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BRIAN WILLOUGHBY & CATHRYN CRAIG
LIVE REVIEWS - 2002 and 2005

Contents
2006 Reviews
Essex Road Club, Dartford, 14 Mar 2006
  • Brian's Playing As Exceptional As Ever, Cathryn's Vocals Crystal Clear - Review by Steve Pritchards
  • Foley Arms, Claygate, 10 Apr 2006
  • Loved The Evening, Loved The Songs, And Loved Them - Review and picture by Pete and Calli Bradley
  • John Crook Theatre, Shepperton, 6 May 2006
  • A Terrific Atmosphere - Review by Lindsay Sorrell
  • Comments, Corrections And Quiz Answers from Les Cotton
  • That's The Thing That Gets People Annoyed With Willoughby - Review by Dick Greener
  • 2002 Reviews
    October/November 2002 Tour
  • A Great Evening - Carlisle Folk Club, Coach House, Heads Nook, 4 Oct 2002 - review by Ian Stobbs
  • Very Much At Home, Katie Fitzgerald's, Wollaston, Stourbridge, 7 Oct 2002 - review and photos by Nick Evans (with one photo by Cathryn!)
  • A Gem - The Studio, Hartlepool, 9 Oct 2002 - review by Ian Stobbs
  • Failsworth Extravanganza - Open Door Folk Club, Bulls Head, Failsworth, 19 Oct 2002 - review by Les Cotton
  • Totally in Their Hands - Richmond Town Hall, 26 Oct 2002 - review by by Louise Richardson
  • World Class Guitarist and a Fantastic Singer - Richmond Town Hall, 26 Oct 2002 - review by Ian Stobbs
  • Without A Microphone - Croxdale Folk Club, 29 Oct 2002 - review by Ian Stobbs
  • Photos
    July 2002 Mini Tour
  • Two Hearts, Three Encores - Quaker, Darlington, 17 Jul 2002 - review by Ian Stobbs
  • Outstanding - Quaker, Darlington, 17 Jul 2002 - review and photos by Alison Brown
  • Setlist - Darlington
    March-May 2002 Tour
  • Wanting More, review of Cramlington Folk Club, 12 Feb 2002 by Ian Stobbs
  • Country Style, review of Cabbage Patch Twickenham, 17 Feb 2002 and photos by Dick Greener
  • Setlist - Twickenham
  • Spontaneous Applause, review of The Studio, Hartlepool, 27 Feb 2002 by Alison Brown
  • Over All Too Soon, review of The Studio, Hartlepool, 27 Feb 2002 by Ian Stobbs
  • Setlist - Hartlepool
  • review of gig at The Woodman, Kingswinford, 1 Mar 2002 by Louise Richardson
  • Gasping In Admiration - Boscombe/Princetown/Bristol, Mar 2002 - reviews by Nigel Bennett
  • Glowing With Pleasure - review of Portland Hotel, Boscombe, 15 Mar 2002 by Glyn Williams
  • Absolutely Fantastic - Richmond Town Hall, 6 Apr 2002 - review by Simon Carey
  • Great Music, A Great Evening - Rose And Crown Hotel, South Shields, 7 Apr 2002 - review by Ian Stobbs

    SPRING 2006 TOUR

    ESSEX ROAD CLUB, DARTFORD, 14 MAR 2006

    BRIAN'S PLAYING AS EXCEPTIONAL AS EVER, CATHRYN'S VOCALS CRYSTAL CLEAR - Review by Steve Pritchards

    Just got back from the Dartford Folk Club where Brian and Cathryn were playing the second gig of their tour. As it was the first time I've seen them I'm feeling very pleased with myself 'cos I've had an excellent evening. I'd only recently read Lindsay's interview with Brian so I'd only just found out that not only were they appearing again at Dartford, but I could actually manage to see them as well (every other gig has been played when I was working).

    I'd made plans to go with my wife but a late running school parents' evening, no tea and lots of ironing ruled her out so I went solo. I knew Lindsay was intending to go so at least I'd know someone I thought as I walked (hurrah!! a local gig) down to the club. So imagine my genuinely pleasant surprise to find Nigel Bennetictus himself sitting next to the entrance and talking to Cathryn. A quick visit to the bar ensued, introductions made and I found myself chatting to both for 20 minutes until Cathryn excused herself to go off and learn a fairly long introduction to one of the songs to be performed later.

    Nigel informed me that Mike and Sue Holton were already in attendance so this was already becoming a mini Witchwood gathering, increased shortly after with the arrival of Lindsay and Carole. So with the gang all here we went into the club, which was a typical working men's club function room taken over by the folk club for the night. Thus we took our places at the back of the hall on the last vacant bench seat and table.

    The opening act was the club band The Dartford Ramblers, a four-piece consisting of two guitars, 1 harmonica and another instrument I can't remember the name of. They played half a dozen songs which were quite good but both vocals and instruments seemed a bit muted and I was concerned how Brian and Cathryn would sound.

    I worried unnecessarily, Brian and Cathryn came on and from beginning to end the mix was excellent. Brian's guitar playing was as exceptional as ever and Cathryn's vocals were crystal clear and complemented Brian's tasteful accompaniment. My only regret was forgetting to bring pen and paper to record the set list but since not every song was given an introduction I'd have struggled anyway. Three songs from the first set I do remember were "That Ol' Guitar" and later "Mr Jefferson" (about the 3rd US President), followed by "Genevieve".

    During the break between their sets, Brian sat briefly at our table whilst some guy sang two songs. Then off he went to complete the second half. Again memory fails me re the songs played but Brian opened their second half set by telling an amusing story about Cathryn's father (a Virginian judge) and a case he dealt with concerning a local and a sheep and then opening the set with "Fingers Crossed". Cathryn rejoined and the songs continued to flow. "Alice's Song" was in the list as was a song about Pocahontas and the then local Indian tribe in Cathryns' part of Virginia and the subject of the long intro which Cathryn went off to learn!!

