St David’s Hall bringing Acoustic Delights Martin Harley & Daniel Kimbro

St David’s Hall bringing Acoustic Delights Martin Harley & Daniel Kimbro

St David’s Hall bringing Acoustic Delights

Martin Harley & Daniel Kimbro



Once again we were the Third Level courtesy of Roots Unearthed; St David’s Hall, Cardiff bringing Acoustic Delights Martin Harley & Daniel Kimbro a duo playing roots music with style. The roots are twisted and twirled as blues meets country and folk tales are re-told in new exciting arrangements.

St David’s Hall bringing Acoustic Delights Martin Harley & Daniel KimbroThe duo set the scene, opening with a haunting instrumental Sweet & Low with Martin Harley playing his signature Weissenbom, a traditional Hawaiian acoustic lap guitar and the deep melodic chords from Daniel Kimbro’s Double Bass whether by bow or plucked creating an atmosphere where the music dominated.

The evening was replete with tracks from Static in the Wires, released earlier this year and Live At Southern Ground. The slide work created a palate of tones reflecting the lyrics, sad and reflective as the lyrics unfurled with Martins vocals adding emotional layers into the mix. The acoustic guitars changed and the music flowed with Sweet & Low and This Little Bird full of imagery bringing the numbers alive via the double bass under the skilful guidance of Daniel Kimbro. St David’s Hall bringing Acoustic Delights Martin Harley & Daniel KimbroThere can be no argument tonight we are in the presence of two artists who have deep understanding of the essence and power of roots music. This is why blues is so infectious connecting with the listener with its musical pictures of doom and gloom we all have discovered at various times in our lives. Yes, the musicianship was superb, Daniel’s bass playing is divine he makes the large and cumbersome instrument talk from a whisper to a deep and mournful groan, combined with Martin’s dexterous manipulation of the six strings, making the acoustic sing in harmony with the lyrics. The added magic tonight was the warm interplay between Martin and Daniel, with wry observations of life on the road, and humorous anecdotes. One leading neatly into I Need A Fried introduced by Martin and a quick quip from Daniel.

St David’s Hall bringing Acoustic Delights Martin Harley & Daniel KimbroThe styles change a hint of country and swell of a dance and the country bluegrass of Dancing on the Rocks.  Then One Horse Town reflecting leaving the city for a small town and wondering why you changed your environment. Interspersed between the Harley/Kimbro originals were two re-arranged classics made new. Goodnight Irene, origins unknown but via Leadbelly was desolately dark.  The other classic with a whole new setting was the closing number Nobody’s Fault But Mine, a truly innovative and compelling listening of a blues classic. Before the last song we had a wide array of numbers including the beautiful Winter Coat with the harmonies between Daniel and Martin having a gentle resonating power. Daniel, then put down his Bass and picked up one of Martin’s acoustics and we had a lesson in the pronunciation of Appalachian as he shared the common experience of having villages submerged in water. Along with guitar Daniel took over the vocals for a number that described the drowning of the village a background to the community that was changed forever as was the landscape.

This was a night where the blues sparkled and the audience was spellbound by theSt David’s Hall bringing Acoustic Delights Martin Harley & Daniel Kimbro performance of two troubadours one from Hertfordshire the other Tennessee who found a unifying force through roots music.

Once again Roots Unearthed in Cardiff provided an evening of entertaining music with St David’s Hall bringing Acoustic Delights Martin Harley & Daniel Kimbro.


Mary Coughlan Songstress holds St David’s Hall Enthralled

Mary Coughlan WM-7167

Mary Coughlan Songstress holds St David’s Hall Enthralled




The stage was set, Grand Piano and a microphone. Tonight was entertainment from the first to the last dying note. The music interspersed with waspish anecdotes about ex-husbands, alcohol, drugs, and life in all its darkest glories.

Mary Coughlan sings with a husky voice that pulls every ounce of emotion from the lyrics from songs that are an ethereal mix of blues, folk and jazz. This is ethereal of real Fearie not those with gossamer wings but of dark tales. Ancient folklore often portrayed as powerful beings who could wreak havoc on the lives of humans. These and other ancient mysteries Mary seamlessly connects with and turns into modern day living nightmares. Here conversation flows through the night giving context to the sadness and heartbreak of the songs chosen tonight. We hear about her five children ex-husbands alcohol abuse as she sips water and says her last drink was in 1993. The combination of blues fuelled jazz is delivered with a mix of ironic amusement and at times a feeling that everything that happened was just ordinary. The result was an evening of a devastatingly engaging musical journey as she sung about betrayal, love lost and taboo subjects including child abuse, sex trafficking the dark underbelly of life that breathes emotion and gritty realism into the blues.

