Saturday, 1 February 2014

From Wales ( back in time ) to Wembley, i give you Zervas and Pepper


We have lost many a folk legend in recent times. The Ghost of John Martyn  seems to possess the young Scot support tonight Adam Holmes. Low broody vocals, delicate finger picking, close your eyes and you would think Martyn was back with us. Adam sings dark Folk tinged songs,  joking in between with amusing deadpan banter " This is the happiest song in the set " then later "This is the saddest song in the set ". Songs of love, broken relationships and one he says on Fire in the sun "This one is about me breaking her heart " Later he is joined by a bassist called Alex. The songs lyrical content may be a bit cold and hard but they're uplifting none the less. He jokes later " This has a catchy chorus, don't sing along, it puts me off" He finishes his impressive set with a song about his two favorite places  "Mother Oak, about Mother Indian ( curry house ) & and Royal oak ( local pub ) A talented young man wearing his influences firmly on his sleeve. One to watch out for, especially with his band:

 Last year the stunning ballroom style Voodoo Rooms played host to one rising country star Linda Ortega, in tow as support, a new welsh Folk rock duo Zervas and Pepper.

This was their first tour outside of their native Wales. There was a real buzz surrounding them and since then they have gone from strength to strength. Tonight they are back but as a headline act armed with new songs to play from excellent new second album Lifebringer:

A skeleton crew down from the usual 6-piece to just the main songwriting partner's Kathryn Pepper and Paul Zervas. 

The busy venue with it's candlelit table's and attentive audience are warmed up and ready . The duo begin with the apt You must be doing something right and One man Show. During this a door creaks and Paul jokes " That squeaky door was in key ". Paul and Kathryn make us feel relaxed with their stories, like a gig with friends by friends. It's stripped back and intimate but we're loving it, hanging on to every word. New album opener Buffalo Crow is next . The duo both share the vocal duties and together produce lush harmonies. From a touch of country to Fleetwood Mac sounding Sure Fire Bet to what Kathryn introduces us to as "Our Pop Song " Starting over. 

This week as many know we lost another Legendary Musician / Songwriter and defiant civil rights icon Pete Seeger.

Glasgow was holding their annual Celtic connections festival;  Zervas and Pepper were there along with Seth Lakeman Rab Noakes when the tragic news broke out and in respect they covered live on Radio 2 one of his best loved songs. Tonight in Edinburgh the duo play it for us Deportee, a highly respectable cover ( done him proud )

They come to the end of their set during which you could hear a pin drop, they reach the stunning Epic Cigar Store Indian. Best enjoyed as the duo say with a full strength 6-piece but still holding it's own with Paul flying all over his acoustic and Kathryn giving it all. They finish with Living in a small town. One track i can relate too coming from one myself. 

They tell us this was a trying out the new material gig and plan to return with full band, one date that will be firmly etched in my gigging diary. A band with a promising career ahead and one you should get on to, glad i did.

I manage a quick chat with Duo before they head back over to Glasgow for more gig's.

Paul sipping away at his glass I ask " What's your drink of choice? " P " Bourbon " Me " Not Whisky ? " He goes on to tell me how he winds his band mates up on planes by ordering a single malt and a can of coke. Unknowing to fellow band he has a cheap blend as well he uses to mix. Phew!  Single malt and coke ? Sacrilege in these parts.

Kathryn joins us. We talk about the uncanny similarity to John Martyn of Adam Holmes. Paul " We talked in great length with Adam , swapping stories " K " There's been a few horror stories about Martyn but our drummer worked with him and never had a bad word to say about him " P " Adam has just finished recorded his album with John Wood of Nick drake fame " He goes on to say " We met Martyn backstage and gave our first E.P to him, apparently he jammed along with it and enjoyed it, so much so he wanted us to support him " P & K " Sadly he passed away before that could happen. We would have loved to have done at least one show"

We talk about popular music, their sound and influences. Kathryn " We are on the fringe of Folk, the Celtic connections festival is mainly a Folk event but we walk the fine line , there's Country, Americana and a touch of Prog about us " Carrying on with " Our songs are very sophisticated with complex chords"

Paul tells me about his history with the guitar, beginning his journey aged 15. " I learned the instrument purely to play along with my songwriting" K " I myself play as well " going on to say " We met open mic's in Cardiff " I ask what was the first tune that brought them together? P " The first record we sang together was Neil Young - Tell me why "

Paul " We were in a specialist cover band playing Little Feat stuff and The Band - The Weight"

 K " We both loved the same album tracks and covers we agreed to play " and " We are definitely album people " A couple after my own musical heart.

Me " I first discovered you on 6 Music and your live session was voted by 6 as a highlight of 2013" K " it was a big session for us, actually our first" P " Our bass player had a gig the night before, never slept but made the session" K " We popped up from nowhere, our sound is so different from any thing on the radio at the moment "

Me " Tell me about your recent gig's in India, any highlights? " K & P " They put us westerners to shame, we  played the NH 7 Festival following a Bollywood act just outside Bangalore, the turn out was incredible. We went down well, we always tell the audience were we are in our career" You can read about their India adventures here

Me : "I hear Fleetwood Mac in your songs especially Sure Fire bet , if you could pick your favorite between Tango In The Night and Rumours ? " Both agree " Rumours " Though Kathryn comments " Tango has Little Lies " P " Their a big one for us, similar in how we bring in some country, their not restricted"  We all agree the Early Peter Green Blues band is excellent especially Oh Well One of my all time top guitarists.

Me " Neil Young , Harvest or After The Gold Rush ? " P & K " Gold Rush. It's more Gritty, though some tunes off Harvest like Old Man could be off Gold rush "

Me " If Marty McFly turned up in his delorean and said he could take you back to any Musical Moment in time or a gig you could play, which one ? " P " 1974 Wembley  : Crosby, stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell, The Band and Jesse Colin Young "

I Finish with one more question " Have you ever been on a Marrakesh Express ? " P & K " No, but in India we went on something similar. " I joke maybe you could write a follow up tune. P " We could call it  Madhya Pradesh Express " We finish the interview laughing. Well we laugh but you might have just got an exclusive new tune title. Watch this space...

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