In one of the most enjoyable evenings of music I’ve had for quite some time, the Sam Kelly Trio drew a fabulous audience from all over the Midlands who came to see and hear the singing and guitar of Sam Kelly; the brilliant banjo playing of Jamie Francis; and the fabulous fiddle and whistles of Toby Shaer.
A terrific audience enjoyed a great night of music. Sam’s rapport with the audience was excellent and light-hearted. His Trio - drawn from the Lost Boys - played a broad variety of music, from traditional British folk songs (often with a lively, almost rock treatment), through American folk and blues, some of Sam (and Jamie’s) own songs, through to rock classics. Something for everyone!
For example, the first half included a great version of ‘The Gallows Pole’ (a version of ‘Prickle-Eye Bush’), the sing-along sea song ‘Lowlands Low’, a lovely ‘If I were a Blackbird’ and the very old song (and morris tune) ‘The Keeper’. The second half started with the Appalachian song ‘Angeline the Baker’, then moved on to a song written by Sam and Jamie about the Norfolk legend ‘Tom Hickerthrift’. The chorus song ‘Jolly Waggoner’ led into a version of ‘Banish Misfortune’ which really got moving into a rollicking finish.
The second half also included two totally contrasting songs which were my highlights of the concert. First surprise was a fabulous interpretation of Dire Straits’ ‘Sultans of Swing’ which really showed off the excellent musicianship of Jamie (great banjo playing) and Toby (equally excellent fiddle playing). At the opposite end of the scale, a gorgeously performed version of ‘My Lagan Love’ (one of the loveliest tunes ever, in my humble opinion, and the basis of the also lovely ‘Quite Joys of Brotherhood’) was stunning. After the last song there was, of course, a huge call for more, and the Trio gave us a trio of songs and tunes of increasing pace, which brought about one of the biggest cheers we’ve heard for years!
As is the Poppy way, the concert was followed by a sing-around/music session for any Poppy-goers who wanted to stay behind. Ian Price ran the session, and was joined by Sam and the band who sang an extra couple of songs in the more informal atmosphere.
Those who sang or played included Ian Price, Phil Preen, Julie Palmer, Jenny Bell, Wil Walker, Nick Murphy, Dave Walters, Ally Turner and Juliet Woodin.
We were also treated to beautiful singing from four younger singers - all first-timers at the club. Ally’s daughter, Ruby, sang and played guitar in a duet with her mum; while her friend Dan sang a lovely version of Eric Bogle’s ‘No Man’s Land’ (Willie McBride). Two young women who had come over from Leicestershire sang: the first sang ‘The Holfirth Anthem’ (which we learned was the place of her birth); the other, an Australian by birth, sang John Warner’s excellent song ‘Anderson’s Coast’. We had a story from Brian Franks, while several other friends and visitors came just to listen.
A big thank you goes to Wil Walker and Nick Murphy for their tunes to open each half of the concert. Nick was was also the sound engineer for the night and provided the PA.