Light Falls Forward in Dark November

I’m no scientist but I do know two things: Light Falls Forward, and it also returns to original sources. I didn’t learn this from a Science Professor, but from Charles and Naomi – The duo made a triumphant return to Bonn Folk Club on Friday under the name, you guessed it, Light Falls Forward

It being the November meet, light wasn’t actually falling anywhere as I struggled to find my way along the path leading to Haus Müllestumpe for the latest meet of Bonns ever growing Folk Club.

The welcoming lights of the restaurant also revealed that lots of bottoms were already planted firmly on seats, and indeed the stack of reserve chairs in the entrance was decreasing by the minute along with available space to actually pitch the chair once you had it.

The rush of customers on the first Friday of every month has caused Haus Müllestumpe to scratch heads in an effort to ensure that orders are taken and paid for despite the ever growing audience numbers – this month saw a ticket to be filled in and taken to the bar by everyone but as not everyone had tickets and not too many people really knew their purpose I suspect this might be a work in progress.

That might also be said of Bonn Folk Club itself. Despite the catering challenges the venue seems to have established itself with both audience and performers alike. Indeed the open philosophy of Mullestümpe perfectly reflects the open philosophy of the Folk Club that inhabits it and this month was no exception.

This might not be Beale Street, but John Harrison brought a touch of the Urban Blues and his resonator guitar to open things up. ‘Troubled in Mind’ is one of those songs that really doesn’t have an owner in popular consciousness, it’s one of the first real Blues songs I heard (in my case from Memphis Slim). Robert Johnsons ’32-20 Blues’ captures the harsh reality that made Urban Blues different or as John pointed out “Going back in time most songs are written about love, but in the Blues there was always another element – one of danger. In this case a 32-20 calibre cartridge” It was introduced by Winchester as a small game cartridge – but crossed lovers were obviously considered ‘small game’ in Johnsons Blues World. Johns trip down the Blues memory lane this evening actually finished where the trip officially started – WC Handys ‘St Louis Blues’ certainly wasn’t the first ever Blues song but it is acknowledged as the first one to be named as such. Written in 1914 it is said to have inspired the foxtrot and certainly proved to be a golden melody for Handy rather than a Blue one since even at the time of his death in 1958 he was still receiving royalties for the song of up to $25.000 a year. John Harrison is only receiving thunderous applause for his version tonight, but it’s well deserved as there is a fair bit of complicated picking in what also became a Jazz standard.

Jenny M and Volker (aka Faber & Feels) brought the drama level down again after Johns excursion into 32-20 territory with some excellent piano playing from Volker and laid back singing by Jenny.  I especially liked the flourish of piano on ‘Be Still My Heart’ and emotional singing on Oleta Adams’ ‘Get Here’ and Joni Mitchells ‘Both Sides Now’. A first appearance by the two at Folk Club, but they quickly slotted in to deliver an enjoyable set and hopefully will be back again – maybe with some own compositions if my conversation with Volker was correct.  I hope so.

Next up Act was listed by John as ‘Bert Kerstin & Friends’. It quickly turned out that half the audience seemed to be ‘friends’ and I started to think there would be more people making music for this set than actually hearing it. Once they were all organized they set about organizing those of us in the audience. It all worked too, as we sang out a mixture of ‘Whole World in his Hands’ and ‘Go Tell it on the Mountain’ that all sounded very coherent – at least whist we were singing it. If there’s video available then I may have to take that back. It was  a relief though to let the musicians themselves take over again for ‘Island in the Sun’ which proved a welcome (holiday) break.

As always in a Folk Club evening there were more acts than paper for me to put pen to. Ralf Klein was a bit concerned that people would talk over his delicate Flamenco Guitar playing and seemed momentarily surprised when, after barely three notes, a total hush descended on the room to hear his quite magical playing. If only all musicians were that humble about their talents. Mario Dompke is a former MC of the Mausefalle ‘Stand-Up Microphone evening but also hides a wealth of talent under a humble smile. His lyrics and fingerpicking style are ‘treff-sicher’ as they say in Germany – spot-on.   A singer-songwriter in the best of the old tradition,  Mario related how even worries over the health of loved ones can provide song material as in his moving ‘Schau mir in die Augen’. Really a showman who could very easily be Star Act for the evening – over to you Mr Harrison/Mr Perry.

Finally, a word of praise to Barry for Opening Part two in the state of total adversity, whilst people were returning from the break, and, fearlessly aided by fellow Folk Clubbers got louder and louder until everyone was with him again for ‘You Got a Friend’ (Barry certainly had some to get through that!)

Over the evening there were two sets from main guests Light Falls Forward, Their cover of Neil Young’s ‘Old Man’ was enjoyable, but the duo are really at their best mixing their own downbeat lyrics with uplifting messages as on the new track ‘Weight of the World’ sung by Charlie with the duos typical downbeat style for upbeat messages: “I’ll share the way with you. Won’t let it break in two”.

Light Falls Forward is Naomi Paget and Charlie Evans from London. ‘Acoustic Indie’ is the description they offer of their music on Facebook.   Acoustic is of course a pre-requisite of playing at Bonn Folk Club, but the Indie bit is the key to this duos strength. Their sound is based on an almost hypnotic acoustic backbeat from Charie and a similarly hypnotic vocal style from Naomi. On their debut disc there’s a bit more ‘whack’ to the music courtesy of a drum, string quartet and synths by Charlie,  here in Bonn though it’s very much more down-key, melancholic even, as on ‘Little Things‘ and my favourite LFF song of all ‘Here and Now’ with it’s perfect sense of strength in emptiness:  The singer is weary but still gives strength to her lover:

“There is no-one else but me, here now.

And that is all that counts, that is all you need to know”

It’s a wonderful song and I’m pleased to read the BBC’s Tom Robinson has picked up on the band for a recent compilation podcast. They really are a super duo with a unique sound – and a unique name, which is where my review started. Fearing a barrage of scientific data I put the question to Charlie during the break. What does ‘Light Falls Forward’ actually mean Charlie? It turns out that they needed a name and in desperation for ideas tried writing down single words that they liked. The result, after more than a few attempts, was ‘Light Falls Forward’. An imaginative name for an imaginative duo. There’s a new disc out early next year (we had some tasters from it at the Club) and it should be well worth a spin. Hopefully, after it comes out Naomi and Charlie will still find time in their calendar to visit Bonn.

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