By Saiba Haque, Food Editor
Busker's Banquet was definitely one of the most unique and amazing experience that I have encountered here in Bristol. It truly demonstrates the best that Bristol has to offer in terms of both the culinary and music scenes. A standard Busker's Banquet evening starts with a two course meal by an amazing and experienced Chef and is followed by two musical acts for the night. This article is in collaboration with the Food Section of The Croft Magazine.
After the carefully curated menu by Chef Dan Ashford was consumed by the diners for the night, the musical acts for the evening started to prepare their sets. The musical acts for the evening were Fritillaries and Hesta Banks.
Their sets for the night were more or less unplugged, with plenty of acoustic guitars and a singular banjo (brought along by Fritillaries); which fits perfectly on theme for an intimate and chill experience between the artists and the audience. I had the opportunity to engage in conversations with both talented artists long before the whole event started. Snippets of which will emerge throughout this review.
The live music segment for the evening started off with Bristol-based Folk artist, Fritillaries (Hannah Pawson). Fritillaries formerly started off as a duo project, until recently. It is now a solo project with just Hannah. The debut Album by Fritillaries was released last year with themes surrounding loneliness and isolation, whilst trying to find the "threads of creativity again"; inspired by the era of lockdown during COVID 19.
The sophmore album by the artist is soon to be released. According to Hannah, it was written in two months and was heavily inspired by a breakup. However, this is not your run-of-the-mill breakup album. In regards to the album this is what Fritillaries had to say:
"It's kind of like a love letter to the relationship... I feel like breakup albums are often kinda bitter or angry but I think this album is much more appreciative of all the time spent in the relationship and of what it was and the experience that it has given me. So it's kind of a Love album really"
This nuanced take for a "break-up" album is certainly very refreshing. For thevening Fritillaries would go on to perform some songs from her debut album and some that are unreleased from her upcoming sophmore album.
Fritillaries claim that some artists that they often take inspiration from include The Weather Station, Hurray for the RiffRaff, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell. The influences of these folk artists certainly shine through in the recorded music and live rendition of the songs performed by Fritillaries for the evening. the performance by Fritillaries was absolutely mesmerising.
The stripped back folk instrumentals from the acoustic guitar and occasionally the banjo, along with Hannah's hauntingly beautiful voice made for a live performance that was wonderfully evocative. Hannah's mesmerising vocals along with her profound lyricism is immensely captivating and delicately demands attention from the audience. What a truly wonderful performance!
While the performance by Fritillaries brought about feelings of yearning and sonder, Contrastingly, Hesta Banks brought a cointrasting sound for her performance. She would stick to an acoustic guitar for the whole performance, but the sound of her music was very much more upbeat and Jazzy, with hints of Bossa Nova-esqe instrumentals.
Hesta (Eleanor) Banks was a part of a folk trio band, before emerging as a solo act. From growing up within a family that already pursues music in the realm of Opera, to growing up in different parts of the world (namely New Zealand), Hesta had plenty of influences to take inspiration from. Hesta was certain from an early age of thirteen that she wanted to steer away from Opera:
"I was brought up in a musical family, both my parents are in the opera world, but I knew very early on that I wasn't meant for the opera world"
When asking her about her favourite musical inspiration, she would say that Lianne La Havas, Cecile McLorin Salvant and Kimbra are huge inspirations for her; the influence of which is rendered perfectly into her music and performance for the night as both artists showcase the complexity and beauty of Jazz music. Hesta's delicately enigmatic voice and her neo-soul and jazzy instrumentals brightened up the room.
You can almost "hear" her contagious smile through her singing and can't help but smile along. There was one part of the performance where the audience had a "sing-along" moment, where Hesta instructed the audience on the lyrics to sing along with her for a song. This made for a fun addition to her set to engage the audience.
Although the artists for the evening were vastly different from one another, it provided for a lively night filled with intrigue. Both Fritillaries and Hesta Banks are truly sensational in their own respective genres of music, and I would definitely continue to hear more of their music. One may implore that Fritillaries is perfect for your autumnal and winter themed playlists and Hesta Banks is very well suited for your summer themed playlists.
Nevertheless, it was an amazing experience with delicious food, good company and great musical artists that I think we should definitely look out for. If you want to find more talented indie artists with various genres, I would highly recommend Buskers Banquet as it certainly does bring together the best that Bristol has to offer.
For the Food Review for this Busker's Banquet event, click here.
Make sure to check out Fritilaries and Hesta Banks' tunes here:
Photography by Saiba Haque
Have you been to a Busker's Banquet?