    The only bugbear, apart from them having to stop playing, was a barman ringing the last orders bell during "Alice's Song" (only once.. but still!!).

    CD was bought, photos followed, thanks were made as were quick chats and it was back on the road for all.

    It was an excellent evening, made pleasurable by fellow Witchwooders but something I would have enjoyed anyway due to the talents of both Brian and Cathryn. I'd never seen them live before but I fully intend to make sure I do again and I would highly recommend them to any Witchwooder to see them if you can.

    Brian as ever made the guitar come alive and Cathryn's vocals were both powerful and subtle and always crystal clear. The clarity reminded me of Maddy Prior though of course the accent is entirely different. I never got the chance to find out how these two got together but I'm very glad they did.


    FOLEY ARMS, CLAYGATE, 10 APR 2006

    LOVED THE EVENING, LOVED THE SONGS, AND LOVED THEM - Review and picture by Pete and Calli Bradley

    Difficult to express in words alone how magical this evening was. The Ram Club is a tiny venue, which seems to have a habit of attracting some great names, but this must have been the best evening that they have yet had.

    As ardent Strawbs fans, we went solely to see Brian, but with in minutes we were captivated by Cathryn. As expected, Brian's fretwork wizardry plays straight to your emotions, making your eyes well up one minute, and then soaring you to ecstasy the next, but so too does Cathryn's voice.

    Highlights were "That Ol' Guitar", a song, whose title I didn't catch about Pocahontas, and, of course, "Alice's Song".

    The Ram Club is a folk club, and both halves of the show were opened with a few songs from some local artists. All were extremely good, and I must mention Soiree, who I predict will go on to bigger and better things.

    At first one or two members of the audience joined in with choruses on some of the songs, but with encouragement from Cathryn, by the end of the evening the audience proved to be a full backing choir, adding harmonies as well as singing along to the melody.

    For an encore, Cathryn insisted that all of the other singers who had performed that night joined them on stage. This was a fantastically generous thing to do, allowing others to share in their glory. I haven't ever seen anyone else do that before (maybe I should get out more).

    Most of the songs were introduced by Cathryn, with a few asides from Brian. Brian caused a hearty laugh when Cathryn said, "Is that the time? I was so busy listening to Brian that I lost track of the time", to which Brian quipped, "That's a first".

    In true Strawbs style, Brian and Cathryn stayed behind at the end to chat and sign autographs.

    Loved the evening, loved the songs, and loved them.


    JOHN CROOK THEATRE, SHEPPERTON, 6 MAY 2006

    Setlist from Dick Greener

    That Ol' Guitar
    Hard Luck Cafe
    Genevieve
    Goodbye Old Friend
    Mr Jefferson
    (Indian song)

    Fingers Crossed
    Alice's Song
    Further Down The Road
    Two Hearts
    Walk Slowly
    I Will
    Cottonfields/My Window Faces The South

    Forevermore
    Will The Circle Be Unbroken

    A TERRIFIC ATMOSPHERE - Review by Lindsay Sorrell

    Had a really enjoyable evening at the John Crook theatre, Shepperton yesterday – Brian and Cathryn were both in fine form and a very large turn out gave the last gig of the current tour a terrific atmosphere. The theatre itself was a pleasant venue - part of a school actually - we knew in advance that the only beverages on offer would be fruit juices and water…but need not have feared, an extremely large gathering made up for any lost drinking time at the bar in The Red Lion a few yards away straight after the gig, which stayed open until around midnight I believe.

    I didn't get a chance to ask Brian how his thumb has been lately unfortunately, so packed out was the party gathering in Brian's local afterwards, but from his playing, which was exquisite throughout the gig, I assume it must be holding up. Cathryn told some very funny stories and managed to raise several laughs following a sound problem in one song - there was a lot of banter throughout the show which pleasantly added to the musical offerings. I was really pleased to hear her sing "Genevieve" again, a song I first heard when they played at Dartford folk club a few weeks back, and "I Will" was another which I felt stood out last night, though every single song was sung with a great deal of passion. Love the "Pocahontas" song too. Three different musicians joined them onstage for various songs – Nick Evans, who I've heard sing and play guitar several times before – sang "A Little Way Further Down the Road" as a duet with Cathryn which was great to hear; a friend of Brian's who played sax – think his name was Mick Pickup? Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure you will, half of Witchwood were there so I'm sure someone will, and Dennis ______ (quiz time again, who can fill in the missing blank!) who played in Amen Corner and the Bee Gees – all added their different talents and plenty of variety along the way.

    Lovely to see so many friends there and make some new ones too – Cathryn told me of her planned comings and goings back and forth to Nashville and I confess it all seemed clear at the time but I'm a bit confused now – I think the next round of UK gigs are planned for July, however, so hopefully there'll be an excuse for another evening of similarly fine music and bonhomie.

    COMMENTS, CORRECTIONS AND QUIZ ANSWERS from Les Cotton

    Just to add our thanks to Brian and Cathryn for a fab evening. The name of the percussionist Ex-Amen Corner and Bee Gees, is Dennis Brian. I believe the Sax player is Mark Pickup, much hilarity about him being renamed Mic Pickup.....! Standing room only in the 300 seat theatre, great stuff.

