The first gig I attended this year was at Dublin's Grand Social, located on lower Liffey Street to see the great American folk artist Frank Fairfield last month.
I've mentioned this Californian man before on a few occasions on this blog since discovering his music on an Uncut magazine promo CD over 3 years ago. I was also lucky enough to see his performance at The End Of The Road Festival in Dorset in 2012 which I must add was a bona fida highlight of that weekend.
If you listen to Fairfield's self titled debut album from 2009, you will be hard pushed to find a more stripped back or raw recording from this century . It comes as no surprise that this man is an avid collector of vintage 78rpm records, he seems to live and breathe and play in a style from a bygone era.
His latest release 'Duncan and Brady' is a 7" vinyl available through Jack White's label Third Man Records.
Taking in Kilkenny and Dundalk on a short stopover of a European tour, Frank completed his 3rd Irish date in the capital city upstairs in The Loft venue of The Grand Social.
Something extraordinary happens when this man takes the stage because despite his sometimes conspicuous shyness, he soon becomes enraptured in the music that flows from his guitar, fiddle or banjo.
The crowd tonight were a mix of age groups, some perhaps were just curious to check this guy out without knowing much of his work while many more were well familiar with him.
It was clear that Fairfield was enjoying his time in Ireland, mentioning that he had met 'so many sweet people along the way'. 15 minutes of so into his set tonight left few punters unable to keep their feet from tapping against the wooden floor. At one point while tuning his fiddle, one of his bow strings broke, he politely excused himself and walked backstage to retrieve a spare one from a box much to his and everyone else's amusement.
There was time too for requests, most notable, 'Old Paint' a beautiful cowboy ballad that someone from the crowd wisely suggested him to play. Holding the fiddle down low to his breast, while singing in that distinctively raspy American voice, Fairfield seemed like a character from an 1800's gold rush era film.
Clearly he had won over an amount of new followers tonight as almost everyone stood up from their seats to applaud loudly as his time on stage came to a close.
Afterwards he kindly waited around to chat with the people there and stand for photos and sign some Cd's.
I got to shake his hand and shyly mumble some words of appreciation on his return to Ireland, I hope he understood that I was so glad to be there tonight.
I was fortunate enough to get him to autograph a copy of 'Turn Me Loose' a CD compilation curated by himself of some of his favourite 78 rpm's, a unique collection of Anglo-American vernacular pieces selected from the gramophone era. You will find this collection on the Tompkins Square record label along with his debut album and his follow up 'Out On The Open West'.
Listen to Frank Fairfield perform and talk on a Western North Carolina radio station here.