Christchurch Folk Music Club

Review of September Club Concert – the Christchurch Folk Music Club Visit

by Alison Pickford

Tonight, we had a full house for the visit from the Christchurch Folk Music Club. Judi Smitheram, Secretary of the Christchurch club an MC for the evening, was introduced by Anna …and here, let’s acknowledge Ian Paterson, sound desk wizard who has recently stepped in to help us out – and we really appreciate it!

Judi, along with Moira Hofsteede and singing in unison, got the evening off to a great start celebrating 125 years of Women’s Suffrage with ‘I am Woman’ (Helen Reddy) and ‘Different Drum’ (Linda Ronstadt). Judi then teamed up with Geoff Bell and Colin Henderson for ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes’ (Sandy Denny) and ‘Woke Up this Morning’ a song that really showed the strength of Judi’s great voice (Ruthie Foster; American singer songwriter, who covers a wide palette of American song).

It was great to hear Russell Gillies – long-time member and organiser of Christchurch folkie events- playing frailing style banjo with Adrian Higgins on mandolin. They gave us several rollicking tunes – ‘Old Joe Clark’; ‘Frosty Morning’ (this having an Appalachian modal tuning); and ‘Banjigga’.

Two original songs plus one cover of Eileen Reid’s were next. Eileen is a fine singer and writer. She gave us ‘The Day of Reckoning’ that spoke to environmental issues, followed by ‘El Camino’ which recalled her own journey along one of the most famous of the Camino paths. Eileen finished with ‘Shirt and Comb’ (Peter Blegvad) a poignant tale that has been told in a number of songs, of the soldier who has orders to go and his love who would disguise herself to accompany him.

The Yaza staff rushed to make a lot of drinks in the break! but eventually the line petered out, and the second half began. Kristina Godfrey delivered ‘Well Below the Valley’ with a strong and confident voice, and some bodhran accompaniment. She was then joined by Tony Hale. They have been performing as a duo for three years. Their songs were linked by women whose names began with ‘J’ – Joan Baez – ‘Diamonds and Rust’ (her revenge song to Bob Dylan) ; Janis Ian ‘At Seventeen’, and Joni Mitchell ‘ Both Sides Now’. They are a strong duo. Kristina’s voice is full of character and Tony is a very skilful and impressive guitarist, each of his accompaniments markedly different to suit the songs.

As four of the performers who were present are also members of the Christchurch ‘Women in Harmony’ choir, they teamed up to give us two songs from the choir repertoire. First the shanty ‘Leave Her, Johnny’ with audience participation, followed with the lovely waiata, ‘Taku Mana’.

Geoff and Colin now came back on stage as a duo, with ‘If I Needed You’ (Townes van Zandt), Tennessee Whiskey (Chris Stapleton) and ‘No Woman No Cry (Bob Marley, album Natty Dread). Their singing was lovely and reminiscent of Paul Kelly. As an interesting aside to this Marley number – Geoff told us that the songwriter credits were apparently given to Vincent Ford, Marley’s friend. Royalty payments ensure the continuation of the soup kitchen that Ford ran in Trenchtown, in Jamaica, where Marley grew up. What an awesome legacy! Geoff and Colin’s final number was “Ride On’ (Christy Moore) – a great favourite of Judi’s and a lovely song.

The concert finished with the whole team in what is lovingly called an ‘Ugly’ (a sort of lightly rehearsed join-in number!). They gave us ‘The Water is Wide’ with wonderful guitar accompaniment by Tony. What a grand way to end a grand night! Many thanks to Judi and Anna who came up with the idea of the Christchurch team paying a visit to Acoustic Routes Nelson – brilliant!!

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