'Troubadour (n) one of a class of lyric poets and poet-musicians often of knightly rank who flourished from the 11th to the end of the 13th century chiefly in the south of France and the north of Italy and whose major theme was courtly love “
Bill Knight and Chris Davidson: 'Scarecrows In A Field' are undoubtedly our modern-day troubadours.
Photo Credit: Gale McCall
Bill Knight is one of the most seasoned folk-singer/songwriters we have. Having been one of the Barleycorn Music Club’s founding members together with Richard Tait (Alma Café) Bill has produced nine CDs during his illustrious career. Together with Chris Davidson, a deep thinker, and part-time philosopher, they formed Scarecrows in a Field and have recently released their second CD Birds of a Feather.
I was fortunate to catch Bill Knight and Chris Davidson performing their latest release 'Birds of a Feather': Scarecrows in a Field at The Thomas Easton in Mowbray recently.
The CD cover which shows two halves of dead birds stitched together lying in a patch of blood wasn’t an image I would have associated with the articulate, lyrical, poetry of either Bill or Chris. It is more fitting of an image cover for a metal band; however, both are very pleased with the artwork produced by local artist Grant, whose only briefing was listening to music it was to represent.
Bill Knight has been a musician since he was given his first guitar at the age of sixteen. Soon thereafter he realised his true passion lay in writing his own folk songs. His music allowed him the freedom of expression that circumstances and politics didn't always allow. Music was also the catalyst that drew wordsmiths, Bill Knight and Chris Davidson, together which resulted in them producing their first CD SCARECROWS IN A FIELD: Scarecrows in a Field in 2015. An affable and deepening friendship has developed between them since then. Chris Davidson, from Fish Hoek, previously recorded with the now defunct LENTIL COLLECTIVE and although ‘newer’ in the music industry, he has made a solid and notable contribution, both in songwriting and producing.
This was recorded live at The Cottage Club, Fish Hoek, which Bill Knight owns and runs.
The opening verse of Two of a Kind tells of the depth of this friendship in a gentle, melodious, rhythmic song.
"We’ve travelled through Trouble
And through all kinds of Weather
What’s weighing you down,
we can carry together.
We’re two of a kind,
we’re Birds of a Feather"
The Road sung by Chris Davidson and interspersed with the ethereal tones of the violin played by Rayelle Goodman speaks of the unsettled feeling a lot of us identify with.
Adam’s Cave further emphasizes the sadness of the current moral decay in our society. Boomy violin tones give the background to vocals by Bill.
Killing Crows is a reflective piece passionately sung by Bill who effectively expresses the anguish felt by switching to Afrikaans at times.
"Where poets weave the fallen leaves in a tapestry of scarecrow grief amongst the broken few." – A line in the fourth verse of The Dark Moonlight Road is a powerful and passionate example of the beauty of their poetry and sums up the hopelessness and the necessity to incorporate the arts in life. This is a fine example of Chris’ warm and comforting voice is complemented well by Bill joining the chorus and playing the mouth organ. The steady bass of Stephan keeps the song at a slightly upbeat pace.
No folk story compilation would be complete without a love story. Crush is sad but delightful in its deliverance. The sombre musical tone changes to an upbeat rhythmic chorus.
Jesus, don’t come back is a deep, reflective piece sung by Chris playing his guitar. Bill echoes the chorus from a distance to great effect while the violin slowly breathes in the background.
Phoenix - a lamentation which speaks of personal grief beautifully told by Bill in song.
Scarecrows in a Field: Birds of a Feather (2017)
Bill Knight and Chris Davidson
Bill Knight (guitars, vocals and mouth organ)
Chris Davidson (guitars and vocals)
Rayelle Goodman (violin)
Stephan Willemse (bass)