Sunday, 20 April 2014


Live Review

Newhampton Folk Club, Wolverhampton

Complete with stainless steel screws in his foot and a radiator key for tuning his mandolin, which he bought for £2 - the mandolin not the key, Wolverhampton's own Bill Caddick was back on home turf at the Newhampton Folk Club, in the upper room of the Newhampton Inn, Riches Street.

Bill Caddick
In one form or another Caddick has been on the folk scene for half a century but he was taken out of action, certainly from touring, for just over a year due to a problem with his foot which has, hopefully, been overcome through surgery.
Raconteur and 12-string guitar player Caddick was warmly received by his home crowd as he opened with Chaconne which was the first glimpse of his impressive fret work on his guitar, he segued this into the light tune of Donkey Jack from his Unicorns album.
To say the least Caddick is a talkative performer and the pretty much packed audience were entertained between the song too with tales of his mishaps, backgrounds to the songs and the many people he has been fortunate to work with over the last half century.
He did put on a remarkable performance considering he was obviously still suffering a little ring rust from his layoff and battling a croaky throat courtesy of a virus, none of which detracted from the show.
Caddick has that old-school folky sound which isn't exactly tuneful but what you would call an honest voice.
His next offering Poor Pig was an almost medieval sounding song about animal trials, that is actual legal trials in courts if you were wondering, and how they have been recorded and executed in the past.
With Winter Fair, Caddick made the mistake of asking the audience to get in on the chorus and it has to be said they were truly awful but it didn't put him off his stride at all, although towards the end they did redeem themselves a little.
Caddick again used this song to show his fingering skills on the 12-string although the difficulty of tackling the fretwork did take its toll later on in the performance.
Letter To Syracuse was the softer of the ballads so far and he did seem to struggle with some of the fretwork on this one. Then on Lili Marlene Walks Away his voice was showing a little strain although he did manage to battle through keeping the beat of his strumming going just as strong which overcame any shortfall in his singing.
How the Express & Star once appeared
due to industrial disputes in 1980s.
Picture courtesy of
The Loaded Hour-A history of the Express & Star
 by Peter Rhodes
He let the gentler side of his voice free reign with Flat Earth before moving onto his mandolin from which he produced the most gorgeous sound but then he put the icing on the cake by using a blues bottle neck which made the instrument sing an incredible and emotive sound for Waiting For The Lark. It was the sort of music that he could have been singing any old nonsense and it wouldn't have mattered because the wailing of the strings was just mesmerising.
The next song took the audience back to his and their own childhoods and was a lament to the freedom youngsters enjoyed by being able to play in the streets. Oller Boller refers to the name of a game which was played with his mates in Bilston along with others such as Kick The Can, Queenie Eye and Tip Cat, feel free to take a trip down your own memory lane if those names evoke the past for you. Caddick took a chance on his voice and sang it a cappella although it was more like a poem or rant.
Another of his softer ballads was Cloud Factory which is a rather romantic pseudonym for cooling towers many of which, for good or ill, have now disappeared from the Midlands skyline although there are some wonderful examples still in Nottingham.
Caddick opened his second half with King Of Whimsey which is a lovely jaunty and playful tune which had some wonderful wordplay in it.
He was brave enough to go for another a cappella song in The Reaper which has some extremely poignant lyrics about the slaughter of young soldiers in World War One and merged into The Writing of Tipperary which is about Jack Judge who claims to be the author of the iconic war song It's A Long, Long Way To Tipperary.
There was the traditional offering of Long Lankin which is an archetypal folk song of subterfuge, revenge and murder which he decided to again sing unaccompanied and he did struggle at times both with his voice and with remembering the verses. 
Bill Caddick
He moved into the passionate sound of Ernest Jones' Song Of The Lower Classes, which is an indictment of the inequalities of society with great lines such as "Only the ranks and file, we're not too low to kill the foe, Too low to touch the spoil." Caddick introduced a reggae beat to this.
He brought the music right home with The Day They Busted Superman which is about a day in Wolverhampton during the Thatcher regime and turbulence of the 1980s where even the local paper, the Express & Star was hit by strikes over pay and the cuts being introduced due to new technology.
This was followed by Stay On The Line which is a party song sung partly in Spanish. He slowed things down again with Aqaba Quixote (The Old Man's Song) by now he was labouring a little with his playing due to cramp and his voice was showing more signs of strain.
He brought the night to a close with Latter Days which was almost an old time spiritual.
Caddick has had a long and varied folk career and is widely respected on the music circuit and it was good to see him back in harness and if you want to catch him then on May 2 he is playing at the Black Diamond Folk club, Birmingham