Live Reviews

Tennessee Waltz – Over Hulton Folk Club: Live Review

The duo of Jimmy Rae and Sarah-Lou Fletcher dispels the view that some have that country music is all about grim bad luck songs . It’s not, this harmonious couple gripped the audience with much cheer and sensitive respectful tributes and original self penned songs.

Firstly, singing at a open Mic session and playing live to an audience, miked up and sound checked is a totally different experience .  Brian Jones, organiser of the monthly sing a round, courageously volunteered for a support spot. He bravely attempted to adjust from the former to the latter and had a real good stab at it. His set of well known standards including In My Liverpool Home, Calaedonia, If I Were A Carpenter, Manchester Rambler gave us a half hour of mixed folk tunes to sing a long to and warmed us up for the headliners Tennessee Waltz

The last time I saw Tennessee Waltz  they were hanging on to their instruments and music before they were whisked up the River Dee on a stormy day in Chester. Incredibly less tranquil conditions were experienced at the first OHFC  live music night after the summer break.

This was their debut appearance at Over Hulton and surely it will not be their last. Although the audience wasn’t one man and his dog, possibly due to the steamy weather, it was a few more people and a dog. Edgar the well trained guide dog behaved by not barking during the opening number One of the Good Guys. The close harmonic relationship both matrimony and vocally was  immediately evident impressing human listeners too.

The evening was sprinkled  with loving relationship themed songs and with Jimmy combining his harmonica skills and guitar skills they sang Tomorrow Night. Another love song, Just In Time, expressed how making the right choice  can result in a magical experience with one part of the song  having holy inspiration during a trip to Anglesey.

Their tribute to the Everly Brothers who also were famed for  close harmonies was made with a cheery rendition of Walk Right Back. When they did perform covers it was pleasing to hear their own arrangement, this continued with Sarah beautifully singing Patsy Cline’s Crazy. During which Jimmy ’s short refrains added a lovely touch.

Visiting  Jimmy’s first album Deliverance saw a snapshot of two unpleasant parts of  his past, the hardship of inner city life in the 80’s was painted in One Good Reason and in Stick Your Rotten Job we had a country style romp to recall his short lived employment in a bar.

Willie Nelson’s influence stuck out clearly during I Wish You Everything, the story of an amicable parting. Sarah Lou showed that she is no slouch of a song writer too with a delightful tune A Different Road. Although most of the original songs tonight came from Jimmy Rae’s early albums, on this evidence one hopes that future releases will be more of a combined effort.

Strong Liverpudlians at heart are never far away from the fab four and their boppy arrangement of  I’ve just Seen  A Face was introduced with a very passable Macca impersonation. A reference to the Pool was also made in the romantic sounding Under The Mersey Moon. It’s romantic connotation led to an accepted marriage proposal although the song gave us a picture of resilience to tough times. 

I’m A One Cowboy Cowgirl had a huge helping of Dolly Parton style and was a lively start to the second set which followed the interval during which Jimmy won a raffle prize. Resisting the TW tote bag or CD he opted for the custard creams. Another jaunty song, Where Is Love, was accompanied by harmonica,  a successful battle with an errant crisp flake was easily overcome.

A sensitive tribute to  Eddie Cochrane in Eddie’s Guitar told the emotional story of Eddie’s mum hanging onto his much travelled guitar and was appropriately followed by a raunchy Summertime Blues. Tennessee Waltz’s arrangement of Donavan’s Catch the Wind included some wonderful echoing guitar effects and was followed by an arrangement of Edwina Hayes’ Feel Like Home To Me. Both these artistes’  songs like many of the covers done tonight are easy to sing a long to but to perform to a live audience well  takes skill and huge courage to pull it off. They did.

These Boots inspired by the need to replace some well worn boots  appropriately had a Rickie Nelson  flavour considering he abandoned his  rocky image borne from songs like Hello Mary Lou which These Boots replicated. The set ended with the song which bears the duo’s name. Strangely this is a much requested song when they play weddings as it is a song about cheating on  loved one.

They then closed the night with a song for all to sing along to, Country Roads, which ended a super evening of their own original material and paying respects to many  musical legends, all stylishly delivered.

Tennessee Waltz: Website / X / Facebook

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