Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hat Fitz and Cara Robinson

Hat Fitz - Slide Guitar and Vocals, and Cara Robinson - Vocals, percussion and flute, are swnging back through Ireland over the next couple of weeks. Catch em if you can. Saw em a month ago at the White Horse Sessions in Lahinch. Great gig with people dancing from the get go - but then they know how to party at Kenny's Bar!

I love this little video of them. There are prettier ones to watch but the sound is so evocative on this!

here is their schedule

Jul 28 Fiddlers Green Festival Rostrevor Co. Down NI
Jul 29 The Listening Post Ulster Uni. Coleraine NI
Jul 30 The Barge River Lagan, Belfast, NI
Jul 31 Voodoo Lounge Letterkenny, Donegal, Irl
Aug 01 Shandon Hotel Dunfanaghy, Donegal, Irl
Aug 02 Grey Hound Bar Kilkee, Co. Clare, Ireland
Aug 03 Kenny's Bar Lahinch Co. Clare Ireland
Aug 04 Crane Lane Theatre Cork, Ireland

Aug 5-7 Mannifest Isle of Man

Aug 09 Mick Murphy's Ballymore Eustace Ireland
Aug 10 Whelan's Bar Wexford St, Dublin Ireland
Aug 11 The Cobblestone Pub Smithfield, Dublin Ireland
Aug 12 7 Hills Blues Festival Armagh Co. Down NI Red Neds 10-12 pm
Aug 13 7 Hills Blues Festival Armagh Co. Down NI Gas Lamp 6-8 pm
Aug 14 AmericanRoots Belfast, NI

then they are back to the uk - check out their tour page:

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tennessee Mafia Jug Band in Clonmel

This here promises to be a good night out or five!
As their (very entertaining) press blurb says:

There’s only so many graveyard numbers or raunchy love songs that even the most rabid country audience can sit through without some kind of relief. This frolicking fivesome brightens up the stage with rib-tickling old time tunes. Even better, they have an utter lack of self-consciousness (and some might say any sense of decorum). The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band not only know the music, they wear the costumes, tell corny jokes and even do slapstick gags!

July 19th Kilworth, County Cork
July 20th Clonmel, County Tipperary
July 21st Naul, County Dublin
July 22nd Bray, County Wicklow
July 23rd Manorhamilton, County Leitrim

Check out their tour page for details:

here's Leroy Troy demonstrating his banjo juggling skills!

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Justin Townes Earle in the UK

Justin is playing in the UK this month. Some pub gigs and some festivals. No Irish dates though!

20/7/11 - Milton Keynes - The Stables
22/7/11 - Perth, Scotland - Southern Fried Festival
23/7/11 - Gateshead, Summertyne Americana Festival
24/7/11 - Oxfordshire Truck Festival
26/7/11 - York - The Duchess
27/7/11 - Sheffield - the Greystones
29/7/11 - Cambridge Folk Festival

This is his track from the Buddy Holly tribute album just released this month by Concord Records
You can stream the whole thing at this week or buy it from

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Gill Landry - Tour of Scotland!

Gill Landry announced on his Facebook page today that he is doing a tour of Scotland in July, well the Highlands and Islands!

Fri 15th – HebCelt Festival, Stornoway
Sat 16th – Ullapool Tall Ships, Ullapool
Sun 17th – The Arch Inn, Ullapool
Mon 18th – Hootanannys, Inverness
Tue 19th – Eagle Barge, Fort William
Wed 20th - Star Inn, Stornoway
Thur 21st – Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore
Fri 22nd – Athol Arms, Dunkeld
Sat 23rd – Wickerman Festival, Dumfries

If you can get yourself to any of those gigs I'll be jealous!

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Pokey LaFarge in Kilkenny

I took the new car off through the Silvermines to Kilkenny last week to see Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three. A two hour drive but having seen them in Belfast last September I wasn't going to miss them when they where coming this close. Cleere's Pub in Parliament Street has a great reputation for live music, with Johnny Holden keeping it ship shape.

