|Reviews 2000||Reviews 2001||Reviews 2002||Reviews 2003||Reviews 2004|
|Reviews 2005||Reviews 2006||Reviews 2007||Reviews 2008||Reviews 2009|
|Reviews 2010||Reviews 2011||Reviews 2012||Reviews 2013||Reviews 2014|
|Review 2015||Reviews 2016||Reviews 2017||Reviews 2018||Reviews 2019|
|Reviews 2020||Reviews 2021|
18 Jan 2002
|24 May 2002||Clive Gregson|
12 Jan 2002
|31 May 2002||Grace Notes|
25 Jan 2002
|21 June 2002||Tala|
1 Feb 2002
|5 July 2002||Singers' Night|
|22 Feb 2002||Bill Jones||12 July 2002||Martyn Wyndham Read|
|1 March 2002||Cathryn Craig
|13 Sept 2002||Mundy-Turner|
|15 March 2002||Anthony John Clarke||28 Sept 2002||John Kirkpatrick|
|22 March 2002||Risky Business||4 Oct 2002||Vin Garbutt|
|3 May 2002||Johnny Coppin||25 Oct 2002||Steve Tilston|
|10 May 2002||Kieran Halpin||15 Nov 2002||Desperate Men|
|17 May 2002||Nancy Kerr & James Fagan||22 Nov 2002||Dansaul|
|29 Nov 2002||Ian Bruce|
Eddie Morton and The Bushburys
Ken Cartwright - 18 January 2002
There have been a number of changes with the Bushburys over the past few years and it makes you wonder why these things happen. It must be most difficult to pick up the pieces and basically restart although all the ingredients are there.
I was more than surprised however how they have developed their music since the last time I saw them; it is obvious there have been some different influences brought through. They have a broader range of music and songs that they can bring to a wider audience whilst retaining some of their older songs and enthusiasm.
I do think since the introduction of Lucy on the violin into the group has added a distinct sound especially when playing in harmony with Gerry on the piano & accordion, it is hoped that they can stay together and take their music forward. Their performance was well balanced and interaction with the audience was still as good as ever. It was unfortunate that the venue was not packed to the rafters like it used to be when the Bushburys were in town, but still I am sure that in the future they will return in vast numbers as they are still a great attraction.
Jeremy Taylor - 12 January 2002
A cold miserable Friday - up at 5.00 a.m. every day - not getting home till six, so, I was more tired than usual. The fire and T.V. were very tempting, but no way would I miss Jeremy Taylor. Anyway once you get to the Woodman, wedge a pint in your hand, tiredness is put on hold and you are ready for a good time. That's just what you get with Jeremy Taylor.
He has a knack of taking a serious subject and getting maximum laughs from it. Though his lyrics are brilliant the real joy comes from watching him perform. I don't know how many muscles are in the human face but Jeremy Taylor seems to have twice as many. His expressions are a delight to watch. Though he did a lot of old favourites 'Jobsworth' (would we all be like that should we don a uniform?) 'Vicar of Brideswides', the brilliant 'Capitalist's Dream', 'Masanga', 'Red Velvet Steering Wheel Driver', it seems a pity he's resting songs like 'Mrs Harris', 'Ag Pleez Daddy' and 'Lift Girls Lament'. But he did my favourite 'Well Bugger me'.
There are some great acts in the folk circuit, people I'd see over and over again, but compared to Jeremy Taylor they are all just 'Prawns in the Game'.
Bob Fox - 25 January 2002
It is more than a quarter of a century since Bob first entertained crowds at
the Woodman, on this occasion Bob was on fine form. from the start,his engaging
manner quickly won over the large crowd who joined him in the catchy chorus 'In
the bar room'. His first set interspersed golden oldies such as Graeme Miles'
'Shores of Old Blighty' with less familiar numbers such as Jimmy Nail's 'Big
River', a nostalgic look at redevelopment on the Tyne.As usual, Bob's appeal
hinges on three factors his resonant vocals, his strident guitar technique and
perhaps most significantly his rapport with the audience.The other highlight of
the first half was when Bob was forced to use Ian's guitar after breaking a
string. Let's hope that it stays in tune for next week!
After the break Bob re-emerged refreshed after Bryn's tales from the gym with another splendid mix of traditonal and contemporary songs and tunes, often adding a new angle to a song, e.g. Jez Lowe's 'Greek Lightning' and McColl's 'Champion at keeping 'em rolling' with a catchy syncopated accompaniment. Bob's version of Steve Tilston's 'Slip Jigs & Reels' was memorable for the additional instrumentation provided by Maggie Brown - what timing she has! All too soon Bob was closing with Andy M. Stewart's 'Rambling Rover', the audience again heartily joining in the chorus. Bob was persuaded back for 'White Cockade' as his encore.
A splendid evening in every way, as usual the club residents plus the ever popular Crag Band were on form providing a platform for Bob's performance. Lynn & Carl were back safely from Paris- oh, the beer was excellent too!
Bob Fox - 25 January 2002
The bands turned out in force to support Bob Fox tonight, along with a big, really appreciative audience who knew and joined in with many of the strong northern ballads he sang.
The BICA band opened the show with "King of My Own Country, echoing the previous week’s visit by The Bushbury’s. Nothing To Prove followed with a great set – but then I’m biased – then The Crag Band bid us "shake whatever we had" whilst Bob finished his tea at the bar.
When Bob finally got on stage it was obvious from the various stories he told that he has had a lively past. Driving Vin Garbutt to gigs during the train strike must have been a hoot! In common with Steve Tilson and Anna Ryder, Bob has supported Fairport Convention on tour and the 3 of them are collaborating in the Fairport Convention Supporters Club. They are on tour shortly and you can catch them at The Red Lion on 30th March.
Bobs first number about being a long distance lorry driver also echoed his past when he was "doing the same job as I do now, only I didn’t have to sing at the end." Other numbers included Oakeys Strike, Galway Shawl, Slipjigs and Reels – all with a story, all brilliantly delivered. Even when breaking a string he soldiered on unabated – "don’t think I need that one in the next song!"
The evening went on until 11.10 pm as usual (about midnight!) and a great time was had by all.
It must have been a good night – Ian put 2 CD’s in the raffle.
