Review: Cash Back In Fife

How the music and legacy of the Man In Black had everyone flocking to Aberdour
Dean Owens on stageDean Owens on stage
Dean Owens on stage

The portraits of Johnny Cash hung around the room ensured an icon of music was present for the opening night of Cash Back In Fife - the first ever festival to celebrate his unique links with the region, and his remarkable legacy.

But this was more than just a tribute to a great performer.

Cash Back In Fife shone a spotlight on a range of great singer-songwriters to showcase their own work, all of it rooted in the wonderful genres of folk and Americana, as well as threading Cash's classic songs through their sets. It was a perfect fusion.

Ian Rankin at Cash Back In FifeIan Rankin at Cash Back In Fife
Ian Rankin at Cash Back In Fife
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Curated by Dean Owens, the weekend clearly caught the imagination of music fans with Woodside Hotel full, and folk heading to the village to take in individual shows.

The relaxed setting was evident from the smashing opening set from Martha Healy and Al Shields, and continued through Owens' own set which saw him team up with former Felsons' colleague, bassist Kevin McGuire, plus guitarist Craig Rios and fiddle player Amy Geddes under the banner of the Celtabilly Allstars.

The musicians clearly loved the set up, and that sense of fun and enjoyment infused the room as they eased through a set of songs from Owens' excellent back catalogue, with a few Cash numbers too, culminating in a joyous Walk The Line and an encore of Hurt which was every bit as powerful as Cash's cover from his last album recorded just months before his death.

Sunday's afternoon slot saw Ian Rankin take centre stage, with Owens on guitar, to celebrate the music and creativity of Jackie Leven a of a Fife great who has been overlooked by his home town.

Cash Back In Fife posterCash Back In Fife poster
Cash Back In Fife poster
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Leven's discovery of the music of Cash brought things full circle, but hearing his own lyrics read aloud, and finding out so much about his own turbulent but richly creative journey brought him vividly to life.

Rankin noted that Leven is probably better known, and celebrated, in Norway than he is in the Kingdom.That needs to be rectified.

We're approaching the tenth anniversary of his death at the very young age of just 61. Strikes me as the perfect time to introduce him to a whole new audience - I suspect more than a few people in the room at the Woodside will be doing something similar after a fascinating and hugely entertaining celebration of a great singer-songwriter.

Rab Noakes, who also knew Leven from his days on the folk circuit, joins a songwriters' circle with Owens and Hannah Rose Platt in the Saturday evening showcase, followed by The Countess of Fife - fronted by Rezillos' legend Fay Fife - The Marriage and Kirkcaldy's own , David Latto, on Sunday lunchtime.

There is still much to savour in this first ever Cash Back In Fife festival.

The Man In Black would surely have approved.

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