Thursday, 22 February 2018

A Rose by any Other Name

     Atherstone Folk Club now meets out at The Rose at Baxterly, north of the town. This is a friendly hospitable  and popular pub, renowned for its cooking,and with a useful,separate concert room. 
      Last night was a treat for Nunc anyway, as we all love Si Barron and his fabulous collection of songs. But it was further enhanced by the quality of the other floor spots and the opportunity for us to air a few new songs ourselves. Plus one of the best pints of St.Austell Tribute I've sampled beyond the Cornish border! John Kearney reckoned his pots of tea were quite good,also. 
       Alas, Phil Benson was unable to join us having been re-lurgied again. This meant that there was no P.A. but it mattered not, because Phil had shrewdly invited a selection of artistes all of whom could project without one. Eschewing the stage we all came and stood front of house,and it sounded fine whenever I was listening from where I was sat near to the back of the room. Anne and Steve started us off with a few numbers including "The Circle Game"  and then handed the baton over to a safe pair of hands in K.C. Jones. They got the audience singing with "Sonny" and two of Karen's own compositions,one of which was "Ivory Battle."  (This is not a song about an awkward patient in the Dentists Chair). 

         Nunc then stepped up,and commenced by  offering the audience another of their effortless segues(!) This time one involving two CSNY songs back to back:"Find The Cost of Freedom paired with "Ohio." Flossy then handled the lead on Randy Newman's divine essay on uselessness,"Guilty." Only those who had seen us perform this at The Anker Tavern a fortnight ago had heard us do this before.
       We finished by revealing another newish offering-"Bold Riley."  Got to be honest and say our version is heavily influenced by Gigspanner's so it may have been a little up tempo for purists. We only started working on this song on Sunday night,so we were quite pleased with the outcome,and the way the audience took up the chorus. 

          Thrupp'nny Bits followed,somehow squeezing four songs into their 15 minute spot. Three from the trio and a cover of "New York Mining Disaster , featuring Des and Gareth. Their slot got the audience warmed up for Si's first set. 

          Si has now released three CD's which he is very modest about,but they really do contain some excellent material. There was some excitement during the interval, primarily because I managed to secure the only copy of Si's third album from him,and to confirm that he was booked into NFC on July 4th. (Nice easy date to remember). But this was eclipsed by me gesticulating a little too wildly with my flailing hand and spilling a full glass belonging to Brian Phillips,across the table which he and Si had been sharing. In fairness,most of it went over me,so I spent a fairly damp second half. 
        Nonetheless we were entertained again by Anne and Steve kicking off the second half. What a versatile couple they are. Before Si returned, Brian Phillips did three songs and a recitation. And there was mercifully, no mention at all of the glass of coke I had poured over the floor during the interval. 
       Si Barron was just magnificent. He played two excellent acoustic sets,always using the same guitar,sometimes with capo on sometimes not. It's obviously a machine he is very fond of, and he spanked it,plucked it or coaxed beautiful harmonics from it all with deceptive ease. He took us (as he always does) around the world, on long sea voyages,into dark and lonely places, with the odd comic imagery chucked in. His singing style has been compared to Nic Jones, and Si himself alludes to this on some sleeve notes. It's a fair comparison, and one he should be honoured to carry, for Nic at his best was a wonderful singer and guitarist. 

                Some of Si's guitar playing is derivative of Nic-which again is no mean feat,or a criticism, as few are good enough to emulate that Nic Jones style successfully. But some of Si's work is his own invention. The combination is just a delight to listen to-and to sing along with. Combined with his raffish looks and easy,humourous banter,it makes for a very uplifting  experience. 
               Many of the songs are traditional ones which he researches,rearranges slightly  and then puts his own  stamp upon. But he also covered songs by writers as diverse as Bob Dylan and Bill Caddick. I'd had a hectic day completing a music project in Coventry-the outcome of which I'll hopefully be sharing with you all one day soon. It was a bit of a rush to collect Flossy and JK and get out there just in time for the opening. And it was a long journey home. But worthwhile-a thoroughly enjoyable evening in good company. Get well soon Phil: they did you proud.

My thanks to Max and John B. for the photos..