Jarrod Dickenson continues to travel from the Lone Star State to Norwich, delivering a master class in blues-infused country every time.
I enter OPEN Norwich’s ‘The Club’ to the sound of a stripped back acoustic guitar, the steel strings ringing through the winding corridor. Cariad Harmon is on stage and continues to play beautifully through her setlist. Dickenson stands in shadow at the side of the stage, his iconic Stetson hat bopping slowly in time.
Harmon introduces her next song, ‘Netflix and Chill’, with a comic anecdote, conveying the personable charm that encapsulates her onstage presence. Dickenson then joins her on stage for a duet, each of their voices complimenting the other.
After a short break, it is time for the main act. Dickenson and his wife, Claire, walk onto the stage, him holding a guitar, her sipping a hot drink. “I am stuck with tea,” she jokes. “And I’m on the beer,” Dickenson retorts, just before taking a large swig. The audience laugh. Then the music starts and the audience’s laughter stops and their eyes widen with awe.
Dickenson and his wife play through various tracks from his EP, first album, and latest release, ‘Ready the Horses’. In between songs he jokes and interacts with the audience, who lap it up, guffawing and smiling and cheering. The songs each have a clear theme and story to tell.
“This is a cheerful song for a Tuesday night,” Dickenson says. “It’s a song about the Great Depression.” What follows is the beautiful and heart-wrenching track, ‘No Work for a Working Man’. He tells the story of an unemployed man who is desperately trying to provide for his family even when ‘the lines are long and the jobs are thin’. Other tracks follow, including the lovely ‘Your Heart Belongs To Me’, the gritty ‘Gold Rush’, and an excellent Tom Petty cover.
Cariad Harmon joins the stage as the night ends with an energetic rendition of George Michael’s ‘Faith’. People then leave, contented, fulfilled and full of life.
I approach Jarrod Dickenson after the gig. He is softly spoken and answers my questions slowly and with thought. I ask why it is he keeps coming back to Norwich: “People keep coming,” he laughs. “No, Norwich is a soulful town. It has great music, record shops, coffee, little books shops.”
Dickenson played earlier this year with his full band (and the excellent JP Ruggieri) at Norwich Arts Centre. He hopes to be back sometime early next year.
The loving relationship and musical talent shared between Jarrod and his wife, Claire, forms an integral part of both his music and live act. “We met at a festival I was playing in Ireland,” he explains. “The first night we met, we stayed up till 4 am, then 4 am the next…” he then trails off, smiling to himself.
Jarrod Dickenson’s second album ‘Ready the Horses’ is available to buy and stream.