EDITORIAL The scale and scope of the Jack Of Diamond’s “Rhythm & Roots Festival” 2013 was a testament to how much ambition and ability was on show in its second year. This was reflected in the calibre of artists who played and gave a commitment to the festival, but also to the number of venues who got behind it and supported it. The other aspect of the festival is the charity side with all the proceeds made from donations going to Focus Ireland, the designated charity of the festival. This year’s festival saw over 100 acts play throughout 13 venues in the city centre of which we managed to catch 21 of them live. Everything kicked off for us with The Cujo Family at Whelan’s on Friday August 16th, with Crow Black Chicken bringing the curtain down on it all at The Sunday Roast. In addition to there being an incredibly high standard of music, there was also a number of UK based acts brought over specifically this year to play. For a festival of free music it was more than capable of giving people their money’s worth. We are already looking forward to next year’s festival. Phillip Ó’Baoighealláin Editor-In-Chief
3 - The Cujo Family 4 - The Hot Sprockets 5 - Wyvern Lingo 6 - Sarah Red 7 - Late City Edition 8 - North Strand Kontra Band 9 - The Cold Draw 10 - Christian Collins / Sean Reilly 11 - Pearse Halpin / Pillow Fort 12 - One For The Road / Fanlights 13 - The Quicksand Band / Sons Of Gingerbread 14 - Legion Of Ape / Monsoon Season 15 - The Larkfield Four / Prison Love 16 - Punch Face Champion / Crow Black Chicken
THE CUJO FAMILY (Whelan’s) 16th August The first act that we managed to see play at this year’s Jack Of Diamonds Rhythm & Roots Festival was an indicator of the high calibre of artist that the organisers had managed to attract. With The Cujo Family their folk leanings are elevated into something with a kick and a progression that is reflected in their live shows. Things began with “Let Your Feelings Grow”. It has a lot of style but it also has an intriguing feel that keeps your attention on them for their music. There is an open feel in the lyrics which notably settles the playing and from there lays down a marker. It is then followed by another commendable tune in “Dog Gone Crazy”. The rhythm softly hangs back as the committed vocals finely stir the emotion. The delivery is an abiding affair that pleasantly lingers as it plays. They then played some of their signature tunes and the first was “Fool I’ve Been”. The frenzied pace hits hard and is one of their songs that they revel in. A deliberate sense comes through and the effective way that all the play rolls brings it to life in glorious fashion. The bluegrass feel on “Patti Girl” is also a fine turn. It is a tune that is well laid out, consistent and given a very clean running. The aspects of it retain a thorough feel which finely complements these points. They do it all again on “Hours Of The Wake” and this is blessed by the band’s ability to turn on a sixpence. The blistering feel from the tempo is matched by a vocal delivery that finely lays into it with the intent it deserves. “Half Of Bray” is another song in their set that builds finely. There is a volume about the rhythm and how it connects up with the overall aesthetic drives it forward. There is a hard impact that is
quite telling and brings an assured hit to their performance. When it gets followed up by the softer “You Choked” the marked change in direction is evident. Here there is a poignancy lingering which is a testament to the diligence displayed when it comes together. It is very much a song with purpose and also matched by the way the conviction is invested in the delivery. With “Paris, The Hate In My Heart” the finesse pours out from the off. There is also something selective added to the sound from the keys and how they sit alongside the overall running. It pushes out everything and adds to the texture in the sound magnificently. They then launch into “Where The Blue Flowers Grow” which is another song that has been enhanced by the new direction their sound has taken. The arrangement is more rotund, with the improved feel to it losing nothing in terms of charm and appeal. It is a great song that is followed up with the tone completing it all.
With “Shoplifting In Tesco” they have a very stylish song on their hands. It is one of the standout songs in their set for the reggae feel. The delivery also one adds something stylish to be reckoned with. That also goes for “Bray Head Hotel”, but this time everything has been slowed down. The apparent difference to its original conception brings the warmth and emotion. The application is impressively done and steps out admirably to produce a track with a timely richness about it. Their set was closed by “Cosmic Death Ray”. Here there is an excellent marriage between the playing and the harmony. The essence is explicitly felt and enhances the intimate feel of it. As the live delivery finds the meaning in the vocals it also locates the emotion as it is all brought home. An encore was provided with “God In A Tree”. The spiritual side is very much brought out. The arrangement is all settled into sweetly and the homely feel is channelled through in the tempo in a way that shows their true class.
