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19 Jan 2001
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26 Jan 2001
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2 Feb 2001
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23 Feb 2001
6 July 2001
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16 Mar 2001
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25 May 2001
14 Dec 2001
Review - Jeremy Taylor - 19 January 2001
I've always enjoyed Jeremy Taylor's singing and songs. It's the satirical bite that I particularly like.
Barry first saw Jeremy in the sixties, at the Royal Oak folk club, Halesowen. Even though this was pre 'Jobsworth', he was highly entertaining, and very, very funny.
Jeremy Taylor is known throughout South Africa for his comic song 'Ag Pleez Daddy', which he sang for us. He also gave us 'Jobsworth', Lift Girls Lament', 'Capitalist Dream', 'Transplant Calypso', and 'Prawns in the game'. 'Lift Girls Lament' was banned by the South African Broadcasting Corporation as 'being insulting to a selection of the population' - that's the way to get a song to be popular.
But I equally enjoy his stories and we were certainly entertained with these during the course of the evening. He has a gift of pausing that leaves you hanging on his words waiting for the next line. In the past we have heard all about the telephone exchange in his village in South Africa. This time we heard all about his escapades with the customs official when he entered and left South Africa.
Jeremy first appeared on the London stage in 1963 with the musical revue. He has been writing his own songs and doing his own thing ever since. He has had a two-year stage partnership with Spike Milligan. He returned to South Africa in 1979 to play one-man shows. He returned to Britain in 1994 to lecture on South Africa and now lives in Montgomeryshire. Luckily for us he comes to visit the Woodman every year. The standard is always good, dare I say that he matures with age.
If you get the chance - go to see him!
Review - Clive Carroll - 26 January 2001
"You've got the main act looking worried" someone remarked to me after I opened the evenings' entertainment at the Woodman. That this was clearly not the case became overwhelmingly apparent within the first bar of Clive's opening tune 'One'. Clive's technique was certainly something at which to wonder. His dexterity, speed and sheer accuracy and control all underlined his mastery of the fret board as he worked his way through tune after intricate tune. Gasps of amazement and delight and disbelieving head shaking worked their way round the audience during the first five tunes. But then dissent began to grow among certain factions.
What criticism could possibly be leveled at wonder boy Clive? There were mutterings of 'too flash' 'needs some songs' 'very clever' and so on. It was true that what Clive had in technique and mastery he lacked in catchy tunes and songs. However, tunes like 'Clonlara', a soulful reflection on the Scottish landscape and 'Tarrega', an excursion into Spanish passion and Mediterranean themes stood out from the rest as being more involving and listenable than say 'Aerial Discoveries', which was a busy exploration of the innovative work and techniques of Michael Hedges. Clive finished his first set with a collection of Irish pieces taking him comfortably back to his roots. These tunes and 'lost innocence' (from the album) being Clive's favourite at the moment.
Into the second half some members of the audience persuaded Clive to play an impromptu arrangement of 'Dueling Banjos'. Clive played the first part at the top of the banjo neck, the second at the bottom. The speed at which Clive changed between the two parts was again impressive and he sheltered himself from the whooping applause behind a thin veil of modesty.
Over the course of the evening the Woodman crowd were treated to a whistle-stop tour of guitar styles from around the world. Talking to Clive later I discovered that the jazz piece he played was an improvisation of which even jazz guitar aficionado Martin Taylor would have been proud.
I know if my right hand technique were half as good as Clive's I'm sure I too would be a happy man!
Review - The Gravelly Hillbillies - 2 February 2001
This was the night that I had been waiting for, for some time (having developed withdrawal symptoms from not having seen the guys since last summer's festival scene). Moreover, I had volunteered to write this review. However, despite some serious note - taking, the overwhelming experience on the night contributed to an unexpected (?) lack of sobriety on my part and I lost my note book so what follows comes from memory........
As part of Nothing To Prove I played a part in the first bit of audience warming - up, although the Gravelly link had already started as Tony Edwards called out some advice on "head nodding" and generally looking "laid back" as I ventured in to bass guitar on one song. It has to be said that if I were anywhere near as laid back as the man himself I'd have been horizontal! Thanks to Trev, Deb and Derry for putting up with my lurgified singing (once again). Bryn then played an excellent set, including a memorable prop - assisted version of Fred Wedlock's "The Vicar and the frog". It was noticeable that the death toll for the set was low compared to other occasions (perhaps Bryn was conscious of the impending upbeat mood).
Up on stage the lads got plugged in and completed a quick sound check - front man Richard Heath setting the tone by asking "can you hear the banjo?" ("yes!"). "Better turn it off then" was his retort. Mind you, this was one of those (rare) occasions where banjo jokes didn't apply. Stevie Poole played brilliantly - his rendition of "Mary hold the candle while I shave the chicken's lip" was of such a calibre that mere mortals could only perspire (carefully chosen word) to do half as well. In fact the entire band played a blinder, and I was really impressed by Gary Edwards lead licks during the evening (who's been practising then?).
The audience had warmed instantly to the skifflebilly extravaganza and the euphoric atmosphere continued for the entire evening, characterised by foot stomping, glass tapping, train whistling, percussion banging (is that a crime?) beer swilling audience participation. If you weren't there and you're reading this, you missed a great time. Catch these fellas whenever your schedule allows - you won't be disappointed!
Review - Shave the Monkey - Woodman 30th Anniversary, 23 February 2001
The Woodman celebrated its 30th birthday with panache and its usual excellent mix of musical styles.
To get us all in the party mood, Bryn Phillips was the obvious choice to start the evening. He nobly avoided his favoured songs of doom and gloom! Nothing to Prove and the Bica Band followed. They all proved they could play competently unplugged and provided a nostalgic reminder of pre-PA.days at the Woodman.
Surviving as a folk club for 30 years deserved a lively celebration and we were not disappointed with the first set by Shave the Monkey.
Many of the tunes/songs were from their latest CD 'Good luck Mr Gorsky'. Duncan Moss on Hurdy-Gurdy and Bagpipes could not be ignored. However the drones on these two instruments are not to everyone's taste, but they do give the Group their distinctive sound.
Carolyn Sheppard was particularly strong and was clearly enjoying herself. I was worried that Kevin Neaves on drums would dominate the music but he kept the volume at an acceptable level.
The big O could not have been celebrated without Mick Harrington, who despite a few unkind protestations took to the stage in the second half.
