Kevin Welch, Twickenham Folk Club (Twickenham, UK 4/29/12)
Nearing the end of a UK tour Kevin Welch pitched up at TwickFolk declaring that although he loved England, it had done nothing but ‘rain every God damn day’ since he started his run of dates over here. Dressed casually and looking as if he might have been hewn from the granite of Mt. Rushmore, Welch sat on stage, guitar in hand and opened with a handful of songs from his latest album A PATCH OF BLUE SKY. I have to ‘fess up here and say that this was one of my favourite releases of 2010 and I have played it time and time again. His writing and skill at storytelling draws you in to the world of his protagonists; each song is so well crafted that it is like a mini movie. In fact Jersey Devil, which he played tonight, is going to feature in a film about the mythical creature said to inhabit the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.
As well as playing one new song (Brand New Tune?) Welch delved deeply into his back catalogue and played Some Kind of Paradise from his 1990 self-titled debut and three songs including Something ‘Bout You and Sam’s Town from his 1992 sophomore album WESTERN BEAT. The latter was in response to a request as was 1995’s Pushing Up Daisies. It was clear therefore that the audience included long time fans and maybe that was why he played such a wide range of material. Chatting easily between songs he dedicated Millionaire to the memory of the late Solomon Burke who had included it on his 2006 release NASHVILLE. Welch explained that Highland Mary had been influenced by a Robert Burns poem. Marysville tells the story of a town in Australia destroyed by bush fires – Welch experienced the horrors first hand whilst on tour there.
As well as the self-penned songs he gave us a cover of Hank Williams’ Lost Highway and finished the second set with John Hiatt’s Train To Birmingham – the third song of the night from 1992’s WESTERN BEAT (Hiatt has only just recorded the song himself).
Welch excels at his craft – why he isn’t better known is beyond me. He runs song-writing retreats back home in Wimberley, Texas. Sadly, commercial success and quality don’t always go hand in hand and I would venture that there are many ‘successful’ artists enjoying their 15 minutes of fame who would do well to listen and learn from this master. I think it was the great Ray Wylie Hubbard who upon hearing Welch’s latest release said ‘everybody back to school!’ and he’s no mean shake in the song-writing department himself!
The night’s closer was A Patch Of Blue Sky, most appropriate given the weather conditions! Jela Webb
Photo credit: Richard Webb