SCoFF Reviews

A supplementary forum for (mostly)
Live Traditional-Style Music & Dance Reviews
which contributors have sent in to the SCoFF or FASH websites in addition to the printed sources Folk On Tap (for SCoFF, the Southern Counties Folk Federation) and Solent Waves (for FASH, the Folk Association of South Hants).

  • Jim Walker & Rory Gear (aka 'North & South') live at The Famous Willows, May 2006
  • Spydafest 2004 Portland, June 25-27 ... CS & KSA Booth
  • The Eastleigh Folk Dance Club - Still going strong after 27 years! ... Raymond Sargent
  • Jack Williams at Roddington Forge Wednesday 7 April 2004 at The Forge, Roddington Lane, Fairoak, Hants ... Andrew Perry

  • Jim Walker & Rory Gear (aka 'North & South') live at The Famous Willows, May 2006

    "We closed May with a bang, courtesy of an appearance by our good friend and ace entertainer J.D. WALKER. J.D. has always been a firm favourite for everyone at the Willows, offering both great vocals and chorus songs with great humour and a warm, engaging personality. Sounds like an act that was tailor-made for the Willows, except that J.D. is also a popular singer and entertainer across the South of England with a strong base in folk music. For his gig on 31st May, for the first half we were treated to more of the same, great (largely Scottish-based) folksongs with choruses, and then in the second half we were treated to two for the price of one when J.D. invited up his old friend and former musical partner Rory Gear to join him to form the duo North & South. J.D. and Rory used to gig regularly as a duo some years ago, and are seriously contemplating a return to the folk scene - they asked me if they could "road test" their blossoming duo act on the Willows and, knowing the high standard of entertainment that J.D. sets, I was happy to oblige. Whilst it's fair to say, and J.D. and Rory would be the first to admit, that their new duo act needs a little polishing, the raw ingredients of a great and highly entertaining live act were there for all to see, with great harmony chrous songs, complimentary guitar work, constant good-natured banter between themselves and the audience, and a sublime jazz-influenced number to take an audience's breath away! I'd encourage anyone to keep their eyes open for J.D. and Rory (a.k.a. North & South) and to go and see them if they get the chance. A great night from an old friend and a new one - the perfect way to end a great month of music!"

    Chris Davis
    The Famous Willows Folk Club
    Arundel, West Sussex.

    SpydaFest 2004

    Well. OK, so it was raining like it was monsoon season; it was at least 10 degrees colder than supposedly for June and by mid-afternoon visibility was about 10 yards due to sea fog. And the main stage was closed and waterproofed and the field site like a scene from some weird movie Yet for those by then packed into the very small marquee - along with the bar moved in and the Whole Wide World's mini-record stall - it was a stormer of an event

    Eat your heart out (simultaneous) Glastonbury because from the solo professionalism of Ireland's Kate Purcell, the voodoo blues of Australia's Chucky Monroes (that slide guitar, wow!), the superb country rock from brilliant UK youngsters the Redland Palomino Company to the headliners, it ran like clockwork. How the bands found the site in the rain, fog and lack of directions to such a weird ex-MOD site on the southern tip of Portland is a mystery. Nevertheless, find it they did. In addition, arriving from Glastonbury and on stage within a mere 10 mins or so, the first of the headliners took that festival marquee audience by the scruff of its collective neck and played a set that ranks amongst the best live gigs I have ever seen in, er, over 40 years of being a punter. They might have packed it in 1987, but the original line up of Sid Griffin's Long Ryders were nothing short of brilliant. No sound check, other than seat-of-pants opener of the Byrd's "So You Wanna Be A Rock'n'Roll Star" (Sid on jangle Rickenbacker of course, with Woody Woodhead guesting on trumpet blasts), it was their best numbers from their three-only albums all the way. Total professionalism without detracting slickness, masterful rapport with the audience and all the vindication one ever needed for supporting the 1980's US guitar bands at the time in the face of UK post pink stuff. What a blast.

    Well, certainly, but then even more amazing, the last on the bill announced, no sow, and then a few moments later in from the mist and rain came Tony Joe White! With a truly wound-up Strat plus effects, harmonic and ace f drummer, he also showed a degree of charisma and professionalism without false showiness that was truly awesome. It could have been a wet night in Lake Charles, Baton Rouge or somewhere in the swamplands. And the amazing thing above everything. was that it was all so bizarre; appalling conditions, very few there, and true musicianship, stardom and ATMOSPHERE that will stick with me for ages.

