On a Tuesday evening, as the thunder rolled in over the city of Cambridge we made our way to The Portland Arms. This pub has a reputation as the city’s most active small music venue, and we were there to see Hattie Briggs, whose new album “Young Runaway” is to be released on 8th July.
For me it was my first time at The Portland and often your impression of a venue is made and set in the first few minutes after walking through the door. Therefore, It was a good omen that I found myself at the bar chatting to Hattie within seconds!
Hattie opened her set with a song written for a friend’s 21st birthday. We could all do with presents like “Tilly’s Song”. Having set a very personal tone, she then followed with “Old Eyes”, the lyrics of which you can interpret in many ways. But, put in context, it is the most loving song about Hattie’s dog, Panda.
Having been a linguist, it is not surprising that what you notice most about Hattie Briggs is her diction, every word enunciated clearly. Clearly but not coldly, her voice is as pure as crystal – no more so that when she sang “Still with Hope I See”.
Sharing the stage with Hattie was Jack Cookson. In a piece of sensible touring economics, Jack also doubles as Hattie’s opening act. On his own he is a powerful lyricist with a quirky way of telling his stories. “You have never kissed a masochist…” scans surprisingly well! He is also funny. His engagement may appear as the ramblings of a nervous teenager, but no, this is stagecraft and he had us hooked from his first number “What You Sow You Reap”. Yet when playing alongside Hattie he was the perfect support, emphasising the subtleties in the background with his deft finger work on the strings of his guitar, but coming to the fore on their co-written song “Have we Met Before?”
It was a beautifully intimate evening in the company of two skilled songwriters and performers. The audience was a “small army” as Hattie euphemistically referred to us. It never ceases to amaze me how much talent there is on stages in pubs and clubs around the country and, in most cases, all you need do is turn up.
Catch up with Hattie Briggs on tour on one of the dates below – you will not be disappointed.
Jun 08 Bicycle Shop Cafe w/ Jack Cookson, Norwich
Jun 12 Living Room Concert, Kidderminster
Jun 14 Stania State w/ Jack Cookson, Oentsjerk
Jun 16 Live uit Lloyd Radio Show w/ Jack Cookson, Rotterdam
Jun 17 Podium Cafe w/ Jack Cookson, Steendam
Jun 18 Living Room Concert, Bodegraven w/ Jack Cookson, Rotterdam
Jun 24 Frog & FIddle, Cheltenham
Jul 02 North Nibley Music Festival, Stroud
Jul 09 Cornbury Festival, Chipping Norton
Jul 12 The Bulls Head w/ Jack Cookson, Barnes
Jul 16 CITY SHOWCASE w/ Jasmine Scott-Neale London
Jul 23 Chapel Arts Centre w/ Natalie Holmes, Bath
Jul 30 Cambridge Folk Festival, Cambridge
Aug 03 Sidmouth Fringe, Sidmouth
Sep 24 House Concert, Naples
Oct 01 Upton House Concerts, Upton, MA
Oct 08 House Concert, San Francisco, CA
Oct 22 North Dorset Folk Festival, Dorset
Dec 15 Maggies Christmas Carol Concert, Cheltenham
Jan 15 Spilsby Theatre, Spilsby
Feb 25 Under the Edge Arts, Wotton Under Edge
Mar 18 Living Room Concert, Delft
Mar 25 Theaterboerderij Boeket, Nederweert