Splatt! - 1 February 2002
I returned at great speed from Vienna, by reputation the City of song and vast steins of beer, differing art forms that were most memorably combined in the song "ein, zwei, drei, vier, raise your glasses and drink your beer." Only to confirm my long held belief that Britain excels equally in all of these commodities, no more so than at "The Woodman" on a Friday night.
Upon arriving at the Woodman I took my usual position as close to the bar as possible, whilst rapidly attaching myself to a glass of the local mild. It was soon apparent just how much I had missed this particular flowing bowl, as the Landlord (lady) continued to refill it at a fairly brisk pace, until I felt I might indeed run over. Restored to full good humour by this well established folk remedy I settled down to listen to "Splatt!", who set off at a cracking pace with "Whiskey in the Jar" thus completing the Viennese holy trinity I referred to earlier of music, drink and songs about drinking.
The first four songs, a mixture of both traditional and modern, were all played at a brisk pace, intended to warm the audience, as well as the band, on a cold February night. Such was the effect that by the time they went into Van Morrison's "Brown eyed Girl" elderly members of the audience at the back of the room were to be seen casting away their Zimmer frames as they bopped and boogied the night away. "This is turning out to be a good night" I breathlessly wheezed to Bryn as we were helped back to our seats.
Splatt! do play music from a wide variety of sources, though always in their own style. Many of the songs are from the folk tradition, often done in a more rhythmic style, I have no objection to this, although a great lover of traditional music the song is there to be sung in whatever way the singer wishes to perform it. Folk music is a living tradition and did not suddenly become frozen in time the moment Cecil Sharpe made people aware of its existence.
Splatt! do have a wide-ranging repertoire and are not afraid to take songs from many different sources and of differing styles and present them in their own fashion. The evening continued at a cracking pace with renditions of "As I roved out" "Raggle Taggle Gypsies" "The Kangaroo" from the more established folk archives, through to songs from more modern sources such as Steve Earle and Jimmie McCarthy. I do believe that groups need to be able to change the pace of their act, a talent that Splatt! have in no small measure. They achieved this at one point by singing that superb song by Leon Rosselson "The World Turned Upside Down", a song that I love for many reasons not the least of which is that it completely defies any form of musical categorisation.
An element of musical surprise is, in my opinion essential for any group that is trying to approach their audience in a professional manner. I was therefore ecstatic when they starting singing the immortal Sam Cooke's "Another Saturday Night" not least of all because I appeared able to remember all of the lyrics to the song. The fact that they went straight into a rendition of Fireball XL5, and that every member of the audience appeared to know the words, merely confirmed to me my earlier suspicion that this band has the same strange wide-ranging love of music that I have myself. Following this the intellectual tendencies of many of the audience rose to the surface as an intense debate broke out as to which was the superior programme, Fireball XL5 or Supercar. I stayed well out of this argument knowing full well that Four Feather Falls left them both standing.
To finish off the evening they performed a song without words. Starting at a pace slow enough to lure several of us into a high stepping Irish dance, which we should have realised was a mere ploy, as the speed of the tune soon picked up, unfortunately our feet soon did not. Those of us who were hardy enough, or possibly foolhardy enough, to keep dancing until the finish hope to be out of intensive care in time for Singers' night this coming Friday.
Finally what greater tribute can ever be paid to a band other than that of a young lady in the audience being so taken with them that she spends the whole evening drawing the portrait of one of them. An adoring fan indeed, and a fine piece of art as well.
Bill Jones - 22 February 2002
Firstly, the following is by no means a professional critique, for who am I
to judge? Rather my thoughts and observations of Bill Jones's recent concert at
"The Woodman"; a first for me after hearing her on radio several
Bill has an engaging, shyly-relaxed persona on stage, something I find quite appealing - and she knows her stuff. That she is/isn't a consummate musician/singer/performer is not the issue here (she is, without question, all of those things!), these are just my impressions. I want a "Weltmeister"!! Her mastery of said implement is complete. More of that and less keyboard - a novel approach to "trad-style" stuff - but not for me in abundance. Her whistle playing is splendid! Difficult for me not to compare vocals with Kate Rusby - K.R. wins....(Sorry Miss Jones!!). Maybe a bit too schoolgirly at the moment - perhaps in 5/6 years time....!! Having said all that, she is certainly worthy of her current successes - she's obviously earned them - and, for what my opinions are worth, I would wish her many more............!!
Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby - 1
What a night of exceptional guitar playing from Brian Willoughby, an exceptional talent, his performance alone was worth turning up for. Without doubt he is the best guitarist that I have had the pleasure to listen to at the club, a man of very few words -but who needs words? Along with his partner Cathryn Craig they created a night of excellent music and easy listening without having to blast any ones ears to pieces.
Their range of songs and music were quite varied with lots of new and different material from their last visit to the club. Cathryn Craig has an appealing and strong country voice without being coarse and blends in quite nicely with Brian Willoughby's guitar playing - or is it the other way round?
Cathryn Craig sang a number of tracks from her Porches Album of which one in question is one of Judith’s, my other half's, favourite songs. This made her night; the album is on constantly in our household and I have got quite fond of it myself. I am looking forward to playing their new Album which we decided to purchase on the night. What else could we do after such an outstanding and professional performance?
As usual the Woodman folk Club crowd joined in with their songs and were most appreciative of their outstanding performance. A good night was had by all.
Anthony John Clarke, 15 March 2002
At the beginning of the evening, Jacqui came over and asked me whether it was possible to say a few lines about the artists on the diary on our Web site. "It would be a big help, because I haven't got a clue who Anthony John Clarke is". I explained that in many cases, this one included, I didn't know either, and so instead of putting in the usual "An exceptional singer-songwriter all the way from Ireland with outstanding mastery of the guitar who will keep you enthralled with the magic of his lyrics....etc " I prefer to simply link through to the web site. She didn't look too impressed; "Well, it's up to you, but I still think ...."
So, I didn't know what to expect . I had a look through the CDs (all four of them) thinking that he must have been around for some time to have recorded so much and noticed a track I'd heard elsewhere "Tuesday Night is Always Karaoke" - Four Men and a Dog? That's where I'd heard it - good lyrics; could be in for a good night.
