Bonnie Dobson
One of the lost voices of the 1960’s folk generation gave a rare public performance when Bonnie Dobson, and her band played to a select, but attentive audience at Lichfield Guildhall. The Canadian born singer song-writer played some of her own songs as well as choice covers during a concert that had something for everything, whether or not that was blues, folk, country, swing, ballads, Appalachian bluegrass or gospel accapella singing of the highest order.
Bonnie Dobson
As well as Bonnie on lead vocals and guitar, her band featured fiddler Ben Paley, guitarist Ben Philipson, Jonny Bridgewood on double bass, drummer Dave Morgan, the internationally known BJ Cole on pedal steel guitar and dobro, and Ruth Tidmarsh on backing vocals. The first set started with the light blues of I Got Stung, the pedal steel and fiddle mixing pleasingly well together. Much of the music relied on creating an atmosphere, and the combination of the musicians created a brooding soundscape to the long form ballads of Peter Amberley and the murder ballad Winter’s Going. A lighter tone was achieved for the dobro-powered country swing of Living on Plastic, while a similar mood was maintained for the JJ Cale like Southern Bound and Born in the Country. Two complicated ballads in Rainy Windows and Dreaming closed the set, with the ethereal nature of the pedal steel guitar, violin, and electric guitar parts adding to the poignancy contained within the lyrics. A more serious, confrontational sound was heard during the second half, with the anti-war song Who Are These Men? being a particularly hard hitting message song. Her best-known song Morning Dew was delivered in a bombastic arrangement that did not completely convince, but was an interesting way of delivering the song, while Fred Neil, who had the original hit with Morning Dew, was well represented with a fine reading of one of his best known songs, Everybody’s Talking. However, one of the highlights of the evening was the first encore, a fine interpretative acappela reading of the old traditional piece Dink’s Song with Bonnie’s Dobson’s pitch perfect, pure and strong voice dovetailing perfectly with the acoustics in the Guildhall.