The Wheelhouse Ballad

The Outside Track performing at The Wheelhouse in September 2013

The Outside Track performing at The Wheelhouse in September 2013

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

The Dovetail Trio at The Wheelhouse on 4th Jan 2014 (Photo Allan Wilkinson, all rights reserved)

The Dovetail Trio at The Wheelhouse on 4th Jan 2014 (Photo Allan Wilkinson, all rights reserved)

(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
great musicality.

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

About PoetJanstie

“Life is short and art long, the crisis fleeting, experience penniless and decision difficult” ~ Hippocrates. As a young man, John was sporting and fit. It was then as much his recreational therapy as a cappella harmony singing, music, walking in the hills and writing is now. Playing Rugby Union for over twenty years, encouraged in the early days by a school that was run on the same lines and ethos as that famous Scottish public school, Gordonstoun, where our own headmaster had been as a senior master. This gave shape and discipline to a sometimes precarious early life. His fitness was enhanced not only by playing rugby, but also by working part time jobs in farming, as a leather factory packer and security guard, but probably not helped, for a short time, selling ice cream! His professional working life was spent as a Metallurgical Engineer, Marketing Manager, Export Sales Manager, Implementation Manager and Managing Director of his own company. Thirty five years spent, apparently in a creative desert, raising a family, pursuing a career and helping to pay the bills, probably enriched his experience, because his renaissance, on retirement, realised a hidden creative talent as a writer of prose and poetry. He also enjoys music, with a piano and a fifty-two year old Yamaha FG140 acoustic guitar. He sings bass in three a cappella harmony groups: as a founding member of a mixed voice chamber choir, Fox Valley Voices and barbershop quartets. He is also a member of one of the top barbershop choruses in the UK, Hallmark of Harmony (stage name of the Sheffield Barbershop Harmony Club), who, for the eighth time in 41 years, became UK Champions in 2019. He is also a would be (once upon a time or 'has been') photographer with drawers full of his own history, and an occasional, but lapsed 'film' maker. In his other life, he doubles as a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Friend and Family man. What he writes is sometimes autobiographical, often political, sometimes dark and frequently pins his colours to the mast of climate change and how a few humans are trashing the Earth. In 2013, he published an anthology of the poetry (including his own) of an international group of poets, who met on Twitter in 2011. He produced, edited and steered the product of this work, "Petrichor Rising", to publication by Aquillrelle. His sort of strap-line reads: “ iWrite iSing iDance iChi iVolunteer ”
This entry was posted in Ballad, Folk, fun, Music, poem, poetry, Roots. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Wheelhouse Ballad

  1. Jamie Dedes says:

    John, what a delightful homage. Fun! And the venue sounds fun too. Good stuff. 🙂


  2. Gabriella says:

    What a fine idea to portray a musical evening through a ballad! It sounds like you had a wonderful evening.


  3. brian miller says:

    when i was in college we would hold concerts in the house every weekend…i love live music…and we got in so much trouble…being broken up by the cops for noise ordinances often….what a treat to find a place like this….and at 35 max it remains intimate…well done in the cadence and rhythm…i would love to go….


  4. claudia says:

    oh wow…i would love to go there…sounds like an amazing place that may be small but with a big heart indeed…. and it needs passion and enthusiasm to run a place like this…sounds like the owners have both..


  5. That sounds like such a wonderful evening. I love how you encapsulated it in your poem–so well-penned in meter and verse. Small concerts like this are the best. You have a chance to discover budding talent and to mingle with the artists in many venues. Once in a small Reno bar, Paul McCartney who, I understand has or had a place in Tahoe, was there and spontaneously got up and entertained the patrons. Can you imagine? I also want to thank you for your kind comments on my Monday post. 40 years together is something to be celebrated every day. And, as you know, an accomplishment that takes a lot of hard work and “hangin’ tough.”. And forgiveness.


  6. Raven Spirit says:

    Well, you surely put music to this little band – as for me they were just a photo on a blog. But you gave them voice and movement. I could hear them, thank you.


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