He had clearly taken a lot of trouble to impress the packed audience with his quality of rehearsal and his impeccable dress sense. This was understandable; Mick was one of the founder members of the Woodman all those years ago. Mick held it together through good times and lean times. Thirty years on and Mick turned in a performance to be reckoned with. His version of White Cockade even bought a tear to the eye of Genevieve Tudor.
Shave the Monkey returned to delight us with more tunes and songs. an exuberant mixture, in a larger room we could have had a ceilidh. It is difficult to single out one musician as it is with some bands. They were all good.
Ian Munro commented that he had never seen so many instruments on the stage at the Woodman. I think this summed it up. They are all accomplished musicians.
Of all the songs in the second set I really liked St. Georges Banner, which I first heard on the 1997 Huntingdon Folk CD.
It was a very successful night for a successful club.
Review - Gordon Tyrrall - Woodman 9 March 2001
As the lead singer of Dab Hand Gordon Tyrrall built up a large following of supporters on the folk scene, but since returning to the circuit as a soloist, his prowess as a musician, song collector and performer has blossomed. Starting with the late lamented Peter Bellamy's 'Sante Fe Trail' Gordon soon engaged the audience, with its haunting Hank Williams-like yodel. Gordon's reputation has been built on his interpretation of traditional material, but a close analysis of his performance indicates that this now only makes up a relatively small percentage of his act. Highlights of his first set included the thought provoking self-penned 'Song for Stefan Kiszko' and a delightful John Clare poem, for which Gordon has added a tune, returning to his roots for the' Ballad of the Factory Maid'. An evening with Gordon inevitably includes a couple of tune sets, both on the wooden flute and the guitar , though not simultaneously. I was particularly smitten by his guitar playing on this occasion, a set of hornpipes being especially catchy. Gordon continued the wide range of material during his second set, with Dylan's 'Not dark yet'
and his own ' Ballad of Sickness and Health ' .
Another great performance, from an artist passionate about his work, long may he continue!
Review - Malcolm Jeffrey (Feature Night) - 16 March 2001
As the Four Tops once said - oh what a night. 12 different acts graced the stage, bringing an unbelievable variety of music - what more could you want from your local folk club?
The club regulars all contributed, the BICA Band, in fine voice, setting the standard for the rest of the evening. Nothing to Prove acquitted themselves admirably with the unenviable task of following the droll Mr Bryn Phillips ably assisted by the ladies from the Crag Band who successfully (mis) handled Bryn's visual chorus aids.
Contributions to the evening came from Viv, Brian Alden and, sadly for the last time the splendid Ian Goodsman. The Woodman's loss is New Zealand's gain and I am sure we all wish him well for the future.
Particularly pleasing was to see the return of a number of old friends; namely Pete Boddis, Bob Hadley and Clive. Welcome back, we look forward to seeing you again soon. A newcomer to the club was Sue Paynter who gave us 2 songs; more would have been welcome but time constraints prevented this. Come again Sue, we enjoyed you very much
And so to the featured artist, Malcolm Jeffrey. Malcolm is a bit special. His material is drawn from the works of Jake Thackery, Tom Lehrer to Martin Carthy. Malcolm is a consummate entertainer, delivering the songs in a polished, laconic style with the disarming look of a naughty schoolboy. Who can forget the amazing 4 part harmony with himself? How did he do it? - I'm not telling you - if you want to know you will have to get your club organiser to book him.
To give you more idea of what to expect from malcolm check his website which can be found on the resident's page.
So ended a magnificent evenings' entertainment. Ian thanked everyone who contributed with a special mention to Mick Harrington for not playing the banjo.
>>Report Ends<< Hoorah as Malcolm would say.
Review - Risky Business 23 March 2001
Alan Taylor (Not the famous one!)
This was the third time I had seen "Risky Business" so I knew I was in for a great night's entertainment. There was a good atmosphere and the room was newly decorated (very posh, Ruth said), and the beer was good. What more could you want?
Right from the very first song "Nanci Griffith" to the last, "Something in Red", every one was a gem. "The Business" choose their covers well. I particularly like Jimmy Macarthy songs, and Rosie Hardman's "Louisiana" is a favourite. Yet in Dave Walmisley, they have a special songwriter of their own. Maybe not so prolific as some. But they are all good. "Harbour in the Storm", "Rosemary's Garden", "Pictures of You" and the rest are all great songs. My favourite is "The Raven", an anti-war song with depth and feeling.
Even so, all these wonderful songs would mean nothing without a voice to sing them, and what a voice. The husky Ruth Fuga just oozes quality. Every word crystal clear. With a delivery as strong as "Pete Coe", that holds you from the first note to the last.
"The Business" have been together for many years, and it certainly shows. Their skilled musicianship and professionalism shine through. Both Dave and Ken Powell are fine guitarists. They compliment each other well, particularly with their very sound vocals.
The only disappointment was that I didn't win the raffle, so I had to fork out some of my redundancy money on a CD. I chose "The Raven" in truth. A fantastic buy, just like the live performance, constant from start to finish. After the gig, chat was good. Everyone enjoyed themselves. Mick Harrington is writing some new verses, for "Something in Red", the colours burf and puce were mentioned. Only Mick's got no blinds in his windows, so it's curtains for him.
Well that's about it. Except to reiterate what a good night it was. But then we are used to that at "The Woodman".
Review - Jez Lowe 20 April 2001
I used to go and see Jez Lowe play a lot, but for some reason the last time I went to see him was in 1988, which is ages ago : also, after many near misses and as a fellow Northerner, it's long been Bob's ambition to see him live at all. a recent CD, "The Parish Notices", showed that his singing and songwriting are still bang on, so we set off to the Woodman to see if Mr Lowe still owns a stripey t-shirt. hurray ! we walk in and there he is, comfortingly resplendent in... a stripey t-shirt, just like the Old Days. Jez is 13 years older (so am I), is a bit greyer and laughter-lined (and me) but otherwise is a very familiar sight : however, the Nik Kershaw or Alan Partridge haircuts often seen in the '80's have been sensibly replaced by a Lennie Bennett barnet instead. The Woodman is packed tonight, which is good to see : we get the beer and raffle tickets and while Medium Paul entertains us with some super singing, Viv performs a super "The Moth" and Bryn's "Dead Man Ride" is a Lehreresque epic, I begin to look forward to seeing how much of Jez's current set I will actually recognise after 13 years.
