Newhampton Arts Centre, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton
In terms of folk music, the Newhampton Arts Centre is one of Wolverhampton's best kept secrets which needs to change.
It is a great venue with fantastic facilities; a fully equipped studio with a great atmosphere and even has it's own catering with Jester's which is in its early days and needs all the support it can get.
On May 4 it played host to two of Wolverhampton's most talented, contemporary musicians Scott Matthews who is well established and can sell out the venue any time he appears and Dan Whitehouse who's star is rising.
Also on the bill was Jasmine Rodgers who is a gem of a find and has a great pedigree, her father being Paul Rodgers who was a member of Free who produced that all time rock anthem All Right Now but more about her below.
If the legendary actor James Mason, for all you younger people who will squeal "that was before my time" remember that's what Google and Youtube are for, had become a singer then he would sound like Scott Matthews.
Scott has a depth, grit and yet creaminess to his voice as he stands almost saint-like performing effortlessly his voice starting off simple and melodic before building up to a wall of sound which paints a picture with musical notes.
At the risk of sounding extremely pretentious there is something almost spiritual to Scott's voice, it has some of the qualities of Gregorian chant but easily moves away from this with Obsession Never Sleeps which has an electric sound and evokes images of a 1960s dance club.
The easiest way to get me on your side is to play slide guitar and Scott does it so well. His playing brought to mind great guitarists such as Ry Cooder and BB King. He showed his talent with Bad Apple, a track from his new album, which was so cool.
He plays with chord changes in a wonderful way both in terms of his playing and his singing.
His wonderful track Up On the Hill immediately made me think this is the kind of music that could feature in a Quentin Tarantino film. Scott's lyrics are so clever and on Suddenly I Figure Out there were flavours of Bruce Springstein and David Byrne, a strange combination I will admit.
But the packed crowd at the NAC lapped up everything he had to offer and quite rightly so.
Dan WhitehouseI have to admit the last time I saw Scott's fellow Wulfrunian Dan Whitehouse I realised how talented he was but refused to buy his EPs because of his unbelievable arrogance on stage, he portrayed a figure of someone who thought he was doing the audience a favour by being there.
Thankfully he has matured and seems to have ditched this persona and has actually become a consummate showman, taking the rise out of himself and getting the audience to warm to him.
Dan is an incredibly talented as a musician and songwriter and hopefully he will go far, he has put in his time and deserves to be recognised.
He is willing to be innovative and can move from the melodic ballad to a harder edge sound with such ease.
The packed centre warmed to him and he will be welcome back every time. His new album will be available from May 23 see my review on this blog.
Jasmine Rodgers has a really likeable persona on stage and a voice which is very reminiscent of Tracy Chapman but strangely enough, and this is a personal observation, she seems to have a sort of native American Indian thing going on as well .
Her personality is extremely engaging and her clear and enjoyable voice is well worth checking out.