CALLAGHAN | BARBARA NESBITT | Saturday 28 April 2018

In an idle moment of reflection, we worked out that this show was the 50th consecutive full house for us at LRB. This is something we are very proud of and we would like to thank everyone for their attendance over the time. We could not possibly put these shows on without you all.

The plight of small venues managing to stay operational was recently highlighted by Elles Bailey alongside the release of her LIVE AT LITTLE RABBIT BARN, limited edition CD. The associated press coverage highlights the importance of a vibrant independent live music infrastructure across the country for musicians and fans alike. So, your continued support for us at LRB has been invaluable. Again, thank you all.

Tonight, despite the rain hindering the set up, we were very excited by a welcome return to the newly expanded LRB from Barbara Nesbitt and a first visit for Callaghan on the last night of her 2018 UK tour.

Editor: to be fondly known as ‘The Callaghan’ extension. The last expansion being ‘The Ward Thomas’ extension in 2014. It’s only 2x3m but the 6m2 floor area makes a huge difference to the entrance.

First up, Barbara Nesbitt with Ben Jones (not the Ben Jones character in the Midsummer Murders UK TV series) haha… on Guitar and backing vocals.

Ben hails from Sheerness and now lives in Austin Texas. He is a very sought-after musician in his own right and recently toured with Brian Wilson in the UK and USA. For Ben, a dream come true.

As Barbara took to the stage ‘Alan The Hat’ gifted her with her very own version of his now famous headgear. Alan is a long-time supporter of live music and a great friend of the LRB, we think Barbara is one of his very favourite performers, and with good reason! Tonight, was surely not going to disappoint? Of course, not…

Lights, Cameras, Action! Barbara tentatively plays along with the incidental music before Jonathan’s introduction.

“Please welcome the wonderful Barbara Nesbitt with her new album, RIGHT AS RAIN!” Applause…

“My Mamma told me to have a good time wherever you go as you probably won’t get invited back, so it’s good to be back among music lovers here at The Little Rabbit Barn”. Say Barbara setting a fun tone for her set.

Done all I can do was the opening song where we had our first taste of Ben Jones on Guitar to an appreciative applause for his lovely playing.

“Ben plays with his own band ‘Beat Root Revival’” who Barbara urges us to check out.  I found their self-titled album on Tidal and can confirm it is worth seeking out.

“This is my favourite singer songwriter in Austin, just don’t tell her that I said that” Says Ben. Laughs …

“Next is a song about a break up but surprisingly optimistic for me” 100 Times. 

Barbara invites Ben to “Play something pretty” in the guitar break, and he certainly does. That was nice…

Eve Selis gets a mention and Barbara is surprised to learn she has played LRB seven times before. Eve also plays with Jeff Berkeley and Calman Hart who suggested Barbara writes a love song for once, where it works out for everyone; “But you got to write about what you know, don’t you? It has the word ‘Love’ in it though”.

So now we get to enjoy Never been in love from ALMOST HOME. Barbara’s 2013 release. The lyric says it all. It’s a great song and a true story we are told. Ben sparkled on Guitar again in the mid-section.

Barbara was effusive in her thanks for everyone involved with keeping the LRB running.

“I get paid to say that” she confessed whilst re tuning. as if we would? Laughs …

“Back home, we work with a loose outfit of songwriters, but we don’t get to meet much, with being so often on the road. So, we set a theme, and all write a song about it and then compare ideas. The theme was ‘At Large’ and out of this project came At Large in Tennessee, a song about a friend who got her divorce, finally! She needed to”. This is the opening track on RIGHT AS RAIN.

“Songs about divorce whoop” cries Barbara after the song, pumping her hand into the air. “It’s nice to have this outlet as a performer”. Laughs…

What Could Be Worse was next, another heartbreak song with an up-tempo feel.

“When you’re happy, excited and having a good time it’s hard to find time to write about it”. Says Barbara, although we are having a great time tonight and I’m writing about it, but we know what she means.

“I write breakup songs, relationship songs and making poor choices songs, but I also write Murder Ballads” Barbara tells us.

“They are not necessarily related, but I wouldn’t F**k with me”. laughs… Just kidding!

“That was my one and only cuss word tonight and LRB are not responsible for my Potty Mouth”. More laughs … “I try to use it for good and not for evil”. Laughs…

“No one has better ways of telling people off than the English. Lovely expressions but I can’t repeat them tonight”. Laughs… “I started writing this song last time I was over here, track 3 on the new record RIGTH AS RAIN. “It’s called Red”. 