THE HOT SPROCKETS (Whelan’s) 16th August From the very second that they stepped out on stage with their two backing singers – Sister A and Sister Red - you knew something special was in store here tonight. That is exactly what happened with the band seriously showing their live game has been upped considerably. “Honey Skippin’” opened with an easy drift that draws you in. Everything sharply opens up the live delivery. There is a lot of front to the solid play and all the elements play in efficiently. The quality they have is shown on “Bad Jim”, which has ‘choon’ written all over it. The catchy and feverish styling is very much off the hook and fires up the rhythm. The rich side coming through from the mandolin underlines this. “Chant” was then dedicated to sound man on the night A-Tray Cullen and it was another wonderful turn. Here the bass shakes it up and a zest comes across from the guitar. Those traits meet excellently with the loaded pace of it all. They give everything a Honky Tonk feel on “Leavin’” which opens in a cautious way. The harmonica then injects something to show how well layered it all is. There is a big musical feel about it from the playing and movement shown. The vocals also hit an intended height and make it an excellent effort overall. They lay into a catchy harmony on “Cruisin’” which works the crowd as much as it locks in the hard points. This packs a punch and also sees the band get lost in the playing as thee guitar and drumming meet it all dead on. They get straight into it on “Shake Me Off” which has a good skip. The compact running is energetic and the playing is angled in a way that drives it. The other thing of note is how the rock side is heavily applied, but done with precision. The acoustic guitar gives “Long Way From Home” the poignant feel it deserves as it slows
their set down. Everything cleanly comes together here and has a smooth feel. The purposeful showing is also a strong draw. Sublime drumming fills out on “Solid Gold” and it builds the intro into a very funky progression. That progression then moves forward in to a very rich blues influenced number. There is revelry to how the guitar all pitches up in the rhythm that helps catch everything just right. They then bring it all to “Sleep Shake” and when it takes off the power in the delivery shows. This is very effective and kicks in to produce a belter of a tune. The intensity of the delivery shows how much they have worked on things live. One of the tracks on the new album was next called “Wait Woman” and the guitar sounds brings it to life. This knocks the ball out of the park. The running is catchy and what fires it up shows it to be a cracking tune from start to finish. With “QR” things have a diligent way in how they hang back. The patience conveys the quality of it all and the blues flits in superbly with the guitar licks. When it all comes together it is a truly astonishing affair. The rich vein on show with the live delivery carries great stature. They then launch into a jam which is magnificently tracked before hitting the audience with “Boogie Woogie”. Here the frenetic pace sits well and charges through in a way that matches up nicely with the excellent vocals. What runs through it is exceptional and takes everyone along for the ride. They then closed out with “Soul Brother” and there is so much conviction in the opening that it moves the track in a way that shows why they have the live reputation they do. It is a marked direction from the audio recording to what is shown here, but marked out for the right reasons. It is a storming tune that presses ahead and displays the class from start to finish with no let up.
WYVERN LINGO (Whelan’s) 16 16th August Every time we see this trio play live there is always something that leaves a satisfying impression, and here again tonight they showed how good they can be. The soulful stirrings of their set were finely produced on “The Widow Knows”. But even though it is softly played with a lilt in the sound, there is also something present that brings out a heartened feel which moves it along sufficiently. After that came “Bravery” and it has a soothing quality in the tone. The cajun rises up and stands out. How it is all traced that shows how well outlined it all is and is what gives it essence. With their brand new song “Snow” following they zero in on the opportune aspects of their sound. This is a deliberate move on their behalf and it builds on that approach. What it results in is incredibly welcoming and the poetry in the lyrics gives it an added sense of feeling. They then played “Fools” which brings a bass guitar into the mix. That helps the way that the shared vocals wrap around the song. What is left standing is something that is very accomplished with a good dramatic pull to it. With how the guitar is keyed in a brighter showing is brought about. “Subside” is an inclusion that comes into its own. The spacing shown alongside the drumming impacts upon it and stokes the emotional heft as much as the vocals. The delivery itself is very commanding helping to enforce this. They then develop a moody tone on “Fairytale”, yet there is a close feel in the tempo that plays in cleverly. This is also big on movement and the drumming stands tall on it. The bass and violin add to the build and remedy the sultry aspects quite well. The harmony also holds its own ground. They closed out with “Fountains” which has a whimsical roll that is delightful. The vocals also cut finely through. The guitar is a soft application that is subtly built in with the bass and drumming. Overall it is a well-crafted number that is galvanised by how it builds into a big tune form the arrangement, while the slight jazz slant is a nice touch.
SARAH RED (Whelan’s) 16th August The final artist that we caught on Friday night was one that we have seen perform before and here she played with a band behind her. That caught our attention because it changed the sound she has and her first song “The Darkest Season” grounds the countenance in the delivery. That leads to a symmetry in the shared vocals that is very kind to the tranquil hold shown. With “Dreadland” there is something merry and full showing in how the rhythm is conjured. That helps to bring a telling chic to how it all feels and adds something distinct in the placing. Her third track “Humans” has a hearty showing in how the guitar and bass move across, which then becomes more urgent when the drumming comes to bear on it all. Her voice seeps through in an imaginative way and also leans into it all to match the pace. This gives it a grand feel when it occurs. She then produced a knockout delivery with her a capello delivery of “Seven Brother” which gracefully shows how good she can be. The soul shows on this one as it is all laid bare. The sense of vulnerability in the delivery is well mastered here. The rhythm on “Misdirected Fire” invitingly draws the listener. That helps to build a resolution into the performance, but it is the fluid and free movement of the playing that captures the finer points in the delivery.
