Nick Stibbs Reports on C.J. Boyd, Tom Adams and Patrick Widdess, and Andy Buclaw at CB2, 11th December, 2012

C.J Boyd

Some of Cambridge's more creative and unusual offerings tend to be found happening in the basement of CB2 - a small room which seats a few dozen in front of a stage. Wesley Freeman Smith has been promoting concerts and multi-media events in the city for a while now and is becoming increasingly prolific, utilising CB2 on a number of occasions. I attended a night where he gathered a selection of artists for an underground musical treat - though only a few turned up for the event, this seemed somehow appropriate for the intimate and at times esoteric manner of the evening.

Andy Bucklaw, a singer-songwriter and recent graduate of ARU, began the proceedings with his perfectly formed, heartfelt and at times dark set of guitar music. He has been a regular face at acoustic open mic nights and also performs with an electric guitar at gigs in Cambridge. Andy has honed a reliable package of emotionally honest songs with edges of Bob Dylan - his image too is striking - somehow ageless as his heavy beard disguises his youthful face.

The middle act was a collaboration between Tom Adams, a versatile experimental musician and Patrick Widdess, a familiar poet on the Cambridge circuit, who offers up surreal and witty vignettes of closely observed absurdity. Their two styles gel well and the atmosphere created in the dark basement, lit by lamps curling up the microphone stand, as the pair conjured up unfamiliar yet enchanting worlds of aural delight, was captivating.

CJ Boyd took to the stage for the concluding performance. Travelling from America on a short UK tour, he played bass guitar and sang over it. A thoughtful person to chat to, his stature grew on stage and his strong beard somehow spoke to Andy's across the breadth of the night. His music told of deep remembrances and courageous presence in the midst of turmoil. Something about the bass guitar, particularly his unfunky style, can link to subterranean rhythms which anchor the heady bluster of modern life.

The night, as devised by Wesley, had the feeling of being part of something bigger, perhaps reflective of his many efforts in the city and also of a wider resurgence of homegrown (and overseas) creativity which is defiantly blasting open the doors of exploration and wonder, as the rest of the world lumbers on anxiously.

Writer: Nick Stibbs