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Bronwynne Brent Trio

Venue: Grateful Fred's At The Atkinson
Town: Southport
Date: 11/4/16

With the name Bronwynne you might have imagined that tonight's guest would hail from Wales but you would have been wrong. Bronwynne Brent is, in fact, from Greenville, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, the birthplace of the Blues.

In his song "She", the late, great Gram Parsons wrote about a woman who "Came from the land of the cotton" who "Sure could sing". These lyrics could easily apply to Bronwynne Brent, who gloriously combines the key elements of the music of the South, namely blues, jazz and country. No wonder Bob Harris describes Bronwynne as "really special". Her voice certainly is something special, as are her songs, which are deep, dark and powerful.

As Bronwynne explained, she writes "love songs for jilted individuals", something that is borne out by songs such as "Heartbreaker", "Marrying Kind" and "Don't Tell Secrets"[ "Don't keep your heart out on a string, Don't trust some man who wears a ring"].

No one could accuse Bronwynne of making music that is easy or comfortable listening. Take, for example, "Dark Highway" about a woman who is forced to leave home and who is "haunted by a ghost", as she closes her eyes and "can hear my baby crying". Similarly, "Deep Black Water" deals with separation and loss.

Bronwynne's blues roots shone through on "Thankfully", which featured a superb Bonnie Raitt-like slide guitar solo from Joe Restivo. Joe is from Memphis and teaches at the Stax Music Academy, as well as leading his band The Joe Restivo 4, who are dedicated to keeping alive Memphis music from the 50's and 60's.

The third member of the Bronwynne Brent Trio is Euan Burton on double bass. Euan has played with many modern jazz greats, as well as with Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham and Texas. Like Joe, Euan also leads his own Quartet.

As well as her own stunning songs, Bronwynne gave us a few choice covers. The first was a delightfully authentic version of the Sister Rosetta Tharpe gospel song "Two Little Fishes and Five Loaves of Bread". We were also treated to a couple of jazz standards, the first of which was "No Moon At All"[as performed by Mel Torme and Julie London, amongst others]. The other standard was "After You've Gone", which was written almost 100 years ago but the theme of which fits in quite nicely with Bronwynne's own songs. All three members of the Trio demonstrated their jazz licks to great effect on these numbers, particularly Joe Restivo whose soloing was quite superb.

Bronwynne's choice of encore was, to say the least, surprising. It's not often that you hear Vera Lynn's Second World War hit "We'll Meet Again" at an Americana concert but tonight we did and we all joined in, as Bronwynne led the communal singing.

An unusual end to what was a superb performance by Bronwynne, Joe and Euan.

Peter Cowley

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