• Chris Farlie

Midwinterfest 2020 - Day 3: Farewell Set - Alan West, Steve Black, Adam Sweet & Mick Harding

After a late Saturday night, the traditional end to a Midwinterfest is a set from Alan and Steve prior to a parting Sunday lunch and the journey home. With easily enough material to cover three sets over three days without repeating a song or dipping in quality, this set normally has something of a more relaxed vibe about it, tinged with the sadness that this group of like minded music fans will not be gathering all together in one place again for another 12 months.

Alan kicked things off with another dip into Ed Bruce's catalogue with "Angeline" a tale of two people meeting who should each be with someone else but no-one is looking at wedding rings!. Steve then followed with "Face In The Crowd" with the band gradually coming as the song progressed, Sharing the demand across the team, it was Adam's turn next on vocal duties for a lovely gentle take on the Rolling Stones "Dead Flowers" from "Sticky Fingers" with Alan and Steve adding gently hushed backing vocals, this seemed a better version than the original!

It was then time to delve into Steve Blacks extensive catalogue for the next few tunes "Come On Home" like many of the tunes across the weekend given a new lease of life with extra drums and Adams sizzling guitar lines, leading Alan to add even more emphasis to his vocals. It was then time to see another song previewed at a Song Writers round some years ago in "Many Miles From Home" now affectionately known as "The Train Song" worked up into a full band version with Adam adding the key new guitar embellishments and Alan the additional vocals.

With Jefferson Ross now out of the building it was time for their take on a couple of his tunes starting with "Hornet Hawkins" which apparently is a true story especially the line about carrying a 50lb bag of sugar on his back. This version had the benefit of Adam working wonders on his electric guitar. This led into another Jefferson tune, a stirring version of "The Prophet Elijah", possibly the best song for a Sunday in these troubled times.

The pace then moved up a gear with "Are You A Devil Or An Angel?" with both Alan and Steve on vocals and Alan throwing in the the odd Mexican cry on a quite lively version. It was then time for Adam to deliver his 6 minute version of Steve's "You Think You're Lonely?", with the three acoustic guitars working together to create some great volume and drama.

Alan then slowed things down a little with his take on Kris Kristofferson's "The Pilgrim Chapter 33" , displaying his ability to breathe real life into "the walking contradiction on his lonely way back home". There was time to play a song that has dropped out of the catalogue in recent times "Lately", with Steve taken the lead with Alan gently singing along slightly off mic giving a nice overall vocal effect, and with the addition of Adam's guitar solo it certainly seemed to be somewhat revitalised.

The closing straight of Midwinterfest 2020 began with "The Big Freeze", with Adam now back on his electric guitar adding a lovely array of flourishes. A run through of Waylon Jennings' s "Mama's Don't Let Your Baby's Grow Up To be Cowboys" followed after a few minutes of musing on the merits of Fudge filled with Jim Bean, and promptly turned into an impromptu singalong on the chorus. A take on "Copperhead Road" with Steve on vocals was a somewhat quieter version than Steve Earle's machine gun powered original version but at least you could actually make out the words and it did increase in volume as it progressed

The curtain closer to any Midwinterfest is "The Way Of The World" and this year was no exception, this version saw the lines shared by Steve and Alan alternately, and ended with a standing ovation for their efforts across the whole weekend. It was a weekend full of many musical highlights, superlative songwriting and harmonies as well as a great number of fantastic stories, repeatable ones from onstage and perhaps some less repeatable ones from the great conversations to be had in the bar afterwards.

Same time next year? - We'll be there for sure.

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