Her next song “Open” has it all. There is a well-heeled angle that is worked with vigour. This helps grind out something coveted in the playing which then hits hard and with a circumstantial impact. The substance to it shows in the break down and it pushes the envelope. There is a holistic feel to “Telegram” which aids the lush sentiment that builds. It is all complemented by the way things drop back. This brings something very apt to the ambient tone that is articulately measured. Her voice then classifies everything on her final track “Quantum”. The stray feel to it fits well with the musical and the loom built in the sound. The harmony adds to the dynamic as it fixes into the process as a whole. There is a very pertinent build to it all and the angst in her vocals also helps sell it. Everything on show here has a deliberate feel and fits into the overall arrangement in an excellent manner. -6-
LATE CITY EDITION The Globe (17th August)
They opened with their acoustic set with “She Saves My Soul”. Here the build is a well versed affair with a committed feel coming through on the rhythm. That gives the abundant catchy side an attractive showing. Next song “Look Back Tomorrow” is a joy to hear. The vocals have a stripped back feel when the guitar amicably plays in. There is a solid approach which matches the consistency on show. It all holds in a prepared way which has a heartfelt way in how it cleanly slips away. The third track in their set “Faraway With You” takes flight quite sensibly. The acoustic guitar holds together with a body of work that is excellently styled. The rhythm is particularly fluid and there is a good lift vocally. They are effective in giving the song a dandy skip that is another big draw. “Sunday Morning” has a complete hold. The lean feel from the vocals is very much about substance. The lyrics roll in brilliantly and the acoustic setting is what yields the best from it. There is a sliver in the intro that steadies “Forever Now” and gives the vocals a platform. The guitar and the tempo are also taken stock to give the rhythm a layered distinction. This fortifies everything.
There is a feel of an honest day’s work to their cover of OCEAN COLOUR SCENE’s “Second Hand Car” which you always felt was coming. The comparisons are mirrored in their set from the beginning and are impossible not to make.
But they do it justice and follow it up with “Bury The Hatchet”. Here the kick meets well with the way that the vocals feel their way through. This has a clear outline and the delivery is very pronounced, with a particular precision to how it builds. On “Emily Jane” the sultry vocals of frontman ALAN RICHARDSON warmly build within the canter of the song. How the rhythm wraps around the play brings out the best in it. Yet the ability also holds it all in. The tambourine works in on “Slow It Down” to give it all a pleasing comfort that sits alongside the well worded lyrics. They take their time which counts for a lot in how it breaks down. The management is what gives it an elated feel which naturally comes to pass. The cursive vocals again find their calling on “Everything You Thought You Had” and serve it well. This steps out with the shared vocals showing it to be a tidy number. The rights points are fixed and catch everything with great effect. They closed with “The River”. Again the right qualities are locked in to give it a very complete feel. The intro moves towards something reflective in the lyrics. The bountiful feel enriches it and the shimmy meets the pace is a commendable fashion which gives it all a more robust feel.
NORTH STRAND KONTRA BAND The Workman’s Club (17th August)
This ensemble band has gathered quite a reputation on the Dublin circuit so we were eager to see what they are about. Things got underway with “Magnus” which burns bright with how the brass meets well with the bluegrass style they have. Yet there is also a gypsy flavour in place on it that shows some serious work at play here. That gypsy/polka feel in their sound gets another showing on “Sarba” and brings a real buck to the rhythm. There is a rich texture that shows from how the brass sections give it drive and the clarinet comes into the running giving it more bluster. Their third offering “Geam Para” has a vaudeville feel showing on it. While the change in pace dictates a touch of sophistication that smoothens out the feel as the brass cleverly presents itself in the sound.
They have something tremendous to offer with “Doina” and it gets fired up by the skittish running. That shows in a distinct and fluid way that gives a magnitude to the fast running of it that shows how selective the tone is overall. There is a delightful dance off between the clarinet and saxophone at the start of “Fiddle” before the trumpet and bass horn are added. The jazz overture to it makes something sombre come forth and then leads it into a slight swing tune. While the latin touches in the sound come off it in a specific way. The fiddle then gets played on “Tetris” which was the first time it was included in their live set. This adds some depth
it also gives it a Parisian feel that is flavoured and very telling on it. There is specificity to it all and the deep sound progresses finely with the European styling of it all. They then produce some more of the fanciful with the good shuffle on “Provofifu”. It brightens all the depth it has and the good running to it drops into it all seamlessly. Their next song “Waltz” plays in the style if the title and cleanly hangs. The banjo is also able to draw some of the blissful qualities that come across on it to give it a merry showing. Their new song “Fulgerica” sails along wonderfully. There is something courteous to be felt from the playing that fixates everything that is on show. Their set really hits the ground running in an impressive way with “Lavtar”. Structurally this is very vibrant and the drop down in the rhythm is very impressive when it occurs. The stylish aspects are finely complemented by the soulful and frantic bursts which then pick it all back up. They have something in the repertoire that catches a smart and imaginative trait in the cabaret styling it shows on “De Purtat”. The wily delivery serves it well and has a good standing about it all which sit neatly with the Carnivale feel to it. They close out with “Hora A” which locks in the catchy terms from the volume. That gives the song a neat context that is stirred from the warmth of the latin feeling. All the playing is countered well with the smart swing movements underlining this and seeing them bring it all home as they see out their set.
