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Jefferson Hamer with Rosie Hood
The Wheelhouse in Wombwell provided the setting for an intimate performance by Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Jefferson Hamer tonight, whose gentle songs, both traditional and contemporary, with a handful of originals, were delivered with the crystal clear voice of a seasoned storyteller, accompanied by an informed guitar picking style throughout. Most will remember Jefferson's collaboration with Anais Mitchell recently on the Child Ballads project, one of the songs, Willie of Winsbury, earning the duo a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award at the Royal Albert Hall in 2014 for best traditional song. One of the songs from that project, Riddles Wisely Expounded, was performed tonight with the audience stepping in to cover the absence of Anais Mitchell on the oft repeated refrain.
Before this though, Jefferson's current collaborator Rosie Hood took to the small Wheelhouse stage once again to get things off to a good start performing three unaccompanied songs, one of which was written by the Wiltshire-born, now Sheffield-based singer and given its very first airing in front of a live audience, The Furlong of Flight, which was only completed a couple of days ago. Opening with Bonnie Shaljean's Billy Reilley, Rosie soon settled into her stride, closing her short set with a confident reading of the song variously known as The Undaunted Female, The Beautiful Damsel or The Girl with the Box on Her Head.
Introduced by House Concert host Hedley Jones as "fresh from a heavy night with Eliza Carthy.." Jefferson gently eased the audience into his set with one or two self-penned songs, A Seed and a Feather, a song recorded by jefferson with one of his many collaborators, Laura Cortese, followed by The Busker, both songs that demonstrate his credentials as a first rate songsmith. Inviting the audience to join in on the choruses, the Wheelhouse regulars were in good voice throughout Jefferson's arrangement of Stan Rogers' North West Passage, a song "usually sung at full volume by powerful bearded men", with its highly melodic and infectious chorus.
Jefferson invited Rosie up on stage on a couple of occasions, firstly to perform one of the songs the two singers have been working on together, Must I Be Bound, which showcased the duo's empathetic harmony singing. Rosie was then invited back towards the end of the concert, where the two singers ditched the microphones and unplugged the guitar for a totally acoustic and impromptu The Old Church Yard, effectively bringing the concert to a close, but not before the obligatory encore, which Jefferson honoured by delivering a beautiful rendition of Si Kahn's Aragon Mill. A suitably tender conclusion to a thoroughly enjoyable and gentle evening of song.