The On the Verandah concert presented by Rachel Dillon on 14 May this year, was a most enjoyable night given Perth’s acoustic-starved music scene. The event was not on a verandah but in the Aranmore Hall, only the stage was made up to look like an old verandah. With more than 200 people attending, it was the second sold-out event of its type, demonstrating that acoustic music can be successful if promoted well.
The headline act was multi-award winning duo, Jane Germain and Ian Simpson, accompanied by Adam Gare on mandolin and fiddle. Rachel Dillon performed the support set, ably assisted by Quentin Fraser (guitar and resophonic guitar) and Stephen Loss (upright bass and guitar).
Rachel kicked off with the Jim Croce song Age, followed by a couple of Gillian Welch songs, Red Clay Halo and One More Dollar. She also sang her award winning Hell for Leather, which was well received. The boys were not denied the opportunity to show their chops and did an excellent guitar duet on Blackberry Blossom.
Stephen revealed to the audience that despite Quentin making frequent derogatory remarks about banjo players, Quentin is actually one himself. Maybe he will give us a tune on the banjo next time, or does he fall in to the definition of a gentleman – one who has a banjo, but doesn’t play it in public?
After a short speech from the Headache and Migraine Association (part beneficiary of the evening), Ian and Jane entertained us all with some great bluegrass, country, blues, and western swing, and amusing banter. Jane has a marvelous and versatile voice, suited to both country and bluegrass. Apart from guitar, Jane also played some old-time frailing banjo on Banjo Picking Girl. Ian of course shone brilliantly on the five string with tasteful backup and strident lead breaks. He provided strong harmonies and was just as capable on guitar as banjo, playing some great licks on the Cash/Carter favourites Going to Jackson and Ring of Fire, which they have made their own.
Adam Gare backed up with some very nice mandolin licks and he really shone on one of Ian’s original instrumental tunes which Ian said Adam had only played once before. Obviously their long association means Adam can improvise comfortably over Ian’s backup. Adam showed he has some formidable pipes when he sang the lead on Bob Wills’ old Faded Love, and his fiddle break on that song was pretty impressive too.
At the end of the show we had the bonus of all six musicians playing a mini set, including the gospel tune Angel Band. An encore bought them back to finish with an old Bob Wills’ classic, Roly Poly – politically incorrect these days, but nonetheless entertaining.
Altogether it was a great night of live acoustic music from fabulous musicians. A main meal and dessert were provided and it was BYO drinks. Unfortunately they ran out of the meat dishes before everyone was fed, but there was enough vegetarian food to go around. The chef apologised and said he will run “down another sheep” (or was that ‘roo?) for the next one.