Ninebarrow. Saltcellar Folk Club

A folk duo playing my local folk club, in the basement of a church I walk past every day dropping my son to school.

I’m still new to folk, Mark Radcliffe’s folk show live recording at the 6 Music Festival last year converted me.  I’ve seen, and loved, Peggy Seeger and Sam Lee since, but this was to be my first foray into a folk club. Its’ 10 minute walk from home and only a fiver so despite nursing my heart I decided to take the chance and go.

The venue is lovely, and the club very welcoming to a newbie on their own and it was packed. There were so many floor acts they were limited to one song each, which showcased a depth and breadth of local talent. The styles varied from reels to americana, traditional songs to own compositions and although not all of them were to my taste it was a more interesting way to start the evening than I’m used to.

After the interval for tea and cake (I could get into folk clubs big time on this point alone) Ninebarrow took to the floor. As much as being only 5 foot 1 makes it a challenge to see an artist, being on the same level as them playing allows for a level connection. Eye contact is established and there is an immediate sense of intimacy. The harmonies. Rrrrrr. Lovely, lovely, harmonies. Jon and Jay can clearly both sing, but when the voices blend, something really magical happens. Ethereal noises come out of them.

They sang both original compositions and traditional songs, with instrumentation or unaccompanied. All of it was mesmerizing. Weaving stories with their voices, layering emotion with the instruments, drawing the audience in and making them really listen. The beautiful thing was the participation (not from me, my voice would ruin anything) and therefore the collective warmth.If that makes is sound gentle, it was, despite some of the songs being quite dark. Murder, hanging, betrayal were all there, as well as birds, landscapes and fairies.

If only I’d known folk could be like this.

5 down. 35 to go.


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