Staxtonbury Qualifier at The Mount

Staxtonbury Family Music Festival will be celebrating its seventh year this July. With its ever growing popularity, and a wealth of local talent vying to play its stages, the organisers are left with a bit of a headache as to how to choose the line-up. Hence a trio of qualifiers, where musicians can ply their trade and the organisers can get a good idea of how the acts might fit together on a bill. On Friday Night, The Mount played host to the first one, with an array of acts performing to show off what they’ve got.

By Graeme Smith 

Photos by Chris Mackins 

Opening was Mal Fry, who’s sorrowful, folksy style was reminiscent of the singer/songwriters of the nineties; reaffirmed by his opening cover of the classic 4 Non Blondes’ track What’s Up. He was at his best though when performing his original tracks, especially the profoundMind The Gap, inspired by the true story of the widow whose husband was famous for voicing  ‘mind the gap’ on London’s Underground. From there, he also prompted an early sing-along, closing his set with a cover of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline.


Up next was Just Alam, who played with a whimsical charisma, starting his set with a cover of the care-free Put Your Records On by Corrine Bailey Rae. Following that was Pray, an original track from his first album. A song with a complex structure that expressed the relatable message of worrying too much about those you care about. He closed his set with a range of three covers: starting with Cher, then Cat Stevens and finally The Fray.

The two solo artists were followed by duo Two Reasons Why. Harking from Selby, and relatively unknown, they proved to be the evening’s dark horses from the first note that emanated from singer Lucy Williams’ mouth. A powerful, diva-esque voice, ably supported by Joe Baker’s acoustic guitar. Their first track was a mash up of Paloma Faith and Aloe Blacc, followed by a mix of covers and originals. A stand out track was their original It’s Enough.

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Just Alam

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Mal Fry

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Two Reasons Why

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The Gibson Trio


Then The Gibson Trio took the stage. Usually a duo, they’d brought along drummer Joey to play with them for the first time. Not that you could tell as they looked like they’d been playing together all their lives (it does help that Joey already plays together with singer Harley in the band Blind Eye though).

They played a range of covers. Most notable was their version of Avicii’s Wake Me Up, complete with the ‘doodle-loos’, and their mash up of The Beatles’ Come Together with Eminem’s Lose Yourself. An accomplished and enjoyable performance from the trio.


There was just enough time left for the acoustic rocker Kelly Ann Bolland. A performer best described on the night as ‘a soloist who somehow sounds like an entire rock band’, she powered her way through covers of Guns N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden. However, it was in her two other tracks that the full range of her voice was best captured. From ballsy sultriness in her original song about a cheating lover to delicacy in her cover of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb.

With so much talent on display at the Mount, it’s likely that the Staxtonbury selectors’ headache will only grow.


Mal Fry, Just Alam, Two Reasons Why, The Gibson Trio and Kelly Ann Bolland played at the Mount on Friday 27 February 2015.