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Reviews

 

  
Ewen Carruthers Tribute held on Saturday 29th January 2010 `The Half Moon, Elloughton, N. Yorks

`Well Worth the Journey`    By Ray Dobson

Having little or no idea of where Elloughton lay, four of us set up base camp in Beverley after a 2 and a half hour drive. Thinking (correctly) that we may fancy a couple of glasses during the evening, we then embarked on a 30 minute taxi ride to the Half Moon. It was therefore a little worrying to be told that the gig was a sell out!! Thanks to the thoughtfulness of Will (doing a sterling job performing a multitude of tasks simultaneously) cancellations were found and, much to our relief, we were seated and ready before the show began.
 
First up were North East based trio Pipe Dream who performed an outstanding set of Ewen`s songs. Chanteuse Pat Haswell has a magnificent voice which lends itself beautifully to the wonderfully emotive lyrics and melodies of the songs. Their renditions of `Black and White`,’ Mr. Anderson` and ‘Rubenstein Remembers` were simply stunning and much of the audience, including Ewen`s close family were visibly moved. The guitars and backing vocals from John Haswell and Peter Arkle were equally powerful and sympathetic to the songs. All in all, a superb beginning to a memorable evening.

It was a difficult task to follow the trio, but indeed we were treated to another brilliant set, from Ewen`s old friend Graham Hodge. A magnificent guitarist, one wonders why his work is not more well known. Opening with `I`m Going Home` followed by an exquisite rendition of Ewen`s paean to the American Civil War, `Peach Orchard` and finishing with one of Ewen`s less known works `Street Fighter`, Graham is an artist of whom I`d like to hear more!
 
Completing the first part of the evening were the self-titled `Boy Band`, `Freeway` with whom Ewen played regularly during his time in Leeds during the late 60`s and beyond. Trying to avoid obvious comparisons to the likes of `Take That` and `Boyzone` is difficult...but I know which I prefer!! The four guys thoroughly enjoy playing and showed a real fondness and affinity towards Ewen and his work. A wonderfully atmospheric version of  `Paris` was  followed by `The Message`...a song recounting the true story of how , many years ago, Ewen left a message for his children in a bottle hidden in a crag near Rothbury in Northumberland. Both `children` ( David and Sarah) were in the audience and confirmed the facts but mentioned that the only downside to the story is that no one can remember where the crag was!! The set was completed by a sympathetic version of one of Ewen`s most beautiful historical songs, `The Amber Room` and a rousing, unaccompanied `Back to the Front`. Ewen has obviously meant a lot to these guys for a long time...and it shows !!

Ewan Carruthers
Ewen Carruthers

The second set featured Mike Silver, a close friend of Ewen`s for many years. Indeed, the first couple of songs were co-written (Ewen lyrics, Mike music). `The Power` is a beautiful song which Mike performed to an emotional congregation during Ewen`s memorial service last year. `Reaching Out For Love` is typical of Ewen`s poetic lyricism.
 
Mike`s set was packed with too many highlights to mention here, but worthy of special praise were `Jack Dances`(a new song of Mike`s), Ewen`s `Dirty Water` and then a superb song about the demise of the Eskimo culture (I never did get the correct spelling for the title),`An Old Fashioned Saturday Night`(complete with great audience participation),`Together in The End`(Mike) and `When Time Turns Around`, Ewen`s version of an early Stephen Hawkings theory. Hawkings later changed his mind, but the song remains the same!
A two song encore completed a wonderful evening.....Firstly the soul searching lyrics of `Take Your Time` followed, appropriately, by the first song of Ewen`s which Mike learned....`Sailors All` during which Mike was joined by the whole ensemble... a fitting end to a really fantastic evening!
  
The evening was a real success...the poetry and music of one of the most talented, kind human beings one could wish to meet being performed by folks who are not only great musicians and performers themselves, but who also have a great love for Ewen and his work.
  
Finally, a mention for the Half Moon Folk Club! Having spent a great deal of hours in such establishments over the years, I can honestly say that this (alongside Cramlington) was probably the friendliest and most welcoming we`ve been to. Many thanks to Will and the other organisers as well as to David and Sarah Carruthers.

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