I was in the Portway Fish Bar in Westbury High Street one evening a few weeks ago and while i was waiting for my cod and chips and curry sauce i read the adverts and posters on the wall and my eyes alighted on a flyer for a gig at the Cheese And Grain in Frome for The Imagined Village.What interested me was that Martin Carthy and his daughter Eliza were in the band.I had never seen Martin but i had admired his work for years.He is a legendary guitar player.I have seen Eliza at Glastonbury and she is brilliant.
"Hmm",i thought to myself,"That would be a good night out".
My friends Smithy and Sash said that they fancied going so i bought 4 tickets and last night at 7.00 we met up in the Ludlow Arms,had a quick pint and got in a taxi for Frome.When we arrived i was most disappointed to find the doors weren't open yet and there was a long queue outside waiting to go in.This put me in a bad mood.Why do they have to be so strict about opening the doors?,what if it had been raining?.Finally at just after 8.00 some jobsworth opened the door and we shuffled in.I managed to grab a table at the back while Smithy went to the bar.When he came back with the drinks he said it cost £16.90 for three pints and a wine for Kim.That added to my bad mood.It was a good job we had a table because the place filled up rapidly.I have seen quite a few bands at the Cheese & Grain such as Kate Rusby,Roy Harper,The Blockheads,Otway And Barrett,Melanie Safka,etc but this was easily the biggest crowd i have seen.There were several hundred people there.
We went outside for a ciggie while Smithy guarded the table and we returned for the longer second set.The whole band were on stage now and i think there were ten or eleven of them.What an ensemble!.The first song was called New York Trader with Jackie on vocals as well as Eliza.The two of them work really well together.Martin introduced the next song which was called My Son John and it was amazing.This featured a huge Indian drum played by Johnny Kalsi and really reminded me of The Afro Celt Sound System whose first album i bought years ago and Simon Emmerson from that band is in The Imagined Village and i think the whole project was his brainchild so he deserves a lot of credit for that.Then there was a song that i think was called Fisherman followed by The Sick Old Man.I had a walk up to the front during these songs and it was great to stand just a few feet away and admire the band in full flight.Eliza in particular really gets into it.Eliza and Jackie were superb in the Raggle Taggle Gypsies'O.Then a song called Nest (I think) penned by Jackie and Eliza and containing an extract from All The Pretty Little Horses.This band of multi-intrumentalists even featured a theramin which i first heard on the Beach Boys Good Vibrations.Then it was Winter Singing followed by a song i think written by the bass player called The Governer.This was followed by a twelve minute composition by Sheema Mukherjee.Very complex in seven and a half time and it shows the genius of Martin Carthy to attempt to play Indian music on his acoustic guitar.The drumming again was incredible.Hard Times Of Old England followed and then Martin sang Cum On Feel The Noize (Not a spelling mistake) which is an old hit by Slade but i prefer Martins version.Eliza then said they were doing a medley of their hit Cold,Rainy Haily Night.Finally after one encore the band took a well deserved bow to rapturous applause from the audience.
We got back to the Ludlow for a last pint and then called it a day after a great evening.That was the second date on the tour.If you click the tour poster below you can see where else Imagined Village are playing and i urge you to see them because they are brilliant.