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Friday, 23 February 2018

Drimpton Village Hall: The Grahams Rock the Joint; Artsreach; Dorset

The little Dorset village of Drimpton (population 400), located close to Beaminster, Crewkerne, Bridport and the wonderful walking country around Pilsdon Pen and Lewesdon Hill (although you wouldn't know it on a cold, dark February night), seems an unlikely venue for a rocking  4-piece country band of musicians (on an Artsreach tour) who hail from from Manhattan, Nashville and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Described as a "dynamic Americana duo", the singer-songwriter guitarists, childhood sweetheart husband-and-wife Alyssa and Doug Graham, had the wildly enthusiastic audience stomping their feet on the wooden village hall floorboards and calling for more.

Sometimes sounding like a Nashville country-rock band, at other times like a post-hippy, Jimi Hendrix revivalist duo (Doug's stinging guitar-playing, at least, with his ample use of distortion, fuzz-box, wah-wah and other pedal effects), they have written some outstanding song lyrics and concept albums (songs of their extensive US railroad, river and highway adventures), even if the unnecessarily high levels of amplification drowned out the words in this small, intimate village hall. Sitting close to they front, I had to block my ears at times, to try and catch all the words; it would have been great to hear them play a semi-acoustic set as well. US Northerners by birth, they must have been made welcome in Nashville and the South, as they have absorbed many regional musical influences on their travels.

Whether their occasionally ironic take on Americana in a song like Revival Time was so well received in the Bible belt, I'm not sure. The audience loved it. I had asked the sound technician at the start if they were going to sing that song - and if they'd brought the snake along with them. They hadn'tWatch the official YouTube video.

I wish the sound had been kept at this sort of level - hear, for instance, another great song, Biscuits.

Congratulations to the band, Artsreach and the Drimpton organisers.

I'll be keeping my eyes open to see what else they're bringing to Drimpton Village Hall.

In all of the 25 years that my mother used to live in West Bay, Bridport, I don't think I ever visited the village - though I have climbed Lewesdon Hill, and I much admire William Crowe's 1788 poem. Perhaps The Grahams could set part of it to music? I hope they had a chance to see something of the beautiful Dorset countryside, at least.

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