Samamidon – Live at the Bowery, Edinburgh, Sunday 11th January 2009

Samamidon – Wild Bill Jones (Live at the Bowery, Edinburgh) from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.  If this is loading too slowly, click the little ‘HD is On’ button on the right of the picture and it will turn of High Definition, which should be a lot faster.

This live review is mostly going to contain video footage.  Partly because I reviewed a live Samamidon performance at this very venue really quite recently, and partly because the videos will explain so much better what I actually have to say myself.

When Samanidon plays it reminds me how narrow our perception of music and the performance of music can become.  As he plays, Sam interrupts the songs with asides, surreal anecdotes, bits of other songs, and all manner of other bits and pieces.  Maybe it’s because in the folk traditions in which he was raised, where the music is frequently part of the conversation, not some separate, sacrosanct entity to be treated with kid gloves and a false sense of idolatry, but I can’t speak for him on that score.

Neil from Meursault suggested that his unpredictable conversational detours actually fit quite well with the way he plays the fiddle – as rooted in free jazz as in the traditional reels he uses it to explode so brilliantly.  The anchor for all this eccentricity is provided by the simple loveliness of his reinterpretations of old folk tunes, almost as if there is only so much uncertainty we can collectively cope with.

As live shows go, his is one of my favourite.  That knack for bringing the audience to the verge of nervous giggles every once in a while, before plunging them back into the cooling balm of gently plucked banjo and his wonderfully cracked voice, creates a kind of emotional dynamic over the evening that would never expect from something as simple as a young lad playing folk songs on his own all night.

Have a look at the videos below to see what I am on about.  I’d recommend O Death and Wild Bill Jones for the loveliness, and A-Roving on a Winter’s Night and Fiddle Improv for the more unusual side of the performance.  There’s one more song – Sugar Baby, from his latest album All is Well – posted on both the Song, by Toad Vimeo page and on the YouTube page.  Oh, and as the embedded videos are in HD format they will take a while to load, but if this is proving tedious, just click on the ‘HD is On’ icon on the right of the picture and it should go a lot quicker.

Samamidon – Saro

Samamidon – Sons of Levi

Samamidon – Fiddle Improv. (Live at the Bowery, Edinburgh) from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

Samamidon – O Death (Live at the Bowery, Edinburgh) from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

Samamidon – A-Roving on a Winter’s Night (Live at the Bowery, Edinburgh) from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

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