THE COLD DRAW Sweeney’s (17th August)
We have been seeing a lot of this Kilkenny band recently on the Dublin scene as of late and they are always an impressive attraction on the occasions that we have seen them play live. With the stillness that is placed upon “Railway” the sophistication that they bring to their performance buoyantly builds the rhythm. It threads it all through and the stationary feel to it is highly effective. This produces a parlance that brings a fine hold to how it closes. The grandeur again shows on “Start Again”. This is a song with a selective and soulful aspect in the delivery. They very much produce a stellar turn which has a highly deliberate feel about it all. Then the focussed feel in the play and harmony marry well on “Quicksand”. The essence of it all is applied in an explicit way that enhances the deeper qualities when the vocals are factored into the equation. This is a song that capably locates the emotion in the delivery. The keys place finely in the tempo on “Far Removed” and give the sound a withdrawn feel that is highly effective. The endearing qualities give the delivery a good reckoning. How all the playing comes together also makes it an attractive listen. The violin and piano take hold on “Follow Your Own” in a very circumstantial way. The manner that everything holds back is extremely graceful, while the torn feeling in the lyrics is conveyed in the delivery very matter of fact. This is also a tune that has a good body when it all combines and the array to it all comes through from this approach.
The final song here was “Along The Levee”. Again it is a soft number that sees the vocals ease effectively into it. They catch everything appropriately with the reserved feel which also gives it all an explicit showing, while the free spirited side stands it good stead also. A great set overall.
SAUCY SUNDAYS The Grand Social (18th August) The first act getting this special Saucy Sundays off to a start was CHRISTIAN COLLINS. With his first tune there is a fondness to how the guitar flits along. This sees the rhythm bob along on the surface from the careful approach on it. Overall it is very delectable and the bridge carries weight on the delivery. The balance that is struck on next song “Kisses” helps the softer feel as his voice finely filters through. That brings something very specific and proves to be a good calling. The formidable way it is mastered sees it travel in a charming way. The third song in his set was “Lost”. Here the sombre tone is stirred and gives it a depth when heard. It all bears smartly on it. The longing sense and lonesome sentiment are effective in how they hang back on it also. The brief set was closed out with a version of MATT CORBY’s “Souls Of Fire”. The delivery settles it into a lively number with a hard fierce showing to it. A brief set but one that displays enough to garner an appreciation for the artist as a performer.
........................................................................................... We have seen him perform on numerous occasions with THE ESKIES and to see him perform a solo set was very encouraging. There is an inviting hold about “Once Before” and the guitar carries a close feel in the play that is commendable. The arrangement displays a lot of pristine qualities. How they occupy in the play is channelled in a way that brings the best out in it. “One For Those Who Try Again” has a good pick up on the pace. This hangs on it all and is splendidly worked way. There is a somewhat cagey feel about how it all falls into place that is rather succinct. After that came “The Test Of Time” which is a song with a neat tumble in the rhythm. That gives it a tidy overall feel and then relays a good inclination to how it all lines out on the lyrics and vocals. The soft and colourful delivery also has a countenance in the harsh points that is quite effective on it here. His next effort is also a pleasing one called “Chasing Shadows”. A lot is brought and because of that there exists a prowess in the performance. It also catches a lot as it steps out and is a top song. The conviction bringing it all through is a damn fine showing to things here and sets up “All Down To You”. It is helped by how the pace is built up. The steady and determined feel all comes across on it here and is fashioned cleanly. The guitar knocks out rhythm with an assured way that sees the hard points finely felt. The excellently titled “Soft Hearts Break Hard” closes the emotion off and pushes it along. It is all carried along quite commendably and, as a softer song, has a pleasance to it all and made all the more prolific for the poignancy about it all.
He then very much picks it all up from the off on “Letting Go” which retains a substance as it motors along. There is a comfortable feel to the rhythm here and it all comes into the equation with a calm cut that meets well with the sped up vocals. The deft touches on show add a touch of class. Then there is a determined opening to “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway”. It opens that way and floats on through. The good delivery hides away and a gives it all a good running. The texture to the tone here is choice in how it is put upon it here and stands it good stead. He then played a cover of “Say It To Me Now” which gets everything right in this cover of THE FRAMES’ song.
