Reviews 2015

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Damien Barber & Mike Wilson

Bryn Phillips 18 September 2015

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Like most of the audience who have attended folk festivals I was familiar with the Demon Barber Roadshow, and had also heard The Wilson Family on a couple of occasions. However, although they have been a duo for a number of years I had never heard the Damien Barber / Mike Wilson double act. I had an idea of what to expect because I had heard some of their material on the internet - basically some traditional folk songs accompanied by guitar or accordion, and occasionally unaccompanied. However, what I didn't expect, and what is usually absent from "serious" traditional music, was the excellent stagecraft and humour we were treated to. We learnt the problems of being a singer without an instrument to hold. What do you do with your hands? We also learnt a number of new words such as "welkin", "mawther" and "bor" as well as some interesting discussions around mis-heard lyrics and some more serious discussions covering the background to some of the songs.

Damien Barber is from Norfolk and his material and singing style is heavily influenced by that other Norfolk traditional singer, Peter Bellamy, who had also drawn from some of the original Norfolk source singers such as Harry Cox and Walter Pardon. The other side of the coin were the songs introduced by Mike such as those that came from the pen of Ewan McColl, notably "My Old Man" and "The Joy of Living". The thing about traditional
songs is that they all have a story (if you can follow it) and have all stood the test of time. Consequently the songs themselves are usually top-drawer. However, it's the delivery that makes the difference and both Damien and Mike gave excellent renditions of the songs they chose; either accompanied by Damien's accordion or guitar, or sung unaccompanied. Damien's musicianship was solid - the accordion was reminiscent of Peter Bellamy and the guitar was somewhere between Martin Carthy and Nic Jones - but was there simply as an accompaniment to the singing and no more. Damien's voice has echoes of Peter Bellamy, but softer and more melodious. Mike's voice is rich, and although powerful, never strained. Together, they were outstanding - their voices complemented each other, with hints of harmony, but never overdone. All in all another excellent evening, full of music and entertainment, by two seasoned professionals. Support was provided by Nothing to Prove, Velvet Green, and Bryn Phillips.