Alan West & Friends - The Harbour Inn - Axmouth
Mainly covering the Americana scene around our great metropolis, it is easy to forget that there are people beavering away across the country doing their bit to keep the scene vibrant and alive. From house concerts in High Wycombe to Gasoline & Matches monthly "Nashville Sounds In The Round" right through to EP launches in Stoke there is always something happening somewhere.
So with #TEAMw21 needing a post Long Road Festival break, a quick sojourn down to sunny Devon would bring us to another area of the country keeping the Americana flag flying. The Harbour Inn at Axmouth has a huge car park and gardens, it serves up a nice menu of food and most importantly for tonight, it has a large function room. Every first Tuesday of the month an act will play there that will cause Country loving fans in the local area to arrive in plenty of time to assure themselves of an early pint and a premium seat to gain the best view of what is to come.They know that for ninety minutes or so spread across 2 sets they will laugh, possibly shed a tear and certainly at some point burst into song.
Our host for the evening will be Alan West, who will be joined by Salohcin Seyab on bass and long time sidekick Adam Sweet on guitar. It will be an evening of musings on whether Badgers is on sale in draught, laughs in that Alan's old dinner lady is in the audience but most of the evening will be a gentle musical history lesson as we dive into the great Americana songbook and hear a range of classic tunes - some that but for evenings like this would rarely get an outing. The stage has a projection announcing who is playing, although everyone already knows, all it then needs is three stools and some amps for the magic to begin.
Things will open with a Hugh Moffett tune "The Way Love Is" - it has been a while since we've seen Alan sing but within a few moments of hearing the opening lines he was rolling back the years, and we instantly remembered just what we have been missing for far too long. The regulars we mentioned eralier who had secured their highly prized front row seats, now mouthed along with Alan on every word, as they would for most of the evening.
The Willie Nelson song City Of New Orleans", ( as we are informed written by Steve Goodwin ) will see the first of many impromptu singalongs and will see Adam throw in a suitably old time solo, the most telling feature though is Alan's Devon timbre which inhabits these songs.
The evening is a sheer delight whether we dip into the famous catalogues of James Taylor ( Sweet Baby James ) or Guy Clark ( LA Freeway) or the lesser known yet equally magnificent world of Jefferson Ross for "Hornet Hawkins" - tonight complete Adam's great guitar lines and bluesy solo as well backing vocals.
Adam will duly take the lead for a bit of UK Americana from the recently reawakened Rolling Stones back catalogue with "Dead Flowers", a quick gaze around the room once more saw everyone mouthing along.
Of all the artists that Alan chose to cover tonight none has had their catalogue more shabbily treated than Nanci Griffith, a recent announcement of some vinyl reissues hopefully is the start of something to celebrate this most sadly missed of artists. We've seen Alan cover a number of her songs previously, tonight it is "Gulf Coast Highway" in a truly stirring version, and later "Love At The Five & Dime" will dazzle, with Alan extracting every inch of pathos from the rich lyrical content on offer in a truly marvellous version which was received with long and loud applause, If her record company won't do her justice thank heavens someone is keeping her tunes alive.
It was truly a night to just let the music wash over you and fill your soul, you certainly came away well entertained and probably a little wiser in terms of your overall musical knowledge.
The next gathering will be on Tuesday 3rd October 18:30 - if you are anywhere in the vicinity make a beeline for it!!