Reviews 2009

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Alan Prosser

Bryn Phillips 6 February 2009

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The first clue as to quality of an artist who hasn't been to the club before is the audience. Tonight there were quite a few people I hadn't seen before and a few discerning folkies that only turn up to "special" events. Well, was it going to be special? It took less than two minutes to find out. When Alan Prosser took to the stage he spent the first minute fine tuning his guitar and then after an engaging smile a quick hello and introduction he played the first few notes of Mississippi Summer - I realised the discerning folkies were correct - this was going to be a special evening.  After that he did "Alvediston" an up-tempo number with some very nifty guitar work, followed by an excellent version of the traditional "Davy Lawston". So three songs, and three different styles. There was blues there, some picking that wouldn't have been out of place in Nashville and a very English traditional style. Then after these offerings he sat down and played "Canmore" an instrumental number which, if anyone had missed his dexterity with the guitar in the songs, showed what a brilliant guitarist he is.

He then launched into "Maybe This is a Good Time"  a song that he introduced as "just a bit of nonsense, really". Nonsense? Don't know about that; the song was built around a powerful steady groove that got everybody's feet tapping and set the evening alight. He then he moved on to something he described as a bit more serious - "The Tramp". Then, to add to the amazing variety of styles he played an instrumental in 5/4 time "Five For You". This one brought back memories of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five". What I particularly liked about this number was the interplay between the bass and the treble strings. If I had just heard this instead of watching a solo performer playing an acoustic guitar I would have thought that there was a bass in there somewhere. After another up tempo number, "You're The One" he finished the first set with an excellent tongue in cheek, country style song, "Feel So Good" again heavily blues influenced. By now I had realised that any attempt at categorisation was doomed, there were so many influences and styles wrapped up in his work. Country, Jazz, Folk, Blues they were all there.

He started off the second set with "Maybelle", a song that he introduced as a bit like "My Babe", played in a jazz-blues "Hit The Road Jack" style. Great start. Before continuing with the jazz influenced  "Movin' On" he told us that he really liked Fats Waller and gave an impromptu version of "Your Feet's Too Big". Great Stuff. "River of Steel" was his self-confessed depressing song written after being stranded in Austria after writing off their minibus and also feeling down with the flu. However, to be fair, by Woodman standards I would only score it at about 6/10 on the depression scale. He then gave us his second traditional song "The Deserter". He then played and sang an unusual choice for a solo vocalist/guitarist - the Sacred Harp Song, "Hard Time Travelling". 

Then we were treated to another instrumental, "The Move" which had his fingers flying all over the fret board again, whilst all the time there was the steady bass rhythm keeping everything moving along. Then a traditional songs, "Hal an Tow" , followed by a country (or even gospel) song, "Precious Memories". He then did a self penned song "Burned Again" before ending the set with the moving and sensitive, "When I Think Of You". Once the shouts of "More" died down he returned to the stage and with the engaging smile that had become familiar through the night he described us as a most bodacious audience (first time we've been called that!) and ended with a powerful performance of "Truck Driving Man".

It was a wonderful evening with a tremendous variety of musical styles and material and I'm just surprised that we've never had him at the club before. From the audience reaction to his performance I'm sure we'll be seeing more of him at the Woodman.

Support was provided by Ian Munro, Bryn Phillips, Nothing To Prove and Julia, Laura and Karen.