Sidetracks And Detours present PASS IT ON 43 weekly walkabout Supplement 10 3 2024

Sidetracks And Detours



weekly walkabout Sunday Supplement 10 3 2024

Hello and thanks for joining us on what is a fabulous Sunday morning here. We´ve swept up the leaves of all the pieces of arts related news that we hadn´t quite been able to pour into our Monday to Friday daily not-for-profit blogs last week. We are delivering some impressive Manchester Folk music news of live gigs and folk albums enjoying chart success. Their synergetic brothers and sisters from the folk administration of Sound Roots also deliver exciting news of Canada / England folk exchanges and also about how Sound Roots will have an ambassador at the very prestigious SXSW music festival in Texas this year. UK and USA Jazz artist, Jenny Bray, is regularly featured on our pages both at PASS  IT ON and also Sidetracks And Detours. Despite playing regular gigs, appearing on radio programmes, writing songs and recording them, Jenny still finds ways to put back into the community. We bring you news of her song for Bridlington. Two fantastic musicians are lined up to play in Manchester shortly so you find where to hear Nitin Sawhney and Tokio Myers who will each be in concert in the city. Our Americana correspondent, Peter Pearson, recalls several years of following Tom Paxton gigs and tells us all about other artists he met along the way. Norman Warwick brings us Island Insights from Lanzarote when reviewing a fantastic Flamenco Fusion band and dancers who proved themselves to be absolutely authentic. So what´s not to like?


Live Music

FOLK GIGS AND CHARTS previewed by Manchester Folk

Folk Administration

MARKETS AND EXCHANGES previewed by Sound Roots

Recrorded Muisc


Jazz On Air


Live Music

NITIN SAWHNEY previewed by I Love Manchester

Live Music

TOKIO MYERS previewed by The Stoller Hall

A Reader´s Perspective: All Points Forward


Island Insights

FLAMENCO FUSION reviewed by Norman Warwick

Live Fold Muisc


McGoldrick, McCusker & Doyle: 16th March Stoller Hall previewed by Manchester Folk

Folk music’s legendary triumvirate of musical magpies Mike McGoldrick, John Doyle and John McCusker  (left) are on tour again.

As live music returns, Mike, John & John will bring you their own blend of top-class folk songs, tunes and charming bonhomie.

All three musicians have won global acclaim: John Doyle (Dublin – vocals, guitar, bouzouki, mandola) is an Irish music linchpin and a founder member of acclaimed group Solas, who has worked with Joan Baez, Linda Thompson and Mary Chapin Carpenter. BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Winner John McCusker (Glasgow – fiddle, whistles, harmonium) has played with The Battlefield Band, Mark Knopfler and Bob Dylan, recorded with Paul Weller, and recently produced albums for Eddi Reader, Heidi Talbot and Kris Drever. Mike McGoldrick (Manchester – flute, whistles, Uileann pipes, bodhran, clarinet, congas) is a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner, founding member of Lúnasa, and current member of Capercaillie, who has worked with Mark Knopfler, Eddi Reader, John Cale. And that’s just for starters.

With their vast repertoire, this will be an evening to remember. Described as the masters of flute, fiddle, song and guitar they have worked with the biggest and brightest and bring you a night of beautifully crafted music. Having shared stages and recording studios with everyone from Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler to Paul Weller, Joan Baez and Linda Thompson, Mike, John & John are a rare musical treat you’ll savour for a very long time.

Kathryn Tickel & The Darkening

19th April | Hallé St Peter’s

Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening explore the connecting threads of music, landscape and people over a period of almost 2000 years. Witness glorious vocal harmonies and the wildest of piping. Together these dazzling musicians create dynamic and unique musical magic.

Good Habits ‘Quarter Life’ Album Release Tour 
4th May | Gullivers

Good Habits (Bonnie Schwarz – cello + vocals, Pete Shaw – accordion) mix virtuosic musicianship and vocal harmony with vivid storytelling, drawing on their diverse musical tastes and weaving them into an action-packed narrative of folky goodness.

