Once again a fine evening at the Labour. Almost too fine, in fact. Andy and I set up the PA and soundchecked the bands in blazing summer heat. Even as we did, it crossed our minds that nobody in their right mind would want to spend and evening like this crammed into a small club like ours. It would just be too uncomfortable.
All preparations made, we took Joe Woolley, Jesse Morningstar and his rhythm section for dinner, a brief moment of calm during which we ate tortelloni, learned important things about our guests and worked the Rizla accordingly. On our return to the Labour Club, we were disheartened to see that our fears had come true. There were about 8 people in the room, 6 of whom looked as though the last thing they needed was a dose of live music.

Twelve minutes later the room was full.

Joe was first up. His guitar sound is fuller and fatter than ever before, and it proved a worthy magic carpet on which to ride. With his smart new fabrics and classy, confident performance, Joe had the punters sitting up and paying attention to just how much he has been improving as a performer over the past few months.

Curtis E. Johnson simply arrived in the building, sat down, plugged in and started. Plenty of classic originals, delivered on electric guitar in a brash, no-nonsense style. A version of The Cockroach That Ate Cincinatti really got things stirred up, before our hero was joined onstage by Psychedelic Terry Walpole (The Only One Of Its Kind) for a raging rendition of the Incredible String Band's "Dear Old Battlefield". Against all the odds, the unlikely trichological twosome brought it off large-style and left the stage to warm applause.

Then a boy with looks like Buddy Holly and a voice like John Lennon takes the stage, toting a tiny nylon-string classical guitar. The first number (during which, I must confess, I managed to leave the introductory music still playing through the poor bastard's foldback!) was halting and a more than a little on the gloomy side. Them natives was restless. But as soon as the unwanted accompaniment was removed from the monitors, Jesse and his band began to weave real magic. Soul, gospel, folk and blues all passed through their ever-so-slightly wonky West Country culture filter, gradually drawing the audience in until they were grinning like fools. Their skills and inventiveness left people breathless as they showed just what a wide range of colours three individuals can conjour at one gig. An inspired version of "Tighten Up" secured an away win for the plucky Bristolian beatniks, and from then on it was disbelieving grins all the way, as Jesse and his boys layed encore after encore upon a delirious crowd.

Needless to say, the evening ended in moronically good-natured mayhem and Spanish champagne at Shakespeare Villas.

Jesse exceeded everybody's expectations.

The Butcher http://www.jazzbutcher.com


Bit late to be reviewing this I know, but I've been on holiday...

Right. Got out of the car, having parked in NN1, just round the corner from the Labour Club... this bit of Nthmptn is strangely calm, serene even. I decide to take off my socks - how right I was, as it was a hot night and especially tropical in the club.

Stand awkwardly at the bar, as is the fashion in our hometown of Oxford. Joe Woolly plays his set as I set about some guinness... mmm... extra cold... *splutter* hang on a sec... She Belongs To Me? Opening with a Dylan song? Surely some mistake?

But, try as I might, I can't write off mr W after just one song, and the one he plays next is a beauty... there's something eternally 1965 about Joe, from his gently English voice to his almost-nervous demeanour... by the end of the set I'm quite won over.

The poet Terrence Walpole introduces Curtis' set with a rendition of his own unique take on The Lord's Prayer. My favourite line is "Deslither us from drivel".

The audience is now silent, wide-eyed and open-mouthed... Curtis plays a great set, accompanied only by his guitar. His songs are beautifully unusual - one is about Space Mining, another about the political situation in the far east, all performed with his sweet, souly voice. He finishes up by accompanying Terry through a cover of an Incredible String Band, though I couldn't tell you which one (I've only got the first 3 or 4 albums, see?). Marvellous. It was well worth coming up from 'ver Ox for just Joe, Curtis and Terry let alone the headliners.

...who were fantastic. I thought that I'd be able to slough off and concentrate on my guinness during Jesse Morningstar's set - how bloody wrong I was. Morningstar took us on a whistle-stop tour of most of the styles of music of the last 100 years and then rocked us so hard that, had I not taken my socks off beforehand, they would have been off my feet like a fucking shot...

Look, if you've been thinking about visiting the Masters of Budvar but haven't so far, it's time to stop dithering and just get over there. I don't think we can afford not to become regulars!

Msewell-at-oxfam.org.uk - Matt from Jerich


back to frontpage