For me St Patrick’s Day conjures memories of raucous nights with friends, filled with laughter. This month’s Downend Folk Club fell on a blustery cold 17th March and we were treated to CHRIS SHERBURN, DENNY BARTLEY & EMILY SANDERS, with support from NIAMH BOADLE.
Sherburn, Bartley and Sanders are a joy to watch. Immediately on taking the stage they display an ease that comes from musicians who have a rich past and know each other well. They display a tangible sense of enjoyment in hearing each other play that pulls the audience into their skilfully woven world. Sherburn’s Yorkshire humour acts as the bridge between tunes and he interacts with the audience with the assured ease of a seasoned stand up comedian.
The heart of the songs comes from Bartley’s dexterous guitar playing and his singing, which is rich with personality and humanity. Accompanying the guitar is consummate concertina playing from Sherburn and beautiful, soaring violin from Sanders with additional vocal harmonies. The music is spell-binding and they get lost in the moment of playing together. A number of times Sherburn murmurs his appreciation of Bartley’s guitar and the audience was in full agreement. This is what music is meant to be about. Their set was exquisite and transported me to a place of nostalgia.
Niamh Boadle, the support act, helped this process by bringing deft guitar playing, clean vocals and a talent for both writing original songs and interpreting traditional tunes. For an individual playing solo, she brings great variation with guitar being the mainstay but with an a capella rendition of Banks Of The Lee and bodhrán playing on Creggan White Hare in the set too. Once again the Folk Club has introduced me to a new artist to look out for.
St Patrick’s Day should be about warmth, fun and companionship. We had all of this in abundance. Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit! Happy St Patrick’s Day!
Words: Mike Richards
Photo: Chris Dobson