Dan Willson is Scotland’s acclaimed singer songwriter Withered Hand. He has released three albums and a number of EPs over the last 15 years and has toured internationally, amassing a devoted following while staying close to his DIY roots in the underground music scene.

Kathryn Williams is a Mercury Music prize nominated English singer songwriter who has released 16 albums. She had collaborated with poet Dame Carol Ann Duffy, author Laura Barnett and written songs with Paul Weller, Neill Maccoll and Michele and Romeo Stodart, to name just a few. She has written a novel The Ormering Tide, hosts her own podcast Before the Light Goes Out and tutors at the Arvon and Moniack Mhor Foundations.

Kathryn and Dan met in 2019 in a Spiegeltent in Edinburgh at a Book Festival event curated by Hollie McNish and Michael Pedersen. They both think it’s weird that they hadn’t met before as they both share many of the same friends in music, James Yorkston, Rachel Sermanni, Kathryn Joseph etc. Sometimes they think that they might have met at a Fence Collective festival years ago. At least Kath thinks she remembers Dan but Dan doesn’t seem to remember much.

Their co-writing started when Kathryn wrote a tweet to Dan asking, “What kind of songs would we write together and what would they sound like?” or something to that effect. Dan was convinced she had sent it to the wrong person. But she hadn’t. Curious to meet and find out, Kath travelled up to Edinburgh where Dan lives. They wrote two songs together and then Dan travelled down to Newcastle where Kath lives, and they wrote more.

Then covid hit, which prompted the technophobes to write and meet online. They both also took to live stream concerts on Instagram. By the end of lockdown, they had a whole album of songs.

The initial premise and starting point for them both was discussions and open conversations on bereavement. They had both recently lost friends who were also in the public eye and talked about the strange place between personal loss and the communal grieving of a public figure.

A friendship developed alongside the writing of the album. Before the time came to record the album, Dan wrote his first solo album in ten years released early 2023 on Reveal Records. Dan says that the writing and the friendship with Kath rejuvenated his own song writing process enough to be able to do this. Dan says of the collaborative process 

“We talk and spend time together and then its almost like the next time we sit down to write, it’s like a synthesis of late-night kitchen conversations become distilled into the songs. It’s hard to separate whose done what and where the songs sprang from.”

Kath says “yeah…what he said.”

Sam Carter¨ 17th May Peer Hat

Sam Carter returns with a tour of intimate venues, previewing material from his fifth studio album, which is due for release in 2024.

Over the course of his fifteen-year career, Sam has earned a reputation for vivid, narrative-driven songwriting which Uncut described as being as ´penetrating as Richard Thompson´s best work´

Sam is a highly regarded instrumentalist to boot, and is renowned by many as the finest English-style fingerpicking guitarist of his generation and has been described as having ´a killer voice´ by Ivor Novello- winning musician Nitin Sawhney.

His impressive back catalogue and captivating live shows attest to his ability to bring together a diverse set of influences from English folk song and American shapenote singing through to hard rock. Sam has made appearances on national TV, won a BBC Folk Award, and has toured the world, sharing stages with some of folk’s leading lights, including Richard Thompson, Eliza Carthy, Martin Simpson and Nancy Kerr.


6 new entries, including a new 1, 2, 3!

In at no.1 is Katherine Priddy’s The Pendulum Swing. Speaking of the new album Katherine says; “despite moving forward and feeling the need to do something different with this second release, I still can’t help but return to those fundamental, unchanging things at the root of it all: home, family, love.” Catch Katherine live in Manchester on 8th May at Band on the Wall

Close behind at no.2 is Sea Songs by Bryn Terfel (far left). Featuring a whole host of special guests, including Sting, Sir Simon Keenlyside, Fisherman’s Friends and Calan, the album presents a rich and diverse repertoire of traditional music with sea shanties, spirited sailor songs and maritime folk tunes in brand new arrangements

At no.3 is The Pilgrim, Their God and the King of My Decrepit Mountain. The latest release from South London-based 6-piece Tapir! follows a three-act structure as three four-track EPs which tell the story of an ambiguous red creature known as The Pilgrim, on a journey across a mythical landscape of eerie forests, stormy seas and unholy mountains populated by beasts, injured birds and idealised eidolons. 