    Spydafest had started the day before with the Friday weather fine and site looking special but empty - but no signs as to route and even a relative local like me somewhat bemused when getting to what was still like a secret military establishment - or worse! But local boy Gordon Haskell was excellent on the main stage and the immense and terrific Barrelhouse Blues Orchestra were excellent, even having their full brass AND string section behind Paul Hart's blues-bending Gibson and Johnny Mars' blues-wailing harp. A triumph even if a mere handful on the grass to see and hear. In the marquee a truly funky danceable and audience-commanding show from several singers, bands and especially bhangra outfit Kismett; surely the true and celebratory sound of a modern Britain.

    Sunday then, sunny, but as ever a force 4 across the rocky/grassy outcrop of the site and fewer than ever to see likes of J P Leblanc show that the blues is in safe hands, even white ones, in young America. Maybe around 18 or so, but sounding like Chicago veterans for the few leaning against the gale in the sun. Special points also to Beach for a great set and The Snakes - another UK young band prepared to take on the Jayhawks and make modern country a UK thing.

    Alas I had to leave and so missed the Hot Club of Cowtown and many other (apologies for not name checking several others seen, but it's what I like that sticks of course - and this is an enthusiasts' report, not a journalist balanced account; sorry). But one suspects that the handful left ended up as rocking at they were on Saturday night.

    One dreads to think of the losses; but praise for the organisers (other than no worthwhile routing indicator signs and no local publicity other than web), superb stage management, amazing booking policy. Thanks, Sypdaradio, Borderline, etc. etc. You made an old man very happy (and wet). See, we can rock along dawn 'ere in Darset, m'dear……

    Next year? Fine weather? Still clashing with/complementing Glastonbury?

    From: CS & KSA Booth

    SpydaFest 2004

    Southwell Business Park, Portland, Dorset

    June 25-27 2004

    Press Release May 2004

    A new high quality roots music and community arts festival is set to take place at Southwell Business Park on the Isle of Portland, Dorset. SpydaFest will be an intimate, high quality music festival featuring international roots, rock and world music acts set in the spectacular natural environment of the UNESCO World Heritage Coastline.

    Promoted by leading internet radio station SpydaRadio ( in association with London's celebrated Borderline Club and roots music agency Mutiny Music, the event will showcase the eclectic music programming of Spyda Radio and The Borderline with a strong bias towards contemporary songwriting excellence from both sides of the Atlantic. SpydaFest will also draw national attention to the quality home grown live music scene to be found in South Dorset. The event will present a full programme of live music on two stages, with workshops, children's entertainers, market stalls, food concessions and a licensed bar.

    Ten per cent of the Ticket Sales will go to the charity Big Issue International to benefit homeless people the world over

    The Eastleigh Folk Dance Club - Still going strong after 27 years!

    I had the great honour of being invited to call the steps for the dances one Monday evening in March [2003], at the Eastleigh Folk Dance Club. Not only was it a mutually beneficial experience, but it was one of those memorably wonderful ones as well.

    More and more these days, I find myself in those situations which, in military terms, I suppose is referred to as "cutting-edge"; What I'm doing is calling the dance steps at functions where 95% of those present haven't the faintest notion of what folk dancing is about or, as is generally the case, nobody at all has the slightest clue; except that someone thought that folk-dancing would be a good idea! Although nevertheless enjoyable, these functions can often turn out to be tough gigs, and as far as the dances themselves go, generally only the simplest can be attempted! The reward, however, for an evening of haranging the crowd and 'always wanting two more couples on the floor', comes in the form of one or two people coming up to me at the end and saying; "I never knew this folk dance stuff was such good fun! - Where else can I experience it?"

    I therefore jumped at the chance to call at the Eastleigh Folk Dance Club, for not only were my dances appreciated by the Club Members, the advantage to me was the opportunity to "try out" some of the dances I seldom do and, even better, some I've never ever called before!

    The atmosphere was great: the dance music being provided by an excellent "scratch" band headed by Stuart Martin of "Turk Town Troopers".

    I would recommend anyone who enjoys folk-dancing to contact Joy Simmons, who helps run the club, on 023 8025 2248.

    Likewise, any of you callers out there who, like me, enjoy any opportunity to try new or "old" dances out in a friendly atmosphere; do give Joy a call.

