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molly mainEvocative concert from talented Molly and Jack in unique  church setting

Hastings’ annual Jack in the Green is renowned for its May Day parade and its morris dancing, but the four-day programme always throws up a handful of good concerts too, and that is before you even get to the Hastings Folk Fest in the week that follows. One of the highlights of JitG this year was Molly Evans and Jack Rutter performing in St Clement’s Church in the Old Town – HOT correspondent Darren Johnson spent a congenial evening enjoying their concert.

Molly Evans is an upcoming traditional singer from Cheshire who has just released a well-received album. Jack Rutter, meanwhile, is one third of folk trio (and one-time Young Folk Award winners) Moore Moss Rutter. Evans and Rutter have been playing together now some two years and Rutter, along with his colleague Archie Churchill Moss, plays on Evans’ album.

Evans has been immersed in traditional song since being carted around folk festivals as a tiny child, she tells us. That love and passion for traditional song shines through, both in her between-song chat and in her singing itself.

Drawing on Alan Garner

However, perhaps even more fascinating this evening is her reworking of material from children’s fantasy author and folklorist Alan Garner, and it is these songs that form the basis of her new album and much of the set tonight. Folklore tales and poems collected by Garner as well as extracts from some of his own novels have been given a new setting and a new life by Evans. We are soon transported into a world of faery kings, hobgoblins, mysterious woods and running hares.

Evans has a strong and distinctive, yet really beautiful voice, and one of the things I particularly liked was her lovely flat northern vowel sounds. If you are singing about Cheshire farmers’ daughters or gruesome 18th century northern folklore tales, you don’t really want to be doing it in traditional BBC English, do you?

Rutter, too, is an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist (playing guitar, bouzouki and concertina this evening) and provides wonderfully atmospheric musical accompaniment to Evans’ vocals.

There is also something rather special about performing material of this type in a beautiful cavernous old church. When Rutter puts his guitar down and picks up his accordion, its sound absolutely fills the building in quite a spectacular way.

For Jack in the Green weekend you could hardly have asked for more suitably evocative material from two really talented performers.

Molly Evans and Jack Rutter were playing at St Clement’s Church on Saturday 29 April. Molly’s new album, Deep Time and Narrow Space, came out in April.

Posted 16:10 Wednesday, May 3, 2017 In: Music & Sound

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