Diane is a regular user of Orb’s services, who is involved in our new Wednesday creative writing group, run by Andy Fretwell. This is her review of this year’s “Well Good” open day performance extravaganza, held as part of Knaresborough’s annual FEVA arts festival.

It’s that time of year again, when Knaresborough comes alive and holds its FEVA arts festival. Knaresborians are culture vultures, who really support the festival. This year’s “Well Good 3” extravaganza, put on by Orb Community Arts, was easily the best yet, even though past extravaganzas have also been great.

At this event, there was a second hand stall, and a food stall selling delicious salads and drinks (I had a superb coffee). Inside the building is “where it’s at” for the musical performances.

The first Act was called cAVE. They specialise in electronic noise, which evolves into a very individual type of music. It’s a refreshing musical innovation, and a new experience: atmospheric, ethereal and haunting. The music suggests a strange journey through sound, which evokes pictures of windswept planes, log cabins, snowfall, an old water mill, the sound of raptors quarrelling over their prey, a bell ringing in a monastery, and a trapped bird fluttering against its prison walls. In one part of this recital, a drumbeat occurred alongside an echo that gradually disappeared, the rhythm then alternating between hard and soft beats, interspersed by wailing sounds. A noise like an overhead helicopter followed, morphing into a large echo which gradually faded, bringing the performance to a close. You mustn’t miss the opportunity to hear cAVE.

Acorn Band

cAVE were followed by the Acorn Band, who consisted of three superb musicians and a trio of lady vocalists. There was some great guitar wailing in the background, and the singers had very pleasing strong voices, creating a powerful harmony. They gave great renditions of Bad Moon Rising, Proud Mary, and another cover song about “the best days of my life.”

Next up was The Good, The Bad and The Beardie: another great band, with superb musicians and a quirky scat singer. This line-up made for a refreshing, highly individual sound: definitely very good listening.

1/2/6 were invited to the event by Converge, a community arts organisation based in York. The band’s excellent musicians really “got the joint jumping”, so to speak. Two first-rate male vocalists took turns in singing the band’s own compositions. “She’s Seductive, You Know What I Mean” was catchy, sincere and memorable. It was followed by “The Wolf And The Sheep”, full of well-observed social commentary about corrupt bankers. I loved the last two songs: “Steal The Night Away” and “I See You”. Both were haunting, atmospheric and very memorable. 1/2/6 are a great band, who deserve to go places.

The Good, The Bad and The Beardie

We had a first-rate intermission, provided by D.J. James. I love his appearances. He is a superb D.J., who knows what his audiences like and delivers the goods.

The very able Mike Atkinson also DJ-ed for us later in the afternoon. He took us on a lovely trip down memory lane, with his selection of funky music from the 1970s and the present day, creating an effective bridge of moods.

First up after the intermission was a band called Resistance, brought to us by Tang Hall in York. Joy oh joy, here was a band with a female vocalist who the French would call “une femme d’age certaine” (i.e. a more mature lady), proving that you are never too old to become involved in music. Her voice was full-bodied, powerful yet feminine. This group composes its own material about society’s conventions and eccentricities. I’d definitely like to hear them again, as they have a fantastic, highly individual sound.

Bad Bargain Lane are great musicians with and individual sound. They have a superb guitarist, who can make his guitar both talk and wail.

The drummer with Bad Bargain Lane, who also plays guitar with Resistance, performed a solo set. He had written a song in tribute to a recently deceased friend. It was a lovely, calm, sad, yet hopeful song – hopeful of eternity, maybe? – full of admiration for his departed friend and hauntingly beautiful.

Next came a male rapper. I don’t normally like rap, but I enjoyed his take very much. He had a powerful style, and put his point across admirably – more, please.

The Bossa Nova Band played just one song, a rendition of “The Girl from Ipanema.” This provided a great trip down memory lane. I could really feel the sea and sand!

Emma Playford

Emma Playford, a solo singer, was up next, thanks to Chapel FM in Leeds, who brought along a number of acts. Her voice was strong, individual and very enjoyable. She was followed by two talented singer-songwriters, whose names I sadly didn’t catch.

The superb Danny Kelly was a revelation: youthful in appearance, but with an astonishing maturity. He has a raw, strong, powerful voice, and he certainly has a way with the keyboards! I loved all of his song choices, which included tracks by Ed Sheeran and Sam Mendes. His performance brought the room alive, and was warmly received.


Andy Fretwell, Orb’s studio manager, began his set with some pieces for solo acoustic guitar. I love Andy’s guitar playing; he is a complete master of his instrument. Of his three pieces, my favourite was his blues number. It was both beautifully, achingly sad, and hauntingly memorable.

Lastly we had a performance by Nigel, who joined Andy on stage. Nigel has a strong, full-bodied male voice. He sang his own composition, a highly individual piece. Nigel is unique, with a style all of his own. He reminds me of the late, great Ian Dury.

The final DJ of the day was Robin, making his debut appearance. Through his choice of music, he built up the mood of anticipation for the final performance of the day with great professionalism. Long may he continue.

DJ Robin

Last but not least was Orb’s latest cabaret show, “Once Upon A Dream.” Although I have enjoyed Orb’s cabarets before, very much, this was their most ambitious yet. The able cast pulled it off magnificently. I think that every member of the cast was superb in their own unique way. The narrator, played by Mandy, adroitly pulled all the strands of the complicated story line together, whilst asking many questions, as only a niece of Miss Marple should! Mike Atkinson was his usual versatile and multi-talented self, playing a sinister combination of two Bond villains, Blofeld and Oddjob, and a kind policeman.

Jon G had me in stitches during a scene where he interrogates a suspect, as he had to play both parts, necessitating frequent costume changes. He was also very good in his prison scenes. Mark Flood was excellent as both a TV announcer and a vicar. He is definitely a natural born comedian – I was helpless with laughter!

Leon Fijalkowski was very aptly cast as James Bond: debonair, suave and sophisticated. Eat your heart out, Daniel Craig, you’ve got major competition from Leon!

Jon G and a second Mike had me enthralled, as they dashed about Knaresborough Castle on video. Also at the Castle was a romantic scene, where James Bond danced with his lady of the moment against a beautiful sunset backdrop.

Christina gave a lovely performance as the “Positive Thought Fairy”, and as one of Bond’s ladies. Meanwhile, Suzie was very believable as a beautiful dreamer throughout the show, only to be awakened by Bond’s kiss at the end. Suzie was also great on film, performing exercises in the open air behind Knaresborough House.

I loved the sing-song at the end, with Wham’s Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and Take That’s Shine. I think this Cabaret performance was the best yet, excellent and extremely funny.

If you’ve missed this years Orb Extravaganza, do be sure to catch next year’s performance, as it is an experience too good to miss.

All photos taken by Ceri Wilkins of Rainbow Rice Photography.