Robert Chaney, Blood Bird, Hot Raisin at Grapevine @ Bedfords, Bedfords Bar, Norwich 11 November 2015
This was a Grapevine I’d been looking forward to for months and having seen all the acts before was well aware what a fantastic line up this was. Even with my high expectations all the artists still exceeded them making this probably the best Grapevine at Bedfords night I have yet experienced. Steve has set the bar dizzyingly high with this one.
When I arrived shortly before 8pm Glen was in the courtyard putting the finishing touches to some beautiful lighting there making an already mild November evening feel like finding some magical corner at a festival, from the upstairs bar these lights looked just as enchanting but also giving the feel of city lights seen from an aircraft.
From the first time I saw Hot Raisin (wonderfully named by Mr. Jason), at OST recently, I felt they’d be perfect for a Grapevine as my friend Mark and myself mentioned to them on a couple of occasions. We didn’t have to wait long as Steve caught wind of these conversations and booked them almost on the strength of that and the songs he heard on Soundcloud. It turned out Tory and Mary had played Grapevine some six or seven years earlier as The Indy Girls. He won’t have failed to have been charmed by them, they played the best set I’ve yet heard from them with an easy and relaxed engagement with the audience, hiding any nerves they may have felt. As the songs become more familiar to me I enjoy them more and more … hearing the generous applause I think everyone here felt the same enjoyment. There are occasional moments where the vocals remind me a little bit of Harriet Wheeler from the Sundays, this is no bad thing. Delightful acoustic duo with beautiful and catchy songs, the set ending with the popular Captain.
They made mention of a session they did recently with Mr. Jason for Breakthruradio which can be heard here.
Blood Bird were sensational tonight, in a set with some familiar covers from the likes of Mississippi Fred McDowell and Memphis Minnie (but alas no “Wedding Bells” by Hank Williams which is one of my current earworms) their country blues, was as always, sensational. Displaying fantastic chemistry, powerful and emotive voices plus Chris’ stunning guitar work they were I think the best I have yet heard them.
It was in June at Red Rooster where Steve and myself were captivated by an extraordinary set from Robert Chaney, with some duets alongside Laura Tenschert who was also here tonight and again sang a couple of songs with Robert. At Red Rooster we were dreaming of what an amazing evening it would be were it possible to bring Mr. Chaney here. Well, it turned out that Florida-born Robert now lives in London and was all too agreeable to the idea and so a few months later the fantasy gig was happening. I was as mesmerised this time as I was then, totally captivated by the lyrics, often very dark indeed. There is a cinematic quality to the songwriting which indeed was confirmed by his words after the first song of having always wanted to be a screenwriter (these songs would be perfect soundtrack material, or film scripts in themselves), leading nicely into the song which for me is his masterpiece so far. The Cyclist, a sort of modern day Long Black Veil delivered in a Dylan/Townes/Cave style which I cannot resist. The sparse and brilliant guitar and the emotion in his voice go a long way and make a deep impression, I have a lot of time for this artist. A humble man who clearly was not at ease when prompted by Laura to mention his CD but these things need to be done as it’s a fine album. I purchased my copy after his set at Red Rooster but brought it back with me tonight to get it signed! But when he plays and sings! This is a natural and gifted artist.
The set closed with a comparatively light and humerous Broken Beyond Repair, again with clever lyrics and the song also highlights Laura’s excellent and strong voice.
Special mention to Dickie who on sound duties got things spot on, everything was clear as a bell … there were some real shivers and goosebump moments with some of these songs and with the lyrics all important it was good to hear everything so clearly.
I often feel some elation after good gigs and certainly did after this one, all three acts seemed at the top of their game and there was a lot of mutual respect in the room, as well as a lot of local musicians in the audience too. This was the real deal, a splendid night of great music put on for and by music lovers in a fine venue.
There is a special, extra Grapevine this month, down in the Crypt at Bedfords for a special appearance by the wonderful Danni Nicholls, a Grapevine regular who is touring her new album Mockingbird Lane. 19 November. Next regular Grapevine is 9 December with Emily Winng, Jinder, Peter James Millson, and Matt Watson.
Many thanks to Robert Chaney, Blood Bird, Hot Raisin, Grapevine at Bedfords, Dickie, and all at Bedfords Bar.
The previous weekend’s Sunday Funday was something of a double-header with The Vagaband playing an absolutely rammed Plasterers, which was hardly a surprise although it was so full I couldn’t actually even see them. After their first set I and a few friends headed over to catch the end of Yve Mary B’s set, who started about 7pm. Thinking we’d only catch the last half an hour or so we were very pleasantly surprised to hear a further three hours or so in what must have been an amazing four hour set! This is an artist on top form at the moment and with an uncanny knack of being in tune with her audience. Amongst the mix of originals and covers she played two songs I had listened to on a few hours earlier (Gillian Welch’s Everything is Free, and Joan Baez’s Diamonds and Rust) as well as a song I’d been talking about a little earlier, No Woman No Cry. Next week she plays with her band Morganway in a double-header with Grifter Kid and the Midnight Raiders at The Plasterers for the North City Beer and Music Festival Weekender in conjection with the Fat Cat Brewery Tap. For this one she invited audience members Dickie Hartt and Adrian Howes to join her for a few songs. It was a lovely evening.