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Wednesday, 26th April 2017
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Jaywalkers: Making the Good Look Easy

North West Folk music clubs picThe evening started in unpromising fashion. Not only did the House Without a Name in Harwood, Bolton lack a title, it was also a bit short in the beer department.

"Is that the only real ale you have on?" I asked, pointing to the solitary hand pump that seemed to be in operation.

"No," replied the girl behind the bar, reversing the sign on the pump. "We haven't got that either."*

The remaining choices, Carlsberg, John Smiths and Guinness made sobriety easy. Fortunately, the music made up for that situation with Cheshire based Jaywalkers returning to the venue to provide their own sophisticated brand of bluegrass.

A sole negative aspect of the performance was the initial set up of the PA, which left the vocal microphones lacking clarity, but a fix was applied part way through the first set. Bass player Lucy Williams, whose percussive technique provides a vital underpinning to the intricate work of her fellow band members, offered a diagnosis during the interval.

"It's all Mike's fault," she explained cheerily. "He's rubbish."

While there may be doubts about Michael Giverin's ability to put jack plugs in the right holes, there can be no such worries about his prowess as a musician. He's a more than competent guitarist and exceptionally accomplished with a mandolin.

Across the stage, Jay Bradberry's fiddle work is always noteworthy, and her voice, which if anything is improved since the release of the debut album 16 miles, ranges in expression from sweetly coaxing to the sort of lusty output you'd expect from a big band singer.

The material was pleasingly varied. Wayfaring Stranger smouldered nicely, and the clever reworking of Caleb Meyer, Gillian Welch's sinister tale of home-brew, rape and retribution came across well.

On a bouncier note, there was an impromptu version of Happy Birthday for one audience member and an instrumental medley, with the order decided as they went along. Add in the self-penned My Sweet Little Miss, an aspiring traveller's plea to a dubious girl friend, and two newer compositions, Sarah and He'll Drag You Down and the bases were pretty much covered. And if all that sounds like a commercial rather than a review then so be it. There's no point in nit picking when there are no nits.

If bluegrass is your thing then Jaywalkers are a must see. Even if it's not, check them out, for it's a simple pleasure to experience musicians as comfortable with their material and each other as they are. They'll be appearing at a number of festivals over the summer and there are plans for a collaborative album to be announced shortly. Keep eyes and ears peeled.



* The pub managed to get a proper beer on near the end of the evening. Directors Ale. Very good it was too.

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