The Kingdom of Kush
The Kingdom of Kush, like their hometown of Bruton, is full of surprises; a cache of talent and energy; eclectic and very cool.
The foundation of Kush is the long-standing creative partnership of Phil Harry and Nick Dixon, who have been playing music together for years. They were soon joined by drummer Stuart Hopson-Jones, Kush’s rhythm and heartbeat.
Next came vocalist Anna-Marie Perry whose soulful vocals are rich and powerful (think Tina Turner), and then lead guitarist Mark Adams. Combined with Phil Harry’s skill on the keyboard and Nick Dixon’s funky bass playing, Kush is definitely going places. This is a talented line-up of home-grown and seasoned musicians who clearly love to play.
The name Kush, Phil Harry told me, was inspired partly by his interest in Indian instruments. He is a professional sitar player and, although the sitar does not currently feature in the band’s repertoire, I have seen Harry and Dixon play sitar and twelve-string guitar together. I hope to have the opportunity again.
At their recent gig at the Bruton Castle, Kush were on fire. They drew a crowd not only from their local fans but from Frome, Shepton and Bath. There were dancers on the floor from the first bars of the first song; Amy Winehouse’s Valerie. It became apparent, as the evening progressed, that this band can play and sing just about anything, and that they can do it extremely well. They played their own renditions of the best floor-fillers by the Doors, Massive Attack, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and David Bowie. The finale was the Dooby Brothers’ Long train Running and Get Lucky by Daft Punk. By the end of the evening the dance floor was pulsing.
I asked Phil Harry what, if anything, was the ethos of a band who could, seemingly effortlessly, do justice to some of the greats of rock, electronic, funk and disco.
‘We’re playing for the audience as much as for ourselves,’ he said. ‘Nick and I have both spent a lot of time writing our own material, but we’ve discovered that audiences prefer the songs they know. So now most of the material we perform is covers, but with our own special spin.’
I’ve heard a rumour that the band will soon be recording an album of original material, but couldn’t draw Harry out on this subject.
It is clear that Kush care about the crowd, because they engage with their audiences. Anna-Marie Perry is a magnetic and communicative performer and Harry likes to banter. This lends a camaraderie that removes the divide between band and audience.
The Kingdom of Kush’s next gig is April 18th at The Three Horseshoes in Batcombe. They will be playing festivals and other venues in Somerset and Dorset throughout the summer.