John Blek says that he is an 'Original folk songwriter based in Cork, Ireland. Delving into the world of fingerstyle guitar, influenced by the music of Ireland, England and America.' I say 'last night at the BOIA Gigs 'pop up' venue at the RAFA Club in St Davids why have I not heard of John Blek before now?'
There are artists and there are artists, most are very good singers, musicians, writers, performers but of a familiar style. Few come across as individual and by that I mean not obvious in their influences or styles. John Blek for me was up there with John Bramwell (I am Kloot), Conor O'Brien (Villagers), Ian Felice et al. Although you can find influences if you are knowledgeable or old enough its more about how an artist is actually in there themselves.
Nope, I have no idea what i'm trying to explain here, all I know is there are performers I would go out of the way to see, John Blek is now on that exclusive list, I bet he'll be chuffed with knowing that! However, I will be in line for his new Album Thistle & Thorn next February.
Now to last night, BOIA Gigs pop up venue, as some will know Pop up venues I'm a massive fan of, for those that know me think Chilli nights, Duffey Boys gigs or Reubadub at the Lord C back in the day, in the present. Music loving people, neigh, Live music loving people, put there hands in their empty pockets, hire a venue, book the artists and hopefully get an audience along to join them as they sit back and enjoy the entertainment that they have put on. Believe me its better, much better, than sitting in front of the goggle box.
The artists at these nights are without doubt the reason that drives you to do these things, whether its your choice or style of music, or something completely out of your comfort zone, you rarely come away wishing you had stayed in. BOIA gigs, Steve & Orla Prior & Rob Marsh have brought an unbelievable venue to St Davids, held primarily at the RAFA Club to date, intimate with a great bar and central to the city. Add to that great sound Owain, StudiOwz and quality performers few can pull in, and you have a live gig.
Jodie Marie is what these gigs are all about, a local performer on the doorstep. Building an ever increasing presence through her song writing and performances. With just her trusty Wurlitzer Electronic Piano of 70's fame treated us to a mellow set of self penned material. For Jodie it was a chance to share the pared back band material to just the lyrics and the keyboard, oh and that voice, Jodie has a singing voice. A lovely story recalling listening to a Tim Hardin song performed by Karen Dalton in the mid 60's inspired Jodie to cover 'Reason to Believe', despite the fact that Rod Stewart also covered it. No bad thing though, top man Rod.
As for John Blek, he knows how to make you feel at ease, great repartee, a sense of humour you adhere yourself to, picks a guitar string and sings with a voice that hints at all things good about Irish and Americana/country vocals, but all his own. Tells a great story about his songs and introduces some interesting dynamics to his set, I'll mention the Dutch Sea captain 'voice pop' and the use of a Shruti box as an musical accompaniment. Not to be out done John Blek also covered a Tim Hardin song, 'If I were a carpenter'.
Lyrically he reminds me of a recent encounter with a fellow countryman Seamus Fogarty at the Greenman Festival this year in how a story can be performed.
Check John Blek out, or tell me how I could not of heard of this man, where have I been.
To round out two great performances the one thing you will not have the chance to experience unless you go to these gigs, a duet with John & Jodie as a final encore, a cover of Merle Travis Dark as a Dungeon. No John not a Welsh song.
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