“Weirdshire” – a name I’ve been aware of for a while, known for putting on folk-ish events in Herefordshire, but never quite making it to one…until last night (Saturday 19th Dec 2015). More fool me!
The night at the Victory was billed as “Three (Weird) French Hens”, featuring solo artists from The Weirdshire compilation “Beating the Bounds” and was started off by Aspel Orchid (aka Lu, and one half of local folk-punk duo, Vaginapocalypse).
From the first note the room was held by her performance, there was silence throughout from the packed room. I was captivated, clear vocals subtly presented and accompanied by gentle strumming of the guitar, she held the total focus of her audience.
What I loved was that this was so different. That vocal delivery was so clear and the songs were so unusual in form or (for the covers) interpretation that you had no option but to watch, enjoy and feel the power of the set. There was even one song accompanied by a tiny handheld keyboard (what was it?) that chimed as it hypnotised. What a start.
The second act moved the mood on a bit. Footdragger (James Rueben) plays his own acoustic country Bluesy folk style, which keeps your attention as it moves from loud to quiet.
An incredible guitarist with a variety of subjects to sing about, he sings with a slight Southern American lilt on occasion that sent my limited knowledge to Ry Cooder’s voice at times, albeit a different musical approach. Some great finger-picking guitar work, enough to remind me of how limited my own guitar technique is in contrast, but I know my place.
Based in Brighton, James came a long way back to the city, but I hope to see more of Footdragger in Hereford soon.
As the laughter from the Christmas party in the main bar got louder, so we welcomed Elspeth Anne and her (as she described it) bleak views of life to finish the night off for us.
Finger-picking her electric guitar gave it a great full, mellow, deep sound that sat well with her voice and only highlighted the contrast of her song subject matter of loss, darkness, frustration. To add to the gorgeous mix of experiences for the listener, Elspeth Anne was not averse to finishing her songs with a grin just to break the mood.
A sign of a great gig is when someone says we’ve run out of time and I still think there’s got to be another hour to go, such was the case here. A new experience for me, being a Thrash/punk/extreme Metal head myself, this was at the other end of the tempo scale, but with the same feelings of being on the outside looking in; outsiders all in it together – if that doesn’t sound too pious – and enjoying the company.