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Doncaster Folk Festival Fund Raiser

Once again the Ukrainian Centre in Doncaster was pretty much full to capacity for another fund raising event for the forthcoming Doncaster Folk Festival in May/June 2013. With four diverse acts lending their support, which included a singer-songwriter, a young local duo, a four-part a cappella quartet and an established local bluesman, the concert was bound to suit everybody at some point, if not throughout the entire concert. Judging by the reaction of the packed audience, everybody seemed to like the range of performers chosen to play. Once again presided over by MC Mick Jenkinson, the evening had more of a 'family gathering' atmosphere as food was served throughout the evening as well as good local beer, with ample time between acts for a good old natter with friends.

Frank Carline has been playing on the local music scene for more years than he cares to remember and is a firm favourite, especially with local blues fans. Tonight Frank played a laid back set that not only featured blues standards such as Jimmy Reed's Bright Lights Big City, which had the audience going through a call and response routine, Slim Harpo's Got Love If You Want It and Tarheel Slim's Number 9 Train as part of a train medley, but also one or two self-penned songs such as A Waste of Time and the delicate Poppy Day, a song about the singer's grandfather, a World War I veteran, after whom Frank was named. Alternating between two acoustic guitars, whilst occasionally playing the blues harp and with some steady bottleneck style accompaniment, especially on his interpretation of Bob Dylan's Black Crow Blues (with more than a slight not to Charley Patton), Frank provided an ideal opening set, which effectively set the bar for the following acts.

With a highly contrasting set, the Leicestershire-based four-part a cappella quartet GU4 (pronounced Guffaw), focused on 'singing' exclusively throughout their set, which featured a selection of both traditional and contemporary folk songs including Jez Lowe's Bare Knuckle, Mick Ryan's Prince of Peace and Peter Bellamy's Roll Down To Rio, encouraging the audience to sing along as if there's no tomorrow. Closing with the rousing The Good Old Way, the room was soon filled with some fine unison and harmony singing rarely heard in these parts, which recalled the days of The Watersons and Swan Arcade.

Rhiannon Scutt and Pete Sowerby, otherwise known as Rita Payne were in fine voice throughout their set tonight, which was rewarded with a warm reception by an audience who actually listened to them instead of shouting over them as is the usual case with some of the late night Donny venues the duo have recently played. Their music deserves to be listened to as their performances not only contain delicious harmony singing but also songs that are worth your time. With a charming stage presence, Rita Payne made a good impression on the audience and won over some new fans in the process with such self-penned songs as Ashes, Stay and Don't Misuse Me as well as more familiar songs including Michael Jackson's Billie Jean and The Civil Wars' Barton Hollow

Finishing off the concert, the Welsh-born, London-based singer-songwriter Jack Harris brought some of the raconteur spirit to the evening; his highly literate songs peppered with some entertaining between-song tales. Although Jack is a relatively new name in the North of the UK, his star is definitely on the rise and his future is virtually assured as he embarks on a new phase of his career with the assistance of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). Tonight the singer performed songs predominantly from his current record THE FLAME AND THE PELICAN such as Easter Morning, Potato Flower and Rider, with a nod to the late Levon Helm as the singer performed The Band's The Weight inviting everyone to join in with the familiar chorus. Closing the set and the concert with the self-penned Donegal, Jack returned for a final encore, completing a successful and memorable concert, which should see the Doncaster Folk Festival 2013 off to a good start. 

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky