In the 1980's, Nick Dow was a well-known and well-respected performer on the folk and blues scene, with several albums (LPs!) to his name, before illness forced a change of direction. Nick became a maker restorer and painter of traditional travellers' wagons and for many years and it seemed he was lost to folk music; until about 8 years ago when his wife, Mally, persuaded him to try a few bookings. Those who remembered his skilful guitar playing and mellow and expressive voice were not disappointed, and since then he has played at folk clubs and festivals where his knowledge of traditional songs and his collection of songs from the Travelling community and from the South-West of England have been in demand.
Nick has a lovely singing voice, and started the concert with a beautiful unaccompanied version of 'The Irish Girl', demonstrating his talent as someone who's relaxed style lets the song tell its own story. But Nick is an excellent teller of tales in his own right, and fills the space between songs with stories and anecdotes which are captivating and often humorous. So it was that the audience were treated to about five minutes of spellbinding narrative explaining how Nick had collected his next song - an unusual version of 'A man you don't meet every day'.
Next up was a really nice version of 'The Turtle Dove (Ten Thousand Miles)' with lovely guitar accompaniment of the highest quality. Nick seems to specialise in familiar songs with unfamiliar tunes, and amongst the songs to demonstrate this was the well-known 'Seeds of Love' sung to an interesting and rarely heard tune; and an interesting version of the 'Pull on the String' theme.
For me, the highlights of the evening were two gorgeous traditional songs: 'Her Mantle so Green' and 'Through Bushes and Through Briars'; and the tear-jerker 'The Faithfull Horse' (written by Tom Walsh), to which Nick has added his own stamp of authenticity to bring out the relationship between a man and his horse.
Nick finished the concert with the song 'Blue Mountain' (My Love You've Won to Keep); but was applauded back for an encore of Sammy's Bar - a song he learned from Cyril Tawney! Nick had gone way beyond what we had asked of him, but he didn't seem interested in stopping and we could have listened to him for hours - and so ended an hour and fifty minutes of songs and stories!
Many thanks to John Bentham and Lyn Cooper for their 'one from the floor' spots; and to everyone who stayed at the end for the song and music session: Julie, Phil, Claire & Dave from the Poppy; Bill Wilkes and Jenny Hurst; Lyn Cooper; John and Sheila Bentham; and John Whitelaw.