There are all sorts of ways of starting off a set in a new venue. Some artists launch into a (usually upbeat) song or sometimes they introduce themselves but AJC just started chatting to us. He observed (accurately) that Corinne doesn't play chords - "hey, you play properly" tried to establish whether we were a singing audience; after a solitary "yes" - "Well, apart from you are you a singing audience?" .... and so it went all evening. Then there was the guitar playing. Sensitive, precise, a hint of jazzy blues perhaps and oh yes, the guitar was red - not painted red but a really nice red grained wood. I really liked the guitar playing which most of the time was a fairly unobtrusive accompaniment to the songs, interspersed with beautiful little runs, harmonics and half-jazz chords to finish up. Corinne, to be complimented by a guitarist that good is a .... well, it's a real compliment!
Finally, the songs. And that's really what he's all about. The easy relaxed stage presence and the musicianship are really only the vehicle to deliver the lyrics. It gives you a different look at Ireland. Not the sentimental songs sold on albums featuring glasses of Guinness and shamrocks or the hard hitting Rebel Songs, but a real glimpse of what Ireland is really like sung by someone who cares a lot for his country and its people. I enjoyed them all but especially "Irish Eyes", "That's Alcohol For Ya!", "How Gloria Lives" and of course "Tuesday Night is Always Karaoke".
If you haven't heard someone before you try to put them in a box - try to think who they remind you of. Well it's difficult - the accent, well a bit of Kieran Halpin or Luca Bloom perhaps; the incisive poignant lyrics; maybe Harvey Andrews in the '80s - but there was a touch of the country there as well - John Prine, Tom Waits? And the bluesy feel - Mike Chapman? Altogether the mix results in an individual performer with some great songs
As Jacqui left she told me that she was pleased I hadn't put a brief description on the web-site. If I had said something about a singer-songwriter (who she hadn't heard of) she probably wouldn't have come and as a result missed a brilliant evening! So, that's decided the issue; I'm sticking to just the web-links to the artists' sites.
Risky Business, 22 March 2002
Floor singers were a little thin on the ground tonight but Hanky Panky opened the show with a couple of favourites and Mr Bryn Phillips, sporting a "new" slide guitar gave us, among others, Little Red Rooster. Even though Maggie wasn’t ready with her whistle she’d got her gun and the rooster was finished off in style.
Risky Business had a remarkably uneventful journey for once. A stop off for a burger reminded them why Ruth usually made chicken sandwiches for the journey! However, ‘Mystic Lipstick’, ‘The Great Divide’ and ‘The Raven’ helped them forget the experience. There were three newer numbers among the old favourites – at least I don’t remember hearing them before: - ‘Mistletoe’, ‘My Mountain’ and ’It’s Not Over Till The Fat Lady Sings’. Promising, but I need to hear them again.
In the second half, ‘Don’t Suffer In Silence’ was followed by ‘The Tree’ – very poplar – alder than the hills etc! ‘Opening Farewell’, ‘Africa’ and ‘Western Highway’ preceded the finale – ‘To Face It All’. This rounded off a professional, accomplished performance with a fair smattering of newness.
Risky Business have been together for 9 years and have developed into one of the most polished acts on the scene – Mick reckons it must be 95 years because he was in short trousers when they started; which only confirms that Mick is as old as people think he is!
Johnny Coppin, 3 May 2002
Hmm .. Johnny Coppin; singer songwriter, keyboards, occasional guitar, poems (A E Houseman, Laurie Lee) put to music, a bit slow, a bit thoughtful, a bit of a cult following, it's going to be full .... shall I go? Oh go on....
I'm glad I did! I'm not sure whether time dimmed the memory or whether the last time I saw him it was one of those "theme" evenings; you know what I mean; Songs of Gloucester or a tribute to Laurie Lee or A E Houseman revisited. The sort of evening that appeals to the aficionados, but not rousing entertainment for the masses. Whatever I was expecting I was wrong; the Johnny Coppin who appeared at the Woodman on May 3rd was everything a solo club act should be.
From the minute he came on stage his professionalism shone through. He spent a couple of minutes carefully checking the equipment, picked up his guitar, smiled, made contact with the audience and started off with some strident guitar playing and lively singing. It was when he got to the second song that we realised it was going to be one of those great nights. We were all fully engaged with the first of many chorus songs "Say Hello to the Band".
The evening was an expertly balanced blend of chorus songs; "Liberty", "Rydal", "Rolling Down that Border Country Road" etc and slower thoughtful numbers, usually played on the keyboard. One of the slower songs of note was a poem by Leonard Clark, "English Morning", played on guitar. "The mushrooms heave themselves to dewy life" - incredible imagery. Johnny Coppin told us that we were the first folk club he had played for over a year - if anything that gave his performance an edge - was there any nervous energy there? There must have been, but it didn't show.
My overriding memory of the performance has to be the chorus songs. He really worked the audience and managed to pull some great harmonies - they were songs to raise the roof and by and large we succeeded. Were my prejudices justified? Only one - the room was full - and deservedly so.
Finally a mention to the support artists - Hanky Panky who started the evening again (come on you other floor singers, give them a break), Malcolm Jeffrey (unaccompanied - nice bohdran playing, Malcolm), Nothing to Prove (very laid back & relaxed, nice set, guys) and not to mention my newly refurbished slide guitar (Thanks John, who replaced the Blue Tak with a couple of nice shiny machine heads)
Kieran Halpin, 10 May 2002
On Friday May 10th after an awful journey from Walsall to Kingswinford via Wednesbury and Dudley we arrived at the Woodman Folk Club to see Keiran Halpin. As we know him as a wonderful performer we knew we were in for a good night. We were not disappointed, as he gave his usual outstanding performance. Keiran’s first set started with ‘All the Answers’, a song off one of his early CDs, followed by quite a few new songs that I had not heard before such as ‘Farewell to Pride’ and ‘Elmo’s Garden’, a song written about his father. Second set contained a lot of songs that people knew, so there was lots of singing along. Included were ‘Streets of Everywhere’, ‘Glory Days’, ‘Old Simplicity’, ‘Roll you to the River’, ‘Berlin Calling’ and ‘Closing Time in Paradise’, (which I had requested). He finished the night with ‘Raglan Road’. Altogether with Keiran’s sense of humour, wit, and lovely songs I had a very enjoyable night.
The floor spots in the first half were very good and I especially enjoyed Paul’s rendering of ‘Byker Hill’. George and I met people we had not seen for a while and were made very welcome.
Well done and thanks for a lovely evening.
Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, 17 May 2002
Secretary Jackfield Branch Comhaltas Ceoiltiori Eireann… Irish Musicans
As an irregular visitor to the Woodman I'm always thrilled with the welcome my friend and I get from more regular members! All who watched the concert on May 17th agreed that Nancy and James were amongst the very best guests who have ever played at the Club. Their personalities, skill, and sheer enjoyment of their music shone through a stunning performance. Their enthusiasm flowed out into the audience, who gave them rapturous applause at the end of the evening.
Nancy is from the North East and many of the fiddle tunes she played reflected the Northumbrian influence. It is so good to see the musical tradition being kept alive by young people like Nancy and James.
James is from Sydney, Australia, so the evening was peppered with humorous quips from the audience and very fast repartee from James. For example did you know that a "dunnie budgie" was Aussie for a blow fly? He has a great guitar style that compliments Nancy’s fast fiddle tunes, on the one hand; and the slow deep sound of the viola accompaniment to songs, on the other. I think James probably uses the DADGAD tuning or something similar to pick out the melodies, to great effect.
[Additional post review information provided by Trevor Durden: James was playing a Stefan Sobell Guitar bodied Bouzouki that was tuned GDAD on paired strings. The bouzouki is usually tuned and octave lower than mandolin GDAE i.e. in 7ths rather than 5ths. However GDAD is becoming more and more popular as it tends to make the playing of fancy bits a little easier]
Nancy started the set with two Northumbrian reels, Meggie’s Foot and Coats Hall. She then sang Elsie Marley and My laddie sits up o’er late. The fiddle accompaniments were slip jigs in 9/8 time. James then explained the history behind the song Anderson’s Coast by John Warner. It is a lament for convicts who escaped from Tasmania. Nancy produced a lovely, deep, low, lonely sound on the viola for this song., highlighting the beauty of the chorus line "…watch the moon, the lonely moon, ride the breakers on wild Bass Strait…"
Next was a jig from the Orkney’s Skipping across the Bog, written by Brian Finnegan of Flook fame; followed by two jigs written by James, Liam’s tune and Ten Million Jems. The Tiller Song was written by Nancy for a Radio 4 programme on Canals.
In the second half they sang The Outside Track by Australian poet Henry Lawson set to music by Gerry Hallam. Again the viola accompaniment was low and sweet. Next was the song Jack Orion. The fiddle accompaniment had that wow factor.
James did a version of Wild Colonial Boy.
Then Nancy did a version of Barbara Allen, which starts …In Reading Town… to a tune, I haven’t heard since the late 60’s, to a slightly different version which starts ..In Bredin town…
The Morris tunes Margaret’s Polka, which James wrote and Bonnie Kate were super.
The duo sang The streams of lovely Nancy unaccompanied. Their harmonies were intuitive
Finally, Dance to your Daddie had everyone’s feet tapping and for an encore they did the song The false young man to a tune by Nancy.
It was a sheer joy to listen to them. Their repertoire is from their new CD called ‘Between the Dark and Light’ and would have been available on the evening except for a mix up with the courier firm delivering it. The duo can be seen at such festivals as Bromsgrove, Bromyard … as they said all starting with Br..
Additional information provided by Trevor Durden: James was playing a Stefan Sobell Guitar bodied Bouzouki that was tuned GDAD on paired strings. The bouzouki is usually tuned and octave lower than mandolin GDAE i.e. in 7ths rather than 5ths. However GDAD is becoming more and more popular as it tends to make the playing of fancy bits a little easier
Clive Gregson, 24 May 2002
Please don’t expect an unbiased review here. I have been a Gregson disciple for several years. I missed out on his work with Any Trouble and the Richard Thompson Band, but was hooked by Home and Away, his first live album with Christine Collister, and his music has been a profound influence on me ever since.
I caught the penultimate Gregson & Collister performance at the Red Lion in 1992 and have seen Clive in concert a few times since, most recently at the Red Lion again on 17th November 2001.
The evening started with a few numbers from the Comfort & Joy album - Antidote, I’m There for You, and Fingerless Gloves. (This is a song he wrote about a busker that he heard playing one of his songs at Stockport shopping precinct, and he disguised the story by changing the busker’s sex and the location. I do feel he should pay back the £2.00 though- I must owe him £100.00’s).
Five brand new unreleased songs followed. I remember The Top of the Tree and North of England Days from the November gig. I’m not sure about the chronology of Summer’s Ending, but it’s another cracking song. Sparkle Street and Blackpool Lancashire have been unveiled only this week. (We are led to believe that tonight’s rendition of this song was the first successful public performance!)
Ending the first set was another great song from Comfort & Joy, namely the title track.
Set two kicked off with the very neat rock song I Shake which was co-written with Boo Hewardine for Gregson & Collister’s final album The Last Word, and then the greatest hits arrived, many by request. All the Time in the World and All Just Talk (with a breathtaking and protracted instrumental intro) both from G & C’s Home and Away album, then Fred Astair, a marvellous depiction of everyone’s need for individuality (on Happy Hour). Back to the Home and Away album for Northern Soul and Touch and Go, then Clive officially closed the night with The Jewel in your Crown from Strange Persuasions.
You know how these things go- following rapturous and deserved applause we were given a choice of encore, namely either Camden Town from People & Places or an old Any Trouble song called The Trouble with Love. We never heard Camden Town, but Clive’s story about the dance floor antics of certain Icelandic couples almost made up for this. More enthusiastic applause, and Clive unplugged his beautiful Aria Elecord guitar to sit with it on the steps of the stage and perform the only cover song of his set. The late George Harrison’s Here Comes the Sun ended the evening in magically intimate style.
Coupled with his amazing ability on the guitar, Clive has one of the finest singing voices around, an engaging stage presence and most importantly he is a prolific writer of the most exquisitely crafted songs you could ever wish to hear. This is the most rewarding facet of his work as he freely admitted tonight. Those of you who bought your first Clive Gregson CD tonight may be shocked to hear much more elaborate arrangements of his songs. He is a multi-instrumentalist and an established record producer. I guarantee his recorded music will certainly grow on you. It would however be good to see a live recording at some stage, for those of us who would like to re-live the moment.
Supporting artistes tonight were Bryn Phillips, The Bica Band (happy birthday Ann), Ian Sullivan and yours truly.
Grace Notes, 31 May 2002
The long and winding road to Kingswinford ended at last. We were lost in the
car park, but quickly found and rescued by the lovely Peter who carried the
heaviest of our load into the clubroom (what a relief that it was on the ground
We were made very welcome by Ian, who provided a most efficient, no fuss soundcheck, and we felt quite at home (excepting that our homes are not generally bedecked by Union Jacks!)