    Loadsa Witchwooders there, including Bob, Lou, Nik and Lin, Mike and Sue Holton, Adie, Mr and Mrs DG, Steve P, Nigel B, Lindsay, Carole..also a couple of new Witchwood members, soz, missed their names. Neil B also arrived for a quick aftershow pint. Also lovely to meet Brian's Dad, Walter again. The crew were on fine form, took over the Red Lion completely....it has a very low ceiling, and despite repeated warnings, poor old Bob managed to crack his head on the beams EVERY time he walked in! But Bob being Bob, had us all in fits of laughter, what a trooper :-))


    Photo by Les Cotton

    THAT'S THE THING THAT GETS PEOPLE ANNOYED WITH WILLOUGHBY - Review by Dick Greener

    "Just makes it look so easy, that's the thing that gets people annoyed with Willoughby. If he looked as though it was difficult for him people might not object so much." Mark Pickup, sitting next to me at the front agreed with me. But then he's no slouch musically either. Mainly a guitar player, he'd been drafted in earlier in the week to provide sax and recorder for the "Craig & Willoughby plus guests" evening which would be the finale to the pair's Spring Tour. (Cathryn's recollection is that Brian came home from the local telling her he'd recruited a sax player; Cathryn's immediate reaction is unprintable, however having heard Mark play, they quickly recruited him for more than the one number intended, and got him to play recorder as well.)

    The John Crook Theatre at Halliford School in Shepperton was an excellent setting for a show which felt comfortable - the on-stage chemistry between Brian and Cathryn and her easy stage manner always makes for a gig where the audience feels at home, but this was particularly relaxed in the best possible way. Brian and Cathryn opened on time (early-ish at 7.45 as we were all headed for the Red Lion down the road for post-show drinks) with "That Ol' Guitar", a couple of solos from Brian which prompted the comments at the head of this piece, harmonics ringing like a bell, and closing with that nice trick of turning a tuning peg down to get the slide note.

    "Hard Luck Cafe", Cathryn informed us, was the first song of Brian's she ever sang, CO-written by Michael Snow. Nicely accompanied and embellished by Brian. A little sound trouble here, with all the guest mics around, was solved by several of said guests rushing on stage to sort it out. A newer song next, "Genevieve", preceded by a lengthy intro from Cathryn about her Aunt Gen, the inspiration for the song; a pilot and world traveller, obviously a lady with plenty of get up and go.

    Mark joined them on stage for "Goodbye Old Friend" which Cathryn dedicated to one of her former canine chums (not greatly adored by BW, who gave them derogatory nicknames). Brian now on the nylon string guitar, Mark added poignant sax breaks to the song which worked extremely well. Next up on stage to join them, Brian and Cathryn's chum - former Blue Weaver colleague in both Amen Corner and the Bee Gees, Dennis Bryon, picking up a drum head and two wire brushes to add a little tasteful percussion to "Mr Jefferson".

    Finally in set 1, a new song, based around the trials and tribulations of the Indian nation, Pocohontas in particular (didn't catch the title, think it was an Indian name). Cathryn donned a bracelet with little bells which rattled rhythmically as she played, Mark switched to recorder, and the song closed with a striking Indian chant. Very interesting, look forward to seeing that on the next album.

    Interval for fruit juices and water (unusually abstemious for a folk audience, but it was a school after all, and no time to nip down the road for a quick one as the interval was going to be very short). Chance to catch up with various friends and acquaintances from the Strawbs fan community (not seen since the last electric tour) - good turnout, there, obviously lured by the prospect of the after show party, knowing that lot.

    Second half opened with BW solo, doing the party piece which got sent to Mary Hopkin and got him his first job in music as her guitarist, age 22 - "Fingers Crossed", the title track of his solo instrumental album. Lots of style and flourish, the piece gives him an opportunity to show off more tricks than you can remember. And then, the other side of the coin, Brian playing the simple picked accompaniment to the glorious "Alice's Song", which couldn't be simpler or more perfectly realised.

    Another guest, Nick Evans, joined the duo to perform Dave Cousins' "Further Down The Road", Cathryn's favourite DC song, and one on which she used to join Cousins & Willoughby when they performed it live, as they did at Chiswick. Willoughby switched to subdued electric (only thing about BW being in the folk business these days is that you miss out on those huge electric riffs ... ah well).

    One of my favourite of their songs - "Two Hearts" followed after a little banter between the two: Cathryn chiding BW for not realising that his acoustic guitar was not plugged in, then finding out that nor was hers. The closing instrumental section from Brian showcased yet more virtuosity, so much so that by the end of it you can't believe he's got anything left to surprise you with, but he has. Dennis returns to the stage with a fire extinguisher for use as a saxophone (earlier banter), for more percussion on "Walk Slowly".

    The title track of the last album "I Will" has another blistering solo from Brian, and then it's into Americana territory with a lively rendition of "Cottonfields" and "My Window Faces The South". No way there wouldn't be encores though - the first of these is the gentle "Forevermore", the second a rousing "Will The Circle Be Unbroken", Mark, Nick and Dennis joining them on stage, Cathryn leading the audience to join in the well-known chorus.

    After the show, we all piled into the tiny Red Lion bar - a feat in itself - till the Lion staff realised the folly of this and opened up a side room for us to congregate. A thoroughly enjoyable finish to a successful tour - the Willoughby/Craig duo continue to build their reputation in the folk clubs in the UK - always welcome back for a return visit. Thanks for a great show, look forward to the next time.


    OCTOBER/NOVEMBER TOUR

    CROXDALE FOLK CLUB, 29 OCT 2002

    WITHOUT A MICROPHONE - Review by Ian Stobbs

    At last a gig close to home, just 10 miles down the road. We arrived at the Daleside Arms and were immediately welcomed into the lounge where the Croxdale Folk Club met. The warm and friendly atmosphere was apparent as we walked in and although it was our first visit we were invited to join some of the regulars for the evening. The music started with an excellent resident folk band called "Old Age Travellers" who sang a number of local songs.

    Brian and Cathryn, as usual, sang a medley of songs from a slightly shorter set list, each one greeted with appreciative applause by the small (approx 25) but knowledgeable audience. Although there was an interruption during the first set due to an illness in the room, it did not detract from a great evening. (We were told later that the chap was OK.)

