A sold out Junction 1 and everyone is seated for this gig. A strange set up for what is traditionally a standing venue, not sure if this was the choice of the artist or the venue?
Being seated there was a healthy queue outside the venue an hour before the doors opened. Amusing to see (much like myself) so many grey haired people in line for a gig. Fabulous!
Very much a Cambridge Folk festival crowd saw the support Jordan Mackampa play a sweet set. Just solo with acoustic guitar, an upcoming singer/songwriter to look out for.
This tour is about promoting Rhiannon’s solo album ‘Freedom Highway’ which was co-produced with multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell in his Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, studio. Dirk is also part of an impressive band that takes the stage at 9pm.
90 minutes later we are left in awe I think it’s safe to say, Rhiannon has the most amazing voice, gentle and powerful enough to shatter a crystal chandelier ., indeed a voice that is sharp, clear and envelops the listener that you are just concentrated on the music (perhaps being seated is just perfect after all, no one chatting, heading for the bar or toilets).
Not only is Rhiannon’s voice amazing she is a mean banjo and fiddle player. A wonderful personality keeps everyone engaged whatever the style of music in front of you.
The songs from ‘Freedom Highway” look back at pre civil war America and Rhiannon sings songs about and through the eyes of those souls alive at the time.
‘At The Purchasers Option’ a song about the sale of a woman and her child. ‘The Angels laid him away”, ‘Julie” (as the army approach the plantation mistress begs the slaves to protect the family gold, to which she is told the gold “is what you got from my children’s soul").
‘Birmingham Sunday’ is perhaps the poignant and heartbreaking part of the set. A song that describes what occurred at the African-American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on Sunday, September 15, 1963, As Rhiannon pointed out before singing, it’s so sad that the topic of the song still has so much relevance today.
The album songs are sprinkled throughout the set which includes, magnificent covers of, Patsy Cline, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Odetta and more; jigs, waltzes, jazz and soul. (no chance to dance though because we are seated ha ha)
The band is exceptional and there seems a real kinship amongst those on stage. More UK dates are expected in the autumn, don’t miss out!