The Longest Johns are in at no.10 with their new offering Voyage. Their 5th studio album promises a unique take on traditional folk songs and shanties, informed by seafaring history and inspired by key moments and landmarks which have sparked stories, tales and legends throughout the centuries. The album release is accompanied by a UK, Europe, US and Canadian tour throughout 2024.

Also in is Spin by Scottish Fiddlers RANT (left). After performing together for over a decade delivering both traditional and self-penned music, sees their new take on influential tracks in their formative years;  music of bands and palers from across the globe, who inspired them individually and collectively, including tracks from Capercaillie and Liz Carol.

The final new entry in this month´s chart comes from Project Smok, with The Outset entering at 33.This is the second album from the Glasgow based trio of Al Lavack (whistle and pipes), Pablo Lafuente (guitar) and Ewan Baird (bohdran) and it features Duncan Lyall as a guest musician and producer and builds on the genre-bending style the group is well known for, with more newáge pop and electronic influences.

Facilitating UK Folk Music:


Canada/England Exchange  Final Artist Call Out

Following a very successful exchange in 2023, we will be selecting one English/England-based singer-songwriter from the folk, roots or acoustic genres to work with a musician from Prince Edward Island in Canada, collaborating on new music. 

This exchange will include three days of writing and recording in Canada before attending Showcase PEI in Sept 2024, including a 20 minute delegate showcase at the event. Then both artists will travel to Manchester, England for three more days of writing and rehearsing before attending English Folk Expo in March 2025, including a delegate showcase as part of the public Manchester Folk Festival.

English Folk Expo 2025
First Artist Announcement Soon

English Folk Expo 2025 (EFEx) will be here before you know it! Running from lunchtime on Thursday 20th March to late on Saturday 22nd into the early hours of Sunday 23rd March 2025 in Manchester, in our newly permanent place on the annual conference calendar, it will once again be a hub of networking and new discoveries, welcoming industry from across the world. Artist applications for our 2025 event have now closed. Look out for the first wave of artist announcements towards the end of this month. So you don’t miss any announcements by Sound Roots / English Folk Expo.

Meet Tom at SXSW

If you are travelling to South By Southwest, running from the 8th-16th March, Sound Roots CEO Tom Besford will be on hand to talk about all the initiatives of Sound Roots, Manchester Folk Festival and to talk to prospective delegates for English Folk Expo 2024.

recorded music


by Jenny Bray

Bridlington was the jewel in the crown along a slice of the North East coastline and my childhood summers were filled with days out to Filey,  (about which I wrote memories in a song called The Boats Will Come Home with Pete Benbow) and Scarborough where my son later went to university and Brid, which had a great beach and sea wall to kick a ball about on. My birth place of Tadcaster was only about a sixty mile round trip from this famous seaside area, and now that I live here on Lanzarote with seemingly 24 / 7 sunshine, and it´s coastlines of gorgeous harbours and seascapes, it seems strange, perhaps to be yearning for those three seaside towns and Whitby, too, of course.

This all comes to mind because I have just learned that singer-songwriter and pianist Jenny Bray has just written a sea-song about Bridlington, which she says is a special love letter to the town.

Most PASS IT ON readers will be aware that Jenny allowed us and our parent organisation Sidetracks and Detours, to follow her progress throughout last year in the writing and recording of One Hare One Owl, an album that has sat on my lists ever since. If you just tap the name Jenny Bray into our search engine you will easily find articles about Jenny in our archives of 1,100 and more free-to-read items in our archives.

Jenny wrote this homage to Bridlington when she was living in New York, feeling homesick and missing her mum. Now she is hoping to perform the song to support fund-raising activities or similar events organised by the local town council or lifeboat-station.

