Reviews 2010

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Richard Heath Band

12 March 2010

Bryn Phillips

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It has been a few years since the Richard Heath Band played at the Woodman and I had been looking forward to their return. From the first number I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed. “I shot at man in Reno, just to see him die” – you know the one, Johnny Cash’s "Folsom Prison Blues". In fact most of the numbers they performed were well known, even though some of them were around eighty years old, such as “On A Monday” or “Goodnight Irene”. But Leadbelly wears well! These songs were performed with an intensity that can only come from a genuine love of the material, and this was particularly evident in Richard’s powerful vocals in “Lucky Old Sun”. As well as these old classics there were a few self-penned numbers which fitted seamlessly into the show. 

When I’ve seen Richard Heath in the past he has played mandolin and washboard, but tonight he just played a parlour guitar throughout. There was certainly no need for the percussion as that was provided in abundance by the WPS (Woodman Percussion Section) which tonight comprised at least 75% of the audience. There were assorted train whistles (Maggie), Bodhrans (Debbie and Cathy), syncopating hand tambos (Busby) and shakers of all shapes and size scattered around the room. For once, thanks to the driving rhythms of the band, they stayed (mostly) in time.

The other band members are two very accomplished musicians, Buzby Bywater on bass and Gerry Smith on Accordion and Electric Piano. Of course, I’ve seen them both before in other bands, but this is the band where there talents really shine. For me the knockout of the evening was Gerry’s performance on the electric piano, which I haven’t heard him play before – great stuff – we loved it! 

Last time I saw them they had been a great easy listening-to Rockabilly band. The key thing about them was their enjoyment of what they were doing. This came through again tonight - and of course it’s infectious. If the band’s having a good time it gets through to the audience and everyone has a good time. After tonight I’d still think of them as an easy listening-to Rockabilly band – but promoted to premiere league. 

The band was supported by some of the Woodman’s iconic stalwarts (Ian’s words, not mine!); Paul Bedingfield, Velvet Green and Bryn Phillips and of course, let’s hear it one more time, for the WPS!