Ian calls Jez up to the stage to a rousing welcome, and after the first few bars of his first song, a chorus-friendly "A Call For The North Country", all of my uncertainties are allayed immediately ! Jez's fine, clear, accurate Northern voice has every bit of it's previous quality, and he still has the laconic delivery which can communicate affection, gentle sarcasm, scorn and emotion so effortlessly and economically through his songwriting. however, the major difference between Jez Then and Now that struck me was that he's an immeasurably more polished instrumentalist : I remember him being a good picker in predominately standard tuning or dropped D, but he's certainly been putting the practice in for the last 13 years, as tonight he stays in open tuning all evening, producing some very fine tune picking and riffs which often syncopate with his singing in a very tricky and polished fashion indeed. the Woodman crowd join in the chorus with traditional gusto and Jez seems pleased to be responded to : cheerily, while struggling to fine-tune his guitar, he says that if any of us fancy stage-diving during the gig then we can bugger off !
Jez's first half is an entertaining mixture of chorus singing, ballads and fine playing, though with infrequent retuning problems : and I'm delighted to find that I have heard all but one of the songs before, although two of them I know from other people's covers in folk clubs. we get a splendid "Black Diamonds" and "Propping", a sensitive "London Danny" with chorus pedal effect, and a switch to an equally well-played cittern for "The Ballad Of The Latch-Key Lover" (original working title : "The Ballad Of The Pathetic Git", we're told !) which features some good harmonica tune-playing too. Jez re-tunes his cittern to an open minor (not seen THAT before !) for a bitter "Spitting Cousins", stays in slower mood for a melancholy "The Bergen" and delights me with a super "Tom-Tom", my favourite from the "Parish Notices" album and which I was going to ask him to do if he didn't beat me to it !
After a break, a spot from meself (manfully stabbing at "The Devil And The Feathery Wife" in standard tuning) and the raffle (spawny Bob wins a Jez Lowe CD !), Jez is back for, if anything, a more interesting and well-played second set, with this time several of the songs unknown to me. he plays us a rousing "Old Bones", the wistful "Song Of An Indian Lass", the strangely familiar (as in "the BICA Band do it") "Another Man's Wife", and the involved and amusing anecdote "The Man Who Won The Car" (a vehicle which Obi-Wan Kenobi would have pulled birds in, we're told...!). then he announces that Bev Sanders, an ex-Bad Penny, has accompanied him tonight and she joins him on stage : they both treat us to "The Crake In The Morning" and a tongue-in-cheek "The Bulldog Breed", with harmony singing sounding good and some particularly inventive riffing from Mr Lowe.
after Bev departs, we all join in a spirited rendition of "High Part Of The Town", Jez gives us an excellently played "Tenterhooks", and finishes the second set with a crowd-pleasing "Back In Durham Gaol" which evokes traditional Woodman harmonising from the audience. asked back on for an encore, he calls Bev the ex-Bad Penny back to finish the night with a poignant and rather interesting duet called "Greek Lightning", with each singer playing the part of either half of a couple in a strained but ultimately loving relationship : an intriguing note to end the evening on and the Woodman crowd show loud appreciation after a fine evening's entertainment. all this and a brave sacrificing of his own banjo spot by Mick Harrington despite the temptation of playing with a Dempsey-class bodhran player...
The verdict ? after all this time, I found Jez Lowe to have developed hugely as a musician whilst still retaining his entertaining, droll personality, his wit and warmth, and all of his singing and songwriting skills : and the few songs I didn't know were engaging or easily picked up. it all added up to a top evening's entertainment for those present and I'll try not to take such a long time to see him again !
Review - Peter Knight & Felicity Buirski - 27 April 2001
In front of a disappointing audience in terms of numbers the first session consisted of Peter Knight playing a range of music on the violin which was at times both atmospheric and innovative from a musician obviously at one with the instrument.
In this respect the material may have been too self indulgent for the folk club audience and as someone put it "More Symphony Hall than folk club". That said it was an excellent evening with much to commend it and it has stimulated more discussion than any act booked during the past weeks.
An email which I received at the same time as Ian's review demonstrates his last point rather nicely - Bryn
I thought she was great! Peter Knight was very different but most curious and well worth seeing. A change from the 'traditional' folk artists. I don't know where you find such varied and talented performers but please keep looking.
Splatt! - 11 May 2001
The first warm sunny Friday night this year meant that a few of the usual faces were missing, but those who made it to the Woodman were not disappointed with local Folk/Rock band SPLATT !
Four musicians playing an amazing ten instruments between them added up to another great night at the Woodman. Paul, the lead singer, set a fast and furious pace, singing everything from Donovan to Christie Moore, from John Barleycorn to sea shanties. He lived up to his reputation of making a solitary tambourine sound like a full set of drums - you have to hear it for yourself to know it's true! The rest of the band - Andy, another Paul and Nick - were just as lively, Andy helping out on vocals now and then, Paul on double bass and Nick the wild fiddle player. If you like your music loud, with a smattering of new arrangements of old standards and with a huge dollop of raw energy, you'll like SPLATT! Wherever did they get a name like that ?
Woodman resident, Bryn Phillips, treated us to a topical General Election Dance - a slow tango ? This talented singer-songwriter is always popular at the Woodman and his version of Cigarettes and Whisky and Wild, Wild Woman went down a treat under its new guise of Ovaltine, Horlicks and Mild Mannered Women.
The Woodman's own Jake Thackerey, aka Malcolm Jeffrey tried to introduce us to the delights of Shakespeare's Hamlet - "To be or not to be" and "Alas poor Yorick" - that Hamlet. Reduced from a 3 hour play to not much more than 3 minutes, but then Malcolm does sing faster than you would think possible.
So all in all another enjoyable night at the Woodman - still going strong after 30 years - no wonder it's known as the best folk club in the Midlands.
