Reading "Fire And Wine. An Armchair Guide to Steve Ashley" is a bit like climbing the stairs to that dusty attic and finding the jigsaw puzzle that matches the solitary piece that you've had in your possession for years.
For me, the solitary piece is an album from 1974 called "Stroll On" Unique in its 'contemporary tradition', English to the hilt, atmospheric, brilliant.
Steve Ashley, the singer/writer.
Author, Dave Thompson has put the piece beautifully back in its rightful place. It's all there. The times, the folk, the rock, the politics, the connective musical tissue/muscle. Names like Dave Pegg, Simon Nicol, Anne Briggs, Ashley Hutchings, Robert Kirby, Chris Leslie Linda Thompson, David Munrow and many more, walk through this book like old friends. Exceptionally talented friends that have all, at some time, been a part of Steve Ashley's life and music.
Anecdotes present themselves like tour bus patter. Engaging, truthful, funny, embarrassing, enlightening but above all, refreshingly humble. One of the surprises for me being Motown Records picking up "Stroll On" for release in America.
Steve's relationship with Dobe Newton and The Bushwackers via a rendering of Henry Lawson's, Past Carin', pricked up this Aussie lad's ears. Trevor Lucas, Sandy Denny - the connections step outside, take a look around, then walk back through a different but familiar door.
I loved this book. It was everything I had hoped for and expected as I eagerly anticipated its arrival on my doorstep. As intriguing perhaps as trying to match the wonderful drawings on the cover of "Stroll On" to the musical gems within.