Dan Walsh and Will Pound

Live Review | The Greystones, Sheffield | Review by Allan Wilkinson

Once again Bright Phoebus smiled down on a packed sell-out Greystones audience and certainly not for the very first time.  Dan Walsh and Will Pound, two talented young musicians and specialists in their own chosen fields, that of fine clawhammer style banjo playing and breathtaking harmonica playing respectively, were welcomed with the usual abundance of enthusiasm and gusto awarded to all the artists who visit this popular South Yorkshire venue.  With their self-titled debut album due out in April, the duo brought a taste of their broad repertoire to Sheffield, which included everything from traditional English Morris tunes, Irish and Scots fiddle tunes, Bluegrass, Blues and a fair bit of Arabic music, together with a bunch of self-penned songs.  Tonight Martin Simpson took care of MC duties, which included the obligatory raffle, the parish notices and an opening song, where the singer/guitarist recalled his former life as a resident of New Orleans, drawing upon some of the real life characters he met in the Big Easy with a song from his Righteousness and Humidity album, “Easy Money”.  Walsh and Pound noted that it was written into their contract to follow ‘the most intimidating opening act in the world’, a daunting task at the best of times, but this duo fearlessly took to the stage in order to continue to dazzle and entertain, whilst mixing it up pretty much throughout.  The material ranged from the Delta Blues of Robert Johnson with “Stop Breaking Down”, to the Irish reggae of Horslips with “Wrath of the Rain”, to some pretty complex Arabic music in “CCCs (Curries Cure Colds)” incorporating ‘a multitude of time signatures’.  Once or twice throughout the two sets, one musician would leave the stage for the other to showcase his dexterous playing ability alone with Walsh’s “Dust on the Roses” set and Pound’s arrangement of the old Bampton Morris tune “Old Tom of Oxford”.  When Will Pound is in full flight with either of his chromatic or diatonic harmonicas, it’s increasingly difficult to imagine that this instrument was originally intended as a therapeutic tool to aid his breathing exercises after undergoing open heart surgery, twice.  The fact that he is now one of the country’s leading harmonica players is testament to hard work, dedication and good old fashioned raw talent.  Bright Phoebus regular Roy Bailey kept it in the family so to speak, being introduced by his son-in-law and going on to bring to the evening a good old rousing chorus song, Si Kahn’s “Go to Work on Monday”, which kicked off the second half and soon had the entire room joining in.  Bright Phoebus encourages freedom of speech and there’s always a sense of healthy dissent in some of the between song patter, therefore protest songs never go overlooked or unrewarded at any of these concerts.  Dan Walsh provided a wry look at a couple of subjects close to his heart, Education in “Pointless Greedy Figures” and the Jeremy Kyle Show (of all things) or more specifically the people who sit and watch the thing, in “More About You”, each providing food for thought.  Towards the end of the concert the duo continued to dazzle with their take on the popular Paul Thorn song “Hammer and Nail”, which helped demonstrate the duo’s almost telepathic cohesion, before a final set of tunes for an encore, which unsurprisingly was rewarded with a standing ovation.