Splatt! - 11 May 2001
On a hot and sultry evening, Bob Curry and I head off for the Woodman, eager to finally see Splatt! the band's lead singer, Paul Beadle, is a regular performer at the Mitre's acoustic night on a Monday and is a consistent entertainer of the highest order - passionate and enthusiastic, with a faultless, percussive guitar technique, a fine singing voice... and then there's the tambourine, of course. unique in my experience (and in that of anyone else I've ever spoken to), Paul has evolved playing the tambourine far beyond its traditional role of something to be jingled and tapped by Jon Anderson or the Salvation Army, into a evocative percussive instrument capable of a wide variety of tones, cadences and syncopation, squeezing the tambourine skin to change its tension and tone, and using controlled, sharp movements to make the little cymbals ring in a more than usually rhythmic fashion. you may have heard this said before, but while Paul's playing the tambourine, if you close your eyes you could believe that a minimal drumkit was on stage, such is the variety of sounds being produced by Paul's artful playing from this usually humble item of percussion.
so Bob and I get the beer and pork crunch and take our seats in time to be entertained by the warm-up spots. first up are Barry and Corrine, treating us to a super spot. Corrine is always an unsung, but practiced, fluent guitarist and tune-picker both in open and standard tuning, and tonight she's super, excellent, and her husband Barry is on equally fine voice this evening too : even an odd, involuntary yelping noise from a mystery lady (un-named for legal reasons) in the naughty corner, half way through a song, doesn't put them off their stride ! next, Bryn takes to the stage to give us a limited edition "General Election Dance" - almost too satirical to be funny ! - and despite his own warnings about "wild, wild women", we even get a rare treat of the Brynnettes during "Chico" too (despite Ann's garlicy proclivities !). finally, the BICA band step back from the mikes to do a tight accapella "The Sound Of Singing", and Ann and Corrine do an unrehearsed but still fine "Thorn Upon The Rose" before Ian calls Splatt! to the stage.
all of the band but Paul have arrived lateish and a hasty sound check has left the volume knob at pub gig level, so consequently the first half is a tad noisy, but after the first couple of numbers, namely "Brown-Eyed Girl" and Creedence's "Bad Moon Rising", you've forgotten all that : oddly reminiscent of a ceilidh band, Splatt! are a foot-tapping, infectious folk four-piece with more than a flare of Celtic fire to them. featuring a tight double-bass player, a co-singer/guitarist who doubles on mandolin and can turn his hand to harmonica and whistle, and a younger violin player on electric fiddle, the band are pretty tight and often quite inventive : Paul (who, as if to spite his legend, stays off tambourine for most of the set) takes the lion's share of the vocals, accompanying himself on energetic mandolin and his usual quality guitar riffing, and visually he's the most intense, frenetic member of the band, throwing himself wholly into his performance from the off, bobbing, foot-tapping, shimmying his way to early perspiration on the hot evening and demonstrably enjoying every minute.
Splatt! do Donovan's "Gold Watch Blues" with some nifty, somehow classical work from the fiddle player, who plays with a white ribbon stretched the length of his bow and trailing off the end, which flails and furls in the air as he plays. he has a wide-eyed, mischievous air of embarrassment about him somehow, as if he's suddenly seen his entire family at the back watching him and he's self-conscious about it : to underline the deftness of his playing, Paul tells me later that he's only been with the band three weeks and as such proves remarkably tight all evening. Leon Rosselson's "World Turned Upside Down" is next, a cry against fat-cat capitalism, and then Steve Earle's gentler "The Mountain", featuring some nice double-bass work : then a passionate and vigorous "Raggle-Taggle Gypsies" and "John Barleycorn" make a pair of songs befitting the Woodman's trad folkie pedigree. a fiddle solo during little Sir John's song is played with a wah-wah pedal - most unusual (the last person I saw to do that was watching Slade's great bass-player Jimmy Lea in 1980 !) but carried off with panache. Splatt! then hit us with a psychedelic, echoing and in-your-face "When Men Were Only Men", with Paul gyrating at full pelt and giving it the full treatment : after it ends, Bob says to me "truly, they are the Grateful Dead of folk" which sums it all up ! a nicely played instrumental "The Maid Behind The Bar", and a slow, atmospheric "Ride On" which finally features Paul on tambourine and flute, bring us up to the interval and the post-Uptonly small audience show warm appreciation, seemingly exhausted by some sort of osmosis just from watching Paul play his heart out !
for an interval spot, your reviewer has a good try at Ian MacNaughtan's "Our Hamlet" - only one mistake - and is rather splendidly rewarded by winning the raffle (I assume if I'd got it completely right, a night out with the Brynnettes would have been on the cards !). then Splatt! are back on, having dropped the volume level a notch, for a more balanced-sounding second half, beginning with Andy, the other singer, leading them through a tight air-and-reel instrumental, after which Peter Gabriel's "Biko" and an interesting "Out Of My Window" are equally well-played. one I've played with Paul, the one-chord "As I Roved Out", is inventive and intense, and Ann's request for "Child Of Earth" features some fine guitar chord work and vocalising from Mr Beadle. after a jauntier "The Good Ship Kangaroo", Splatt! pull out all of the stops for a fatiguing and fiery "Johnny Jump Up", a cautionary tale for those of us in the audience partial to cider... then, a bouncy, almost cajun medley of "Let's Stick Together/Long Tall Glasses" brings the night to a close and Splatt! are sincerely applauded for their efforts. after Ian solicits the traditional promise of drinking-up-and-passing-the-glasses-back from us, Splatt! give us a rousing "Ordinary Man" and then it's time to go home.
the verdict ? I thought that Splatt! were a thoroughly entertaining band and enhanced by their top new fiddle player, the sound has become much more flexible and who knows what they'll be able to turn their hand to with this extra dimension ? the band are playing lots of local dates over the next 6 months too, so there are plenty of chances to see Splatt!'s brand of infectious, energetic folk music, and I'll be there myself at some of them : my advice is for you to turn up too. there wasn't enough of Paul's tambourine for me - but you can't have everything, can you ?
Lee Collinson - 18 May 2001
What a night. Bica Band started the evening. The club is fortunate to have such a talented resident group. They certainly set the mood for what was to come. Bryn Philips followed with his gloom and despondency. I have known Bryn for thirty years and cheerful songs are not in his repertoire. After the warm up acts we were into the guest of the evening - Lee Collinson. What a treat! He wrote his programme during the warm up acts. Complete with super glued nails he showed us how a guitar should be played even in Appalachian banjo style (Salt River, Grey eagle) and bottle neck slide. "I don't write songs I nick other peoples." The great thing about non singer song writers is that they can get so much variety in their act. Other numbers were Feels Like Home to Me and Chocolate Jesus. By the interval everyone was with him.
