Churches and That Voice (Chris While)

There is something about seeing live music in churches, I’m not talking about choristers and congregations singing, though that’s not bad if you like that sort of thing, then there could be always be a dash amateur operatics, one source of music I really can’t get my head around and avoid like the plague . . . wait strike that I don’t mind a bit of Katherine Jenkins now and again. I’m talking about popular or folk acoustic music, the whole surroundings can often lend itself to the music. I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in a couple of gigs held in churches, including Show of Hands in Buckingham Parish Church and Kate Campbell in a small church in the village of Dinton, just outside Aylesbury. If you can get the sound and lighting right you really can have a magical evening and often very spiritual and that’s regardless of whether you are religious or not. There is also a regular venue that Empty Room Promotions use in Buckingham, a converted meeting hall called the Radcliffe Centre, which despite the often busy looking interior, mainly due to its daily use by the University of Buckingham as a lecture hall, is often loved by audiences and musicians who play there. In desperate need of some TLC this really has the potential of being one of the best acoustic venues in the area for both popular and classical music, all it really needs are the funds and passion to see it through. I digress . . .

This week I travelled over to Cambridge to The Emmanuel United Reformed Church to see Chris While and Julie Mathews Band and straight away on entering you are greeted by the whole wow factor of the surroundings, with high ceilings and vaulted roofs as well as the usual paraphernalia of church life. Understandably there can always be some difficulties for the sound crew to set up a band in a giant echo chamber, especially if the building is not really set up or dampened for electronic music and amplifications, but often this can all be forgiven if what you are listening to is something special.

And you can get no better than the voice of Chris While who frankly could sing a Haynes manual and make it sound bloody good. Fortunately though you can leave the car manuals at home when you have the song writing talents of Chris and her musical partner Julie Mathews. This is one of the first times, I believe, this duo has toured with a band, although I was lucky to see Chris While’s Band when she promoted her last CD, but those familiar with their catalogue would have enjoyed the different arrangements of their songs. This was one wonderful evening on this all too short tour and if you don’t catch them now check them out when they tour again as a duo or when Chris joins her daughter Kellie during May, it’s all worth it for that voice. Check their web site for tour dates.

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