The Flowerpot Sessions, or How I (Wish I’d) Spent My Summer Vacation Last Year

Posted: June 13, 2011 in Sounds
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Sometimes people come up with great ideas that are contained in small packages, and that are held in a tight circle of friends until it’s time – if, indeed, that time ever comes – to share it with a broader audience.

Communion, a great UK label started by son of Mumford Ben Lovett and his friends Kevin Jones and Ian Grimble, had just such an idea. They gathered some of their best mates last July and offered the following proposition (imagined conversation between label men and artists):

Label Men: “We’ll take over The Flowerpot [a semi-legendary and now defunct London venue that reminds me a bit of a British version of Decatur’s own Eddie’s Attic] for 7 days, and you guys can pretty much come and go as you want, but you’ll be matched up around lunch time every day with others of your ilk. You can write new stuff, practice old stuff, whatever you want – but that night you’ll all perform it together in front of the full house. Adult beverages may be involved, as well, and there will be no curfew on late-night jams.”

Everyone They Asked: “OK. ‘Adult beverages,’ you say?”

I first heard about the sessions only recently via an update on the Mumford & Sons site, and – recognizing only a handful of the artists but getting the gist of the wondrous idea in toto and immediately – I ordered the just-released discs. Still not entirely sure what I paid for it since it was in £’s, but I’m pretty sure it was worth it. . . (Also realized that I could have probably found a US site from which to order it, but that wouldn’t have felt like it was part of the whole communal experience.)

There have been some stunning revelations thus far; the performances from the artists I recognize have been stellar and there are a handful of formerly unknown (to me) that I can tell are going to make it into regular rotation, too.

First, the Knowns: All of Lissie’s contributions, whether her headliners or the tunes she sat in on (of which there were many,) are definite highlights. Likewise, Mt. Desolation (made up of two of the founders of Keane, the drummer from The Killers, and assorted other British musicians, some of whom appear separately in the Flowerpot collaboration) has a strong showing and are instantly recognizable when they pop up in the shuffled mix. The Staves’ “Mexico” is so far the standout track on all three discs for me, and their other tunes – again, whether they’re headlining or or providing the BGVs – are incredible.

Lissie, Mt. Desolation and The Staves

New discoveries for me include Pete Roe, a staple of the London folk scene and also one of the “assorted other British musicians” mentioned above as part of Mt. Desolation, whose “Bellina” is another of the set’s highlights for me; Angus & Julia Stone, who appear as often (or oftener) than anyone else in the collection, it seems – and for good reason: they’re amazing. Treetop Flyers, Monument Valley, and Passenger all provide outstanding contributions, as well. James Moss, with The Staves backing him up, delivers an excellent rendition of his own “For Birds.” Ryan O’Reilly’s “Brixton Hill” is good enough that, like most on this list, I’ll be looking him up for more. Damien Rice and Angus & Julia provide a fun, brooding (and a little scary) cover of “You’re the One That I Want,” that was a nice surprise, too.

As with most such get-togethers, it all sounds great on disc a year later, but it surely would have been an even more incredible experience to have been there in person during that week. 60-plus hours of recorded material boiled down to three discs means that tons of stuff had to be left out, and that plus all of the inside jokes, stories and drunken revelries would only have made this grouping even more powerful. To watch that type of collaborative process unfold, whether when producing brand new songs or interesting takes on existing ones, is the purview of only a chosen few, though, and we’ll have to make do with the curated results in this fine package.

And what a fine package it is:

Complete with a nice case that I’m sure is made of  uber-recycled material, three discs of music and one of visuals, and an informative booklet with complete song- and musician-listings tucked away in a pocket.

Check out the video below for a brief overview of how the process unfolded over that magical week. I’m sure it’ll make you wish you were there, too.

A Bit About the Flowerpot Sessions

The Flowerpot Sessions site (complete with a Family Tree that shows everyone who played with everyone else – pretty clever way to do it, too.)

Buy it here!

  1. Jessica Long says:

    How many pounds did it end up being? 🙂

  2. Jessica Long says:

    You just missed the session, though, seems you can pop in there at any time, though I’d go on Sundays for free barbeque…As I’m typing I’m imagining it’s being done with an English accent, mate. Wonder what my schedule is like today–maybe I’ll go round to the lavatory or the conservatory. Where’s my monocle?

  3. Sable says:

    Grade A stuff. I’m unqueostniably in your debt.

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