In a world crammed full of nay-sayers and miserabilists, you can often be left wondering how much joy is actually left in the world. Turn on your radio and you’ll probably find cheerless pop, angst rock and broken hearted bile. For a country that has recently seen less sunshine than Gordon Brown’s teeth, perhaps this is not surprising. It does pose the question though: is anyone making music that might actually cheer you up?
The answer, thankfully, is yes…
Under The Driftwood Tree are an unlikely band. Frankly, it shouldn’t work. Ukuleles, didgeridoos, guitars, djembe, kahan, accordion…gangsta rap. Yet with all of this instrumentation floating around, their musical output never sounds cluttered or confused. Indeed, it is most notable for its gentle melodicism, delicious three-part harmonies and foot-tapping charm. It seems they have somehow found an ingredient that makes the group greater, and more crystallised, than the sum of its parts.
They formed in February 2009. If you were anywhere near an open mic in Cardiff you may have seen it happen. A shy school teacher named Chris Stoodley started playing tunes on his ukulele. No question, he had the songs and he had the voice. A few days later Kathryn Shanahan joined him onstage to add percussion and backing vocals. The infamous Robbie Price was next – a member of the Dirty Skanky Buskers and a man impressively banned from every live music venue in Pembrokeshire. Alex Perry then completed the musical puzzle on lead guitar. And in an instant, they’d clicked.
A few local promoters later and the open mic nights have given way to gigs in respected venues like The
Globe, Barfly and Clwb Ifor Bach. They’ve bagged airtime on BBC Radio and popped up on ITV’s The Wales Show. They proved their outdoor credentials with appearances at the Village Dream Festival and the Triban
Spring Gathering. They also became Welsh winners of the Surface Unsigned Festival 2009 earning them a trip to London to play in the final held at indigo2, part of the O2 Arena. The MMP is unsure how they achieved all of this so quickly but young bands take note: there is a ladder in Cardiff to be climbed if you can be bothered looking for it.
2010 finds them in good shape. Their debut album is being mastered in Ireland, with release imminent, and they’ve just recruited Samuel Lloyd Griffiths on bass to further flesh out their sound.
They’re only 1 year old, they like sunshine, singing and surfing. And, most importantly, they want to make you happy.