Castle Hedingham Memorial Hall
On a freezing January night we travelled to deepest Essex, to Castle Hedingham, home of a Norman castle, rows of skewwhiff half-timbered cottages and Castle Hedingham Memorial Hall. I’ve been to village hall gigs before, but none I think which began and finished with the audience being told how helpful it would be if we stacked up our chairs before leaving.
We were there to see American/British/Irish singer songwriter Sarah McQuaid, who has been tirelessly championed on these pages by @Colin-H , playing one a few dates in England before heading to Ireland then the continent (she’s in Twickenham tonight if you’re quick). Unlikely though the venue seems, the barrel-roofed hall turned out to have lovely acoustics, helped by excellent work from Sarah’s sound man.
I don’t why it took me so long to heed Colin’s recommendation, but when I finally did I found Sarah’s music right up my street. She plays solo on acoustic and electric guitar, and on keyboard, with the sound sometimes filled out by loops and on one occasion the local church clock bells. The arrangements are interesting, the songs intriguing and her voice marvellous. Her between song chat is warm and engaging too, even is she struggled to get animal noises out of the crowd as requested for one song. I sometimes gauge small, intimate gigs by how often I close my eyes and just soak in the sound, and by that standard this show was a real winner.
Be sure to see her if she appears in a church hall near you.
Broadly a selection of Castle Hedingham locals I suspect, well-heeled and tending to retirement age (with at least one exception mentioned below).
It made me think..
When I went to buy a t-shirt in the interval a child of about 9 was there before me. “Are you really famous?” she asked Sarah. “Not really”, was the honest reply, but you can add her name to list we all keep of musicians who really should be a lot more famous than they are.