The festival has been held for the last 13 years, originally staged at Cornbury Park, near Charlbury, it changed venues in 2012 to the Great Tew Estate where it is now well settled – although they are still tweaking the layout.
For the last seven years Caffè Nero have extended their musical offering with a full schedule of sets covering all three days of the festival. Once again, directed by the musical enthusiast Pablo Ettington, they presented a full range of the finest unsigned artists in the UK. The Imagesound stage had a program of 25 acts – a mini festival in its own right.
Pablo is the co-founder of the Caffè Nero coffee house chain, a business credited with helping launch the musical careers of Passenger and Jack Savoretti.
Both singer songwriters were first spotted playing live in one of his branches, with many more musicians also receiving a vital lifeline through the company’s various artist development schemes.
Across Pablo’s 800 cafes, curated playlists play a huge part in setting the right atmosphere for customers and staff – and offer crucial exposure to upcoming classical, jazz, folk and pop songwriters.
The Caffè Nero team also run an Artist of the Month scheme, promoting a different act every four weeks and hosting gigs at their venues around the UK and beyond.
Previous featured artists include Savoretti, Passenger, Ludovico Einaudi, The Dunwell Brothers and Newton Faulkner, who have all gone on to achieve mainstream success.
Pablo is an avid music fan, songwriter, recording artist and pianist, whose love of music was encouraged at an early age.
Friday saw a performance by Roxanne de Bastio fresh from her debut at Glastonbury, the week before. Her song, “Train Tracks” just released on BandCamp, seems more relevant with its references to the joys and freedom of moving around Europe.
Saturday started with a fantastic singer songwriter and returning performer Lenny Filipova, an acclaimed Czech musician. She played a passionate set. Her voice has a distinct lower tone.
Hattie Briggs treated the packed marque with a set of mostly new songs from her latest album ‘Young Runaway’, that was only release the previous day. The one exception was her version cover of Eva Casady’s cover of Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’.
She started her beautiful and engaging performance with ‘Move Away’, a song about taking chances. ‘Have We Met Before’, Co-written by Jake Cookson – her companion today, about all the people who she has met since she has been playing music full time, after leaving her Russian Degree at Oxford.
‘Hears to Hoping’, a song about the house Hattie grew up in, for this song she swaps her guitar for a ukulele. ‘Castle on The Sand’, is loosely based on an old friends love life, and how she kept getting her heart broken. After her version of ‘Fields of Gold’, she finished the set with a summery song, ‘Summer Time Man’ which she played on piano.
With influences including James Taylor, Norah Jones and Eva Cassidy, Hattie’s music crosses multiple genres including pop, folk, soul and blues.
Her lyrics and composition have shades of Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman, and her vocal delivery has a crystalline clarity with subtle hints in her phrasing that give away her Gloucestershire roots, which gives a special character to her voice.
Sunday’s line-up featured Caffè Nero’s June ‘Artist of the Month’ - Dave Hanson Band.
After touring with Mumford and Sons and Sheryl Crow as well as performing on the Tonight Show, Dave Hanson decided to leave his successful band The Dunwells (who also appeared on the main stage at Cornbury and an acoustic set on the Imagesound stage on the Friday) to pursue his dream of making his own music. Spending the last 5 years touring across America provided Dave with inspiration to write and create his new album that has a laid back, rootsy vibe inspired by his love of JJ Cale, Dire Straits and The Black Keys. Working with producer Tim Palmer (U2, Pearl Jam, David Bowie), Hanson has succeeded in making an album of material that sounds warm and familiar but with a modern production value. Hanson’s easy going persona translates into his music which has a sophisticated and effortless feel.
The set included a lot of new material from his recently release album ‘Almost Horizontal’. On the small stage they managed to pack Dave – lead vocals and guitar, Keira Kendry Bass, Becca Ward harmonies/backing vocals, Martin Milhorn Keyboard and the very young Steve Hanley on drums.
Opening the set was the ‘Joanna’, followed by ‘Do You Get The Fear?’ a very funky track which reminded me of the "Starsky and Hutch" theme tune by The Hollywood's Martins – it has the same vibe and is about waking up early and not wanting the day to start. Next up was a song whose inspiration was drawn from
way back in ’69, a great articulate guitar and a jazzy keyboard.
‘Blind Faith’ is a song about making the leap from the comfort of being in a band, to going solo and writing your own songs.
‘Island Sky’ the time Dave spent on Mackinac Island in the middle of lake Michigan, and reminds him of what it felt to be there.
‘Things will get better in a little while’
Next time your at Cornbury, you would do well to spend some time in the Caffé Nero and hear some great music, have some coffee and a snack – you’ll pick up some great new music.