What better way of spending a Saturday evening than listening to Country Music, so off to one of the many regular country nights that can be found up and down the country (if you look for them!), in this case the Wolverhampton Country Songwriters Night, held monthly at Bantock House Museum and organised/hosted by Patricia Swindells and Jim Duncan. A small venue, long and thin, which keeps focus of the attentive crowd on the performance area at the top. Wolverhampton attracts a range of some of the better-known names in UK country, often being augmented by newer or lesser known acts which means a good evening of music and the chance to hear someone for the first time
First on was Pembrokeshire based Josh Beddis, who commented how nice it was to “play in front of a crowd that listen to the songs rather than playing behind chicken wire” "Move from Wales" came the reply. The initial comment though, was accurate, this is certainly an audience that has come to listen to the songs being performed by the songwriters. At first Josh played nice, subtle guitar that was more of an accompaniment to his voice rather than driving the song, playing “Always Winter” that was rather melancholy but very tuneful. Moving on to his song “Paint The Lines” in which the guitar plays more of a part, with a bluegrass feel. The song itself is based on experiences in a road gang and singing about the hard working man is as close to that style of country as you'll hear from a Welshman singing in Wolverhampton. The style, if not sound is reminiscent of the Johnny Cash “real life” storytelling. As with many artistes, Josh can sound a little nervy when talking but he is set free when singing. A song title “A Goodnight Kiss From Jim Beam” certainly seals anyone’s Country credentials! Josh became more animated through the set, the songs got faster and his final song seemed to have Celtic influences, reminiscent of a good Pub singalong!
Our second performer was quite the revelation. Aged just 17 Emily Lockett impressed me so much that I grabbed her and her father outside for a chat, and more of that can be seen elsewhere in the blog. Relatively new to performing in public, Emily certainly entertained, her stage presence as confident, her songs well written and well performed. In her own words Emily told us that most country songs seem to be about love, and as she hasn’t been in love yet she needs to throw in some covers! Treating us to a great version of “Still The One” the whole audience were encouraged to sing along – and they did! Emily has the look and sound of Taylor Swift about her and has already recorded 2 EPs!
While I was outside talking to Team Lockett, Ags Connolly took to the stage. With a genuine country voice, albeit British countryside, when Ags sings country it's the real deal. His voice and his songs are reminiscent of some of the traditional Country greats – think Glen Campbell, The Eagles and that era of superstars. Watching Ags playing the smaller gigs I wonder if he is aware of how good he is, and I am thrilled that he is becoming a regular fixture on tours and line ups, especially alongside touring American artistes. Ags sound is that f the original cowboys, but with his lyrics he can write an upbeat song with downbeat lyrics (“I Hope You’re Unhappy”) blending fun with serious, and he is first in line to gently mock himself with his stories!
Three artistes, three different styles – all in all a great line up for a music night that deserves more support and is playing its part in promoting UK Country music
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