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Those Folk  13th June 2024


The iconic statement that once was a pair of blue jeans has long been assimilated into ‘straight’ culture. Where once, it was a symbol of freedom; a rejection of tradition; a signal of grooviness, rock ‘n’ roll and stickin’ it to the man, it’s now an off-the-shelf supermarket checkout bleep next to your beans. It has been neutered.

What do we wear now to signify ‘otherness’? How do musicians stand out in a crowd of ‘normals’? An earring? A rash of tats? Perhaps a pair of just-on-the-tight-side straight leg skinny kecks, maybe a cowboy boot, a bootlace tie, maybe a hat indoors, sunglasses after dark, maybe a rustic shirt made of twigs?

Let’s face it, sometimes folk musicians are prone to dress down just a little. Maybe it’s the man/woman/etc. of the people thing… they’re folk… just like us… Jock Tamson’s Bairns and all that. And it has to be said that some folk musicians do take down-dressing a little too far. Who hasn’t witnessed a perfectly functioning musician-human six weeks into a tour sporting the crumpled, Omo-free, slept-in-a-skip look?

Looking at the album covers; website and social media pics tells me that Those Folk do actually look in the mirror. There’s something knowing, a self-awareness, a ‘how do I look’ thing going on before the camera shutter is released. Shots don’t have that just-putting-the-bins-out informality often seen; the image is considered. They look spiffy.

But, in front of an audience, will we admire the look but be underwhelmed by the music, are they just trendies with sub-optimum ability? Not likely, it’s Crail Folk Club.

They are, of course immaculately attired; in a room of people there’s no doubt about who’s going to be getting up on the stage to perform.

And from the first notes it’s clear their musical chops are well seasoned. A husband-and-wife team, I can only imagine they sing and play all day long, everything is tight, harmonies fasten exquisitely like the finest craftsperson’s dovetail joint. Well thought
out, refined and executed arrangements are shouldered by flawless piano accordion, guitars, mandolin, harmonicas and percussion.


The first tune Life Inside a Box is a mission statement signalling their freedom and ‘otherness’ … ‘life inside a box will never do for those as free as me and you’… and they have certainly exercised that freedom. Lawrence has Louisiana Cajun roots but was raised in California, Clare is from Queensland, Australian, they met - and
became thereafter, inseparable at the Edinburgh Festival in 2012.


They’ve lived in California, currently bide in Australia, Lawrence went to university in the UK, living in Scarborough – the friends he makes there are flummoxed by this exotic visitor…‘what are you doing here?’

Moving around of course means departures. The amplified emotions with which departures are tinged are touched upon in their songs… The First of Many Lasts – ‘when you’ve shed enough skin to let the new in’. Clever lyrics abound – ‘homesick for a place I’ve never been’ and ‘you’re only burning bridges that you never thought you’d crossed’ – nice, you could knock off early after penning that one!
A few covers – Springsteen’s I’m on Fire, Donovan’s Colours and Paul Simon’s Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard please the ear – but the real showstopper is the last of the set, Lead Belly’s Bring Me Little Water Sylvie… wow, Clare really lets some grit rip and lo, the spirit of down home blues manifests itself at the Community
Hall right there before our eyes.

And of course, as with all things, there is the inevitable departure, the lights come up and the scenery comes down. One hopes that the happy couple take a little piece of Crail away in their hearts as they have left a little of themselves in ours.

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