Familiarity breeds contempt? Not on your nelly, felly!
For Letham Nights No. 41, we were lucky enough to see the return of some of our favourite balladeers in the shape of Scott Cook and Jez Hellard with support (although it felt like more of a double-headliner) from Dave Webster and Stevie Anderson of Sinderins.
Stevie and Dave are becoming firm friends of Letham Nights having performed here numerous times in various incarnations from Luva Anna through Anderson, McGinty, Webster, Ward and Fisher and will be back on Sat 4 July to rock us like a hurricane with current set-up Sinderins. Tonight they sported just acoustic guitars and voices and it was a rare pleasure to hear two of our favourite musicians unplugged. Dave is one of the greatest singers you will ever hear (believe it) and from the low-key thoughtful ballad of Little Brown Boy to the wailing heights of You Will Find, we were open mouthed with awe at a simply stunning vocalist at his peak. His cover of Tim Buckley’s Phantasmagoria in Two had our very own Roy practically melting with appreciation. Stevie’s guitar work is no less dazzling and he slid, picked strummed and soloed his way through a sizzling set which culminated in the slap-picked rhythmic behemoth of blues funk juggernautery, Trust In Me. What an opening act!
There is no place for hyperbole in these pages so when I say Scott Cook is one of the best songwriters you will ever hear, you had better believe it. From his opener, Song For The Slow Dancers (a lament for the loss of individuality and authenticity in music) he spins his web of charm and folksiness inviting us all to come along with him on a journey through his passions, pains and rivers of consciousness, making everyone feel like they’ve been part of his world, if only for an evening. His ode to his local Driftpile Festival (as local as Scott gets, anyway – he’s a fully paid up rambling man!), Going Up The Country is a hoot with its jaunty Mississippi John Hurt guitar lines and lyrics like ‘We’re gonna leave behind our phones and watches, slip into our beards and moustaches’.
Jez Hellard joined Scott on stage for the pretty as all hell Song For a Pilgrim, and it was as the haunting strains of his mouthwatering harmonica version of Atlas Tango began, that two ghostly figures glided onto the floor. But who were these two entwined tango titans gracing us with their pristine prowess? None other than our very own Ron and Janey. Wow! The first set finished with the sublime (unofficial Letham Nights anthem) Pass It Along. Sweet!
With Jez moving into the ascendency for the second set we were further bewitched by his moothie magic and glittering guitar. A wise man once said there are no such things as protest songs, just songs with conscience and they don’t come much more conscious than McDonalds For The Mind. Jez’s harmonica playing is a good as you’ll hear and Miner’s Picket Dance is a stomping romping round of righteous reed-wrangling that only dead Prime Ministers could fail to enjoy. The ballads, jigs and tomfoolery continued well past our bedtimes with such interactive delights as Tax Free Money ensuring everyone was left humming and swaying as the hall emptied and we all dispersed to our hearths and homes, clutching our CDs and reflecting on a charming, moving and all round good feeling night of romance and rhyme.
Keep up with Scott here: scottcook.net
And Jez here: jezhellard.com
And you can check out Sinderins here:http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/amwf