“This song,” Jarrod Dickenson tells The Kitchen Garden Cafe before he plays “Born To Wander” “is about the nonsense that me and David do. Living out of suitcases, for no money” Then a smile comes over his face ….”and how we wouldn’t change a thing”.

That love of music, that love of the stage is literally why David Ford and Jarrod Dickenson (together with Jarrod’s wife Claire) are playing a cafe on the outskirts of Birmingham on a Tuesday night.

Dickenson is presently opening for The Mavericks. Ford is in his band. They played Manchester last night, and Bath tomorrow. And tonight? Well, it was a night off.

Until 10 days ago anyway, when they thought up this show.

So now we’re all caught up, they wanted to come to a place where everybody knew their name, sort of. Well, they start with the theme from Cheers, anyway.

Then there’s a coin toss. Dickenson’s up first, evoking memories of when I saw him for the first time, opening for White Buffalo, acoustic and brilliant. That voice, those songs. There’s something so timeless about the likes of ‘In the Meantime” and  “Prefer to Lose” (Claire is singing with him and playing percussion) while his 12-string is out for “If You’re Looking”.

Along the way he plays “California” by request and a lovely version of Guy Clark’s “Dublin Blues” and – amongst others –  Tom Waits’ “Picture In A Frame”.

David Ford, as he acknowledges himself, is not the man for happy songs. And here, in what might be his only solo show of the year – he explains he’s having a year off from needing to “sell himself” online, a theme he returns to consistently – he seems like he’s using it for a special kind of catharsis.

“I Don’t Care What You Call Me” sounds so fragile it’ll smash, and that’s even more true when he’s on the piano for the superb and emotional “To Hell With The World”.

There are some gems amongst what he does, too. Especially when he’s discussing current affairs as he does on “The Wall Has Come Between Us” and the even better “Steven”, which is prefaced by a moving speech about the courage of the wife of the Portadown policeman slain in the song.

His passion, and the fact it seems like he’s digging so deep inside himself for these songs, is never better shown than on his last one, “Every Time”. Reasoning that he’ll never be famous, but adding “I’m proud I never had what it takes”. As if to underline that he’ll never “play the game” as it were. What cannot be denied, though, is his utter class and integrity.

That’s not the end, though. Not by a long chalk. The pair return for a joint set. One that starts with “My Heart Belongs To You”. A duet – usually –  between Mr and Mrs Dickenson, let’s just say that here, context is all….

Claire is back for “Home Again” before she assists Ford with “One Of These Days”.

Ford plays “O’Sullivan’s Jukebox” (which is Dickenson’s father in laws favourite song) and there’s a touch of The Pogues’ raggedness, before a wonderfully warm and loose night ends with a cover of the soul classic “Bring It On Home To Me”.

One of those nights, as the pair had said, with no real plan beyond a burning desire (maybe even a need?) to play these songs. And as ever, the haphazard nights that could end anywhere are always the best. There are “corporate gigs” where you know what’s going to happen and they can be cold and clinical. This was the opposite, and all the better for it.

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