OK so it’s not just Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Robert Mitchell over the 4 days (there’s actually 100 performances by many different acts) but they were the highlight of the opening day at this high spec venue near Kings Cross.
Thursday night was a very good opener to this indoor festival that won’t suffer the weather variations that revellers will find this weekend at Rob da Bank’s Bestival on the Isle of Wight or Alex James’ food fest Harvest (with Gilles Peterson forsaking Arsenal’s home fixture with Swansea to appear at this one)this weekend) however good they are.
Kings Place Festival is a ambitious event with classical, folk, jazz, art and food events over the 3 days but the curators have gone that step further to encourage you to sample as much as you can as it’s on £4.50 for each 45 minute show (that’s if you book on line but there’s other tariff available and even some free shows).
Ayanna Witter-Johnson was booked up for 3 shows on Thursday, one with Gwynth Herbet, another with Boo Hewerdine and the highlight, a special performance with our favourite, Robert Mitchell). I last saw Robert at the Forge in Camden Town when The Cusp had just been released and the St. Pancras Room at Kings Place is a similar sized venue but it was a shame that there was no proper stage as it was hard to see if you were seated at the back (Ed. get there early and sit at the front like Gordon Wedderburn).
Anyway, the vocalist/cellist Ayanna is a big talent, think of a jazzy Jill Scott with spiritual Erika Badu leanings and a bit more. She won a talent night at the Harlem Apollo and other crtedits include working with British icons Nitin Sawhney, Courtenay Pine, Soul II Soul and 4hero’s Marc Mac (there’s an EP called Truthfully produced by Mac that’s a bit special and review coming soon).
On the EP there’s a version of The Police’s ‘Roxanne’ which she did on the first show with Ms. Herbett which was sold out when I turned up but on the positive side, Spitz had organised a free event in the foyer with Cecilia Stalin (she of Waltz For Koop fame) and Emilia Martensson singer a vartied of Swedish folk, children and jazz tunes accompanied by a Danish piano player.
Check out the web site as there’s loads going on and Sunday see’s Robert doing the ‘triptych’ of shows with a solo performance, one with Omar Puente (following on from Bridges album) and a special Panacea gig with Debra Jordan and guest saxophonist Iain Bellamy.
I’ve got an appointment with a star of cinema and TV on Sunday (more on that to follow) so unfortunately I can’t get to Kings Place but it’s sure to be excellent and unlike the welly booted folks that joined me on the South West Trains on their way to Bestival on Thursday, there’ll be no mud in the house; hope someday to see Robert in Hall One which looks amazing.