Michael Weston King & friends – Biddulph Up in Arms 17th February 2010
Support came from local singer-song-writer Ali Heath – he admitted to being a bit nervous, but didn’t come over as such, rattling his way through a gem of a 25 minute set that contained fine songs that reminded me of the likes of Stephen Fearing and Elliot Smith, but with his own proud North Staffordshire burr and fine melodic sensibility. Definitely one to watch – he’s on Myspace – take a listen for yourself – http://www.myspace.com/ali-heath
The main act, Michael Weston King is probably best known (by those who don’t know him too well) as being famous for having one of his songs (Riding the Range) covered by Townes Van Zandt; MWK (as I shall henceforth type his long name!) is much more than that. A veteran of the UK Americana scene, he’s currently trying to find a deal for not one, but two albums. One is a traditional country duets album with his wife (Lou Dalgleish), recording under the artiste name of “My Darling Clementine” called “How do you plead” – the other is a solo record of protest songs – covers and originals – called “I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier”. Despite being unreleased, the duets album made one end of year top ten list! Having heard it, I can see why – read more here – http://www.michaelwestonking.com/
Both CDs are well-represented tonight – the duets CD provides many of the highlights – as MWK himself remarks – we’d have to imagine them with drums and honky-tonk piano and bass – but multi-instrumentalist and side-kick Alan Cook, along with Mrs Weston King, Lou Dalgleish, provide most stirring accompaniment. Stand outs include “Goodnight Louise” and – in the car on the way back, provided with a silver back CD promo copy of the album – the fabulous “She is still my weakness”. From the “I didn’t raise my boy…” CD, the Sonny Boy Williamson cover “High Price blues” has a well-chosen and intended contemporary resonance. Inbetween we get MWK staples like “A decent man” and for the closing requests, “Broken” and the aforementioned “Riding the Range”. Music in a small club doesn’t get more immediate than this.
MWK is a UK treasure and it’s a crying shame that the only way that his latest music can get to the general public at the moment is via home-made copies on sale at his gigs. Hopefully, MWK will get somebody to give these songs a proper release – soon.