TWO great but very different folk musicians graced the Crescent stage in York on Tuesday.

Charlie Parr looks like a character from one of his songs. While the tales are naggingly familiar (Parr has clearly immersed himself in country blues), this Minnesotan’s 12-string guitar carries the stories along beautifully.

Besides, Parr isn’t one to linger anywhere for long, and each number galloped along, a blur of trains and graves, hobos and rum luck. The speed of delivery, intentionally or not, has the effect of muffling the words, adding an enigmatic touch.

Always good, he struck gold on a couple of occasions. Cheap Wine, an older song, was slower and magnificent, while I Ain’t Dead Yet, from last year’s Dog album, was full of blacker-than-pitch humour. This is territory well staked out by others, but Parr’’s high lonesome sound is as good as any still breathing.

York Press:

Richard Dawson: "Genuinely no telling where this folk Picasso would take the songs"

Richard Dawson is the critic’s darling, but hard to stomach on record. In concert he is more rounded.

Dawson shrewdly wears both his talent and his voracious reading lightly, managing to somehow connect a 7th century tale with Brexit. Is he having us on? Wooden Bag combined Highland Toffee with catching the smell of the ocean in a used handkerchief. Attention grabbing but never showy. In the flesh, Dawson also undercut himself to put the full house at ease.

Starting with a Mike Waterston murder ballad sung straight, unaccompanied and full bodied, he then threw in his own material that took folk music and reimagined it.

Like Parr, Dawson is steeped in folk music and his song about Hexham Jail rang with authenticity, perhaps a knife twist away from stunning. His electric guitar stomped all over the traditional approach, and there was genuinely no telling where this folk Picasso would take the songs.