    This was the first time I had heard Cathryn sing without a microphone. Her voice was very clear and natural, absolutely stunning. Brian's guitar playing was as usual outstanding.

    Once again we were treated to a fantastic evening of music from a brilliant duo. The only downside is that their tour schedule takes them away from the northeast, but we will both look forward to next year's tour.


    RICHMOND TOWN HALL, 26 OCT 2002

    WORLD CLASS GUITARIST AND A FANTASTIC SINGER - Review by Ian Stobbs

    We arrived in Richmond on a wet and windy evening with plenty of time and managed to park in the market place. Not knowing the location of the venue we set off and walked around the market place trying to find the venue only to realise on returning to the car we were parked right outside. .... Doh After a reviving drink in a local inn we went up to Town Hall to find a large room with chandeliers, high ceilings, and a bar. The atmosphere was warm and friendly and the room soon filled to capacity (approx 150). There was a number of excellent local acts, including a brilliant Hull based guitarist called David Elf, who provided an impressive start to the evening.

    After a short interval Brian and Cathryn climbed onto the stage to appreciative applause from a expectant audience and started their first set with "Two Hearts, One Love" and as expected Brian's guitar was exceptional and Cathryn's voice was fantastic. As usual both sets were a medley of songs from all the available CDs, each enthusiastically applauded by the audience. The friendly atmosphere was soon reflected on stage in the music and rapport with the audience and each other. All too soon an excellent evening came to an end with "What a wonderful world" as the encore.

    A great evening, excellent music, a great audience, and a good pint (or three) of John Smiths, well worth the journey down. Once again Brian and Cathryn were fantastic. An opportunity to see a world class guitarist and a fantastic singer does not come along very often so if the opportunity to see them arises ....TAKE IT

    TOTALLY IN THEIR HANDS - Review by Louise Richardson

    We went to see Brian and Cathryn at The Town Hall in beautiful Richmond in Yorkshire. Quite a good turnout - around 70 we think. Bob and I, Lin and Nick had the front seats so we had an excellent view.

    Sound was good but could have been a bit better. Cathryn was on top form as was Brian. The show was not as long as some of the previous ones that we have been to, reason being that there were 3 or 4 other artists on as well, who may we say were very talented musicians. "Alice's Song" was sung beautifully as was "Totally In Your Hands", with Lin and I doing the harmonising.

    Got the impression that B&C liked playing at this venue as they seem to have a lot of friends in and around Richmond. After the show we were treated to yet some more music by them and others in the local pub, Nick did a rendition of "Further Down The Road" accompanied by Cathryn, which was really nice. At one point we really thought we may have got a song out of Brian, but not to be. Had a great weekend there, arrived back in the Mids around 11-30 pm Sunday evening - well worth the travel.


    Setlist

    Two Hearts (One Love)
    Walk Slowly Through This Life
    Hard Luck Café
    The Snake
    Alice's Song
    There's No Place Like Home

    Mr Jefferson
    In His Dreams
    You're Still Gonna Die
    I Will
    Will The Circle Be Unbroken
    Cotton Fields/My Window Faces The South
    Goodbye Old Friend

    Amazing Grace

    OPEN DOOR FOLK CLUB, BULLS HEAD, FAILSWORTH, 19 OCT 2002

    FAILSWORTH EXTRAVANGANZA - Review by Les Cotton

    The Open Door Folk Club is situated in the Bulls Head pub, on the busy A62 Oldham Rd, about three miles out from Manchester towards Oldham. Being so close to the motorway, it's only a 20 min drive from Rochdale, so I nipped over, collecting Paul, a mate of mine on the way. Arriving just after start time, we waited for applause from the first song to start and walked in. The room itself is a dedicated concert venue, smallish but with a nice Bose-equipped PA that's crystal clear. Only a small crowd unfortunately (about 20..) were treated to a splendid show. It's the first time I've been to a Brian and Cathryn show, and was most impressed. Some great tales from Cathryn between tunes, with sometimes comical observations about inspiration for the songs.

    Brian's technique is, of course, more to the fore in this situation, and that Gibson (its called Rosie, by the way..) sounded fantastically sweet, matched by Cathryn's gently strummed Takamine and marvellous Nashville voice, very powerful but with a softer edge than many other US country singers. I didn't make detailed notes of the setlist, but see Setlist box on right for a rough setlist.

    Being a folk club, many regulars had guitars, harmoniums (Cath had a personal demo at the interval, see pic..!), mandolin etc. with them, and were invited to join in from round the room on one number, we being in the middle got great acoustic surround sound!

    At the interval, Brian showed me "Rosie" in detail, if you guitarists get the chance, have a look at the rear panel, nicest wood figuring I've ever seen on an acoustic. Paul produced a vinyl "Old School Songs", Brian instantly recognized it as a Canadian copy (Paul never realised that) and signed it.

    The pair had to leave pretty fast after the second set, to get to the evening gig at Stalybridge, some ten miles away. Cathryn had told us Brian was sad he had to drive, as the evening gig was in a real ale pub! However, at the last minute some crafty negotiations acquired another driver and transport, Brian's beaming grin said it all!

    A pleasant gentle alternative to Acoustic Strawbs, highly recommended.




    THE STUDIO, HARTLEPOOL, 9 OCT 2002

    A GEM - Review by Ian Stobbs

    This was our second opportunity on this tour to see Brian and Cathryn and it was a "gem". Also our second visit to The Studio, a live music venue providing recording facilities for the local community. As with most venues with a bar serving during the gig noise was a problem and with the stage being high and away from the audience Brian and Cathryn seemed a little remote. Despite being advertised in the local press and on radio the attendance was disappointing, but as the audience was made up of committed fans the atmosphere was great.

