To say that the Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre in Walton-on-Thames has a history with regard to music would be a bit of an understatement. The barn, as you might have expected, backs on to The Riverhouse, which was home to none other than Sir Arthur Sullivan, the composer of “Onward Christian Soldiers” and one half of the UK’s most enduring comic opera creators: Gilbert and Sullivan.
Aware of their heritage, the organisers of the events that are held there know that they have a responsibility not to sully history, and therefore only to ever book class acts. The Riverhouse Barn has been, quite rightly, described as ‘one of the most magical venues’. Almost every musician I’ve seen who has performed there has remarked what a lovely place it is to play. Yes, the beams that support the barn roof may not be Tudor, and may not even date from when Arthur Sullivan was writing, but they do look authentic and do give the building a very special look. Saskia, instead of remarking on what a lovely place it was, remarked on how good looking the audience was! Clearly in need of contact lenses!
I have to admit that the name Saskia Griffiths-Moore was new to me, but knowing that Ed Butcher, one of the volunteers who run the Arts Centre, was a fan was good enough for me. Not only that, but strangely, though I didn’t know her, I knew the other two members of her trio. Jack Cookson had performed solo at the first ever Walton Folk Festival in 2018, and Lukas Drinkwater is associated with lots of different acts including the Company of Players. This would be his third visit to the Riverhouse Barn this year!
2019 happens to be the fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock. Saskia, only now reaching the tender age of 26, was obviously unable to attend, but asked herself what would she have wanted to have played had she been there. That got her thinking along the lines of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, which inspired her to release an album "Baez, Dylan and Me". Joan Baez, though actually a singer songwriter, was not a prolific writer, and so many of the songs she is known for were written by Dylan, or were traditional songs arranged by her. Consequently the majority of the tracks on "Baez, Dylan and Me" were written by Dylan.
Dylan, like Saskia, was also unable to attend Woodstock becauase he was recovering from a motorcycle accident, and so was not touring at the time, but Baez was there. I'm pretty certain that she didn't play any of the tracks that Saskia selected, but she did, at least, play one Dylan cover ("I Shall Be Released"). At the time she was six months pregnant, and her husband was on hunger strike in jail, having been arrested for refusing to fight in Vietnam, which probably influenced her choice of songs.
Saskia's current tour is therefore to promote her new album, so most people in the audience had expected that the concert would largely comprise Bob Dylan or Joan Baez covers, but Saskia is obviously not someone prepared to perform to expectations. Of the eighteen songs that she played, only six of them were from the current album. They did also play a traditional song, "Wayfaring Stranger", that Baez has previously recorded, but that isn't one of the tracks that made it to her album.
“Baez, Dylan and Me” is Saskia’s second release of 2019 having produced "Ocean Of Stars" earlier in the year. As a singer songwriter in her own right it was obvious that she'd end up playing several tracks from that album, wasn't it? Wrong! In fact she ony played one track, "These Hours", from "Oceans Of Stars". In actual fact she only played "Write Me A Song" from her album "Night And Day", and only one track "Wash It Away" from her album "Centre Heart".
She did however perform three brand new tracks, one of which, "The Edge" came in at just shy of six minutes, and was described by Saskia as a sample of what would appear on her next album. Whether that means that the final track might be even longer, I don't know.
But Saskia was not just there to promote her own albums. With far greater altruism than I've seen in any other musician, she also wanted to promote the other two members of her trio. After the interval Jack and Saskia returned to the stage to perfom Jack's song "Circus", with Saskia only providing backing vocals. Then Jack and Saskia left to be replaced by Lukas who performed his own composition, "Better Tomorrow Today".
Some very enjoyable banter between the musicians, showing how much they respect eachother. Saskia announced that there was a merch desk, with CDs from her and Lukas (as Jacob and Drinkwater), but that Jack hadn't brought any along to sell, She said that if you wanted to buy one of his albums, you'd find them on all the usual places, such as Amazon ... at which point Lukas offered 'Crimewatch' as a potential place to find Jack's records. Also, when they played "Wash It Away", Saskia introduced it by saying that it was Jack's favourite, then teased him, by trying to make him admit that none of the songs she'd written since then were any good. Evan a bit of banter from Ed Butcher. After a slight slip of the tongue from Saskia, she said 'Of course, none of you will tell'. Ed called out 'For the right money'.
When they came on for an encore, I requested "Autumn Leaves", having read beforehand that she liked to play it whenever she played live in the Autumn. She said that that was too sad a song to finish on, though, so instead played "Bring Me Sunshine". I kind of think that's quite a sad song as well, though, even though it is associated with Morecambe and Wise.
Really good to see Lukas and Jack again, and really good to finally discover Saskia. A magical concert in a magical venue, even if Saskia didn't mention it.
Write Me A Song
It Ain't Me Babe
Wash It Away
Diamonds And Rust
Wild Mountain Thyme
Let In The Light
Circus (Jack Cookson)
Better Tomorrow Today (Lukas Drinkwater)
Make You Feel Me Love
The Best Of You
Knocking On Heaven's Door
May You Never
You Are My Sunshine
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