Brian Webb, Rod Picott, BJ Baartmans
Concert Review
Q-Bus, Leiden (NL)
by Johanna J. Bodde

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Q-Bus, Leiden (NL)   October 29th 2003

Brian Webb's tour, a wonderful example how a few music lovers with a lot of (unpaid!) hard work can achieve anything. Tonight Brian shares the stage with Rod Picott, already an established name since his success at the Blue Highways Festival and last but not least Bart Jan Baartmans, who in recent years is making quite a name for himself. The gentlemen, who met for the first time this week, have made a choice for the American concept of the "singer-songwriters circle" and the Q-Bus is furnished for the listeners with rows of chairs and some tables. It gets quiet immediately in the pleasantly filled room, when BJ "opens the ball" with one of his own songs, accompanied by electric guitar. Rod, without the hat that I've seen him wearing in all the pictures, sings the catchy title-track of his album "Stray Dogs" and then all ears are pricked up with expectation. Brian, wearing a seventies shirt on ochreous pants, intentionally frayed and torn, choses for "Talk To You" and darned, he turns out to be even better than the CD made us assume! The way he builds up to an emotional climax, supported by BJ's solo, is just formidable.
The three, Rod and Brian play their acoustic guitars, get along musically and personally quite well together. Jokes, teasing and explanations with the songs keep all attention focussed. Bart Jan plays along with everybody, he has a mandolin and acoustic guitar at hand plus a pile of papers and a notebook, but also Brian does his best on harmony and accompanying notes, by the end of the tour he probably knows all songs if they were his own. Rod regularly handles a shaker and ventures on a mandolin debut: "Does it have to be so loud?" Successful combination in this "circle"!

What else wonderful passes by? Bart Jan's bluesy ode to Hank Williams, who knew all eleven stages of loneliness. Rod's "I Coulda Been The King", that's still singing in your head the next morning. His fans wait anxiously for new material, as except one song from his first album, his whole repertoire tonight dates back to "Stray Dogs". Brian steals the show with his gorgeous, flexible voice and straight from everyday life lyrics, the regularly sounding tumultuous applause is well-deserved. He showcases songs from "Broken Folk", like "Wrestle To The Ground", "Shame" and my absolute favorite "Leaving Atlanta", the first song he wrote after he moved to Boston. "Well, I just sent you a letter, I guess it will be at least three days until you know your heart has been broken." "Goose bumps...", I hear whispering around me. "Forty Five" does very well too, with the little story about "records" and "police records". The song about Joshua is new.
After an hour the concert is interrupted for an intermission that lasts quite long, so I see already the dark clouds on the horizon: I have to leave before the end to catch the last train with a connection... Anyway, I would love to see BJ in the dress of Alison Krauss one day and I'm also very curious if Rod succeeds in winning Brian's shiny bi-colored leather shoes during a poker game! And that "singer-songwriters circle" is something we do again here, right?
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, translation by Yvonne Bohm. Dutch original of this review previously published on Real Roots Cafe, The Netherlands.