Live Review | Roots Music Club, Doncaster | Review and Photos by Allan Wilkinson
Another evening of quality songs enriched by some fine vocal performances and honest heartfelt playing, delivered on cue by two familiar Doncaster musicians. As James Taplin pointed out, it’s one thing to play for free in the noisy pubs and clubs of Doncaster and quite another to perform before a paying audience, there specifically to hear your songs, the pick up the nuances of the arrangements and messages in the lyrics. Tonight, James was met with a respectful audience at the Roots Music Club, where he was able to spread his metaphorical wings and play the songs he really likes to sing. Throughout his two sets tonight, James included a handful one or two originals including “Dragging My Feet”, but also had the ‘covers’ pretty much covered, delighting the audience with the lesser known songs of Warren Zevon “Studebaker” and John Denver “Catch Another Butterfly” as well as such staples as John Martyn’s “May You Never”, Stan Rogers’ “The Mary Ellen Carter” and Seth Lakeman’s “Solomon Browne.” So richly peppered is his repertoire, you imagine whichever musical path he chooses to take, whether it’s the protest songs of Si Kahn “It’s Not Just What You’re Born With”, the Country sensibility of Iris DeMent “Let the Mystery Be”, the soulful gospel of Odetta “Hit or Miss” or the whimsical tea-slurping superheros from Kate Rusby’s imagination “Big Brave Bill”, James hits the nail right on the head each time, each song delivered in his deeply soulful voice. The meeting point between James and Stuart Palmer, who opened tonight’s proceedings, was Leon Redbone, the two singers presenting their own tributes to the recently departed crooner, with “Lazy Bones” and “Shine On Harvest Moon” respectively. Stuart was also in fine voice as he fingerpicked his way through such delights as the old folk blues song “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor”, Eric Bibb’s “The Needed Time” and Utah Phillips’ lullaby “Goodnight Loving Trail.” Rounding the evening off, James chose to leave the audience with a note of uplifting optimism, with Three Banjo Three’s “Happiness”, which seemed to reflect the mood and the atmosphere in the Ukrainian Centre tonight.