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Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Anthony John Clarke Bromsgrove Folk Club
Pete Brown 11 March 2010

It was a night I had been looking forward to for some time.  AJ always comes up with something special, would it be musical or in the line up?  As it happened it was both, but more on this later.  Bromsgrove FC venue was packed, swelled by a contingent from the Woodman FC.  We got our liquid refreshment, settled down and then Fairfield kicked off in their usual inimitable fashion.  After some excellent numbers, including Bryn Phillips ‘Silver and Gold’   they handed over to the ‘Elizabeth Van De Wall Trio’!  This was the first ‘something special’ - a new name for AJC and friends!  We’ve known Elizabeth for a number of years and always enjoy it when she accompanies AJ at gigs.  But this wasn’t the only surprise there was a new member, Ray Baguley on lead guitar.  Ray is a superb guitarist and certainly added that extra dimension to AJ’s repertoire.  So, there you have it, a brilliant trio AJC, EVdW and RB.  

Now the music, AJ has such a relaxed style that we were eased into the set with ‘My Only Valentine’ soon followed by the upbeat ‘Banjo Antarctica’ with the unlikely line ‘Trade my 5 string banjo for a woman in a reindeer vest’ and then two favourites, ‘Blame it on Dolores’ and that wonderful song that is referred to many times throughout the evening ‘Tuesday Night is always Karaoke’.  Then the other ‘something special’, ‘Afternoon in August’ inspired by a visit to the Arnhem war graves, such a moving and sympathetically sung song.  The first half concluded with an AJ solo rendition of ‘We will live forever on the years we can’t get back’.  

The second half was more of the same, brilliant patter, musicianship and humour and songs including, ‘An acquaintance of mine’, ‘Midnight and Blue’ and the classic final number (before the encore) of ‘Spay a little perfume on my shoes tonight’.  We mustn’t forget the ‘Impossible Song’ with which he always catches out the audience with the chorus of ‘Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch’.  All in all a wonderful evening of entertainment.

But for all his loyal fans it doesn’t end there because we’ve learnt that AJC will be at this year’s Bromsgrove Folk Festival, which is great news, however, his role isn’t clearly defined but (according to Bob Bignall) we may in future know him as A.J.C. - A.J.C. Yes, that’s Anthony John Clarke – Assistant John Cleaner.