Stepping into the Duchess tonight is like entering another venue. The area in front of the stage is filled with tables lit up with candles, the place has never looked so cozy and intimate. It already sets the tone for what promises to be an exciting evening. Not only is there a Yorkshire folk legend on the bill, the audience is also treated with two of York’s finest young musicians at the moment. Mark Wynn opens the night and keeps the audience engaged throughout with short and catchy songs, and plenty of jokes in between. He delivers the songs as if he’s making them up on the spot and jokingly admits he doesn’t spend a lot of time on his material. Boss Caine follows up and may not have the humorous demeanour of his colleague, but compensates with a warm husky voice and beautiful songs.
In contrast with other artists who leave their audience waiting, Michael Chapman seems like he can’t wait to play and he enthusiastically enters the stage mere minutes after Boss Caine has finished his set. Chapman is reminiscent of your old uncle who has all these great stories from back in the day. Each song starts with him telling an interesting anecdote that is slowly transformed into a song. With Michael telling all these stories on stage to the small group of middle-aged men that largely make up the audience, The Duchess resembles a deserted saloon in a small American town. This atmosphere, however, makes the show all the more intimate and special.
Michael has been playing since the 1960s and is said to have recorded over 30 albums. This experience and his continued love for music clearly show through in his passionate performance and the length of the set. Even if the folk genre is not your taste, his guitar playing alone is captivating enough. With the greatest ease Michael plays the most impressive and remarkable pieces on his acoustic guitar. My admiration for him is heightened even more by his humble attitude. No band, no roadies, no gimmicks: just one man, one guitar. And for an artist like Michael Chapman, that’s all that it takes.By Judith Borghouts