Away from the bustle of the festival’s main late-night venues in the attic room of The Outhouse, Chris Clark and his band provide a relaxing evening with tunes from the Great American Songbook. Clark is our cordial host and guide, providing the audience with the story of each jazz or blues number before the band strikes up.
Clark’s easygoing and gregarious manner perfectly suited the intimate setting. These traits were reflected in his storytelling, which was always informative and occasionally humorous. Although an aficionado of this music may be well versed in its history, Clark’s brief yet detailed anecdotes provided an interesting context for the songs and a useful introduction for the uninitiated. Whilst the setlist included covers of seminal artists like Billie Holiday and Cole Porter, Clark wisely chose a good range of lesser-known gems alongside more recognisable hits.
The band proved to be an ideal foil for Clark, enjoying his anecdotes and playing with a smile. Pianist Tom Finlay delivered a series of outstanding solos, with the rhythm section of Ed Kelly on double bass and Jordan Gilmour on drums providing the understated yet effective accompaniment. In the final song the latter two were welcomed to showcase their talents and clearly relished their respective solos. Clark’s voice has a lovely tone but he really impressed when he strapped on his guitar to add the intricate jazz lines and melodies. Aside from the slightly distracting feedback from Clark’s guitar, together the band were a skilled and highly polished unit that delivered these classic songs with aplomb.
The candlelit room created an atmosphere that was wonderfully convivial to this style of music and Clark took the trouble to thank us all personally for ‘popping in’ and sharing in his obvious passion for these songs. Clark and his troupe are only on for a couple more nights this week, so if you’re looking for a pleasant evening of great music with an informative edge, you won’t go wrong here.