Edinburgh Fringe 2014
"Quina’s father played the banjo on a 1990s chart hit. He passed away unexpectedly in 2009. This is her tribute to him. Banjo Man is a collection of stories and memories about the late Roger Dinsdale, a musician, who had a one-hit-wonder in 1993 playing the banjo on a popular dance track. Join Quina as she shares memories of her father and recounts tales she has collected from family and friends about his unexpected world tour. A moving show about dealing with loss and celebrating life, Banjo Man combines drama, poetry and original live music."
Quina Chapman tells the story about Roger Dinsdale, her father, and how she never got to say goodbye to him before he passed away unexpectedly in 2009. This performance is a tribute to him.
It is actually a lot more than a tribute by her for him, because Roger Dinsdale was a force in the 1990’s in certain musical circles where he played banjo with his band and wrote the famous song "Swamp Thing". In fact, Dinsdale has a presence these days on YouTube, created by his fans.
In her red mini kilt, red shiny Doc Martin boots and flame red hair Quina is a compelling storyteller. She begins by holding flowers and singing acapella, after a while a live guitarist joins in accompanying her singing. Next, she gives a personable introduction, and shows photos of her father on a large screen while holding a microphone as she talks about her father’s joy as he played onstage and how proud she was of him.
She is humble and modest when the audience shows appreciation for her singing, which is well deserved and refreshing. Quina is a natural storyteller as she continues telling us that she grew up in Watford surrounded by posters of Bob Marley and Hendrix. Her dad was always playing and rehearsing in the living room and that as a child she didn’t pay much attention to him because it was the norm. However, there was one special moment when she was about four that she remembers singing "FreightTrain" while her dad accompanied her…then Quina sings it for us. Her voice, whether singing or speaking voice is strong, resonant and melodic and a pleasure to hear.
In the next part of her story Chapman vividly describes the pubs and bars where her dad played when she was young, and it is very appropriate that she is performing at this festival in The Blind Poet, a pub with the same warmth and charm. The detailed descriptions and build of the chronological story is well crafted, from the heart and sincerely told. Chapman has good timing and really speaks to the audience as if we are friends, which was admirable because the audience was very wide. seated at tables all around the pub, yet she found a way to be personal to us all.
As Chapman sang more songs one became aware of how she not only sings so well with a flexible range but also tells the story through the words during each song. She uses gestures and physicality to add to the story when illustrating moments and she punctuates humorous moments with vibrant narrative, characterizations and pitch changes. While the small stage area is small, she uses it well, with a tall stool, microphone, flowers, screen and a line of string hooked under the screen. On the line she clips memorabilia she occasionally pulls out of a small box…a childhood painting, photograph or a copy of her father’s platinum record.
Nowadays, Chapman is thankful for her wonderful memories, the opportunity to share her father’s life with audiences and to see how YouTube videos of him playing are a lasting tribute for her and his many fans who write appreciative comments about how important his music was to them at different milestones in their lives.
Banjo Man is a poignant, moving and entertaining show. So if you are free at 12:15 go along for a drink and listen to this fascinating story.