Monday, July 17, 2006

Gren Bartley, Tom Kitching, Frank Marmion - at the Vat and Fiddle, Nottingham, Sunday, 16th July, 2006...



























A hot day. I arrived in Nottingham early so repaired to the Bentinck for fluids – a pleasant surprise: the test match on several screens. I was tempted to stay there for the afternoon... But duty called...

The Vat and Fiddle Sunday session is becoming a regular feature for the boys – Gren and Tom, backed up with the Blessed Frank Marmion's experience. The crowd were thin on the ground today – due to the extremely hot weather - although the bar filled up later and there were plenty of people outside within earshot on the benches. The format is usually the same – Frank and Tom to start, then Gren and Tom, with room for various solo slots as and when. I don't know if it was the weather and/or the comparatively smaller crowd that spurred him on but Tom especially seemed on fire – here is a young violinist who is travelling fast in his acquisition not just of instrumental technique but the incrementing experience of playing in all sorts of situations. His lines ripped out of his instrument in long flowing streams. What timbre is lost between an electric pickup and an old pa is made up for by the inventions. Frank was in good form, playing off his usual repertoire but adding a couple of new/oldies – 'Sinnerman,' for example which I have not heard for about thirty years – ideal for a freewheeling gig like this as you can bend it anywhere and add/subtract verses as needed. Good song to play after much drink when the memory is not what it could be – not to imply that any conduct unbecoming would occur in this company, of course... professionals all, young and old...

On the face of it, you would figure that Gren Bartley's music would not translate well into the rough and tumble of a bar gig – yet it does, the exemplary picking and delicate yet strong singing across a wide variety of songs – Tom Waits, Skip James, Eric Bibb to his self-penned material – combining to give a hip yet accessible package. Add Tom's violin to the equation and you have what I have called elsewhere a kind of 'chamber folk' – with a flexibility that stretches from the traditional tunes where the interplay between guitar and violin combines beautifully to the songs where violin adds a strong counterpoint taht give4s them an extra performative dimension. These two seem at home just playing music – and not bothering too much about the artificial barriers erected across the idioms, marked by 'traditional' and 'contemporary' for example...

Summer supreme sounds... and the venue is a good one, a variety of beers for those who know about these things (I'm a Grolsch man, myself...), friendly staff and only a short (stagger) walk from Nottingham railway station...

Also in attendance - the legendary 'Wild Bill' Taggart and his partner, the rather lovely Sharon, late of New Jersey. And Chris, sitting with the Blessed F...




3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Haha! I'm famous - my picture is on the internet! Unfortunately, I look like a right muppet, and not the delightful Miss Piggy either.

Lovely write-up. Tom will tell you that his name has a 'g' at the end though...

;o)

Christine

Rod... said...

...aaahhh - I always spell his name wrong - and you look fine!

Molly Bloom said...

Lovely pics. Looks like everybody is having a wonderful time. The write up is wonderful too.