Tag Archives: paul ballantyne

148. DANIEL NESTLERODE & PAUL BALLANTYNE (+ Open Floor) at RFC. Tuesday, 7th February, 2017

(Photo: Garry Walker)

Ballantyne and Nestlerode (Photo: Garry Walker)

At a gig recently, Paul Ballantyne told me he was booked, along with Daniel Nestlerode, to play at RFC (See my review # 146). Having seen Paul play on occasions (See review #59); and having been told by several people that Daniel was ‘well worth seeing’, I promised to go along.

As is usual at RFC, the guest’s set was split into two parts – both preceded by Open Floor spots. These were varied as usual. I thought Mikanora were again pick of the bunch with their funny and topical ‘Old People’ which is a song about the NHS – or rather the government’s attitude towards it!

Daniel and Paul’s set was basically a live performance of the tracks from Daniel’s album More Than A Little Guitar (a copy of which he gave me afterwards). Some of these Country/Folk songs are Traditional, and some penned by Daniel himself. Although Paul is not on the album, he works very well with Daniel and together they produced a fine live show, with Paul on guitars, and Daniel on mandos/vocals. Songs such as ‘Old Calapina’ and ‘Long Black Veil’ I thought were particularly good. Surprisingly they finished up with a cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, to which we all sang along. An enjoyable set.

Daniel is currently recording a new album and I look forward to hearing it. Thanks to the guests, the RFC, and all who took part. PTMQ

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146. DARIA KULESH (+ Open Floor) at The FaB Club, The White Hart PH, Grays, Essex. Sunday 22nd January, 2017. (+ a few words about the venue).

(Photo: PTMQ)

(Photo: PTMQ)

Preamble.  When my friend, singer/song-writer Daria Kulesh told me she had some solo gigs booked here in Essex, I of course said that I’d try to get along to one or two. Her second album Long Lost Home will be officially released soon, so she is busy gigging her way around the Home Counties and further afield too. I have heard the new collection, and I have reviewed it recently (See my article #145).

The FaB Club is held in the White Hart PH, Grays, Essex – half an hour’s drive through the lanes from Quill HQ – although I must admit I’ve never visited the venue before. The acronym FaB stands for ‘Folk, Acoustic and Blues’ and it is held on most Sunday afternoons (Check their website for details). They host regular Open Floor sessions and occasionally book a special guest such as Daria. I arrived early and was welcomed by MoS Liz Montgomery; and soundman / guitarist Paul Ballantyne – who was busy setting up a fine new Bose sound system. I have met and seen him perform before, at Romford Folk Club (See my article #59). Garry Walker of RFC is also a regular at the FaB and he turned up as well. Daria and husband Julian arrived soon after myself. I haven’t seen them for a year (since she played Haverfolk with her band KARA. See my review #78), so it was lovely to see them both.

(Photo: PTMQ)

(Photo: PTMQ)

The gig (Part One).  The afternoon was split into two parts – each began with some Open Floor spots, followed by a half-set from Daria. To get the ball rolling, Paul Ballantyne played a couple of songs, followed by  a guitar-bass-banjo trio, Keith, Maureen and John, who played a couple of fine songs. I was up next, and borrowing Keith’s lovely Washburn acoustic, played a couple of my own songs: ‘Mid-Life Crisis Blues’ and ‘Nan’s Bread Pudd’n’. Thanks Keith!

Daria began her first set with a Cossack drinking song, to which we all joined in after she had taught us some Russian words! Good fun. Taking up her Shruti Box, she then played the haunting ‘Tamara’ from her new album Long Lost Home (See my previous review #145); followed by the Trad Irish song ‘Tell Me Ma’ on her bodhrán. Three more fine renditions of songs from the new album were then played on her guitar: ‘Safely Wed’; ‘The Moon And The Pilot’; and on the shruti, ‘Heart’s Delight’ – all with heart-felt preambles. And so ended the first, very eclectic, set to great applause.

The gig (Part Two).  After a short break, a few more floor spots restarted the afternoon’s entertainment. As is usual in Folk/Acoustic clubs, a great variety of styles were represented; and very enjoyable they were too. Daria returned then for her second set; and began with a Trad Scottish song; then, bodhrán in hand, she followed this with ‘Begone!’, a favourite song from her live repertoire. It is a true story about a witch hunt – but sung from the point of view of the mob. It is menacing and primal in its intensity.

(Photo: PTMQ)

Keith, Maureen and John (Photo: PTMQ)

Apart from her solo work and being a member of Kara, Daria is also involved with The Company Of Players, a ten-piece group of young Folk musicians. ‘Lady MacBeth’ is a track on their album, and will also appear on the new Kara album too. It is played on the shruti. I hadn’t heard it before; and found it to be very haunting. She followed with the beautiful ‘Gone’ from the new album. Then she sang ‘Hairdresser’ from Eternal Child, and dedicated it to me – perhaps I need a haircut? Thanks Daria. Snip, snip!

