Reviews 2018

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews



Les Jones 2 May 2018

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Despite their award winning prominence on the folk circuit this was the first time I had seen Ninebarrow. Imagine my surprise therefore when instead of a group of gardeners or street venders pushing carts I was faced with two very professional musicians surrounded by various instruments. Between them they played a harmonium, an electric keyboard, a chord organ, a tenor mandola, an octave mandola and a tenor ukulele. Vocally they were a perfect match, Jon Whitley taking lead on most of songs and Jay Labouchardiere providing beautiful high harmonies.

Over two sets they gave us 14 songs and an encore. As they say themselves narrative is very important in their songs. To aid this the scenario behind each song was explained often with great humour which was also a part of their act. The majority seemed to have some sort of audience participation, although I admit that personally I had trouble remembering all the words and often finished taking their advice and joined in the last line or even the last couple of words. I have not mentioned yet their careful use of electronics (mainly a loop effect) to give a fuller sound. I have to say none of this was out of place and gives them a unique and satisfying blend.

Their repertoire consists of self-written and traditional songs;

• Daffy Down Dillies - a relatively gentle start and provided our first chance at a chorus.
• The Hour of The Blackbird – a soft waltz on the ukulele and the first use of the “looper” enabling Jon to put down a basic chord pattern and then play a more intricate part over it.
• Siege - tells a tale of Lady Banks whose husband went off to fight for King Charles during the civil war leaving her with only 5 soldiers to defend her castle home. Unsurprisingly the Roundheads heard about this and called round to lay siege to the place. I am amazed that somehow, she managed to hold out for 20 months before they went away dissatisfied. Unfortunately for her they came back later this time in their hundreds and she couldn’t pull off the same trick twice. Ah well!
• Blood on the Hillside utilises the chorus to the children’s One for Sorrow – but exchanges Silver at item 5 for Want. This is according to the band a Yorkshire variation. (Though totally unknown to anyone in Yorkshire).
• June Tabor provided the band with the inspiration for the next song – While Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping
• W.B. Yeats’ The Stolen Child gave us the title track from their new cd The Water and the Wild. Not as you might think about child abduction in the normal sense but removing them from a bad situation to a better one.
• The Prickle–Eye Bush – tells of a man due to be hanged who tries to use his wit to deceive the hangman into letting him go. The “audience” have other ideas perhaps.

There then followed an interval. There was a raffle which was won by members of the audience – not the same audience as above but our audience. I have never mentioned the raffle before, so I thought I would.

• Coming Home (Pronounced Comen Howem) is a poem from Dorset dialect poet William Barnes. Accompanied by the harmonium.
• Overthrown – is a commissioned work from Dorset Arts Reach who wanted a song which gave “Awareness of archaeology along the Dorset Ridgeway). It is here I should mention that the band are from Dorset which helps make more sense of the commission.
• Gallows Hill – tells of the witch hunts during the period following the Civil War.
• Gather It In – takes as it’s subject harvest which is most important top the farming communities in Dorset and governs their whole year.
• The Halsewell – was an East Indiaman that was wrecked on 6th January 1786 whilst on its way from London to Madras. Only 74 of the 240-crew survived. This was only made possible by the local quarrymen who turned out to rescue them. There was it seems a distinct lack of adherence to any Health and Safety Rules.
• Row On – or at least its lyrics has spent most of its life in a Canadian Library archive until it was retrieved and given a tune.
• The Weeds – tells of a house been overrun by weeds. It had been lived in by a beautiful woman and all was thriving until she slipped and fell to her death. Despite all this the house remained beautiful because of her having lived there. Ah!
• Time to Go - finished the evening a soothing song about pulling up your anchor and leaving.

The whole proceedings were started by Barry and Corrine who sang a new song for them - The Water Is Wide and an old favourite’ the Dave Walmisley song, Black and White 1945. Dick Woodhouse followed with two Jake Thackray songs – Ulysses about the authors troublesome dog and again a new one for Dick – The Widow of Bridlington. It has a lot of lyrics. Keep going Dick. After the aforementioned raffle Bryn sang two of his own songs – Cargo Cult and Share If You Agree.

At the end, as far as I am aware we all went home. But of course:

A Wonderful Night Was Had by All.
Here’s to The Next One.