Jenny stated that she would love to perform it locally in the town to support any fund-raising, town council or lifeboat ceremony events, so please get in touch !

Jenny is a performer and composer working in both the UK and the USA and has just released her third album, the aforementioned One Hare One Owl.

She is a working mother and we know how family life is so important to her. She also has a busy working schedule, coping with media demands, promotional events, performances and teaching budding musicians. We know from songs like Ringing Bells on her current album how much community events mean to her.

Her song, Bridlington, is now available on all streaming platforms such as Spotify, I music, You Tube Music,  and Deezer etc.

To contact jenny you can visit

to find out more.

On air sign background

Jazz On Air

HOT BISCUITS prepared by Steve Bewick

This week´s selection of HOT BISCUITS is a  broadcast that takes a look at Jazz Scotland, and the recent Jazz awards, with a feature on the main awards and fresh Scottish jazz.

My colleague Gary Heywood-Everett reviews John McCullough‘ SWIFT.

Swift are a jazz fusion band of the 70’s now reformed to release a new CD, In Another Lifetime.

If this sounds interesting then join me 24/07 and PASS IT ON to more friends of Jazz. Find us at MIXCLOUD.COM

Live Music


previewed by I Love Manchester newsletter

Nitin Sawhney CBE is a British musician, producer and composer. A recipient of the Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement award in 2017, among multiple international awards throughout his career. Sawhney’s work combines Asian and other worldwide influences with elements of electronica and often explores themes such as multiculturalism, politics, and spirituality. Sawhney is also active in the promotion of arts and cultural matters, is chair of the PRS Foundation, sits on the board of trustees of theatre company Complicité, and is a patron of numerous film festivals, venues, and educational institutions. In 2021 he was an ambassador for the Royal Albert Hall.

Sawhney has scored for and performed with orchestras, and collaborated with and written for Paul McCartneySting, the London Symphony OrchestraA. R. RahmanBrian EnoSinéad O’ConnorJacob GoldenAnoushka ShankarJeff BeckShakiraWill YoungJoss StoneTaio CruzEllie GouldingHorace AndyCirque du SoleilAkram KhanDeepa MehtaMira NairNelson MandelaOjos de BrujoHélène GrimaudNatacha AtlasJools HollandJorja SmithJohn Hurt and Pink Floyd. Performing extensively around the world, he has achieved an international reputation across multiple artistic mediums.

Often appearing as Artist in Residence, Curator or Musical Director at international festivals, Sawhney contributes to musical education, having acted as patron of the British Government’s Access-to-music programme, the East London Film festival and, currently, Artist as well as acting as a judge for The Ivor Novello AwardsBAFTABIFA and a new role as Patron for the PRS foundation. He is a recipient of 7 honorary doctorates from British universities, is a fellow of LIPA and the Southbank University, an Associate of Sadler’s Wells, sits on the board for British theatre company Complicite. In 2017, Sawhney received the Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement award.

Having turned down an OBE in 2007, stating it was associated with “a colonial past”, Sawhney accepted a higher-grade CBE in the 2019 New Year Honours. He accepted it for his father, who he said had died regretting that Sawhney had rejected the OBE.

Since 2014, the publishing interest of Nitin Sawhney’s catalogue has been represented by Reservoir Media Management.

At the time of going to press, it seems, although tickets might not be made available for a few days yet, Sawhney will be presenting a special evening from the Halle at The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester on the 4th May 2024.

His albums are wonderfully ethereal and although I have unfortunately never seen him perform live I can only imagine how wonderful such a performance would be.

Live Music

TØKIO M¥ERS classical musician

07.05.24, 7.30pm The Stoller Hall; Manchester previewed by The Stoller Hall newsletter

Tøkio Myers performs his new solo classical album featuring an array of beautiful and reflective pieces of original music inspired by the birth of his first daughter. Tøkio will also include stripped back arrangements of his most popular works; released and unreleased.

For the first time ever, Tøkio will be adding selections of traditional classical music to this tour, letting audiences discover what works have influenced and shaped his unique sound.