- 10 -
The title track off his upcoming album “The Trick To Living” got things started and it very much draws you in. The guitar riff has the right build up and the slide is keenly felt. It is a big number to open with and a lot shows in the arrangement. How it connects shows how much attention has been placed upon it. The volume in “Entice Me” is locked in with a determined backing. The rhythm rises highly and efficiently. The lyrics relay in a way that stands up for it and underlines the title by very much producing the goods. Here they lay is a tune that we were already familiar with having seen the video and seeing it live was very pleasing. The rhythm has an electrifying feel that immediately grabs you and sees the delivery through in the harder moments. It is also given a real shot in the arm with how it progresses. There is a slight GRANT LEE BUFFALO feel about “Your Halo” and there is nothing missed in the transition. The drumming and the acoustic guitar settle finely into it all. That gives it a cautious style that runs through it which then becomes compact when it all comes together. Another song that is very much the real deal from him is “Grasp The Star” which comes about and hurries along with accomplishment. This is well worked on the playing side. It has a lot of front to it and works effectively in how it is gathered. The final song here is “Your Story” and is rigorous in the way it is whipped into shape. There is a feverish turn displayed with the key to the arrangement having a countenance that resonates fully. The bridge has a lot to admire and works because of the evident way it is all gauged.
They adopt a very experimental approach in their opening track “Tall Trees” which lays down a considerable marker. The synth comes around on it in a way that makes you appreciate them fully. There are dark and nourish elements that impact in a way that is rewarding to hear. The intricacies are very fetching and give it balance as much as they do in terms of expanse. Another well delivered song shows with “Silver Brackets” and the vocals have a telling way of fitting the inventive intentions. There is a nice showing to the way it holds back and the drumming kindly plays in on it in a way that develops the warmth. That lays down a precedent with the detailed “Skins” up next. There is an ambient and full feel from how it is done. The synth energises it along with the drumming and that all adds up to how it develops presence. Their cover of RADIOHEAD’s “Nude” drifts along and has an opportune feel. That concerns itself in a way that fits comfortably with the melancholic feel to it. After that is a track with a gilded feel called “Of Ghosts”. This is very much a shapely affair. The loom on it has purpose and allows things to become expansive while the pace becomes steadily applied. The perusing quality in the lyrics adds a distinction to the tone. The final song in their set was the sultry “Taut”. This has a hypnotic allure and effervescent charm that come to the fore as they work into the dark overtures at play. That gothic sense adds a layer of substance to it. All the lavish points on it combine effectively. This is what gives it a decisive retro fitting as much as it does an alternative one.
- 11 -
The fine bluegrass and country feel on “Nobody’s Love Is Like Mine” is very faithful. In terms of the rich quality it imbues feels right on it. The banjo is blinding and the overall result is something with a kindled feel and refreshing tempo. The mandolin and double bass neatly kick everything off on “Carolina In The Pines”. Then a settle feel about the running comes through. It is all handled with a decadence displayed. The harmony in the vocals fills out in a promising way. That needled feel in the sound traps in something that is highly appealing.
ONE FOR THE ROAD
A neat cover of HERSHEL SIZEMORE’s “Rebecca” traps in the pleasance before “Blue Night” takes off. Here is a song with goodness running through it from the off. There is a fine and fanciful tempo marked out in the pace. There is a much defined Southern influence on show which gives it a pristine feel from how it all features here. “The Beating Heart” is a murder ballad with a good flow. The hard keel is rather savoury and the mandolin produces something taut in the rhythm. The banjo then enhances it all and is given a respectable feel in the delivery from the smart vocals that track across on it. The nice skip on “Beautiful Life” marks it out for the right reasons. That generates a smart buzz as it cleanly takes hold. It embraces it all in a way that gives it good standing. A frantic and full on way finds its way through on the rhythm of “Love Please Come Home”. This sees it all ride in distinctly. The evenly fashioned and smart way it all gets down to the task at hand is impressive. Everything works as intended and shows good design at work. From there is a song with a swing to it called “How Mountain Girls Can Love” which has a rich blues and country feel that is promisingly stirred from the banjo and bass played. This fires it up. The heartened feel resulting from this places excellently in the delivery and catches it all in a spirited way. A volume presents in the volume of the play on “Jerky Shuffle” which immediately stands out as it sets off from the intro. The contentment in the ensemble is very fluid and well formed. That competent display in the delivery works well with the revelry it has. They closed out with “Lost And Never Find Our Way”. There is vigour in how it is rolled out. The lonesome pining in the lyrics is well versed and well suited to the application. The banjo gives it a sharp cut. Everything that needs to line up on this one does, but how it is all exacted displays an excellent live delivery at work.
........................................................................................... This wasn’t just the first time that this band were playing Saucy Sundays, but it was in fact their first ever gig. “Superstar” got them off the mark. This is given something from the withdrawn opening and leaves a stark impression that is lasting. It moves forward and controlled, while the vocals add a sultry weight that heavily adds to the rawness it has. The guitar steals an oriental feel on “Fortune Teller” that is very clever and melts away on it. This gives it a good dramatic feel in how it hangs back. That abandon is situated on it in a way that is well worked. The minute touches in their sound and delivery also have the necessary impact. There is a memorable and seductive candid essence that comes through on “The Crown” which gives it a slight dalliance that is quite opportune. This brings a lot through and impresses with how rich it feels. There is a sobriety to the convergence in the vocals that also sits well with the tone.
- 12 -
“The Soul Cake” is slowly introduced which makes it highly appealing and draws you in. Then things pick up and the delivery is truly hardy. The sentient feel in how it lingers shows the quality at work on in here. While it has a big bridge there are also shoegazer qualities that work in with prominence which has probably been hinted in the prior way the set has been carried off. They come at it with a softer approach in their sound when “Freeze Time” plays and it is something that is electively felt. This is excellent in terms of how it builds. The song has a lavish feel to it and is well structured. The taut moments in the play mirror well against the stray points also. They finished here with “Pall Mall” which is a refined and graceful affair. There are little qualities that wash over on it with magnificence as they are brought to bear. The vivid lyrics depict things in a neat way that suits the delectable rhythm.
“By My Side” is one of those songs blessed with a smart feel that bears down on the hard points in a telling way with the intro. When the vocals come in things have a wander about them which adds to the sheltered feel to show it to be a well work number as it levels out. That is followed by “Learning” which easily brings out something to warm to from the dandy feel it has. There is also a longing feel to it from how well it gathers. The patient way it finds the groove here is pulled through from the electric guitar. Then the timely feel that they can muster in their music comes to the fore with “Homesong”. The delivery displays a good understanding of this approach. While it is also prominent there is also a very catchy side that has substance to it all.
THE QUICKSAND BAND
There is something that is harshly angled in from “Stars Appear” that sees the big weight felt on it. That strong presence it has lines up as the guitar strikes out on it. While the bass and drum also add something relevant to it all that matches all the other points of note in the delivery. This becomes very much a dangerous animal on the bridge. They then revert back to producing songs with a timely feel. This time around it is a number called “This Town” getting the treatment. How it is played has a subtle BLUE OYSTER CULT undertone to it. While there is also some diligence pouring out from the music that sees it take flight in excellent fashion. Everything capably comes off on their last track “Time” and very much pushes through without any hesitation. There is a great casual feel coming from it and nothing is held back or restrained. That even styling of it very much sees them bow out and flex their muscle.
........................................................................................... They began by rocking up with “Looking For Gold” and it has an outstanding bass hook. That reflects the competence that the rest of the playing shows as the building progresses into something that is finely fleshed out. The quality of their play shows again with “Caribbean Way”. The offbeat feel to it is a wonderful attribute. While elusive somewhat it turns the tables and brings the pace on in a catchy way. This is reflected in the scatty running that it has. “Loaned” has a hard top showing about It that finds a way through. The hard feel in the playing is quite refined. When it picks up the pace everything goes a mile-a-minute but is all kept in control as it is all packed in. That gives it a very exclusive feel to back up the frenetic running. There is a rich bluster to “In The House”. That gives it all a commanding presence from the way that it develops the funky side. There is a berth in terms of how the elements fit into place here, in particular the way that the blues side to it is applied. They then come up with the goods with the cleanly imaginative “Sons On The Run” and this is acted upon in terms of how the rhythm and pace build. There is a great showing to this one. The soulful gives it all a rich texture and that is located particularly well. Coming in off this is “Whiskey And I’m Gone” which does so without missing a beat. There is a precision about the loaded rhythm that is very effective. This gives it lift and the application is sterling.
SONS OF GINGERBREAD - 13 -
Things grab hold of you on “Bible, Bottle And Gun” and the frantic zip about the vocals adds to the hard keel. There is no missing the kick to it. This has a wild running to it that complements a tune that is a serious all-rounder. Their upcoming single “Wake Me Up” is definitive. The abundant weight is what stands out on the playing. The weight to it hits hard and fast and the snappy drumming resounds evenly. That jutty side to it all gives it a great breakdown that is impossible not to notice. Their version of “Hold On” by CHRIS SMITHERS builds a neat meander that holds true on it. Then they brought the curtain down on the afternoon’s proceedings, as well as their set, with a medley of “Galvaston/Hobos/Lining Track” which has a great laid back feel to it all. The looming feel in the moments of play sit well with the relaxed points that are coined. There is also good placement in the lyrics that stokes it all up and is effective with each turn and change in play.
SUNDAY ROAST The Mercantile (18th August)
This is a band that we have seen before and they kicked it all off with “Reason is Chemical”. The slow, relaxed mood off it moves up a gear as the chorus charges up the tempo. While it comes as quite a surprise they continuously mix it up through the following verse. There is a break down in the middle before it all builds towards a big outro.
