On a cold Saturday night the quartet played the welcoming ambience of the Seamus Ennis Centre, their first visit to the venue as part of an extensive European but short Irish tour. They exuded both musical skill and a good humour that went down well with an audience who were equally new to the band's charms, but both sides of the stage had some fun and called the band back for an encore at the end of the show. Leader Woody Pines led the band with powerful lead vocals and resonator and electric arch-top guitar. He is joined by long-time companion Zack Pozebanchuk on doghouse bass, Mike Gray on the very effective rhythms with thimbled fingers that he drew from his neck-hung washboard as well as some telling banjo playing. The final weapon in their armoury is guitarist and clarinettist Lyon Graulty. This current line-up is the one that recorded the e.p. You Gotta Roll from which, along with their previous album Counting Alligators, they drew a selection of the songs featured in their two part set as well as earlier songs and other covers. Both recordings get the general ambience of what the band offer which they themselves describe as "viper jazz, ragtime and country blues". The main difference between their rewarding recordings is the spontaneity they have live where Graulty's distinctive clarinet is more of a feature which immediately links their sound to an earlier era and adds that jazzier emphasis. Something that has always been a part of their overall sound but is further highlighted by Graulty's contribution. He is also a interesting and arresting electric guitarist who uses a selection of self-made pedals that enhance his sound which covers some Travis County picking, lap steel-styled slide guitar, organ sounds and rockin' blues riffs. This band line-up's next recorded outing should be special. Their live set draws from new and traditional songs such as Satisfied, Rich Gal, Poor Gal for the latter which sit easily alongside Pines originals like Crazy-Eyed Woman and Counting Alligators. Between songs Pines connected with the audience with his introductions and explanations of the band's lifestyle and song choices. A hard working band he recounted that they spend a lot of time driving to gigs and on the road, doing 248 dates last year. They are road warriors and that shows in the tightness of the band. A cover of Hank Williams' Ramblin' Man reflects this ongoing traveling and their love of the music from earlier eras. A part of this is the fact that they travel so much is that they listen to a lot of radio. Pines relates of hearing a particular song that struck, they had tried to catch the chords but didn't quite get them or hear the song title so they ended up writing a song of their own based on the part-heard song. At the end of the show they got the audience to sing-along to the refrains of "I'll see you in the morning if I live, I'll see you in the morning I don't get killed". The audience singing out the last part of the line after the band had sung the aforementioned lines. It ended the show on a high and Woody Pines, the band and the singer, had made a lot of new friends.
Live review by Stephen Rapid. Photograph by Ronnie Norton