Steve Folk & Jane South & Wooden Horse
West End Club Barry
Celebrating St David’s Day with live music is the perfect combination tonight the opening act was Steve Folk & Jane South. This duo of laid back friendly contemporary folksters delivered a series of self-penned lyric-driven tunes. ‘Alice In Wonderland’ was a lyric-driven, re-gendered folk tale with harmonising of their voices with the melody line provided by the mix of accordion and guitar, it was smooth an easy. Steve led with guitar and vocals and his repartee flowed between numbers and the tuning of his guitar, connecting well with the audience. He even asked questions about origins of the Magic Farmer’s tuning silence was the reply so collectively we were non-the wiser.
Jane added additional tones with excellent flute playing adding the plaintive bird like sound on other songs she also added the complex multi layered sound that the accordion brings, if this wasn’t enough she sings melodic harmonising backing vocal.
Many songs had a link to waterways including ‘Moored Under The Cherry Tree’ and ‘Amsterdam’; reflecting their own lifestyle of living on boat. The inflections of his voice had a Cat Stevens feel about them and ‘Amsterdam’ definitely covered all the bye ways and lifestyles that this canal strewn city is famous for. A delightful set of self-penned artistry that set the atmosphere for the main act of the evening “Wooden Horse”.
They are a Worcester based trio that play their own style, a weaving of genres strongly influenced by Blues and Americana with a generous twist of a distinctive country twang and chord progression straight out of Nashville. Two guitars (acoustic and electric); stomp box, blues harp and keyboard with no traditional bass make Wooden Horse stand out from the crowd. Tonight as on their latest Album Stuart McIlroy featured on keys to add that extra dimension with his indomitable style as his fingers danced across the ivories. Ben Church entertained with his versatility and great slide skills on the electric resonator, reminding me of another Ben Tyzack, of The Spikedrivers. Keeping the beat line Jamie Knight with his stomp box, and guitar playing that added depth to the sound produced by Ben the two guitars complimented each other and his vocals bring the emotion of the lyrics into the mix.
Opening the show with a great version of ‘C.C. Rider’, there was nothing wooden as they upped the tempo and created a warm atmosphere instantly as they delivered the first of what was going to be many foot tapping rhythms. The trio interact with each other building the complexity whilst still keeping the rhythms tight this mutual respect exudes confidence that lightens up the room. They sang a jaunty blues line allowing their collective musical skills generate layers if sound creating an interesting tapestry of emotions delivered that entrance, delight and excite the audience. This is reflected in the dancing that is soon under-way especially on tracks that Stu brings in a definite boogie-woogie jive feel to some of the tracks with his Rock N’ Roll piano, the energy in the room rose in response to the music.
They developed the set with a mix of covers and songs from their latest album ‘This Kind of Trouble’; including ‘You Ain’t Letting Me Down’; a delightful version of ‘Sittin’ On Top of The World’, ‘A Big Deal’ and ‘Get It Right’ with its Southern Rock Blues feel. Whatever they played it was given a treatment that made the tracks fell fresh and you wanted to hear more from this delightful trio.
I loved their rendition of Jimmy Reed’s ‘Bright Lights, Big City’, this rousing version definitely got the dancers dancing; this was a great live show with the finishing track ‘Glory Glory’ showcasing the skill of clever rearrangement and left the audience wanting more.
Wooden Horse blended a set of Blues, Country, Gospel with a generous shot of rock ‘n roll but always the lyric remained true to the fundamentals. This is fun live music that gives a Saturday night a twinkling of high energy sparks…. you won’t be let down. The new album has that Wooden Horse beat as the melody line is driven forward as the lyrics give the music shape and timing bringing in yet another layer of sound with keyboards now taking centre stage soaring above the driving guitar rhythm.