Her Make Believe Band - 6 Feb - Harbourlight, Lyttelton
14 Mar 2011 // A review by Mmdelai
Her Make Believe Band is a talented acoustic duo made up of Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan. Formed in the UK, the band have been touring the country recently - I was lucky enough to catch their Lyttelton performance.
Winstanley moved to London in 2004, writing and performing around the UK. This included support for the Violent Femmes at The Forum, he also played at the Royal Festival Hall, The Borderline, Cornbury Festival and Toast Festival. In 2007 Her Make Believe Band was formed when Vanessa moved to London after studying jazz bass at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. There she had performed with an impressive array of America's jazz musicians, performed in New York and also toured Costa Rica.
On this tour they played as a three piece (featuring David Khan) with each of them singing at some stage; Winstanley on guitar, McGowan on double bass and Khan on banjo. This line up cut back from their recorded four piece - Sebastian Weiss and Tom Greenhalgh also feature on their album AM Radio (Vanessa orchestrated this album release on their own label Old Oak Music).
Their music is a soft soulful mix of country/jazz/folk, all genres I think of as being "live", so it's no surprise that they had that somehow silky quality to listen to. With one mic set up between them, singing backing vocals over each other's shoulders (which worked really well!), their voices all sounded absolutely amazing.
It felt very suited listening to their grounded, heartfelt songwriting in the shelter of the Harbourlight ....the audience at tables… the fairy lights…. it was all rather touching really; one of those melting experiences you get with good live blues/folk music.
I really loved this gig, if you get the chance you should definitely see these guys - you'll be glad you did!
About Her Make Believe Band
Led by New Zealanders Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan, Her Make Believe Band is a London born band described as a “masterful blend of Americana fused with jazz, soul and pop”.
Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Her Make Believe Band
Her Make Believe Band released their debut album, AM Radio (Old Oak Music) in 2009, to critical acclaim both in NZ and in the UK, including Uncut Magazine UK who described songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Cy Winstanley as “a potent songwriter with a voice gently reminiscent of Paul Simon” while vocalist/bassist Vanessa McGowan “adds beguiling harmonies”. Graham Reid, New Zealand's foremost music journalist, described AM Radio as a "delightful album...hooks you in with melodies and keeps you there by virtue of the words...very sharp stuff". The album was an exploration of the alt-country and pop possibilities of Cy’s songs and has become a timepiece of Cy and Vanessa’s work with London based keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Sebastian Weiss and drummer Tom Greenhalgh.
Cy Winstanley cut his musical teeth in New Zealand singing, playing guitar and harmonica and, after a passing teenage obsession with guitar rock, discovered bluegrass, jazz and blues, eventually meeting fellow New Zealander, bassist Vanessa McGowan in a local jazz big band. Following the urge to discover his Liverpudlian roots Cy moved to London in 2004 and spent 7 years there busking, writing and playing around the country including performances in London at The Forum supporting the Violent Femmes, Royal Festival Hall, The Borderline, Cornbury Festival and Toast Festival.