Lincolnshire's finest - Bill Whaley & Dave Fletcher,
aka Bill & Dave
Spalding Folk Club members
Martin Browne and Elizabeth Padgett
Mick Spooner from Essex
Dick George - a regular visitor from and resident of Wisbech Folk Club
At last, an opportunity had presented itself to review extraordinary Anglo-Australian folk singer Danny Spooner at a live gig on one of his British tours that I could make and that wasn't too far from home. I had first met Spooner through his brother, Mick Spooner, about two years earlier at the folk club the latter runs in Essex that is fairly local to me, but had been unable to arrange for a review on that occasion.
The Spalding Folk Club, which has been in existence since 1979, meets in an upstairs room at the intimate Lincoln Arms pub in the charming Lincolnshire market town of Spalding on the first Wednesday evening of the month. (Note: Since the original draft of this review in 2004, the club has moved to the South Holland Centre, Spalding, with a singaround at the Welland Yacht Club, Spalding, on the third Thursday every month. At the South Holland Centre, wheel chair access is available - for the Welland Yacht Club, please check with Spalding Folk Club.) Spalding Folk Club is a highly successful club and regularly features leading professional and semi-professional performers as well as local talent.
Tonight's main attraction was folk phenomenon Danny Spooner from Australia (originally England), here on a UK tour. Several of Spooner's albums are also reviewed here, so check these out for more information if you have not encountered him before.
At the appointed hour, the upstairs lounge at the Lincoln Arms filled up with a small and enthusiastic crowd, consisting of both performers and non-performing visitors.
Alas, the lighting proved to be abysmal, a very dim, horrendous mix of halogen and fluorescent light with, in the early part, some fading daylight for good measure. Far from ideal for photography, and with hindsight, maybe on this occasion it would have been better had indirect flash been used.
Spalding Folk Club stalwarts Paul Dickinson and Angela King
The evening opened with leading club members and local talent, Martin Browne and Elizabeth Padgett. A fine pair of folk singers, they soon got everybody into the right mood.
Mick Spooner, a semi-professional folk singer and brother of Danny Spooner, had also traveled up from Essex for the occasion. His big voice and wonderful performance had the crowd enthralled. He more usually performs as one half of folk duo Mick & Pete, renowned throughout Essex folk circles.
Described as "Lincolnshire's Finest", local professionals Bill Whaley & Dave Fletcher,
aka Bill & Dave, gave a taste of how they acquired this enviable reputation with their superb blend of voices underscored by Bill's outstanding duet concertina. Their repertoire includes both ancient and modern material, but always presented in traditional style. Bill & Dave were also very strong on audience participation through a satisfying number of choruses.
Closing the first half of the evening, star attraction Danny Spooner delighted with his mix of easy banter, providing some background to each song, and his booming, expressive voice, accompanying himself on guitar and English concertina. In the best tradition of folk, Spooner got his audience to participate wherever possible and appropriate and had them in the palm of his hand with his charm and charisma. Danny Spooner's sheer power and voice projection, qualities shared with brother Mick Spooner, are extraordinary, especially so for someone without any formal voice training, and have to be heard to be believed. This is blended with Spooner's superb sensitivity in his renditions and his ability to tell a gripping tale through his song, aided by perfect diction. Add to this immense personal warmth and seemingly boundless energy. Danny Spooner had the small crowd completely enthralled, and by the end of his performance and hence the first half of this evening, I am sure everybody was more than ready for another round of drinks!