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Review: 'Serious Sam Barrett and Copper Viper'
'Live at What's Cooking'   

-  Album: 'Leytonstone Ex-Servicemen's club.'
-  Genre: 'Folk' -  Release Date: '6.2.19.'

Our Rating:
This was a great folk double bill and is part of Serious Sam Barrett's current tour to promote his latest album Where The White Roses Grow that came out at the start of the month.

First on are new Bluegrass Duo Copper Viper, now I know Traditionally Bluegrass groups are is it 4 or 5 players all around the one valve microphone but well this duo play in the traditional acoustic manner around a very cool looking microphone and mainly play with a Mandolin and an Acoustic guitar against the pairs vocal harmonies and will hopefully have the bands Debut album released later in the year.

They opened with a song about how someone Set My Life On Fire that is full of yearning and the joy of the love that has been started as the Mandolin and Guitar just sounded great weaving the tale as easily as the lyrics did.

Duncan Viper then switched to Fiddle for Chase the Devil or the song about Chasing The Devil that had mainly acapella vocals and then a really fiery instrumental passage that made certain the devil was at least running down Grove Green Road to get away, and to be honest most of the chasing that used to happen around this part of Leytonstone would have involved people like me running from the Skinheads who wanted to give us a good kicking.

Duncan was back on his Mandolin for the rather beautiful song about Help and the Help that you should be giving to those in need the harmonies they had while singing are great and really need to be heard live.

They then sang an old gospel song Leaning On The Everlasting Arms that Mahalia Jackson made her own and on this Copper Viper don't sing it as low as Mahalia did but did a very fine acapella version of it.

They then did a song about Home that had great interplay between the mandolin and guitar as well as more bewitching vocal harmonies. They then went fairly western on us for Hold Up That Train that had a good story at it's heart and some more beguiling music including a great fiddle part.

Fly had some great changes in it with the Mandolin interweaving with that guitar in a very cool way.

They then jumped onto the Orange Blossom Express for a real hoedown of a version that was more Flatt and Skruggs than it was James Last with some great fiddle on it and it did more than enough to earn them an encore.

They encored with Slowdown that was played at the sort of pace that is the opposite of the songs title and they had great fun doing it damn they can play the mandolin and Guitar at almost speed metal speeds it was great end to a cool set they are well worth seeing live and are touring the UK for the next couple of months.

After the break Serious Sam Barrett was introduced by Ramblin' Steve in his usual inimitable fashion and came on with his trusty 12 string Guitar and opened with Song For Alf dedicated to one of his uncles a song about hard scrabble lives and it set the tone for his set.

Serious Sam introduced his second song Sometimes You've Got To Lose as being about his other love Skateboarding and how he broke both his wrists Skateboarding a while ago just before he had a tour booked and how he had to beg for them not to put casts on his wrists so he could still play his tour! Yes he really is that seriously committed to his music and it's a damn fine Skate folk song.

Drive Your Way Home had some really nice playing on it as well as a good story in the lyrics that was followed by the brilliant Last Of The Yorkshire Outlaws off of the new album that sounded more impassioned live than on the album as same tipped his baseball cap to the hard drinking folks that keep folksingers like him going.

We then got a couple of Trad songs the first of Which The Female Drummer really isn't another song about Moe Tucker but Like David Bowies She's Got Medals is about a woman disguising herself as a man so she can join the army and go to war, it certainly provoked some strong imagery and asks a few questions about sexual politics.

The second trad song was Holmfirth Anthem that was sung acapella and sounded almost like a hymn for Holmfirth. Keeping things Yorkshire he then sang a song about Skipton that certainly reminded me of my one trip through there many years ago.

It was then time for Serious Sam to switch over to his Banjo for Holes In My Shoes a seriously down at heel tale of struggling to get by, sorry if I have this title wrong.

It was then back to the 12 string for Long Gone that was played as a waltz and no I didn't see anyone get up to waltz to it mores the pity as I'm sure a few of the crowd would have been more than capable Waltzer's. Hurry Back was the sort of slightly yearning love song that always sound cool with this sort of ringing 12 string sound there was some serious stuff going on with the finger picking at this point.

Back On The Jack is a good old fashioned drinking song that would have sounded just as good played by a sleazy glam rock band as by a folkie on a 12 string which is possibly why it had me thinking a little bit of Airborne's Back On the Bottle although Serious Sam’s song had far less air punching going on.

Lullaby Of Leeds is seriously heartfelt and a great tribute to a city that has one of England's more vibrant music scenes. Obviously Rock And Roll Heart wasn't a Lou Reed cover mores the pity as I'm sure Serious Sam could do justice to it as deep down inside he has a rock and roll heart trying to get out of his folk soul.

He switched back to Banjo for the title track of the new album Where The White Roses Grow and it sounded damn good with a cool ringing sound he was getting from his banjo.

Then he closed the set back on his 12 string for Darling Where You Are a lovely heartfelt song well the lyrics are sung acapella after a instrumental part a cool end to a great set.

Obviously Ramblin' Steve insisted we had an encore and Serious Sam who hadn't really gone anywhere came back and played Sailor’s Song that had some more of that delicious 12 string sound he has leaving us all happy and wanting more.

He is currently on a short UK tour and if he can get his visa sorted out will be out on tour in the US as soon as it is dealt with. Apparently it's so far taken over a year to deal with. Either way if you get a chance both Serious Sam Barrett and Copper Viper and both well worth seeing live.
  author: simonovitch

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