Alden Patterson and Dashwood, Melissa Bel and Iona Lane at The Big Comfy Bookshop

Alden Patterson and Dashwood, Melissa Bel and Iona Lane at The Big Comfy Bookshop

My second visit to the Big Comfy Bookshop this year, primarily to check out Alden Patterson and Dashwood who I’d never seen but who BCB’s purveyor Michael had been banging on about since the last time they played at the UK’s hottest acoustic venue.

Michael’s musical recommendations have, on occasion, been slightly wayward (we won’t mention any specific names but Richard Harrison knows exactly who I’m talking about!) so I was curious to see whether we’d be in synch regarding his latest folky obsession.

First up however was Iona Lane who treated us all to some atmospheric folk including a completely new song, The Poet and The Painter, which was all pretty cool. For me the standout moment by far, however, was when Iona finished her set by putting her guitar down and singing an unaccompanied version of the classic trad ‘The Hills Of January’. It was a proper ‘drop the mic’ moment…well not literally, because Michael would have no doubt got the arse about his gear getting damaged…but nonetheless a fine way to round off a good set!

In somewhat start contrast to Iona’s folky and somewhat eerie set, Melissa Bel wasn’t taking any prisoners with her poppy, ever so slightly country-rock (kinda) batch of songs that brought a completely different dynamic to the evening. The narrative throughout the set was about Melissa’s move from Toronto to Devon after meeting the love of her life in Vegas…a story that definitely left the Big Comfy Bookshop audience feeling all loved up and gushy. Or maybe it was just me…

I really liked ‘Don’t Forget To Breathe’ and a new song called ‘If She Hadn’t Lied’ before the foot-stomping ‘Sobered Up’ brought an extremely enjoyable set to a close. Shout out to Melissa’s guitarist, Thomas McKay, who Melissa said had come from Canada just to perform at BCB. I don’t know whether that was actually true, but I mean it wouldn’t surprise me, y’know with BCB being such a world-renowned venue and all (have I said enough to earn a free beer yet Michael?)

So what about Alden Patterson and Dashwood? Bloody awesome actually! These guys are in the middle of a few months playing a lot of gigs and it shows in the solidity of their performance. They kind of had a bit of everything…tunes, songs, acapella, humour…all built on a glorious folky, bluegrass kinda foundation with terrific three part harmonies. I loved the new song ‘Seven Years’.

As good as their musicianship is, however (and they’re very good), the most compelling thing about them is that they just appear to be having a great time playing. It’s almost like you could remove the audience and it wouldn’t make any difference, they’d still be in the zone just happily playing away to each other…and there is nothing more compelling than watching someone doing something that they clearly love!

The following day I played their album all the way to London and back. Love it.

We also had time to fit in a little Big Comfy Session with the trio before the gig. Yes, it’s been a while since we made any Big Comfy Sessions, but who knows…we might do some more this year? This fabulous little session with Alden Patterson and Dashwood definitely warmed us to the idea of making more…

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