REVIEW: Sarah McQuaid at Tree House Bookshop promises lots for Kenilworth Art Festival's new look

By Clive Peacock

4th Dec 2023 | Opinion

Tree House Bookshop will be hosting a number of concerts in collaboration with Kenilworth Arts Festival next year (image by James Smith)
Tree House Bookshop will be hosting a number of concerts in collaboration with Kenilworth Arts Festival next year (image by James Smith)

Kenilworth's Tree House Bookshop's inspired collaboration with the town's arts festival launches a new era for the festival, a partnership set to continue from January through the first half of 2024 with ten one-night concerts fixed in the diary.

Tree House Bookshop's prospects for a successful working together were enhanced this week with a visit by Sarah McQuaid at the end of her gruelling Autumn Tour of 30+ concerts across the USA and a further 20+ in the UK.

With just Liskeard and Truro left, Sarah will soon be home with her family in Cornwall, taking a well deserved break.

Yet there was not a hint of weariness or fatigue as Sarah began her 15 song recital.

From plaintive opening numbers, "Sweetness and Pain" and "So Much Rain" to more pacey numbers, "Break Me Down", to clever harmonic songs, "The Last Song" in which her acoustic guitar seemed to sing for ever, Sarah illustrated a wealth of experience and aptitude for writing her own songs.

Her craft is well honed, her capacity to enthuse when describing her own writings is infectious; seldom, if ever, was the audience denied a smile.

Thanks to a clever sound system engineered by her manager cum van driver, Martin Stansbury and the "soopa looper", Sarah's voice and creative guitar playing were captured as she sang and immediately translated into additional backing material.

Playing both acoustic and electric guitars, Sarah produced extraordinarily skillful output to suit the moods of her own compositions.

She is happy to pay tribute to other composers, her slow and sensual love-song encore "The First Time Ever I Saw your Face" was written by Ewan MacColl for his future wife, Peggy Seeger; and Joseph Kosma's "Autumn Leaves", a jazz standard, was the perfect opportunity for Sarah to express the love and loss of the song, reaching the very top registers with ease. Memories of Eva Cassidy came to mind!

Wishing all concerned the very best, Sarah is keen for the collaboration between the Tree House Bookshop and Kenilworth Arts Festival to prosper reminding her audience her messages in "No Peace Can I Find" and "Could Get Dangerous" will need to be overcome.

     

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