Chesterfield Folk Club’s star-studded season continued when Jez Lowe and Kate Bramley were the main guest artists.
Jez is normally to be found either performing solo or fronting his band The Bad Pennies but this evening saw him making up a rarely seen duo with fiddler Kate Bramley. The pairing worked really
well, with Kate’s backing vocals, fiddle and mandolin complementing Jez’s toe-tapping melodies and bitter-sweet lyrics.
Jez, in his trademark stripy T-shirt, performed many old favourites including Taking on Men, Will of the People, Black Diamonds and Old Bones. Always one to mix humour with sadness, Jez also sang the witty Ex-Pitman’s Potholing Pub Quiz Team, a song written in a Country and Western style.
We were told he has written 40 songs for the BBC programme The Radio Ballads and the audience were treated to some of those from The Ballad of the Games, which was broadcast for the Olympic year. The highlight of these for me was Jesse Owen’s Shoes, about the 1936 Berlin Olympics and sung by Kate. She is actually a fine composer in her own right and she performed two of her own – Northern Songbird and Erik Rydvall’s March, both from her solo album Little Canaan.
Jez and Kate ended the evening with a couple of encores; Greek Lightning, a song covered by many solo artists but always much improved when performed by a male/female duo, and Coal Town Days, Jez’s anthemic song about pit closures.
The concert was opened by Leeds singer/songwriter Phil Cockerham. Although not well known in this area, Phil performed his songs like a veteran, easily winning over the audience with his personality and stage presence. His songs covered all emotions from the witty Orange Juice and Cold Potato Stew (about his school lunch-box) and I’m So Happy I’m a Banker, to the sad and sensitive Fighting in Whispers and Last Orders, the latter being a song about his grandfather.
Phil accompanied himself admirably on guitar, mandolin and bouzouki and his bluesy playing on Slow Turning Man was quite superb.
Overall then, this was an excellent evening’s entertainment with all performers in superb form.
Chesterfield Folk Club’s next concert is on 12th April and showcases a double-bill of young performers. Top bluegrass and folk act The Carrivick Sisters are paired up with this year’s Radio 2 Folk Awards Horizon Award winner, Chesterfield’s very own Blair Dunlop, a great singer and an absolute wizard on the guitar.