House concerts are the norm in North America; much less so in the UK. It was therefore a real find and a lovely surprise to be introduced to a place called The Wheelhouse a couple of years ago, whilst on the local folk and roots music festival circuit. It took until last September to secure an ‘invite’ and we attended a gig with what turned out to be a surprisingly talented and very entertaining band called ‘The Outside Track‘.
On Saturday, we went again and, with a capacity audience of thirty five people, saw the evergreen Phil Beer, a multi instrumentalist and virtuoso Musician / Singer / Songwriter / Composer / Producer from the South West of England, who has rubbed shoulders over the years with the good and great of the business. Considering he had woken up the previous day with what he described as Man’flu, with a rather crokey voice, his performance was quite frankly astonishing.
The warm up act, this their first gig, was no less impressive. Its anchorman, Jamie Roberts, established, with Katriona Gilmore, as part of the successful, two times BBC Folk Awards nominees for best duo, Gilmore & Roberts, is a real talent. His partners
(Rosie Hood and Matt Quinn) in their new venture, The Dovetail Trio, were shining examples of what quality young talent lies as yet undiscovered, at least by us. What a voyage of discovery this world of music is!
The poem that follows was inspired by that evening of music and its charming performers.
A floral bunting points and bows
to David Oddy guitars;
below, a tiny stage is set
for a surprising list of stars.
The first to warm this humble place
a name we’ve seen before:
the boy, who makes six strings his own
with the fiddle voiced Gilmore.
(A boy, whose sister Kathryn,
makes sweet folk music and
who’s wed to another sibling boy
from the ranks of the Lakeman clan.)
And so, the Dovetail Trio formed;
the Roberts boy made song
with Rosie voiced Hood and squeeze box Quinn,
they impressed the gathered throng;
a throng, whose body may be small
but heart is mighty big;
it’s not the size that matters here
’tis the quality of the gig.
This humble garden shed is home
to a couple with a mission
to bring to town the best of folk,
with energy from musical fission.
Whilst Lynn gives over house and home
to wine and dine the guests,
Hedley gets all stars to come,
securing the very best.
He never tires in endless search
for an international star;
visiting a shed in Wombwell town,
the occasional musical tzar.
So Phil your glasses with lots of Beer
and drink his music in;
his knowledge, virtuosity
and a striking mandolin.
With three guitars, he picks and strums
the songs of history;
of folk and roots and legends, with
He’s one of few that I have seen,
with fiddle and bow in hand,
can sing as well as chase the notes
like a one man ceilidh band.
There’s fame among the audience too,
who’re ” Willin’ ” to sing along;
Dave Burland sang the hook refrain
in harmony with this song.
He’s one of many, who’ve visited
this palace made of wood,
whose atmosphere casts a spell
like a lyrical plate of food.
It’s a privilege to hear this euphony,
an age-old way to define
original song, whose language tells
a story in every line.
Stories told in such a way,
they touch the souls of all,
who come to Graceland Wheelhouse
and leave with hearts in thrall.
Photo of The Outside Track and Poem © 2014 John Anstie.
Photo of The Dovetail Trio by Allan Wilkinson