Pokey and the boys were coming up to the end of a '40 shows in 40 nights' tour of the UK and Ireland so I thought they might be flagging a bit but it was quite the reverse and they were teasing the audience at times saying that we were getting tired! After swinging their way through their 31 song setlist they started taking requests and ended up playing for 3 hours! About half of those songs came from their two albums, "Riverboat Soul", and the just released "Middle Of Everywhere", plus a few songs from Pokey's solo albums "Marmalade" and "Beat, Move and Shake" and a great bunch of covers as varied as the St Louis Blues or Bob Wills' The Devil Ain't Lazy. We also got both sides of the 7" vinyl they recorded with Jack White last year, Chittlin Cooking time in Cheatham County, plus a short quiz on what chittlins were (although the audience had a few novel ideas of their own!)

All in all it was a fantastic night, and if you missed them they'll be back in the spring of 2012, and they have a few gigs in the UK in September 2011

Feels So Good

You can hear the new album at NPR's First Listen this week, and it's released in the States this week.

Buy it from the band if you can or order it from

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Belfast Open House Festival 2010

i haven't had the heart for much blogging recently, but this weekend has made a difference.

I have to say i was stoked when i heard the Old Crow Medicine Show were playing the Open House Festival in Belfast this year. There is something different about a festival. A gig is great but really - you walk in watch the show and walk out - then talk about it on the way home with the stereo on. At a festival you get a chance to savour the music, get to know people, and sometimes see odd collaborations as the musicians meet up with old friends. So when the news started to come in that the Festival also had The Felice Brothers who toured with the Old Crows for the Big Surprise tour last year, along with Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch who would also be playing it was announced, and Pokey Lafarge from St Louis (whom Ketch Secor has played fiddle for), plus possessed banjo player Morgan O'Kane (whose Band includes Ferd Four of the Hackensaw Boys) it was exciting to say the least.


But then i started to realise that it was a different gig every night, separate tickets for each one and the artists would just come in, do their show and go out the back door. It wasn't going to be Glastonbury, or Hardly Strictly Bluegrass or the Frog Fair, camping out in the sunshine and mud eating all-day food. Ah well Buckle up boys and don't think twice, buy your tickets, book a hotel and figure out the cheapest way of getting there.

I came in on the Friday afternoon resigned to miss the Felice Brothers who were opening for Wilco (the top-price ticket of the week) but i had to walk down and see what was going on. At the far end is a little tent with some rip-roaring banjo/fiddle coming through - so i peer through the fence and am rewarded with a big grin from Ferd Hackensaw - it's Morgan O'Kanes band warming the place up. Heaven.

You could only get in if you had one of those aforementioned luxury tickets (well luxury if you only wanted to see the support band) but by some fortune of good management (aka miracle 1) the fence outside the marquee was nicely arranged so people could look in and see the stage only a 100 yards away - not so different from Glastonbury after all - I could see James Felice's piano being sound checked. It was a difficult moment knowing i could just walk over and buy a ticket right then so i went and got some chips and came back at 8.30 in time to hear Murder By Mistletoe, Whiskey In My Whiskey, Run Chicken Run, Penn Station, all while looking over the heads of Wilco fans in the 'courtyard'. I was chuffed. I don't know which song it was, perhaps White Limo but a girl walked up to the inside of the fence and said (you have to imagine the Belfast accent) "Do you not have a ticket?"


You guessed it! Miracle 2. She had a spare complimentary ticket so i thanked her kindly, and managed to walk the length of the marquee floor to the opening bars of Frankie's Gun where the Felice Brothers fans were tearing it up and i got to hear how good the sound was. Then Kevin Hayes and Willie Watson came onstage to join in which threw the security into confusion for a while. It was the last song of their set but it felt great to be there with everyone howling for an encore, and James and Ian getting ovations when they came out to collect bits of kit.

