If you are to be judged by the company you keep, then Jesca Hoop is in some pretty esteemed company. Beatnik Bard Tom Waits is already somewhat out there… so imagine what his nanny might look like.  Jesca Hoop was that gal, nanny to his three children and Waits encouraged her songwriting, barfing in his gravel-in-filled voice that “her music is like going swimming in a lake at night.”  Well I don’t get to do that much in Stockport, but having heard her play… just get me to the Goyt Valley come the witching hour.

Early demos and recordings from Hoop led to support slots with the likes of Polyphonic Spree, The Eels and Elbow and it was indeed Guy Garvey who suggested she should base herself in this fair city.  Let’s hope the beat to which this city grooves gets Jesca’s hips twitching because she sure as hell can’t have moved here for the weather.

All of which biographical diversion brings us to tonight, at Band on the Wall.  After an engaging set from The Paris Riots (not entirely sure whether the lead singer meant to step off the stage and into the crowd or kind of fell – either way, he was deliciously elsewhere), Jesca takes to the stage, backed only by her own acoustic guitar and the lush backing vocals of a friend. Her songs are beautifully crafted folksy poems about love and loss and all the chunky subjects in life.  And Jesca has great source material for such introspection – growing up in a Mormon household in America’s most louche of states… leaving America for the UK.

Her guitar playing is clear, precise and she introduces the songs from albums such as Hunting My Dress and this year’s Snowglobe with gentle, amusing stories of their creation.  The most poignant are the most personal: how she taught her mother to smoke cannabis, to ease her pain when she was dying of cancer; the love she craved from her father and her resentment when a broken arm meant a sibling became the diverted focus of that love.

The counterpoint of two female vocals over an acoustic guitar conjures into life a fragile, beautiful evening, a kind of audio crystal.  California’s loss is our gain.  Maybe she’ll bring some sunshine too…

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Simon is a writer, broadcaster and countercultural investigator. Over the last 15 years he has written for everyone from The Guardian to Loaded magazine, presented television for Rapture TV and hosted radio programs for the likes of Galaxy. He has also found time to earn a Masters Degree in Novel Writing and write three books (a collection of journalism, a guidebook to Ibiza and one on financial planning for young people – the most varied publishing career it’s possible to have) and establish and run a PR company, Pad Communications, looking after a range of leisure and lifestyle clients.He currently splits his time between researching his PhD at Leeds University, looking into various countercultural movements; consulting freelance for PR clients; writing for the likes of Marie Claire in Australia, The Big Issue and the Manchester Evening News, where he reviews concerts, theatre and is their Pub & Bar Editor. He is also broadcaster, appearing regularly on Tony Livesey’s late night 5Live show for the BBC, and also for BBC Radio Manchester Gourmet Night food and drink show.Simon’s main focus has been music and travel. His career has included editing Ministry of Sound’s magazine in Ibiza for two summers and also writing two long-running columns for DJmagazine – ”Around The World in 80 Clubs” (which took him everywhere from Beijing to Brazil, Moscow to Marrakech) and “Dispatches From The Wrong Side”. A collection of the latter was published in the UK and US as the book Discombobulated, including tales as varied as gatecrashing Kylie Minogue’s birthday party, getting deported from Russia, having a gun held to his head by celebrity gangster Dave Courtney and going raving in Ibiza with Judith Chalmers. He has recently written for the likes of Red magazine, Hotline, Clash, Tilllate, Shortlist and the Manchester Evening News. Pad Communications has recently consulted for clients as varied as Manchester nightclubs and New Zealand toy companies.On a personal note, Simon is a Londoner who left the capital at the age of 18 and never looked back. He sees himself as a citizen of the global dancefloor having lived in Sydney, Los Angeles, Ibiza and Amsterdam. However his life is now rather more sedentary. After all his adventures he bumped into and subsequently married his highschool sweetheart from their North London Grammar. They now live in Stockport with their four children and four chickens, trying to live the good life. Simon recently turned 40 and is steadfastly refusing to have a midlife crisis – as in, growing a ponytail and buying a shiny red sports car.OK, maybe he’ll buy the sports car…