    The evening started with "Two Hearts" and as usual Brian's guitar playing was superb and Cathryn's voice was absolutely stunning. Both sets contained the usual medley of songs from their available CD's including "The Snake", Mr Jefferson, Cotton Fields, "In His Dreams", and my favourites " I Will", "Totally In Your Hands", and "Alice's Song". Cathryn's version of "Amazing Grace" was outstanding, and the encore of "What A Wonderful World" ended a fantastic evening.

    Although this is not my favourite venue it did not detract from an evening of the most evocative live music I have experienced recently. Brian and Cathryn are always very approachable and take time to make members of the audience feel very special. If this special duo are in you area make time and go and support them, you are guaranteed a fantastic night.


    Setlist

    Two Hearts (One Love)
    Walk Slowly Through This Life
    Hard Luck Café
    The Snake
    Alice's Song
    Totally In Your Hands
    There's No Place Like Home

    Mr Jefferson
    In His Dreams
    You're Still Gonna Die
    I Will
    Will The Circle Be Unbroken
    Cotton Fields/My Window Faces The South

    Goodbye Old Friend

    KATIE FITZGERALD'S, WOLLASTON, STOURBRIDGE, 7 OCT 2002

    VERY MUCH AT HOME - Review by Nick Evans

    Brian and Cathryn greeted us as they emerged from their taxi outside Katie Fitzgerald's. The close timing of our respective arrivals (not for the first time) was uncanny. Brian led the way in and I received a surprise. I have visited Katie's several times to play at the Monday open mic. sessions, never realising that the concert room proper is down in the basement, and even smaller than the lounge bar I am familiar with. A tiny venue with a tiny audience, so this was an intimate evening of good cheer and amazing music. I had a ringside seat for a change, and soon the camera came out to be promptly borrowed by Cathryn for a shot of the crowd.

    Cathryn had plenty to say between songs, and it emerged that the word "homely" translates differently in America where it is considered an insult. She and Brian make us feel very much at home in their presence, and it's great to be counted amongst their many friends.

    Cathryn sang like an angel as always, and my close vantage point enabled me to study Brian's incredible guitar technique to the full. I was too busy enjoying the concert to concentrate fully on recording this set-list, so it may not be absolutely accurate. Another wonderful night.






    CARLISLE FOLK CLUB, COACH HOUSE, HEADS NOOK, 4 OCT 2002

    A GREAT EVENING - Review by Ian Stobbs

    After the mini tour in the summer Brian and Cathryn made a welcome return to the road. I had visited the venue earlier in the year to see the Acoustic Strawbs therefore I knew it would be an exceptional gig. We arrived to find the same warm; welcoming atmosphere as before and after a reviving drink retired upstairs to the folk club. The evening started with an excellent folk duo called "His Worship and the Pig" {honest} who really set a cracking pace for the whole evening. Funny and original the audience was thoroughly entertained and warmed up ready for the "main event".

    Brian and Cathryn started their set with "Two Hearts", Brian's guitar playing closing the song was exceptional and set the tone for the rest of the gig. Cathryn sang beautifully and captivated the audience throughout the evening. The set list, as usual, contained a medley of songs from the current CDs, including "The Snake", "Totally In Your Hands", "Alice's Song", "I Will", "Mr Jefferson", and by special request " There Will Come A Day". Each song ended with appreciative and enthusiastic applause from a knowledgeable audience. All too soon the evening ended with the encore of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken", with the audience and "His Worship and the Pig" joining in.

    After a short chat to Brian we set off into a wet, foggy night having had a great evening and looking forward to the next gig.



    JULY MINI TOUR

    Setlist

    Two Hearts, One Love
    Walk Slowly Through This Life
    Hard Luck Cafe
    Alice's Song
    The Snake
    All The Way To Denver
    Totally In Your Hands

    Mr Jefferson
    In His Dreams
    I Will
    No Place Like Home
    Still Gonna Die
    That Ol' Guitar
    Will The Circle Be Unbroken
    Cotton Fields

    What A Wonderful World
    Amazing Grace
    Goodbye Old Friend

    THE QUAKER, DARLINGTON - 16 JULY 2002

    TWO HEARTS, THREE ENCORES - Review by Ian Stobbs

    After the tour earlier this year, a "short mini tour" of the North East was a welcome surprise. The venue was an atmospheric pub in the centre of Darlington complete with real ale and a ghost called Alice. An enthusiastic crowd, great beer, and a ghost what more could you ask for !!!!

    The evening started with "Two Hearts" (I had intended to note the play list but after the first number I decided to enjoy the music rather than try to remember the order of play). Needless to say we were treated to an medley of songs from their available CDs, each greeted with rapturous applause. The atmosphere in the room was electric which was soon picked up by Cathryn and Brian and was reflected in their music, rapport with the audience, and banter with each other. To try and explain the atmosphere in the room is very difficult but at the end we were treated to three encores before they were allowed to finish. The only down side was it all ended too soon, the doorman threw us out at 11.45 saying he was locking the doors (shame).

    Once again Brian and Cathryn were brilliant. I met a number of people who follow this great duo in the North but I did hear a rumour that Brian might sing and Cathryn did try to sell his shoes. Strange lot these folk from the "Deep South"....

    OUTSTANDING - Review and photos by Alison Brown

    Another new venue for me, down a narrow back alley in the centre of Darlington, The Quaker is a very old building converted into a coffee shop cum small live music venue that oozes character and atmosphere. Though not a very large venue, Brian and Cathryn were afforded the extra space on the first floor, up in the roof, in the "Function Room".

    According to the locals, there's a resident ghost called Alice Morton, which was entirely appropriate and this caused much hilarity throughout the evening. There was a good-sized enthusiastic crowd in and we were treated to two sets of outstanding singing and guitar playing and much banter between Brian and Cathryn and with the audience. But beware of asking if they're playing a certain song as it'll end up being a special request just for you, as happened to me with "The Doggie Song" ("In His Dreams") ;o) After a singalong with "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" and "Cotton Fields", no-one was in any mood to go home and we demanded and got three encores. A few familiar faces from Strawbs and Brian and Cathryn gigs in the crowd (Ian - I'll recognise you instantly next time!).

