Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Thea Gilmore

To a gig at the Zebra Bar last night. I happened on Thea Gilmore in 2001 when 'Rules for Jokers' came out, and we haven't stopped playing her since, and K sings her spine-tingling ' 'I'm Gonna Haunt You'.

The audiences here are sedate, respectful and perhaps not the easiest to warm up. Joan Coffey had that job and did it well, ranging from sweet-voiced colleen to someone who could round up sheep. Her well-structured lyrics seize you with a strange sense of deja vu; 'Sometime' is still going round in my head.

Thea's own set was just....superb; the sort of gig you never forget. That makes you glad you've been standing for three and a half hours, because a chair would have been a shackle. Supported by husband/producer Nigel Stonier (vocals, guitar, harmonica), who has written for the likes of Fairport Convention, Lindisfarne and Sandi Thorn and sung with Martha Wainwright, and by the multi-talented Fluff (vocals, violin, guitar), who has played with the Incredible String Band, Nick Harper, Waking the Witch and others, she held us hostage from start to finish, here the plangency of Nick Drake, there the soaring, spine-tingling purity of Sharleen Spitiri. We didn't want it to end.

But one thing I don't understand. Average age of the audience? Probably over 50. What's that about? Was there something better going on in this two-bit town on a Monday night? Were they all racing each other in nicked motors on the ring road? Popping Es in some techno house? Brains addled by their iPods? Doing their homework? Glued in front of Celebrity Makeover Academy Factor on Ice? Eating burgers? I wouldn't have classed this gig as folk, but even if it was, when I were a lad folk clubs attracted all ages. Everyone is into Roots Blues now. Well, Folk is our Roots; it's raw and unmixed, unplasticised, undigitised, un-Walshed and Cowelled; un Ken Bruced and Woolworthed; it's soul-food red in tooth and claw, vegetables with muck on them; love, lust, honour, courage, sorrow, grief... God save the singer-songwriters.

Oh, what's the point?


  1. (rushes in) haven't got time to stop and read now - just wanted to tell you that there is an award for you over at my place and you can drop by to collect it (rushes out)

  2. I'm jealous - I missed Thea's gig in these parts earlier in the year, even though I had a ticket. Not sure I'd bring the average age of her audience down by THAT much though.

  3. see - I came back. I don't know this singer (well, I am an expat) but I like Mr Drake and I love the String Band so I reckon I'd like Thea too.

  4. Ummmmm......never heard of her? Sorry! And as a local I COULD, I guess, (unlikely as I dont do 'out' much) have been there....depending n WHICH two bit town you mean...
    But anyway. I promise I will now go and find and listen to. Probably on You Tube. Is that ok???
    But you know, I wouldn't have brought the average age down anyway.....meh....

  5. I love the fact your gig reviews make me feel like I was actually there. And "vegetables with muck on them" really sells it to me.

  6. We were just saying last eve how things used to be more "all ages" than they seem to be now. Nonteheless, Brother T, I enjoyed your tasty review, loved the "Veg w/ muck" phrase and gennerally enjoy your company. And BTW, I'm riding a 1973 BMW/5 motorbike....a nice bit of old . . . .like US!
    ;-) really lovely atmospherinc review! aloha-

  7. Brother Tobias, come to Minneapolis. :-)
    I really enjoyed this review. Makes me want to go hear something raw, something with real musicians willing to step out on a limb.

  8. Fancy - Thank you so much. Such a chic award, and I feel most honoured. I have a feeling you would like Thea's stuff very much.

    Rol - Sorry you missed her. In the context of that audience you'd have been asked for ID.

    Justme - I meant the Maidstone two-bit one. You Tube has some - in fact I've embedded a link as a kick-off. Her highlighted name in the text also links to her website.

    Steve - I'm glad it seemed to do that. I'd had a few beers there, so the brain wasn't exactly break dancing the following morning when I wrote it.

    Cloudia - Now I'm really jealous! That's a good-looking machine...I love that sleek, flat-topped line of tank and seat that is so out of fashion. I'm guessing it's a 500. Very cool.

    Pearl - I'd love to come to Minneapolis - if only to see how it snows there when the winter comes. As for the musicians, do it! Go out there and find some limb-stepping ones.

  9. Well, I loathe folk music but I rather liked that youtube - only thing I didn't like was the violin which reminded me a bit of folky stuff and the awful Irish diddly music I hate more than anything! Actually, having listened to it again - I like the vocals but not the rest!

  10. This is a great blog to come to find out about music that I am sure I would otherwise not come across! Cheers ears.

  11. What a eulogy, BT! Needs someone like you to big up this wonderful music - no, culture!

  12. RB - I guess it's the celt and the peasant in me! But her voice is the best.

    Amanda - I am simply taking a leaf out of your book!

    Dotterel - Damn. How did you know I have no culture? I've really tried to conceal that!

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