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Roy Machin and Mike Miller

The Regent, Doncaster
Monday 12 November 2007

Standing in for Dave Burland at short notice at The Regent tonight was a bunch of friends who were only too willing to help out under the sad circumstances. I'm sure that everyone associated with the club would like to wish Dave all the very best through this difficult time. 

Roy Machin is one of South Yorkshire's best kept secrets. I think he probably sees himself as a consistently reliable support artist to anyone of any merit visiting town, but we all know differently don't we? Roy has one of the most distinctive voices in the country and an eclectic taste that could rival that of Ry Cooder and should in all fairness be selling out concert halls.

There's nothing awkward about Roy Machin and his regular partner Mike Miller (guitar and dobro) when they get up and play. Once they settle into their set, you cannot help but fall back into your seat and relax for an hour, whatever kind of day you've had.

Tonight at Bob Chiswick's Monday Music Club, Roy and Mike cherry picked songs from such diverse sources as Townes Van Zandt Poncho and Lefty, Danny O'Keefe Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues, The Andrews Sisters Wing and a Prayer and Bob Dylan Living the Blues, to name but a few. 

Roy has always demonstrated his ability to transport his audience back in time and evoke the atmosphere of a different era entirely, whether it be post war American blues, Fifties country music or the pop tunes of the Sixties and Seventies. Where he differs from most of his contemporaries though, is when he allows his eclecticism to wander into the realms of almost forgotten territory. Tonight the duo were in the mood for making whoopee, which featured not only in Gus Kahn's original Making Whoopee, but also in Jimmy Rodgers and Clayton McMichen's Peach Pickin Time in Georgia and also in the brilliant My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes, a curious song from the repertoires of just about everybody from Debroy Summers and Sophie Tucker to the late George Melly, via Al Bowlly and The Waldorfians along the way:

"Since making whoopee became all the rage
It's even got to the old birdcage
My canary has circles under his eyes"

Classic stuff.

It wouldn't be right to conclude this review without mentioning the support for tonight's gig, although in truth, the entire evening was a collaborative effort by friends of Dave Burland. Bob Chiswick opened the night with a couple of his own songs including the excellent Mystified before handing the stage over to regular Regent 'performer and surrealist raconteur' John Law who was accompanied tonight by Paul on dobro. John's lived-in voice and uncomplicated guitar style make it easy for him to pick and choose from a wealth of Whistle Test-era songs from the likes of Tom Waits Heart Attack and Vine and Steve Winwood Back in the High Life Again to classic Leadbelly fare Bourgeois Blues.

Rounding off what turned out to be an excellent night at The Regent, Ray Banks brought to life a few old timey fiddle tunes on his trusty banjo accompanied by Mike Miller on guitar.

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky