20 Oct 2000
1 Dec 2000
24 Nov 2000
8 Dec 2000
Review - Vin Garbutt, 20.10.00
It was Friday, 20th October; the start of half-term; yippee! Jean and I started out on our usual walk to The Woodman - but then things started to go wrong! At the halfway point of our journey the heavens opened up and we hadn't an umbrella! To make matters worse, Jean realised she had left the tickets at home together with the mobile 'phone! (I said nowt at this stage because it's usually me who forgets tickets!) So, with no taxi to rescue us, we pressed on. As far as the tickets were concerned, I had no real worries! Having one half of The Bica Band living directly opposite does have its advantages!
Having gained entrance, we purchased our raffle tickets and drinks - and then dried off, in that order, after all - priorities!
The guest that night was to be Vin Garbutt and there was a strong rumour that there was to be a very special treat in store for one the resident singers!
The evening began with resident bands The Bica Band, followed by Nothing to Prove. Our friend Ewen, who was enjoying his first visit to The Woodman, was very impressed. (Come on Ewen, membership is only four quid!)
Next, Bryn Phillips gave a brilliant performance of his song 'Dead Man Ride' - after having the whole audience in stitches with the touching, but comically true story, involving the stealing of a corpse from a mortuary - and its being driven round Copenhagen glued on the back of a motorbike!
The time came for Vin's entrance and, as normal, he began his 'spot' with his characteristic 'worse-for-wear busker' routine before bursting into song and showing why he is such a draw. Even his breaking of a guitar string and its subsequent nifty replacement by Barry provided Vin with another opportunity to clown around. He claimed that the other strings were now suffering from fatigue and that only the new one was of any use! His remark that he was 'confused because the thick one is now in the middle' was greeted with howls of laughter!
Vin's mixture of amusing anecdotes and emotive songs held us spellbound and the first half of the evening was over far too soon.
Well into the second half, and after a sensitive explanation regarding interpretations of other singers' works, Vin announced that he was to going to perform Bryn Phillips' song 'Silver and Gold'. The applause was deafening!
I had last heard this song, which is a favourite of mine, sung by Bryn at The Dormston Centre, earlier this month. It was a surprise for Bryn at this venue too, because he was joined on stage by a forty-strong Czech girl choir that had been secretly taught the words to the chorus! He was 'gobsmacked' then - but, the night Vin Garbutt sang it! Wow! You just had to be there! And Bryn? His face was a picture and he was belting out the chorus with the rest of us. A memorable evening!
Review - Julie Felix 24 November 2000
Well, was this a night to remember!
All those songs over all those years!! and Julie was as fresh and sharp as she was when I first saw her back in the '60's.
This diminutive Californian/Mexican lady with the long black hair gave us an experience that won't be capped for a long time. The Woodman was packed with standing room only long before the start time of 8.30 p.m. The songs of the floor singers were top quality as was their performance. (Was this because they had such a famous and talented artist listening to them?)
Julie started her first spot with The Ballad of Doris Kathryn Rodehaver from her new album Free my Spirit. It is a tribute to her mother. It also reveals that she was born in 1938. However you may already know this especially if you have her double album 'You can't kill the spirit' recorded at Queen Elizabeth Hall London in 1998 to celebrate her 60th. Birthday.
She then continued with a selection during her two spots that included well remembered favourites, Woody Guthrie's Plane crash at Los Gatos and Bob Dylan's 'Don't think twice it's alright'. Her two songs sung in Spanish were particularly well received.
My favourite was Bob Dylan's 'Hard rains A gonna fall'.
Her encore was followed by shouts for more, but all good things come to an end.
I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, as did everyone there.
Ian, please book her again for next year.
Quote from Julie:
"Life is a journey. My journey has had its laughter and its tears, but I consider myself very blessed. I have made England my home, and you have made me feel loved and welcome...thank you from the bottom of my heart. May music help love and peace find a safe and secure place in your hearts."