All in all it is an explosive way to start their set and they then follow it up with a groovy sound on “Explain It All Away”. There is a clever guitar riff standing out during the verse. The changing drum beat for the chorus really gives it the surprise element by taking the song in an entirely different direction. There is an element of classic rock ‘n’ roll style with “Seven, Eight, Nine” and also ability with the plenty of different riffs throughout. The song changes up and takes many different routes during the direction of the song. It is a common theme that we see but it’s the unpredictability that makes the tunes exciting. The tempo and riff changes keep the audience guessing
LEGION OF APE while they also display a very clever song-writing approach. Their next effort, “Baptism”, is a heavy song played with plenty of attitude. It builds from the opening riff. The chorus is massive when it arrives and is driven by a powerful drum beat. The bass riff is well rounded and is played in excellently behind the guitar. Their set included an as yet untitled song with an opening riff to the guitar which grabs the attention driving the song. It also includes a very impressive chord sequence that builds towards a big chorus. While we never know what’s coming for the chorus, they again play it loud, hard and with plenty of attitude. It is strange that the band throws in so many different elements into the song but it is obvious that plenty of hard work is put in to the writing. This was followed with “King Corpse”. It sees their set ending with an up-tempo song full of playing changes, big riffs and a heavy drum beat behind everything. “ L.O.A.” was the last effort from them here tonight. An impressive solo stands out on this as it builds to close a powerful set. They have quite a defined style and individually stand out as musicians. Here that is exemplified by them with the sheer class in the playing.
- 14 -
“Reggae Jam” sees them play into a very groovy opener. A saxophone solo takes centre stage from the off and we then see a drum beat in the back build as they end this quick instrumental opener to lad into “Soul Surfer”. This starts softly and builds with the progression. Everything comes together for the chorus. The jazz flute on show is a very nice element that betrays the typical instrument but sounds great between the verses on a very impressive song. They then come up with “Hay Day” by MIC CHRISTOPHER which is an excellent cover. While it is different to hear it with a female vocal, it is still well delivered and proves to be a nice cover to play between their original tracks. “Rat Racing” is a simple song with a basic sequence. What is most impressive about the song is how the elements play in behind the music. The effects on the electric guitar, as well as the expert delivery from the brass section, really stand out. The catchy melody on the chorus is simple but highly effective. “Here And Now” takes up where the previous leaves off. The verse is played quietly and produces a big chorus which takes everyone by surprise and kicks the song straight into gear. The lyrics are very well written with the quality of the music behind it to end a great set from the band.
THE LARKFIELD FOUR
We have seen this four-piece perform before and there is a novel aspect to their conservative sound. They got it all going with “Rolling In This Unfriendly World” which is fantastically arranged. Each individual member of the band does their bit to ensure a classy vocal delivery. The barbershop quartet’s 1930s style goes down a treat with this mercantile crowd. The female vocals take centre for “Shout Sister Shout”. The harmonies are very much on point and the song gives us the chance to hear both the individual voices and them all as a group. This is all very well-rehearsed which is vital to giving it appeal. On “Bring It On Home Sam” it all has more of a bluesy approach which again can’t be faulted for effort. The harmonies are again very well rehearsed. The reaction of the crowd says all you need to know about the performance, which is near perfect and can’t be faulted.
“Rock My Soul” proves to be a quicker effort with the different voices doing their bit to make the song come together. The hook is great as they impress the crowd. The up tempo tune shows a completely different side to the 4 piece, but is every bit as impressive. Next song “Jericho” has a slow, solemn start to the song building and getting quicker with progression. The dynamics really add to the effect. Again it’s quite incredible how they arrange the songs in their set. They are so tight that it is clear that their dedication has paid off. Their final two songs show a clean side to them as performers. With “Riverside” proving to be a clever song that is again sung very well. The lead vocal is very impressive when met with the backing harmonies. Again everything is very well-rehearsed and expertly delivered. They closed out with “Runaround”. This is sung in a solemn mood to begin with, the lyrics contrast with the mood in which the song is sung. The song picks up as the crowd join in to sing and clap along. The volume of the crowd at the end of the set defines just how pleasurable this live performance was.
