Fritwell Live – Fritwell Village Hall 18th May 2024 – Review

Well, we keep saying it, but it keeps happening. Another Stellar evening at the Village Hall courtesy of Frets and Strings and a roster of talented accompanying musicians.

Playing to a full house, the evening kicked off with a previously unseen ensemble from the north, put together by Ian Critchley. Involving some members of Butter Pie – Ian, Lauren, Max & Nick who created “Crust”. It was nice to have a trumpet (Ian’s school-mate Neil) included in their renditions of Bob Marley and the Kinks. Finn Miller-Jones is growing into the event quickly as he grows in confidence and competence. He is just 12 years old, but you would never guess that from his singing voice.

Safe pair of hands (and lungs) Chris from Bicester got up on stage with a very surprised Shaun from F&S on Cajon. They made a great sound, as always. New performer Joe Townsend was a valuable addition to the event, and we are sure he will be invited back following a rip-roaring set. Carl (F&S), Si (The Dyfies) and Jen treated us to some fabulous close harmonies and a barn-storming rendition of Big Yellow Taxi. Will Vetcher, another safe pair of hands, was the only seated player – He has a new guitar, and it can often take time to get used to a different size and shaped instrument (or so we are told!).deliver some solo 

The Dyfies once again invited Drew Campion (Si’s brother) to join them on bass guitar and played a brilliant set of Si’s own tunes and Nights in White Satin which seemed to strike a chord with some audience members. Ben Wheeler got promoted up the set list and repeated his own excellent composition and a couple of tricky covers. He is improving as a performer and shakes a lot less these days (we know it can be an intimidating environment).

F&S closed the evening with six numbers straight off the bat. Five new covers prepared for their summer gigs added energy to the evening, and they finished with an augmented group inviting Si, Janine and Jen onto the stage to join them in a rendition of a Carl Hynes number called Whirling Dervish. This went down extremely well with the audience. Atmospheric, and moving with a stirring flute solo from Janine, the set provoked wild applause, and everyone went home happy and enriched by this reliably superb community event.

Huge thanks go to our bar volunteers, Christine and Mark and, of course, Frets and Strings (including Mike Stewart), who run the event.

The next Fritwell Live will be on the 20th of July, but you can see Frets and Strings do a full set at the Souldern Solstice Festival on the 22nd of June in the garden of The Fox Pub.

CH – F&S