The Queen of Alabaster and a Princess

Double-whammy night as I flipped between Alabaster Queen at the Southgate and Lottie J at the Crown, in search of the perfect evening’s entertainment.

Southgate, ah Southgate; hasn’t failed me yet. While the always excellent Long Street Blues Club will understandably ease the quantity of pedestrians hunting live music on a Saturday night in the Vizes, we’re seated seasonally between mid-autumn and the big C, and weather none too clement, it was a quiet start at the Southgate.

Gave me opportunity to become acquainted with an Alabaster Queen from Manchester, prior to her performance. Enthusiastic about her second visit to our gypsy canal favourite watering hole, claiming she thought she was eccentric until she turned up here. I asked her what’s in a tag, and she described her pale complexion attributed to this translucent form of gypsum namesake. The informative explanation which followed delved into marble imitation, statues being immersed in a bath and gradually heated is a process demanding great care; if the temperature is not measured, the stone acquires a dead-white, chalky presence. Yet the patterns created are diverse, relating back to a previous question when I asked what genre we were to expect, and she replied “a little bit of this, and a little bit of that.”

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Solo, the unique Alabaster Queen treated us to a series of elated covers, acoustic cabaret style with an air of positivity, confidence and tambourine. Off the starting block with Sympathy for the Devil and marching into Jolene, this queen delivered distinctively and fervently. Unsure if a song she called Jasper was her own writing, but this one wowed with passion. After a trip to bar, I heard a melody of Sweet Dreams and You Spin me Round (like a Record) flowing interesting into Bob Marley’s Pimper’s Paradise, an interesting choice noted when she surprisingly sang the toasted Damien Marley version, and made a stunning job of it.

With an abrasive voice characteristically resolute, Alabaster Queen is not about to whisk through an X-Factor final, yet made great work of Born to be Wild, and appeared to love every minute of her performance. The Floorshow was confident, the songs flourishing and therefore, this Queen deserves her crown.

I confess though, I sneaked out at this point, double-booked and on a mission to see Lottie J at The Crown. I passed a few groups either heading home early, or more than likely, heading in the direction of the Southgate, so I hope the audience picked up in the second half. Conflicting performance here, where at just 15 years old, Lottie’s voice is as smooth and silky as, well, smooth silk. The only similar aspect being her desire and passion. Chosen to take the keyboard out of the equation, Lottie used her laptop to provide the backbeat and concentrated on her vocals.

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I cannot fault her voice; it’s perfected at such a young age it’s the envy of all others. My issue is with the surroundings, convinced the Crown had upped its previous rep as a rowdy cattle market of twenty-somethings, was quashed. I felt like a pensioner on a Club 18-30, my stubble too grey to be trendy here, amidst these trimmed beard perfectionists.

I’m not attempting to gripe grumpy old man style, The Crown is lively as always, we need this in Devizes, every town does. But I couldn’t help ponder if a plain ol’ disco would’ve been more apt, being Lottie sang so beautifully, profligate over a crowd hardly noticing her presence through chatter and noise. Likewise, Lottie needs to be pitched into an establishment where punters are appreciative and listen. There then is my dilemma, Lottie, in my opinion needs a session band who will take heed of this intelligent and imminent talent, who can cater for her sound and style, then she would be off the scale amazing. Yet, youth is on her side, and I wait in anticipation of her progress.

Outside my reservations were confirmed, as a young fellow angered at his unsolicited elimination and friends demanded he be allowed to return, despite the accusation he puked over the seats. There was an amicable conclusion without kerfuffle, and the chap wobbled away. I felt need of a scratch of the foresaid stubble, fine and dandy for the adolescent, unfortunately not my cuppa. If it wasn’t for Lottie, I’d rushed back to the Southgate, even if the pub Terrier attacked my shoelace!

Such a shame, with a tired Lottie J after a flight from her holiday, she performed immaculately, comparable with the Alabaster Queen, who in all honesty while she’s a well above average pub circuit act, Lottie I’m convinced is worthy of stardom, and time will tell, but really, The Crown is not the venue she should play.

For want of a grand Saturday, I received a mish-mash, to be honest. A great live music pub with a fairly great act, and a raucous glitzy bar with an extreme talent. To combine the two elements, one heck of a night would’ve been possible, c’est la vie.


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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Lottie J and You

Fifteen, about to leave school, exam pressure and that dangling feeling of future prospects; I’d give my right arm not to go through all that again! Swindon singer, Lottie J groans at the thought, confesses music is her worst subject at school. Under the elderly assumption schools have changed since my era, where to quote “popstar,” as a chosen career will see you smashed over the head with a wedge of Beethoven song-sheets and told to wake up and smell reality, seems it’s not changed as much as I thought.

“They shared my video on their website,” she explained appreciatively, but slated the philosophy of studying classical music. Yet, Lottie has been in the headlines since she was eight, encouraged by Jamie Cullum when he visited her school and donated his old piano. Music was mapped for her then, with her first song, ‘Kiss Your Old Life Away’ making the final 10 of The Song Academy’s Singer/Songwriter Competition and later, in 2016, she made the Grand Final of Future Music’s Songwriting Competition, at Dingwalls in Camden.

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From a time when I first heard Lottie, delightfully but tensely tapping her keys and singing covers at Times Square in Devizes, yet an angelic voice ringing out, to this latest video for her song “You,” shows a natural ambition to pop stardom that I personally feel is imminent. Our phone conversation today revealed a matured girl, with poise in the prospects of her vocation.

Half the clips in the video connote a narrative of a regular local girl, falling out with a boy in the woods. Yet while it’s saccharinely juvenile, the contrast of a flipside displays a confident and sassy female popstar, dancing on a Chevy in the Las Angeles desert. It licks with all the style and panache of a professional contemporary pop video, and the song rides it like a wave of self-assurance. Is that the suggestion Lottie was hoping to achieve? “Totally!” she expressed.

On note of her education, Lottie continued to express her hopes of studying music at Bath University, where the syllabus will be more to her taste. Just go in there and slap your phone on the desk and show them this video, I ill-advised, yet, it’d work if it was me. Lottie is keen to learn the business side of the industry, as well as the performance and music technology. Herein lies my ignorance at how the biz has changed, when, through the writing and production, being she has independently produced this work, I ask her what comes next.

“The key is to get the music out there,” she elucidates. YouTube and Spotify subscribers are far more important than the idea of creating a physical album, which she disregards from the mere mention of. “This will get me gigs, and support gigs.” It’s a DIY ethos which with her talent, and motivation will see her reach the goal, overlooking the concept of pitching to record companies, and especially poo-pooing the idea of a stab at a Simon Cowell TV karaoke show. “It’s a fake industry,” she sighs, “you’re already down to the fifth round before being aired on television, and I’d probably be kept out for having the wrong hair colour!”

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Standing with George Wilding on Devizine’s birthday bash in November, as Lottie got the ball rolling, the fact we were both aghast at her singing ability not only means I’m not alone in the sentiment. But it showed a skill Lottie can paste into the more pop orientated direction she craves, and with these new songs, Snapped, but more so, You, it’s the kind of song I need a second opinion from my twelve-year-old pop-inspired daughter from. She confirmed my thoughts; it’s dazzlingly good. She taps her Spotify account to subscribe to Lottie’s profile. That’s what Lottie needs, that’s the way forward for aspiring young musicians; sharing is caring, the new break is an accumulation of subscribers and followers.

So do check it out and subscribe, or let your kids show you how to do it. No shame in that, I have to!


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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