Reviews 2019

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Risky Business

Les Jones 05 July 2019

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Having Risky Business to the club is like inviting friends round for a chat and a singsong. The Riskies; Ruth, Ken Powell and Dave Walmisley are always welcome and seem to have more friends at the club than I do; not that I’m jealous you understand. The band has been to the club eight times since the year 2000; Ruth and Ken three times and Dave three times with Other Roads and possibly another twice with The John Wright Band. But it is not simply volume that warrants the friends but the warmth and humour they exude.

I wrote the phrase “National Treasure” in my notes of the evening and that’s what they are. Very much missed when they stopped touring for a few years and very welcome now they have returned.

They not only tell the odd joke and funny story but are able to absorb and answer back to the jibes and heckles they have to suffer from an audience that is relaxed enough to join in with them.

They performed some old favourites and most if not all of the tracks from their new cd “Threads of Gold”. A false start to the opening song City Girl by Liz Simcock gave Ken a chance to ask Derry to take some of his guitar out of the foldback as he couldn’t hear anything else. Hmm so much for the sound check. Shadows on Water is one of Dave’s; inspired by watching a deer with it’s kid drinking from a pool. Wayfaring Stranger gave ken chance to play his self-built banjo and everyone a chance to take the micky out of banjos. No change there then. Rosemary’s Garden about Dave’s mother’s garden which was grown in the African bush, we all know. Virginia kettle wrote Emerald Green and Alex Sinclair Magdalen McGillivray. A beautiful song which Dave explained to us. He hilariously had trouble with some of the detail and had to prompted by Ruth. It was alleged that the explanation was longer than the song, but I did not time either so I can’t comment. The first half finished with Harbour in the Storm another of Dave’s which was the very first song they recorded together as a trio back in the last century.

I confess to not catching the title of the first song after the break for which I apologise profusely. The second however was the Jimmy McCarthy song Mystic Lipstick which is a history of Ireland. Despite it being a lovely song, the band wanted to understand it’s true meaning, so much so that they bought and read a book giving lyrics and meaning to all Jimmy’s songs. They are still not sure but never mind. Kate McGarrigle was responsible for the beautiful Talk to me of Mendocino and always reminds Ruth and ken of their visit there. Dave wrote Vagabond Rules and was inspired to write The Bonny Braid after reading a book entitled The Braid by Helen Frost telling of the Highland Clearances. Threads of Gold is the title track to their cd and a collaborative effort in terms of writing. If my memory serves me correctly Ruth and Ken live in the beautiful Welsh village of Llanwyddyn. The original village was submerged beneath Lake Vyrnwy when Liverpool council decided the village could be sacrificed when the lake was dammed to provided drinking water for the city in the 1800’s. The song tells the story.

That would have been the end had it not been for the much-demanded encore – the traditional song from America, Shady Grove – more banjo – bringing the evening to wonderful conclusion.

In the gaps at the beginning and middle of the evening John Hoare sang The Tin Man – title track from his cd the proceeds of which he is donating to Keith Judson hospice charity and a Lincolnshire song I have down as Hunter Musket. He also decided to fill out his meagre slot with short “jokes” involving manufactured wooden hands in various shapes and gestures. Much too complex to explain here. Dick Woodhouse brought some sanity singing I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside in his long short trousers. He finished with Jake Thackray’s “This song is dirty” The Lodger. Enough said. Insanity returned again after the break when Chris Irving – who had been compering in Bryn’s absence – sang of The Bromsgrove Folk Festival Murder. He said it was true. I believe him. When are you coming back Bryn?

As you may have noticed from the review, A Wonderful Time Was Had by All.

See you all on 19th July for the last night of the season.