The Blaxhall Sessions: Martin Simpson
Friday 14th September
The sleepy village of Blaxhall was wide awake on Friday night as it came alive to the first of The Blaxhall Sessions: a monthly series of folk performances put on by FolkEast organisers John and Becky Marshall-Potter. Not a venue you would have thought was appealing or of interest to the countries top folk acts but ask any of them and they will tell you what an incredibly historic and important place Blaxhall is.
So if you wanted to show your ambition, who would you approach first? As John said to me, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”. And so, Martin Simpson, a guitarist, singer & songwriter who has played some of the biggest stages in the world, arrived in a muddy car park beside a village hall that looks like an overgrown garden shed.
The doors opened at 7 and the real ale was flowing as the sell out audience arrived. Half an hour later Martin took to the stage from what looked like a broom cupboard at the side of the hall with a beaming smile. Without saying a word he played two songs back to back before introducing himself and telling a story of his connection to Blaxhall from playing at Ipswich Folk Club and meeting local Percy Webb in the 70’s.
You could see he was enjoying himself as he mixed his obvious love of Delta blues and Americana from his time living and travelling the States with stories of his home in Derbyshire and songs about the landscape and nature around him.
He also played a number of songs from influences including Bob Dylan, Emily Portman and even a bit of Elvis for good measure.
I can honestly say that it was one of the best gigs i have ever seen, not only because of who it was, but for the very intimate setting to witness it in. At the end the audience were encouraged to reconvene at The Ship for a pint where Martin not only shared stories at the bar but also played one more song. A very special night indeed.