Monday, July 05, 2010


June 19th
Folk House, Bristol

Aidan starts making avant garde fiddle noises. Kris starts doing wierd slide guitar noises. "When this surreal soundscape returns to something like western music" explains Martin the squeeze box man "audiences sometimes applaud." Eventually it does, and we do. But I couldn't help thinking that this finale (deliberately, I shouldn't wonder) rather summed up the act. Taking sound along way away from traditional folk music, and even from music, but then bringing it back again.

I am possibly rather too inclined to say that anything which is quite clearly very good indeed, but which I'm clearly not quite "getting" is "a bit like jazz". Richard is more of a jazzman than a folkie, and particularly wanted to come to this gig. He pronounced the "brilliant" and brought the CD.

They start with traditional, or traditional sounding, melodies, and weave long, long riffs around them, at least partly improvised. (There's no sheet music in evidence.) The melody is passed from accordian to guitar to fiddle, getting faster and fast, interweaving more and more complex rhythms. In the end, there's only rhythm. At the end of one of the pieces, Aidan the fiddler said he was out of breath. One wonders what would happen at a venue where there was space to get up and dance. Energetic, physical music. Music as combat sport.

An honourable mention, while I am talking about things I don't understand, to Mamolshn, the support band, doing traditional Jewish folk music with great enthusiasm and clarity. A traditional Hebrew love song; a modern Yiddish piece about cooking; a liturgical song which makes me think that synagogues must be a lot more fun than churches. Never having knowingly heard a Jewish folk song before, I thought they were terrrific.

"You know the gig's going to be good when you'd have paid to hear the support act" quoth Richard.