“Songs about killing people” Shouts Barbara above the applause at the finish.

“Let’s do Josephine”, calls out Barbara, keeping the momentum going, “alright” replies Ben as they launch into the song.

Barbara had a friend called Josephine in the front row but assured her it wasn’t written about her. Laughs … More great up-tempo Americana music that just goes down so well with people.

“I want to stay here for ever” says Barbara excitedly as she accepts more well-deserved applause.

We have been hearing some new songs tonight that are not on the latest record and it looks like Barbara is going through a very fertile writing phase just now, another reason not to miss these shows, you get to hear songs first and as they develop.

“Mirror Mirror is a new song written for people who don’t believe in themselves when others around can see their worth & talents clearly”. Explains Barbara.

‘Mirror Mirror, quit looking at me. Everyday I’m clearer I don’t like what you see, they told me I’m beautiful, but you don’t agree, Mirror Mirror, stop looking at me’

Wow! that’s an extract from a great lyric and the melody is one that stays around in your head once you have heard it. Great song writing.

Now we have one more song in a set that will be over all too soon. As Barbara appreciates Ben Jones again… applause…

“It’s been great to share the stage with the Uber talented Barbara Nesbitt” says Ben… and you can see they are both thoroughly enjoying themselves.

“Well, if that last song didn’t teach you anything you should know I can’t take a compliment” replies Barbara “I mean Thank you”. Laughs…

“In the South East part of the USA we have funny colloquialisms like ‘Bless your heart’, but it doesn’t mean that”, laughs… “it’s how you say it”.

Another one is ‘Old Devils Never Die’. “But according to my Aunt Peachy”, says Barbara “It’s not true, Old devils can die”. “I’m pretty sure there are bodies buried in her yard”. Laughs… “She was a great lady who inspired this song”.

Old Devils can Die. Track seven on RIGHT AS RAIN.

We enjoyed another guitar blast from Ben during the song as their magnificent set came to a close.

“Barbara Nesbitt, a true Americana Gem” announces J as the LRB crowd show their enthusiastic appreciation for a great performance. Barbara Nesbitt was surely at the top of her game tonight.

Time for the food break thanks to Lyn and her team. “I know it’s easier to do a rice dish, but I’m fed up with it” Lyn told me. so tonight, we had Chicken in BBQ sauce with baby new potatoes and the feedback from guests was great. We even had a choice of deserts.

What more could you possibly ask for on a night out. Great music, great food, great company and the Little Rabbit Bar to tempt you?

Well, we also have the raffle with some great prizes to lead us nicely into the next round of live music.

“From the Bush hall in London hosted by Bob Harris to The Little Rabbit Barn we are delighted to welcome Callaghan”, J proudly announced; and who can blame him. J & Lyn and Terry have put in incalculable amounts of time and effort to be able to present such quality artistes for us all to appreciate and more than three years planning to bring Callaghan to LRB.

Opening with Surrender Callaghan sat at her piano with Dan Snyder on Keyboard and we were treated to a masterclass in vocal purity. Nothing less.

Callaghan introduce Dan Snyder and then declared that she is a big big Rabbit fan and was finding the LRB and its resident rabbits (Benedict and Flossie) the perfect way to end this tour.

The next song Crazy Beautiful Life is a gentle up-tempo number in the hope that the all too brief recent sunshine wasn’t all we were going to get for this summer. Laughs…

“If you want to sing along, click your fingers, drink along, now is the time as you may well know this one” Says Callaghan.

Stand by Me. The Ben E. king, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller classic, made even more famous by John Lennon. Beautifully delivered before we were all invited to join in on the chorus. If you come to an LRB gig, you’re in the band.

“It’s nice to come back to the UK to see the family and this is a song I wrote for my nephew when he was a baby, it’s about the hopes and dreams we all have. His name is Noah”.

Noah’s Song Track 3 on A HISTORY OF NOW.

Callaghan continues “This next song has a story about it, from how I went to the USA for a year that has turned into 8 years. When I first moved to Atlanta I stayed with a family whose grandmother told me stories about her life including when she fell in love at 17. The relationship didn’t last but she never forgot the feeling and that boy even 70 years later and having had a great life. This has inspired the next song”. When You Loved Me. This proved to be one of many pin drop moments as the songs close. Marvellous.

“Over the last 12 months I have been doing things differently, recording a series of three EP’s which I have combined into a full album for later release although a pre-release version is available tonight”. Laughs… “I’m going to play one of the songs now”

From the first EP and Track 8 on the Album CALLAGHAN we have Solid Ground.

