Christchurch Folk Music Club

Compadres – James Keelahan & Oscar Lopez

At Al’s Bar, 31/1/09 Reviewed by Gill Coe

keelaghan_lopez
From the very first bars, you knew you were in for something special. The big Canadian with his beautiful baritone voice, paired with the sexy, bejewelled, Chilean with flying fingers and a delightful patter, wowed the 50 or so people at Al’s Bar at the end of January.

I first saw James Keelahan when he played at the Harbourlight many years ago and touched us with his story songs and obvious love of history and music. He’s a more than adequate guitarist and another example of Canada’s fine singer-songwriters. What is it about that country that produces such excellent talent? Joni Mitchell, Stan Rogers, Gordon Lightfoot and the list goes on.

Couple him with Oscar Lopez (O Lo – J Lo’s better looking cousin – yeah, right!) as “Compardres” and you had a night to remember. Oscar’s skill on the guitar was a feast for the ears and the eyes. His accompaniment to James’s singing was restrained when it needed to be and the next minute full of the wonderful Latin guitar flourishes that you suspect makes the guitarists in the audience go home and consider chopping their fingers off. Not a bad voice either. His wicked grin and wonderful facial expressions won the hearts of the crowd (as did his gorgeous baby – 5 month old Niko who happily endured “Pass the Baby” and was in danger of being kidnapped by the President’s husband!).

At the break, when I commented to Oscar that he was so comfortable with his guitar that it seemed like another limb, he replied that “the guitar is an extension of my soul” (which somehow sounds more passionate when said with a strong South American accent). He then went on to say that he started playing, at church, when he was 10. He now lives in Calgary and the influences of both cultures have moulded an extraordinary performer.

The mix of ballads and fast numbers was skilfully done, with delightfully quirky numbers such as “Bump Me Up to First Class” and “Why Don’t You Just Grow Up?” interspersed with slower pieces like the sad Spanish “Lamentos”. As it did the first time I heard it, James’s “Cold Missouri River” based on the true story of the smoke jumper fireman in the 1940s who survives a fire through sheer intuition and bravery, is then pilloried by his colleages and dies young of cancer, reduced me to tears.

Thank you Compardres for a passionate evening of wonderful music. Thanks to the Folk club for booking these great artists (and for the free Saturday night Celtic Fusion concert)). Thanks to Al for taking a punt with the Folk Club and to his staff for looking after us well. They’re quick learners – the noise level behind the bar was significantly reduced on Wednesday night which was much appreciated by the audience.

Lindsey Shields: Singer/Songwriter from Dunedin

Lindsey Shields Dunedin based singer and songwriter with her own take on things personal and political, on topics as diverse as Harrison Ford brought her warmth to a cold night to warm the spirits of the audience. More Reviews

read more

BottleLake Junction – 21st March 2021

Thank you to everyone who turned up and supported BotteLake Junction at the Christchurch Folk Music Club concert. A full house is a true recognition of the esteem these three consummate musicians are held in, a great audience and a hard-working band is always a good...

read more

The Lesser Bob Tits: Dames Do Dylan – 23 May 2021

This very special tribute concert, produced by Eileen Reid, brought tunes to commemorate and celebrate the 80th birthday of Bob Dylan. Bringing together a group of fabulous women from a range of musical backgrounds, Isabella Miller Bell, Susan Grant, Lynette Díaz,...

read more

Hillbilly Hoedown – Barndance/Ceilidh 11th July 2021

Brought to you by Gary Elford, supported by the Port Hillbillies and Andrew Redepenning. The music was cheerful and lively, jeans and plaid adorned the room, Appalachian and Bluegrass rhythms intertwined with jigs, reels, polkas and waltzes, and the packed room...

read more

Fingerpicking Delights V

Fingerpicking Delights V 8 November 2020 By Russell Dann The fifth edition in this concert series was a cracking good concert with great artists delivering superb music in a well-balanced programme. It was compered with engaging geniality by Izzy Miller Bell with...

read more

Adam McGrath and Esther Swift Friday 21st February 2020

Adam McGrath and Esther Swift a night of contrast and exceptional musicianship. Esther from the Northern hemisphere brought grace, exquisite techniques that highlight her talented compositions juxtaposing against the raw energy of the Southern hemisphere boy, who...

read more

The Grainstore Sessions Tour,The Mitchel Family

Saturday 10th October 2020   Jenny Mitchell was on the road for the first time with a new show featuring her sisters, Nicola and Maegan, and Dad - Ron Mitchell. Jenny, Nicola, Maegan and Ron Mitchell concluded the first part of their South Island tour at the...

read more

Good Habits – 15 March 2020

There are times when with quiet dignity the unknown artists take the stage and hold my presence in the palm of their hand. Bonnie and Pete achieved this with compassionate decorum and a gentle understanding that what they were gifting us as an audience was truly...

read more

Online Mini Concert -17/05/2020

This night offered another opportunity to reconnect with friends, family and fellow folkies. We were treated to three heartwarming acts that brought light to our autumnal night. Locals Rosie Laing and Martin Kraakman, shared both poetry and musical tributes. Rosie's...

read more

Online Mini Concert – 19/04/2020

The inaugural online mini concert. As a way to continue to enjoy live music on Sunday night we will alternate with an online mini-concert 7-8.30pm and an online open mic 4-6pm. We were delighted to begin this series with three stunningly fabulous acts: SteffanyBeck,...

read more

Molly’s Remedy -25 August 2019

25th August 2019 A night filled with vibrant and soulful music, that was awarded a standing ovation from an extremely appreciate audience. Jamie Millar, shone as the opening act. Inspiration for Jamie was fostered from his childhood, from close family: including his...

read more

Hobnail 25th Anniversary “Boots and All” Tour

14th July 2019 In 2019 Hobnail celebrate 25 years of touring far, wide, and tirelessly throughout New Zealand. To mark the occasion they are embarking on a national tour and releasing a “Best Of” album showcasing tracks taken from their 7 studio albums, we were lucky...

read more

Jed Rowe, with Monique Aiken, 30 Sept 2018

The night opened with the returned to her home city after seven years proving her guitar and singing skills in the Wellington folk scene, was Monique Aiken Monique presented confidently bringing us her own songs eloquently crafted delivered with vocal...

read more

Review: The Beggarmen Fundraiser Concert

Reviewed by Tony Hale     The Christchurch Folk Music Club are piecing together the history of the club and the Canterbury Folk Festival. We look forward to uncovering new information about those that have shared the...

read more