A fine spring Saturday in Brecon brought a wonderful, warm and friendly evening’s entertainment to a packed house at the Muse.
Our compere for the evening, Mr Phil Sheridan, handled proceedings with his customary skill, firstly introducing local singer-songwriter Angharad.
Making her debut performance, Angharad rapidly won the hearts of the audience with her modesty and self-effacing personality, treating us to some lovely versions of Nick Drake and John Martyn songs, and some of her own compositions on piano. The warmth of the audience response showed that they really empathised with her song about finding her voice as a young mum.
After the break, the Whiskey River Acoustic Quartet took to the stage, and treated us all to an amazingly eclectic and accomplished performance, featuring authentic renditions of many old-time favourites ranging from Louisiana Cajun, through old-time hillbilly country and blues, to wistful traditional Irish folk tunes.
Principal vocalist, guitar and banjo player Martin Blake skilfully navigated the diverse range of styles, sensitively backed up by Dennis Schiavon on bass who never missed a beat.
Their Cajun numbers were propelled along by the irresistible syncopated Zydeco rhythms of Aidan Sheehan on accordion (and harmonica, and mandolin, and whistle…) and Alan Cooper on fiddle, creating a lively energy that soon had the audience up on their feet and dancing.
Some memorable moments of the evening included:
a wonderful version of ‘Going up the Country’ in the Canned Heat style, featuring Aidan’s deft whistle playing;
a rousing set of Canadian fiddle tunes from Alan;
a moving version of the plaintive ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ in which the band really came together seamlessly as a unit;
a poignant and heartfelt version of ‘Wild Horses’ near the close of the evening, to send everyone home in a sentimental mood.
Whiskey River really do put immense energy, commitment and musical skill into their performance, and they were rewarded by a greatly appreciative audience who left with smiles on their faces. We will look forward to seeing them again when they are next in these parts.
As ever, many thanks to everyone in the team involved in putting on this gig, and to all at the Muse for being such superb hosts.
Photos by Barry Hill
Review by Jim Kerslake