Winter is most definitely here. Stepping off the freezing street and into the relaxed, welcoming warmth of the Folklore Rooms (upstairs at the Quadrant) sets the tone for what is to come. YDN station DJ and our host for the evening Gillian Fischer is a willing compere and as the room fills we’re away.
First up is Brighton singer-songwriter Claire Atherton. She’s accompanied on stage by her tremolo-addicted guitarist Lewis Pugh and what follows is a set of original songs and well chosen covers as Atherton showcases her not inconsiderable talents. Her sound is light, smooth and soulful and her vocal performance is flawless. Debut single ‘Background’ is a highlight and her cover of Corinne Bailey Rae’s ‘Put Your Records On’ showcases both genuine ability and an affinity with the source material. Although she’s possibly constrained by the relaxed, lounged-up stylings of this show, Atherton gives us brief hints of a more powerful performer which suggests that catching her on a larger stage could reveal an artist with a very big voice indeed.
Darren Jones arrives in town from Canvey Island via Southend-on-Sea. And judging by his set, quite a few other places too. Perched alone on a stool with his beat-up Spanish guitar, Jones and his loop pedals take us on a journey across the globe, from east coast England to West Coast USA, Mexico, Africa, the Caribbean and beyond. His voice is pure Americana; a gravelly, muscular delivery that sits perfectly over the genre-hopping guitar, self-generated samples, rhythms, basslines and beats. He has perfected the barfly blues approach of the ever-touring solo performer and he has an easy stage presence, warm humour and a sweet innocence that connects him quickly to his audience.
Jones’s virtuoso guitar playing is mariachi-tastic as he picks, plucks and strums his way through the evening and one suspects that old acoustic is his very best friend in the world. He finishes with a cover of Slim Harpo’s ‘Hip Shake’ and it is a song that perfectly captures his style; laconic and laid-back but with more than a little purpose.
Having been warmed right up by the twinkling lights, gentle hip shaking, foot tapping and hand clapping that tonight’s rather homely show has inspired, it makes staggering back out into the dark and icy November night a far more tolerable proposition.
The Folklore Rooms, Wednesday 24th November 2021