Bryn came back to start the second session and threw caution to the wind and played slide - Lee held his head in admiration or pain? I don't know.
Lee came back, it was fascinating as someone who uses electronic tuning to see him tune by ear. "I prefer tunings that say something; BADEGG." He did a new one for him - One Fine Day. Lee's easy chat and skilled guitar playing made it an evening to remember.
Looking round the audience I couldn't help but question where are the young supporters of folk? How can we drag them in? All up and coming pop stars could have learned a great deal from Lee. Definitely an act that should be rebooked.
Derek Brimstone - 25 May 2001
Genevieve Tudor and Allan Price
"I said good night"
"But we're not home yet"
"No, Derek Brimstone"
"Oh, yes, excellent."
"Have you seen him before"
"I've only seen him do spots at festivals so it was good seeing him do a whole evening"
"Do people usually request jokes?"
"He's a brilliant guitarist. I didn't realise quite how good he was."
"He was classically trained I believe. Not often you hear classical banjo..."
"Oh. Bugger. I think those lights were on red."
"Never mind. At least you missed the lorry."
"He writes some amazing songs."
"Oh. Yes, he does. I like Fred and Ginger - most of his act is other peoples' stuff though."
"What - you mean cover versions? Mike Raven wouldn't approve of that."
"Hey, we won the raffle again!"
"It's getting embarrassing."
"Yes, but it'll make Bryn feel better about winning all those CDs from Sunday Folk."
"Does he alter the format of the act much? He seems to be very laid back"
"Who, Bryn? Isn't he a bit old to be a protest singer? Masters of War!"
"No, I meant Derek."
"Well, he's been doing it for years."
"What - the same thing?"
"I think he changes it when he changes his hat."
"I think he's on his third one now - the white cap was a mistake I thought."
"Yes, I wonder what happened to the little denim one he used to have..."
"Banjo was good too. I like the banjo joke."
"Yes, but last time I heard it it was the melodeon joke. Is it left here?"
"What, the melodeon? Yes, that was the point of the joke - nobody wanted it."
"Oh, never mind, I'll turn round."
"Wasn't that strange, all the months we've said we ought to see Dave Onions, and there he was."
"He's not one of the residents there, is he?"
"No, there was him and us, I think all the others were though."
"Did 'Nothing to Prove' play tonight?"
"I think they did, but we were still fighting our way over the Staffordshire border at the time."
"I like the Woodman. They're very friendly and there's always a good crowd there."
"Mick Herringbone didn't sing tonight did he?"
"No. You should have gone left at the roundabout."
"Oh. Shall I turn round again?"
"No. If we carry on along here we'll get somewhere."
"You'd think they would have given Ann the night off for her birthday."
"No, they'd have been the BIC band then."
"Razor sharp though!"
"Derek says he's only doing one booking a week now."
"Glad we saw him. He's a regular at the Woodman though - on a yearly basis."
"Yes. I think they'd go and pick him up if necessary."
"Well, I would too."
"I think he's worth it."
"I've heard some of the jokes before but he's got a real gift for telling them. Where are we?"
"I don't know. It's too dark to see the signpost."
"I should have had the light fixed. Oh, I recognise that pub over there."
"Yes. I expect the landlord would greet you by name and pour you a pint of the usual!"
"I suppose you wouldn't recommend him as required viewing for the younger generation."
"What? The landlord?"
"No Derek Brimstone."
"Ah. The knob jokes."
"Yes. I thought they were extremely funny."
"So did I."
"Shall we go to see him again when he's on around here?"
"Certainly. It was a good night."
"That's what I said."
"Did you? When was that then?"
"At the top of page 1. Can't you read?"
"Yes. But it doesn't account for why we're in Shrewsbury. We live in Coalbrookdale."
"Bugger. I meant to turn right at those lights."
"The red ones, back there."
"So we'll be going again, then?"
"The Woodman at Kingswinford. They have some real classy acts on there."
"Oh good. Hey, I think I know where I am!"
"Well, it looks like the right house."
"By the way, what was that Pete Brown said tonight?"
"He wants us to write a review."
"Better get cracking then..."
Pete Morton - 8 June 2001
(In tribute to Robert W Service's The shooting of Dan McGrew")
A bunch of old folkers were whooping it up at the Woodman Inn Friday night,
Pete Morton was singing and strumming guitar, and the kid was doing all right.
At the back of the room stood up by the bar, and drinking as much as man can,
Stood a motley collection of bar flies, and a lady known as San.
When all of a sudden the door swung back and in from the Arctic waste
There staggered a man whose name I knew well, but I could not remember the face.
"Am I too late for a drink" he cried with a wild-eyed manic stare?
For I have been to a 70's night and it's driven me to deep despair.
"Am I too late for a drink" he cried, "I'm in desperate need of some cheer,"
And lunging forward in desperate haste he fastened his teeth to a beer.
Now there comes a time in an old man's life when a drink has done all that it can,
And so his crossed eyes slowly straddled the room until they alighted on San.
Cursing and swearing he covered the floor to where on her stool Sandra swayed,
And grabbing her tightly by the left arm leeringly said, "now don't be afraid".
"Don't be afraid," he cried yet again for it's sure that I mean you no harm,
For I have been out in the cold Arctic wastes and now I need to be warm.
Well Sandra stared down from her stool up on high, through a vapour of both grape and grain,
Saying "I have known many Welshmen before and never will trust them again."
"Not that I hate them" she slurred as she swayed, though they are a strange sort of man,
The perfumes they buy you all smell of mint sauce, and always they call you their lamb.
The stranger he winced and looked totally crushed, as the verbal boot battered his head,
And so seeking solace, and not a little relief said "lets talk of Pete Morton instead."
Well Sandra, then said "I have traveled many miles, to see Peter Morton this night,
And to see him standing alone with his songs is to fill my young heart with delight.
It was only last week that Cliff Richard I saw, as he trod on a famed London stage,
And now it is Pete Morton I view, who is at least only half of Cliff's age.
It was only last week in the Royal Albert Hall that I saw Sir Cliff Richard perform
And now it is Pete Morton I view and the response is at least twice as warm.
It was only last week the entire city I saw as I circled the London Eye.
But now I sit here with a different view that's as vast as the great northern sky."
For he sings with a voice that's as wild as the wastes, where the tundra lies rugged and broken.
