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.

Details of this years Oscar Preston Memorial Trophy have been released

On 9th November at 8:00 pm at the Red Lion West Deeping we will be holing our annual song concert dedicated to solo artists.

Some prefer to just sing, others to accompany themselves on their instrument. But it is always solo.

The evening starts with our communal Big Sing – nothing dull or morbid please.

More singing while Maggie adds up the votes. The winner will then sing their song again.

We will end the evening with more Big Sings

Even if you do not want to take part, it is always a fun session – so come along and enjoy.

You can see more details in The Oscar Preston Memorial Trophy page

Back To Normal Capacity

Subject to there being no new Covid restrictions, we will return to our normal capacity of 90 seats starting in September.

However, please do not come if you have tested positive for covid or if you have been told that you have been in contact with someone who has covid.

Brooks Williams and Aaron Catlow – – 23rd June 2022

This weekend sees Glastonbury but tonight we have Bastonbury! Not for us smoothies made from foraged dandelion leaves or crowd surfing towards the front of the stage. No, we Bastonites are much more civilized, and laidback, we appreciate musicianship of the highest order. So it will come as no surprise that’s exactly what we got tonight, the concert by guitarist Brooks Williams and fiddle player Aaron Catlow being a fine way to end the current season.

Georgia-born but now British citizen Brooks has played here before. Tonight he plays us Dave Alvin’s King of California, reminding us that he is indeed the king of laidback cool, a veritable Peter Pan of style with his smooth and seemingly effortless guitar playing. From the instrumental opener from last year’s Ghost Owl soundtrack album to the raucous Hesitation Blues encore we are treated to great playing. Add to that Aaron’s superb fiddle playing and the combination guarantees surefire success. I must confess to being unfamiliar with Aaron’s work – I must investigate more! His fiddle-playing style is interesting, I can hear English folk, American mountain music, classical style and a large dose of Eastern European and gypsy influences. One minute he can make a devil of a noise, the next he can be as light as a nighttime moth. Aaron can certainly captivate an audience, none more so when he and Brooks play Ernie Carpenter’s Elk River Blues, the introduction to which was utterly mesmerising. We all held our breath.

Their so-called transportation set was a highlight, containing The L&N and CC&O Blues – almost a surfeit of abbreviations! They know how to reference the more familiar – Rab Noakes, Norman Blake – as well as the lesser-known – Pink Anderson and Cheryl Wheeler. Brook’s versatile vocals also deserve a mention. He can throw his head back and belt out a blues and the next minute whisper a song as gently as a summer breeze.

Brooks and Aaron’s dynamic performance, full of verve and fine playing, deserves to be captured on a live recording. Now there’s a thought – ‘Live at Baston’. Perhaps next time – hint, hint! In short, tonight’s concert was another winner (no raffle ticket needed)!

Incidentally, it hasn’t been easy for Alan and Maggie – gradually getting back to ‘normal’ after Covid restrictions has been tricky. Thank you and well done for a superb season of concerts. Happy summer everyone. See you in September!

Belshazzar’s Feast – 26th May 2022

Concert Review (Including photos) by Toby Wood
Belshazzar’s Feast at Baston Barn

Paul Sartin and Paul Hutchinson have been here before, exactly eleven years ago to the day (26 May 2011) and as part of their Christmas 2012 tour. Now, in 2022, they have decided to hang up their touring boots. As they say on their website, “You’ve already had too much of a good thing. We’ve long outstayed our welcome in the Travelodges, service stations and garden centres of the world, so it’s high time we headed for new pastures/put out to grass. Catch us while you can!” And that’s exactly what Baston’s audience did this evening, enjoying accordion, violin, oboe and even swanee whistle playing of the highest order.

Belshazzar’s Feast’s music and overall performance is dexterous, charming, funny, intricate yet simple. It would be largely pointless for me to try to name, outline and unravel each piece they played. One minute you’re hearing Mozart, five seconds later a snippet from The Teddy Bear’s Picnic or Rock Around the Clock. From the sobering message contained in Doll Thy Ale to the delicate, intricate and musical jigsaw of Die Deutsches Washfrau, it is clear that we are listening to a veritable musical soup, a minstrel minestrone. One particularly fine moment came when Sartin tweaked his oboe to sound like shrieking bagpipes in a clever, gentle parody of Scottishness. Another highlight was their rendering of Can’t Help Falling In Love combined with Music For a Found Harmonium.

The Pauls see a camera and pose

Even during the interval there’s mirth and merriment as the Pauls slink back onstage and accompany the raffle with musical tricks and flicks like some sort of game show pastiche – very witty indeed! Sit-down comedy!

Paul Sartin and Paul Hutchinson are folk music’s Morecambe & Wise or Ronnies Barker and Corbett. Their performance is a complex mixture of high-quality musicianship and humour. But don’t be fooled, their performance is not just thrown together – it is a masterclass of choice of material, timing, asides. Make no mistake, being able to put together a perfect five-minute piece that includes snippets of different tunes takes skill and practice. Even the apparently spontaneous asides must surely be planned and practised. Producing such a polished hour and a half is no accident. Their brilliant wordplay has the audience roaring. ‘Je ne regret Ryan’ – delicious! Further word play follows – who else could connect (Neil) Sedaka and Sudoku!

Perhaps the duo’s finest skill is their ability to be jolly and upbeat and then, moments later, performing a sombre song that reminds us of war and sacrifice. Cicely Fox Smith’s Home, Lad, Home, first recorded by the Pauls on 2011’s Find the Lady, is a case in point, sung by Paul Sartin in his clear, distinctive voice. It’s just beautiful, particularly poignant considering 2022’s dreadful war in Ukraine, mentioned by Paul Hutchinson, himself a volunteer driver doing his bit to help the situation. Later Gethsemane/De’il Take The War ploughs a similar furrow.

Belshazar’s Feast drag Woodie on to the stage to help in their second encore

Belshazzar’s Feast only have three gigs left after tonight. By the end of the month they will have returned home and put on their carpet slippers. This break will be well-deserved (until their Christmas tour). By then I may even be able to forgive the cruel jokes about Peterborough – just!

Earlier in the day there was a news item about a new show called Abba Voyage, in which avatars of the four now mid-70s members of Abba are recreated in concert. Now there’s a thought for Messrs Sartin and Hutchinson in forty years’ time, avatars of them in performance that can be captured and watched for generations to come. Go for it!