By the time I got outside Farley of the Felice Brothers and Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show were into some fiddle tune near the bar until Pokey LaFarge played in the little tent where I'd seen Morgan O'Kane. And when i say little here i mean big enough to hold the band, not the audience! The Pokey LaFarge band played a beautiful set of 30s jazz/swing/ragtime harmony tunes reminiscent of the early Mills Brothers, or The Delmore Brothers with Pokey the epitome of the suave and elegant bandleader and equally at home playing Blind Blake or standards like 'Sunny Side Of The Street'. I'd have to digress quite a lot to cover all the bases they touch on as they head for home but you might get the idea. The thing is that Pokey plays the blues but he doesn't have the blues. He's a happy guy. Friendly, warm, open, and he sings it that way. So I'm going out on a limb here to say this music is like a cross between Blind Blake, the Hoosier Hotshots and Bing Crosby. Polished, fun, and witty. See them when you can.


When the set finished Ketch reappeared and politely commandeered the 14 foot caravan of the Alternative Ink Tattoo Artist, Shane Sunday, somehow managing to squeeze himself, Farley, and all of the Pokey LaFarge band (including Joey Glynn's double bass ) into one end of the little space.
At first it's Ketch teaching fiddle tunes until everyone is up to speed and they can cut loose and fly. He's calling out chord changes ( "I, I, I, I, IV, IV, V, I etc) and A and B parts and having a great old time. Then they are swapping songs and tunes, Pokey LaFarge did a great version of Going To Germany, Sail Away Ladies was played and sung, instruments are exchanged, Hank's Lost Highway, and Bucket's Got a Hole in it are played, by which time the windows are wide open and a small crowd (whoever wasn't tempted by Wilco in the Marquee) can't believe their luck. Gill Landry is taking photos in the window, Ian and Christmas Felice are outside, Kevin Hayes of Old Crow, too and then Ferd Hackensaw and Morgan O'Kane come in and the tempo kicks up it's heels. They know the tunes as well as Ketch and we are treated to some firey music, with Ferd and Ketch almost knocking foreheads across the small caravan space which is rocking like the ship on the proverbial stormy sea.


Security eventually had to clear us all out and nobody really minded. We knew how lucky we were to find a real festival in the heart of the city, and friends we hadn't spoken to yet all through the weekend.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

When The Time Rolls Around

Alright I admit it. It's Xmas.

So a first here at The Kingdom and an official Xmas feast, I mean, post.
And a christmas song that has been posted on the blogosphere before but not recently, is something I've enjoyed for years despite the cultural associations of the season. I guess that part of the joy is that the celebration is for it's own sake, the best of reasons. And it's really the overlaps that make this track shine because it's not really about Xmas at all, it's about New Orleans. And the way Dr John tells it New Orleans already embodies the Xmas Spirit year round.

Xmas in New Orleans - Dr John*

Apparently this, and the other tracks on this album (Zu Zu Man - Trip 9815 from 1975) were recorded as demos back in the days before Mac Rebennack became Dr John The Night Tripper, and the transition is there to be heard clearly in the progression from Trader John to Zu Zu Man, from the kindly but astute pawnshop owner to the Voodoo Medicine Man. So we're back in the mid sixties sometime. Dr John is reportedly unhappy with the release of these tracks and in relation to what he was doing at the time the were released I can see that they were not representative. However when I bought this LP (which has been rearranged and redistributed in many forms over the years) I knew not, and cared less. These are great tracks, and all the better for not being embellished with spit and polish. You can hear a tight band and some catchy tunes that were recorded with the aim of sharing some lovely musical ideas with some sharp and mellow players.

Trader John is a simple funky diatribe about cash on the nail for "anything other than trade or pawn", but the store has everything you'll ever need including Voodoo products unlimited, and Trader John will sort you out if you have the cash.

Trader John - Dr John*

Did She Mention My Name is a totally different attitude in comparison. Sweet and plaintive vocals that put you in mind of the Neville Brothers, as they might have been if they'd done their thing as a vocal group in 1964 instead of more recently. I really had to stop and wonder who could be singing here, but I think it is Rebennack. I'd love to know who else was there, though. The band eases into this with grace and style.

Did She Mention My Name - Dr John*

Xmas in New Orleans is, as I mentioned earlier, a funky and laid back celebration of the perennial party atmosphere that New Orleans is rightly famous for.

*EDIT at least that's what I thought! Dan Phillips over at Home Of The Groove has pointed out that some of the backing tracks feature Dr John (or Mac Rebennack as he was known at the time) but none of the vocals on these tracks are his. More info to follow

And to stay with the season, here is a beautiful let's (not) get together and do a video (not) together and still sound good together (although we're not together) starring Dr John and the equally incomparable Leon Redbone.

