Reviews 2016

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Jack Blackman

Les Jones 21 October 2016

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“He doesn’t sound Irish to me” said another club member. “No not that Ulster – Alcester in Warwickshire” or as Jack Blackman put it himself – “A drinking community with a farming problem”.

As you can tell Jack Blackman was new to the club. A slice of the Mississippi Delta brought to us live in Kingswinford. As a fan of the blues I had been looking forward to this evening for some time. I was not to be disappointed. One man; one guitar; several different variations in tuning and a whole lot of talent. Overall a delightful couple of hours during which all the guitarists watching said – “How did he do that?” at least three or four times. His two sets consisted of roughly half self-penned songs and half by other blues artists albeit the songs themselves were not the usual well known standards. Arthur (Blind) Blake featured heavily and is obviously a favourite of Jack’s as did Big Bill Broonzy; Bukka White and Dave Van Ronk.

When singing his own songs, Jack is Jack – (which sounds like a song title itself), but when he sings the songs of others he morphs into the playing style of that person. And a fine job he makes of it too.

In the first set we had: I Stay Blue; Travelling Light – no not the Cliff Richard one nor the JJ Cale one; and Nearly Man; all Jack’s songs, as well as an excellent rendition of Bukka White’s Jitterbug Swing; Hog Nose Gin by James Lewis Carter (T-Model) Ford and Long Tall Mama by Big Bill Broonzy.

The second set saw; 24 Hours and Panther Burn both Jack’s songs as well as Blind Blake’s Too Tight Rag/Blues; Dave Van Ronk’s All Around This World; Bob Dylan’s The Levee’s Gonna Break – which has been sung by people as diverse as Pete Seeger and Led Zeppelin; Ophelia by the Band and a wonderful medley of tunes by Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Davey Graham. Jack was unable to remember the names of all the tunes but I think I recognised Veronica; Casbah; certainly, Anji and the Davey Graham version of Cry Me A River.

He thought The Lost Highway was to be his final song but we insisted on an encore. He gave us The Bottle Tree but promised to do Deep River Blues if he was invited back again next year. Mmm, you never know?

As ever excellent support was provided by house band Nothing to Prove and stalwarts Barry and Corinne and Bryn Phillips who as usual also steered us effortlessly through the evening.

As you may have guessed already;

“A wonderful time was had by all”