Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton
There is a rich and deep seam of folk talent in the Midlands and that's not hyperbole it was proven when Faye Katherine Brookes had the vision to scratch the surface and to set up what can only be hoped is the first of the Folk Lounges in Wolverhampton.
When you are on a bill full of artists it can be the poison chalice to be first up, this challenge fell to Wolverhampton singer/songwriter Rob Fellows, who like several of the artists on the night had to contend with sound problems, accompanied by Sandy Dhillon on percussion
Acoustic guitar player and singer Fellows wasn't great, he is obviously well practised and there were only a few flaws with his performance but his simple tunes and chords didn't really stand out and his voice isn't the strongest, there were times when he over reached himself. This wasn't helped by the problems with the sound which blurred some of the performance. So perhaps on a different night with a different set, who knows?
He used his harmonica really well throughout his set including on his next song Zachariah which was a lovely smooth ballad showing off his precise guitar picking and this same style followed through into Wild Mountain
Fisher does also have a talent for song writing shown in his ballad So Long Ago which was a traditional and upbeat tune.
He finished his set with the much covered Galway Girl which, unusually he started pretty slow, but then cranked it up to normal tempo after the first verse. He threw in an impressive harmonica solo and kept ramping up the beat which got the crowd going and he made a big impression.
He gave up the stage to another Wolverhampton singer/songwriter Daniel Kirk who plays a four string guitar to accompany his distinctive and extremely likeable voice, but he does lose brownie points for singing with a faux American accent but this didn't really detract from his performance.
|Daniel Kirk also|
His voice has a great deal of emotion and his songs show a maturity beyond his years.
Without doubt the highlight of his set was a his rendition of Richard Thompson's Bee's Wing. It's a fantastic song and Kirk did it justice and held it up with some excellent guitar picking.
For some reason, like so many artists, Kirk chooses to sing traditional English folk songs with that faux accent as he did with House Carpenter which he opened A Cappella but then brought in his precise guitar picking which complemented his voice perfectly. Kirk turned the tables for his last song converting a dance tune into a folk song with Avicii's wake Me Up and it has to be said he did a great job.
They came out with all guns blazing and never really let up for the whole of their set and one of their liveliest was Dancing Tree. They have a great and infectious stage act which is like a more modern and folk infused version of Fascinating Aida.
They give the impression they are there to enjoy the act as much as they hope the audience will while not taking themselves too seriously. Marie Antoinette from their EP is a great song which has myriad elements to it. Waghorn opened with a Yiddish/gypsy style on the fiddle and their voices blended beautifully to produce an eclectic sound which was bordering on a torch song.
The band went out with Making Sense which was a really powerful ballad and was full of life. It gave them a chance the fill the studio with a swathe of sound giving Davies a real chance to shine on the Ukelele.
It all meshed together to make a glorious combination of sound.
In style they remind of Jethro Tull in the sound they are reminiscent in many ways of McGuinness Flint, now there's one to look up on Google, but they do have their own sound and while it would be easy to dismiss them as folk rock they actually fall somewhere in between. They haven't really integrated the full hard rock sound and haven't left behind the traditional folk sound either.