Review - Kieran Halpin 1 December 2000
December 1st 2000 was a treat for me given Kieran Halpin was at the Woodman. However, it turned out to be a double treat when in the second half he was joined by Maartin Alcock. Kieran was on form, singing many of his past compositions, but also including a number from his latest CD 'Jangle'. He also announced that 'Acoustic' had been 're-jigged' and re-released.
Kieran's rough voice always adds a certain depth to his singing. It seems to make some of his songs more powerful, even though they stand tall on lyrics alone.
Maart on guitar, and also later on fretless base, added the icing to the cake.
I know I am biased, but I also know a lot of other people thoroughly enjoyed the evening too.
Ian Bruce - 8 December 2000
I have never understood poetry!
That may seem a somewhat severe statement from someone who has spent his entire life immersed in both books and music of varying degrees of quality, but this staging post between the written word and its melodic counterpoint has always managed to escape me.
Quite often I will read a line or two penned by some modern Marvell and published in the Sunday papers. Having read the lines and failed utterly to understand them, I will then hold them up to the light, invert them, study their reflection in a mirror, hoping some hidden meaning will reveal itself, but all to no avail. On one memorable occasion a poem by Ted Hughes was published in tribute to his passing. The poem based upon an ancient mythology, that I must have overlooked whilst hacking my way through Woodwork, was considered so complex that a line by line explanation was printed alongside it. I failed , completely and utterly to even understand the explanation.
Now what, I hear you ask, has this preamble to do with Ian Bruce and his recent appearance at our Folk Club?
Because of this poetic dyxlesia (sic) I have always been particularly grateful to any artist who can enable me to appreciate poetry by the simple approach of setting it to music. Much of Ian's repertoire this evening was his interpretation of the works of Robert Burns taken from his most recent album "Alloway Tales", which in turn has been inspired by the massive Linn records project (currently running at 8 albums) to record all of the Scottish Bards ballads. Ian's involvement in this project has obviously been a labour of love as every selection he performed from this album was done so with a depth of feeling and emotion that brought the original works very much back to life.
There have of course been numerous exponents of the art of setting poetry to music over the years, possibly the first to influence me in this particular manner being my Mother. As a young schoolgirl of Bilston in the 1920's she, amongst others, had been chosen to recite in a musical fashion, several of the poems of Sir Henry Newbolt, upon the occasion of the great man returning to visit the town of his birth. Thus it was that I learnt to sing the words of Rillaby Rill at my Mothers knee. (Though I was thirty-one at the time).
I did suggest to Mick Harrington late one Friday night whilst in my cups that the Folk club might appreciate a rendition of "Drake is in his Hammock" one of Sir Henry's classic pieces. He replied, in a rather churlish manner, that they would rather have his Banjo playing???? A matter of opinion thought I.
There was also in the seventies a setting of much of John Betjaman's work to music, which did not, in my opinion, greatly enhance the originally written word. However that veteran of the flower power era Country Joe McDonald did record an album of First World War poems that were the work of Robert W Service, an album that did point me towards reading the rest of his works. And who in the folk world can forget the contribution made by Peter Bellamy in setting many of Kipling's fine works to a lively tune.
Once again I must return to Ian Bruce, who, when I have seen him in the past has always tended to concentrate upon his own material, which is no bad thing when you consider the strength of his song writing talent. He is a songwriter of such skill and imagination that our resident artists feel obliged to pay tribute to him by singing his most popular songs before he has a chance to. Despite Ian being a 6-foot plus Scotsman brave enough to wear leather dungarees in public, he took no offence at this public plagiarism and indeed wished the band well, in a manner familiar to anyone who has ever attended any England v Scotland sporting fixture. (See heckles and quotes).
As well as the songs from the Robert Burns collection Ian also performed a number of traditional Scottish songs from his previous album Hodden Grey. I was grateful that an established songwriter could find the space and time to remind us firstly of how hauntingly beautiful many of these songs are, and secondly that you do not need to add a drum track to make such music accessible to the listening audience.
An evening well worth remembering as a modern wordsmith (not at all dissimilar to Rob Roy in appearance) found both the space and the time to pay fitting tribute to the works of his predecessors, both known and unknown.