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PICKIN’ & GRINNIN’ Bap Kennedy


the next time I see them, I can do so in a room where I can concentrate fully on what is happening onstage rather than having to keep moving around the venue to get away from the chatterboxes! Jela Webb


Bap Kennedy


The Portland Hotel, Ashington, July 27, 2012 The smell of gloss paint and new


carpet still hung in the air of the newly restored Portland Hotel in Ashington, as Bap Kennedy took to the small stage alongside his young wife, Brenda and guitar virtuoso, Gordy McAllister. Everyone surrounding the hastily arranged gig appeared to be living on their nerves until the trio launched into the gentle country-swing tune, Be Careful What You Wish For, and the cheer of recognition from the hundred-strong audience must have been a welcome relief to all concerned. I last saw Bap


Kennedy in London at the launch of the excellent SAILOR’S REVENGE album earlier in the year, and the intervening months playing the new songs and the subsequent telling and re-telling of his stories in-between songs, have given the charming singer-songwriter a rekindled confidence that was strangely missing that night. This time round, the concert was


split into two halves and I was pleased to hear Bap mixing new stuff with an assortment of songs from across his varied solo career; each one appearing to mean something special to someone somewhere in the room. In fact, the whoop of delight from one woman when he introduced Long Time A’ Coming had the room in fits of giggles, setting the tone for a relaxed evening. Older songs, Howl On and Domestic Blues both gave Gordy the opportunity to shine on the guitar, but also reminded myself of how great some songs can actually be when you hear them played live. It was only after four or five songs


when the band played Hank Williams’ Rambling Man that it dawned on me


of what great acoustics the room had. Bap doesn’t have the loudest of voices, but you could hear every nuance in his delivery and Brenda’s lilting harmonies and subtle bass playing, coupled with Gordy’s intricate guitar progressions, were all making for a very special evening. Shimnavale from the new album was simply beautiful, with the three musicians combining to make its sound even better than on record, and the look on the faces of the women in my eye line when Bap smiled at his wife as he sang, That’s The Beauty Of You reminded me what a powerful force music can be. The evening had already been a resounding success but when Bap’s eyes twinkled as he casually mentioned that he’d been in a band many years ago called Energy Orchard, the atmosphere suddenly became electric and as he and Gordy played the opening bars to Sailortown, the biggest cheer of the night nearly took the roof off! This was followed by a pastiche of Jimi Hendrix’s Hey Joe but done in the style of Johnny Cash, which was the perfect ending to a very memorable evening. Alan Harrison


Maverick 25


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