Midwinterfest Day 3 - The Fond Farewell - Alan West, Steve Black, Adam Sweet, Justin Johnson, Jasmin
It never ceases to amaze, that many who have watched every note at the festival being played well into the early hours and who have have long journeys home ahead of them are all in place for their final Midwinterfest fix,.
The “Sunday Morning Soiree” as Alan calls it began with just Steve and Adam, with Adam taking the lead vocals on the bluesy romp “Sweet Little Thing” designed to shake out any morning cobwebs, after all not many of us attend gigs at 11:30 after watching the previous one until 01:00.This session was to be a little something out of the ordinary, few would have been expecting Adam to burst into David Bowie’s “Jean Genie”, let alone to see Steve giving it full force on the backing vocals in the chorus. In a routine that mixed comedy and high musicianship into an unlikely but winning cocktail.
Justin and Alan the came to the stage, for a revisit to the song played on Friday by Ags Connolly, “Get Out Of My Mind”, it’s interesting to compare the difference in versions, Alan’s voice imbues the song with a natural warmth, Ags maybe has the edge on angst, either way both are excellent versions which is a tribute to the song. From there it was into “Hillbilly Woodbines” with Justin’s percussion giving the song additional oomph. Words can’t really do justice so “Such Bad Luck” and its tales of woe- let’s just say it could be considered to be, the quintessential country song and leave it at that.
To mix things up further, Jasmine Scott Neale returned to the stage after her stint with Hattie Briggs yesterday, to add some cello to the mix, but that is to massively underplay the part she played, even with minimal rehearsal time this short section would become one of the main talking points in post fest analysis!
On the version of “Jacob”, the cello instantly gave the song even more of an americana feel. A coughing fit affecting Steve, meant the we got the unexpected opportunity to hear Alan take lead on the final verse perhaps a foretaste of how it might sound if included on Alan's next album? The cello made an even more telling contribution to “You’re On You Your Own” adding just the right notes of sadness to match the situation being described in the song.. Adam then took the lead for “You Think Your Lonely” the whole sound totally transformed with the extra instrumentation from Jasmine & Justin from any version I've previously seen. with the instrumental section of the song simply inspired - hopefully someone recorded that moment for posterity.. To keep the run of haunting sounds going there followed Alan's reworking of “Country Roads” once again with percussion and cello it has never sounded better, and with some excellent guitar work from Adam. The final song for Jasmine saw Steve return to vocal duties for "Lately" and once again the transformation was astounding, i'm struggling to recall a guest musician making such an impact and the huge round of applause that greeted her as she left the stage was a sign of just how much her contribution had been appreciated.
“Are You A Devil Or an Angel” had the job of readjusting our ears to a post cello sound before the perfect close with the “The Way Of The World” The final traditional part of Midwinterfest is the rush for booking forms to sign up for next year and this year the demand was more furious than ever -it’s huge fun we’ll be there… will you?