Reviews 2017

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Brooks Williams

Les Jones 10 November 2017

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It has been two years since Brooks made his last visit to the club and his third in all. And most welcome he was as the near full house showed. By pure coincidence it happened to be his birthday. The first set began therefore with Bryn leading the audience in a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” and the presentation, if that is the right word, of a hastily prepared birthday card.

This is the third time I have reviewed a Brooks Williams performance at the club and I am struggling for new superlatives. Statesboro Georgia born and bred he now lives in Cambridge (Shire not Massachusetts) but he still performs in the USA when he gets the opportunity. He plays a rich mix of Americana; Blues and Country each in his own incomparable style. Tonight he only played two instruments; his National resonator and a brand new guitar made for him by an English luthier from a scan of Buddy Holly’s original 1943 Gibson Acoustic. And beautiful it sounded too.

He kicked off the first set with the "Hesitation Blues" first accredited to Billy Smythe in 1916 and performed by many other since. None however sound like this. Brooks himself wrote "Walk You Off My Mind" which was followed by the old Kris Kristofferson song "Nobody Wins". Brooks song "Brighter Side of the Blues" tells the much-told story of parting but this time from the aspect of the departee. There was then a change of guitar, so he could introduce some slide. The song "Darkness" was preceded by a tale of the time when having taken a class of enthusiastic students in slide playing he went to the evening gig only to find that he had left all his slides with the class. Instead he borrowed a fan’s lipstick case. Once again, his arrangement of "Sitting on Top of the World" is unique and very listenable. Frank Delandry was a jobbing guitarist in the brothels of New Orleans much admired by the prostitutes and their clients alike. So much so that they often forwent the real reason they were there to listen to him play. One night however he did not appear and was never heard of again. Good subject for a song I think. Song number eight was good too but I forgot to write down what it was – sorry Brooks. The set finished however with a favourite of mine "Mercury Blues". Here’s My New Everything started the first half followed by another I forgot to write down. (It’s not easy when you get caught up in the performance to remember that you are going to forget all the details when you get home – moan over). Given where he was born he had I suppose to play the Blind Willie Mc Tell classic "Statesboro Blues" followed by "Here Comes the Blues". A visit to the Isle of Mann TT races inspired "My Turn Now" – based on trying to think what it would take for someone to race around those roads. "Jump That Train" was about riding the rails – something that at least one person still does according to Brooks for a holiday. A song I did not know, and the "King of California" completed the set before the encore – the Chuck Berry Oldie "You Never Can Tell". As previously the crowd were still cheering when it all finished.

In the first half support was provided by NTP with three songs "Voyage to Australia"; "Building Walls" and the old Micky Softley song made famous by Donavan, "Gold Watch Blues". Barry and Corrinne as usual provided two lovely songs to remind us that it is Remembrance Sunday – The Dave Walmsley song "The Soldier" and "Black and White 1945". Bryn Phillips started the second half with his songs "Seventy Seven Years" and "Share If You Agree".

Once again:
A wonderful night was had by all.
Here’s to the next time.