Live Review | NCEM, York | Review by Allan Wilkinson
Tonight’s gig at the National Centre for Early Music in York was rather excellent for a number of reasons, notably that I finally got to meet Stefan Grossman, who’s been a major influence on my own musical direction ever since my old art teacher introduced me to his music in the Sixties. The old medieval church of St Margaret’s is one of the last two churches within the city walls and has been empty for years and was until recently used as a theatrical store by the York Theatre Royal. It’s now the home of the National Centre for Early Music, which hosts a diverse range of concerts and events and although it retains much of its original stone work and stained glass windows, the walls are covered with top notch acoustics gadgets, making the room perfect for music of all kinds. I’m not sure whether Stefan Grossman falls under the category of early music or not, but some of the songs and tunes he played during the evening reminded me so much of my own particular early days of playing guitar. I remember spending hours upon hours listening to old LP records of his trying to figure out what on earth he was playing, and last night some of those dazzling licks came flooding back like old friends. Old blues songs like “My Creole Belle”, “Candy Man” and “Cocaine” and tunes such as “Bermuda Triangle Rag” just brought back memories of a much younger me. It was one of the most informal and relaxed gigs and the guitar player even insisted after the final encore, that he play a background ragtime tune as people left the venue! I’ve never seen done that before.