And this is what happens when you let your mind get free and your tongue be righteous.
Not for the squeamish or stuck up.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blue Horse Out-take

In a recent discussion about perennial favourite albums - the ones you just have to come back to - I was pushing around the ideas for the runner-ups but I think that Blue Horse by The Be Good Tanyas is probably the favourite returnee in The Kingdom. Made in 2000 with Jolie Holland still a major influence on the sound, it's quirky, sweet, upbeat, downbeat, pretty, profound, soothing and inspiring all at once.

So it was nice to visit their myspace yesterday and find they have contributed to PepperMill Records anthology of songs by, about or for tree planters. And they have contributed an out-take from Blue Horse, with Julie Holland taking lead vocals and going by the name of "Cabin In The Woods". It's a beautiful reminder of where the gals where coming from at the turn of the millenium, musically and spiritually.

Read their description of the recording

The nearest I've got to tree planting is putting in oak and hazel and chestnut and birch, with ash for firewood here at the Kingdom and some fruit trees to follow, so I can be suitably impressed by those crazy souls who wander the uplands of BC with T-shirts shrouding their heads and midge repellent caked on like pan stick. A season of that stuff and you deserve every penny you get and all the good karma you can carry.

The relevant thing to us is, of course, that though the Tanyas are the name band on this compilation, all the tree planting community that I've come across are deep into their music and quite capable of turning a listening ear their way. Go back to the PepperMill Records link and click on a few tracks and see if thereisn't just something special in there.

Might meet you there.

The Be Good Tanyas feat. Jolie Holland- Cabin In The Woods



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Friday, November 28, 2008

Gill Landry

I have a theory that this is the Burren in County Clare, Ireland, which probably means that it was taken in 2006 while Gill was subbing for Critter Fuqua of the Old Crows during their European Tour. Maybe he was there some other time. But I like my theory. Anyways he's hanging out on the Limestone. Once (many years ago) the home to thousands of poets and musicians and farmers and goats, and now the home to hundreds of well, poets and musicians and farmers and goats and so on. A good place to hang out for a while, or a lifetime.

The pic is up on an amazing collection of photos at the Kitchen Syncopators website from which I just bought three of their albums. If you can just afford one then I recommend Pepper In My Shoe, but I could afford three so i got Tijuana Zebra and Gill's first solo album. It's like discovering an old bluesman on Document Records, or getting The Memphis Jug Band box set in the post. Loads of great tunes played like the bar is open and the street is still busy outside, but we need to get some customers in here so fire em up boys and get the party started. Drinks are on the house.

Get em while you can.

Gill's album (2003) has to stand comparison to his 2006 album for Nettwerk. The Ballad Of Lawless Soirez. My favourite album of 2007 ( I'm a bit behind OK. We live on a huge bleak bit of limestone, alright, only got electricity when the millenium got going. Hang fire. The dates are all fecked anyway, it should be nineteen thirty one or somesuch)

All that said it's great and gets as much play as any of the others. Intriguing and rich, earthy and raucous, slick and sure, and it's got Gill's great voice. The voice is what has changed the least between the two albums. He really knew these songs back then.

Get it while you can.
Then get this: have it at various prices and it's worth every penny, whatever you pay.

So fast forward to 2008 - Gill Landry with The Old Crow Medicine Show performing for the Lightning 100 radio show while they were in town to play The Ryman in Nashville. Gill wrote and sang the track Mary's Kitchen on the new Tennessee Pusher album and it's a high point of funky fun on a dark, gritty album. He's been subbing for Critter (again) since the last European tour and is now officially acknowledged as an Old Crow.

Here's a couple of Kitchen Syncopators tracks from Pepper In My Shoe
Black Rat
Way Down In Arkansas
And the title track from Ballad Of Lawless Soirez:
Lawless Soirez

Who's this busking in NOLA?
Gill and Annie Ford on flickr at a radio gig.

