Review: Ian Siegal & Jimbo Mathus – Goin’ Up The Country at Worthenbury Village Hall: Friday, 14th November

Posted on: Sunday, Nov 16, 2014


On the 17th anniversary of Pete Evans, Paul Taylor and Ian Williams putting on gigs in the Wrexham area – first as Hookers Blues Club, now Goin’ Up The Country – it was fitting that the brilliantly high standard was maintained by this pairing of our own award-winning bluesman Ian Siegal and the multi-talented character Jimbo Mathus, from Mississippi . . . writer, singer, guitarist and producer.

The intimate ‘juke joint’ that is Worthenbury Village Hall was sold out as the duo performed two sets, over two hours or so, mixing their own songs with some superb old tunes that delighted the audience from the start to finish, with some blues, folk, country, gospel and more! The all-acoustic evening was a treat with some storytelling and anecdotes interspersed among the songs, with no lack of humour from both Messrs. Siegal and Mathus!

First set highlights were plentiful, from the opening ‘cowboy’ song, “The Silver Spurs”, taken from Ian Siegal’s “The Dust” album, and more recent numbers from “The Picnic Sessions”, recorded in North Mississippi and apart from featuring Jimbo Mathus, also has Cody and Luther Dickinson and the great Alvin Youngblood Heart on it. From the new release a couple of standouts were the gorgeous Townes Van Zandt song, “Heavenly Houseboat Blues”; and also “Gallo Del Cielo”, brilliantly performed and sung by Ian Siegal, and penned by Tom Russell.


A funny tale was told that on his Mississippi visits the locals have trouble with Ian Siegal’s first name, and that he is referred to as “Overseas”, which led to the writing of the ‘talking blues’ of “Talking Overseas Pirate Blues”. Other treats to prominently feature Ian Siegal were a couple of tunes from “Candy Store Kid” . . . the lovely “Earlie Grace Jnr” and a stripped down, as it was intended orginally, version of “The Fear”.

Jimbo Mathus has a vast catalogue to call on and the treats were plentiful, from the rousing “In The Garden” to the the lovely “Tallahatchie” . . . him and Ian Siegal – accompanying themselves on acoustic guitar, resonator, mandolin and harmonica – also had fun on some real old songs, including “The Ballad of Jessie James” and “Casey Jones”, and the much-demanded encore saw a part-audience sing-along on Ewan McColl’s often-covered “Dirty Old Town” . . . a brilliant end to a superbly entertaining night from two great musicians.

It’s apparently 16 years since Jimbo Mathus last visited Europe . . . hopefully, after this tour, he’ll be back a lot sooner!


(Pictures: Ken Peace)

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