The main set finished with a tri-lingual (English/Russian/French) cover of ‘Those Were The Days My Friend’ with which we all joined in of course. Encore was demanded, and duly given in the form of ‘Distant Love’ from Long Lost Home.

Fin.  I very much enjoyed Daria’s performance – she improves every time I see her. She’ll be performing at Cecil Sharp House, Camden, on 23rd Feb for her official album launch – check her website for more info. Thanks to her, the FaB Club and all the regulars who performed to make it a very entertaining afternoon. PTMQ

99. THE VICTORY ARMS (+ BILL FARROW and others) at ROMFORD FOLK CLUB, in “The Sun” PH. Tuesday 19th April, 2016,

The Victory Arms at RFC (Photo: Garry Walker)

The Victory Arms at RFC (Photo: Garry Walker)

When I heard that The Victory Arms were to play Romford Folk Club, I was keen to go along and see them…firstly because I hadn’t seen them before; secondly because I haven’t yet written anything on their genre of music (which the band describe as ‘1940s Pub Singing’); and thirdly because I’ve recently written a couple of silly Cockney songs that I thought may be appropriate for the evening and I wanted to try them out at the RFC’s Open Floor spot prior to the gig – on which more later.

fter

The Victory Arms are a married couple consisting of Chris (vocals and miming); and husband Martin (ukelele and guitar). Some years ago they worked as a duet in Folk clubs, but Chris gave it up to bring up their children; whilst Martin continued to perform. But now they are working together again on this new project. Chris has a great interest in the Second World War; and it was whilst visiting relevant history shows that she realised that all the musical acts at these events were American in substance. The couple decided that this wasn’t good enough, and decided to put things right – and quite right too! ‘The golden rule of the act is that we’re not allowed to do any songs from after 1941’ explained Martin (ie, before the US involvement in the conflict). The result was The Victory Arms. (They do however break their rule for gigs such as this, and would do so tonight as we’ll see)

'When I'm Cleaning Windows' (Photo: Garry Walker)

‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’ (Photo: Garry Walker)

I’ll let them describe their act for themselves (from their Facebook page)….

‘A 1940’s Entertainment set in a fictional London pub during the blitz. Join landlady Joaney & her potman Albert in a right old East End ding dong!  Picture the scene. It’s the East end of London, 1940. Last night’s bombing has left everyone’s favourite local “The Victory Arms” a little bruised, but relatively unscathed. Joaney, the landlady is getting ready to call last orders whilst the general dogs body and pot man Albert is collecting glasses and chatting to the regulars. To cheer things up before everybody has to head off into the black out, somebody calls for a song.
Join Joaney and Albert in a right old East End ding dong as they lead their regulars (that’s you!) through the music and stories of the times. Armed only with a Guitar, a Ukulele and an Accordion they pay tribute to the wartime spirit of the people of the United Kingdom and their allies. Without whom, none of this would have been possible.’

'There'll Always Be An England' (Photo: Garry Walker)

‘There’ll Always Be An England’ (Photo: Garry Walker)

So ‘The Victory Arms’ is more of a show than a gig. Its an interesting concept – and maybe unique. We were to see a two-part set. The couple began Part One appropriately with air raid sirens and a snippet from Churchill’s Battle Of Britain Speech, and the content was strictly pre-1941. The second half was a mixture of the act; other wartime songs; and some of their own composition.

In some ways I got what I expected (and that is in no way a criticism); but there were many things that made it a bit different; and therefore more entertaining and amusing. It was obvious that Martin and Chris had put a lot of thought into the details of their performance, The props; Chris’s landlady Joaney’s actions and miming; the well-led audience participation; and the charming scripted dialogue between the characters, for example, were very good indeed, and enhanced the act no end. A few interesting facts were thrown in too; such as the sobering observation that on this very night in 1941, 63 people were killed in air raids on Romford and the surrounding area!

Bill Farrow: 'Ain't It Good?' (Photo: Garry Walker)

Bill Farrow …who’s Gibson is that you’re playing Bill? (Photo: Garry Walker)

A variety of early Second World War songs were sung (+ a few others outside the main act in Part Two). Some from the earlier Great War too, such as ‘Pack Up Your Troubles’ and ‘Long Way To Tipperary’. Numbers that you’d expect like ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’; ‘Kiss Me Goodnight Sergeant-Major’; and ‘Keep The Home Fires Burning’ were very well represented. Best of all I thought were a cover of the It Ain’t Half Hot Mum version of The Ink Spots’ ‘Whispering Grass’ (including a good impersonation of Windsor Davies as the Sergeant Major by Martin!); a beautifully sung and well-played cover of Vera Lynn’s ‘A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square’; and a fine impersonation by Chris, of Gracie Fields singing and miming the ‘The Thing-ummy-bob’.  

