Review by Hayley Clark with Photography by Rob Hadley

Confined within the grade one Georgian church, fairy lights twinkled from the rafters as the historic St Paul’s church’s pews filled up with patrons eagerly awaiting the fun filled folk night ahead.

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The refined crowd waited in anticipation as candles flickered on the stage for the intimate evening with John Smith and Katherine Priddy. Huddled in the wooden pews the crowd clapped loudly as Katherine appeared at the altar.

Perched on a chair, her innocence and warmth shined bright, welcoming the crowd and thanking them for coming to see her, and to John Smith for asking her to open this folk extravaganza.

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Gently strumming an acoustic guitar, the young singer’s voice is apt for the venue. Sent from the heavens, an angelic harmony filled the Birmingham night. The looping melodies are filled with sweet ditties telling takes of myths and love found and lost, the crowd sat opened mouthed in awe at the talent before them. Treating the audience to tracks from her latest EP ‘Wolf’, she brags Richard Thompson chose it as his best of 2018, so for just five pounds it’s a good price for “blood, sweat and tears”.

‘Rosie’, ‘Icarus’ and ‘Travelling Man’ grasp the audience, the latter a cautionary tale of dating a man without a fixed postcode leaves the audience chuckling at her humble and honest approach to music.

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The audience clapped furiously as Devon’s finest John Smith appeared, thanking them for coming out he introduced double bassist Ben Nicholls to the stage, from the Seth Lakeman’s Band.

Giggles fill the room as John asks the room how they are doing and ponders over what type of church they are sat in immediately captivating the crowd. It’s hard to believe as the night draws on that John Smith is still unsigned as an artist, having previously performed with the likes of David Gray and Liane La Havas his likeable personality shines as well as his talent with the guitar.

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Strumming through folk songs of past like ‘Hares on the Mountain’ and ‘The Lowlands of Holland’ his strong vocals remind me of a cross between Frank Turner and Aslan, as he gently strums away the crowd nod their heads in appreciation. As the tempo picks up, a strong foot tapping beat is heard from one of the church pews as the chords from the altar glide through the air, as the audience member in question loses themselves in the music and throws caution to the wind.

The audience clap as the magical evening comes to an end, he leaves the stage to a standing ovation and calls for him to return for an encore. The audience beam as he returns to oblige with further folk tales, entertaining them with story like lyrics you could listen to for hours. l think 2019 is going to be a big year for these fantastic folk stars.

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