The Farm, Chapel St Leonards ~ Sun 26th Sepember 2004
New Orleans based musician Spencer Bohren has been touring in the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire region recently, he made his first appearance in our area last Sunday afternoon, unfortunately as so often happens a meagre audience turned out to witness the relatively unknown artist perform an excellent set of acoustic blues, gospel and country songs. So if you weren't at The Farm here's a little of what you missed!
Comparison can be drawn to another American artist, Bohren has a similar voice to Chris Smither, his musical introduction to each song provides an fascinating insight into the song's background, bringing it to life - here his style is reminiscent of another American performer, Kent DuChaine. His guitar style though is far more laid back, and has been compared to Geoff Muldaur. Now you see where he's coming from its not hard to see why some 200 people saw his performance at a North Lincolnshire acoustic roots club earlier in the month, and Yorkshire theatres were sold out!
Bohren, armed with two lap steel guitars, a six string guitar and banjo opened with the gospel song written by soul singer Curtis Mayfield, 'People Get Ready' played on lap steel guitar and proceeded to treat those present to an afternoon of superb music. His early influences were gospel, his father was a Baptist priest, and a number of other songs such as 'Workin' On A Building' had a gospel flavour.
Spencer has also been touched by the blues, as well as original numbers such as 'Night is Fallin' he also includes old blues songs from the Piedmont tradition, such as Blind Willie McTell's 'Broke Down Engine' and a Blind Blake song. He also performed 'No Expectations' a song written by Jagger & Richards, taken from the 'Beggar's Banquet' album by the Rolling Stones.
Bohren is also a big Hank Williams fan, his set featured three songs by the famous hillbilly songwriter including 'Lost Highway' and 'Lovesick Blues'. During the latter came an incident we'd never witnessed before, seemingly a glass at the bar shattering, apparently due to effect of Spencer's yodeling!
The traditional English murder ballad 'Long Black Veil' featured some fine lap steel playing as did his final number 'Witch Doctor', the eerie atmosphere of this song enhanced by some quite different sound effects conjured from Bohren's slide work.
Those who missed Spencer Bohren this time around and can't make it to Gainsborough this coming Wednesday (29th September) should note that he is planning a return to the UK next March when he will be playing a few solo dates as well as a number with British bluesman Dave Peabody.