With the highly anticipated On the Rocks festival occurring throughout this week, the Musical Sketches event hosted on Sunday evening offered a relaxed opportunity to get into a creative mood. The event was – a little ambiguously – advertised as a ‘night of jazz, art and dancing,’ which left room for curiosity as to the exact nature of the evening.
Musical Sketches was held in an upstairs venue of the Innis & Gunn Beer Kitchen, a small but classy establishment located on North Street. It turned out to be, not in fact a series of skit performances, but an area set up to inspire creativity in the form of drawing. Tables were set up with leaflets containing brief, but informative bullet points on artistic movements such as the Surrealism and Renaissance periods. Some of these indicated their key contemporary artists, such as Salvador Dali or Claude Monet. Printed pictures of iconic artworks belonging to various eras were also provided, along with coloured pencils and sketch paper. To complete the ambience, a small live band performed for around an hour, playing mostly jazz and urban music. Some of the pieces played were purely instrumental, whilst others were covers of classic tracks, such as the likes of Bill Withers. Although only consisting of a cajón, a muted trumpet and a singer on an acoustic guitar, the evening’s musicians consistently played competently and professionally without any hint of hesitation or stiltedness between songs. The quality of their performance was by no means diminished by the fact that the band had just a few members. Additionally, they orchestrated themselves in such a way that they did not overwhelm the small venue, which would have been easy in such a confined space. Perhaps for the same reason, there was a notable lack of dancing at the event, but again, this did not diminish the authentic ‘jazzy blues’ feel to the evening. Nevertheless, the music was by no means ‘blasted’ at those attending but managed to produce a tasteful background music that was enjoyable in a laid-back manner.
By combining their own music with purposefully selected artistic stimuli, the event created an authentic musical atmosphere that succeeded in encouraging participants to engage in the arty spirit of the festival. Many participants made full use of the materials provided to produce their own art, whilst others were using the space as a chilled area to socialise or study. The venue remained impressively full throughout the course of the evening, with groups of people drifting in and out after staying for as long as they liked. Overall, the event turned out to be a great place to relax in an ambience of artful creativity. It was indeed, as advertised, a genuinely ‘true celebration of music and art working together to achieve creative expression.’