Gill's Myspace has some unreleased tracks.
Gill's Websitepages has the bare bones.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Way down south in Louisville

I'm hearing some great things about last night's show in Louisville, KY.

The Old Crow Medicine Show and The Felice Brothers sharing the billing and (at times the stage) can guarantee some crazy times
and some high energy performances. Here's the perennial crowd pleaser, Wagon Wheel with most of both bands on stage. Stormin' it Up to the rafters. Can't you just hear it tearing off into Tell It To Me at the end. Wow.

"Way down south in Louisville
They showed me to the door
They hadn't seen a railroad bum
Since 1924
Its a rich folk's town
They don't need me 'round"

runs the verse from Trouble That I'm In by the Old Crows. Maybe so but the door they're being shown now is the way in.

Old Crow Medicine Show - Trouble That I'm In from Live
The Felice Brothers - Trouble Been Hard from Adventures of The Felice Brothers
The Carolina Chocolate Drops - Short Life Of Trouble from Dona Got A Ramblin' Mind

The Chocolate Drops were supporting the Old Crows at The Ryman in Nashville over the weekend.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Old Crow Medicine Show - Tennessee Pusher Review

OK So it's different. Ketch is stretching out as a songwriter, Gill Landry is stepping up to the plate for slide, banjo and songwriting. While Critter is contributing vocal harmonies, but no picking or new songs.

They've come down from the mountain and have been living in the City for how long? OCMS was pretty much Mountain music. Big Iron World was transitional. Tennessee Pusher is born out of time to think about the lives rolling past. Lots of lives. Some of them not making it. It's City Music. It's vision is bigger out of necessity, not so much hoe-down and more looking and thinking sharp. But still the same work and trials and heartbreak, only with an edge. It's watching the world and it's triumph is how immediate it is. These are personal songs and they make OCMS seem like a dream. A romance back there when we were kids, and leaning on the El Dorado. That old beast is rusty now and you're wary when it goes past.

Alabama High Test is a rompin uptempo tune with energy and attitude. A great opener if you don't know where this album is going by verse two you should only go outside during daylight hours.

Highway Halo is the biggest departure. I guess it's the daylight hours version. A gentle drum and slide led reverie of the open road. Morgan's bass runs are pretty modern here, too, and the banjo is way back. You'd be hard pushed to recognise this as Old Crow. It's a very catchy song though and once I made the adjustment it quite often comes to mind during the day. I'd love to hear what this sounds like live, after hours, waiting for lift south.

Greatest Hustler is my favourite song on the disc. It's ancient and it's happening right under our noses. It fits right in there with Always Lift Him Up in that "them's just folks" department, so it doesn't cast judgement. It's plaintive heart string stuff, and it's a timeless story that is stretching the realm of possibilities just too far. It's funny. It's cartoon but it's heart break. Beautiful and instantly memorable.

Methamphetamine is dark alley stuff, the modern drug fable, and it twists you as the story unfolds. The harp is great as are the harmonies and that "falls of the Cumberland" line is stellar. I'm not so enamoured of keltner's drumming on this, but it's another powerful song and we start to get a picture building up.

Next Go Round is just stunning. Stop me in my tracks. An instant classic, like Take Em Away from OCMS this is timeless and achingly beautiful. The fiddle. Willie singing with Ketch and Critter harmonising. Another favourite.

Humdinger. A fun tune from Kevin and great to sing along with. I think this song got left unfinished - I loved hearing it live and somehow there's a bit missing here. In fact a live version for the album would have been the way to go. I don't mind the "right-winger/folksinger" bits - it's Animal House here and all comers who can take the pace are welcome .. just don't go making speeches or sitting on the stairs being all aloof and enigmatic.

Motel in Memphis comes lurching off of the Rolling Thunder Revue, whitefaced and staring out of those dark corners again, and it yet sounds so pretty - the fiddle - the melody. I get the impression that MLK is as much an icon here as Mr Crump, and we're been given another broad brush-stroke of the obvious. The Old Crows walking out with their eyes open. It's still about the street where we all live.

Evening Sun is another of Willie's plaintive ballads, with the beat picked up a little. The opening melody is very similar to Next Go Round but damn it's a good song. There's another "Thousand somethings", too, which bugs me a bit. But damn it's a good song.

