The end of an era..

IMG_3459Sam Jones has been running his acoustic evenings at The Brown Cow in Mansfield getting on for two  years now.  I’ve had some great nights there – I forget even what lured me to them in the first place, I suspect it was to see Paige Seabridge, but it gave me a chance to get to know Sam’s music, and countless other artists in that time as well as see more familiar faces playing.  It even gave me my first opportunity to surf to Freeborn John when Ken and Dan appeared there a little over a year ago.

In more recent months I’ve been a lapsed worshipper at the church of the Brown Cow, happily for me my weekends have become centred around spending time with Ella and Sunday afternoon is return-to-Stevenage time – but as I’m currently driving around in a capped mileage courtesy car we’ve reverted to trains to and from of a weekend, so my car accident whilst being crap has been great timing on that front, as I’d have really hated to not be able to make Sam’s last evening.

So it was I headed on up to Mansfield – the car park in the pub already full but a parking space found around the corner easily enough!  Outside was time for a quick catch up with Chris of Roots Acoustic fame, as one era ends another begins – he’ll be taking on Sam’s night as one of his own which will be great!  Getting in the pub the background music was courtesy of Roots Radio – inside it was great to be immediately greeted by Andrew, Brian, Paige, Suzy, Rob and Sam – with Martin, John, Angela, Joel, Brad and Kila arriving shortly after.

IMG_3447Musicwise some of the announced performers had to drop out last minute, so first up we were introduced to a man simply known as Sticky, his mysterious appearance matched in intrigue by his Facebook page which doesn’t reveal much either!  He launched straight into a set of bluesy folkish rock with guitar, a foot drum and his gravelly voice – the layout of the Brown Cow with a barrier in place makes it tricky for a sat-down artist, but his sound was really engaging with an eclectic choice in cover versions.

I couldn’t identify the first song of his set, but Lonely Boy by The Black Keys was up next followed by Little Monster by Royal Blood.  Taking things back in time a bit T-Rex’s Children of the Revolution was next, with other highlights including Bag It Up by Oasis, My Hero by the Foo Fighters and Summertime Boy by Seasick Steve.  There was also an awesome slide-guitar infused one man sonic assault second song from the end which I couldn’t tell you what it was, but I liked it!

I’m going to gloss over being infuriatingly unable to place the Whoa-oh oh oh! Whoa-oh oh oh! song that I was sure would come to mind as I drove home, it still eludes me.

IMG_3450For his first appearance of the evening Sam was joined on stage by Paige Seabridge, (collectively known as Gingerbread) the former on guitar and backing vocals initially with the latter on main vocals.  They started with Frank Turner’s Glorious You and then into Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want by The Smiths – Paige is a huge fan of them, and has apparently converted Sam!  Sweet Nothing was up next, a Gabrielle Aplin song, followed by Hourglass by Catfish and the Bottlemen.

IMG_3451Paige was on stunning vocal form and the set worked really well with Sam on guitar and harmonising intermittently.  He took lead vocals for an original song I think he said was called Crawling Up A Hill which he’d written specifically for them to collaborate on – apparently Liam his bass player hates it, he’s a meanie – it’s a lovely song.  Paige was back on vocals for Make You Feel My Love by Adele – dedicated to Sam’s mum – the set was finished up with Liam joining them on a second guitar for a rendition of Wagon Wheel.  I hope Sam and Paige performances become a thing, I really enjoyed it.

IMG_3453Next up we had an interlude of sorts.  Sam again was up this time accompanied by Spud, who took the opportunity to enthusiastically plug Ey Up Mi Duck Festival – which is just three weeks away (and I’d agree with him, you should definitely attend it!).  He started by covering the headliner of that festival, Will Varley, choosing King for a King, then Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright by Bob Dylan ending with a raucous rendition of his own classic Chocolate Biscuit.  An energetic mini-set whilst you might not have noticed the increasing nervousness over Sam’s drummer not yet being on the premises!

Fortunately aforementioned drummer arrived in the nick of time, so after a bit of set up time Sam Jones with the Local Folk were able to finish up the night in style.  Kicking off the set with Sam on his acoustic guitar, Liam on bass and Max on drums with Rocky Winding Road, moving straight into Buttons and Pennies (I’m getting better with Sam’s song titles, may or may not have had a little bit of help from Paige).  Sam is a confident performer full stop – outwardly at least – but I’d say more so now than when I first saw him performing, and the full band sound is awesome.

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He swapped out his acoustic for his shiny red stratocaster (complete with Star Wars strap) to kick into the rock and bluesy sounding Rat Race, then into an electrified version of Wilderness (with a lot of use of the whammy bar (or is it a tremelo arm? who knows!)) – the song translates brilliantly to the electric guitar though.  The acoustic guitar was back for I’m Coming Home before being swapped again for There’s Nothing Left For You Here.

IMG_3462Lay Me Down was up next – commencing with a cracking acapella introduction which I don’t think I’ve heard before with the instruments kicking in after to give it some real oomph.  The main set was finished up with a pretty epic rendition of Hotel Boulderado starting out on the acoustic guitar with the wonderful slide-guitar intricacy, before being swapped out mid-song for the strat to give a pretty epic rockified ending.  Even with work-in-the-morning starting to play on our minds, an encore was demanded and welcome when it arrived.

Steve McQueen was first bonus song offered before a high energy cover of Hotel Yorba by The White Stripes.  An awesome set, and whilst the Sam Jones triple-header wasn’t the designed line up it felt appropriate to me!  All that remained was a quick rendition of Happy Birthday for one of the revellers before it was time to make the rounds for goodbyes and heading home – getting in not long after eleven, so emanently do-able from a having-to-get-up-for-work perspective, I’d say!

Whilst it’s sad that Sam is knocking his nights on the head, it’s understandable – it’s a tough job organising musicians to entertain folk at regular intervals.  I’m sure it must be draining and lose its lustre – and whilst the title of the post says it’s the end of an era, it is of course also the start of a new one.  I’m confident Chris will keep the evening going with his own network of artists, and hopefully it won’t be the last we’ll see of Sam as a performer at them!  Top night, well worth the maybe painful alarm clock moment later this morning…

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