Impact Visits Hockley Hustle Festival 2023

Alicia Lacey

On the 22nd October, the annual Hockley Hustle festival welcomed the Nottingham community to celebrate some of the best local talent in the city. Spanning various live music venues across the city, Impact went along to the event to explore some up and coming artists. Impact’s Alicia Lacey reports. 

My morning began with arriving at Broadway Cinema; the sun was shining and I was surrounded by groups of excited people anticipating the day’s events. The Major Oak Choir opened the festival by welcoming the public with lighthearted covers that involved the crowd clapping along. Several street performers joined in with the performance by blowing bubbles, hula hooping and were dressed up in circus costumes.

The first event I visited in Hockley was at Bunkers Hill at 12pm which had a large selection of beers and ciders from all around the world – a perfect venue for emerging artists. Performing first was Elijah, a Nottingham Trent student, who played a range of covers from Counting Stars by OneRepublic and some classics from Stereophonics.

The small crowd joined in by singing along to Valerie by Amy Winehouse (a favourite of the day for many other performers) which set the tone for the talent I was about to see throughout the day. Their charismatic attitude towards engaging their crowd made them extremely likable and I really enjoyed seeing student musicians being appreciated at the festival.

After this, we walked back up the hill to The Bodega Nottingham – home of Indie Wednesdays and Acoustic Rooms. The musician playing at 1pm was Willi P (Will Pearson). With elements of jazz and folk, Willi P’s original songs introduced me to new music I had never heard before; one of the best reasons to attend events like Hockley Hustle. Some notable songs he played were Litter Pity, Bright Blues (available on Spotify), Pink Cloud and Cave Paintings.

It is so important to support new and upcoming artists in Nottingham, especially ones as gifted as Romy

The song Cave Paintings, explained by Willi P, was the first song he performed at Acoustic Rooms at Bodega and is about making your life the way you want to make it: ‘Paint the cave your way’. During his set, he brought on other artists who sang their own covers, played the saxophone and provided angelic backing vocals. His friends were named as Adam, Roy and Charlie who added amazing layers to the songs with their own additions and the show’s dynamic was fun and upbeat.

Around 2pm we headed to The Carousel; an earthy and rustic venue with lots of houseplants and large windows which let in the day’s fortunate weather and provided the perfect backdrop to showing the Young Creative Awards. The third performer I was lucky to see was Romy, a 14 year old singer/songwriter, who blew me away with her crisp vocals and energy. She played original songs such as You’re My Home, Fly Away (available on Spotify), Red and Yellows and Wasting My Time.

The most impressive part of her gig was the song she wrote at 11 years old called Patch It Up which tells the story of heartbreak. Her individual sound was captivating and she was brilliant at engaging her listeners by telling jokes about her past gigs. It is so important to support new and upcoming artists in Nottingham, especially ones as gifted as Romy.

On our walk back to The Bodega, we passed Nottingham Lindy Hop which gathered a large crowd enjoying their dancing. It was a wholesome mix of all genders, races and ages coming together to show what they have practiced in their classes. The group focuses on Charleston, solo jazz and Balboa dancing which was well appreciated by the festival goers.

There were smiles all around, from both the public and dancers, as they celebrated a more classic form of dance that everyone can get involved with. To get involved, their website can provide you with more information on how you could join this lovely group.

JJ Lovegrove’s ethereal energy was reminiscent of Florence and The Machine with a similar conceptual indie pop vibe

Back at Bodega, BBC Music Introducing East Midlands was on the stage upstairs which I was highly anticipating from this event. The first performer, JJ Lovegrove, came onto the stage at 2:30pm which was lit with neon strobe lights and a central keyboard. Her ethereal energy was reminiscent of Florence and The Machine with a similar conceptual indie pop vibe.

It was a refreshing change from many acoustic guitar performers, as she used a mixture of soundtracks and keys to make her whimsical sound. An interesting part of her show was the use of British Sign Language throughout her songs which made the music accessible to deaf audience members.

Kigali Cafe was our next destination for the day. This venue is located on Stoney Street and offers specialty coffee in Hockley. Performing at 3:10pm was Sam Barker whose vocals had 70s soul and rock influences with a raspy twist. At 20 years old, Sam Barker has two singles released, and carried himself with a rockstar edge. I thoroughly enjoyed his songs and he offered great promise to young performers in Nottingham.

Finally, I ended my day with a trip to Rough Trade – a popular music venue in Hockley with a record shop on the ground floor. The final performer I saw was George Gadd at 4pm who gathered a large audience and the floor was packed with eager listeners. He brought on a special guest, Sarah Cottee, who accompanied him on a few songs. The two had great banter and stage presence making the audience laugh and cheer as they played their music.

This venue has a definite rock influence and was the best way to end off an amazing day out in Nottingham.

Alicia Lacey

Featured image courtesy of Thomas Acratopulo. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

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