His songs are as deep as the great mountain lakes, formed from each thought that's been frozen.
Songs of tradition or those written this night, whispering of needs yet unspoken,
Alone on the stage he howls to the night, like a Wolf in the wastes of the Yukon.
Hunting the Heart" is Pete Morton's latest CD containing mainly his own compositions, it is a superb collection of songs. Enhanced by the haunting backing vocals of Julie Murphy on a number of tracks, and the emotive fiddle playing of Tom McConville, with just the merest hint of Accordion from Andy Cutting, it comes highly recommended from this purchaser.
Tall Stories 15 June 2001
Our visits to the Woodman this year have been sadly few and far between, but this was a night we were not going to miss, as we know that an evening with Tall Stories is always full of good music and songs, fun and friendship. This was no exception.
Ian started the evening in the quadruple capacity of club organiser, MC, soundman and musician in his own right, since the BCA components of the BICA band had not yet arrived. With 'One Day' and 'The Little Pot Stove' he set the tone for a great evening of mostly contemporary songs from various sources and did so with great competence on all four counts! Bryn sang one of his happier numbers first (only one death) and followed with a World War One inspired number of mass slaughter. Then Nothing to Prove completed the excellent line up of support for the first half with a mixture of traditional and self penned songs given their own personal slant on things.
Tall Stories next, a trio with superb voices and instrumental arrangements, Ken Howard, Pat Ryan and Malcolm Gibbons, who take great delight in sharing their enjoyment of the music with their audience, giving us many choruses to join in with, as well as songs with thoughtful and sometimes even educational lyrics. Having checked out the sound system they began with an unaccompanied version of 'Only Remembered'. Then on through 'Todpuddle Men', 'Back of the North Wind', and 'All the Fine Young Men' as well as Pat's lovely versions of 'Across the Great Divide' and 'You'll Never be the Sun', to finish this set with Dougie Maclean's 'Feels So Near' starring Malcolm's harmonica as well as vocals and giving us a rousing finale to the first half of the evening.
By this time the rest of the Bica Band had arrived but only Barry took the stage to start the second half, having returned from Nottingham after a horrendous day's travel - mind you, we've just been there by canal boat and it took us 6 days each way. Nevertheless he was able to sing as beautifully as ever 'If Tomorrow Never Comes' and 'I May Not Have All The Answers' - self-accompanied too. Sue followed with her version of 'The Water is Wide' and 'Baby Can I Hold You Tonight' and then Tall Stories took the stage for the rest of the evening.
Again they began with lovely harmonies on an unaccompanied song, Jez Lowe's 'Coal Town Days', followed by part of the educational element of their repertoire. First a song about Ellis Island - Malcolm with harmonica break again - and then 'Strong Women', with the further history of Flora MacDonald - life after 'Over the sea to Skye'. Their own arrangement of 'Black is the Colour' followed by Archie Fisher's 'The Final Trawl' and then nostalgia for those of us who remember black and white TV when the heroes and villains could be easily identified by the colour of their hats - 'Roy Rogers is Riding Tonight'. All great songs to sing along to as well as to enjoy listening to the harmonies and the accompaniments blending beautifully to make a truly satisfying experience of contemporary folk song. Drawing towards the close of the performance now, we had two excellent numbers to join with in 'The River' and 'This Love Will Carry'. For the encore, again we had education, but also a great deal of fun with 'Amelia Earhardt' and paper aeroplanes with erratic flight paths!
A great evening and good enough to carry us on for another year or so, as their tours are dictated by school terms as well as other commitments, so that we have to take the chance to see and hear them when and where we can.
I have put in a request for another CD to be produced, and hopefully they will also be back at The Woodman before too long so that we can all participate in another Tall Stories episode, as they both entertain us and share their love and enjoyment of the songs they present so well.
Vikki Clayton, 29 June 2001
A hot, height of summer evening greeted Vikki Clayton's vivid peacock-blue appearance here.
Harmonies by Hanky Panky ( the Munro half of the Bica Band) started off the evening in fine style. Bryn Phillips, ably assisted by Fergul, the frog mascot of the "naughty corner", regaled us with the Vicar's tale, to much laughter from the
The final act before the main attraction, Nothing to Prove, delivered a buoyant mixture of self-penned and traditional material. All the above artists had been delighted to play at a charity gig tthe previous weekend, to raise funds for
Sunfields School in Clent, and were definitely slick tonight! By the way, have you heard the one about the single mother with seven children, all called Wayne? Ask Dr Bedingfield! It's clean and it's funny!
Nothing to Prove handed over the stage at last to the star turn, who opened with a rousing version of Matty Groves - especially requested by Bryn - and then went on to promote her new CD, but not too intensely!
As a graduate of the Performing Arts, Vikki was able to elaborate at length on the origins of two Lincolnshire folk songs she sang, which owe their survival to Percy Grainger who, in the 20'5 and 30's, committed them faithfully to paper/manuscript/parchment! There were some curious omissions too, it seems. Some verses were too rude even for him to record!
"Looking at the stars" was for me the most memorable song of the night and "White Dress" was a wonderful parody, and I'm sure we each had our own favourite.
To see more of Vikki in the very near future, she will be appearing at Cropredy Church on Wednesday August 8th at 7.30pm. and at the Bridgnorth Festival!
Sean Cannon - 6 July 2001
The Woodman achieved a real coup on Friday 6 July - a rare chance to see and hear Sean Cannon of The Dubliners on stage with his son James.
Sean has been a prominent figure on the British folk scene for as long as anyone can remember - certainly throughout the 30-year history of the Woodman. Singer extraordinaire, linguist par excellence, raconteur with a seemingly endless
fund of jokes and, above all, a man with a love and understanding of Ireland and all things Irish.
Sean started his career in the clubs and pubs of the Midlands, especially the Coventry area where he ran a folk club. As he became better known, he appeared at folk festivals and clubs the length and breadth of the country - often with
the Cannon Mobile Catering Service in tow. 20 years ago he joined The Dubliners which, considering he originally hails from Galway and has lived in England since he was a teenager, is a bit of a contradiction ! As well as rare solo appearances, he continues to tour with the band in the UK and abroad - watch out for their 40th anniversary album next year.
But the real surprise and treat of the evening came as 23 year old James took centre stage, making his Woodman debut. A lovely deep rich voice and some great guitar playing from a young man who is obviously destined to go places.
