Take one highly regarded folk performer and one extremely accomplished guitarist. Put them together and you have an entertaining act that rates standing ovations at concerts and clubs throughout the country. For Steve Benbow and Denny Wright cater for neither the ethnic purists nor those who view the folk scene as a medium for doomladen messages about Vietnam, pollution or The Bomb. Yet to say that they regard their music purely as entertainment does a great disservice to two genuinely involved musicians.
Oh, they make it entertaining, but that's something else again … that's what music is, and always has been, about. Their repertoire has after all been a staple part of our musical fare for more than mere generations, and while Steve and Denny add the rhythmic impulse of two guitars and rhythm the Benbow voice delivers the time-honoured lyrics with the simplicity that conceals artistry.
And humour! … The Mouse, a sort of musical black-out sketch, packs a wealth of humour into its 38 seconds, set to the familiar air of The girl I left behind me (I wonder if any folk melody has been so often parodied?), and the gentle nip, rather than a sting, in the tail of Riding down to Bangor is a classic double-take.
The whole album is full of delightful surprises and familiar favourites, from The foggy foggy dew to The riddle song (I gave my love a cherry) popularised in the 60's as The twelfth of never. Andes in their stage act, of which this is a studio mock-up, Steve and Denny provide non-vocal interludes that show clearly the very fine boundary I ire that divides the territories of folk and jazz (though I'm not too convinced there's any division at all).
The rich chordal sense and melodic feeling in Sweet Georgia Brown and Tuxedo Junction, the flair for improvisation and sense of sheer swing, bespeak a mutual admiration for the great Django Reinhardt. But this is only an influence; the music is wholly their own, the final proof that Steve Benbow and Denny Wright are leaders rather than followers of trends.