As ever, the Black Deer Festival was a magical experience, bringing together Americana and country fans for a weekend of masterful music and entertainment. The sheer joy of being back together, sharing such experiences was a big part of the festival’s success. After all, many of the festival-goers had been hanging onto their tickets since they were first purchased all the way back in 2019. The crowds were appreciative as the quality of the acts lined up for this year was excellent. There were some great artists on the main stage. However, many of the most memorable moments were on The Ridge Stage and in Haley’s Bar. In these more intimate settings, the audience and the musicians seemed to feed off one another and the atmosphere was energising.
One of the highlights of the festival was the powerful performance on The Ridge Stage from bluesy slide-guitar star Jack Broadbent. Every song in his set was outstanding but it was particularly captivating when he played lap-style slide with a hip-flask. ‘Making My Way’ from 2015 album ‘Along the Trail of Tears’ was a perfect example of Broadbent’s aggressive, blues style, with such energy expended that the sunglasses came off mid-song. The notes were astoundingly precise as he burst up and down the guitar’s neck, seemingly free and frenetic but actually incredibly controlled. Other highlights from the set included the rhythmic ‘Ride’ and very atmospheric versions of ‘New Orleans’ and ‘Hard Livin”, all taken from his latest album. Equally effective was the earnest and plaintive rendition of ‘Better Man’, when Broadbent slowed down and captured a darker mood. While the guitar is at the heart of Broadbent’s music, it’s also the quality of his songcraft and his gritty, haunted vocal that engaged the audience.
Watching Jack play alongside his father, Mick Broadbent, was an absolute joy and the chemistry between them added an additional dimension to the show, which was full of good-humoured banter. Mick plays bass on the new album and regularly joins Jack on stage. Jack cites his father as one of his earliest musical inspirations and music was very much part of his youth. They would attend open mic nights together and, by his early teens, Jack was playing drums in his father’s bands. Now, he is taking centre stage and Mick told AUK, with genuine warmth and pride: “I’ve got the best seat in the house. You couldn’t buy that.” Indeed. Jack also shared what it means to him to play alongside his father, who has so influenced his music: “We’re two sides of the same coin. We never have more fun than we do on a stage.”
Backstage, the Broadbent family gathered in his trailer after the show, still buzzing from the interaction with, and appreciation of, the Black Deer crowd. With the adrenaline beginning to slow and refreshing beers all round, Jack and Mick sat down to record an exclusive song for AUK. Jack closed the window to shut out the sound of the rain just beginning to fall and then father and son delivered this stirring mini-gig. Having started out as a drummer, Broadbent’s style is certainly influenced by that early emphasis on rhythm and the song he performed for AUK, ‘Midnight Radio’, has an absorbing groove. He had a message for AUK and the revellers at the festival: “Here’s a song from the new record. It’s great to be out performing the new album and back playing to a live audience. There’s been such a lovely response from the Black Deer Festival. Be sure to check out the album.” Back in February, we posted the film noir-style official video for ‘Midnight Radio’, directed by Pat Gougeon – if you missed it at the time, check it out here.
‘Midnight Radio’ is from Broadbent’s sixth album ‘Ride’, which is probably his grittiest, moodiest record to date. Originally, it was intended to be a stripped back set of acoustic songs. However, Broadbent collaborated with Quebec-based drummer and co-producer Mark Gibson and the pair found themselves veering towards a more rock ‘n’ roll sound. Broadbent says the record is: “…a raucous ramble through the madness of the last few years. It’s been a labour of love and a hell of a lot of fun to put together: Enjoy the Ride…” We look forward to seeing you all in The Deer Park again next year. In the meantime, enjoy the sound of ‘Midnight Radio’ bouncing off the walls of a Black Deer backstage trailer. Enjoy.
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