CONNOR WALSH AND SAM RYAN – Double Album Launch – The Sorry Head, Exeter August 26th 2017

Connor Walsh And Sam Ryan
Emma, Connor and Sam – Photograph by Jean Camp

A double whammy album launch with best friends Connor Walsh and Sam Ryan launching their EP’s to the world, The Hardest Part and The Traveller respectively at the Sorry Head in Exeter, and it was a very busy affair. They clearly have their fans and supporters as the venue was packed.

Kicking off the proceedings was Sam’s sister Anna, who has an amazingly powerful voice for a 16 year old. She was very confident and sang a mixture of cover material and her own songs. The audience loved her and she was very pleased with how she had been received, rightly so. She was joined by brother Sam with a rap song, and by Olive Simpson – and they sang one of Anna’s own songs. I was told by Sam after the gig that Anna can be found in a trio entitled Stepcoat Hill, definitely a lass to watch.

Sam then took the stage, promoting his debut EP – The Traveller. Although he did start the set with an Arctic Numbers set, just because he wanted to!

‘Men’ from his EP was aired, and all of the guys at the front just launched into audience participation of dancing and clapping. The same thing happened with the second song of the EP – ‘High’. Sam was very confident and loving the chance to air his work. So did the revellers.

Change of tempo then to ‘The Beach Of Camlann’, a sad tale of death, and then ‘Shield Wall’. A very powerful and racy number, filled with percussion of clapping from the audience who knew the song, including the shouting of “yay” in the right place. Connor was seen throughout the set supporting his friend from the audience. A couple of songs followed including one that was so new he couldn’t remember the lyrics. Great stuff! More in the pipeline! Sam graciously thanked his family and friends for their support.

A short intermission ensued after which Connor literally bounced onto the stage! He had been very excited all evening and at last had his chance to unleash his EP on the world! As he started playing, a string broke on his guitar, so had to borrow Sam’s but didn’t seem fazed at all, and continued some banter while sorting all this out.

Connor started with ‘Remember Me’, a number I don’t know but got us all in the mood, and we had an impromptu drummer who used the bar for percussion, he was clearly having a good time. Emma Mcelhinney who plays violin and bodhran on the album was on stage with Connor, and a very talented musician as she played both and the keyboard during the launch plus violin and played the Cajun drum with a foot pedal while playing something else! Sam and his friends took over the dance floor space in front of the stage and were having a great time. Again plenty of audience participation, we didn’t have a choice, and HAD to join in! Connor is a very strong presence on the stage, you don’t start playing on your mobiles while he is playing, he is too strong a personality. Emma played keyboard on a song I hadn’t heard before, ‘I Cant Go Back’, and sang too – lovely harmonies.’The Dance of Death’ fuelled the dance revellers, ‘The Call’ came next, after which Connor decided his waistcoat had to come off!

‘Hold On’ off the album slowed the tempo, Connor then played a mandolin for ‘Fellow Man’ from the album, which has an Irish feel. The last song was ‘Down The Line’ and had everyone dancing including Connor’s Grandad – Barry Walsh – who helped to sponsor the album along with Rev Hammer. Barry also was dragged into the main area of dancing and he did a very good pogo dance with plenty of stamina! Well done Barry!

Sam joined Connor on stage and gave a very heartfelt thanks to his dad – Rev Hammer for his tremendous input into the album financially and mentoring, for his faith in both himself and Connor and also thanks Barry Walsh, Alex Johnstone for producing the album, also sister Anna for opening, not forgetting Emma and The Sorry Head for allowing them to use the venue for the launch. Connor thanked his grandad Barry for all his support, they clearly have an amazing bond, also his father, his own girlfriend Charlie too for all her support, and I saw her afterwards doing the ‘roadie’ bit while the lads were basking in glory and talking to their fans.

These two are going places. Keep a good watch out for them. They are both very visual so a live gig is a must! Buy their EP and support them, as they are up and coming talented singer/songwriters.

Jean Camp

Purchase Connor’s album from www.connorwalsh.co.uk. Follow him on Twitter: @gutterratking and Facebook: www.facebook.com/gutterratking

You can purchase the digital download by contacting Sam on his Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/sam.ryan.3720 and on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SamuelRyan8

REV HAMMER AND NICK HARPER – Live at Unit 23 Live, Totnes

Rev Hammer
Photographs by Jean Camp

Folk Rock legends, Rev Hammer and Nick Harper wowed the audience at Unit 23 Live in Totnes, South Devon recently. The venue owner Simon has just taken over, and making a huge mark on this quirky venue in the middle of an industrial estate. Ex South Hams Radio presenter – Rob Wheeler, who has known Rev for years, put this gig on, so thank you Rob for doing this!

Ably assisted support by young up and coming Sam Ryan and Connor Walsh, the evening was a mixture of pure brilliance!

Connor Walsh kicked off the evening, although I had not seen or heard of him before, he was soon into getting audience reaction. Blue paint was drawn across his eyes like a mask, and I wondered what an earth we were going to hear! War paint?? He kicked off with a drinking song, and off we went! Very lively and we all sat up to listen to this talented young man. Shortly after we had an audience participation song, which went down very well! Connor’s mixtures of songs showed he has an awesome talent and will go far. I loved his set!

