Will Pound & Jenn Butterworth – – 22nd September 2022

Well here we are – a new (school) year, meeting up with old friends again and catching up with those ‘what I did in the summer’ stories. This year so far has been somewhat different, the Elizabeth II era has ended and we now have that strange feeling of a new king – Charles III. Perhaps it may not be long before Sweet Carolean is expected to be sung at all gatherings.

Tonight’s guests, Will Pound and Jenn Butterworth, are worthy of kicking off this new season/era at Baston. Will played here in November 2012 with Martin Simpson and Andy Cutting and returned again in January 2015. He really is a harmonica player of the highest calibre … and he ain’t bad on the melodeon either!

What I really like about the way that Will and Jenn put their sets together is that they include tunes that together fit seamlessly yet maintain their own individual feel. One minute you’re listening to something ‘traditional’, the next a spot of bluegrass. And considering that tonight is only about the tenth time they have played together, they have certainly swiftly built up a sympathetic musical relationship.

Will’s playing is a butterfly one minute and a flock of gulls the next. Similarly Jenn’s touch can be light as a feather and a moment later reminiscent of a small orchestra.

The first set of Irish tunes gets us all in the mood, so much so that the front row of the audience jigs and sways right from the off. If I were to be unkind I would write that Will is just plain showing off. I swear the man could breathe life into, and get a tune from, a stone. Lockdown seems to have suited him well, enabling him to compose tunes including The Circular Reel, inspired by his daily walks from his home in Caernarvon, to the sea, mountains and back. The pair quip that we appear to have graduated from The Lockdown to The Queue. Whatever next?

Jenn’s contributions are different yet complement Will’s perfectly. She has a lovely voice which is shown off to great effect in songs including the sublime Come All You Fair And Tender Ladies and Peggy Seeger/Ewan MacColl’s There’s Better Things To Do (apparently the song was written in 1958 as a marching song for the first Aldermaston march against the nuclear bomb). Later we are treated to Bert Jansch’s Rosemary Lane as well as South Australia. She also namechecks Lowell George’s 1979 great album Thanks I’ll Eat It Here, released months before his death.

Perhaps a highlight for me came towards the end of the evening when Will played 93 Not Out, a homage to Will Atkinson, the celebrated Northumbrian accordion and harmonica player. The tune was played with skill and an obvious affection for the great man.

In short, despite the fact that summer has now morphed into autumn, I thoroughly enjoyed this evening and drove home wishing I could play more on the harmonica than O Susanna! Will and Jenn have set the bar high for the upcoming 2022/23 Baston season. No pressure then!

Paul Sartin

It would be wrong not to acknowledge the sudden and tragic death of Paul Sartin, a talented musician and genuinely funny man. As part of Belshazzar’s Feast, Paul performed at Baston in May 2011, December 2012 and as recently as May this year. Tonight Will and Jenn paid tribute to him, playing a piece called Battle of the Somme. Paul will be missed.