Reviews 2018

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Mike Silver

Mike Silver

Les Jones 28 September 2018

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My first night back after the Summer recess and what a treat it was for me in particular. I have to admit to owning nine Mike Silver cds but despite that I have never seen him live. I don’t know why; I just haven’t.

The evening was kicked off by Nothing To Prove who gave us five songs: Building Walls; Honour and Praise by the magnificent John Richards, who just happened to be in the audience; The Ancient Ram and The Ballad of Cursed Annie. The first song I did not note the title of and despite Paul telling me twice what it was I’ve still not remembered it. Like all the songs they sang though it was good.

Mike Silver followed with:

• Pretoria – which I have on his Roadworks cd tells of South Africa in the apartheid years. It was so beautiful I began to imagine an African native choir as backing.
• JCB – from the Too Many Rivers cd as a part of which Mike made wonderful use of harmonics on his guitar. As a beside at least two if not more of Mike’s four gorgeous guitars, if not all, were made by Ken Powell who has graced the Woodman stage on numerous occasions.
• Political Science – a 1972 Randy Newman song is a satire of a particular part of American culture and history, namely its foreign policies at the time. The unnamed narrator describes the state of the world, and suggests, "Let’s drop the big one and see what happens." How so like the current incumbent.
• Foundry Man’s Daughter – another great song from John Richards who was still in the audience. I’m not sure who was most embarrassed at two artists playing his tunes John or Mike.
• How Many Rivers – from his eponymous cd was well supported by the choir or audience as we normally call them. Surprising how many knew the lyrics as well as the tune.
• When It’s Gone - saw Mike play his Ken Powell Tenor guitar.
• The Angel’s Sigh – a fairly recent song written by Mike about the attacks on the Bataclan Theatre in Paris in 2015.
• The first set finished with Was It You a Ewen Carruthers song about the fabled Capt. Scott and his ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic.

After the break Bryn Phillips opened up the second half with At Times Like These and the infamous Sat Nav Sally.

Every week there is as at most folk clubs a raffle. I have never to my knowledge mentioned it before. So now I have. There were three winners, who will, no doubt, declare their prizes to the tax man.

Mike began his second set with:

• The Devil’s in the Detail – none of which I recorded.
• Snowing on Raton – is a beautiful song by the talented but troubled singer songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Mike’s fact Raton is the Spanish for mouse. Raton itself is a town in New Mexico with a mountain and pass which are the subjects of the song.
• I have known the song Strange Fruit for several years but only knew it was about the lynching of innocent “negroes” in the Southern States of the USA by the Ku Klux Klan. Written in 1939 by Abel Meeropol under the pen name Lewis Allen it was made famous by Billie Holiday and first heard by Mike sung by Josh White who made a wonderful recording of it in 1942. Mike had always assumed that it was written by a “negro” as it was such a sensitive subject, but it has a more intriguing past than that. It would seem that Abel was the man who looked after the Rosenberg children when their parents were executed for treason.
• Take Your Time – was followed by
• It’s Raining Money in Berlin – written by Mike in 1989 about the fall of the Berlin wall.
• Nothing to Do with Me – was written for and about his daughter Faye who as a toddler got “lost” in the dark hallway of their house at the time.
• Shooter’s Hill – was written for his dad who as a boy of 14 used to push a cart full of bread up the hill every day as his first job.
• Who Needs It – was sung as a well-deserved encore.

If anyone reading this has not seen Mike Silver live, then you should. He is a truly excellent musician and has a glorious voice which sometimes soars to some amazing high notes. He tells a few lovely stories and has a dry sense of humour which kept us all amused. It has been three years since he last came to the club. Let’s hope it’s not that long again.

The evening was all bound together by Bryn who did his usual magnificent job as compere.

And now of course there is little else for me to say than:

A Wonderful Night Was Had by All.

Here’s to The Next One.