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Woodman Folk Club 10th November 2023

Well, I don’t know what to say! Imagine my surprise when on entering our illustrious Folk Club last night, the first thing that greeted me was a full sized drum kit in pride of place on the stage! Not a bodhran, not even a cajon, oh no…the complete works, bass drum, snare, cymbals, big-hat, the lot! I thought ‘Good grief, what is the world coming to…this is the Woodman don’tcha know, no place for one of them teenage ”beat combos”’! But more of that later…..

The multitudinous throng were ceremonially greeted by stunt-Bryn (aka Mr. Chris Irving), who opened the night by introducing none other than genuine Bryn who was to be our support artist for the night, and what a cracking performance he put on! We were treated to half an hour of his own songs, with a surprisingly low death count for Bryn. Just three Welshmen and a biker’s dad. Almost a happy set in the Bryndex of mortality!

Suitably replete and after several failed attempts at correct band pronunciation by stunty, we moved swiftly on to the main course, a completely new act for the club in the form of The Rosellys…..and boy, did they take the place by storm! A five piece family band from the wilds of Ross-on-Wye, they treated us to a fabulous evening of mainly pretty upbeat country and Americana with even a little Cajun thrown in to spice it up a bit.

The band is fronted by Simon and Rebecca Rosellys with Rebecca taking the lead on most of the vocals. Both of them are pretty mean guitar pickers and Simon doubles on fiddle while Rebecca switched to banjo for a few numbers. Again, both of them were very proficient on their second instruments. The band is completed by Simons father Allan, mainly on pedal steel guitar (another unusual sight at the club), but occasionally switching to a Cajun style accordion, Matt on bass and his son George on the magnificent drum kit. At only 18 George was indeed that teenager mentioned above but we needn’t have worried. There were to be no ‘Keith Moon’ antics here, just a perfect steady rhythm to keep the rest of the band in time. Well done George.

The entire evening, both sets, were their own self-penned songs proving them to be excellent songsmiths too. Much of the material was inspired by their extensive travels and experiences in the US where they have toured and played on many occasions, notably in the southern states especially Texas. And, we were told, they were all ‘true stories’!
No need to detail the entire set list but suffice to say they opened at a pace with ‘A Thousand Miles’ and didn’t really slow down until they got to ‘Innocent’ half way through the set. ‘Lafayette Louisiana’ brought the first taste of Cajun and in other types of venue folks would have been on their feet dancing without a doubt. The rest of the set was just superb but one of the highlights for me was the opening number of the second set after the break which they performed stripped back to the duo of just Simon & Rebecca. It was called ‘Heartaches and Promises’ and was very reminiscent of Gillian Welch & David Rawlings in style and performance…simply brilliant.

The remainder of the second set too was a gorgeous mix of mainly fairly upbeat numbers, especially the very rocky ‘Electrified By You’ half way through the set, with an occasional slightly slower one inserted just for good contrast. We were warned of the dangers of strong liquor in ‘Don’t Let The Whisky Win’ and of misusing drugs with ‘Cocaine Train’. Having had their four month old latest band member with them they were understandably keen to finish their second set bang on time BUT we did manage to coax an encore in the form of ‘Queensland Sky’ and an excellent evening was completed in fine style.

If only the cheese cobs had been replaced by Jambalaya and Filé Gumbo we could truly have been in a roadside bar in San Antonio…and I fully expected to see ‘gators on the banks of the cut when we emerged into the cold night air of Kingswinford!

Another Woodman triumph without any doubt and here’s to the next time that we are privileged to welcome The Rosellys.

Author: Rob O’Dell

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