Support: Pete Burnham
Sunday 18th November 2012
In a change to the regular Poppy concert format, for this concert there was a proper support spot. So, after a couple of beautifully played fiddle tunes from Wil Walker to start the night, we were treated to a delightful set of songs from Pete Burnham - a fine solo performer who also plays in a duo with Sheila Mosley, as well as being a key member of the excellent GU4. Pete gave us songs from a wide range of sources, including Graham Miles, GU4's Miggy Campbell, Melanie Safka (a lovely version of Ruby Tuesday), and the Loving Spoonful! To finish the set he invited Anna Shannon to join him to sing one her songs: Pull Ebony. It was a powerful end to a great set, and a nice introduction to Anna - our star guest of the night.
Anna has written some beautifully crafted songs and sings them from the heart, accompanied by skilful guitar playing, with the occasional surprise introduction of a Shruti (a sort of one-handed harmonium) or a flute tune to add further to the variety. The Shruti provided a haunting accompaniment to 'the Eskdale Hare' while the flute was used to great effect in a lovely tune 'The Spell', which was reminiscent of one of those magical and eerie tunes from one of Oliver Postgate's Noggin the Nog tales. Other highlights from the first set were 'Of an Oak' and the beautiful 'Yorkshire Song' - the latter was my pick of the show.
After a short beer break the next part of the evening began with a song from Lyn Cooper, who will be performing as part of a duo on our Folk Day in January. Then it was back to Anna again for a second set of highlights from her repertoire. A chorus song - 'Rocking Chair'; a stunning 'John Played the Violin' about the musicians who played on the Titanic; the powerful 'A Little Piece of Africa'; and a version of the Sailors Hornpipe gave a flavour of the variety on offer. Anna was brought back on for an encore by an enthusiastic audience, and she brought out her fiddle for the first time in the evening to play 'Velvet Green'.
It had been a lovely show, and a good crowd stayed behind to sing a few songs and play tunes in the Poppy's now traditional post-concert sing and play session. Bill Wilkes started us off with 'Farewell Old Friend'; then we had two more fiddle tunes from Wil. Songs were sung by Julie Palmer, Phil Harrison, Andy Cooper, Lyn Cooper, Phil Preen and Dave Walters. A stand-out song from Dave Collins about the Aberfan disaster was a real gem of powerful song writing. To close an excellent night we had a couple of join-in tune sets led by Claire Halliday and Wil Walker.