Monday, 13 October 2014


Live Review

Newhampton Folk Club

Without doubt one of the coolest guys to come out of the Black Country is Sunjay Brayne. He has the look, he has the talent, he has youth and he's a damn good entertainer who knows how to capture an audience and hold them.

Sunjay Brayne
OK technically he was born in Derby but the region has adopted him as its own. Kicking off with what is now almost his signature tune, Love You Like A Man, set the tone.
His foot-stomping blues song straight away showcased just why he is so popular, being nominated for and winning awards all over the place as well being given national air time on Mark Radcliffe's Radio2 folk show.
The precision with which he uses his guitar is awesome and yet he makes it look so easy. He knows how to work an audience and with just his second song, Freight Train, he had them eating out of his hand.
For Donovan fans his upbeat version of Colours might not have gone down too well but it was pretty cool and was really another way of getting the audience in on the act and let's face it that is the essence of folk music, to get everyone involved.
One of the coolest songs he played was Can't Shake These Blues his voice was maybe a little too mellow for this one but his incredible guitar playing more than made up for any shortfall.
What is most to his credit is that even though he is only 20 he is not full of himself, and his amusing anecdotes of the put downs he has endured show the only things he takes seriously is his music and entertaining.
He does a great version of Don't Mess Around With Jim which is full of life, guts and mojo.
As a complete surprise, and much to the audience's appreciation in the upper room of the Newhampton Inn, Whitmore Reans, he turned himself into a trio being joined on stage by double bass player Buzby Bywater and Eddy Morton, who produced Brayne's latest album and has an impressive track record on the music scene not least of which is with the Bushbury Mountain Daredevils.
It doesn't exactly fit in with the blues or folk music but Brayne has the perfect voice for the Walker Brothers' No Regrets. His mellow tones were accented perfectly by the clever use of his guitar from which he extracts sounds you are not sure he should be able to.
Eddy Morton
Buzby Bywater

Morton joined Brayne again, this time on the mandolin and harmonica, for a track from his album London Road which is real skiffle sounding track and has many similarities to Ralph McTell's great song Streets of London.

He made a meal of it too with a fantastic breakneck insert where is he was trying to outplay both Morton and Bywater and of course got the audience in on the act. Brayne opened his second half with a great stomping version of Blind Willie McTell's Statesboro Blues. In complete contrast he went all mellow with Sitting On Top Of The World, his gentle guitar strumming and caramel voice were just mesmerising.
He was seriously buttering up the crowd when he played his version of Herman's Hermits' I'm Into Something Good which meant he only did half the work and left the rest to those in the seats.
Brayne then let rip with the raucous Drop Down Mama backed up by the thumping bass of Bywater and the mandolin of Morton, this was followed by the bit of fun Origin of Species which is the sort of song you would get from the Jake Thackray stable.
He pulled another from his album, his version of Mark Knopfler's Sailing to Philadelphia which again suits Brayne's smooth way of singing ballads.
The album behind the tour
In another contrasting move he went upbeat with Help Me Now where his intricate finger picking kept the pace of the song rolling along. He went out with the travelling song Going Down the Road where once again the audience became the fourth group member.
For his encore he did A Folk Singer Earns Every Dime, and even put down his guitar to do the comedy song a cappella.
He went out with a great tribute to the legend Bo Diddley with Who Do You Love?.
Sunjay Brayne is the full package, if you ever want to get your money's worth then go and see him. If you don't have a great time during his show then you probably turned up there by mistake.

Brayne is at the Common Folk Folk Club which is in Pelsall Cricket Club on October 23. Admission is £6 for non members and £4 if you are a member and the show starts 8.30pm.