The latest instalment of nights at Jabberwocky, in Douglas, courtesy of promoter Jonno Gollow, came on Sunday evening with a very welcome return of singer/songwriter Jarrod Dickenson to the island.
Dickenson is very much an authentic voice of Americana. Born in Texas and living in Brooklyn, he has spent the past few years travelling across America, coast to coast, border to border.
His songs are pure American country blues, folk and soul and invoke the spirits of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and John Steinbeck in equal measure.
Dressed in a dapper suit and a wide brimmed fedora hat, face hidden behind a well groomed and fairly impressive beard, Dickenson exuded a classic sense of a wandering troubadour from Depression-era America, and as such he played and sang with a maturity that far belies his youth.
His songs evoked hardships and loss, and conjured up images of endless landscapes, desperation, hard work and unrequited love. It was all astonishing and mesmeric.
Examples of his songs were No Work For A Working Man, a song of the Depression;
Northern Sea, depicting the daily struggles of north coast fishermen; and Season’s Change, a song written about his elderly grandfather. They were packed with atmosphere and emotion and delivered subtly and gently, which made the end result only more gripping.
Jarrod is becoming a familiar face over here, having played at Jonno Gollow’s Three Legs festival previously and also playing at The Institute in Laxey.
For a performer with love of travelling, I’m sure he will be back here soon, and you’d be mad to miss it if he does.
Support came from local man Ian Thompson. Despite having released an album last year, entitled Utopia, he had never performed his own songs live. He soon had the crowd warmed up, and his performance visibly grew as the gig went on. For want of a comparison, none other than Barry Williams, singer from punk leg-ends The Shedmen said he was reminded of Glen Tilbrook, the front man from Squeeze.
Not a bad debut all round, and hopefully it won’t be the last time he ventures out.