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Wayward Jane - 8th February 2024 - Crail Community Hall


‘This gig will be remembered long’, thus spake Johnny Izatt, folk club pillar and MC for the evening as Wayward Jane took their final bow.


The whistles, whoops and thunderous hand slapping acclamation signalled the accord of all in the room. So what is it about humans? They pluck hit strum bow and blow bits of wood and string and some ghost from the machine comes out to play. And, we, the almost full house of attendant canny fowks respond, lids flipping, ears wiggling, feet shuffling inside shoes. And Wayward Jane, four humans with woody stringy blowy instruments and no tech to hide behind did just that.


The music was ‘Old time traditional American music’… related to bluegrass but strictly not ‘bluegrass’ - we were instructed by Michael, the admirably hirsute banjo player. Almost as if a public information ‘this is not a drill’ style of announcement - ‘this is not bluegrass - you are not hearing bluegrass’. My knowledge of the nuances of these musics is fag paper thin, but whatever you call it, it’s damn fine!


Setting a stiff challenge for David the sound man, and giving him the occasional heeby jeeby, the musicians gathered around two old timey microphones grand old opry style. Effortless four part harmonies, tidy instrumental work, and well thought out arrangements carried their mostly selfpenned material.


Instrumental versatility was the order of the day, Sam played guitar and wooden flute, Dan, double bass and guitar, Michael gave us banjo and guitar, Rachel stuck with her fiddle - more of that later. Their improvisational excursions proved a rare, involving delicacy, no listener mind wandering here, focussed attention is the order of the day - even during a tuning break, Michael noted that we were ‘very attentive’. ‘Is it always like this in Crail? you’re all so polite’. And indeed, it is, and we are.


And as we reached the finale, a Mississippi John Hurt tune, I scanned the room for a fire extinguisher for it seemed like Rachel was actually going to set her fiddle on fire so hot was her playing! Enter, stage right - special guest, Tara Cunningham doubled the fiddle firepower. Tara will in fact be depping for Rachel who is now heading off on baby sabbatical - this is her last gig for a while, so well wishes from Crail! So, if you get the chance, you must see Wayward Jane… or catch one of their subgroups, all have their own wee things happening, check out the Wayward website and all will be revealed.

Words by Callum MacLeod, photos by Peter Salkeld

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