Reviews 2004

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

The John Richards' Band
Trevor Durden 19 November 2004

I really can’t remember the first time I saw John Richards perform; it may have been with either Morris and The Minors or the splendidly named Ivor Smallpiece Band, it matters not! John Richards is, without doubt, in the highest echelon of British songwriters and is recognised as such by fellow musicians who have recorded his material. The fact that he has not gained greater recognition outside the folk world is an absolute crime.

You could be forgiven for thinking that John’s latest band would be merely support; this would be a grave error. Daughter Emma, Allie Fellows, a classically trained pianist, on accordion and Mat Taylor on bass, flute, and sax make up a cohesive unit that clearly enjoy themselves. This was very much in evidence on Friday night.

As the band is relatively new it was inevitable that much of the material would be drawn from John’s back catalogue but good songs are always good songs. The band kicked off with “You’re On Your Own” a Desperate Men standard before singing the first of the songs from their new mini CD. The song, “No ordinary Day” is a perfect vehicle for Emma’s voice. John then took us back to Morris and the Minor days with an atmospheric arrangement of the magnificent “Polly” This is probably my favourite JR song and if the evening had ended then and there I would have been more than happy but much more was to come.  The first half sped by in an instant. Mat and Allie combined on the tune “Ashokan Farewell” the first Christmas song of the season was heard in the shape of Peter Bellamy’s “Bitter Withy” before the classic “Deserter” and the Tom Waites song,  “Briar and The Rose” took us to the interval.

As good as the first half was, the second was probably even better. It started with John and Emma combining on the bittersweet opener  “The Moth” before Allie and Mat returned for the traditional song of duplicity “Marrowbones” before launching into “Honour and Praise”, the chorus being lustily sung by one and all. “Ploughman Lads” from the singing of Nic Jones and the Carolan tune “Fanny Power” led us to the final two songs from the new CD. “I’ve Just Got To Know” featured Mat on saxophone and a splendid bluesy vocal from Emma. The title track of the CD “If You Can Walk You Can Dance” is a real feel - good song and I defy anyone with a soul to keep his or her feed from tapping. Surely another JR classic! “Shine On” was the final song and brought the evening to a perfect conclusion.

Ian Munro, Nothing To Prove and the irreverent Dave Love gave first class support for the evening.