The large, mainly student age and vocally enthusiastic audience should ensure that luthiers sustain a demand for their services well into the future and even if, for most present, the instruments onstage will likely remain beyond their budget, there must have been a few players heading home to practice – and dream – afterwards.
The three musicians featured came across more as a master and his disciples than peers. Andy McKee and John Gomm have emerged respectively from Topeka, Kansas and Leeds heavily influenced by the percussive attack and almost piano-like fingering style developed by Girvan-based American Preston Reed.
Unlike the others, Gomm adds songs of some wit to a performance style that's matily appealing but rather choreographed, with music at the service of technique instead of the more preferable alternative. Much grimacing ensues but the best part of his otherwise self-composed set was a fine, fun reading of Chaka Khan's Ain't Nobody.
As well as percussing, McKee has a nice touch and a talent for undulating mood music and like Gomm, his best moments came with covers, including a gutsy take on Canadian picker Don Ross's intricate Tight Trite Night.
It was noticeable then that, as well as perfecting the chops, of the three, Reed has the composing skill. His deftly expressive Far Horizon and charming Waltz of the Snails reflected his love of jazz piano trios and he adds harmonic interest and development to the energy, ensuring that his pieces provided the highlights in the trio spot that closed the concert.