    A thoroughly entertaining evening from two of the most amiable people I know with the added novelties of Brian drinking lime and soda (in a place that sold Guinness), and only a fifteen minute drive home at the end :o)







    MARCH-MAY TOUR

    ROSE AND CROWN HOTEL, SOUTH SHIELDS, 7 APR 2002

    GREAT MUSIC, A GREAT EVENING - Review by Ian Stobbs

    The Rose and Crown is situated near the banks of the river Tyne beside the ship repair yards. The pub reflects the area with photographs and relics of ships that were repaired in the area. The stage wasn`t situated in the most prominent position but we managed to get seats to the left and had a great view. As with all pub venues the crowd was a mix of locals in for a drink and people who had obviously came to see Brian and Cathryn, therefore at times talking in the audience was slightly annoying.

    The evening started with the evocative "Two Hearts, One Love" and progressed to "Alice`s Song", through to "Totally In Your Hands" (one of my favourites). Brian`s guitar playing and Cathryn`s voice were fantastic throughout the evening. The play list was made up of songs from Brian`s Black and White album and Cathryn`s Pigg River Symphony CD, and there was also a number of songs from the new album I Will, the title track featuring some breath taking guitar playing by Brian. The set finished all too soon (a number of songs were omitted from previous gigs) but overall a fantastic evening was had by everyone who had turned up to see a very special duo.

    A couple of pints, great music, a signed CD: a great evening. We managed to catch Brian and Cathryn three times on this tour and every time we were left with the impression of seeing an excellent duo whose songs stay with you. If you haven`t seen them on this tour you have missed a "treat". We would both like to send our thanks to Brian and Cathryn and look forward to the next tour.


    Partial Setlist

    Two Hearts, One Love
    The Snake
    Alice's Song (I would love to hear Cathryn and Dave Cousins duet on this song)
    Hard Luck Cafe
    You're Still Gonna Die
    In His Dreams
    Mr. Jefferson
    I Will
    There's No Place Like Home
    Cotton Fields
    and others!

    RICHMOND TOWN HALL - 6 APR 2002

    ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC - Review by Simon Carey

    An absolutely fantastic evening in a warm friendly venue. As with the Strawbs tour earlier this year we were accompanied by my two young children (both Strawbs fans). The 'warm up' was provided by a number of local acts who each performed brilliantly including a 'young' exceptional guitarist from Hull called David Elf who is certainly one to watch if you get the chance. The compere for the evening was superb and even though his name escapes me he nearly escaped with my beer at one stage! (He is a Middlesbrough supporter so can be forgiven).

    Brian and Cathryn played two sets as expected. Songs included set out in Setlist box (in no particular order - because the bar was so handy and my memory isn't what it normally is after a few John Smith's!).

    During the interval we talked to Brian and Cathryn and it would be difficult to meet two nicer people. They made a big fuss of my daughter (11 years old) and posed for pictures with her. I managed to collect the new CD, I Will, and Brian's Black and White album - duly signed by both of them.

    If you haven't seen them live yet or heard any of their material take this as a good recommendation to do so. In my opinion Brian is one of the best all round guitarists in the music business and Cathryn has one of the most powerful yet sweetest voices I have heard in a long time. I am looking forward to their next visit as will so many others. I really wish they had played 'There Will Come The Day' though!


    Setlists included

    Two Hearts
    No Place Like Home
    I Will
    Walk Slowly Through This Life
    Mr Jefferson
    Cottonfields
    Hard Luck Café
    In His Dreams
    Half Way To Heaven
    Alice's Song
    The Snake
    Wonderful World
    Totally In Your Hands
    Still Going To Die
    Amazing Grace
    Goodbye Old Friend
    That Ol' Guitar
    Will The Circle Be Unbroken
    Willoughby solo (Ghosts - opening bars only)

    BOSCOMBE/PRINCETOWN/BRISTOL - MAR 2002

    GASPING IN ADMIRATION - Review by Nigel Bennett

    A torrential rainstorm just before the start may have prevented some from venturing out, but there was still an enthusiastic audience to welcome Brian and Cathryn. Clearly showing no effects from his whistle stop visit to Italy with the Acoustic Strawbs, Brian gave his usual majestic performance on guitar that had resident musicians gasping in admiration and reflecting on semi-tones. Cathryn's own vocal performance was enthusiastic and emphatic in delivery, clearly enjoying the response from the audience.

    The fourth track of the evening was "Alice's Song" and preceded by an announcement by Cathryn that she was proud that the Acoustic Strawbs had just released it as a single, extolling the virtues of Dave Cousins so sad sounding vocals.

    The set included amongst others, two from Brian's solo (hardly !) album , "Hard Luck Café" and "Totally In Your Hands" as well as the emotional "Goodbye Old Friend" and "There Will Come The Day", "Mr Jefferson", "What A Wonderful World" and title track I Will from the new Brian and Cathryn release.

    So on to Princetown and with a significant number of the "local" population suffering a curfew there was an audience much smaller than that deserved by the duo. However it did lead to a very intimate evening and by the end Cathryn was virtually on christian name terms with most of the audience. Cathryn's " homework " and research had uncovered the fact that there were a number of Strawbs fans present and suggested to Brian at the start of the second set that he should do a solo version of Ghosts, just to keep everyone happy. Brian obliged, at least with the first few notes. At this event there was also a stunning "There Will Come The Day", including that sequence from "The River/Down By The Sea".

    Next night and onto the Albert Inn in Bristol, thankfully a larger audience and although not much to look at from the outside, clearly a regular music venue. Being in one bar of the pub any concern about noise in the venue, was soon dispelled as the audience fell hushed and silent, as they appreciated the quality of the performers in front of them, listening intently to each note. The set was fairly consistent with those of the previous evenings and duly received the appreciative recognition that it deserved, from the audience.