If you get the chance to hear him, grab it - you're unlikely to be disappointed.
Father and son - each a versatile singer in his own right - together, hugely entertaining as they slip effortlessly from their Irish heritage to Bob Dylan and Hank Williams and back again. They looked as though they were enjoying
themselves and the audience certainly enjoyed another great night at the Woodman - arguably the best folk club in the Midlands / the country / the world ?
Martyn Wyndham-Read - Woodman - 20 July 2001
Writing in the Birmingham Evening Mail, Steve Johnston describes Martyn as having , one of the best voices on the folk scene' . I would go further, Martyn has THE best voice on the scene. Another packed room welcomed Martyn at the end of season night, bringing together club regulars and ardent fans of Martyn, some of whom are fairly recent recruits whilst others have been fans for most of his 30 plus years on the circuit. As usual, Martyn , s sets comprise a rich mixture of traditional and modern, British and Australian, with the odd surprise thrown in. In this latter category was a lively Victorian (the state, not the period), version of 'Golden Vanity" with a catchy chorus, which had the audience in full voice. Interspersed with Henry Lawson poems, many of which Martyn has put to music - 'Never never land' for example, were old favourites such as , Irish Lords' and' Across the Warego ' . No MWR performance would be complete without his versions of Eric BogIe songs. On this occasion we were treated to 'The Gift of Years' in the first set and 'Shelter' for the encore. The second set, lasting a full hour,
was notable for a set of four songs written by Graeme Miles, taken from Martyn's new CD ' Where Ravens Feed ' ( strongly recommended by the way) . Also included were a string of requests including 'The Rose' and 'The Banks of Claudy'.
As always, Martyn, the consummate professional, linked songs with stories, poems and anecdotes, some of which are loosely based on fact. With Martyn on this occasion was one quarter of 'No Man's Band' Irish Bishop whose accompaniments on concertina and accordion were sensitive and subtle, never detracting for a moment from Martyn's voice.
Another vintage evening, a wonderful way to end another great Woodman season. Well done to Ian & Ann, Bryn Phillips and 'Nothing To Prove' for providing the musical hors d'oeuvres.
Kristina Olson and Pete Grayling - 7 September 2001
Who can say what an impressive and outstanding experience it was? I think all the people who were at the opening night of the club after the summer shutdown.
Kristina and Peter must be one of the most talented and moving duos on the folk scene in this country. We must thank U.S.A. and Australia for letting us have them. There is a strong sexual flavour in many of Kristina's songs. This is encouraged and beautifully interpreted by Peter's cello playing. I'm remembering 'The Yellow Piper' a story of a woman wanting to learn to fly and using female leverage to pay for it. Also, the climax of the first set, a good sing along number 'Big 'O''. Buy the CD to find out more on this one. The final song of the second set was 'Better than TV' about an initiation to sexual activities! Before this we experienced 'Phoebe's Iceberg', Already Gone', 'Heart' and from Peter a Bach Prelude. All performed with superb musicianship and received with shouts for 'more' from the packed audience.
The songs are deep and profound, the singing is so finely controlled in terms of dynamics and interpretation and the use of guitar and cello so meaningful that the whole evening was a deeply moving experience. I look forward to seeing them again very soon.
John Kirkpatrick - 21 September 2001
The Woodman's web-site is occasionally mentioned on Friday evenings, but I had naively assumed that it was only of concern to those connected to the internet.
It was quite a shock therefore to be asked, before I had even sat down, to do a review of the evening for it.
Shouldn't be too difficult I thought if I take plenty of notes, and soon I had paper and biro at the ready. But by the end of the evening my notes amounted to just a few words, none of which were of much use. The problem had been that John Kirkpatrick had performed so brilliantly that I just relaxed, marvelling at his remarkable skill.
Perhaps, they just want a few sentences I thought complacently, but Jacquie's search of the web-site soon revealed lengthy reviews, some of them over thousand words. This then will have to be one of the briefer reviews.
I had heard John Kirkpatrick play with the Albion Band a couple of times many years ago, but his current solo performances best do justice to his talent. John is regarded as our leading exponent of squeezebox instruments. His abilities aren't however limited to the expert, and seemingly effortless, playing of the accordion, concertina and melodeon. Not far into his first half it became clear that John is also a fine singer and accomplished composer and songwriter.
Two encores from John were an appropriate end to the evening. Musicians as good as John Kirkpatrick are hardly a rarity at the Woodman and this, together with a great assortment of keen resident musicians and a great atmosphere, ensures that it remains one of the best folk clubs anywhere.
Artisan - 12 October 2001
Gill & Gary Griffiths
We were in for a treat when Artisan appeared at the Woodman Folk Club. We had seen them at some Folk Festivals and previously at the Woodman. Their Yorkshire humour and variety of songs made for such a lively evening. Their
voices blended together in breathtaking harmonies, and there were many choruses for the audience to join in with which were well received.
Local singer Viv, unexpectedly appearing first, started the evening off with two excellent unaccompanied songs. Then Bryn Phillips, one of the club's resident singers, followed with two of his own songs. The warm up spot was completed by resident band 'Nothing To Prove' comprising Paul Bedingfield, Trevor Durden, Debbie Evans, and Derry Jones.
They sang three songs including their own arrangement of the traditional song 'Byker Hill'.
The first session by guest artists Artisan (Hilary Spencer, Jacey Bedford and Brian Bedford) lasted a good 45 minutes, while the second session was nearly an hour, so we certainly got our money's worth. Memorable songs included 'NIMBY' (Not In My Back Yard) inspired by proposals to build a wind farm close to their home, 'Snakes and Ladders' about the pitfalls of middle management, and 'Wannabe' about winning the lottery.
Vin Garbutt - 26th October 2001
You can always tell a lot from the car park. Hardly a space left and only just past 8pm!
Vin's popularity seems perennial, his "Best Live Act|" award from this years' BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, a testimony to over 30 years of his mastery of folk entertainment. I first saw Vin in 1971, I guess, but I'd heard a lot about him before that. I can never now meet Vin, or sit through one of his performances, without my mind going back over treasured memories of earlier gig's......but I mustn't digress..... last Friday.....
