It was a cold night at the Marina; the heating had failed, and only by a valiant effort on the part of Keith was it restored later in the evening. To make matters worse, because of illness, holidays, family commitments etc, the audience was sadly depleted and so there weren't enough bodies in the room to raise the temperature. All we had left was the band! Despite the cold, the evening started off well with a couple of excellent floor spots from John Langford, who as always produced a new song out of the bag, and Ian Munro, returning after the BICA band extravaganza last week, fresh as ever.
And then it was time for The Ann Duggan band. Ann started off with an unaccompanied number, "Down to the River to Pray", which had everyone enthralled by the power of her voice. Then Ann launched into a country number, "Cold Hearted Lover", this time with the whole
band keeping everything moving along. This set the tone for the evening. Ann provided the vocals, using a hand held mic, and won us all over with the warmth of her personality, which also kept us from shivering until the interval, when the heating miraculously returned. Rob, who has been with the band the longest treated us to nice guitar work playing all over the frets, with the occasional use of slide. Simon, the newest member of the band worked with him using guitar, mandolin and banjo, to give a professional tight sound, driven along by some sensitive and understated drumming from Paul, who played snare drum, two cymbals and a box. Overall a wonderful
bluesy country sound that would not have been out of place in Nashville.
After the interval yours truly did a couple of numbers, followed by the raffle, and then back to the band. It's worth mentioning the banjo again, as banjo's always come in for
humorous derision - "what's the difference between a banjo and an onion?"; "No-one cries when you cut up a banjo!", but it really worked, especially in "Hobo Blues", one of the best numbers of the evening. Actually, it would be very difficult to pick out the best numbers as the whole evening was selection of country, blues and fusion gems, several of which written by Colin Granger including a coal mining disaster ballad and a song about searching for Robert Johnson's grave, titled "Dark Places". There was so much variety in the music, which ranged from soulful ballads, through to blues and unashamedly rockin' country. A great night, with a very accomplished, personable and friendly band, led by a great vocalist with a mega-personality, Ann Duggan.