The show ended with a rousing rendition of the patriotic ‘There’ll Always be An England’; and a well deserved encore of their own composition ‘Standing On The Home Front Line’.

Each part of The Victory Arms set was preceded by an Open Floor spot of course. There was only time for those of us that wanted to perform, to do one song each – with the exception of Bill Farrow who was allowed two. (Bill will be headlining at the club later in the year). As is usual with these Open Floor spots, there was a huge variety of genre, instrumentation and quality present – each admirable in their way. Many of the club’s regulars were present – some I hadn’t seen before (although I must admit shamefully that I don’t get down there very much!) Best among the many good turns I thought, were Bill, of course, who played two of his own inimitable songs: ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ and ‘Ain’t It Good?’; Steve O’Driscoll who played his London themed song ‘The Bow Bells Bride’; and Rod Standen who played ‘Voices Of The Night’ off his debut album Poetic Force. (He later gave me a copy to review). And finally, I played one of my silly songs: ‘Nan’s Bread Pudd’n’; which got a few laughs and some compliments afterwards I’m proud to say – but I offer no critique on the subject!

Thanks to Garry Walker and the team (Chris; Mick; Nora; and Eve at the door) for organising and running the evening. A great night… me dear old Mum would’ve loved it too! PTMQ

Here is a link to The Victory Arms’ Facebook page

Here is a link to Romford Folk Club’s Facebook page

For some details about the Romford Folk Club and its venue The Sun, see my article #59

67. GORDON GILTRAP (+ GARY RANDLE and DEBBIE CARTER) at FAIRKYTES ARTS CENTRE, Hornchurch, Essex. Friday, 4th September, 2015. + A few words about the venue.

Gordon's guitars for the evening (Photo: PTMQ)

Gordon’s guitars for the evening (Photo: PTMQ)

Too many years had elapsed since I’d seen the acoustic maestro Gordon Giltrap in action; but that was a situation that was certainly put right this evening. When I heard a couple of months ago that he was due to play at Fairkytes Live – a venue close to my home – I was of course interested to get down to the gig. I immediately contacted my friend, the guitarist Glyn Protheroe, who I knew would be up for this one.

Fairkytes Arts Centre in Hornchurch, is run by the London Borough of Havering; and its musical wing – Fairkytes Live – has recently hosted gigs by some quite well known artists. These include: ‘The Queen Of Soul’ Mari Wilson; Bluesman Doug MacLeod; and ‘The Rose Of Alabama’ Lisa Mills. Future dates include Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges; guitarist Martin Harley; Jazz trumpeter Martin Shaw; and Punk icon Toyah Wilcox. Quite a variety then. I found manager Tony Matthews to be very welcoming and informative.

Stupidly Glyn and I didn’t realise that the show started so early, and didn’t arrive until near the end of the support act. But as we walked in to the full, darkened and hushed music room, we were very impressed (as everyone else evidently was), by the duet Gary Randle (guitar), and Debbie Carter (vocals). They had just begun performing a very good cover of the Ashley Hutchings song ‘Sway With Me’ – Debbie’s beautiful vocals and Gary’s guitar were both very impressive indeed.  Gary finished the set with his excellent instrumental inspired by a trip to the Great Orme in Wales: ‘From Up High’, in DADGAD tuning; which was fittingly very Giltrap-esque in essence – Gary being a big fan of his. I’d already been tipped off by Paul Ballantyne of Romfrord Folk Club that Gary would be playing tonight; and I had a word with him after the gig. He is a local man who began playing the guitar at the age of five. But at thirteen he heard Giltrap’s 1978 hit, ‘Heartsong’; and realised that there was a lot more he could do with an acoustic. Well he certainly couldn’t have picked a more inspiring master to learn from! He has been working with Debbie for about three years now; and also collaborates with Silvi Gonzalez.

The master at work! (Photo: PTMQ)

The master at work! (Photo: PTMQ)

Soon the star of the show was introduced by manager Tony.  After a little amusing preamble, Gordon began the first half of his set with ‘Maddy Goes West’. Then he talked about his charity work; and announced that he had recently been diagnosed with a non-malignant cancer (‘…the size of a melon!’) and is due to be operated on soon, which will of course keep him out of action for some months.  He then continued with  ‘Shining Morn’.

