Martin Browne’s fortnighly round-up of the folk scene.
Spalding Folk Club’s last guests were Miranda Sykes and Rex Preston.
Miranda was born and raised locally and has featured as a double bass player and vocalist with such acts as Bill Jones, Kirsty McGee, Firebrand and, more recently, Show of Hands. In her own right she has fronted the Miranda Sykes Band and, as in this case, in a duo with mandolinist Rex.
Miranda’s parents, Penny and John, were among the original founders of Spalding Folk Club and, as performers themselves, their influences no doubt were always lurking in the background. At the age of eight Miranda came home from school to announce she wished to learn to play the double bass and has not looked back since.
As a youngster the club was her first audience: she sang a couple of pop songs accompanying herself on double bass. However, after coming across a Kate Rusby album among her parents’ music collection she was finally persuaded to explore the folk genre.
She sang for us a beautiful version of Kate’s Old Man Time, from that album, which has remained a firm favourite of hers ever since.
The evening’s set list was varied, ranging from songs with a folk feel through to others with a more jazzy influence. Throughout the songs were underpinned by subtle bass playing.
Rex’s mandolin interplayed melodically with Miranda’s bass and vocals, especially in the jazzier numbers, with virtuosic note-crammed runs often at lightning speed. On other numbers, with a slower pace, his bouzouki playing and sweet harmony vocals complemented Miranda’s clear and beautiful voice.
Miranda can claim to have had two songs written specially for her by the acclaimed songwriter Boo Hewerdine. Both Window Box and My Sister the
Moon were highlights of the evening as too was One Good Year by Slaid Cleaves and Steve Brooks.
Altogether it was a great evening enjoyed by a packed and appreciative audience.
The next guests on July 2 at South Holland Cente will be Winter Wilson, who have been around as a duo since 1994 and have produced six albums.
Expect an enjoyable evening of perceptive and sometimes thought-provoking songs delivered with a mixture of passion, delicate harmony, musicianship and between-song banter.