Amiable, affable and at ease, Vin sat next to his wares, a simple pile of CD's near to the entrance, obviously happy to be back where he first appeared nearly 30 years ago. Acquaintance renewed, we sat back and awaited his first 'spot'. The evening was gotten well under way by the gentle tones of 'Nothing to Prove' and then Bryn in good form. Bryn later hearing Vin's version of his song 'Silver and Gold'. When Vin told me that he was going to do Bryn's song later, I wondered if he was going to 'stitch him up', but I digress.....
When Vin took the stage, there was little doubt as to why there had been an unbroken run of annual bookings at this Club, by this living legend. Good, daft Northern humour comes as standard with Vin, laughter never absent for long. "Here's a good-un'..." he muttered, starting his first song.
I couldn't help but take note of his somewhat, dark, Fylde guitar. I'd not seen Vin for a while and was intrigued by his choice of colour. Later when he introduced his song about the demise of the British Black Poplar tree, I couldn't help but wonder if there was a hidden 'link' to his willingness to write about such an aboreal topic! A good song that was too.
Classic Garbutt interpretations would have to include "If I had a son" and he obliged us in fine style with that wonderful song later on. "If I had a son" appears on his "The By-pass syndrome" CD, and I think that I bought the last one that he had with him last Friday! Vin remarked that some things seem to go in cycles and that that CD seemed to be again in the ascendancy; so if you don't have it and you want to be cool, hit http://www.vingarbutt.com/ and lay your plastic down.
I can't recall the name of the song (a typical problem when you're laughing so hard at one of Vin's bizarre and manic introductions), that he sang about an American looking for a wife and meeting a girl coming out a Bog near to Cradley Heath, before the time that Dudley was drained, nor can I recall his rendition of the Dutch phrase for "collecting frog-farts for spirit levels"! I do recall that with all of the other songs that he sang, the song was a 'Peach', beautifully sung and played. What a mixture of talents this guy is!
Since the first time that I heard Vin play Tin Whistle, I have scarcely been able to believe his musicianship, or that he wasn't forcibly abducted by some major folk band. Whenever he played with the 'Teeside Fettlers', I felt that I was in the presence of masters. The tunes that he played on Friday were quite typical, if that word can indeed be applied to excellence.
He later treated us to "El Salvador", another intensely moving song of his own, which forms an unbroken link down the years', of Vin's simple Catholicism. I use that phrase with respect. Vin has attracted vicious criticism (particularly in the North East) where he still lives, over the years. Liberal individuals have often taken issue with him for his temerity to point out the effects of pornography, abortion and other unsupportable factors of 'modern' life on the lives of individuals and society. It is a measure of the man, that apart from gladdening our hearts with good humour, powerful 'moving' songs and musical wizardry, that he continues to take opportunity to question and challenge us with his songs.
"All the very best" to you Vin!
Julie Felix - 9th November 2001
Jacqui and Paul Madge
Friday evenings at the Wood man are always eagerly anticipated at our house. Singers nights alone would be well worth the fifty mile round trip with much loved regulars as well as a multitude of great offerings from visiting musicians, while the enthusiastic if often irreverent involvement of the audience, verging at times on pantomime, adds to the atmosphere.
An evening with Julie Felix is the one our family looks forward to most eagerly, I personally finding that, if the music at the Wood man is first aid for the spirit, restoring sanity at the end of a busy week, then Julie offers intensive therapy.
In the event, for a while at least, Julie was apparently disconcerted by gremlins in the sound system although for her ardent followers the pleasure was undimmed as was evidenced by their impatience to show their appreciation almost before each song came to an end. For us it was a little reminiscent of our wedding day in that any hitches paled into insignificance in the pleasure of the event.
The power and commitment of her songs was as strong as ever with old favourites
in the early part of the evening giving way to Bob Dylan numbers from her
forthcoming album. We were also privy to what we were told was the first airing of a new song arising out of events in Afghanistan.
Her magic for us came not only from the music but the spirit of the woman; yet
again I have found for a while afterwards that total strangers are smiling broadly at me in the street which I guess means that yet again I came away beaming at the world. Call us closet hippies if you like but for us, in the words of the song she is a true 'Magic Messenger'.
Joe Stead, 23rd November 2001
Joe has been a regular visitor to The Woodman for many years and his return was most welcome.
Joe Stead is a big man, who fills the stage, not only with his physical presence but also with the enormity of his personality. Joe is one of those artists that can take you from side-splitting humour to poignant thoughtfulness within seconds. This is usually aided by what he calls his "programme set" where he asks the audience to call out a subject and he sings an appropriate song. Joe chose not to do this on Friday night but this did nothing to harm the variety and entertainment that he provided.
It is difficult to categorise Joe Stead; his material ranges from his own compositions to traditional material, each delivered with a high degree of professionalism and technique. It is equally difficult to pick out the highlights as each and everyone of us would probably have their own views. However, for me the highlights were the Shanties. I am an unashamed lover of Shanties and from visiting Folk Clubs over the last 30 odd years it is an undisputed fact that a Shanty will get even the most reluctant audience singing. The Woodman has never been a reluctant audience and readily joined in with gusto!
If you want to hear more of Joe Stead, contact him via his Web Site and get on his mailing list for his newsletter - "The Ramblings of an Old Codger" - thoroughly entertaining.
Supporting Joe last Friday were the usual suspects with accomplished contributions from The BICA Band; jointly and severally, Nothing To Prove and Mr Bryn Phillips.
The Gravelly Hillbillies
Dick Willington - 14 December 2001
Old 97 was an express mail train which ran from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta, Georgia. On 27 September 1903 the train left Washington behind schedule. At Monroe Virginia Joe Brody got his orders to make up time to get back on schedule. As he came down a long grade from White Oak Mountain toward Danville it seemed he was gaining time but as he approached the Still House Trestle across Dan River he found he had no air brakes! He pulled the train whistle to warn people of the impending danger! There was a curve in the trestle and, as the engine roared on, the track was ripped from the trestle and the train plunged 75 ft. to the ravine below. Joe Brody and eight others were killed in the wreckage and steam from the boiler.
So the events of 27 September 1903 give us the song that the Gravellies so brilliantly performed on Friday night. It was another superb evening at the Woodman. The Gravellies are a very polished band playing a lot of Lonnie Donegan classics with gusto and enthusiasm. We were treated to 'Cumberland Gap', 'Lonesome Traveller', 'Gambling Man' and 'Rock Island Line' and many others including their own 'One More Drink'. All in all rocking good night!