Jim recently played at The Wee Folk Club which is based in The Royal Oak in Edinburgh; a ?bastion of Scottish folk music scene' that has been providing a platform for the best folk performers over the last 30 years. Paddy Bort had invited Jim to play after seeing him support Hans Theessink at The Edinburgh Folk Club late last year.
Neither of us had ever been to The Wee Folk Club before but we were looking forward to it as we had heard glowing reports of its special atmosphere and friendly club members.
It certainly lived up to its reputation and although the audience was not large (it is an unusually small and intimate venue), comprising of the other musicians, regular Oak aficionados plus some Swiss and Canadian tourists, they made a most receptive and friendly audience.
Jim played two 45 minute sets, consisting of a mixture of his own Americana, bluesy folk and alt country tunes, plus Carter Family and some old-time country songs that he has recently been so taken by. It was an unplugged gig which suited Jim?s friendly and relaxed style; he really connected with the audience with his mixture of chat and music. He was in fine form and it was one of the most enjoyable gigs I have seen him play.
There was plenty of applause, lots of smiles and no hesitation when it came to joining in the choruses. I think I even heard some harmonising along with Jim's singing. The craic in the break was great fun and and CDs were purchased. Then the cherry on the cake was my picking my own ticket at the raffle - although Charlie Strachan, who apparently wins every raffle, was already the proud owner of the newly designed Royal Oak tee shirt. :-)
The second set went down every bit as well as the first and the time flew in as Jim did his finger pickin' stuff and even sang a couple of traditional Scottish folk songs to finish the night.
There was fine support from Charlie Strachan, an Oak stalwart, who sang some lovely traditional Scottish folk songs and made everyone smile with his rendition of the very humorous song about the Glasgow cat, 'Sam the Skull.
Another regular, the multi-instrumentalist Lindsay Porteous, treated us to some tunes on, an amazingly beautiful, Jew's harp - just one from a collection of 200 or more. Apparently the regulars at The Wee Folk Club are full of anticipation waiting to see which instruments Lindsay will produce, and play, and this time he had brought a most unusual three stringed banjo. Lindsay is well known within the Scottish Traditional Musician scene.
Don't miss an opportunity to visit 1, Infirmary Street if you ever find yourself in Edinburgh. You are sure to have a great time and very likely to come across some high quality musical talent - Jim was certainly delighted to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Karine Polward and Kris Drever. It was also a treat hearing Charlie Strachan and Lindsay Porteous perform.
We hope to return very soon - it's a kind of magical place and we had a really wonderful time.
Pat Byrne, March, 2010
The Royal Oak Best of Folk - is available to buy on CD Baby - where you can also read a review by Jack Farmer.