Review: Urban Folk Quartet, Lowdham Village Hall, by Mark Salter
When the Urban Folk Quartet (UFQ) played Lowdham Village Hall it was hard to know whether they were subverting the genre or simply pushing the boundaries.
The performance was largely instrumental and, although many of the tunes drew on the Celtic tradition, UFQ created a unique sound.
Percussionist Tom Chapman eschewed drum kits, creating his range of funky back-beats on cajon, cymbals, foot-pedal block, drum and a ubiquitous triangle.
Many numbers featured staccato plucking on stringed instruments, adding to the quirky nature of the show. One punter was overheard in the interval, "Whatever it is, it's entertaining!"
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UFQ consist of the aforementioned Chapman, Frank Moon (guitar and oud – a bouzouki-like instrument hailing from the Middle-East), Paloma Trigs (fiddle) and consummate front-man, Joe Broughton (fiddle, guitar and mandolin).
Over some dozen instrumentals/tune-sets, the Quartet mesmerised the crowd as well as getting them dancing, clapping and stomping along in a 'chair ceilidh/rave'.
Punctuating the instrumentals were two vocals. Dink's Song, originally collected from an African-American woman at the start of the 20th century, was given a thoroughly modern spin with a funky, calypso-like accompaniment. Whereas, the rendition of traditional, Swallow, could be seen as reminiscent of Nick Drake.
Amongst the Celtic flavours were a Spanish Polka, Polca de Aeeiras, Zephyr (which could easily be tangoed to on Strictly), Bulgarian, Samba de Ankara and a totally percussive tune involving all of the group.
The encore, Cajun Beancurd, took frantic speed fiddle to Olympic proportions – an epic finale to an exuberant evening.