Preview: Norwich gig guide May 25-31

Sweet and soulful tunes filled with the warm buzz of jazz notes and an impressive voice could be the soundtrack to your summer, London's new jazz diva Zara McFarlane performs songs from her debut album. Plus: Duke Special, Admiral Fallow and Suzy Bogguss.


Norwich Playhouse, May 25

Sweet and soulful tunes filled with the warm buzz of jazz notes and an impressive voice could be the soundtrack to your summer, London's new jazz diva Zara McFarlane will be performing songs from her debut album, Until Tomorrow.

Zara, who counts Billie Holiday and Nina Simone among her idols, has seen her collection of modern jazz and nu-soul is accompanied by a deep, warm and powerful voice released on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings.

The 28-year-old has already collaborated with jazz artists such as Denys Baptiste, Orphy Robinson, Soweto Kinch and Jazz Jamaica All Stars.

Zara appeared on Jazz Jamaica's 2006 Motown-themed album Motor City Roots before issuing her self-produced EP, Until Tomorrow, in 2010.

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The reference to the home of the legendary soul label from Detroit — dubbed Motor City for having housed a massive Ford plant – bears parallels with Zara's home town, Dagenham.

Her breakthrough came when a friend passed her EP to the then Radio 1 DJ, who then played one of her tracks on national radio and offered to release an album. 'That was amazing. It's still unbelievable to me – I kept thinking that he may change his mind.'

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Open, May 27

Hailing from Belfast with a sound that is self-confessed 'hobo-chic', Duke Special — aka the endlessly inventive Peter Wilson — is once heard, never forgotten.

The dreadlocked, eyeliner-affecting troubadour delivers his impassioned, honky-tonk songs on a wide range of instruments, including gramophone, fiddle and harmonium.

Best known for his platinum album Songs From The Deep Forest, his immense creative talents have seen him involved in projects as diverse as writing the theme tune for Sesame Tree (the Northern Ireland edition of Sesame Street) to writing the music for a critically acclaimed production of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage.

He arrives in support of his soon-to-be-released new album Oh Pioneer — his first 'commercial' album since I Never Thought This Day Would Come in 2008.

A fervent performer his style harks back to a pre-rock'n'roll era, with dashes of Gershwin and orchestral swing, all tinged with a Northern Irish lilt and poetic lyrics — three-minute pop songs with the incessant charm of an old-school music hall.

'Standing on the edge of recording a new album is a daunting task,' he says. 'Behind you are the sessions and songs you have recorded previously… ahead are other peoples' expectations. I love the adventure.'

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Norwich Arts Centre, May 27

Genre-spanning Scottish band Admiral Fallow are fast winning a following for their finely-crafted material, including the thumbs-up from celeb admirers Fyfe Dangerfield, Guy Garvey, Huw Stephens and Bob Harris.

They scored a big success at last year's edition of the influential music showcase South By Southwest, with the band featuring beautiful melodies, sumptuous orchestration and bittersweet boy/girl vocals, built round the lyrics of singer/guitarist Louis Abbott.

Completed by fellow vocalist Sarah Hayes (also flute, piano), Kevin Brolly (clarinet, keyboards, backing vocals), Joe Rattray (bass, double bass, backing vocals) and Philip Hague (drums, vibraphone, backing vocals), they formed in 2007. They have enjoyed a string high profile support slots with the Futureheads, Paolo Nutini, King Creosote, the Felice Brothers and Frightened Rabbit, as well as headline gigs that have seen record label A&R men out in force.

The Glasgow six-piece's first album, Boots Met My Face, released last year, featured their folk-goes-indie-with-a-Scottish-accent sound.

The band continue to attract admiring comparisons to Arcade Fire and Frightened Rabbit, while forging a sound that brims with originality, now is the time to catch them — before they're huge.

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Norwich Arts Centre, May 28

Platinum selling contemporary country songstress Suzy Bogguss began on the American coffeehouse circuit before being by an A&R scout while performing at Dollywood — Dolly Parton's theme park — in the 1980s.

The Illinois singer-songwriter went on to enjoy considerable success in the early 1990s as a country singer. But while that commercial peak lasted just a couple of years, she's recently experienced an unexpected resurgence as an easy-on-the-ears but somewhat eclectic jazz-pop singer.