“A classical pianist and percussionist energised and inspired by old-school electronica and raw hip hop elements, Myers is a classic crossover act” ★★★★ – The Scotsman

A Reader´s Perspective: All Points Forward


with Peter Pearson

At one time I thought of Tom Paxton as a folk singer with a penchant for comedy and satire. In the seventies he featured regularly on British television and had his own show. Indeed, he lived here for four years in that decade, before returning to the USA.

It was Nanci Griffith’s Other Voices Other Rooms 1993 album, which featured his song Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound, that awakened my interest in him. Nanci released a VHS video of a concert recorded at the Paramount Theatre, Austin, Texas, featuring almost all the songwriters featured on the album and this, together with her CD, seemed to rekindle an interest not only  in Tom’s music but also in the music of several other artists featured on the album.

Shortly after this Tom (right) released his 1994 album, Wearing The Time. This bridged the gap between the pure folk of his roots and that of a wider acoustic singer songwriter.

Produced by Jim Rooney, who had worked with the likes of Nanci Griffith and John Prine, it featured some of the very best Nashville sidemen with Al Perkins on dobro, Kenny Malone on percussion and Roy Huskey Jnr on bass. Harmony vocals were provided by, amongst others, Iris Dement, Verlon Thompson and Jack “Cowboy” Clement.

The album is today generally regarded as one of his best and in concert Tom presented the first three tracks in sequence as his Tulsa trilogy-Along The Verdigris, Passing Through Tulsa and Getting Up Early. I loved the album and resolved to see him on his next UK visit.

This came very soon and on the 9th November 1995 I went to see him at the first of a few unusual venues in which I was to see him in the UK.

The venue was a private school in Sandbach Cheshire about 25 miles from where I lived. As a bonus, support on the tour was from Carolyn Hester (left). Known as the Texas Songbird, she gave Bob Dylan his first break in 1961 when she invited him to play on her third album and Dylan subsequently joined the same Columbia label. Nanci Griffith, a fellow Texan, was a firm admirer and she and Carolyn sang duet on Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather on Nanci´s Other Voices album.

I was amazed when Tom opened his set with Bottle Of Wine and the whole audience in the school assembly hall spontaneously joined in. I had most of them down as parents of the school children who had been invited to attend to make up the numbers. How wrong could I be?  Carolyn Hester and her husband joined Paxton on stage to provide the vocal harmonies that Iris Dement performed on the album.

It was an evening to remember. The only downside was that after the concert I came out to a pea souper of a fog that even made me think about booking into a hotel for the evening, rather than risk the motorway journey back. Deciding to chance it I was relieved to find that it was clear after only a few miles of white knuckle driving.

A memento of the concert came the following week when his Warwick Arts Centre concert, again with Carolyn Hester, a couple of days later was recorded and broadcast by BBC Radio 2 for their “In Concert” series. I was hooked and looked forward to his next visit.

This came in July 1996 at another unlikely venue. I learned that he was to perform at what his agents told me was billed as a private gig at Rowton Hall Hotel in Chester. They said that tickets were limited and not on open sale but that if I turned up they would probably let me in. I dutifully turned up at what was an upmarket hotel set in the countryside about four miles from Chester. Enquiring at reception they said they would just check the numbers since space was limited and came back to me with a yes I was ok to go in. I found myself a front row seat in a room that held about no more than 25. I knew I was in exalted company when I spotted Rick Parry, then Chief Executive of the Premier League, sitting a couple of rows behind me. Apparently he lived locally. I think Jacqui McShee (right) of Pentangle had organised the gig but, other than tickets not being on open sale and it being termed private, the gig was the same as any other.

I was surprised to see Tom walk in with musicians Pete and Maura Kennedy (left) and knew we were in for a rare treat. Known as the Kennedys the husband and wife team met when they were members of Nanci Griffith’s Blue Moon Orchestra.

Pete Kennedy, a master of guitar, provided lead on that instrument and Maura featured on harmony vocals.

