The Pine Hill Haints & Serious Sam Barrett @ Cluny2 -13/09/23 by Juan Fitzgerald.
On a quiet Wednesday school night we had the temperature brought up a notch or two with some red hot skiffle/folk/cajun/country music from Alabama USA & The Pine Hill Haints, though the band members themselves describe their unique southern roots music as “Alabama Ghost Music”. Featuring low slung guitar, fiddle, accordion, snare drum & 1 string gut bucket bass but no mandolin/washboard. Sadly James the leader’s wife, on this occasion had to stay behind to look after their kid. She was a miss. Nevertheless, their energetic & powerful set consisted of tracks off their latest album “The Song Companion Of A Lonestar Cowboy” with the punk infused “Born To Suffer” maybe the stand out , a superb rollocking cajun ditty, and some choice covers from Leadbelly to the classic skiffle song “Don’t You Rock Me Daddy O” Special mention must go to Serious Sam Barrett though, who was special guest guitar picker with the Pine Hill Haints & also did a great job opening the show. Starting rather bravely acapella & indeed with a proper northern folk song , he sang his heart out with some beautiful traditional folk tunes complemented by his infused Yorkshire accent & his 12 string guitar & later banjo. Dedicating the old pitman ballad “the Waggoner” to the recently departed Brendan Croker, drew a heartfelt round of applause from the audience . Sam told the crowd that Brenden was like a mentor to him and a warm lovely individual. This was followed by the Hymnal “Drop Of The Morning Dew” which was about getting up as the sun comes out and lying in the morning dew. Sam had the audience singing along in the chorus, like in a local folk club where he got the idea. A mighty impressive achievement. The instantly country blues catchy “Back On The Jack Again ” had James from The Haints, guesting on old time fiddle. Sam had some lovely homespun songs & ballads including “Alfie” The Last of the Yorkshire outlaws” about his favourite pub in Leeds. Sam comes from a family of true Folk singers & it was pretty evident here tonight. So too was The Pine Hill Haints & Sam Barrett’s love & indeed happy memories of Newcastle, The Pine Hill Haints having played The Summertyne festival a few years ago & Cluny2 actually 8 years to the day. Sam has played a few more times of course, but like a musical family travelling on the musical highway of life, they’ll both more than welcome back here anytime.