“La Danse De Mardi Gras” starts off with a fantastic melody taking your attention from the start. Everything comes together nicely and the accordion stands out. The different musical elements are worked very well into this song and then we get to “Georgia Railroad”. The bluegrass style kicks straight in with an expert fiddle solo driving things. This is played with plenty of energy. The vocal delivery sees the harmonies on point effectively adding to the clever arrangement. The harmonies again open “Rock Island Line” and it suddenly kicks into gear. The hook in the chorus is fantastic and even has the audience singing along. Here they display fresh ideas to match their fine talents. They breakdown the set a little bit and mix it up from what have heard so far with “Les Oisseau Von Chanter”. This is again an effort driven by a well thought up melody. A special mention must go out for the top vocal performance which also shows their versatility. They return to the upbeat with “Policeman” as the different instruments all play an important part. It really comes together throughout its progression. Again we see expert harmonies stand out for the chorus to produce an almost faultless delivery. Next came “I Saw The Light”, which is another upbeat effort driven by fantastic fiddle solos. It is very much like their second song and has an excellent melody, but is more noted for how the verses really shape the song. The breakdown that builds towards the final chorus indicates their talent and is measured by how perceived it is by the crowd. “Lacassine Special” is sung a cappella. Obviously the strength of the melody helps carry the song but it goes largely unnoticed. Overall it is a great effort and gets followed up by a folk take on “Teenage Kicks” by THE UNDERTONES. The fresh approach clearly shows the time spent on practice as they go to work on it. The high tempo follows suit on “Rosie” and really brings the feel good factor. They throw in plenty of clever hooks throughout the song. It’s clear to see the band is having a good time which is mirrored in the performance. A cover of MOTORHEAD’s classic “Ace Of Spades” was next. This time with a bluegrass style that could again nearly pass as an entirely different song with the style and arrangement. They slowed it all down on “My True Love”, but it is still played with plenty of energy. The clever melodies again stand out. The crowd’s reaction shows how well it went down as much as the atmosphere on the night. Their last song was “Sugarhill”. This is another upbeat song driven by fantastic fiddle playing. We hear the strength of each individual voice. Like the previous songs, it shows that it is cleverly thought up and expertly delivered. It really goes to show that the bluegrass rock style still has a place within the Irish music scene.
- 15 -
In our opinion, one of the finest progressive bands currently playing on the Dublin circuit was next here in The Mercantile. “5” is a song that starts big and continues to grow as it progresses. For any instrumental band it is vital that the quality of musician stands out. This one is played with plenty of power. The timing of each riff comes in at the right place and brings a mind blowing start to the set. “10” starts out quite groovy which grows with the addition of heavy guitar riffs. The breakdown for the solo is great but the leading back into the song is phenomenal. All in all it is an excellent way to generate the excitement. Starting on drums and bass guitar is “9” before it grows to another incredible heavy hitting tune. The powerhouse drum beat behind the guitars really drive the tune. The guitars give it the necessary quality to make it stand out. We never really know what direction the song is going to take next which makes it very enjoyable. They have a stylish riff to the opening of “11”. The song’s introduction then grows to a heavy rock beat. Again each individual member helps bring something unique to the table. But unlike a lot of mediocre instrumental bands they work well together rather than four individual musicians. A huge start soon breaks down to a more funky beat on “8”. But as illustrated so far we never know what is coming next. The unpredictability adds to the excitement. They play to a massive outro with the tune coming to sudden halt. Then their last tune “3”. This begins with a slower tempo building from a well thought up opening riff. Starting slightly softer it builds with its progression. It is clear that the band is not going to sit back and play a mellow tune to end the set. The ending phase is huge and rounds off a terrific set from a top instrumental band.
CROW BLACK CHICKEN The band that closed out the festival this year proved to be an inspired choice to take up the mantle from BAMBOO PARTY last year. Fresh from their adventures in Texas the opening riff on “White Lightning” takes all the attention. The verse builds towards a heavy chorus. The strength of the vocal really stands out and the melody carries the song. The solo coming towards the end of the song shows the quality of guitarist. They build towards a great final chorus and signal their intent as they open their set in some style. “Charlie’s Woman” is like the opener as the opening riff takes the attention. A well thought up melody catches the attention of the crowd. The breakdown verse really gives extra strength to the closing chorus. It is a simple old school style rock tune but it is played very well played. A groovy intro announces “Jam Lee Wee”. The lyrics through the verse are great but it’s the music behind the lyrics that really stand out. The clever stops before reverting back into the verses make them feel much bigger. This is the stand out song of the set so far. It is on “Going Down” that things move up a gear. This is a powerful high tempo song. The power in the lead vocal really reflects that. An early guitar solo is the major high point of the song. Following a great breakdown playing out the ending chorus a second solo is added for extra measure which solidifies just how good they are. “Rumble Snake” is a quick song with staunch but also fine melody through the verse. The riff played between the verses is well thought up. The strength is carried through to the chorus showing a great consistency throughout the set.
- 16 -
“Sit with Satan” starts slower than the previous tunes with a real blues feel to it. The build up comes as an unexpected surprise, but once the song kicks into gear the guitar takes over. The slide guitar is expertly played. It’s extremely difficult to pick out flaws in the performance here. It is not unkind to just sit back and go along for the ride because it is an experience that it worth it. By this point we are well aware of what to expect from the band. “Murmuration” is another effort displaying creativity in the different guitar riffs played through the verses. When they break down to play a sharp solo, the song goes up to the next level, playing out with incredible power. Their final song here was “John the Revelator”. Building up from the off on vocals, the song kicks straight in. Again I must mention the text book guitar solo played effortlessly following the first chorus. The breakdown following the solo indicates something big coming up. Playing an incredible outro, Crow Black Chicken steals the show at the Jack Of Diamonds Rhythm & Roots Sunday Roast Special. They further underline another great nigh of making toast at the Roast….and by toast we mean music.
Published on Aug 24, 2013
This is a special edition of U&I Music Magazine that has been dedicated to 21 live acts that we caught at this year's festival.