“If you ever want to start a record label…don’t,” joked Jacko Hooper, addressing the crowd in-between performing at the launch show for Folklore Volume One, the first release from Hooper’s new record label. Joking aside, Hooper and co seem to have done a pretty good job organising their EP and accompanying show, which featured all of the artists on the record; OKTOBA, George Ogilvie, Bess Atwell and of course Jacko himself.
Starting proceedings was OKTOBA, the project of singer/songwriter Chris Athorne. Athorne impressed immediately with his polarising vocals, performing a selection of his own material along with a cover of ‘It Must Be Love’, originally recorded by Labi Siffre but better known as one of Madness’ greatest hits. Athorne’s performance was an interesting down-tempo take on the track, and it was unlike any versions I’ve previously heard. He also performed new track ‘Chance’ which features on the EP. As an opener, the room was full before he’d even taken to the stage and his vocal range was incredible throughout, despite his humble appearance.
Second to perform was Hooper himself who, while achieving previous success and establishment within the local scene, has kept his feet firmly on the ground. Hooper took to the stage dressed smart but casual and, despite some initial technical problems, pulled it out of the bag pretty quickly. His performance was stunning throughout, but a particular highlight was ‘If You Don’t Love’, which sees Hooper at his most open and expressive. Despite the sadness in a lot of his music, Hooper himself was humorous in-between songs and seemed very proud of what he had created, both with the EP and the show itself. Inviting fellow musician Tommy to the stage to play trumpet, he joked they had practiced their performance in the toilet earlier on, to the amusement of the crowd.
Next to perform was George Ogilvie, who flawlessly projected his tremendous vocals and instrumentation to a crowd who seemed just as appreciative to be there as he was. Despite some tuning issues during part of the set, Ogilvie took it in his stride, while being apologetic to the audience. When addressing the crowd, Ogilvie was charming and engaging, and new track ‘Out of Harm’s Way’ seems a definite highlight from the EP.
Last but by no means least was Bess Atwell, who was the only act to take to the stage with a backing band. Originally I had expected Jacko to perform last, but having Atwell close definitely put the spotlight on her and with good reason. Atwell was possibly the best vocalist of the evening, although there was some stiff competition. She makes a great addition to the EP in her track ‘Pearl’, which is a great representation of the depth of her vocals.
For an evening of soaring temperature, it was a joy to see the huge turnout at The Prince Albert, which is a testament to Hooper and co’s talent more than anything else. He described how the aim of the evening was to “Throw away the big music machine” and feel like you’re just “listening to some tunes down the pub”. Due to the openness of each performer’s lyrics and performance, they achieved just that and, as somebody who hadn’t actually seen Jacko perform previously, I was very impressed. Having established Folklore in 2014, Hooper has definitely come a long way and I’m sure this label will be a success for him and his fellow musicians.