Artist: Woody Pines
Venue : The Square Tower
Date: 13th April 2017
Operating tonight as a three piece, travelling troubadour, Jonathan William Woods aka Woody Pines, was making a keenly anticipated debut appearance at the Tower. With the front man on guitar and harp, accompanied by his watertight band on drums and lap steel guitar, they delivered an erudite master class, providing another memorable night for the, what is now a customary, capacity Square Roots crowd.
Bespectacled and somewhat professorial in appearance, Woody has a vocal timbre which, although a tad one-dimensional, is easy and effective on the ear and critically sports a lovely laconic delivery. Drawing on a wide spectrum of material from his back catalogue of three albums and an EP, and with his own originals blending in with the archival traditional music, there is an intoxicating pot pourri from Delta Country Blues to Appalachian hill country music both Country and Folk tinged. Described quite effectively, for those of us for whom labels are a useful point of reference, as Hillbilly Boogie, there was a pleasing change of dynamic throughout, with the experience heightened by Woody’s tales interspersed with the music.
Blending historical narrative about the songs, such as the musical travails of Alan Lomax for the now legendary series of recordings held at the Smithsonian, with tales of his own road trip experiences, he enthralled the appreciative crowd and no doubt educated some too! From the infamous crossroads at Clarksdale Mississippi to his own six and a half day road trip from New Hampshire to Austin Texas, we were taken, or transported rather, to the vast expanse of the rural USA, from Mississippi Mosquitos “the size of small mice” to the eighteen foot wingspan of mystical birds in the Appalachians.
Refreshingly different to an artist gifted creatively to expand and stretch our musical experience, Woody is rather more a torchbearer for a musical and therefore social heritage. A true troubadour and keeper of the flame, passing on the message down through generations to preserve that wonderful legacy and social document that is our musical history. That is not to say that the band do not add to the legacy, they are no mere messengers, adding superb arrangements and orchestration, and new material to the old. Crowd participation too, with the call and response refrain on ‘Rich Gal, Poor Gal, a tale of contrasting fortunes from their ‘Counting Alligators’ release.
After a busy session at the merchandising table the second set flew by. More travelling road songs and tales of Blind Doc Watson’s guitar picking, and we even spent a magical moment in Tin Pan Alley before some pure Country in the shape of Hank Williams senior. A splendid rollicking ‘Who Do You Love’, for me ever associated with Ronnie Hawkins and The Last Waltz rather than Juicy Lucy, won a terrific reception.
Spending some time between sets at a down town bar talking to Vietnam vet, now a hobo, Woody was asked to play Bob Dylan’s ‘Buckets Of Rain’, receiving a mysterious one hundred dollar bill in the collection at the end of the night. We were promptly regaled with a superbly evocative version of that song, one of a great evening’s highlights. With some classic Country Blues of the ‘I Woke Up This Morning’ kind, this was as good as it gets from a young talent bridging the gap of generations long past to keep the simple glory of that bygone age alive on our music systems and more importantly in our Souls. These guys are simply a must see!
Review By: Bob Chaffey
Photos Courtesy Of: Dickie Spurgin
What The Audience Said….
“Another great show. Fabulous night. Well done Ken and the Square Roots team!” (Paul Wild)
“Thank you for another awesome night!” (Emma Paxton)
“Excellent gig! A great evening and a brilliant start to the Easter weekend!” (Chris Rogers)
“They were fab! Loved ‘em!” (Janet Sampson)
“Excellent gig, excellent venue!” (Chris Fosbrook)