The Sound of the Soul by Richard Cundill - Official Biography of Martin Stephenson
Review: Sounds in the Suburbs presenting: Martin Stephenson and the Daintees, Helen McCookerybook and The Moonshiners.
We went along to The Accies Cricket Social Club in Anniesland on 19th December to catch one of Sound in the Suburbs gigs. Alan Hendry, the promoter of these gigs, is earning quite a reputation for putting on hugely enjoyable shows with great music. He certainly excelled himself when he pulled together the acts for this particular show. Martin Stepehnson and the Daintees, Helen McCookerybook and The Moonshiners were all in excellent form and the audience were treated to a fantastic night out.
First up were The Moonshiners, the Glasgow bluegrass band, who sound as though they have just flown in from Kentucky, although their clear talent and multi-instrumental aptitude goes hand in hand with a sort of unassuming pleasure in their music, which smacks of an indefinable Scottish trait. You just sit back, relax and buy into their music with perfect ease. I particularly enjoy John MacAleese singing Freeborn Man, Some Ole' Day and Muddy Waters. The mixing and matching of vocalists and instruments makes their show very lively and entertaining.
Last time we saw the band comprising: Jimmy Moon (double bass),, Alasdair Kennedy (mandolin/fiddle) and Phil Sakerski (banjo/dobro) was at Partick Folk Club, just before they set off to perform in the Shetland Isles. That trip seems to have been very worthwhile as they returned with a new member in the band - Gemma Donald, a very youthful, award winning fiddle player from Shetland. She certainly brings with her both colour and vivacity. A hugely talented fiddle player she also displayed great vocal ability and hope to hear her singing some more in the future.
Next up was Helen McCookerybook, who lit up the stage with her super songs and incredible smile. The song I liked best was Temptation - Loverman is also a very endearing, bright and breezy tune, which she performed with Martin. There is a great chemistry between the two and it's a treat seeing them perform together. Helen is not only a great performer but has a very interesting background having been part of the punk era of the 80s. I've just ordered her book: The Lost Women of Rock Music: Female Musicians of the Punk Era.
Martin Stephenson and the Daintees then treated the audience to a feast of music and entertainment. Band members included brothers, Anthony and Gary Dunn, on bass/backing vocals and lead guitar respectively and Finn provided the excellent percussion. The band and Martin, Mr Charisma himself, were an absolute joy. The audience were amazed by his songs, playing, jokes and his relentless energy - scuttling about all over the stage engaging with the band members and the audience. From the start to finish of the gig we were treated to the, not-to-be- forgotten, full scale Martin Stephenson Experience.
He performed some great numbers including Coleen, Neon Sky and had the audience in raptures to the beats of Wholly Humble Heart and we all joined in the reggae moves when Boat to Bolivia was played. Throughout the performance he interjected with humourous asides in his rich Geordie twang. Martin rounded off the evening calling The Moonshiners back onto the stage for a jam and then unable to contain his energy on stage he took them and the Daintees on a little minstrel wandering around the audience.
He could be following a career as a comic and all great fun but don't give up the singing, Martin, it's just too good.
Thanks to Alan Hendry, Sounds in the Suburbs, for bringing these rare musical treats to Glasgow West End.
Pat Byrne, December, 2008.
More information and Gigs:Sounds in the Suburbs