Jim White

Blog #1

We are very lucky in Guildford in having our own independent record shop – People Records. That chap that runs it, Howard, seems to be totally in tune with people like us. Over the past couple of years he has slowly started to produce small scale gigs, and we have been to several. The latest was also the biggest, as he had taken the large church at the top of the high street for a singer songwriter called Jim White. We were unsure, not quite working out where he was coming from, but for £10 and only a short walk from home, why not?

But first there was Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards, the support act, to get through. Actually I didn’t mind their dirges too much as the music behind it was rather nice. No tunes or melodies, however, and the gravel-voiced singer was incomprehensible. They seemed to have taken the Sparklehorse muse, but removed out the cheerful bits.

Just before 9.00 Jim White asked if we were all ready and started his performance. The only reference point I can give you is Billy Bragg. Like Billy the talk was as important as the music. He took over 15 minutes to introduce one song, surely some sort of record. Jim played electric guitar while his sidekick Paul played a variety of instruments with great skill and finesse. He also whistled as a remarkably effective accompaniment. The music could be loosely described as Alt. Country with some blues, if that gives you some idea.

It was a fascinating evening. The audience was reasonably large, and I suspect few knew a great deal about him. Between songs he laid his life bare, talking about his addictive personality and his rejection of Jesus who he had eventually turned to. The fact that he was playing anti-God songs in church seemed to be a genuine challenge to him. The atmosphere slowly changed from some bewilderment, to interest to respect to affection. A few people did quietly slip away as 11.00pm came and went, almost certainly to catch trains and he eventually, reluctantly, closed just before 11.30. The audience stood and applauded and Jim just stayed on stage, offering to sell his shirt for Medicine sans Frontier. It was an extraordinary evening, and if his personality was perhaps the biggest attraction, his songs were excellent and Paul provided some real magic with his subtle touches. We will buy some CDs I am sure, but equally I know these can only be reminders; for the performance was so much more than just singing some songs.

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