After lamenting the passing of some old friends from the mid-60s (‘…that Golden Age of music’ as he described it) such as John Renbourn, Davey Graham, and Bert Jansch; who sadly ‘…had left the crease’; and talking of the erstwhile Folk Club in Greek Street;  he then played George Harrison‘s ‘Here Comes The Sun’ – but it was a cover that was inimitably Giltrap through and through. The beautiful ‘Mrs.Singer’s Waltz’ was his next offering, during which he demonstrated his excellent use of a reverb pedal. Next he played a new (and as yet, untitled) piece – apparently composing this one ended an understandable writing block after being told he had ‘…this thing inside me’ (the cancer).

Gordon said proudly that the second album he ever bought was Bert Jansch’s ‘Blue Album’. A tune from this album, ‘Angie’ (originally penned by Davey Graham), was his next rendition; and a fine cover it was too. Again, he made it his own to a large extent. Unusually, our host then gave us a choice of two reverb settings from his Verbzilla FX pedal (‘What a naff title for an effects pedal – it sounds like a disease, doesn’t it?’ he joked).  But after giving us a sample of each, my friend Glyn and some others called out in favour of the second setting. Gordon then played his piece ‘Loren’ in honour of Bert Jansch and his wife, who tragically died within weeks of each other.

The Quill with Gordon (Photo: PTMQ)

The Quill with Gordon (Photo: PTMQ)

The finale, and highlight of the first set (and indeed for me, the whole show) was ‘Dodo’s Dream’. This is a piece that I’ve been familiar with for many years. It first appeared on Gordon’s 1980 album Peacock Party; and in my opinion is one of the best things ever written and recorded by him. I’d never heard it played like this before though (although it was reworked in its present form for the Shining Moon album of 2010). For this updated version, Gordon used a Loop Station effect. He explained how this was to be used and joked that this piece would sound like ‘a cross between  Pink Floyd and …the Beverley Sisters!’ The effect  enabled him to slowly build up several layers of sound to create a wondrously complex aural experience. It was quite a privilege to hear this, and I really enjoyed it.

Thus ended the first half of Gordon’s set. During the interval Glyn and I had a chat with him at the merch table, which was manned by his wife Hilary. I asked him about his finger picking style that he’d referred to during the first half. Apparently he uses a plectrum between thumb and forefinger, supplemented with his little finger; not using the middle two at all. This is of course very unusual, but seems to work nicely for him at least!

Part Two began with Gordon talking about his three-quarter-sized Spanish guitar that he claimed he bought for a fiver at a boot fair! Various modifications have been made to this guitar to make it a unique instrument – including the gaffer tape to cover a damage hole! It sounded great through the reverb pedal though!

Gordon is renown for his use of alternative tunings; DADGAD being a favourite. He joked that he’d been experimenting with a tuning ‘…called FAGBAG. Every time I play it, it just sounds horrible! I had the same trouble with BAGDAD tuning as well – it was a bit explosive!’ He then tuned to DADGAD and played the lovely ‘Isabella’s Wedding’.

We were then treated to some Blues: ‘Five Dollar Guitar’. It was a Blues the likes of which I’d never heard before – Giltrap Blues being like no other form of the genre! Brilliant though. Whilst tuning to Open-C, Gordon then told how he was daunted by finding out that the great John Williams was once in the audience at one of his gigs. Once tuned, he then played ‘Fiona’s Smile’ from his collaboration with Oliver Wakeman, Ravens And Lullabies. From the same album he then gave us ‘Anyone Can Fly’.

‘The Lord’s Seat’ was next. Its a piece inspired by Elizabethan lute music; and very beautiful it was too. He finished the main set with the piece that more than any other made his name: the iconic 1978 hit single, ‘Heartsong’. Before he played it, he told an amusing anecdote about appearing on BBC TV’s Never Mind The Buzzcocks. And on Our Show where he was on a panel sandwiched between Kate Bush and Joanna Lumley – ‘It was Hell, guys!’ he quipped. The number ended to well-deserved applause.

We the audience, were of course not keen to let the show end at that point; and required a final number from the guitarist. So he gave us his well-known ‘Lucifer’s Cage’ – another piece that features fast strumming sections. It is both musically and visually satisfying to hear and see. The piece ended to great and well-deserved applause.

This was a wonderful little gig in a nice little venue. Gordon was on form. He talked as much as he played; but he was at all times interesting and amusing; and I recommend seeing him if possible. I shouldn’t leave it so long before I see him again. He will be out of action for a while due to the aforementioned medical problem, but I hope to see him when he is fit enough to perform again. I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing him a full recovery and a speedy return to that which he loves – writing, recording, and most of all performing his music. PTMQ

Links:

Fairkytes Live:   https://www.havering.gov.uk/Pages/ServiceChild/Fairkytes-Live.aspx

Gordon Giltrap:    http://www.giltrap.co.uk/