Part 1: Delighted to bring you this roundup of the wonderful festival that is Bushstock – the annual extravaganza Communion Records puts on all across Shepherds Bush. From the moment I arrived to collect my wrist band, the buzz of the gathering crowd, delighted at the wealth of amazing music ahead of them and six outstanding venues to choose from, was palpable.
First musical delight of the day was Harry Foxx at main venue, St Stephens Church. His energetic and passionate performance was the perfect start and really set the tone – great talent, great venue and appreciative crowd.
Next I headed to the K West garden stage to see Lyra. This was the Irish singer’s Bushstock debut. She told me she was, “super excited to be asked to play”. Her set was lively and fresh. Highlights include Breathe and Be yourself. The venue was decorated with umbrellas and fairy lights – very boho chic, quite in contrast to ultra-modern Library venue, where I went next. Special guest George Morgan from @thebeachmusic played an intimate, accomplished acoustic set. Seeing him keep his audience captivated with well-crafted songs including the new single Geronimo was a joy. He told me afterwards that it was, “amazing to do a stripped back set and it’s a treat to be involved.”
In an effort to get to every venue, I headed back towards the Uxbridge Road to see the talented Matt Maltese at the Sindercombe Social. He kept it simple, just piano and voice. Some of the crowd sat on the floor, some had flowers in their hair – a suitable nod to the spirit of Woodstock. As with most festivals, there is always one place you miss out on. I was hoping to see Sara Hartman. However, it was so packed, I could barely hear her, let alone see her. Sadly, I decided to cut my losses and went in search of sustenance and a seat before the evening sessions began.
Part 2: Evening sessions’ highlights included Dan Croll – Communion Music’s newest signing. I actually got to see him twice. First was at the Toms Secret Garden stage. One lovely resident opened their home making it a truly local festival. This unplugged, very spontaneous set, with beautiful harmonies provided by Dan’s band, was delivered with humour that captivated all who were there. Later, I saw Dan play at the glorious Bush Hall. His songs worked well simply delivered in a garden, but were even better fully cranked up in the larger venue. (Perhaps this is the very heart of Bushstock). His songs have catchy melodies and relatable themes – Bad Boy being a good example. He told me, “we had a great time here at Bushstock. We were welcomed so well and it was a pleasure not only to play Bush Hall, but also in the back garden of someone’s house, intimate and friendly.”
Bears Den were very worthy headliners. They played old favourites, but we also got to hear songs from the new album Red Earth & Pouring Rain. The band hasa special affection for Bushstock – four years ago it marked the start of good things. It showed – everyone loved the gig. Hey Love summed up our affection.
So, 11 hours, six venues and several great songs later, I am so grateful for this celebration of musical talent. It was a day of contrasts – unplugged songs in a garden, a church welcoming those from near and far and the chance to see established and new talent. Maz and the Communion team can be content that their hard work, big hearts and vision created a wonderful day. Thanks – all. www.bushstock.co.uk/