Wille Edwards + Andy Quick live @ The Village Hall, Downderry, 11/01/2020

I have always loved the transformative powers of music and its ability to transport to another time, place or emotional space but tonight was something else altogether. Walking into a space that I’ve spent a number of days and nights in, I found myself amazed by the transformation from multipurpose hall to something between a Totnes café and a 60s New York Folk-Blues club. Lamps, bunting, pom-poms and hand-written signs all made for the perfect ambience, designed to encourage an evening of listening and musical appreciation.

Up first, in this sumptuous surrounding, was Andy Quick – a man more frequently seen fronting Westcountry legends Land of the Giants or his own Andy Quick Band. Sitting with one shoe off and some string ends bouncing wildly at the end of his guitar, Quick instantly struck up a rapport with sell out audience as he settled into his stride with a mix of blues, reggae, folk, Americana and roots. Mixing songs from his as yet unreleased acoustic album with stripped down versions of band favourites, Quick told tales of fatherhood, parties on the beach and pure love that held the attention and filled up the soul. This was somewhere between Jack Johnson, Finlay Quaye and Cosmo Jarvis which, on a windy night in Cornwall, is a very fine place to be indeed.
(l-r) Whitley, Edwards & Watson

After a short interval, main act Wille Edwards appeared through a black curtain at the back of the stage and immediately got to work on a varied and enthralling set. Switching between 6-string, 12-string and his trademark Weissenborn, Edwards also displayed huge vocal range moving from near-whispers to the kind of raucous rock vocals you normally only here from the likes of Joe Cocker, Chris Cornell or Gary Stringer. A great version of Chris Rea’s ‘Road to Hell’ nestled in among solo songs and songs that normally get the full band treatment when Wille is on tour with his bandits. ‘Irish Rose’, a song for Edwards’ sadly departed mother, brought a tear to more than one eye in the house and there were lyrical takes on the climate emergency, immigration and the simple pleasure of living near the coast. Musically, we had everything from introspective folk to foot stomping blues with Edwards leading the way through his tambourine and stomp box controlled by either foot. To cap off a fine evening, Edwards welcomed Tom Whitley (ex-Malavita) and Mark Watson (the Viewers) on to the stage for a few songs – the highlight being a gospel inspired sing-a-long final with Whitley on double-bass and Watson working an acoustic as well as he does his normal electric axe. There are, potentially, more of these evenings planned and, based on tonight, you’d be mad to miss the next one if you like excellent, original music performed in an intimate setting by superb musicians. Or you can stay at home and watch Casualty, it’s your choice.

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