    Brian and Cathryn play with a love of their art during their performance, bringing just a little humour as additional spice to the musicianship displayed. You will experience Brian telling a story on stage (just one !) but if he continues to develop in this way, he will shortly need to call for a vocal microphone to embellish his delivery. A late evening finished with Brian disappearing quickly into the "ladies" (at the landlord's agreement) as it was much more "convenient" than the long trek upstairs.

    Get along to catch the tour if you can you will be subjected to an enthusiastic and quality performance on stage and a warm and friendly reception from Brian and Cathryn off it.


    PORTLAND HOTEL, BOSCOMBE, 15 MAR 2002

    GLOWING WITH PLEASURE - Review by Glyn Williams

    The Green Room of the Portman Hotel held an almost 'front room' intimacy for a wonderful evening of music from Brian and Cathryn. They were by the door to welcome everyone into the hall, with time to chat to anyone who wanted to say hello and from the Club organizers it was like a family welcome home as they introduced B&C's two sets.

    On stage, Brian closed his eyes, rolled his head back and the chords, solos, twangs and runs simply flowed free out of his inspiration, technique and obvious love of his craft. He is an amazingly modest man for his talents and simply lets the guitar do the talking. Having seen Brian as a Strawb countless times, this performance with Cathryn was on an even higher and unrestrained level. They seem the perfect partnership both as performers and as writers. Cathryn's live singing voice is fantastic - ranging from misty soft to strong and pure - even a rocking growl when the lyric demanded. Her sheer joy of singing simply shone through and was so infectious around the hall that many openly joined in with the songs that we knew.

    B&C played songs from both of their joint albums and several from Cathryn's solo albums plus the hilarious and singalong "You're Still Gonna Die". Two songs of great beauty "Alice's Song" (of course) and 'Walk Slowly Through This Life" were on their own worth the journey down to Boscombe. Cathryn introduced "Alice's Song" with much humour for the circumstances in which they wrote it and indeed with generous praise for Dave Cousins' version in the Acoustic Strawbs.

    The set list was similar to other gigs reviewed starting really strongly with "Two Hearts" and ending with "What a Wonderful World". Without being too cheesy the two titles could easily sum up the performers and the feel of the evening. To watch Brian and Cathryn completely enjoying their singing and playing was wonderful and it was one of those rare musical evenings that you come away simply glowing with pleasure. Their tour is definitely one not to be missed.


    Setlist

    Two Hearts One Love
    Walk Slowly Through This Life
    Alice's Song
    Tender Woman (?)
    That Ol' Guitar
    Goodbye Old Friend
    No Place Like Home
    Will The Circle Be Unbroken

    Mr. Jefferson
    In His Dreams
    Totally In Your Hands
    Maybe Tonight (Baby I Will)
    Still Gonna Die
    There Will Come The Day
    Cotton Fields

    Oh What A Wonderful World

    CABBAGE PATCH, TWICKENHAM, 17 FEB 2002

    COUNTRY STYLE - Review and photos by Dick Greener

    At last, an opportunity to see Brian and Cathryn's duo act (for various, boring reasons I've not managed to catch them since they duetted at Chiswick in '98). The Cabbage Patch folk club has moved downstairs, leaving behind the revolting sticky carpet, though the catch is that the new room is quite small, and was packed out for Brian and Cathryn's welcome return.

    Having followed the Acoustic Strawbs (Dave Cousins, Brian and Dave Lambert) for the last few weeks on their Jan/Feb tour, I'd got used to the interplay of three guitars – the simpler arrangements which Cathryn and Brian bring to their songs gave an opportunity (no offence Dave L!) to hear Brian's consummate guitar artistry in its unadulterated form. Guitarists in the audience (so my wife tells me!) can be seen alternately gawping and grimacing as he pulls off yet another instrumental coup. Cathryn's gentle strumming is a perfect complement and her voice is both expressive and versatile, with a range spanning gentle to gutsy. I still recall first meeting Cathryn on the Strawbs '97 mini-tour and being thoroughly blown away when I heard her break into song while we were all sitting in the bar late at night after the gig (and after a few drinks - non-alcoholic no doubt - had been consumed – don't know where you get the idea that the Strawbs drink Cathryn ;-).

    Highlights for me were Strawbs-linked songs "Alice's Song", (which I've heard frequently of late in its new Acoustic Strawbs version, with Dave Cousins on banjo and lead vocals) where here is quiet (actually VERY quiet) and tender; "There Will Come The Day", another Strawbs escapee, this time with a wholly different acoustic guitar treatment, including an unmistakable lifted phrase from the Strawbs' epic "Down By The Sea"). Cathryn's "Porch Songs" CD is much in evidence, with three taken from it: "Two Hearts" (which was performed at Chiswick); "That Ol' Guitar", in which she complains that Brian loves his new guitar more than her (surely not!) and "In His Dreams" a gentle tribute to her lil' doggie back in the States, Otis (christened Hopeless by Brian, possibly a result of what appears to be a bit of a love-hate relationship) – perhaps the album should be subtitled "Pooch Songs".

    Cathryn's new "Pigg River Symphony" CD, featuring folk songs her daddy would have known, was also featured, with the excellent "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" a crowd-pleasing finale for the first set, and in the second set "Cotton Fields", opening accapella with Cathryn's gutsy vocals, then allowing Brian an opportunity for some great country pickin' including a cheesy mandoline-style section ("Hit it Brian", says Cathryn). "Still Gonna Die" is a rousing antidote to those who tell us to change our lifestyles – don't matter what you do, you're still gonna die. Also much enjoyed from Brian's solo album, the atmospheric "Totally In Your Hands". The encore – a slow soulful version of "What A Wonderful World".

