Brixham Theatre presents a Mammoth, March, Music weekend

Torbay Weekly

It is rather like waiting ages for the bus and then two arrive at the same time. Brixham Theatre is staging a mammoth, March music weekend on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 of the month. These are two very different kinds of show.

The first is the Mark Harrison Band. Mark is an extremely accomplished and highly original songster. Frank Hennessey, BBC radio, described him as a ‘very clever writer and top-class performer.’ His work deals with non-standard subjects, has catchy tunes and thought-provoking lyrics. His aim is to talk about modern life for ordinary people and say things to which folk can relate.

Mark’s creations have taken elements from roots music, including blues, folk and gospel and made something new; something that is readily identifiable as his own genre. His prime influences are the great original blues artists, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie McTell and Skip James. More modern performers, such as Eric Bibb, showed him that you could have a band packed with bags of punch and power, fronted by someone fingerpicking a guitar in a very striking way.

Mark’s story is interesting. He started playing guitar while still at school and is self-taught. Although he gained a great deal of musical experience in his younger days, he stopped playing for many years in order to do ‘adult life.’

About ten years ago, on a sudden whim, he decided to buy a new guitar and start again. This is not strictly speaking a new guitar as it was made in 1934. The rest is history. He found that his dormant talent burst into life. His whole style spontaneously emerged, virtually fully formed. He had not anticipated the success that would follow. He describes this phenomenon as ‘a rare case of something happening naturally, rather than the product some desperate ambition.’

Mark has assembled a group of amazingly talented musicians, comprising Charles Benfield on double bass and Ben Welburn on drums and percussion. They are more than mere accompanists, creating their own, original arrangements for Mark’s stories of life songs. The band has made seven albums, the latest being the Road to Liberty, which has received hugely enthusiastic reviews in the UK, Europe and the USA.

And now for something completely different: Simon and Garfunkel Through the Years. Like Mark, Dan Haynes and Pete Richards started playing in their schooldays and began singing together around the age of sixteen. Their voices seemed to blend just right and Simon and Garfunkel were their favourite artists at the time. ITV’s Stuart Cameron describes them as ‘one of the greatest tribute shows anywhere in the world’.

This concert style performance includes all your favourites, such as Mrs Robinson, The Boxer, Sound of Silence, Homeward Bound and many more. The show follows the meteoric rise of the two young boys from Queens, New York.

Pete feels that the music of Simon and Garfunkel is some of the best to come out of the 1960s and the songwriting second to none. He thinks that it is important to be able to remind people just how good they were and plans to spread the word. Simon and Garfunkel Through the Years has toured extensively around the UK, Europe, Australia and the USA since 2011 and consistently play to sell-out houses. There are plans to reach more audiences worldwide.

Think of all those evenings when you could not go to see a show during lockdown. Now is your chance to make up for lost time. Come and join us at Brixham Theatre for one or both of these stunning shows.

The Mark Harrison Band: Saturday, March 19, 7.30pm. Tickets, £14, concessions (under 18 and over 64) £12, disabled and carer £12 admits two.

Simona and Garfunkel Through the Ages: Sunday, March 20, 7.30pm. Tickets, £18, disabled and carer £18 admits two.

Tickets are available from the box office, 01803 415987 or online, They can also be purchased at Brixham library or at the box office in person on the evening of the show. Doors are open at 6.30 to allow you to enjoy a drink and chat with friends.

Brixham Theatre, New Road, Brixham, Devon, TQ5 8TA. Reg. charity no. 1178208.