Michael Chapman: Postscript

Well, the Saturday of the Moseley Folk Festival was – like the weather – a bit of a mixed bag.  At least it didn’t rain.  Michael Chapman came on in mid-afternoon and delivered a brisk 45-minute  set that mixed up fleet-fingered instrumentals with songs like ‘Mallard’ and ‘Soulful Lady’.  The former was introduced as a “song about the fastest steam train in history; the ‘Mallard’ was clocked leaving Peterborough Station at 126.3 mph……I played in Peterborough once and left nearly as quickly…”

Of course, a lot of the club-orientated between-song banter was lost in the windy spaces of Moseley Park, but the man got a warm reception for his efforts, even though I suspect that many of the crowd had never even heard of him.

Michael Chapman on stage at the Moseley Folk Festival

Michael was followed on an adjacent stage by a band called Kidnap Alice, whose lead singer (Alice, of course) had a remarkably powerful voice but whose material (bluegrass/folk with a tinge of soul) didn’t really do the voice justice.  I decided to wander around the periphery of the arena and have a look at one of the CD stalls, run by Rise Records from Bristol/Cheltenham. The guy behind the counter was wearing an extremely covetous black t-shirt with a 1960’s Island Records logo on it and I was just waiting to ask him where he got it when in walks Michael Chapman and stands next to me.

So, I introduced myself and thanked him for a really enjoyable set, all of which seemed to ruffle him slightly – no idea why…  Anyway, I then mentioned my last sighting of him at Manchester Uni back in 1978 and he corrected me by informing me that his drummer on that tour had been Lindisfarne’s Rod Clements, not Keef Hartley as previously stated.  I’d like to tell you that we spent a leisurely half-hour shooting the breeze about the good old days, but it wasn’t to be.  Michael was there simply to grab a copy of one of his own cd’s to give to a journalist or suchlike and was gone as rapidly as he’d arrived.  Oh well, it’s not every day that you get to personally thank the artist for their performance.

The rest of the day was pleasant enough; Moseley Folk Fest has a very easy-going vibe in tune with its surroundings ( a private park to which all Moseley residents are given a key), but most of the rest of the day’s music was OK if unremarkable.  A lot of the crowd (and compere Janice Long) seemed very enthused about a band called The Bees, who came on just as it was getting dark, but I found them ordinary for the most part.  Willy Mason was impressive; coming across like an electric Townes van Zandt and  girly trio The Staves sang beautifully.  Bill-toppers Tinariwen were, as expected, hypnotic, but were also curiously understated and far from bringing the day to a rousing conclusion, everything just sort of petered out.  Still, a pleasant day, the weather was kind and, best of all, we were home inside 15 minutes…

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