Believe me, it takes some talent to make me buy 4 CD's in 6 days! Last Wednesday, I'd gone with another Parrot and a friend to drool over Joanne Shaw Taylor at Leamington Assembly. She was so hot (and I'm talking, clearly, in a guitar-playing context here), that I bought two CD's there and then. Last night, the same three of us (and a hell of a lot more) saw Sunjay Brayne at Bedworth Folk Club's Old Black Bank base. I just had to have his CD's afterwards too, having seen him play and heard him perform. And he kindly autographed them for me. What a nice fellow. And his dad.
I rarely buy CD's in Folk Clubs. The last one I bought was after having enjoyed David Bristow pickin' away at Stratford Folk Club last year. (Also highly recommended). I haven't seen him since then-hope he's o.k!
Most of the superlatives have already been written elsewhere about Sunjay. What I saw and heard last night was a likeable and gifted young man who had stagecraft, a versatile vocal technique, a wry humour, and a real feel for the Blues-both singing it and playing it. His guitar technique and style is hard to explain-but descriptions of him being a "maestro" are not undeserved. He played two sets, one each side of the interval. Of which, more later.
There was plenty of other talent there on show last night, too. Indeed, so popular was Sunjay as a draw that the canny amongst us (ahem!) had got their floor spots booked in early. It's a rare venue indeed where you see artistes of the calibre of Dave Fry, DragonHead, Sue Sanders, Dave Webb and Joe Roberts sitting it out, content just to listen.
Malc Gurnham and Gill Gilsenan kicked us off with some stirring tunes before Atherstone Folk Club's Residents Finger in The Jar took over. Steve and Anne Beeson and Phil Benson were in fine form-as good as I've ever seen them. This was their first appearance at BFC. and it was a worthy debut. For their second number, Steve sat it out, with Phil and Anne handling the vocals. There was some debate beforehand about what they should be called as a duo. "Two Fingers" was the most polite, and most p.c. suggestion amongst some quite shocking alternatives being proposed by an already ribald audience.
They were followed by Thrupp'ny Bits and their loveable dog. (And I'm not talking about Des Patalong). It took me a while to work out what was different about Des until I realised he wasn't wearing THAT hat). Me saying that I'd been sharing a sofa with Barbara earlier. could again be misinterpreted. But I mean purely in a platonic sense and to better view the other floor singers more clearly. Thruppn'ys delivered a couple of characteristically rousing three part harmonies. Good stuff.
Maria Barham followed, and fairly spanked through a brace of songs in a typically energetic and professional style. Sunjay then finished the first half with the first of two sets. He began by strolling about like a troubadour amongst the punters, scorning the P.A. I loved him for that.
Gill positively flew through the raffle and the Interval whizzed by. So quickly that The Black Parrot Seaside Co-operative (Five and a half piece format) were soon called upon to open the 2nd half for SB. I tuned up my tambourine, Arnold was juggling guitars and Dave Parr's battery failure looked like delaying the re-start. Malc, twiddling anxiously away on the mixing desk and fingering his bass strings, was beginning to look at his watch. A very relaxed Man is Malc. (I've seen him VERY relaxed at the AGM of the Nuneaton and District Elderly Gentleman's Binge Drinking Society (Folk Section). But you wouldn't want to see him angry.
We started with " If I Had Possession" and it was, though I say it myself, a fairly decent sound. "Black Jack David " then followed. ( Not in person-we sang it). I could hear feedback coming from somewhere as we began this song, and it wasn't off my vocal mike. That's my excuse, anyway. It threw me enough to fudge up the words to BJD and confuse the audience utterly by giving them the wrong chorus instructions. It took the poor loves until halfway through before they realised that, (not for the first time), I was talking and singing drivel. Turns out it was Sunjay's foot mike feeding back, by the way.
Still, "Albert Balls" rescued us as he often does. The chorus singing in this was as loud as I have ever heard it, anywhere. And although Sue Sanders likes to pretend she is a shy girl, I could see her fiddling away to our left. We've decided we're going to mike her up and drag up on stage next time we do that song. (Hence the "Five and a half " Parrots)..
Sunjay's second set was as stunning as the first. What a coup he was for Bedworth! My favourites were "Love You Like a man", "Sitting On Top of The World", "Statesborough Blues", and two John Martyn tunes, " May You Never " and "Fairytale Lullaby". Beforehand I'd tried to explain to someone who'd not heard him, what Sunjay sounded like. "Think of a very early John Martyn-as on "London Conversation" I fumbled, " Then add in some Janschian Blues licks...and a whacking great dose of originality..." So it was lovely to hear him tackle the Old Reprobate's songs so sensitively. We were also treated to a lovely arrangement of the Tom Rush song "No Regrets." Those of us old enough to remember the original (99%) joined in with some tasteful harmonies on the choruses. I have to say that myself and the Third Thrupp'ny Bit, were standing alongside each other at the bar at this time, and our harmonies on this chorus were really good. Can't see anything collaborative coming from it though. " Parrot Bits " doesn't exactly trip off the tongue. (Beak?)