Dan Walsh

Live Stream

14 May 2020

It's some years since I last saw Dan Walsh, as his occasional trips up to Newcastle always seem to clash with something else. So now he's joined the current trend of broadcasting live from his own home, it's the perfect chance for me to catch up with what he's doing now.

Except, not exactly what he's doing now. In this first gig (of a series) he's not playing anything recent, all the material is drawn from his first two solo albums and from the Walsh & Pound album, meaning it's all the material he was playing when I first encountered him. And that suits me just fine. Egypt Cottage, in the set tonight, may be the first tune I ever heard him play, as a duet with Rachel Newton I think, probably 12 years ago. It's a tune he wrote himself that's full of strange harmonies that doesn't sound anything like something you expect a banjo player to play.

Oh, did I mention he's a banjo player? But not a banjo player like you've ever heard before.

Dan Walsh seems to be out to prove that the banjo is much more versatile than its popular image suggests. His set is an eclectic mix: some English folk, some bluegrass, some traditional Egyptian, some things he's written himself, some things that are almost easy-listening pop songs. And he's such a phenomenal player that by the end of it you're convinced he could play literally anything and make it sound astonishing.

He adds a bit of variety by switching to guitar for a couple of songs, and he mixes songs and instrumentals, and between songs he's got a good stage patter (though maybe a bit more subdued than I remember, maybe because he hasn't got a visible audience to bounce off). But really, you come for the banjo playing, and you come away with your jaw on the floor and the absolute convicion that you've not only seen the best banjo player but one of the best instrumentalists of any type you've ever seen.

Dan Walsh is simply astonishing.