germany (to be confirmed)
Solo: House Concert (private)
Solo: Songwriter Seminar and House Concert (private)
Experts: Wild Rover, Aachen, Germany
Experts: SPECIAL BENEFIT GIG, l'An Vert – Liège, Belgium. With special guest guitarist Walter Kraushaar.
Hugh, Kimbastian & Christian Sichert: Acoustic Sunday Session, La Grande Poste, Liège, Belgium.
Hugh writes: "It's vast, it's gothic, it's central, it's humming with art and culture and this Sunday Kim, Chris & I will be playing an acoustic set there. So, visit the Sunday street market, see the ethnik'art expo and pick up on a little music too."
You can see a video of the Candlelight 2008 concert at Belgischer Rundfunk, including interviews with Hugh Featherstone and Kim Bastian, at:
It's all in German. To view the video, click on "Video ansehen".
"Live at the Chapel", the new album by Hugh Featherstone & A Panel of Experts, has been chosen as "CD
of the Week" by Radio Contact, the German language version of an important national commercial radio network in Belgium.
The FM pop & rock station will be blasting out the Experts' songs during February on 107.0 MHz in northern Belgium and 98.0 MHz in the south.
If you are not lucky enough to live in Belgium, the German service of Radio Contact is streamed live from their website - free of charge.
Weltfestam Boxhagener Platz, Friedrichshain, 10245 Berlin
Hugh Featherstone & The Tone Poets
Hugh Featherstone finally returns to Berlin where he will play at two very different events.
On Friday 19th May, the English musician will play solo on a double acoustic music bill with German songsmith Sebastian Zukunft at the intimate city centre green oasis Rue Bunte.
The next day, on Saturday 20th May, Hugh will appear with his trio Featherstone and The Tone Poets as one of the headline acts on the stage of the 5th Weltfest, Berlin's annual multicultural event.
The Tone poets describe their music as "acoustic music with bite". Their line-up is Hugh (guitar and vocals), Kim Bastian (vocals and shakers) and Chris Sichert (percussion).
The Weltfest (world festival) on Boxhagener Platz is a platform for inter-cultural dialogue, especially in the context of world development politics. The proceeds of the festival go to support a world development project. The theme of this year's Weltfest is "Water means Life" and addresses the political,
economic and social issues surrounding the availability and distribution of water for the planet's growing population.
Other international musical attractions at the fest
include the Chilean ska band Chico Trujillo and reggae masters Fôô Fanick & One Roots.
introducing "Hugh Featherstone & a Panel of Experts"
Hugh Featherstone vocals, guitars
David Spencer drums
John Renerken bass
Christian Sichert percussion
Kim Bastian vocals & small percussion
Hugh Featherstone and A Panel of Experts
Hugh Featherstone & a Panel of Experts have now been playing together for over three years with a long list of European concert appearances under their belts. They have quickly tightened up into a lean, mean groove machine and a great crowd pleaser with their own following.
Here's what Hugh has to say:
The real pleasure of working with "Experts" is that we are all 100% behind the music. It's a truly constructive experience.
Although there are very different influences at work (an age span between 18 and 54 sees to that!), the overall direction is one, the dynamic is very coherent and united.
Rehearsals are very upbeat. We laugh more than before as well as working harder, more intensively on the songs. We all feel this freedom, the atmosphere is experimental and infectious, even old songs are coming up as fresh as new pennies time after time.
David Spencer - drums and backing vocals
When PhilBY decided to settle in NYC, I thought it would mean musical meltdown. He knows my music better than anyone, has the devil’s own sense of rhythm and a canny knack for finding exactly the right drum feel for a song. On top of this he was my bassist’s buddy from way back and also had a unique musical chemistry with Chris.
This was always going to be a hard seat to fill for David and yet, that didn’t seem to faze him in the least. With his solid musical training and pedigree, you forget his relative inexperience and youth the moment he leans back to let rip.
It’s all there, the power, the timing, the feeling, the commitment and the teamwork: what can I say? David’s becoming a truly great drummer and it’s a privilege to work with him.
David joined the experts in Autumn 2006 at the age of 15, making him one of the youngest drummers in a pro rock band. In the same year his own band Colonel Meyers (average age 15) won a significant regional rock prize: the Jukutu Rock Jury Award. Hugh, who was at the Jukutu show, said: "They were amazingly good... Tight, well thought-out pop/rock, unpretentious and authentic, very well played and ... not a trace of nervousness, despite the big stage, big sound and big light show provided by the organizers!"
