Sunday, 17 October 2010

Unexpected Guests

"We had a Saturday night off, so we thought we'd drop by," declared the surprise support act opening for Ken Nicol and Ashley Hutchings on Saturday evening in Clitheroe. Who was this mystery duo? Only Jerry Donahue and Doug Morter!

The support slot had been arranged at nearly the last moment, so there was no time for pre-publicity. That meant that the busy crowd in the smart, modern theatre was unaware that Jerry (ex-Fairport Convention) and Doug (former Magna Carta member) would be doing a short set. Added value!

Doug is also one of the massed ranks of ex-Albion Band members, and was clearly delighted to be reunited with the band's founder, Ashley: "My ex-governor ... The Guvnor!"

Jerry and Doug's set was mainly drawn from Doug's pen, augmented with electric guitar from the Californian legend, Jerry - although as we discovered, Jerry actually splits his time between homes in Hollywood and .... West Bradford near Clitheroe, Lancashire!

Following a short interval the show as billed got under way and - even though I must declare an interest as both Ken and Ashley are friends - what a show it is. As a singer-songwriter duo, K&A work well on record but really sparkle on stage. There are times of genuine magnificence in songs such as Raggle Taggle Lad and The Song Of Two Bridges, both from their 2010 album Copper, Russet & Gold.

Ashley plays acoustic bass guitar and adds his distinctive vocals, as well as his lovely and evocative recitations of poetry and prose, while Ken is the musical powerhouse, his fingers flying on the fret-boards of a trio of acoustic six-strings (no, not all at the same time). His playing on his solo musical piece The Bridge was mesmerising.

Towards the conclusion of the varied set the pair were joined by vocalist and guitarist Becky Mills (ex- Waking The Witch), whose fabulous voice fitted into the duo's sound like a jigsaw puzzle piece to complete the picture. Becky - who, along with Abby Lathe, features on the album -  shouldn't be left in the wings for so long, chaps. The way her vocals click together with Ken's lead is just right, with Ashley's bass (both vocal and stringed) filling out the sound to make a very satisfying whole.

The Copper, Russet & Gold tour continues right through until February, and is a highly recommended night of quality, crafted musicianship. I can't guarantee any surprise guests, but simply as a duo K&A are a delight.

TOUR DATES (scroll down linked page to relevant month)

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