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Pop Music Reviews : British Roots

February 07, 1986|STEVE HOCHMAN

With American roots music making its mark in Britain, why shouldn't British roots music do likewise here? That seemed to be the theme of Wednesday's presentation at the Lhasa Club of British folk-influenced music by local artists.

Billed as "totally rad trad," this evening (offered under the banner of the organization Rogue's Gallery) was hardly a purist's affair, beginning with three spoken-word performances and closing with an anthem-like electric folk version of Patti Smith's "Ghost Dance."

Singer-guitarist David Nigel Lloyd presented a pleasant solo set that, with material drawn from Flatt & Scruggs and Woody Guthrie, was as much American-influenced as British. His excellent finger-picking and expressive singing gave a warmth to both original and traditional songs.

More far afield was the duo Beltane (singer-guitarist Dave and vocalist Aldyth, also the forces behind Rogue's Gallery). Dave introduced their arrangement of the English song "The Nightingale" as "based on the form of traditional singing developed by Grace Slick and Aretha Franklin." One could also hear elements ranging from the Byrds to the Sex Pistols in this rough-around-the-edges, but consistently interesting set.

Beltane did play the folk straight at times, though purists may have trouble dealing with a young woman bedecked in post-punk chains and charms, her red hair streaked with blue, belting out traditional broadsides in a rich alto. But the pair's musical adventurism and unabashed passion for the styles they draw from makes Beltane something to keep an eye on.

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