Readifolk Review - Where Fire Meets Water Tour

Orkney Island Special
29th November 2009
We were advised to arrive early because this evening would be popular, and rightly so.
Self-schooled fiddler Fiona Driver and guitarist Graham Simpson hail from the Orkneys, and were playing Readifolk at the end of a tour with close friend and singer Jo Philby, herself originally from Berkshire but now living in the Orkneys.
Guest host Sara Daniels’ informal style set a warm, relaxed tone for the evening, opening with Sara’s own lyrical song Where Are You Going to?, followed by two toe-tapping numbers from Chris and Danny, including a lively rendition of Dr Feelgood’s , Back in the Night with guitar and mandola.
Jo’s easy rapport with the audience introduced the guests’ set, starting with a vivid portrait of summer romance in the Irish song Summer at my Feet. Graham joined Jo on guitar for Emily Smith’s A Day Like Today, followed by two numbers with Fiona’s interwoven fiddle melodies. We were treated here to Fiona’s own jig Waterside slipped in between verses of Kate Rusby’s song I Courted a Sailor.
The first half concluded with an instrumental set from Fiona and Graham, combining traditional music with shades of jazz and ragtime, and including Pauline’s Waltz, Fiona’s tribute to the fiddle player who had first inspired her to play.
As the audience drifted back from the interval, the second half started off with another song from Sara and floor spots including two well loved songs from Malcolm Smith, newly returned from his travels in Europe, an interlude of well-known instrumental pieces from
accordion and banjo trio 3 2 1, and a passionate rendition from Readifolk regular Doug Brown of Robin Laing’s true-story ballad Jamie Penman.
The second half of the guests’ set started with a moving performance by Jo of Orcadian Dream a song composed for her by Sara Daniels during a visit to the Orkneys. Jo was joined on stage again by Graham and Fiona for songs including Bill Staines’ song River . A lively and varied instrumental session followed with a catchy rag, jigs and a peppy tune about a mouse in a toaster, penned by Fiona. The evening finished with the Irish song and a last tune from Fiona and Graham.
For me the joy of this evening was the infectious enjoyment of the music by the artists themselves. Put together, Jo’s warm vocals, Graham’s sensitive accompaniments on
guitar, the interplay between Jo’s voice and Fiona’s fiddle, and then Fiona’s simply
stunning fiddle playing offset by Graham’s accompaniment made a varied, entertaining set that left the audience wanting more.