    A new duo album from this pair due in March will be well worth looking out for.

    Floor singers – a couple worthy of note – the guitarist/resident who opened proceedings, joined for a second song by a silver haired female vocalist (who provided excellent vocal harmonies from the audience throughout the night); Tim Blythe, the guy who opened the second set with Richard Thompson's "Down Where The Drunkards Roll" and followed with a competent version of the ballad "Lord Franklin". (Tim later e-mailed me to let me know that he's actively trying to get either solo work or gigs for his band - Clog Iron: contact him at tblythe@merlinfinancial.com or tel: 0207 385 8310.)

    More photos - click here.


    WANTING MORE - CRAMLINGTON FOLK CLUB, 12 FEB 2002

    Review by Ian Stobbs

    We arrived to find an enthusiastic and knowledgeable group based in the local club. The room was ideal for the evening, being small but very atmospheric, with access to the bar (cheap beer). We were treated to a excellent local duo singing/playing some local and well known folk numbers as a warm up and then on to the main event. Although this was the first night of the tour , a relaxed Brian and Cathryn stepped on to the stage to start the first set.

    As this was my first time I had seen Brian and Cathryn I didn't know what to expect but I was certainly not disappointed. The set started with "Two Hearts One Love" and continued with songs from Brian`s Black and White CD and Cathryn`s Porch Songs and Pigg River Symphony CDs. "Alice`s Song" was the highlight of the evening, Cathryn`s superb voice bringing the song to life. Brian`s guitar playing was awesome, drawing admiration throughout the gig from the audience.

    With the club being well established and the room small, the rapport and "banter" with the audience added another dimension to the gig. The evening ended to soon and we were left with the impression we had seen a excellent duo whose songs stay with you and leave you wanting more !!!!!.


    Setlist

    Two Hearts One Love
    Walk Slowly Through This Life
    Alice's Song
    The Snake
    That Ol' Guitar
    Totally In Your Hands
    No Place Like Home
    Will The Circle Be Unbroken

    Mr Jefferson
    All the way to Denver
    There Will Come The Day
    Still Gonna Die
    Goodbye Old Friend
    I will
    Hard Luck Cafe
    Cotton Fields
    Oh What A Wonderful World

    Amazing Grace

    THE STUDIO, HARTLEPOOL, 27 FEB 2002

    OVER ALL TOO SOON - Review by Ian Stobbs

    This was our second gig of the tour, having seen them at Cramlington Folk Club. The Studio is a converted Chapel in the centre of Hartlepool, providing recording facilities and a live music venue. The room was a fair size with its own bar.

    Although being advertised in the local press and radio the attendance was poor, thus the atmosphere was quite subdued, although it did improve as the evening progressed. Most of the audience were committed Brian and Cathryn fans so the music was greatly appreciated and enjoyed. Once again a faultless gig with Cathryn`s voice as beautiful as ever and Brian`s guitar playing out of this world. Again "Alice`s Song" stood out (definitely Cathryn`s song), but the highlight (for me) was "Totally In Your Hands", a song off Brian`s Black and White CD. Added to the set list ( from Cramlington) was Dave Cousins` "There Will Come The Day", Brian`s interpretation was fantastic and Cathryn`s voice enhanced the lyrics. The evening ended with "What A Wonderful World" and "Amazing Grace".

    Only one regret, I should have bought the new CD "I Will". I'll remedy that next time!

    Again it was over all to soon, but luckily they are back up North in April at South Shields so we don't have to wait too long.

    SPONTANEOUS APPLAUSE - Review and photos by Alison Brown

    My second opportunity to see Brian and Cathryn live, having seen them last autumn at a small local folk club in the upstairs room of a pub. The Studio in Hartlepool is a converted baptist chapel that provides a community resource housing recording studios and rehearsal rooms as well as a 200 capacity live music venue.

    The audience could and should have been bigger but by the end of the show it was a decent size and we were treated to a thoroughly entertaining evening with Brian's terrific guitar work drawing spontaneous applause from the audience on several occasions.

    Highlights for me were "Alice's Song" - I think I prefer this version to the Acoustic Strawbs one, possibly because it's Brian and Cathryn's song (and Cathryn knows all the words ;o) - only joking Dave!); "There Will Come The Day" - absolutely stunning version with the "Down by the Sea" riff beautifully interwoven by Brian and a hint of the opening bars of "The River"; "Totally In Your Hands" - one of my favourites from Brian's "Black and White" album; "All the way to Denver" and "Goodbye Old Friend" - both tracks from the new album; "What A Wonderful World" - beautiful version of this classic.

    Both Brian and Cathryn thought that The Studio would make and excellent Acoustic Strawbs venue, despite Brian saying afterwards that he felt a little remote up on the raised stage (this may have been because of the size of the audience). There's hope for a Teesside gig yet :o)

    I ended up buying a copy of the new and as yet unreleased album by Brian and Cathryn - "I Will". They had literally collected it on their way up to Hartlepool that day so I am among the very first to own a copy! As it's unreleased, I won't say too much about it other than it's excellent and contains the wonderful new version of "There Will Come The Day".






    THE WOODMAN, KINGSWINFORD, 1 MAR 2002

    Comments from Louise Richardson

    Went to see Brian Willoughby and Cathryn Craig at the Woodman in Kingswinford on Friday evening. They were superb. They sang some numbers from their new CD I Will which we bought and haven't stopped playing. My favourites being "Goodbye Old Friend" , "I Will", "All The Way To Denver" to name but a few. The audience were more than appreciative, they loved Cathryn's voice and what can we say that already hasn't been said on Brian's guitar work. Nick did a couple of songs in the interval, which went down well. Had a chat with them at the end and they seemed well pleased. Hoping to go to their show in Ashbourne.


    PHOTOS - CABBAGE PATCH, TWICKENHAM, 17 FEB 2002, by DICK GREENER







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