Reviews 2013

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

The Bev Pegg Band

The Bev Pegg Band

Bryn Phillips 21 June 2013

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What an excellent night! I had never seen Bev Pegg before - just a few clips on YouTube - and I was wondering what we were in for. As a bonus he had brought a few musicians with him, and so rather than just Bev Pegg, we had the Bev Pegg Band. There was John O'Connor on bass, Pete Hartley on violin and mandolin, and finally Roy Parry on guitar.

Bev Pegg took to the stage, on his own initially, to play The Cradley Heath song, but not before chatting to the audience for a few minutes, during which time we were all won over completely. "I haven't done a folk club for about thirty years and the last time I came they all had beards and baggy sweaters - and that was just the women!" ... and so on. I'm not going to give away any more of his patter, but just like that joke you will have heard it all before. But to quote that famous Irish comedian "It's the way I tell them" -  and Bev Pegg tells them brilliantly with impeccable timing. He must one of the funniest performers we've ever had at the club. After five minutes, we didn't really care what the music was going to be like - we were in for a good evening. Anyway, when he played his first song, we were pretty sure that the music was going to be good as well. How many performers get everyone singing the chorus to their first song? Well he did!

Then came the band. Of course Bev took his time introducing them, once again getting the audience in stitches. Then he hesitated. "What shall we do? Oh, I know - a jazz number. Shall we do a jazz number?" They then blew us away with an amazing rendition of Sweet Georgia Brown, with the band doing the inevitable jazz-style soloing. Of course the Woodman (folk) audience weren't quite sure what to do, when confronted with jazz solos, but caught on after John O'Connor's bass solo and came up with a round of spontaneous applause. Unfortunately the Bev Pegg guitar solo and the Pete Hartley violin solo missed out on well deserved accolades, but now the audience knew what to do there was plenty of time for more spontaneous applause later in the evening - especially for the blistering Orange Blossom Special.

The range of music was exceptional. We had Bev Pegg's self-penned songs, including one he co-wrote with John Richards "Did You Like The Battle, Sir?", some country music, some gospel and of course jazz. The gospel song, "I'll Fly Away", a deceptively upbeat and cheerful song about death, was the one they ended the evening with, before the encore of "When We Went To Clent" which sent us all home happily singing. If I had to pick one song which stood out for me it would be "Did You Like The Battle, Sir?". Not only is it a great song, but we had a bit of the history behind the song as well, and then during the performance we had some incredible violin playing from Pete Harley.

Throughout the night the songs were interspersed with jokes, reminiscing, and gentle humour resulting in one of the best evenings I can remember in a long a time - and we've had some excellent nights recently. The only questions remaining was why hasn't he been to the club before and will he be back? His answer to the first question was "well, nobody asked me .." and as for the second question. Yes! If you missed him this time around, keep watching the club diary for his return visit in 2014.

Support for the band was provided by Nothing to Prove, Barry Priest and Bryn Phillips (that's me!)