    The venue; the Railway Mechanics Institute in Eastleigh, has very good parking facilities nearby and can be reached very easily off of the M27.

    Raymond Sargent
    Date sent: Thu, 01 May 2003

    Jack Williams

    Last night. Another Wednesday night. April showers in semi-rural Southern England.

    Another itinerant singer-songwriter from the USA.
    A strange alien venue, in some foreign country.
    Another rare, genuine, fan, making the effort to put on a gig, promote and take a financial risk to spread the word about damn good music and friendship.
    There's one in France, another in Belgium, never enough, but thank the gods they do exist.
    This time it's Brian, and Mike, the Silver Fox and the Miscreant.
    This strange venue, surrounded by mud and little else. It's called a forge. Upstairs, a bar with beer sticky flooring, tatty stools and wobbly tables under low lights. A one foot high stage with a low ceiling, and a damn good P.A. system. The support band is doing a sound check. Mike the p.a. guy lights a thin roll-up cigarette, and casually produces a beautiful balance and tone. No hassles.

    "YONDER" are "opening" tonight. Local guys - West Sussex and East Hampshire, with hearts steeped in the music of the southern USA.
    Andrew Perry, well, that's me, playing guitar and singing. Pat Francis, best described by one of the audience - "a damn good mandolin player, but a great dobro player". David, 20 years our junior, playing Fender bass.

    Brian comes to the mic. at 7.55 and announces the start of the evening, and the deal for the quickly settling audience, pay not as you enter, but as you leave - IF you have had a good time !

    YONDER starts up, the sound is good, my voice hangs in there, Pat's mandolin is sweet and melodic, his dobro curls toes and bends mouths into smiles. Dave keeps the bass low and funky. The audience settle in, uncertainty fades and a quiet, reserved British crowd is listening and enjoying. Yonder finish, time for the main act. Tall, thin, a little funky, makes women smile, well in "that" way. The dirtiest, tattiest Martin D35 you ever did see is sprinkling out the most captivating notes and phrases even before he gets to the stage.


    I've said it before, I'll say it again. Every song a novel. A story, complete scene setting, words paint the action, a clear image. Everyone hears every word and sees the story unfold in their mind's eye whilst this graggy thin guy casually pulls phrases and rhythms and feelings from that battered old guitar.

    Introductions are long, conversational, and fascinating. Everyone in the crowd, those familiar with Jack's work, and those seeing him for the first time, are in the company of a fascinating old friend. We become familiar with the green of the Carolinas and with the feeling of sitting by the trickle of the Rio Grande during a south Texas August at the Big Bend watching birds and locals disdain the notional barrier between the USA and Mexico.

    An hour of stories, songs, and music rolls into one and passes in a moment. We come to, shake our heads, and stroll to the bar, meet friends, schmooze, buy CDs.

    Then suddenly, another hour. The spell binder is back, the skinny guy is getting funkier by the minute. He tells of white folks from Boston singing the blues, and a whole melee of stories, about homes bought, sold, and burnt down, about Japanese annas, nine year University stays, and about becoming sixty with forty five years as a gigging, travelling musician, of playing classical music at concerts, jazz standards in smoky clubs, of playing the lute to Sir Arthur Bliss, of southern characters, like Josh White and James P Dickey.

    By 11 p.m. a disparate group of British music fans have shared another's warm, funny, fascinating lifetime.

    There's that last song. Jack warns us that it's gonna be a rough ride ! He calls it "That's all", and it takes us through just about every music style you could imagine - yes even that - and through maybe twenty different songs before that last four chord finish.

    Time for the load out, friends backs are patted and promises made. Jack hugs me, and Judy's sparkling smile warms me. Brian seems happy with the evening, and is as generous as ever, and Miscreant Mike has a new light in his eyes - I'm heartened by that. Goodnight, all, Steve and Sue, Rod and his child bride, Gerry, Chris, Steve, old friends, new friends. It's about music, about stories, about friendships. Thanks Brian.

    Just another itinerant singer-songwriter evening ? No.

    Oh no.

    Thanks Jack.

    Andy (The Limey)
    (Yonder site still under construction)
    Date sent: Fri, 9 Apr 2004

    Trevor Gilson, SCoFF Webmaster

    Back to SCoFF Home Page
    Back to FASH Home Page
    (or Close Window to return to News if that is where you came from)!