The Dan Webster Band

Live Review | Roots Music Club, Doncaster | Review and Photos by Allan Wilkinson

It was a banjo-totin’ Paul Newman who introduced many of us to Ed Rush and George Cromarty’s “Plastic Jesus” in a memorably melancholic scene in Cool Hand Luke over 50 years ago. The song was revised tonight for the Dan Webster Band’s final song, a well deserved encore and a suitable climax to another great night at the Roots Music Club. Slightly fragmented for tonight’s performance, with Sam Carson sitting in for the band’s regular drummer and with the notable absence of mandolin ace Polly Bolton, who’d understandably taken the slightly more prestigious gig in Glastonbury, with her other outfit (well I suppose if Kylie can make the effort, then so can Polly). Nevertheless, Polly’s spotlight was very much taken by her band mate Emily Lawler, who took the opportunity of taking her fiddle to waters otherwise uncharted with some superb playing. There was a mixed bag of goodies included in the two sets tonight, some of which reflected the band’s own take on Americana, “Playing Cards and Late Night Bars”, “(Don’t Ask Me To Play) Elvis” and the infectious “Bo”, which wouldn’t have been out of place on the Oh, Brother soundtrack. Opening the second set with a convincing solo performance of Richard Thompson’s classic girl/guy ballad “1952 Vincent Black Lightning”, before inviting Emily up to double for Amanda Shires to his impressive Jason Isbell, for a rather superb reading of “Cover Me Up”, which was one of the highlights of the night. With Mark Waters on bass and Rachel Brown sparring superbly with Emily in all the right places, her cello strapped to her, ready for action, the band kept the momentum flying throughout, amidst the minor irritations of missing members and broken guitar strings. All in all another top night at the club with Ian Mather doubling as MC and opening act, duetting with the classically trained violinist Dave Allison, who between them tackled Al Stewart, Harvey Andrews and Sir Elton, in their usual fashion.