Wednesday, May 14, 2008

blue bleezing blind drunk

Rachel Unthank and the Winterset @ The Shaw Theatre, 12th May

..."Blue Bleezing Blind Drunk" and, indeed, other Northumbrian ditties, beer-related and otherwise. I always find it interesting that as well as performing, folk singers like Rachel Unthank also spend a lot of their time seeking out new songs, not just to widen their repertoires but also to preserve small but important parts of regional musical history. Many of the songs on her award-winning "The Bairns" album, of which all the tracks get an airing tonight, were ones she actually learned from her mother and father who are also folk singers.

The most obvious family connection tonight is with sister Becky with whom Rachel shares the lion's part of the singing duties. Interestingly, the voices of the two siblings are quite different in character: Rachel's is strong and pure and her Geordie accent is as pronounced in her singing as in her speech, Becky's is more fragile but at its best haunting and bell-like, nowhere more so than in her glorious rendition of Robert Wyatt's "Sea Song". I think this is a great song: the words are fantastic, it's got a wonderful soaring melody and the piano and accordion arrangement in the Unthanks' version really does it justice. And that voice...

Hear for yourself:
- "Sea Song" Becky vox

- "Sea Song" Robert Wyatt's original version
- What wikipedia has to say about Northumbrian music
- Guardian interview with R.U.

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