And while her bookshelf was already full of Grammy and CMA awards she can put her own book up there too after the release of American Folk Songbook last year. The CD and companion Songbook was created after she toured with American author and musician Garrison Keillor.

The hardcover, 96-page book is filled with illustrations, fascinating historical stories about classic American songs, easy to read sheet music arrangements for piano, voice and guitar as well as personal insights and anecdotes from Bogguss.

She arrives in Norwich as part of a UK tour. 'We're playing a broad mix of material on the tour but I know we'll have fun with American Folk Songbook,' she says. 'The Brits are great with sing-a-longs!'

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MAY 25

NNF: Zun Zun Egui (indie/rock) — Arts Centre

NNF: Zara McFarlane (jazz) — Playhouse

NNF: Sam Amidon (folk) — Spiegeltent Chapelfield

NNF: The Magic Number (swing/gypsy) — Spiegeltent Chapelfield

The Proposition (roots/blues) — Brewery Tap

Big Black Cadillac (rockabilly) — Walnut Tree Shades

Claire Baker Band (funk/soul) — Brickmakers

The Mob (rock/pop) — Hellesdon Bull

Odessa (metal/hardcore) — Waterfront

Stoker + Shock!Hazard (indie/rock) — King Edward VII

The Music House: feat. Jon Hart Band _+ more (acoustic) — Wensum Lodge

Norwich Folk Club: feat. Zimmer Follies — Christ Church Centre

The Mob (rock/pop) — The Bull Hellesdon

Drop The Clutch (rock) — The Otter

Soothsayer Promo (metal) — B2

Knightmoves — Lakenham Cock

Danny Reno — Perseverance

Rach — Fiveways

MAY 26

NNF: Jerry Dammers' Spatial AKA Orchestra (jazz/ska) — Theatre Royal

NNF: Gangpol und Mit (pop/art) — Arts Centre

NNF: The Handsome Family (Americana) — Spiegeltent Chapelfield

Ziplock + more (punk) — King Edward VII

Astapi + One Win Choice (punk) — Olives

Starsexplode + more (rock) — B2

To The Last (rock) — Boundary

Bon Giovi + Blind Tiger (rock/tribute) — Brickmakers

Billy Lockett + Lee Vann (acoustic) — Carnival

Unlawfully Yours (pop/rock) — Woolpack

Worlds Apart (blues/rock) — Walnut Tree Shades

Honeydripper (blues/rock) — Eaton Cottage

The Foolish (rock/pop) — Lakenham Cock

Against The Grain (blues/rock) — The Leopard

Firewire (pop/ska) — Spixworth Social Club

Barry Lee — Heath House

Steve Moyse — Angel Gardens

Shannon — Trowel & Hammer

MAY 27

Duke Special (indie/rock) — Open

Admiral Fallow (indie/rock) — Arts Centre

Brit Floyd (rock/tribute) — Theatre Royal

The Planks (soul/3pm) — Brewery Tap

Big Black Cadillac (rock'n'roll/3pm) — King Edward VII

The Indebtors (folk/pop/5pm) — Silver Road Cottage

Floating Greyhounds (rock/4pm) — Boundary

Lee Vasey Big Band (12pm) — Brickmakers

MAY 28

Suzy Bogguss (folk) — Arts Centre

Brickie Session (open mic) — Brickmakers

Jazz Jam: feat. Rich Buddie — Walnut Tree Shades

Jazz Jam — B2

MAY 29

Nigel King Band (60s) — Brickmakers

Val Wiseman & The Simon Brown Trio (jazz) — Rackheath Green Man

MAY 30

Gemma Hayes (folk/electronic) — Arts Centre

Dying Breeds + more (punk/rockabilly) — B2

Lee Vasey & Friends — Trowel & Hammer

Pure Acoustic (open mic) — Brickmakers

MAY 31

Energy (funk/soul/pop) — Brickmakers

Honeydripper (blues/rock) — Walnut Tree Shades

Albert Cooper's Blues & Boogie Band — Rumsey Wells

The Indebtors (folk/pop/rock) — Rose Tavern

Bloodstock Metal 2: feat. Then Comes Chaos + more (competition/heat 3) — Waterfront Studio

Open Jam — King Edward VII