This night was part of Christina’s Tiny Venue Tour, having played Glasgow the night before she was moving on to Wolverhampton the day after. Great idea, the temptation must be to play to as big an audience as possible to get as much income as possible, but not Christina .. thank you! The Bluebird Cafe is just that, a cafe, it’s not a venue with a cafe name but a small cafe on a corner in the Canonmills area of Edinburgh. There were about 15 people in on the night, it would hold a few more but this was about perfect, I guess for the artists, and the audience. There is a certain intimacy in a concert when you are so close to the artists performing, given this and that Christina’s songs are very personal with tales from her past and present, including her family life, she quickly becomes a friend on the night. More about her and the songs later!
I arrived just as the opening act, Al Shields, was playing. Great setting for him, every seat taken, all 15 of them, and he’s going down well. Just enough time to figure there’s an Americana vibe to his music and I’ll be checking him out, his music that is! I had to sort of sneak in here between songs, I was late, and being such a small venue Christina noticed I was worried about interrupting and straight off made me feel at ease. After she helped me off with my jacket and got me a seat next to hear we watched Al’s last song. Wonderful, just how friendly is that!
Christina is accompanied on this tour by her partner and all round collaborator and soul mate Dale Murray. If you simply look up both Christina and Dale on social media you might have expected a pop/rock/indie sound happening at the gig! Just goes to show how important it is to support musicians by buying their music and attending live music events rather than just reading about them!
On with the music, wonderful, wonderful music! Some chat precedes the first song and then we are treated to a set of rich americana with splashes of country; The Bluebird Cafe is spellbound! With Martina’s sometime oh so fragile voice, her acoustic guitar and Dale’s sublime presence on electric guitar the sound is rich, mellow, emotional and has us drifting off to a very content place!
Christina and Dale play for about 2 hours, including a break and the chat. It’s a quick 2 hours and a very friendly one! She plays a set of old and new songs including the title track from her second album ‘Two Hearts’ and songs from her latest album ‘It’ll Be Alright‘.
Dale’s guitar is just stunning, in such a small setting it would be easy to overpower but his conservative approach to playing, characteristic to bluegrass and country, leaves each note hanging in the air for just the perfect time. A slide guitar appears and this repertoire of sounds together with Christina’s voice have us in that contently wistful place that only music can take you to! Dale sings sometimes and when he does it simply pulls the songs even further together!
I have to single out some songs here, although it’s difficult. This night was about a performance and evening with Christina and Dale and their lives and music. Sleeping With A Stranger, an autobiographical song for Christina of self discovery, has Dale’s guitar with a touch of tremelo supporting her on acoustic and vocals. The constant in this is Christina, Dale gets to ‘play’ with the sound a little and this combination just keeps pulling you in.
Another sublime song is the title track from her second album, Two Hearts. It’s not about the complexity with these songs, like a warm Summer’s day these songs just give you a certain contentment with life, just let them wash all over you and all will be well.
All too soon Christina finishes and everybody just sits there, not quite sure what to do! Personally I felt a chant of ‘one more song’ would be completely inappropriate but there was also a natural ending to the night. We all just sat there, then slowly we moved, some going to chat to Christina and Dale and others to drift back into reality, a nice reality though, walking home through beautiful Edinburgh with these sounds filling my mind was a very pleasant journey!
Thanks Christina, Dale, Al and Kylie Macgregor, who lured these artists to The Bluebird Cafe!
For more about Christina Martin and to listen to and buy her music please visit her website www.christinamartin.net
For Al check out www.alshields.com