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Reg Meuross Q&A

A guitar or two, some songs and a few answers

To see Reg Meuross take to the stage, accompanied by two vintage guitars and performing into a single microphone, is akin in many ways to time travel.

Flanked by the thick velvet curtains of Totnes's Barrelhouse Ballroom, Meuross could be singing at any number of folk clubs from across the decades: sharing a dustbowl stage with Woody Guthrie, between Dylan and Van Ronk at The Gaslight, an all-nighter at legendary Soho venue Les Cousins, or at a folk club down along the road tonight; his unadorned performance and direct songwriting are as timeless as they are consistently relevant.

As a Q&A event the focus is, for once, not solely upon the songs, as host John Elliott encourages Reg to share tales of his life and career before opening up to questions from the floor in the second half.

In conversation as he is in song, Reg is humble, entertaining and engaging - in fact it is much like any Meuross performance - relaxed, conversational, punctuated by stories of a lifetime spent on the road, and naturally the format often gives Reg the excuse to perform a song inspired by or commenting upon a point or story raised.

Stories of his opera singer grandparents, 'not quite' being born on The Flying Scotsman, and being told to change his name to 'Reg Wilde' by Reg Presley of The Troggs stick in the mind, and, despite claiming he writes songs as he lacks the 'patience' to write prose, Meuross can weave a tale as interesting as any even without the backing of his 1944 Martin guitar.

The story of that guitar and the songs it inspired provides one of many highlights: The Hands Of A Woman, from solo album December, written as a thank you to the friends and fans who managed to purchase the guitar for Reg when he fell in love with it on tour in America.

Capo'd up high the guitar takes on a delicate timbre, Reg's deft fingerpicking perfectly showcasing what he describes later as the 'sweet spot' where voice and guitar blend together as one.

Amongst several other favourites the audience is also treated to two new songs - one a typically observant love song that brings several listeners to tears, and the other commissioned and produced by The Who's Pete Townsend for an upcoming project based upon the Woody Guthrie song Deportees.

Judged on this song alone, the resulting album (which, as Reg puts it, is 'in the hands of the corporates' currently) will be a worthy addition to Meuross's catalogue of songs that are unafraid to mix the personal and the protest, and it is with one these songs 'England Green & England Grey' that Reg closes the concert.

Introduced by a story about performing the song on the BBC after it was banned during a General Election (a performance still available on the iPlayer), Meuross leads the audience through the choruses, finishing with an unaccompanied 'my home, my love, my England' during which you could hear a pin drop before the applause erupts.

With a brace of reissues due for release through Proper Music, and a career-spanning concert entitled 'This Is Reg' planned at the prestigious Bush Hall for the 28th of February, perhaps the time will soon come where Meuross is propelled into the limelight that has inexplicably been denied him previously, and the chance to witness such an intimate performance might soon pass.

I doubt it though - such is the warmth, charm and humility of the man that, even if the Pyramid Stages of the world come calling, you get the sense he would return time and time again to the intimacy of a single mic and a softly lit room - like the countless bards that have come before him, Reg Meuross is, at heart, a troubadour and a folk-singer and to witness him in such an environment reminds us of what a great one he is.

Words Ben Morgan- Brown, Pic Mark Burley

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