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Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman

The Salutation, Doncaster
Monday 14 November 2005

I heard it said that the linguists who worked on the hoax Yorkshire Ripper tapes could pinpoint the Geordie accent in question, not only to a certain area of the North East of England, and not even to a certain well known Tyneside city, but to a specific end of a street. I wonder what they would make of the difference between the accents of the erstwhile partnership of Kathryn Roberts and Kate Rusby, two Barnsley lasses with differing accents, so different in fact that they could be mistaken for coming from different planets. Perhaps they lived on opposite sides of the street? Whilst young Kate still has old folkies swooning embarrassingly at festivals and in concert halls up and down the country, delighting everyone with her quaint Barnsley dialect, old pal Kathryn Roberts has matured into a delightful singer of both traditional and contemporary material. I say 'contemporary' but having presumably delved deep into dad's record collection, she and her partner Sean Lakeman revisit timeless gems such as Lowell George's 20 Million Things and Tom Waits' wonderful Georgia Lee, as well a whole host of others, even Paul Simon's Under African Skies would you believe?

You can't help but love this duo, Kathryn, every bit a Yorkshire lass albeit with the aforementioned restrained accent and Sean, every bit a Devonshire lad, from a family of gifted musicians. With a younger brother hobnobbing with the Mercury Prize mob, fiddling and diddling his way into the realms of two-page entries in the Folk Music Who's Who, if such a publication existed, Sean is still very much the laid back guitar virtuoso he always was in The Equation, the folk brat pack band all set to launch both Kathryn and Kate on equal terms, had Kate not given the band the slip just before that years' Cambridge Folk Festival.

I thought tonight's gig was simply wonderful. Kathryn and Sean are doing it right. They are keeping the tradition alive and well, in fact more than just well, obscenely healthy more like. There was nothing 'showy' in last nights performance. When Kathryn picks up the Soprano Sax, you know instinctively that it is going to be just the right instrument for the job. Even the way she sits at the piano, it's all very business-like, no Tori Amos antics here, no flirting with the piano, just pure music. As for Sean Lakeman, well I would give my right arm to play like him, but surely that would defeat the object. Have a leg then.

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky