Richard Dawson - Glad Cafe, Glasgow, Sat 21 Sep 2013
Tyneside hero light years away from your average earnest troubadour
This article is from 2013.
The British folk tradition continues to be a rich source of inspiration for artists raised in the experimental underground. There's little direct reference to the tradition in Howie Reeve's opening set, but there's a case for arguing that his conversational snapshots and prog-punk bass runs are a kind of DIY folk music. Rafe Fitzpatrick (fiddle wiz for Tattie Toes and Alasdair Roberts) and dada percussionist Fritz Welch explode folk forms in a superb set of clatter and saw, suggesting a weirdo UK improv take on the free-jazz violin of the late, great Billy Bang.
Bushy of beard and childlike of gait, Tyneside hero Richard Dawson takes to the stage, drinking the blood-red wine. Playing the stumblebum raconteur, he rambles hilariously about the joys of wearing shorts and talks to an invisible ghost horse. He picks at a flower pot, munching on the bitter petals, before offering them around. There's a method to this madness, however, for his ballads of the old north, industrial and rural, are haunted by spirits. A harrowing knacker's yard tale, 'Poor Old Horse', is one of Dawson's most arresting unaccompanied songs, with his ragged, open-voiced baritone, bringing a palpable sense of anger and sorrow. 'The Ghost of a Tree' finds the uncanny in a bleak winter landscape, while 'The Brisk Lad' tells of an outlaw on the moors. Dawson is an inventive guitarist too, picking out Martin Carthy-meets-Beefheart instrumentals through rusted pale amp buzz. Light years away from your average earnest troubadour, Dawson is an eccentric but fierce talent.