Where was SALLY BARRIS born? I’ll give a copy of her new-ish CD ‘Little Voice’ to the first correct e-mail solution. Actually, no I wont, because if you were at The Queens on Saturday (17th) you will already know so have an unfair advantage and if you weren’t you don’t deserve to have the CD anyway. If that all sounds a little harsh – bad luck; you should have been there (and then you could have bought your own copy).
It was the first troll up Mill Street to hear the music after the summer break and The Driver and Me were struggling as usual when, near the top, Neighbours-From-Down-The-Road overtook us (and they had walked the length of Long Row also) and we had to SPEED UP. We were more cream crackered than usual when we walked through the door of the pub.
After the summer (Musing). It has sped by with little music for us other than the Belper Music Festival – which was terrific – so I was rather looking forward to the first in a scintillating series of gigs in the run up to Christmas (thought I’d get that in early!). And of course we were not disappointed. Little voice? Certainly not. For although she is small of stature – petite even – she belts out her songs with a powerful, mellifluous voice. Mind you she is almost dwarfed by her gigantic Martin D-15, an impressive beast in pure mahogany, which she manages to control well.
With only a few exceptions her songs are all self penned (she even seems to have a day job of sorts writing for a Nashville song publisher and many of her songs have been recorded by other artists) but I found it a little difficult to fully appreciate her song writing skills because I couldn’t really hear the words as the p.a. sound quality was rather indifferent on the voice side on the night. Mind you the axe sounded great, but she had own amp for that! However I heard enough to realise that her writing is by turns clever, These Mistakes Are Never Wrong and Baby I’ll Stay (Till You Get Used To Me Being Gone); wistful, I Sang To The River; sentimental, Butterfly – about a child dying young despite the best efforts of an equestrian therapist (!), I think - I said the sound was a bit fuzzy. Right through to twee, I Feel There’s Something Missing – this appeared to be about being a tourist in London. To real cruelty, Kill Your Memory, umpteen really nasty ways to leave your lover.
I preferred her lively numbers but that’s just me, I Have To Tell Someone What I Did Last Night ("Party till dawn on red wine.", a woman after my own heart) and Holding Back Your Love. On the slow ones you could hear the words and better appreciate her sweet voice. The evening was moving along nicely and then, suddenly, EMBARRASSMENT (background info: I had been searching in the attic for a particular pair of shoes (they eluded me) but during my quest I found my old cowboy boots which I hadn’t seen for nigh on thirty years (am I a hoarder or what?). One pair are truly beautiful - pearlised, pale buff leather with intricate coloured stitching and a high stacked heel and pointy toe – luckily I couldn’t get them on. The other pair are much more workmanlike, not too fancy, sensible heel so I proudly donned those for the trip up Mill Street [I was already regretting it by Acorn Drive]),could I have guessed that the last song before the interval was going to be, Are You A Real Cowboy? or, as she sang more tellingly, COUNTERFEIT? I nearly died. No I didn’t, whatever you might think I like cowboy boots - the way I like tattoos. But it did strike me as ironic.
Possibly my favourite number of the evening was a ghost story, a ghost story with a twist. Huntington River tells the story of a girl’s, ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to rescue her lover from the eponymous stream. It is only in the very last line you discover it is she who drowns not he – she is the ghost. And maybe (I hope) it was with an irony of her own that Sally followed this with I Walk This Earth (A Restless Spirit). A highlight of a consistently good evening.
Incidentally, she was born in Chaska, Minnesota in the Minneapolis metro area which is not, as some people think, the state capital. St. Paul which is just the other side of the Mississippi River is – although the two are co-joined and known as the Twin Cities. So there.
And I managed to get my boots off – with a little help.
* She was the one that kept banging on about being an Alien/alien, not me.