Reviews 2004

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

John Kirkpatrick
Bryn Phillips 1 October 2004
When you remember a folk artist, there’s always something that sticks in your mind. Martin Simpson - immaculate guitar playing; Joe Stead – a distinctive banjo style; Cloudstreet – King Willy; and so on. For John Kirkpatrick the image I had was of a very accomplished squeezebox player who could play the concertina at the same time as circling it around and around to get some interesting pitch changes. Whilst this image has no doubt impressed a generation of concertina players who attempt (with various degrees of success) to emulate this feat of musical dexterity, it left me cold – probably because I play guitar. Now if Clive Carroll could carry off a similar stunt with his guitar that really would be something. I mention this because that image had made me forget that John Kirkpatrick is not only one of the country’s best accordion, melodeon and concertina players, but is also a fine singer and even more so, a great song writer. So onto the review…….

The evening started off with Ian Munro in good form. He did two Anthony John Clarke numbers – Ian does them proud, AJC would have been impressed. He also did a new one, a Jez Lowe number, Latchkey Lover. One to keep in the set; it went down well. Then I came on and did three songs. As reviewer I can’t comment on the performance, except to say that the audience were in good voice for Prickle Eye Bush. Well done audience, and thanks!

Then on came John Kirkpatrick. He started off with a couple of tunes on the the Button Accordion followed by "There Stands a Cottage", a song with a rousing refrain. Then, just in case we didn’t know, he established his credentials by singing "The Old Changing Way". He told us that this comes from the time he used to play with Richard Thompson. In fact not only has he played with Richard Thompson – he has played with a vast array of folk artists and bands as evidenced by the impressive array of CDs for sale. The nice thing was, although he has a tremendous Folk CV, apart from the reference to Richard Thompson, he didn’t do any name dropping at all. A real professional. Next out was the concertina (anglo treble I think, but the concertina players would know). In contrast to the accordion this sounded a little harsh. It might have been the sound system and I thought that it would perhaps have been better unamplified. After a couple of tunes and a song using the concertina he did an unaccompanied song – I didn’t catch the title, but it was an interesting variant of Lord Randal. Then the final instrument – the melodeon on which he played some tunes and then a shanty, "Bound For Australia".

The evening continued with this mix of instruments with the occasional unaccompanied song, interspersed with some interesting introductions. The mix of songs was highly varied, other notable ones being "The Fellow That Played the Trombone Stole My Wife Away" and George Dunn’s "Watercress Girl" (known to Woodman Regulars of a few years standing as the "Watercress Grill" from the book of Harrington miss-typed lyrics). For me the best song he performed was "In The Dreamtime" a powerfully gentle environmentalist song – a fine example of John’s song writing talents.

All in all a good evening, with a lot of audience participation. I don’t know whether I missed it, but I don’t believe he played the concertina in a sweeping circular motion. So, next time he’s on, I’ll remember an excellent performer, singer and songwriter, who just happens to be a primo squeezebox player as well.