Willow and Tool's Music Parlour
Willow And Tool's Music Parlour 8th January 2017.
The first monthly "Music Parlour" of the new year was held at the usual venue, the Harvester in Long Itchington, and turned out to be fun night, hosted by The Willow and Tool Band. The group is comprised of Pete Willow (vocals and guitar), Jon McIntosh, (aka "Tool", bass), Keith Eardly (vocals, harmonica, ukulele and various percussion instruments) and Laurel McIntosh, vocals and flute). They have been around the midlands scene for many years and host a monthly concert at which many well known acts on the local folk scene have and do appear. Sadly on this occasion Laurel was laid up with the "Queen's bug" and could not appear.
The W&T band opened proceedings with four songs which demonstrated their versatility, a lively "Need you Babe" followed by a mixture of blues and hippy styling which involved Keith's wonderful harmonica playing with Pete's intricate guitar picking. The Rolling Stones "Spider and the Fly" kept us all warmed up and the final number in this part of the set was a Pete Willow original, "I walk on tightropes".
The second act comprised of John Kearney, Geoff Veasey and "Flossie McDougal" collectively known as Nunc. Their traditional roots were illustrated by a superb rendition of "On one April Morning" With Flossie and Geoff taking the vocals and John on Guitar. This went down very well with the audience. They are doyens of the Nuneaton Folk Club who meet in the Crown Pub in Bond Street Nuneaton on the first Wednesday of the month. It is a measure of their performances that the club is very popular, and deservedly so. What better to follow a traditional song than a rousing Sam Cooke number "Bring it on home to me" eh? In some clubs, audience participation is not encouraged. This trio clearly do not subscribe to this view and they were rewarded by some excellent harmonies from other singers in the room, not to say some them who might have refreshed themselves by imbibing some of the admirable selection of real ales available at the bar hosted by the Mills family.
Nunc continued with their set despite barracking from Tool in the back row with another lively song, this time in a country and western style , Kasey James "We're all gonna die someday" which was a delight and another opportunity for the audience to give vent to their musical talents. Then a visit to Crowded House country with "Weather with you" which was penned by Tim and Neil Finn. Their final contribution was a Richard Thompson number "Down where the drunkards roll". Nunc's whole set convinced me to make a mental note to be in the vicinity of the Crown in Nuneaton on a first Wednesday sometime in the near future. I look forward to it.
The Way Out band, Chris Chambers and Autumn Dawn Leader are a duo from Loughborough who write and sing all their own material. Not only that, they are multi-instrumentalists. Their first number was one of Chris', "Are we not spirits?" in which to my ears the balance between the guitar and soft piano was absolutely bang on and this added to beautiful harmonies made for a very pleasant opening to their set. Autumn's own "Autobiography" followed which contained the lines "pictures paint so many words" and "what kind of mark will you leave behind." Autumn then picked up a ten-string Lyre, whilst Chris took up his mandolin for "Thinking like a dreamer" which had similarly thoughtful lyrics. Their final offering commenced with a lengthy and intricate guitar solo from Chris with was exquisite. On paper the lyrics look cold and dismal, however in the rendition sounded anything but. I think it was called ""I'm a man without a country" but the line "I wish I was bound homeward one more precious time" gives the lie to the enjoyment it gives to the audience. The Way Out band are hoping to bring their progressive folk-ish music to more venues in Warwickshire in the future, so keep an eye out them.
After a suitable break for the replenishment of glasses, the Willow and Tool Band opened up the Van Morrison's "And it stoned me" which Pete introduced as "a song about getting wet". There then followed an innuendo filled Muddy Waters' song "I'm a King Bee" Which they might not have performed if Tool's daughter, Laurel had been well enough to take up her usual position of stage left. By now the audience were well and truly warmed up and nothing was going to stop them joining in with "Trouble, you can't fool me" which first appeared on the 1979 album "Bop till you drop" by Ry Cooder.
Maggie Coleman who has been singing around the area for many years and indeed used to run a folk club, followed (how do you follow that?) with three songs. She started with a Paul Simon song, "The Bridge" accompanying herself on guitar, which appeared on the Kathy Mattea album "Love Travels." Then an acapella version of "like a songbird that has fallen" from the soundtrack of the movie "Cold Mountain" it contains the line "make my spirit fly" it certainly was an uplifting experience. Then she delighted us with an Irish (or Scottish, depending on where you are from), song "Come by the hills." the best known line of which is of course "And the cares of tomorrow can wait till this day is done" in which the audience duly participated.
Dave Fry with his twelve string guitar and strong voice is a folk club stalwart and opened his set with a robust version of the traditional folk song variously known as "The gallows tree" or "The prickly bush" or one of many other titles it has accumulated over the centuries. This was followed by the lilting "O'er the Hills and Faraway" his guitar providing melodic accompaniment. Closing the set the pure and lovely "Sweet rose of Allendale" at least it starts out that way with the line " The flowers be-decked the mountainside and fragrance filled the vale" before moving on to "When tempests lashed our lonely barque and rent her quivering sail". Dave is an accomplished entertainer and we thoroughly enjoyed his set.
What better band could bring proceedings to a close at the Harvester than a band called "The Harvesters?" Sue, Ian and Bob proved to be a versatile trio. Bob doubling between banjo and dobro, Ian on either guitar or octave mandolin, whilst Sue sang. danced, played banjo, ukulele or concertina. Ian explained that they were opening with an Appalachian mountain song and duly delivered "Shady Grove." We then headed south and west to encounter some "Deep River Blues". Their love of "Americana" as Ian put it then took us to New York where he told us of the infamous "party" in Madison Square Garden at which Rick(y) Nelson suffered his most famous humiliation providing the catalyst for his "Garden Party". A step into church revealed that "A closer walk with thee" was required, possibly because we were about to sample some moonshine before "John Law burned down the liquor store" This was a truly lively set which kept the audience rocking to and fro in their seats. Time for bed heralded a plea to "Make me a pallet on your floor." Incidentally there is a superb rendition of this song by Tuba Skinny recorded live on Royal Street in New Orleans, with Erica Lewis singing unplugged. Watch a couple dancing in amongst the parked cars here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIiQ_oQjxQc.
This number did not bring the concert to an end however because there was a jam session featuring all the acts on the bill and of course the audience. It was thoroughly enjoyable and good night, but more than that it was FUN! We took three new gusts with us and they all revelled in the experience. Willow and Tool's Music Parlour now has something to live up to for the rest of the year.