How now, Brown Cow!
This blog post is nearly as horrendously late as I was a week ago to the Roots Acoustic Evening at the Brown Cow in Mansfield, it meant I managed to miss the host, Phil Ashmore and the first act on too, Alan Robinson – but luckily my epic day of driving got me there in time for Sam Jones. I’ve not seen Sam in solo acoustic guise in ages, and it’s always a treat (and in truth, why I feel motivated to write a blog post more than anything, especially in this venue where I first saw him!).
So once I’d got myself loaded up and my gear out the car (chances are I wouldn’t have made the trek from home to Stevenage and then to Mansfield, but we were playing, you see, under the guise of The Carrot Spies since Kev couldn’t make it, sadly – and frankly we aren’t The Star Copiers without a full compliment of members – lucky we’ve got a gigantic list of anagrams isn’t it?
But anyway, the amazing Sam Jones was up first – he’s such a talented fella. He was standing in for his dad, Mark, who was feeling under the weather (Sam himself complained of feeling rough too, but it didn’t bring his performance down any that I could see!). He kicked off with Death of the Free Man, then that lovely cover of Bee’s Wing he busts out for his Mum, Kathie – who was in the crowd to enjoy it, always lovely to see! I took to Facebook live for this as it’s one of Ella’s favourite songs too (I couldn’t resist getting Lucy in on the act!).
Next was We’re Not Friends Anymore which is really rather moving. He lightened the mood next up by dedicating his next cover to his burgeoning bromance with Spud (who wasn’t even there!), tackling Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire. Then it was on to The Truth Hits the Ground, a song he wrote for Spud but who never learned it (I think it was that one). I’m not surprised either with all the crazy finger picking antics on the guitar!
A cover of Mark Knopfler’s Lights of Taormina was next, then Frank Turner’s Glorious You, something I managed to miss the title of and finally his own track Buttons and Pennies, one that made the transition from solo acoustic to full band guise with Pretty Babs, it sounds great in both variants too. Awesome set from the ailing troubadour – it made me glad I just had to bang a box and not play a stringy thing or sing for our set!
So we got ourselves set up – Mark ended up borrowing Phil’s guitar since his pickup lead was a bit short, but soon enough we’d got ourselves underway. We’d let Mark loose on the set list so he obviously immediate threw in some curve balls for us – a song we’d not played since Farmer Phil’s, one we’d never played at all together and another that was largely still on the ‘nearly ready’ list in practices – which made life interesting, it’s good to keep yourself on your toes though isn’t it?
So The Carrot Spies kicked off with a cover of Frank Turner’s I Still Believe, which helped Phil to get our levels adjusted a little further after soundcheck, then it was on to Listen and then Nights in White Satin (live video). Because she was home from uni we’d got our increasingly-less-secret weapon in the ranks of Aimée, who took on vocal duties for Valerie which sounded amazing, and surprisingly myself, Mark and Jamie managed to remember how to play it – it’s been a good while!
Down Under had been our traditional set-starter, but we chucked it into the middle of the set here, then the new to all of us Mr Brightside (live video) – I was going to sit out like Jamie did, but decided since I knew the song I’d have a tap along to it, it was sounding pretty good although I might’ve finished a little bit before Mark and Aimée (back on vocals) did – oh well! Mairi’s Wedding Part III got some good singing along going from the crowd, then Jamie switched to his guitar for a first live airing of Martha’s Harbour by All About Eve.
Which brought us to final track Fifteen Years (live video), we’d plumped for Angela as our tambourine victim as is tradition, and I must say – she did a fine job! All in all, a splendid evening – I’m sad to have missed the first two acts but it couldn’t be helped, but it was good to get out infront of a crowd again after a while, we even managed to secure ourselves a festival booking on the back of it – so definitely a worthwhile trip in all respects! You should definitely keep an eye out for Roots Acoustic Evenings – they pop up all over the Midlands.