A week in Coventry Music
“Every acoustic gig should involve at least one attempt at trying to destroy a Bob Dylan song,” exclaimed local singer and songwriter David Sanders, as he and his percussionist, Marc Hammond launched into a rousing rendition of “Shelter From The Storm” from Dylan’s mid 70s masterpiece, “Blood on The Tracks”. He was doing himself an injustice, for far from murdering the song, he and Marc give it quite a fresh feel.
The rest of the set, performed at tin Music and Arts on Monday 15th September was for the most part taken up with tracks from David’s excellent current EP, “Jar”. It was very full sound for just two performers and despite it being an acoustic gig, they rocked quite hard as well. A particular strength, I thought, was the call and response style vocals that the two of them performed, with some wonderful harmonies too. In addition I can’t help but take my hat off to somebody who manages to rhyme “Rosemary” with “Gallilee”, “33” and “directory” and be convincing with it.
Messrs Sanders and Hammond were the support act to Montana based “Joel R L Phelps and The Downer Trio”. I’m surprised that these chaps were new to me as their CV as put together by The Tin makes pretty impressive reading. They’ve toured with the likes of Television, Low and Modest Mouse and have been a touring band since the mid 90s. The said press release also describes them, quite aptly as “having a reputation as an exciting and visceral live act”. Whilst I agree with that, they could have engaged with the audience a little more as they barely uttered a word between songs. The best bits of their set put one in mind of elements of Smog, Vic Chestnut and Nirvana’s “Unplugged in New York” album.
Joel R L Phelps and the Downer Trio
Onto The Nursery Tavern on Wednesday 17th September, and the monthly gig organized by the great Elaine Tierney. As ever, she brought us an eclectic and unpredictable line-up including the great singer and songwriter and support act to the likes of Fairport Convention and the New Cranes in the 90s, Anna Ryder. Anna was as charming and delightful as she always is and rather scathing of her own accordion for sounding like erm, well an accordion!
Next came “The Rattigans” whom Elaine described as “Intriguing”. She was right, they most certainly were. They are two piece band featuring a banjo player and a rock guitarist who successfully combined influences of country, bluegrass, progressive rock and Ennio Morricone soundtracks to come up with their own unique sound.
Following them were Blues duo Dr X featuring a guitarist using a cigarbox (think Seasick Steve and Bo Diddley) and a percussionist who were quite electrifying. As well as performing pretty good renditions of blues classics by the likes of Albert King and Sleepy John Estes, they gave us a self-penned number about drinking and as a consequence, losing most of December. I bought their CD and jolly good it is too.
Finally for now, we come onto another event at the Nursery Tavern on 20th September entitled “A Night for Marie Curie” organized by local songwriter and singer Hilary Wilson, bringing together a number of local acts to raise money for a cancer charity.
It was a rich and varied evening that started off with an excellent young singer with a lot of potential called Izzy Derrie. She performed a variety of cover versions of songs by artistes ranging from Jake Bugg, to Dolly Parton and Bob Dylan. I’d be intrigued to hear some of her own material if she has any.
There was also “One Trick Pony”, an extremely pleasant country duo performing a mix of cover versions by the likes of Crazy Horse and Ryan Adams and a great song of their own entitled “I knew you had left me, as I could hear myself think!” (Exactly the kind of title you want for a country number!) Next we had vocal trio “Thrup’nny Bits” performing their very charming renditions of traditional English and Celtic folk songs and a version of the old Bee Gees tune “New York Mining Disaster 1941”. When I next see them I hope they’ll have a go at “Stayin’ Alive!”
Elsewhere we had the amazing technical proficiency of local flamenco guitar player Matt Hernandez and the hugely impressive Bert Jansch style picking from the very accomplished Dan Gascoigne who gave us selections form his excellent current album “Station Street West” and a very funky version of Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman”. The funky cover versions continued with ever marvelous and mesmeric Kristy Gallacher and her take on Woody Guthrie’s “Do Re Mi” as well as a host of tracks for her latest album “The Game” which is her best yet. All done with her always interesting guitar parts. Another very inventive and imaginative songwriter, singer and guitar player is Lucy Anne Sale. She performed a great set and the first one I’ve seen her do on her own for some time.
It seemed that most popular cover version was that of “Ain’t Nobody” by Rufus and Chaka Khan which was performed by the KC Jones duo in a radically different way to the original. They’ve successfully turned a pop-funk classic into a really haunting and eerie folk balled. A much more faithful version of the same song was performed by Garfield Mayor who divides his time between performing in wedding/jukebox bands and performing his own material.
And this is what a week of gig going in Coventry is like – joyous, eclectic, and often unpredictable. Long may this rich, vibrant and varied scene continue.
BY CARL AYLOTT