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Eliza Carthy and The Wayward Band

St Mary in the Castle, Hastings - 4th November, 2016

Written By Darren Johnson

We see it in other musical genres, but with this one perhaps even more so, and second and third generation offspring of the 50s/60s folk revival have been making a significant impact on the contemporary folk scene. 

This is unsurprising in a way, given that folk in its original sense was always about songs being passed down through generations. 

And there aren’t many singers with more impeccable credentials than Eliza Carthy, daughter of folk mainstay, Martin Carthy, and Norma Waterson, of the renowned Waterson singers. 

First up tonight, however, and keeping it within that illustrious family, is none other than Eliza’s cousin, Marry Waterson, performing with guitarist, David A Jaycock, with whom she’s just released an album. 

A warm, earthy and passionate singer she’s a good choice for support act, singing a mixture of songs from the duo’s album and from her family’s incredible back catalogue.

Although there are some similarities in the voices of both Eliza and Marry, the contrast between the opening act and the main act couldn’t be greater. 

Where the first is stripped back, intimate and reflective the second is big, bold and theatrical. Eliza Carthy and the other eleven members of her latest venture, The Wayward Band, make an instant and lasting impact the minute they hit the stage.

It’s been called a folk supergroup and includes musicians from the likes of Bellowhead, Mawkin, Edward II and Peatbog Fairies. 

It’s a very full sound (fiddles, cello, bass, guitar, keyboards, accordion, drums, percussion, brass section) and it’s possible that other folk singers could get a bit drowned out by such backing. 

Not Eliza Carthy, though, who has both the strength of voice and the charismatic stage presence to never risk being overwhelmed. 

Furthermore, they’ve put together a great selection of songs, too. 

There will be a full album out in February but tonight those who wanted to hear more of The Wayward Band had to settle for buying the band’s EP. 

Definite highlights from tonight’s set included a gloriously rumbustious ‘Good Morning Mr Walker’ and Carthy’s thoughtful reflection on the refugee crisis: ‘You Know Me’. 

Introducing the song she said she felt moved to speak up for the long-standing and ancient tradition of offering hospitality to strangers. 

Throughout the night the band were rewarded with a great reception from the crowd. 

“Is this the new Bellowhead?” asks the poster advertising tonight’s gig. There are obvious similarities. 

But there are obvious differences, too. Although there’s brass it’s not as dominant in the overall sound mix as it is in Bellowhead and in The Wayward Band there’s also an emphasis on Carthy’s own material as well as interpretations of traditional songs. 

However, for those on the look-out for a big band that fills the stage and a big sound that fills the auditorium and an act that keeps folk music well and truly in the 21st century, Eliza Carthy and The  Wayward Band is definitely one to look out for.

Find out more about Eliza Carthy here: elizacarthy.com

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