MURPHY, CHLOE, QUINN, SOME PIGEONS AND SOME MOONBEARS
The month of April 2015 saw the usual eclectic mix at the Nursery Tavern care of the ever reliable Elaine Tierney. First up we had a young guitarist that called himself “Murphy” who performed a few instrumentals and some well chosen cover versions. His guitar picking strongly reminded me of that of John Martyn’s “Bless the Weather” album and also to a large extent, the playing of Jose Feliciano. Set highlights were his renditions of Ray Charles’ “Hallelujah, I love Her So” and Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely?”The cover versions continued with Chloe Juliette and Quinn Lam, aka “Brummies make noise” who performed the most delightful blues and soul set with Chloe on rhythm guitar and sultry singing and Quinn playing really fabulous bottleneck guitar. There were great renditions of Robert Johnson’s “Come on in my Kitchen” Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay” and Laura Marling’s “Devil’s Spoke”.
Next came the highly idiosyncratic “Spiros” who came on stage with a feather in his hair and looked like he was wearing pyjamas. He has a very aggressive and percussive style of guitar playing and all the better for it. His singing can possibly described as Jeff Buckley-esque warbling but none the worse for that and there was even a song about Norse mythology. Elsewhere, there were covers of both Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” and Ella Fitzgerald’s “Dream a little Dream.”
Headlining said event were the very entertaining “Rattigans” who one might be able to describe as “Rock-Grass”. They’re a duo comprising a banjo player and an electric guitarist. Imagine Otway and Barrett without the physicality (hard I know) and that might give you some idea of what they were like.
From The Tin at The Nursery, we go to erm, well The Tin at The Tin!!. I saw a particularly fine evening of what for want of a better phrase, could be described at rootsy English and American music.
First up was my friend Al Britten whom I’ve talked about previously. He currently trades under the name “Last Dog Hung” and is a very fine country-blues picker, singer and songwriter and uses looping to great effect.
Next up, form Saskatchewan in Canada,(or as they described it, the “rectangular province with the hole in the middle”) we had the wonderful “Casey and Clayton” a duo that reminded me a bit of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings except with a higher pitched female voice. All of the selections they performed were from their forthcoming album which I’m very much looking forward to hearing. Their set also included a rendition of “Black Jack Davey” or “Raggle Taggle Gypsy” which seems compulsory for bluegrass type acts and none the worse for that.
Headlining that evening was Ryan Boldt whom I first came across fronting the band “Deep Dark Woods” of whom I’m extremely fond. Boldt very much has his roots in English music and remarked upon how hard it is to encounter records by the great Shirley Collins in his native Canada. His rendition of the traditional song, brought to a wider audience by Shirley Collins and the Albion Country Band care of the classic 1971 album “No Roses”, “Just as the Tide was Flowing” was a real set highlight.
Finally for this installment we turn to the “Backbeat Sessions” at the “Urban Coffee Company” in Fargo Village run by Matthew Campbell aka “Delightful Young Mothers”. I referred to him in a previous review and made reference to his highly idiosyncratic songwriting and accordion playing. All I can say is if you imagine Alex Harvey on his own with an accordion, you may get somewhere close to imagining what Matthew sounds like but it’s best if you go and see and hear for yourself.
Next we witnessed three-piece avant garde rockers The Pigeons who dedicated their first number “Pre Evil” to one Katie Hopkins. The band features one Dave Cross on the drums which is a bit of a departure for him as one can sometimes seeing busking with a Bouzouki around the City Centre. He was also a frontman a guitarist with similarly offbeat rockers “Boiling Peter Bread” who later transmogrified into “I’m Spartacus” The Pigeons are a similarly off-kilter rock band who performed a great set but I would have loved to have heard the lyrics more.
Topping the bill, was the very splendid “Moonbears” who performed their usual glorious blend of jazz and sophisticated adult pop. Their album “The Wow Signal” is one of my favourite albums ever by a local band and in perhaps their best known number “Catnip” they’ve made a perfect pop record. They know how to rock too and this is helped in no small measure by Sarah Laughton’s frenzied clarinet and sax playing. They ended their set with a storming version of “A House is not a Motel” from the classic “Forever Changes” album by Love.
An honourable mention must also go to the Tom Brosseau album launch gig at The Tin which was wonderful too. More about him in a future column I don’t doubt. For the May edition, Peter Broderick, Glyn Finch, Black Carrot and many more…