A great variety of performers entertained before our first set. Grace Notes would like to note that Corinne and Ann should be allowed to do more singing together.
We were musically astounding, sexy and extremely funny. As Tony Capstick once told us after a concert at Whitby "You sing like a f---ing nightmare"! (Well you did ask us to write our own review)
After the Gravelly Hillbillies, our break entertainment included dry chat from your wonderful barmaid, and Mick (Harrington) reminding Helen that she performed in the same room as Muckram Wakes 30 years previous. We were eased
gently back on stage by Bryn's song about a corpse on wheels. Thanks for a lovely evening. Great floor spots, great P.A. friendly atmosphere - and even free drinks at the end of the night.
Hope to see you at Burntwood Festival. With so many clubs biting the dust, it's great to sing at a thriving club. It works because of all of you -
Lots of love
Helen, Lynda and Maggie
PS We have never been asked to write our own review before. But we don't mind any excuse to get together for a bottle of wine.......PLUS we can now quote the Woodman site as saying that we were sexy, funny and musically astounding, can't we????????
Tala, 21 June 2002
"Feminist black performance artist Sarah Jones and less-than-politically-correct white rapper Eminem aren't an obvious pair. But the Federal Communications Commission has censored both artists by recently issuing $7000 indecency fines to radio stations for playing their songs."
This is what it says when you do a web search on Sarah Jones, but this isn’t our Sarah, it’s an American one. Our Sarah certainly writes forceful, meaningful songs that are very moving and truly memorable.
And, that is what we got at the Woodman on Friday night. We were treated to the new line up of 'Tala', Sarah, Duncan and the new member Toni Wood. Toni has a beautiful voice that is melodic and blends so well with Sarah’s. Duncan's keyboard skills add a special touch to the amazing ability of Sarah's guitar playing.
We enjoyed all the old favourites and the songs from the new album. Of course to us it wasn’t so new because we had bought the CD and played it so often. The performance was very professional and Ginny did a brilliant job on sound.
I arrive in the old familiar room in good time for the start of The Woodman Singers’ Night, plying good old faithful Pete on the door for some raffle tickets, and there are already maybe 30 performing and listening punters in. Naughty Corner is, as always, full, with the usual suspects in evidence, and the usual plethora of percussive devices are arrayed across the tables : meanwhile Ian is diligently fine-tuning the PA. hello ! who’s this ? Tommy Dempsey is honouring us with a visit and making his way to a seat, so it looks as if we’re in for a rare old time tonight ! throat oil is purchased and quenching starts, and, as I wind down from the bus journey and subsequent walk up Mount Pleasant, I start to think about what the devil I’m going to attempt tonight… it’s also about this time that I think “nobody ever reviews the singers’ nights, do they ?” and here’s the result.
Ian and Ann take the stage for the opening, “graveyard” spot - Barry and Corinne are swanning off on a posh holiday, it seems - and Ian announces a “completely non-folk mini-set”. his excuse ? his voice is apparently suffering, either from a cold or he’s been shouting too much at his pupils ! there isn’t much detectable wear and tear, however, as Ian and Ann bost gamely off with a seemingly rehearsed medley comprising “Bad Moon Rising” (accompanied with synaptic reactions by percussion from Naughty Corner), “I’m A Believer” (chorus harmonies sung with gusto by the attendees) and, finally, with Ann switching seamlessly from bodhrán to flute, “Norwegian Wood” - in coy, husbandly deference to his wife’s modesty, Ian changes the lyrics to “I once met a girl, or should I say, she once met me…” rather than “…had…” ! bless ! it’s a nice, gentle crowd warmer-upper, though, and warmly clapped by us all, following which Ian realises he hasn’t warned anyone that they’re up next, and after some confusion, two guys volunteer for the next spot. they’re James and Mark, who start off with a jaunty “Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)”, which is a bouncy and oddly folk-like arrangement considering it’s off a Van Halen album ! then Mark sits down, leaving James to entertain us with two other well-played, self-penned tunes : “Earth Dance”, which he’s recently played at a Medieval-style forest wedding, and “Sunday Afternoon”, a tricky-looking ragtime tune, both of which are well-received by the Woodman crowd
Next up is a guy sitting next to Tommy Dempsey, who turns out to be Mike James - if you can visualise a tall, thin Eric Sykes, you’d have a good picture - and who has a practised and amusing line in patter : one example involved him telling us that nowadays, his memory occasionally fails him, so that he can’t remember why he’s walked into a room at times (always tricky when the room is the toilet)… he hunches his frame around a cittern and begins with Steve Tilson’s “Slip Jigs And Reels”, which is nicely and confidently played, followed by a similarly fine rendition of Dougie McLane’s “Feels So Near”. his last one is a suitably simple and sparse version of Stan Rogers’ “North West Passage” and it completed a tight, enjoyable spot which we all appreciated. then, with a suitable introduction, Ian welcomes Bryn Phillips to the stage to a resounding cheer from the audience. Bryn is dressed tonight all in bluesman black - earlier, standing next to him and the similarly dressed Steve Walker at the bar, I was asked if I hadn’t heard about the new dress code ! it transpires that many of the regulars were supporting / watching Bryn play at “The Lighthouse” in Halesowen the night before : as Bryn takes the stage, members of the Naughty Corner lean together and hastily discuss the “death count” from last night’s set, and a consensus is swiftly reached that the Bryn Tally was an impressive (even by Bryn’s own standard) total of 5 million and 29, and one sheep (cause of death : pneumonia). however, maybe taking pity on his Armageddon-jaded audience, tonight Bryn’s spot will involve nary a single death - instead, firstly. he sings us “Payday” with a cheeky look in his eye, perchance highlighting that the song nearly involves the demise of a rabbit (but doesn’t). then he orchestrates the showmanship highlight of the evening - calling the dapperly dressed Steve to the stage (queue numerous, appropriate heckles on the lines of “Blues Brothers” and “Booze Brothers” from Naughty Corner), both Bryn and Steve don dark glasses and pork-pie-ish hats, Steve produces a blues harp, and we get treated to a powerful injection of Bryn blues in Blind Willie Johnson ‘s “In My Time Of Dying”. to add light and shade, Bryn has arranged for his oversized hat to nearly cover his eyes, whilst Steve’s is so small it could have belonged to the Ant Hill Mob, as it nearly wobbles off his pate in a particularly energetic harp solo ! this performance evokes such a response from the crowd that Maggie’s request, “Little Red Rooster”, seems almost an anti-climax, even with full animal noise participation on our behalf - ladies and gentlemen, you had to be there…
Nothing To Prove are up next, Debbie proudly sporting a t-shirt bearing the legend “I’m proud to be a Brynette”, and they’re pretty quickly set up. after a false start, they open with a solid “Star Of The County Down” with Medium Paul on bass and featuring sterling anchorwork from young Trev. after our applause, Medium Paul announces cryptically “is there anyone here who knows me from 2½ years ago ?” - after a few seconds’ consideration, most of the audience raise their hands in tongue-in-cheek honesty ! without proffering any further explanation, Paul side-steps the issue and leads the band in his own ode to incompetent bosses, the well-sung “I Am My Own Man” : following this, he returns to the Old Acquaintance theme, this time including some possible names, and the mystery only deepens as, during their final number, “Meet Me On The Corner”, a young lady and her escort seated close to me get up and leave abruptly… most cryptic !
Ian leads us in applauding Nothing To Prove’s well-performed spot, and then announces that it’s Tommy Dempsey’s turn. the central mike on the stage is still set up at Derry’s height, and when the… er… slighter Tommy takes his position the mike is pointing slap-bang at the middle of his forehead, causing much hilarity ! Mike James also seats himself behind Tommy to accompany the well-loved old entertainer and they begin their spot with “The Little Drummer And The Lady”, delivered enthusiastically and with the full Dempsey “diddly aye de diddly oh” effect on one verse as the words escape him. it’s great to see him at work, though, enthusiastically wielding his bodhrán beater, and he rewards our fond applause with a sprightly and infectious “The Waterford Wedding” - half-way through, a sudden, unexpected speeding up of the tempo on Tommy’s part sees Mike very amused as he hastens to catch up. finally, Tommy asks us to imagine that he’s a “Scottish fisherwoman who’s got up too early to shave” - :D - and leads us in a jolly chorus of the “Mingelay Boat Song”, to complete an entertaining and spirited set for which we all show our appreciation. ah. the old phrase “follow that !“ comes to mind, and who, you ask, is the poor victim ? yours truly, that’s who, as Ian summons me up for my spot. I’ve recently been mining a Pete Atkin CD for new stuff, and so I open with “Stranger In Town”, Atkin’s take on “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly”, I suppose, and one that made me laugh the first time I heard it. it seems to go down well so, on the spur of the moment, I abandon what I was going to do and manfully plough through Jake Thackray’s “The Hair Of The Widow Of Bridlington” - many punters later will tell me they’ve never heard it before (and probably certainly not the way I do it folks !). finally, a request for “The Bantam Cock”, Thackray’s ode to the pleasures of chicken husbandry, means I don’t have to think of what to do for the third one either ! everyone claps and titters in the right places and so once again I get away with it and return to my seat for the interval
more beer then, and a few chats with various chums, and after a short break it’s time for the raffle. few attending that night could have been more delighted than your humble correspondent as I gain the victory and win two tickets for Martyn Wyndham-Read next week ! it would be beneath a fellow to gloat (k’snurk k’snurk !). choking back the emotion, Ian summons Bryn back to the stage to begin the second half, having managed to get all the singers on in the first half : still the acme of blues cool, Mr Phillips treats us to “Father Confessor” and leads the chorus-eager Woodman crowd in a splendid “Good Ship Vanity” - he is roundly clapped for his efforts, having performed two spots tonight and still having failed to recount any fatalities ! next up again are Nothing To Prove : Debbie adopts a somewhat sultry stance and leads her band in “Summertime”, with Trevor still having a very tight night on his bazouki, and, after an off-mike comment to the effect that he’s been playing more bass than ever before tonight, Medium Paul finally gets to hand Derry’s Precision back and immerse us in his own Northern culture with a fab rendition of “The Oakey Strike Evictions” which has us all baying for the blood of the twenty candymen and wee Johnny. me good self is up next, reprising Mitch Benn’s frankly odd “Scaredy Weirdos” to the apparent delight of Trev, making a contractual plug for “more bookings please” on behalf of the very wonderful Dave Love prior to trying to keep my face straight and keep the silly voice up throughout his “Fierce Creatures (It’s Hard Being A Hedgehog In Gornal)”, and finally having a brave stab at Adam McNaughtan’s tongue-twisting epic “Our Hamlet”. one fluffed word ! d’oh !
the evening is fittingly brought to a close with the two visitors travelling under the “Dempsey” passport. Mike James is first up to give us a tight and rolling rendition of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Halley Came To Jackson”, her account of the 1910 reappearance of Halley’s Comet, and then in more traditional vein he saves his best song till last, “John Riley”, in which “only 50 die” and which goes some way to addressing Bryn’s shortfall tonight. then finally, Tommy Dempsey joins Mike (who introduces Tommy as “the only man ever to have his toes amputated to be able to stand closer to the bar” !) and Tommy sings us an absolutely top version of the “Galway Shawl”, sung straight and sensitive, which is rewarded by possibly the most appreciative round of applause of the evening. this is followed by that old standard “I’m A Rover”, and a well-merited encore of “Spanish Lady” which culminates the evening with some more vintage Dempsey “diddly aye de diddly oh” and his trademark double-ended bodhrán playing. a round of applause for all the guests is sought by Ian in the traditional manner and then it’s time to ask Mr Taxi to get me home, all present having once more enjoyed an evening of varied and high quality entertainment at the Woodman’s Singers’ Night.
Martyn Wyndham Read, 12 July 2002
As has become customary, an evening with Martyn Wyndham-Read brings out the crowds, a mixture of regulars and travelling fans apparently, with many a fawning female marvelling at his warm tones. The inevitable unaccompanied start was followed by 'When the brumbies come to water' - with its wonderful line 'we will miss the tunes he used to play on his banjo long ago'. How we were to regret that sentiment later in the evening! The first set included the usual mixture of old and new, the former represented by a revival of 'Ginny on the moor', sung to herald the 'Song Links' project with the reference to the recording made by Tony Rose shortly before his untimely death. The latter category included the recently recorded 'Smoke over Belfast', another fantastic Graeme Miles song, already established as another classic. One surprising inclusion was a version of McColl's 'Come me little lad' sung to the tune of 'Tramps and hawkers'.
It must be difficult for Martyn to construct a set to play at the Woodman as he spent the interval taking requests. The second half included more Graeme Miles -'Where ravens feed' a couple of Aussie numbers but before we knew it was time for the encore. Even then the requests kept coming, Martyn settling on 'Gentle Annie' from his vast back catalogue.
So we have to wait another year, but at least we have the 'Song Links' double CD to look forward to in the meantime. The usual suspects provided the musical starters for the evening, but the other highlight was seeing Mick and Pete together again (first time in four years they claim). Their version of 'My Young Man', complete with Mick's strutting should be bottled for posterity!
Thanks to lan and all at the Woodman for another fabulous evening. See ya soon.
Mundy-Turner, 13 Sept 2002
I have always been a big fan of Jay Turner, but until tonight felt a bit cool towards the Mundy-Turner stage act. And that’s what it used to be – highly influenced by Cath’s theatrical background - it was a stage act with Jay Turner’s talents very much eclipsed by the over-exuberant Cath Mundy.
Anyway tonight was different. From the very first number, Dreamtime, it was obvious that things had changed. Jay was more in the foreground, giving a strong rendition of the lyrics with a driving guitar accompaniment backed up by Cath treating us to a very accomplished fiddle performance. The difference between this and the previous appearances that I had seen was that Cath was not dominating and taking away from the song, but instead doing a very professional job providing some great music. As the evening moved on both of their talents were allowed to shine through as they shared taking the lead, depending on the song. . The evening ended with one of their most emotive songs – Little Bird – sung by Cath, with some excellent percussive mouth music from Jay.
As well as a talented fiddle player, Cath plays excellent keyboards and
provides some very nice percussion. It would have been nice to hear more fiddle
– Dreamtime was so good – but then you can’t have everything. We did get,
as an added bonus, Cath’s impersonation of the Kookaburra, an extremely loud
and raucous Australian bird – if the sound she came up with was accurate I
never want to meet one!
As always Jay’s main strength is in his song writing and he produces some powerful songs – it’s a shame we don't get to hear much of his early material any more. Things move on.
Yes, things have moved on , and the Mundy-Turner act has now reached a level of maturity which will reach out to a much wider audience. If you haven’t seen them for a while, I’d recommend you try to catch one of their gigs.
John Kirkpatrick, 28 Sept 2002
From 'Top of The Pops' to Kingswinford within a month! Some stars just keep climbing up & up the ladder of success! John K. drew the usual array of admirers interspersed with Woodman regulars. West Country dance tunes, and sets of polkas and jigs were interspersed between songs like the jaunty 'Maid in the cottage' and'The Bold keeper'. The audience readily accepted the challenge of the chorus of 'Skiddleme dinky doodledum' or something similar, my hearing being slightly impaired by a head cold and a couple of pints of Banks' mild. A lovely version of 'Babes in the woods', Percy Sledge's 'Let me wrap you in my warm & tender love' and a rollicking 'Jones' Ale' completed the first set. The frequent changes in tempo in the final item created a few chorus problems for the audience, notably Steve Walker, who was forced to have another drink in the break as part of his recovery programme.
The well-known Shropshire tunes 'Freda chucked a sock' and 'Scraping the
mould off the marmalade' kicked off the second set during which I am convinced
John found a second right hand from somewhere. The thematic 'Here's to old King
Coal' and 'Song of the earth' were warmly received before the challenging 'Dance
of the Jews' set. John's warning that the complexity and unconventional notation
meant that it would be impossible to spot mistakes led to some very cutting,
whispered remarks about local banjo players. All too soon John was reaching the
end of the set with a couple of requests, the self-penned 'Belinda Brown'
marrying traditional style with the problems of modernity and the evergreen ' A
nightigale sang in Berkeley Square'. John completed a splendid evening with
'Accordion Joe' as an encore.
The ever - improving 'Nothing to prove' did a very good, tight first set - I particularly liked their version of Christy Moore's 'Ride on', followed by Bryn Phillips and his usual mixture of death, depression and rejected hens. Bryn's patter and interaction with the audience was occasionally broken up by the odd song, sorry, occasional song.
Another fine evening at the Woodman, but bad news is afoot, talk of Banks' being replaced by alternative beers. This will certainly warrant further investigation.
Vin Garbutt, 4 Oct 2002
As infrequent visitors to The Woodman, we have yet to find the club without several circuits of deepest Kingswinford! However, our efforts were rewarded by a memorable evening with Vin Garbutt (sometimes known as Vin Grabbit!!)
His performance was as honed as ever and delivered with his usual wit, musical prowess and a mischievous twinkle of his eye. On Vin’s own admission, he was in "random mode" and his set included many old favourites reflecting Vin’s genuine social conscience. I find it difficult to find the words to describe Vin’s brilliance on the tin whistle. One of the tunes he played, called Southwind, Vin described as a "magic" tune-a description with which the audience totally agreed!
The ‘residents’ table in the corner provided percussion throughout the evening with the aid of Walker’s crisp packets and the occasional shake of an egg!
Vin was in top form all night and his spontaneity and quick humour had the audience in tears……. of laughter! He paid the ultimate compliment to Bryn when he performed, as an encore, Bryn’s lovely song ‘Silver and Gold’.
Thank you Vin for a night of fun, laughter, wonderful music and songs.
Vin was well supported by a variety of floor spots: Bryn Phillips started the night aided by Steve Walker on harmonica, with one of his songs, ‘Broody Hen Blues’, inspired by the hen population of Bridgnorth! Nothing to Prove gave a lovely version of ‘Byker Hill’-just to make Vin feel at home! Their performance was well polished and very entertaining. A welcome addition to the night was an energetic and original set from the newly formed group of young, talented musicians known as Isambarde. Despite the absence of Lorna (singer), Chris (guitar, vocals), Jude (Oboe, Bombarde) and Emily (5-stringed Lyra violin/viola, vocals) performed an extremely diverse set and were enthusiastically received by the audience. As one member of the audience said, "Traditional music is in good hands when performed by young people of such talent". Watch this space!
Two thirds of The Puritans began the second half, performing a lively version of ‘My Young Man’. Tim Redman, an ex-pat from the North East, now living in Vancouver, was well received by the Woodman audience. He sang his own songs, which reflected his political outlook and memories of life in the North East.
Thanks to all the performers and organisers for an excellent evening of music and entertainment.
Steve Tilston, 25 October 2002
"He was barely a man in his grandfather's coat
Sewn into the lining a ten-shilling note
Goodbye to the family, farewell to the shore
Till I taste good fortune you'll see me no more."
This is the opening verse of Steve’s best-known song ‘Slip Jigs and Reels’. When he played the introduction at the Woodman it was greeted with a round of applause.
Earlier he had delighted us with ‘Here comes the night’, ‘Salty Dog’, ‘West End Samba’ and his three chord sonnet and many others. I particularly liked the Australian Outback song.
It was another excellent evening, song writing ability, guitar technique, polished performance, yes, it’s been said before!
And this is what they’ve said about Steve.
"Steve Tilston is a singer-songwriter of rare talent...the polish of his performance and the technical proficiency of his lyric writing is staggering. He weaves classic, lingering melodies that are both warm and haunting, producing astringent, uncompromising music that thrives on a rare and demanding intimacy" - Folk On Tap
"Steve, in case events have conspired to conceal the fact from you thus far, is that very rare combination of singer, songwriter and guitarist who actually excels in all departments" - Folk Roots
"His musicianship is beyond question, while the arrangements set a standard against which other acoustic guitar albums ought to be measured" - Weekend Telegraph
Desperate Men, 15 November 2002
There was something strange about the layout of the chairs – a gap between the table where Pete sits, and the back row. Strange – considering how popular Desperate Men are, I would have thought Ian would have crammed in as many chairs as possible. Later – all was explained – "If anyone wants to dance", announced Ian, "I’ve cleared a few rows of chairs at the back". Cunning plan.
Anyway no dancing for the local singers. Yours truly started off with Father Confessor, a potential dance tune, but no-one got up – not so much opportunity for the next two, "Travelling Girl", followed by "Are You All Cowards?" a harrowing song about WWI. Perhaps Barry and Corinne would have more success. Following on with the war theme they performed "Love Has Gone to War" and "Summer Before the War", two great songs, beautifully performed, but not dance numbers. And then Malcom Jeffrey’s turn. Well, predictably, we weren’t dancing – we were too busy laughing as he gave us some black humour in "Mummy I Don’t Like my Meat", followed by a couple of distinctive Jake Thackray numbers "Isabel" and "The Lodger". The final floor artist was an unknown to us – a whistle player by the name of Matt Taylor. Now he could have got us dancing if we’d been Irish step dancers – he was brilliant – but we were all outclassed. Ah well, now it was all down the band to justify the empty rows of chairs.
There’s been a few changes to the Desperate Men line-up since I saw them last. Matt Taylor, the whistle player tuned out to be the Bass and Sax player for the band. As well as John and Emma Richards Dave Jano plays drums, Paul Dowsell lead guitar and Steve Watton accordion. An impressive line up which gave us an evening of impressive music.
They immediately launched into "Wall of Death" which gave the band a chance to show us what they could do. Driving rhythms, good vocals and some very nice lead guitar playing. For a band which boasts a world class singer-songwriter they play a wide variety of material. One which surprised me in the first half was The Swimming Song by Zan Abeyratne; not an obvious choice for the band – but it worked! It was an inspired interpretation. Good Dog was another excellent number. I’d heard nuances of Cajun here there and everywhere in their music but this is where it came out. So, as well as the Celtic and R&B influences we had Cajun and then …. Line Dancing! Well, that’s what John said when he introduced "Jimmy White". Then, to end the first half we had an excellent blues number "I believe I’m in Love With You" which was an excellent show case for John’s harmonica playing.
As the first set progressed it was noticeable that more and more heads were bobbing up and down to the music, the muffled sounds of feet tapping was getting louder and the fingers thrumming on the table were getting more insistent but the space vacated by Ian for dancing remained empty. Would it be justified in the second half? – YES!!! Towards the end of evening a number of regulars, egged on by the indomitable Pete Brown, took to the floor and Ian’s cunning plan was justified.
Dansaul – 22 November 2002
"Dance Hall" -- NO "Dans all" -- NO ( pardon the Franglais ! ! )
Quite simply, the name derives from a combination of the christian names of the two founder members of the group; an accomplished guitarist and a melodeon player, both of whom blended well together and were ably assisted and complimented by an elfin fiddle player, at times strutting and playing in a manner that bore a strikingly resemblance to Dave Swarbrick, and a percussionist with a wide variety of unusual instruments to strike.
Most of their works were introduced with strange, esoteric banter between Dan and Saul ( and a fascinating introduction composed on a mobile phone ! ! ) leading to a number of excellent self penned dance tunes in a traditional vein. Never letting go of their originality, they skilfully blended these with highly individual thought provoking introspective songs about long journeys across Germany in the snow, impossible love affairs and the loneliness of a long distance singer / songwriter. However, there was no morbidity in the content. On the contrary, Dansaul created a very lively and constantly powerful sound, full of energy and individuality. They filled the Woodman, deservedly so, and should be welcomed back very soon indeed.
Ian Bruce – 29 November 2002
I didn’t realise it was 12 years since ‘Blodwen’s Dream. Yes, this CD first appeared in 1990. And ‘Too far from She’ was out on tape and vinyl before that. Ian has been entertaining us as a quality singer/songwriter for two decades. He has agents in five countries and forward bookings to November 2003.
When we saw him at the Woodman on Friday he had not lost any of his power. He attacks a song, which ensures that he gets the most out of it. This was the case on Friday we were treated to ‘Anchor Line’, well known to us Woodmanites because it is a favourite of the BICA Band. This was followed by a Rabie Burns song from the Alloway Tales CD, and then ’Sweet Fallen Angels’ from the Jigs, Jives and Jacobites CD. The whole evening went well with songs from Bryn Phillips, ¾ of Nothing to Prove, Barry Priest and The BICA Band providing the floor spots.
Ian finished the evening with, ‘Nice, Nice People’, Butlin’s Girl’, ‘Touch and the Go’, ‘Cheer up me Lads’, and a favourite of mine ‘Ghost of the Chair’. The encore was another club favourite ‘Jimmy Come Solo’ on which he was ably assisted by Anne and Corinne.
Ian, don’t wait two years before you come back again.