Christchurch Folk Music Club

From a Winters Ledge – A Concert by Jon Hooker and James Wilkinson.

Reviewed by Jan Elliot

You missed a great night of stringed instruments and perfect moments if you weren’t at the club to absorb the fine performances of these consummate musicians. Actually feeling sorry for club members not in attendance is pointless, so read all about it and weep.

The bio promised “a lot of strings”‚ and Jon pointed out there were 70 in total. This included a ukulele played by Jon in a tribute piece dedicated to Maurice Flanagan, with mandolin played by James. (Ukulele means ‘ Jumping Flea’ in Hawaiian). I thought I could have been listening to something called The Jumping Flea Blues, during a piece with James playing fretless bass. (http://jumpingflea.com/). The instrument combinations these two came up with, were scintillating rare treats.
jon_james (27K)
Guests included Laura Tomlin singing an original song called The Fisherman’s Lover, a vocally challenging melody, ably performed. With its stunning chorus, this song will linger and with the help of the beautiful guitar arrangement written by Jon, it deserves to be recorded. As well as pieces written by Jon and James, another guest Renze Hanham contributed with an original song called Looking Back From Now‚ a reflection about Fathers that was very moving, as was his interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah‚ which was simply awesome. His voice could only be described as sweet as treacle‚ and it would be great to hear him again at the club.

As our MC Denny observed, we were like a secret society‚ quietly revelling in collective awe, as delicious melodies ensued and the night unfolded, listening to two pairs of earthly timbered, maestro fingertips. James solo numbers were well received, humourous and his witty, somewhat frivolous air, became the mood of the evening as comments flew around preceding a piece written for Jon‚s pet rat, Ratty‚ a dear friend, sadly passed away from Jon feeding him scrambled eggs on too often an occasion. (apparently that’s a no no). Ratty’s piece is of course a ragtime number and brilliant.

Two standout pieces were Slough‚ played on 24 strings and accompanied by James impersonating Louis Armstrong and as befitting on a cold winters‚ night, James‚ piece Hoar Frost… Excellent! There is an album to come folks and what a night , month , year that will be upon its launch. I can’t wait. Shame on Creative New Zealand for not helping to hasten the event. The evening was a miniature of the forthcoming CD. Not to be missed!

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