David can also boast an excellent pedigree, being the son of Manchester-born bluesman Joe Spencer of "Joe Spencer and the Real Men" fame.
John Renerken - bass
When Christoph’s main band, “Peter Steivver”, began really emerging in early 2007, there was no time for divided loyalties. After all, these were the guys he’d gone to school with! Departure was set for the end of summer, but instead of the usual weary process of searching, we were lucky one day to find our new bassist actually standing in the audience, waiting to sign up!
John plays with a lot of feeling for the songs, real musicality, a firm rich sound and a technique that he expands constantly. Hitched to this comes a tranquil strength of character and dedication to the band.
Curiously enough, it was one of my concerts, many years ago, that first turned him onto the idea of becoming a working musician ... another life on my conscience!
Chris Sichert - percussion
Chris and I have now been companions on this musical journey since the late 1980s: that’s longer than I’ve ever worked with anyone. I think the main reason for this, apart from his considerable technique and rhythmic ability, is his very real enthusiasm for my songs and his concern to see that the best is made out of them.
Chris is not the kind of musician who just minds his own bridge, he spends at least as much time in rehearsals listening carefully to others as he does playing, and his opinion, not always gentle, is nonetheless always listened to.
Loyalty and commitment are writ big with him and if anyone is going to go an extra mile, or even a thousand, to make something work out, it’ll probably be Chris.
Kim Bastian - backing vocals and small percussion
My daughter Kim has been singing with me, one way or another, since she was twelve. In recent years she’s professionalized this in her membership of the Experts”.
Onstage with Kim is a gas. She’s always fun, always helpful and encouraging, follows my vocal curves like a rally driver, is rhythmically spot-on, moves well and is a whole lot easier on the eye than the old geek with the guitar.
Lately she’s also been building up quite an arsenal of small and strange percussion instruments upon which she performs with deft precision. Her “gling-glö” addition to “Birthday Surprise” makes a major contribution to the song, and her powerhouse triangle, while singing harmony, on “Man who wasn’t there” is simply legendary.
Even if you can't get to see Hugh Featherstone and A Panel of Experts in concert, you can hear their fresh live sound on the CD "Live at the Chapel". More information, with tracklist, notes, CD cover and lyrics in the discography.
You can see photos of the band taken by David John during the recording at La Chapelle on the photos page.
Hugh Featherstone & A Panel of Experts Amnesty International concert, Galerie Café Message, Sophienstrasse 17, 41065 Moenchengladbach, Germany
Hugh Featherstone and A Panel of Experts have a live one
"Live at the Chapel" CD cover design by nemodreaming
Hugh Featherstone and his band Hugh Featherstone and A Panel of Experts have just released their live CD "Live at the Chapel".
The 16 songs on the album, mostly brand new but also including a few old Featherstone favourites given a fresh Panel of Experts treatment, were recorded on Saturday 24th September 2005 in front of an invited audience at La Chapelle, one of Europe's premier studios in Waimes, Belgium.
To keep the fresh live sound of the recording, the band got to work on the mixing with La Chapelle's sound engineer Flavio Marredda the very next morning. The resulting rattles and hums were then masterfully mastered by producer Frank-Stefan Kimmel at while-others-sleep.de.
The captured concert programme features performances intimate, epic, earthy and ethereal. But as you would expect from a band which describes itself as having "pop sensibility with a punk attitude", the rocking highlights of the evening are outrageous you-talkin-to-me-pal numbers like "Box-car City", "no regrets" and most notoriously "Moving to Berlin". This last, uproarious pop tune - which the band left tactically, strategically, mischieviously till last - just has to become the album's single. (Perhaps with "Box-car City" as the B-side and counterpart? Although "the Garden of Eden" would be the splendidly serene counterpoint.)
If you have never heard Hugh Featherstone or the other musicians featured on this album before, this is an excellent introduction to their collective and individual talents. If you are already familiar with any of the artists, this CD is well worth a listen, or two, or three, or ...
In producing a live album, the mission statement of the band "is to provide our live audiences with something close to what they've just heard". With this CD you get just that: a faithful reproduction not just of a bunch of songs but of a very special event. If you are lucky enough to get to A Panel of Experts concert soon and get hold of this CD... Well, just stick your headphones on, and here you are, right in the middle of things again. Again! Not bad, eh? "We want more!" You got it.
In February 2006 "Live at the Chapel" was chosen as "CD of the Week"
by the Belgian radio commercial network Radio Contact. See article above.
More information about the CD, including tracklist,sleeve notes, CD cover and lyrics in the discography.
See photos of the band live at the chapel on the photos page