A crowd converged on The Maze pub in Mansfield Road on Friday as the team behind Acoustickle launched Vocab, a new event designed to bring out the best of the independent music in Nottingham and the UK.
Three artists from Nottingham shared the stage with headliner Ayanna Witter-Johnson, a London singer and songwriter whose orchestral RnB music spellbound the audience for more than an hour.
Acoustickle have been very active in the city in the past seven years and were one of the first live music events to book artists such as Jake Bugg, Saint Raymond and Georgie Rose, who are all now signed to major labels.
Acoustickle’s founder, Parisa East, 29, from Nottingham, said: “Acoustickle artists usually just came and did their own thing, but with Vocab I organise the band and tell the vocalists to play their songs with this band.
“We are planning to take Vocab outside Nottingham as well, I don’t want to give too much away but we are talking to venues in Birmingham and Leeds at the moment.”
Vocab has kept many of the trademarks of Acoustickle, such as soft lights, candles and incense, which blend with the music to create a unique atmosphere.
Parisa said: “We want people to relax, sit down and focus on the artist.
“We have really high-quality musicians who have been booked to play, and our team is vast and helps with everything from the design of the stage to money, videoing and photography.
“With a team you can take things to the next level and you are not just chasing the tale all the time.”
Jahrel Patterson, 20, from Nottingham, is Acoustickle’s resident host and is hosting and performing for Vocab too.
Jahrel said: “Acoustickle has always organised great gigs where each artist had their own flavour and now Vocab is going to be even better because we have a live band, and that helps in any musical situation.”
Jahrel hosted the event on Friday and performed with live poetry and some of his own songs.
He was followed on stage by acoustic singer Ben Hibbert, neo-soul singer Chai Larden and finally Ayanna Witter-Johnson and her cello, while DJ Rick Donohue filled the intervals with his wide collection of vinyl records.
About the benefits and challenges of being an independent musician in the UK, Parisa said: “Being independent gives you complete artistic freedom to do whatever you like, whereas when you are a signed artist a lot of people can have a say in what you do.
“On the other hand, independent musicians have to work hard all the time because they take control of everything, from their social media, marketing and uploading their songs to getting their gigs booked and doing the publishing.
“But that’s what many talented artists have to do before they become big, and it’s the same thing we have to do as event organisers.
“We are now a small business but if we keep working hard we may one day become an empire.”
By Federico Cornetto