Thursday, 26 December 2013

MAGICAL CHRISTMAS TREE SHOW

Live Review

Newhampton Folk Club

If you are bold enough to sing House of the Rising Sun to the tune of Little Town of Bethlehem and sing Rock Around the Clock by Bill Hayley & The Comets in medieval Middle English then, if only for novelty value, you are worth listening to.

Chris Parkinson
The one thing you can say about the trio Chris Parkinson, Pete Morton and Emily Sanders, is they are certainly not traditional in their delivery of a festive show but they are certainly fun.
They opened with The Mountain Road and then Christmas Eve with Parkinson on the melodeon, Morton on guitar and Sanders on fiddle and you could see they had come to have a good time right from the off.
The magical Christmas tree of the title was a rather pathetic looking specimen which looked like it had been desperately grabbed as the last one on the shelf of a Poundland. But it didn’t matter it was really only there to get the audience involved as it was passed around for them to pick scrolls from the branches which had instructions for the group to play.
One such was for music from around the world so they pulled out music from Africa, Moldova, Israel and Australia.
Parkinson opened with his Moldavian tune on accordion then Morton took over singing in Swahili Malaika, which means angel. This gave way to Sanders playing a gorgeous version of the Yiddish Hava Nagila showing off her impressive fiddle playing. Parkinson then took over again with the Aussie dance tune Click Go the Shears, this time using the gob iron, that’s a harmonica for those who want to get technical, and to add to the eclectic medley Morton did actions to the Aussie strand using his feet while upside down on stage. Morton and Sanders then pulled out a lovely duet with the Cherry Tree Carol.
Pete Morton
As individual musicians they are all excellent but as singers none of them are particularly strong - Morton is head and shoulders above the other two, musically and physically, however as a trio their voices harmonise beautifully. There was a lovely Christmassy song in the style of a medieval hymn with lyrics about the nativity and benefited from the perfect blending of their instruments.
Morton then showed his agility with a Lincolnshire broomstick dance to George Green’s College Hornpipe which was wonderfully fundamental folk entertainment you could imagine families in cottages during the dark winter nights doing this sort of dance to candlelight to both keep themselves warm and entertained.
To give Morton a chance to get his breath back Sanders took over with an 11th century tune The Wexford Carol. Unfortunately she doesn’t have the strongest or most tuneful of voices, which wasn’t helped on this occasion by them doing the entire set unplugged, and she didn’t really do the beautiful song justice.
In a complete change Sanders changed her boots for clogs to give a traditional dance to the tune of Byker Hill, it wasn’t clear why, whether the audience joining in seemed to put her off her stride but there seemed to be the odd occasion where had difficulty keeping rhythm, but this didn’t spoil the impressive spectacle in any way. Parkinson then decided it would be fun to play the stripper theme while she changed back into her boots and Sanders joined in the joke and now for many of the men in the room they will never look at clogs in the same way again, but it was all done in the best possible taste.
Once again the trio showed how well their voices blended and harmonised on The King which was followed by the surreal moment from Morton with what started out as Green sleeves but then quickly moved into the Middle English version of Rock Around The Clock, you have to hear it to really appreciate it. Morton carried on with a lovely, soulful version of In the Bleak Mid-Winter.
They then did a Steeleye Span cover of The Beggar followed by When the Snows of Winter Fall which as you can guess from the title is a traditional winter song from the North East which the multi-talented Morton sang in the appropriate accent.
Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen
 in White Christmas
Parkinson was then left to do a solo which to say the least was a unique experience with his pub singer version of White Christmas which would have had both Bing Crosby and Irving Berlin spinning in their respective graves. This was followed by a harmonica/accordion version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and then it got more bizarre with his version of Silent Night on accordion and swanee whistle a bit like a drug-induced episode of Sorry I Haven’t A Clue but it was all good festive fun.
A much-covered song followed and on this occasion Who’s going to Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet? was sung A Capella which gave way to some lovely instrumental blends. Morton then indulged in some “Frapping” which has several meanings but on this occasion was a musical whinge as in F(olk)Rapping. Morton’s machine gun lyrics which were reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s Homesick Blues were pretty impressive and showed really what a versatile and entertaining guy he is.
Sanders again showed her gorgeous fiddle skills with a 17th century tune Maiden Lane which move into
Golden Tango on melodeon where Parkinson was again left on his own with the European sounding tune which gave him the opportunity for some tomfoolery.
Towards the end of the night Sanders sang a French carol which didn’t really work because of her voice and the fact it didn’t really have the feel of a carol.
The film which spawned a number one hit
Morton and Parkinson then decided it was time for their version of Strictly Come Dancing so they did the famous Laurel and Hardy routine from Way Out West which precedes their number one hit Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia which was accompanied again by the luxurious fiddle playing of Sanders.
In keeping with the night they each donned rather cheap looking Father Christmas hats and beards for the fun tune Seven Billion Eccentrics top off a great night's entertainment.
This was the last show of the year for the Newhampton Folk Club and thankfully it will be back, albeit in a truncated form, next year.