Mary's Kitchen is wonderful and boy am I ready for some old time uptempo footstomping sweaty goodtime music. Thanks Gill.

Crazy Eyes. Starts off on the porch real personal like. Another of Ketch's alter-ego's trying to make sense of the world, not causing trouble but not really getting involved anymore, making good sense but and still Crazy. I love this track. And the way it steps back and then makes way for

Tennessee Pusher is eeire. Another instantly real narrator telling the story we don't want to hear. It's just us Crows here and we can talk straight, right. Throw another log on the fire, I feel cold inside, and I'm wondering where this life of mine is going ...

Always lift Him Up is a lovely treatment of an good song. Willie's voice hits the heartstrings again, and there's that Willie/Ketch/Critter harmony effortlessly lifting us higher than a cathedral roof - plus it's just Old Crows playing. We're reminded that there's been no judgement at all for the last hour. Just watching, wondering , trying to explain, trying to feel our way through this crazy world. And our friends and neighbours trying to do the same.

Caroline. This version is now neck and neck with the OCMS out-take. I love the pace and muscially it has the edge, but the out-take has the turning flips line and the thousand miles apart line. Tough call. Great song either way, and a good closer for the album.

This going to be in my player for a good long time.

Old Crow Medicine Show Buy It From The Boys!! The whole full quality Top Notch CD for $11.99 !!

You can hear a bunch of the songs over at the Amie Street Blog which seems to be legal lowbitrate versions, since Amie Street is selling the album ($8.98 download).

Here's an example:
Greatest Hustler Of All mp3


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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Crooked Still

One Sunday in May we took the Kingdom to Ennis to see Crooked Still at the sparkly 'new' theatre there. Glór. It's a funny place, not least because you can't take your drink into the auditorium. The stage is wide and the seats are not far away but the back of the room, the depth of it is not as wide as the stage if you get my meaning. There's a good sound system so the sound can be good if it's handled right. It was that night.

There should be a couple of footnotes here. The band had just got off the plane and spent the afternoon renegotiating a van that was the right size for their gear. They did if I remember rightly have some spare time though coz their was talk of Brittany Haas swimming in Kilkee (or was it Spanish Point?) I start to realise my memory is a little hazy here coz it was clearly said that she swam in May without a wetsuit. In the Atlantic. No mean feat.

There's a saying in Kilkee which seemed logical at the time:
April and May - stay out of the Sea
June and July - swim til ye die

My memory is a little hazy due to the second footnote about Saturday being such a beautiful night, all balmy, still and full of friends, that I could not sleep at the party I went to (and didn't get home til way after dawn). All day I was receiving important messages from my liver such as **WARNING! YOU HAVE BEEN POISONED. PLEASE DO NOT MAKE ANY SUDDEN MOVEMENTS - WE ARE ATTEMPTING TO MINIMISE THE DAMAGE** so I wasn't on tiptop form when I got to the theatre. Painkillers (the good ones my friend K has for her migraines) were sneered at by my internal repair team. I nursed my bottle of water through the first set. And took a medicinal Whiskey during the interval. That was well received.

So what of the gig? All I can say was it was good enough to go and see them again a few days later in Galway, in a small room with maybe 120 people, and with the band wedged in between the tables. Great. The Irish water (whiskey?) has done it's work and they are looser and freer and having fun.
Here they are doing a Bill Monroe Instrumental, "Road To Columbus" with some funny chat about Tattoos and Piercings. Led by their new fiddler, Brittany Haas. Actually the chat was led by Aoife O'Donavon during the introductions for the new members, Brittany, and Tristran Clarridge, but Brittany led the tune. (I like the way her myspace categories say "Acoustic/Folk/Psychobilly" btw)

It was a great gig and the new CD, Still Crooked, is still on high rotation here two months later.

A couple of tracks from that too.

Undone In Sorrow
Tell Her To Come Back Home

here's a great review of the new album, Still Crooked, over at Cover Lay Down

And next up is banjo player, Greg Liszt's project the Deadly Gentlemen, about which you hear a tantalising snippet of introduction at the end of the live track.

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