Next up came Sam Ryan, son of Rev Hammer, showing his Dad’s talent. Sam was as awesome as Connor but with his own style (not his father’s) kicking off with a lively number, ‘Men’ was just brilliant, and an audience participation song ‘Vikings’ had everyone shouting in unison with gusto when required! Self-penned songs and we will see more of Sam in his own right I’m sure. Sam wrote the title track ‘Skald’ on the new Rev Hammer album and performed on it.

Nick Harper
Nick Harper

Rev and Nick came on stage together and did numbers mostly individually. As Nick produced Rev’s new album he knew the guitar work as had played on it. Nick is an outstanding singer/songwriter, who just blew me away with his guitar playing. Rev joked he had Billy Bragg at his side! Two legends with attitude!

Nick passionately sang some cracking numbers including ‘Bloodsong’, a very bluesy, gritty number and his facial expressions told us he was away with the music. ‘Incredible Skies’ was just awesome, and we were all blown away by the tune and words, ‘I Will Carry You Always’ – a song about baggage, ‘Juicy Fruit Girl’ – which was kind of humorous, another bluesy track. ‘I Need You Now,’ ‘Peace, Love and Happiness’, ‘Real Life’ and Aeroplane was a great song to finish the evening. This got everyone off their seats more or less. Awesome!

Rev Hammer
Rev Hammer

Rev and Nick alternated to perform and when I asked Rev for a set list to do the review, I found out it was going to be random! He gave us ‘Punch Drunk’ to open his turn, love it and so many others did too, as linked to Rev’s association with The Levellers. A favourite Rev song of mine was on the list – ‘No One Or Nothing’, Rev also did a leg pull of Ralph McTell, which I hadn’t heard before, but as I like Ralph McTell, I won’t comment! ‘Garden of Gethsemane’ and ‘I’m Ready And I’m Waiting’ off Skald, ‘Drunkards Waltz’, which the Oysterband covered, and another of my favourites – ‘Every Woman’s Pain’, from his very successful folk opera Freeborn John and which he dedicated to his daughters!

An absolutely fabulous evening and look forward to hearing them all again soon. Check them out and buy Rev Hammer’s Skald album following the link from his website.

Jean Camp

Artists’ websites: www.revhammer.com / www.harperspace.com  / www.facebook.com/Connor.Walsh.Musician www.facebook.com/sam.ryan.3720

‘Apple’ – Nick and Sam are heard but not seen:

REV HAMMER – Skald (own label)

SkaldIt is always good when you hear that Rev Hammer has released a long awaited new album! He has done just that in the recently released Skald, featuring acclaimed guitarist and singer/songwriter Nick Harper together with Rev’s son Samuel Ryan, who is establishing himself as a singer/songwriter and about to follow in his father’s footsteps. He wrote the instrumental and title track Skald . For those of you who are uninitiated into the Scandinavian language by the way, Skald is their word for ‘poet, historians, and keepers of lore’. A very apt phrase to describe Rev Hammer!

Track one of the album is entitled ‘Apple/This Time’ is a perfect example of Rev Hammer vocals and acoustic guitar that we have all come to know and love. His six year old daughter being the Apple of his eye, superb track.

Track Two – ‘Happy Father’s Day’, heavy strummed guitar/mouth organ and lyrics of Land of Broken Dreams and don’t be sad or alone. Gut wrenching.

Track Three – ‘Corncrake’, featuring renowned singer/songwriter Nick Harper is probably my favourite track, if pushed to name one as they are all fab!

Track Four – ‘St John’, featuring Nick Harper, very powerful and dramatic track.

Track Five – ‘Ready And Waiting’, featuring Nick Harper – a dark and brooding tale of a person waiting to go into the next world. The lyric of ‘waiting for a light too bright to see’ shivered me to the core. A dramatic strain of guitar in the background just sets the mood.

Track Six – ‘Long Way Down’, featuring Nick Harper and set in Bristol. Fireworks, eyes, 7 floors above – listen to the track!

Track Seven – ‘Saline’, a dark track in the Garden of Gethsemane, taxis and revenge.

Track Eight – ‘Nose Dive’, Nick Harper in the mix once again, all about transmitting and receiving – or not. Most of us can relate to that.

Track Nine – ‘Flight of Fancy’, A melodic simple tune mostly acoustic taking us into the dawn.

Track Ten – ‘This Is The Love’, Nick Harper featuring and rather rock and roll. Fabulous backing.

Track Eleven – ‘Skald’, featuring Samuel Ryan. Funky and dramatic, interspersed with a foot tapping rhythm. A high note to end this fabulous album.

All in all there are eleven fabulous tracks. I just loved it. Typical Rev Hammer and then some featuring the glorious talent of Nick Harper ending with the fabulous talent of Samuel. One definitely taking pride of place in my CD collection and was well worth waiting for!

Jean Camp

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Artist’s website: http://www.revhammer.com/