The selection of songs were shrouded in misery with some happier numbers as she explored her back catalogue and latest studio album Scars on the Calendar a collaboration between Mary Coughlan & Erik Visser. The music covered Billie Holliday and Joy Division and so much in between. Her version of Love Will Tear Us Apart is a re-working of the music stripped down raw and, like everything her tonsils curl around, is rasped with raw emotion. Every song was special and life-affirming Ancient Rain fell across an audience absorbed in the deep silence of appreciative listeners.

Mary is back with new projects including a musical of her album The House of Ill Repute, singing the title track and a couple of numbers from the album that explores life in a brothel there is no glitz, glamour or plush red velvet. This is hard, gritty and the reality of what women’s lives in a house of ill repute is like. The highlight was the emotional a cappella delivery of Antarctic, this is vocal purity as she sings of a “rotten, stinking cheat” her ex-husband.

The encore was her slap at the world as she sings Ain’t Nobody’s Business What I Do. Having conquered many demons through her life, her delivery and choice of songs are of a woman with powerfully views on the role of women throughout society. Roots Unearthed once again delivered an evening of musical delights as Mary Coughlan Songstress holds St David’s Hall Enthralled.

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Oyster 3 – perfect miniature of The Oysterband

Oyster 3 – perfect miniature of The Oysterband

Tuesday night, for Roots Unearthed at St David’s Hall we were all treated to a musical delight. The Oyster 3 are the heart of The Oysterband. The depth of tone achieved coupled with the power of the lyrics make the stripped back Oyster 3 perfect.

Oyster 3 -4574Oyster 3 opening with an instrumental English folk tune which provided the perfect start to get your musical pulses running. The intoxicating mix of fiddle, acoustic guitar and accordion created a real Ceilidh number the deep root of the Oyster music.  Then a traditional song given the Oyster re-arrangement, Molly Bond a delight from 1986 is given new tonal shape with the Oyster 3 ‘Unplugged’ sound. This re-acquaintance with songs we love from the band continued throughout the evening with tales of experiences of touring musicians.  The three founder members of The Oysterband, John Jones, Alan Prosser and Ian Telfer created an evening that was up close, personal and stories the revealed the darker side of East German business after the wall came tumbling down, others made us laugh and sigh. Ian in the main acted in between fiddle and vocal duties as the raconteur, whist John and Alan added their own pithy comments.


Oyster 3 -4591Great audience participation, for The Oxford Girl (1982); this encapsulated the evening’s folk music modern and approachable. The years moved on it was now 1983 with Coal Not Dole, written by Kay Sutcliffe, all about the Kent Coal fields. The emotions were still raw as John sung the lyrics of the poem written by Kay, a wife of a Kentish miner. She wrote the poem during the mid-eighties dispute between  Maggie Thatcher’s Conservative government and the NUM.  Another Oysterband classic hardly felt stripped down with a rousing delivery of Another Quiet Night in England. A little known fact was shared. The Oysterband banked the earnings of tours of East Germany prior to reunification!  You have to go and see this engaging trio to learn the full twists and turns of a tale with not a happy ending and the band buying the get-away car for their ex-manager George!


Oyster 3 -4580The exact meaning of Cornish Hal-an-Tow, is unclear and is a processional tune ushering in summer. In fact the meaning may be from the words jolly rumbalo, it is always a fun tune to get your feet a-tapping. Alan’s solo The Mississippi Summer was another one of the beautiful interpretations that were the hallmark of this evening’s show of folk in the round.  Meet You There, provided a stirring finales to a great evening crammed with stories and songs rooted in the folk tradition with the freedom to fly brightening a winter evening.

With an encore, the 1992 Oysterband number  We Could Leave Right Now, as the song progressed they left the stage and walked off singing as they went their voices fading as the night drew to an end. A fabulous evening, all good things as they say have to come to an end unfortunately.

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Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman @Roots Unearthed, Cardiff

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman - St Davids Hall - Feb 2015 - _0003l


Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman
Level 3 St David’s Hall, Cardiff
2nd February 2015



Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman - St Davids Hall - Feb 2015 - _0005lAs part of the Roots Unearthed gigs on Level 3 at St David’s Hall, which are always special, inmate and full of quality music. Tonight was no exception the lights were set and the instruments piano, flute and clarinet awaited Kathryn’s touch and the guitars sat waiting for Sean’s magic fingers and the music to begin. The turnout was good, for a cold and bleak February Monday evening, and those who chose to stay inside missed an evening of lyrics, tales and laughs that flowed from the stage and across the audience. Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman are without doubt two of the most accomplished performers on the British folk scene, and it is fantastic that they are back on the road with a new album Tomorrow Will Follow Today.
Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman - St Davids Hall - Feb 2015 - _0011l
The two sets were delivered with professional panache, combining the two elements that make a great performance, interaction with the audience tales about the song, themselves and fabulous musicianship and lyrics that hold your imagination and accompaniment that adds but never drowns. We heard a mix of traditional songs and others penned by Kathryn including 52 Hertz, motivated about her love of Whales and an article in a Science journal, we end up with a haunting melody and Kathryn’s vocals delivering a solo that stays on the mind as the story unveils itself about as a lonely whale in the North pacific, who sings at 52 Hertz the wrong key so no other whale hears his song as he is forever forlornly looking for the female to mate with; modern folk that touches every button on your folk radar. The whole set was a showcase for Sean’s classy acoustic guitar work as he strummed and delivered a complex array of chords making it look so simple as he never missed a beat and was in perfect harmony with Kathryn’s stunning vocal interpretation of every song she sung full of texture and tones that made every word stand out.
Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman - St Davids Hall - Feb 2015 - _0017l
We had lots of songs that showed the darker side of life, sex, infidelity and murder ballad including a marvellous rendition of The Red Barn from Suffolk and a gruesome song, where we had a airing of the flute adding that winsome sound that mirrored Kathryn’s own vocals. Tonight was also an opportunity to show case the new album which was available tonight pre-release date another bonus for turning out on a cold night, the title track Tomorrow Will Follow Today, being a protest song full of anger about the inequalities in modern Britain and definitely touched a nerve in the audience. As did another Kathryn self-penned number about the Miners Strike, The Ballad of Andy Jacobs which was a distilling of Kathryn’s memories of this period in the 1980’s when she was a child living in a Yorkshire Mining Community near Barnsley. Amongst the interesting set was an acoustic version of Little Feat’s, Twenty Million Things and a song that dates back to Tudor England evoking the intrigue of Wolf Hall – The Banishing Book. What an evening of pure entertainment, live music, fun and warmth interesting songs and great musicianship a perfect combination come back soon we want to hear more on and the encore of The Wisdom of Standing Still just wasn’t enough!Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman - St Davids Hall - Feb 2015 - _0017l


They are touring and too god to miss – Tour Dates

Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick Entertaining Again


Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick - DSC_0225l

Simplicity of high quality folk music delivered with power and emotion by the combination of a trio of sound vocals, acoustic guitar and fiddle delivered by the multi award-winning and talented duo Marin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick. They had the capacity audience on Level 3 Lounge at St David’s Hall enthralled as another Roots Unearthed session got under-way, we were treated to folk music that Martin and Dave have developed over 40 years of performing, and with their easy stage presence, they quickly built a rapport and produced a range of music – a delightful mix of vocals and instrumentals. This was a master class in English Folk tradition and Martin shared his knowledge so that each collection of melodies or lyrics were given a social/cultural relevance and context.
Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick - St David's Hall - Feb 2014- DSC_0231l

Martin Carthy started off with a passionate plea for St David’s hall funding to be continued by Cardiif Council which received a very warm reception. He then launched into the music informing us we do not do happy! With a selection of Mariana Russell ballads. ‘The Bed-making’, with an informative introduction Mariana song and a bit personal. On the 1901 census one of her twins either Lavinia or Corelia was missing having gone into service; but there was a child in the house and a daughter now in the workhouse the song is all about what should have happened! Their version of ‘The Death of Queen Jane’ has been recorded by many though I do feel that Martin Carthy’s version has an authenticity in the simplicity of his approach to the music so that the lyrics are placed centre stage.

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Dave Swarbrick took over the repartee, giving Martin’s throat a rest (He was suffering tonight with a cough); we had a tales of travels and meetings with custom men including sniffer dogs and meeting the custom man on Uist leading into a collection of three fiddle driven instrumental tunes all in variations of 3 time starting off with Bride of Unst, most northerly of Shetland Islands. The rendition of ever popular John Barleycorn raised the tempo and everyone related to this perennial favourite on the folk circuit.
The sets included nautical songs reminding us of the Royal Oak, sea-fight against the Turks, followed by Baroque English tunes. First jig representing dance music of yesteryear then the Running Footman Jig this medley of tunes certainly got the audience’s feet tapping and in the mood for a dance.

Once, again Level 3 bought to Cardiff folk music delivered by living legends that could deliver just what the folk doctors ordered.

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Future dates For Roots Unearthed @ St David’s Hall

Cara Dillon, Tuesday March 4, 8pm
Chris Wood, Tuesday, March 13, 8pm
Brass Monkey
, Tuesday, April 3, 8pm
Amy Wadge & Pete Riley, Tuesday, April 24, 8pm
Heidi Talbot
, Tuesday, May 15, 8pm
Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, Tuesday, May 29, 8pm
Warsaw Village Band, Tuesday, June 19, 8pm
Flook, Monday, July 23, 8pm
, Tuesday, September 18, 8pm

Tickets are priced £12 from the box office on 029 2087 8444