On a grey and nondescript Wednesday night in Norwich, three shining beacons of light enter the city armed with their instruments, their voices, their bubbly personalities and their flaming red hair. The Blueberry, a hidden gem of a pub music venue tucked behind a row of terraced houses adjacent to the inner Norwich ring road, hosted the Scottish trio, Anna MacDonald, Mike Nisbet and Rosie Bans, as part of the Artpackt collective.
Anna is a multi-instrumentalist singer and songwriter whose celtic roots shine through her songs whether sung in Scots, English or Gaelic. With a voice so sweet it could appear on the dessert menu at a Michelin star restaurant, and a soft, gentle acoustic guitar style, Anna kicked off proceedings with two of her own original songs. In terms of body mass, I probably represented about 1/10th of the entire crowd, and it was a privilege to witness such an accomplished performer at work in such an intimate venue.
Anna was raised in Glasgow but spent every summer on the Isle of Skye where her family’s roots run deep. Her Highland connections had a strong influence on her from an early age and in 2003 Anna spent a year studying at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland’s Gaelic College, which cemented her love for the language.
“Anna MacDonald has angelic vocal tones so hair raising, it’s like walking down a cobbled street with a Scottish breeze sneaking up your neck while also enticing you to sit by the warm fire and warm yourself up with a whisky discussing Scottish Culture” - Ark Magazine
Rosie Bans creates Piano Pop Punk, which is a tremendous piece of alliteration as impactful as her dramatic combination of keyboardism and vast vocal range.
According to her bio on her website,
"I write alternative pop music with lady balls.
More screaming than singing.
More bashing than playing.”
But don’t be fooled by this endearing self-deprecation as her singing is versatile and dripping with more melody than if you liquidised the entire Motown back catalogue and served it for breakfast as a smoothie. Rosie took to the stage for two songs including the delightful, “Westbound Ghosts,” a song that will warm your heart and remind you of where you came from if you’ve ever relocated out of town.
Mike Nisbet is so much more than merely a perfectly cultivated mustache; way more impressive than being the ginger Tom Selleck.
Hailing from Oban, experiencing his captivating finger-picking and velvet voice felt like a night by a log fire with your best mates and an endless supply of fine malt whiskey. He’s got the blues and his harmonica playing sent shivers down my spine as I was entranced by the third of three accomplished and simply amazing performers.
Whilst the wall behind the stage may have been pants, the music and vibe coming from the stage was anything but pants. If these three don’t play at Redhead Days I will dye my hair and lose my ginger mojo forever.
by Barry Singleton, Ginger With Attitude