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One More Parade

I've already mentioned my fondness for Songkick, which alerts you to gigs by artists gleaned from your iTunes data. I keep meaning to go through its list and remove those artists I only own one song by, or those who are no longer with us.

When it told me about a concert by Phil Ochs I smiled and rolled my eyes, since he died in 1976. But it turned out to be a Phil Ochs tribute evening, I Phil Therefore I Am, at the Twelve Bar Club, so I rolled along to check it out.

I hadn't heard of any of the performers, nor had I heard most of the songs; the evening focussed on Phil the songwriter rather than Phil the protest singer (or, as Bob Dylan would have it, Phil the 'fucking journalist').

There were eleven acts, mostly the one guy/girl and an acoustic guitar sort of thing I enjoy, all of whom performed one or two of Phil's songs and perhaps one of their own.

I noticed a guy apparently dressed as the Cate Blanchett incarnation of Dylan from I'm Not There, but it turns out that was just his thing. He did the first songs of the evening that I actually recognised, 'Celia' and 'The Bells', the latter a poem by Edgar Allen Poe set to music by Ochs.

Beforehand, he insisted on telling us exactly why 'The Bells' is such a clever poem as well as a great one. I was gratified when he later confirmed my suspicions by outing himself as an English graduate.

The celebrity of the night was Bob Rafkin, who at one time played guitar for Phil Ochs. He had the neat beard and gently worried face befitting someone who spent the 1960s hanging out in Greenwich Village; in short, the kind of folk musician I always want to take by the hand and lead home to look after.

After an interval, the four-piece Slate Islands did 'In The Heat Of The Summer', which their singer's smoky voice suited well, and a song of their own called I think 'Five Women' which I liked very much but sadly isn't available to play on their website.

The penultimate act was Simon Stanley Ward, who looked like Micky Dolenz in a cowboy hat and performed 'Joe Hill' rousingly, with country overtones.

After this, the quieter ending was slightly anticlimactic and I began to look forward to getting home. But the atmosphere was lovely, and the way the MC thanked us for turning up was most charming. Thank you, Phil Ochs, for your lyrics and for inspiring such a great evening!

Comments

Oh, good, Phil Ochs. He was impressive, so I'm glad that you're aware of him, even if the recommendation made you feel dubious. Yes, he died in 1976, but that doesn't mean that the issues he wrote and sang about have magically vanished. I didn't hear about him until 1986 or 1987, and didn't seek out his music until sometime after 2000, but I'm glad to have done so, and am glad others are still discovering him. :-)
It's my interest in Bob Dylan and Joan Baez that led me to seek out other protest singers; I've got very keen on Tom Paxton too.