Blaxhall Sessions - Martin Simpson

The Blaxhall Sessions are a new project put together by Alan Bearman Music, FolkEast, and the Ship Inn. Alan has over 40 years experience of promoting events and festivals, and is a leading music agent in the field of folk,roots and acoustic music. The FolkEast festival has been developing an ever greater reputation as a uniquely charming folk festival in Suffolk over the last seven years (which I wrote about recently here). The Ship Inn, Blaxhall, has a long heritage of folk music, song and dance, and deserves a post of it's own.

Martin Simpson on stage at Blaxhall village hall.

The Blaxhall Sessions are taking place at Blaxhall village hall, as the name suggests it is an intimate venue. Car issues meant I arrived just before the gig started and had to sneak in at the back of the hall. Sadly, that meant that I was all of 20 yards or so back from the stage! Not ideal for mobile phone photography, but it was a fine seat in real life.

Martin Simpson has had a 45 year career as a folk musician, playing his first gigs when I was not long out of nappies. I didn't discover him until around 20 years ago, as my musical tastes transitioned from goth and indie-pop to folk. Just one measure of his reputation and talent is that he has had more nominations for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards than any other artist. And yet here he was playing to just over 100 people in a village hall, in the middle of nowhere, in sleepy Suffolk.

Martin chatting to a member of the audience at the end of the gig.

Now, I must confess that I don't know Martin Simpson's back catalogue half as well as I ought to. After this evening, that is something that I will certainly be putting right in the coming weeks. However, I have been a big fan of 'Prodigal Son' ever since its 2007 release; in particular, the song 'Never Any Good' still brings a tear to my eye every time I hear it. To judge by the response that it got this evening, it was obviously a favourite of many people in the audience; although I have to say that there wasn't song that was less than wonderful.

After the gig a few people made their way back to the Ship. In fact it really was a few, rather less than I had expected in fact. It took a little while for Martin, and FolkEast organisers John and Becky, to finish up at the hall and get to the pub. Once they did though, we were treated to another song. 

Based on the first of the Blaxhall Sessions, I am sure that this series of gigs will be a great success. And, if you're coming along, don't miss out on the pub afterwards.

Martin Simpson entertaining a select few with a rendition of 'In the Hills of Shiloh'


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