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Live music review - Kiya Ashton & The Folkadelics

Live music review - Kiya Ashton & The Folkadelics

Monday 13 December 2021

Live music review - Kiya Ashton & The Folkadelics

Monday 13 December 2021


Local music enthusiast and drummer Baz Brehaut went to The Vault to review singer-songwriter Kiya Ashton and her new backing band, The Folkadelics.

The local music scene is thriving. The regular gig goer is spoilt for choice.

From theatres to former concert halls, from punchy pub rock to open mic acoustic nights in busy bars and album launches in intimate, dimly-lit venues there is always somewhere to go and someone to see.

The Vault does more than its fair share playing host to local talent and it was there I found myself recently to catch Kiya Ashton with her new band, The Folkadelics.

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Kiya is well known to many music fans. I last saw her at St James - just her, a guitar and a voice that demands attention.

When I heard she had got a band together, I pondered what might be lost rather than gained, for she has an understated yet powerful stage presence in her own right.

Well, I wasn’t disappointed. She was joined on stage by Elliott Mariess on bass, Squirrel on drums and Andy Degnen on violin. Any concerns I had about Kiya’s voice being diminished or overridden in any confusion of sound were soon put to rest.

In the short time they have been working together, the band have clearly acquired an understanding, an appreciation of their respective strengths and weaknesses. They play with ease and commendable discipline.

Kiya told me: “I’ve absolutely adored working with these three amazing musicians. They’ve breathed new life into my songs and I look forward to writing more music with them in mind.”

Their sound is captured well in the name of the band: The Folkadelics are not pure folk or folk rock - they are of the now, of the moment, a collaboration of like-minded musicians doing what they enjoy.

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In a set of seven songs, for me the standout was Birdie, a track which builds slowly. Kiya’s effects pedal, Andy’s violin initially gives an ethereal quality to the sound and Elliott’s bass slowly reveals the track as eventually they rock out. From behind the drum screen, Squirrel at times looked a little like a Deerhound, in a shirt, on a wash cycle, but his versatility and ability is easily apparent. Whether fills, patterns or stubbornly metronomic hi hat, he holds the sound together.

With Andy’s hand on the bow at times, his fingers plucking the strings, his foot on the effects pedal, and Elliott on bass in tune with and building on Andy’s playing, you get a sense of the commitment and trust they have in each other.

There was a moment in the set when Elliott asked for “more Andy” - so the violin was turned up in the mix and the bassist and violinist had a momentary embrace on stage, which was a nice touch.

It was good to see the band not taking themselves too seriously. They ended the evening with their only cover: a disco – yes, disco – version of a Cranberries classic, Zombie.

Kiya’s approach to performing has a certain maturity about it. There isn’t a trace of self-consciousness, no self-deprecating humour, faffing or nervous chatter. She is doing what she enjoys and with the band on stage she can now take that calm chemistry to the next level.

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I caught up with Kiya briefly and asked how she thought the Folkadelics’ first gig had gone and what is next for her and the band.

“The gig was perfect,” she said. “It's been a long time since I looked up during a set and saw people dancing to the music I was playing.

“We’ll be making appearances throughout the summer for certain. And we’re planning a night with Elliott Albert Orchard (and the pips) which will prove all sorts of fun, I’m sure.”

So please don’t miss an opportunity to see the Folka(disco)delics when they are on a stage near you.

The Folkadelics were actually the support band for the evening at The Vault. The main event was the release of an album from Its Own Animal.

But that’s for another review. Watch this space.

Baz Brehaut.

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All images are of Kiya Ashton and The Folkadelics are courtesy of them, except the image immediately above, which is of reviewer Baz Brehaut.

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