(There are three altogether, split by geography and genre; the Reading one has already passed, but you can still catch the Oxford rawk night in early December.)
The risks of a ticketed event with six acts, each doing short sets, without a direct connection to each other, are evident (especially on a Friday night, when Oxford reliably has an oversupply of good entertainment options). But they are more or less the same as the potentials for something really interesting. And in the end it was the latter that paid off, almost exclusively.
The evening started with a rather select audience – but it filled up dramatically within the first half, to a pleasantly full-feeling room. The atmosphere was friendly, by and large attentive, and open-minded. I certainly heard some original (All is Worth), entertaining and durable (Ben Gosling, Louise Petit) and beautiful (Stu and Sarah) music by performers I would have been unlikely, realistically, to go and hear otherwise, and not all that likely to share a bill with either.
And I hope (and have good evidence from audience comments afterwards!) the same could be said of those who were new to the String Project’s music too. We had set ourselves a challenge for this gig: within a half-hour slot, fitting in one new vocalist (congratulations Countess! you rocked the place!) and one guest vocalist (Lauren Bradford, reprising previous guest appearances with and without the Eko Collective), some quite new and some revived material, and finishing the evening off with a bang. And I think we pulled it off; probably as tight and slick as we have ever been despite how tricky it is to set that band up and though even without a drumkit the Jericho Tavern‘s stage feels a little tight when there are 8 people on it (not for the whole set thankfully!).
All in all, a very good night and part of a general feel of building momentum and increasing expectancy about the label project. All power to your elbow, All Will Be Well!