YorkMix falls under the spell of a new talent at The Habit open mic night
The city’s thriving music scene has just found another dazzling performer.
He’s Edd Barlow, a solo acoustic singer-songwriter who rejoices in various pseudonyms and lurks in a couple of bands too. YorkMix stumbled across the impossibly talented 21-year-old last week at the regular Wednesday night open mic at The Habit.
The bustling Goodramgate bar hosts a knowledgeable and forgiving crowd, happy to hear fine original songs one minute and almost-finished lyrical ideas being worked out in public the next. It takes someone special to make silence descend right to the far end of the bar. And that is exactly what happened on August 1.
Barlow (also, confusingly, occasionally known as Baxter) has a voice somewhere between that of Jeff Buckley and David Gray, on occasion swooping into the resonant territory occupied by Rufus Wainwright or the jazz-infused rhythm of a young Van Morrison. In short, it is mesmerising – and will not stay our secret for long. But more of that in a moment.
The Habit open mic Wednesdays are curated by Mark Wynn, fast becoming a city legend in his own right, with a brand of self-deprecating, wry talking blues, reminiscent of Dylan or Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.
But in place of the open roads that led those troubadours from Minnesota and the dust bowl states to New York and beyond, Wynn is rooted firmly in York. He kicks along the streets on race day, philosophises on the bus, rails against mediocrity.
Sometimes angry, sometimes tender, often bewildered by life’s inconsistencies, he tips over into story-songs and carefully crafted outpourings with the tone of stream-of-consciousness confessional – and he can be laugh-out-loud hilarious too.
One of the alluring things about Wynn’s open mic gigs at The Habit is that he never lets anyone play for too long, including himself – rarely more than three songs at a time. If folk singing isn’t your thing, don’t worry, it won’t last long. There will soon be a blues singer, or a Neil Young cover version to restore the balance.
It was completely in this freewheeling spirit that Edd Barlow took to the floor. You can get a flavour of his material here.
If my iPhone memory hadn’t been full I would have snatched some of this York moment, so you’ll just have to make do with a recent show in Liverpool, where Barlow is studying music. He divides his time between there and his home in York.
Expect to see and hear a lot more from Edd in the future.
And don’t just take our word for it. Listen to this track and download it and five tracks free from the Baxter Wilson Facebook page.
This is Edd in his band, Baxter Wilson. The track Rage Of The Sea catches him at the closest to his solo acoustic work. And for a flavour of that Rufus-like vocal, listen to Going Nowhere on the same download page.
Elsewhere, you can find him performing as a member of a Liverpool band, The Roscoes. They are impressive too, but he is heard to even better effect on the Baxter Wilson and solo material.