Throughout an all acoustic evening, the pair were perfect foils for Tom Paxton’s glorious melodies. It was a one-off gig as they happened to be touring on their own account in the UK at the same time and in the same vicinity as Tom. The show ranks high on my list of best ever gigs.

1996 turned out to be a vintage year for Tom Paxton in the UK. That summer, in mid August, we had a couple of weeks holiday booked in Scarborough, North Yorks where we had friends that played in the Spa Orchestra. Just before setting off I learned that Tom Paxton was appearing at the Talbot Inn in Scarborough town centre in the first week I was there and that Tom Russell (right) was appearing at nearby Whitby in the second week. I went to both.

The Talbot Inn was an old pub that normally featured local folk artists and the small room at the rear was crammed to the gunnels for the standing room only solo acoustic gig on a sultry Scarborough evening.

The following November Paxton was again in the UK. That would be three times in one year, and very unusual for an international touring artist. This time the venue was another unusual one, being the grand Birkenhead Town Hall in Hamilton Square.

Tom had employed Jez Luton, a UK folk singer and guitarist, to accompany him on guitar and vocals and also perform a short opening support set. Tom was now incorporating songs from his new album on Sugar Hill, Live For The Record, into his set.

In May 1997 Tom was billed to appear on BBC Radio 2 Folk On 2, which was being recorded in Manchester Central Library Theatre. I managed to obtain the free tickets and turned up expecting to see him.

This was in pre internet days when news did not travel fast, so I was surprised to learn from presenter Jim Lloyd that Tom had health issues that prevented his visit. On the plus side I was treated to performances from Carolyn Hester and Lucy Kaplansky (left).

He must have made a quick recovery as in July the tiny Lymm Railway Folk Club managed to book him to appear at their club which normally only booked local folk artists. It was only a short distance from where I lived but I had never been before and somehow managed to obtain a ticket for what was to be a gig that sold out rapidly.

The venue was tiny. It was in the upstairs room of the Lymm Railway Hotel and seating was on wooden benches; the atmosphere claustrophobic. Smoking inside had yet to be banned so I was relieved to hear the pre show announcement that the audience should refrain from smoking.

Tom performed a fine solo acoustic set to a highly enthusiastic audience. Whilst the club continues to exist, they have re-located several times since then and the Railway Hotel venue was destroyed by fire in 2007.

This was to be the last of the highly unusual venues at which I was to see Tom and thereafter I followed him to the more conventional places.

In the spring of 1999 BBC Radio 2 broadcast a Tom Paxton eight part series titled Tom Paxton Still Ramblin’. Each show lasted a half hour and featured Tom interviewing and performing with a guest artist. The following guests appeared:

1 Pete Seeger. 2 Iris Dement. 3 John Prine. 4 Peter Paul and Mary. 5 Hal Ketchum. 6 Janis Ian. 7 Guy Clark. 8 Kathy Mattea. The audio for each show is currently on Youtube.

In future years Tom’s normal annual appearances in the Manchester area were at the Salford Lowry Theatre and I was also to see him several times at Southport Arts Centre. In 2001 he released his album Under American Skies featuring Anne Hills and they performed together at The Lowry. He continued to release a series of fine acoustic albums, mostly produced by Jim Rooney. In 2014 I was lucky to catch him on tour with Janis Ian who appeared on his Redemption Road album together with John Prine.

At 87 Tom Paxton is still ramblin; most recently at the Half Moon in Putney earlier this month, and is still composing and releasing albums. Norman Warwick introduced his then 10 year old son, Andrew, to Tom Paxton (right) when the family all heard Tom play at the Gracie Fields Theatre in Rochdale in 1990. Andrew´s South Korean wife and daughter have come to love Tom Paxton songs and Andrew plays them to his students at his school in Seoul to this day. What a Marvellous Toy Paxton and his songs have given to generations of children around the world.

Island Insights

como del agua.