“The next one from the new EP called SKIN ON SKIN includes a chance for audience participationAny secret whistlers, this is your time to shine”.

Better Together track 3 on CALLAGHAN. The LRB choir did a fine job here even without rehearsal.

Back to the piano now for a song from CALLAGHAN’S ACOUSTIC COFFEE HOUSE.

“Recorded in a similar situation to tonight with a striped down performance”. Callaghan tells us. “My mother took me to see John Denver when I was young, and I decided to record Annie’s Song”. “Which is my favourite song of John’s”.

Again, another pin drop moment that drew a huge appreciation.

“Now we have a brand-new song off the album. This was inspired by a dream where I had a conversation with someone I have lost it all felt so real and on asking others, they had also had this same amazing experience. I think that even if somebody is gone, they are not really gone from you”.

If You Miss Me. Track 12 from CALLAGHAN.

Callaghan, back to the Guitar again says. “I feel on the last night of the tour we should go really wild, but we haven’t slept for a week and a half, and if we had one drink now, we would be gone”. Laughs…

Callaghan’s husband is the tour manager and always specifies cans of Boddingtons (His Favourite Beer) Kit Kats and Crisps as a rider. “Could you think of anything less healthy” asks Callaghan. “He doesn’t even ask us at all”. Laughs…

Next “This is the title track of the new EP SKIN ON SKIN about the importance of connecting with people face to face in the age of social media”. Skin on Skin.

“The next song also from the latest EP was recorded with a gospel feel”, Says Callaghan. “We were fortunate to employ Lewis Price, a past lead vocalist from the Temptations and the Drifters, and an amazing singer, listen out for him on the recording. Its positive song about keeping going with a less than positive title The End of The World”. Track 2 on CALLAGHAN.

That was beautiful as Callahan’s voice drifted across the barn.

A shout out to Barbara Nesbitt followed. More applauses.

“This next song took me across the pond, so I re-recorded it for my second album.  It’s a bit of an anthem for me now.

I have been to 47 states now with only Alaska, Hawaii and North Dakota to do.  That will be some tour” laughs… “Dan has been to all 50, but he was born over there is his excuse”. Laughs…  “BBC Radio 2 got behind the song and made it possible for me to come back and tour here in the UK. It’s called Best Year”. ‘I feel good time coming, I see the sun rising’, is the lovely lyric that’s so easy to sing along to.

“We are on our last song tonight, but I’ll let you in on a secret” says Callaghan. “If you go crazy at the end, maybe I’ll do another”, she says to knowing laughs all around.

Callaghan has a prize draw with her email list for some hand-written lyrics to any song of your own choosing, “as long as it’s one of my songs” she adds, laughs…

She is playing some festivals this year including The British Summertime festival in Hyde Park on the same bill as Paul Simon and James Taylor.

“How can I meet James Taylor” She asks, “I’m formulating my plans as I am such a big fan”.

I for one think that if he hears Callaghan perform like she did tonight, she won’t need to make any plans for the meeting.

We don’t need to change the world is next. A positive song about having more fun and worrying less with audience participation at the end.

Singing along and clapping, we are all in the band again for the big finish.

Thanks, must also go to Dan Snyder for his lovely supportive playing as we all applaud for more whilst J comes up to sing? Nope, he is reading out his thank you notices.

This next song was a stunning highlight to the evening as Callaghan, solo on the piano, played Over the Rainbow after offering her personal thank yous to all. Written in 1939 by E.Y. Harburg and covered by so many people, “it is my favourite song” she says.

Wow! That was a genuine showstopper and as I was told later, moving people to tears and ending the evening with another well-earned standing ovation.

The sound tonight was exquisite and overseen by Simon Allen and his team.

Editor: Thanks to the wonderful performing artists, CALLAGHAN, BARBARA NESBITT and a big shout to the superb side musicians Dan Snyder keys, bvs with Callaghan and Ben Jones guitar, bvs for Barbara Nesbitt. Everyone involved with the production:   Simon Allen sound engineer, with Andy Baldwin; The fabulous little rabbit team of Chris Kyan on video cameras and setup, Stan and Fran, Richard and Sally, Brian and Chris, Nigel and Helen, Chris and Karen and Cris.

Picture credits: Nick & Chris
Video cameras: Chris

To our guests,  big thanks for supporting live music and hope to see everyone on Saturday 02 June when we are thrilled to host and welcome back AMA Artist of the Year 2018  EMILY BAKER  | Hollie Rogers  | Emily Faye.

Jonathan and Lyn, Terry and all at LRB.

Posted in Gig Reviews