Reviews 2017

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Dan Walsh

Les Jones 6 October 2017

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This was Dan’s third visit to the club as a paid artist albeit he appeared at one of our singers’ nights a few years ago and blew everyone away then. This however was the first time I had managed to see Dan and I too was totally blown away. Like most folkies I have made fun of the banjo but that was before I heard Dan. It will not happen again. Okay it will but never about Dan Walsh. He is the most accomplished banjo player I have ever seen live or on the media and despite joining in with the banjo taunts I admire someone who can play a banjo properly because it is far from easy. His Wikipedia entry says:

He is known for the wide variety of banjo techniques he includes in his performances, and for his particular skill at claw-hammer style banjo.

While this is true it fails to capture the sheer energy, and drive he puts into anything he plays. We were treated to several self-penned tunes which varied from a couple of “soft” tunes to Jigs/Reels and Polkas; American claw-hammer tunes and his representation of Indian Raga. Unbelievable. I should also mention he is an accomplished guitarist and has just the right voice for the music he sings raw but clear.

His two sets comprised:
• A medley – A Tune for Sarah/Rambling in Barra/Food for Thought and Thanks to the Kiwis. A tune the name of which he had forgotten at the time.
• With A Memory Like Mine by Darrell Scott
• What You Want You Don’t Have
• The Vaults – inspired by Ken Perlman and the Market Vaults pub in Stafford which he has frequented many times and I thin played his first gig.
• Jack Crawford – a song from North East folk singer Johnny Handle about an episode during the battle of Camperdown which instigated the expression “Nail You Colours to The Mast” If you want to know more it is on Wikipedia.
• Going to the USA is a self-penned song played on guitar about the trials and tribulations of entering the USA to perform – and this pre- Trump.
• His first gig abroad was in India where he played this tune The Whiplash Reel to an audience of Indians. It is the closest I have ever heard another instrument sound like a Sitar and the first time I have ever seen banjo strings bent in play.

His second set carried on very much where he had left off the first;

• Glen Cottage – is a suite of two polkas entitled Glen Cottage 1 and Glen Cottage 2. Neat eh?
• The Suilin is a traditional song from America not recorded that often.
• During a recent trip to the USA he visited the Deering factoring where his banjos are made – where they refurbished it for him – partly he feels because he plays the instrument very hard and hits the skin. It doesn’t do it any good. Funky Haystack is such a tune. Still cannot work out how he did it.
• Leave This Land is a tune he wrote while waiting a very very long time at Auckland airport for a flight home.
• No Way Out of the Maze is a wonderful slow tune quite different to everything else.
• Glen Mason was a singer back in the 1950s who as I recall like many was always around but never made it big. He was a resident in a nursing home for dementia suffers where Dan and some friends played for a few weeks. On finding out who he was they learned a few of his tunes and encouraged him to relive his past. This is mentioned in Glen’s wiki entry. The Song Always Remains is his tribute.
• The Banished Set is a suite of tunes from the latest cd and was a prequel to the encore.
• From Now On – a song from the American bluegrass banjo player Lester Flatt. Which has the audience joining in and formed a wonderful end to a fantastic night.

The evening was of course kicked off by resident band Nothing to Prove who gave us Jim Croce’s Bad Bad Leroy Brown – perhaps he didn’t want it any more. The Ballad of Cursed Annie followed and they finished with Mary Rose complete with audience participation.

Velvet Green preceded Dan with two lovely songs albeit a bit depressing – Allan Taylor’s Roll on the Day and Paul’s own song Rainy Days.

Bryn Phillips led us out of the interval with his Treacle Town and his song about boy chimney sweeps Valentine Gray.

There is nothing more I can add apart from:

Once again – a wonderful night was had by all. Here’s to the next time.