Here's the thing - as a kid I grew up on US punk scene of the 90s. Now twenty years on most of the guys from those bands have now gone on to perform acoustic folk/country style of music. It may seem a fair stretch to go from punk rock to folk, but in reality, a good song is a good song, no matter what style it is in. A good songwriter will be avoid songwriter, whether it's punk, rock, folk, hip hop or pop. Tonight was about appreciating great songwriters.
Opening up was Brad Vincent from Newcastle. He dedicated his set to the passing of Tony Sly from No Use From A Name and you could tell by his style, Mr Sly was an influence on his music. His short set was full of emotionally driven folk songs and included the track 'Old Songs' which was written with fellow Novocastrian and singer/songwriter Jen Buxton.
Throughout Brad's set I kept seeing this little man dressed in overalls wandering around The Sando. I was taken aback when he suddenly jumped up on stage and started to play. Josh Small is a little man in overalls with a big voice and one of hell of a blues guitarist. Listening to his set made me think of the movie Black Snake Moan and the old dirty blues club Samuel L Jackson played in, in that movie. Its the kind of place I imagine to find Josh Small play in on a regular basis. So I was even more taken aback when, in between songs talked about his job as a pre school teacher. If I ever have kids, I hope their teacher is as cool as this cat. He explained this is the first tour where he is performing standing up and was finding the situation a little different but he stomped his way around the stage like a little bantam rooster. Great set, cool tunes and an amazing performance.
It's a little disturbing when the poster out the front of the venue can't spell your name correctly. (Tim Barry guys, not Tim Berry) Despite the faux pas, Tim was feeling it tonight. Second song in he jumped down off the stage to perform on the floor with the near full room who came to see the punk rock troubadour perform. Last here for Chuck Ragan's Revival Tour, and on the back of a new album 40 Miler, Barry mixes backwater country with folk and blues married with his aggressive vocal to let rip some of his best songs. Mixing up with older tunes like 'Walk 500 Miles' with new tracks off the album, Barry was backed by Josh Small and harmonica player Andrew Alli, another talented musician in his own right. Tim told tales about his hobby of riding trains illegally and gave us a piece of advice, explaining how he liked the lows in life because it meant the highs are more enjoyable. But mostly, it was about the songs and seeing a room full of men with beards, flannel shirts and truckers cap ride each and every word thats sung out of his mouth.
There's a real passion that comes through Tim's music. It's heartfelt, it's rough around the edges and it's hard to not get involved. He kept saying all night that he was "feeling this" and showed it by continually relocating off the stage and onto the floor so everyone could stand around him as he played. Here is a man who as lived a nomadic and almost hermit life. He's spent more time on the road than he does at home and probably barely as a cent to his name but he is a happy and wealthy man because he gets to do what he loves night in and night out. And that's what his music is all about.