I've been lucky enough to catch Harpeth Rising on a couple of their previous tours, but this was the first time I'd actually seen them perform at a venue, rather than as part of a festival, first Cambridge and more recently Cambridge. It was also the first time I'd seen them as the newly slimmed down trio, Jordana Greenberg(fiddle,vocals), Rebecca Reed-Lunn(banjo, vocals) and Maria Di Meglio(cello, vocals) who released the band's most recent album, "Shifted" their fifth in as many years.
Having previously seen them on comparatively sweeping festival stages, it was a real treat to see them in the bar of the almost legendary Square & Compass. The pub is in the heart of Dorset's quarrying area, hence the name, it's got its own fossil museum and hosts many festivals during the year, including a stone carving festival. It lacks what you might call a bar, all drinks and the famous pies and pasties are served through a small serving hatch. The music room almost redefines intimate, you are literally right on top of the band, especially if it's packed and Harpeth had drawn quite the crowd, including Dorset's own trio with a cello Kadia.
Once again the setting seemed to give the night a real magical feel, enhanced at the interval by being able to walk out into the beer garden to see the moonlight rippling off the sea in the same way Harpeth Rising had rippled off the crowd with a hearty combination of instrumentals and songs, predominantly from aforementioned new album, "Shifted" and a certain amount of banter, largely focusing on the language differences across the pond as well as what's considered history. To give this a perspective The Square & Compass became a pub a few months before America became an independent country.
Similarly when Harpeth delivered an instrumental version of "House Of The Rising Sun" a song they described as being nearly a hundred years old, real American history, you could add another hundred years taking it back into "The Unfortunate Rake".
Across two sets Harpeth Rising delivered a great night of entertainment, the room really worked for them and they seemed to thrive on the atmosphere. There was one unplanned funny moment during a cover of a Dylan song, the trios cds leapt from the mantelpiece they were sharing with a giant squash and hurled themselves at the stone floor, lemming style.
It really was a great night, one of those gigs you were really glad to be at, even if it was cramped, an advantage of which was that Harpeth Rising could leave the stage without performing an encore, a great version of "Stairway To Heaven", heaven indeed.
There are only so many hours in a day and only so many gigs we can get to. We'd really like to expand our national coverage of the live scene as it remains the life blood of music.
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