Solstice / Ebony Buckle

Boerderij, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands
Saturday, 30th March 2024

A year ago, British prog/folk rock band Solstice performed during the tenth Progdreams Festival at the Zoetermeer Boerderij. The people who were there couldn’t stop talking about the show, by this British band, as it had made a deep impression on everyone present. This also applies to my colleague Maarten Goossensen, one of the lucky ones that particular evening. Due to repeated requests, Solstice are back, this time as the main act and with a full evening show. But first a chance to enjoy to the support act.


Ebony Buckle at Boerderij March 2024

Ebony Buckle is the support for this show, as well as all previous and future evenings. The Australian beauty accompanies herself on keyboards and sings beautiful vocal harmonies, together with husband Nick Burns who plays the acoustic guitar. Her impressive voice lies somewhere between Kate Bush and Krezip, in songs with poetic lyrics. Ebony is without a doubt a talented performer, with a sympathetic stage presence. She later changed into a ‘smart hippie’ outfit for her second gig as backing vocalist/keyboardist for main act Solstice. The latter enters the stage of Zoetermeer’s rock temple at around half past nine.

Wild Woman
900 Years
Hearts Get Started
Disco Lasers
Ebony Buckle – Vocals, Keyboards
Nick Burns – Acoustic Guitar, Vocals

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Solstice at Boerderij March 2024

Opening song Shout has an immediate impact, funky and jazzy, but at the same time unmistakably prog. This description also largely applies to Wongle No 9, while Mount Ephraim sounds very folky, partly due to the violin. Two older songs follow, Earthsong, announced by Glass as a ‘mellow track’. The song is forty years old, from their debut album Silent Dance and is sung by Ebony Buckle. Cheyenne also comes from the aforementioned album and makes quite an impression with the four-part harmony vocals, and the mesmerizing chants of Jess Holland, almost putting you in a kind of trance.

Old hippie Andy Glass is the founder and band leader of this company that saw the light of day in 1980. With a grimace on his face, he mainly plays rhythm guitar, his soloing, with that characteristic sharp edge, is limited. Glass has perhaps learned from last year’s show, which suffered from numerous technical glitches, and this time around a second guitar is present.

Solstice's Andy Glass at Boerderij March 2024

The show is stolen by the three young, beautiful and especially talented singers. The ladies dance like dervishes to the band’s swinging music: a contagious mix of pop, prog, jazz, funk and folk. Unique, with such a mixture of influences and sounds that I cannot easily identify a second group with such a distinct style. I hear influences from The Corrs, Jean-Luc Ponty, Level 42 and, say, G3 in Solstice’s music. And then there is that often four-fold harmony singing in which violinist Newman also participates.

Solstice's Jenny Newman & Steven McDaniel at Boerderij March 2024

Aforementioned Jenny Newman knows how to perfectly to emulate the violin sound of phenomenal Frenchman Ponty, while Andy Glass’s electric guitar sound finds itself somewhere in between Steve Lukather (Toto) and Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big). The jazzy but also bluesy tones of keyboardist Steven McDaniel complete the group of seniors within the band. It is somewhat endearing to see the veterans putting themselves aside and largely function as support for the youngsters in this special combination of old and young. The music is intriguing, hypnotic at times, and I can hardly suppress a broad smile.

Solstice's Pete Hemsley & Robin Phillips at Boerderij March 2024

Drums and bass form a solid tandem; Pete Hemsley and Robin Phillips do what they do without stealing the limelight, unlike singer Jess Holland. Andy Glass confesses halfway through the show “Jess changed my life” and that’s exactly what she does in the band. A blood transfusion in the form of this young, vibrant singer has brought new life to Solstice.

Solstice's Jess Holland at Boerderij March 2024

Two older tracks are followed by two new songs, never played before, and still have working titles such as Life and the surprisingly funky Plunk, in which ‘prog clapping’ was practiced. BTW: suggestions for more appropriate titles are welcome. Bulbul Tarang is a wonderful highlight in the set, with Eastern sounds combined with Andy’s mean guitar. The title refers to this special stringed instrument from the Punjab, whose sound is somewhat reminiscent of the sitar. The energy, enthusiasm and, above all, sheer fun in playing shine through, spilling over to the audience, which rewards the songs with generous applause.

Firefly is also a new song, intended for the next studio album, although it has been played live before and is on the recent live album Live at the Stables, and is available as free download on the band’s website, quite a nice gesture. A New Day is sung by Andy and Jess, after which Sacred Run closes the evening with its beautiful a cappella intro.

Solstice at Boerderij March 2024

It’s all over, the band receives a standing ovation from the frenzied audience, who then assemble in the foyer for a ‘meet and greet’. The fatigue from the flight that morning has gone, everyone is in top form this evening. A memorable night in many respects for the audience: an estimated 150 men/women, real fans, came to see the spectacle. Far too few if you ask me…

[Photos by Ron Kraaijkamp (Progwereld)]

Wongle No.9
Mount Ephraim
Bulbul Tarang
A New Day
Sacred Run

Ebony Buckle – Keyboards, Background Vocals
Andy Glass – Guitars, Vocals
Pete Hemsley – Drums
Jess Holland – Lead Vocals
Steven McDaniel – Keyboards, Vocals
Jenny Newman – Violin, Background Vocals
Robin Phillips – Bass Guitar
Jennifer Sanin – Background Vocals

Solstice – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube