Review - Barron Brady

The Everyman Folk Club at Benhall near Saxmundham resumed following the Summer Break with an audience of seventy folk – an especially good turnout for unfamiliar guest artists.

Tony Simpson began the floor singing with ‘Fiddlers Green’ and ‘Lady of Autumn’; two stirring choruses joined in with gusto by the Everyman crowd.  Arnie & Wendy Rainbow followed, making their first appearance at the club.  Wendy sang their first song accompanied by Arnie on guitar.  ‘Treasure your Name’ to the pipe tune ‘Battle of the Somme’ benefited from Wendy’s gentle voice and lovely natural vibrato.  This was followed by ‘Madagascar’; their own composition inspired by the film, ‘Amazing Grace’.

Mike Green (voice and guitar) & Dave Tricker (voice and mandolin) completed the floor singing in the first half, taking us across the pond for some bluegrass with ‘Eight More Miles to Louisville’, ‘I Wish It Would Rain’ (Nanci Griffith), and John Prine’s ‘Paradise’ song otherwise known as ‘Daddy Won’t You Take Me To Muhlenberg County’.

It was then time to welcome Simon Barron & Rosalind Brady; a lovely young duo based in Devon.  Their first song, ‘Lowland Dart’, was written by Rosalind about a family who have farmed at Hillside in Dartington for two-hundred-and-fifty years.  Of course the Everyman audience coped admirably with a chorus filled with names of Devonshire apples.  Their ‘Buckland Witch’ came next, with Granny shape-changing into a hare to dupe local harriers, and the interludes by Ros on whistle added to the excitement of this swift paced own composition.

A total contrast followed with quiet and gentle singing by Ros accompanied astonishingly sensitively by Simon on guitar, putting Irish lyrics to their own tune.  Ros then added her harmonium to the mix for ‘Earthen Key’; a tear-jerking song about global warming that included some lines from an Orkney poet.

The combination of Ros singing ‘The Blacksmith’ interwoven with Simon singing ‘Our Captain Calls’ took us back to the tradition, uniting two songs with the ‘Monkton’ tune; one in the major key and one in the minor – beautifully done.  Some dexterous guitar playing accompanied ‘The White Hare of Oldham’, learned by Ros & Simon from a wax cylinder recording Percy Grainger made of Joseph Taylor.  This provided the Artists with the perfect opportunity to show off their great sense of rhythm.

We were then treated to one of Ros & Simon’s newest songs.  ‘Jenny’s Mermaid’ tells the tale of a moonlight rescue, and this was a charming song with which to end the first half.

Following the interval and raffle (thanks to Paul & Sally Barrett for the lovely sheep!), Steve & Kate Dines performed ‘The Banks of Ohio’, ably assisted by the Everyman audience, then entertained with a parody, ‘Early One Evening’.  Always a delight to hear, Steve Danby then gave a most beautiful rendition of Barbara Allen, followed by the English sea shanty ‘Rolling Home’ accompanied by some wonderful harmonies by the audience.

Dave Robertson & June Thaine (2008 winners of the Percy Web Memorial Trophy sponsored by Suffolk Folk) finished the floor singing for the evening with two more choruses.  ‘One for the Rook, One for the Crow, One to Die and One to Grow’ was written by Mike Barber (Norwich); an outstanding song inspired by a verse telling how much seed needs to be sown to produce a good crop.  Dave & June ended the evening’s fantastic floor singing with Archie Fisher’s ‘Dear Dark Eyes’.

Ros & Simon began their second set with ‘The Wife of Kelsoe’; a jolly number of a lass who accidentally drowned herself whilst trying to murder her husband.  Simon then entranced the audience with astonishingly quiet and responsive guitar playing as Ros sang ‘The False Bride’.

Moving away from the happy marriage theme(!), the title track of their new CD was next on the set list – ‘England Needs Her Hedgerows’, in praise of the colours and textures of our countryside.  ‘Strange Harvest’ followed, written with Jack Connabeer – a local Farmer forced to sell his Dartington farm.  While the Everyman crowd held firm with the repeating chorus at the end of the song, Simon sang a counterpoint and Ros a descant – a very moving song indeed.

Next came the horse racing tale of ‘Creeping Jane’ via Joseph Taylor and Percy Grainger, preceding ‘Digging To Australia’; a personal tale arising from an incorrectly recalled childhood memory.

Ros & Simon finished the second half with a beautiful performance of ‘The White Rocks’ from ‘Songs in Irish & English from Connemara'.

Folk at the Everyman evidently appreciated the mixture of traditional and contemporary material that resulted in an evening of fun and entertainment as well as emotion.  The tightness of rhythm and close harmonies were real treats, as was Simon’s excellent guitar playing. 

Did the audience want more?  Of course!  Ros & Simon’s encore returned us to Devon with ‘She Crab’ from the singing of Charlotte Reynolds of Bodmin; a perfect end to a perfect evening. 

Mary Dickinson 15.10.08

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