A live gig at Saffron Hall, everyone is excited – even more so as this is their debut EP ‘Making Tracks’ release night for James White and the Wild Fire.
This band is a ‘musical blend of Country, Bluegrass, Rock and Americana’ which is true…..but it forgets to mention a sprinkle of magic.With foot-tapping blue-grassy country catchy tunes, I mean you can’t beat a banjo in any circumstance and team that up with a double bass – you’ve got something. It’s no wonder they reached Number One in the Amazon charts for Country and Folk while unmanaged and unsigned. These are guys you need to change your plans to go and see.
Who are they?:
James White – Guitar/Vocals
Lee Dorrington – Cajon
Brooke Bond – Double Bass
Ed Goldsmith – Banjo
The wonderful mix of instruments was a total delight and brought a dynamic which was joyful and filled the less than half- capacity (due to COVID restrictions) venue of Saffron Hall.
We kicked off with ‘Don’t Look Back’ – a happy jolly ditty with a foot-tapping beat. A change to a rock guitar and a song about getting drunk and trying to get home with a girl – his words not mine – and yes, you really could imagine that scene at the end of a night and begging for someone to take you home with that track spurring you on.
I was quite impressed with the one-handed guitar riffs – and with a banjo in the background I’m not sure I’ve seen/heard that combination before. Uniquely charming and gratifyingly amazing.
The songs were a delightful mix of fast, rocky, county and then we had a lovely duo with the double bass and the guitar on a song he wrote for his ex-fiancé, it was beautiful as it was filled with emotion.
I enjoyed all the songs however ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night’ was my favourite as back to the acoustic guitar and probably showed off James’s voice the best.
We had a change of banjo for the last song, which was partially about cocaine, upbeat and telling us how it is.
There was no backing singing by the other musicians, however I’m not sure we noticed as this mix of instruments sounded far more than only 4 of them!
Of course, there was an encore – the live session was being recorded for a live release and yes there was an (un)planned encore after we rapturously cheered them back onto the stage. The encore song was upbeat with enjoyable fast string work and then the musical break was the banjo and the double bass – oh it was like a piece of serenity and immensely delightful on the ears and what I really liked was it went on for far longer than expected for a break. Then slowing and mesmerizingly built up again as the other instruments joined in and the speed increased. I could probably listen to that break piece all day long.
James is an engaging front man and has a non-nonsense voice which is what you need for this style and combination of instruments. No cheap thrills and trills, just honest raw singing from the heart. With the added magic of totally loving what he is doing.
The musicianship of all of these guys was second to none and I loved how Brook on the double bass also used the bow to mix things up. The guys have an innate connection with each other on stage and it was completely absorbing.
Support was from Joe Bailey and self-confessed wedding singer with a wonderful falsetto. Covers including Prince, Tina Turner with his own, nice arrangements. He had a strong voice, yet able to be soft and delicate when needed. He did open with one of his own songs.
It was lovely to see Saffron Hall supporting local talent. The sound in the hall is excellent, even with the limited- capacity crowd.
James White and The Wild Fire are certainly a band to keep an eye on.
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This review first appeared on GrapevineLIVE
Photo credit Mart’s Art Photography