ANTONIO DE LA ROSA & FLAMENCO FUSION sound authentic says Norman Warwick

When roots become entangled by too much twisting and turning the resultant flower can sometimes seem frail and pallid. On the other hand, some of my favourite music is created by such fusion. I wondered, therefore, what might be the result of the fusion being promoted here tonight.  To keep the agricultural motif going, I can say that this roots music was absolutely blooming marvellous.

Antonio de la Rosa has put together a quite superb ensemble..

Como del Agua is a musical and flamenco dance performance that goes from flamenco fusion to a more traditional flamenco style, paying tribute to Paco de Lucía, whose music inspired Antonio de la Rosa ever since his beginnings as a guitar player, as well as Camarón de la Isla, author of the song the performance is named after. Different styles merge into one.

Some of the guest artists attending were singer Carlos Loma, Ayoze Rodrígez (clarinet), sax player and dancer, Anna Villacampa. There was a female vocalist, too, who was quite extraordinary and a male dancer who danced electric in his pursuit of the lady and his love of the flamenco.

This was being delivered free, paid for by the local authority as part of its cultural awareness mission, to an audience of 100 or so who packed into the beautiful, but small, theatre within the Casa de la Culture in Yaiza on Friday 1st March.

It was one of those cold and stormy nights with raging winds that we suffer on Lanzarote once or twice a year. The twelve kilometre drive to the theatre from our home in Playa Blanca was slow and hazardous, like crossing the Atlantic in a small paddle boat.

The ride was worth the fare, and on the drive home, as we discussed excitedly what we had seen and heard, we were so enraptured that we didn´t notice whether or not the storm had abated.

Two dancers, and six musicians seated behind them, turned this beautiful and cosy little theatre into a street corner bar in Spain and took us back in time by a few decades to when flamenco was played and danced not always in reputable venues. In those days flamenco was about social comment, and protest; a long way from the sweetened-until-it-tastes-like-tea flamenco that is poured for the tourists.

What we had here was an incredible sound, that was not too distant from the music that would reverberate from Ry Cooder and his Buena Vista Social Club mates in the late nineteen nineties.

What we had had here was the precise ramshackle of The Band playing The Last Waltz For Bob Dylan.

What we had here was a Spanish African fusion delivered by an ace keyboard player, a player of a violin like instrument who created sounds that seemed to emanate from his own little world, a lady vocalist blending her yearning effortlessly into the instrumental sound that also included a driving yet empathetic beat box player and an understated saxophone that beautifully filled space between notes. All this was led by the incredible Antonio, who changed in and out of beautiful finger picking and frenetic strumming of his guitar when the beat was called for.

Stepping out in front of them from time to time were two dancers. They gave the impression of a couple who had caught each other´s eye across a street-bar floor. A weird courtship was carried out during which the male strutted his stuff and spread his tail-feathers, peacock fashion as it were. The lady dancer seemed, to us, and perhaps to him, to be luring him in and then rejecting him, but he returned with increasingly impressive dance movements.

It was not hard to imagine this was all taking place in a dingy nightclub fifty or sixty years ago and this theatre audience, in which we might well have been the only English residents amongst an otherwise Spanish contingent, seemed to fall easily into  the role as night club patrons sending ole´s and bravos out across the ´dance floor´.

Two of the main protagonists, of course, were Antonia and the enigmatic female vocalist. They are in fact well known as musicians but during the Covid period they played wherever they could as strolling buskers and made a great contribution to the community by delivering gentle concerts to small audiences under safely regulated conditions.

Any new residents or regular holiday makers to Lanzarote should be well advised to keep their eyes open for performances by this ensemble… they are authentic. It felt like the real thing.. and it was irresistible. 

We head out tomorrow morning down the sidetracks and detours that will lead us to explore the difference between a Brief Encounter and a Still Life. Julie Hesmondhalgh will introduce us to These I Love. We will stroll across the Guitar Bridge that joins rock and jazz and we will walk back home with a book about Classic Guitars for which we´re gonna need a bigger bookshelf. If you see us coming somewhere down your way come on over and say hi.

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