Reviews 2019

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Kuschty Rye

Bryn Phillips 22 November 2019

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When I checked out Des Horsfall’s Kuschty Rye before coming to the Woodman I wasn’t sure whether they were a project around the making of a trio of CDs, a Ronnie Lane tribute band, or simply a band called Kuschty Rye. I was looking forward to finding out.

They started off with a blues standard “Careless Love”. This was played with a steady driving Rockabilly rhythm that just pulled me in. I was immediately drawn to the guitar work of Simon Othen. He was playing slide, but also doing a lot of fingerwork on the frets, which is unusual for a slide player. Talking to him later he confirmed my suspicion that he was playing slide in standard tuning – quite an accomplishment which requires precision and expert damping of the strings. Later he switched to mandolin for a couple of numbers and then back to slide guitar. Des Horsfall played regular guitar and provided the main vocals with Chris Turner on bass and backing vocals. The bass playing was impressive. He didn’t just pick a steady rhythm but also kept throwing in some fast licks. I was loving it. They followed this up with, “Long Long Time” and then Des put on his harmonica stand to play a self-penned blues number “Hard Woman”. This started off with just Des on guitar and harmonica and then in came Simon on slide guitar, followed by Chris on bass to give this blues number a satisfyingly full sound. The set continued with a mix of material including some of Ronnie Lane’s songs including “Done This One Before”, “April Fool” and “Oh La La” and also including some original Des Horsfall numbers, “Whistle to Blow” and the rockabilly styled “I Know a Little Bit About A Lot of Things”.

I’ve mentioned Rockabilly a couple of times whereas Des Horsfall has described their music as Rustic Rock ‘n’ Roll which is as good a description as any for some of the numbers; take your pick. As the set progressed I heard some Notting Hillbillies, Travelling Wilburys and old time jug band influences pervading the music and overall I thought the best description of them was as a Country-Rock-Blues band comprising three accomplished musicians, having a good time, and playing their favourite songs, many of them by Ronnie Lane.

Most of the tracks in their first set came from the two albums so far made for the Kuschty Rye project with a third on the way. Interestingly they only had one copy of The Bastard’s Tin with them, but they had a whole heap of “The Good Gentleman’s Tonic which they had piled up on the table, rather than neatly laid out as most acts do. Des confided to the audience that CDs sell better if they are heaped up, as people see them as candy and can’t resist buying. So there’s a tip for you musical entrepreneurs – just throw your CDs in a heap!

The second set opened with what for me was the best song of the evening, “The Stone” another of Ronnie Lane’s songs with excellent lyrics, clever phrasing and a powerful driving rhythm that carried it along through the various incarnations in this powerful song. If you missed the evening or want to re-live this number it’s worth checking out their video of this piece. Just search for “The Stone + Kuschty Rye” on YouTube

As in the first set there were other Ronnie Lane songs “Richmond Green”, “How Come”, “The Poacher” and “Debris”. Once again we had a couple of songs penned by Des, “No-One Talks” and “Wild Ideas”. “No-One Talks” was performed towards the end of the evening and the audience were encouraged to sing along – which of course they did! I think the audience had been waiting for the opportunity all evening as a lot of the numbers would have lent themselves to it. Once the band saw we were up for it they “finished” with the old favourite “Dead and Gone”, the second McGuinness Flint number, having earlier treated us to “Malt and Barley Blues”. Of course there was an encore, and they ended with “Wild Ideas”, which again we joined in with.

It’s worth mentioning that Simon Othen, a guitarist in the Woo Town Hillbillies, was called upon to do this gig at the last minute as the regular guitarist had been unable to come along because of illness. Although he had played with Des previously it is quite a thing to come along at short notice and fit in, which he did, remarkably well.

As always support was provided by Woodman Residents. This time John Hoare and then Bas & Cos did an excellent job of getting the evening going and I did a couple of songs to start off the second half, before the raffle.