Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts

Live Review | The Wheelhouse, Wombwell | Review by Allan Wilkinson

Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts are two of the most hard working musicians on the British folk music scene today.  If they’re not working together as a duo, then one of them could until recently be seen as part of the young folksy pop girl group Tiny Tin Lady or even more recently, as one of Rosie Doonan’s Snapdragons.  Her partner on the other hand, can still be seen and heard as the guitarist with the band Kerfuffle or alternatively, forming the necessary embouchure to put his trombone to good use in a variety of local outfits.  It would neither be so unusual to see the two of them marching side by side down the street banging drums as part of the Frumptarn Guggenband at most Northern festivals; a family affair which requires the wearing of stark red tunics and matching hats.  That’s not to mention all the wonderful work they each do with young performers, teaching, encouraging .. and so on.  You need to take a breath just talking about it.  Together, the duo have made one full length album Shadows and Half Light as well as a couple of EPs and are currently in the middle of their national tour, getting the current album out of their system to make way for their follow up, due for release sometime in October.  They were also nominated for the prestigious Horizon Award at this years BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.  You could say the future looks bright.  Tonight at the Wheelhouse, Kat and Jamie delighted the packed audience with a mixture of familiar older songs and tunes such as “Middle of May”, “Susannah” and “So Long” together with some tasters of what’s to come on the new record.  “All I’ve Known” is a veritable opus of a piece incorporating a complex fiddle and guitar arrangement, with Jamie’s trademark percussive guitar and determined vocal, both of which dominate this modern folk tale, augmented by Katriona’s intuitive fiddle work.  Katriona’s songwriting continues to form the basis of a pretty healthy repertoire with a couple of new songs, the rock based “No Rest For the Wicked”, about life on the road with an un-named yet thinly disguised girl band and the mandolin-led “Fleetwood Fair”, both of which join the beautifully heartfelt “Travelling in Time”, a song written for and about her own ageing Grandparents and the haunting “Hunter Man” which opens the debut album.  Jamie alternates quite easily between his own distinctive heavily percussive lap style guitar playing to the sublimely sensitive flat pick style, such as in the opening to “The Shepherd and His Fife” reminiscent of Kris Drever’s guitar work.  Opening for Kat and Jamie was local singer Steph Shaw, who rushed in enroute to another gig to sing a handful of covers including Suzanne Vega’s “Luka”, Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” and Dougie Maclean’s “Caledonia” amongst others, together with one of her own self-penned songs “Let Me Down”, proving once again that there’s no shortage of talent in Barnsley.  It was also rather delightful to have in the room tonight Nashville’s Stephanie Lambring and Brad Tursi, winding down after their successful British tour and returning to the Wheelhouse to see Kat and Jamie after Kat played with the duo at the venue at the start of their tour.  That’s one of the things about this music that makes us love and respect it so much, how quickly friendships are forged.