COUNTRY CANTINA 17- JUMPIN HOT CLUB @ ACKLINGTON VILLAGE HALL 12/08
It was that time of the year one again, time for the Jumpin’ Hot Club’s trip into the country, as in the rural environment of Acklington. Once again the man with the chequebook, straw hat and 78 records ‘Shippy’ picked the acts for the job.
Going through the afternoon the feel good factor compared to last year was in place earlier, the audience were lapping up La Fiesta’s food and refreshments as the gave support to real music with the enthusiasm and knowledge like only a Jumpin’ Hot audience does!
Task on getting the day up and running fell to Mush, and though a man down they were a perfect choice. Right on key of a drinking song by the four-piece, the youngest member in the building chimed up ‘I want a drink’. The pressure value was released as laughter filled the air.
Next up was the keenly anticipated Songwriters Circle, and boy, didn’t it work out great. It flowed ever so easily. All talented tunesmiths, Tony Bengtsson, Gem Andrews and Liverpool-based Tom Blackwell showed what they were made of. No egos just people sharing what they have and no doubt learning from one another.
It was fitting the superb Tom Blackwell lead them through a mighty audience aided version of Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light”. This after Gem Andrews had won favour with the likes of “Ladybird” and Tony Bengtsson with a song about going off to war, “The River”; and Blackwell had turned heads with among others “Raven’s Eye”. Rare is the time that I’ve witnessed a Songwriter’s Circle’s where the time has passed so quickly, and the standard been so high.
Skylark Song’s introspective style provided a sombre and on occasions beautifully mellow feel as sweet harmonies were wrapped in guitar and fiddle. Doc Watson’s “Deep River Blues” and their own “South America” underlined what they do best.
What came next was a huge contrast. As the James Stephenson fronted, Sour Mash Trio performed in a loose free and easy, ever entertaining fashion as Sun Records styled rock’n’roll was peppered with country. You had covers mixed nicely with their own material rock the building. The boys’ own material sound near as familiar and good as the standards! A little more subtlety might not have come amiss; otherwise the boys did all that was asked from them. With Joe Guillen now on lead guitar a settling in period is in process.
On leaving the stage they left a big old smile on every face of an audience through their honesty.
The Kentucky Cowtippers stepped up to perform a wonderful professional set, and with some mighty fine banjo setting the benchmark and the vocals shared, plus smart finger picked guitar, mandolin and drums that worked superbly boys could walk off stage with their heads held high. Instrumental “Clinch Mountain Backstep” was an ideal vehicle for them to underline just how good they are as players. Squeezing in their own “Whiskey River to partner traditional song “Wish I was A Mole in The Ground” plus they bowed out with a terrific, bluegrass-powered version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” they ticked all the boxes. John Fogarty would be duly proud of the job they do of the latter.
All that was now left was to see what those at the top end of the bill could do. Mary Jean Lewis and her Glasgow band did her themselves proud. They had a blast! Digging up classics that ranged from songs of Ella Fitzgerald “It’s Only A Paper Moon” to Sun Records’ legend Carl Perkins “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby” by way of a cover of the Patsy Cline his “Walkin’ After Midnight” to Merle Haggard’s tear stained “Silver Wings” to a commendable stab at Bob Wills Texas swing favourite “Bubbles In My Beer”. Mary Jean Lewis freed the shackles as she turned it on. Pulling from a relatively diverse genre herself in particular embraced the event. Life in Glasgow seems to suit her. I believe this was the best ever show she’s performed for the Jumpin’ Hot.
She could show one or two of the Lewis family members a thing or two when it comes to putting on a show for an audience, and the combination is likely to get even better! The reaction from the audience with many standing said it all.
Asheville, NC act Amanda Anne Platt and her band the Honeycutters immediately dropped into a winning groove, with their form of Americana music. One of many fine aspects about their music, it has a real identity.
Her four-piece band (Matthew Smith, Rick Cooper, Evan Martin and Josh Milligan) played some great music in support of Platt’s wonderful lead vocals, and songs. I believe Platt could quite easily make a living as a songwriter. Heading the list you had “What We’ve Got”, “Somewhere Between” and the song they opened with “Jukebox”; which they pretty much were. As much as possible was squeezed into an hour-long set of choice songs of their catalogue. From their new, self-titled Amanda Anne Platt album you had “Long Ride”, “The Road” and the one I had been waiting for “Eden”. What beautifully formed descriptive lyrics, and flowing melody. I could now go home happy.
The late withdrawl of 78 lathe revival due to sickness had no real effect on the day. It was great work by all those involved, the behind the scenes workers, conscripts and volunteers! We salute the Cantina....
Words - Maurice Hope
Pics - Juan Fitzgerald