The Mile Roses, folk/Americana trio in concert at South Holland Centre, Spalding
Spalding Folk Club welcomed The Mile Roses to the town's South Holland Centre on Wednesday night for an intriguing cocktail of English folk and American country.
Describing their style as "contemporary, original British folk with the smoother sounds of singer-songwriter Americana", The Mile Roses made a strong case for upgrading their performances to ones with a full backing orchestra.
But in the bar area on South Holland Centre's top floor, folk club members were content to watch and hear original members Kate Bramley and Simon Haworth combine with recent recruit Kari Macleod as they presented songs from the group's two albums, including current album Blue Skies.
During their first set, Kate, Simon and Kari treated their audience to Land of the Brave and Free, One Day Love, Rose Under The Hill/Shores of Fife and The Girl in Forget Me Not Blue, four of the 12 tracks on the Blue Skies album.
There were also reminders of The Mile Roses under their previous guise when Irish/Lancashire/Yorkshire singer Edwina Hayes was part of the group.
Songs from The Mile Roses' self-titled debut album, The Whiskey Songs and The Mile Roses, also featured in the first set that was fully appreciated by Spalding Folk Club regulars.
During their performance, Kate, Simon and Kari explained the stories behind sum of their songs, such as Land of the Brave and Free which is about immigration and The Rose Under the Hill, described by Kate as "a song with a tune wrapped around it".
Another song showcased last Wednesday night was For All The Boys, a song about whiskey written by Kari (brought up in the Scottish market town of Tain in Ross-shire) which she called "the song I took to the band when I joined them".
But just a month after marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day during World War II, perhaps the most appropriate song with a story was The Girl in Forget-Me-Not Blue, telling the story of a village that sent men off to fight in World War I.
What elevated The Mile Roses above more traditional folk groups was the vibrant, almost Carly Simon-esque vocals of Kari Macleod who fully vindicated the choice of Kate and Simon in choosing her as Edwina's replacement.
If an orchestra can be persuaded to join The Mile Roses for a future concert, possibly in the folk concert capital of the UK that is Sage Gateshead, that would be a night to remember.
Review by Winston Brown
Spalding Today had a chance to sit down with The Mile Roses and talk about their journey together so far.
Kate Bramley, best known as a fiddler and singer with Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies, said: "I was born in Yorkshire, grew up in Cornwall and then came back to Yorkshire.
"I'd known Edwina and Simon separately for a certain amount of time and when we were all at a concert together once, we asked each other: 'Shall we do a few gigs together?'
"That was how the original Mile Roses started and then in the last year, after Edwina wanted to do more solo work, we invited Kari to join the band after myself and Simon saw her playing with Jez Lowe.
"It was no brainer to ask Kari to join u, when someone so good is right on your doorstep."
Kari, a graduate of Newcastle University's folk music degree course but who is also an artist, said: "I listened to a lot of Americana, bluegrass and country music, as well as traditional Scottish music, when I was growing up.
"Then I started playing the fiddle, both classical and folk, before gravitating towards Americana music after I discovered an American singer called Alison Krauss.
"I'd never seen a fiddle player who also sings before and then I played for Jez Lowe which led to a conversation on the phone with Kate and Simon about The Mile Roses.
"There was nothing set in stone at first, just 'let's play some music together and see if it works'.
"I learned a couple of Kate and Simon's songs from The Mile Roses album, then they played some of mine.
"What attracted me was the fact that Kate and Simon are really good at writing songs that have really interesting stories behind them."
Simon said: "The three of us all come from different backgrounds and we all have different influences, Americana, bluegrass and folk.
"We've played across all three styles in our careers and so we collaborate with each other in order to do the best we can do for our audiences."