Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Water Tower Bucket Boys + Lincoln Durham Hare and Hounds Kings Heath Birmingham Tuesday 11 September 2012

On nights like these you really wished the live music public of Birmingham would embrace some of the exceptional less well known US acts that make the commitment to physically export their talents to venues in this country. Promoters World Unlimited are increasingly seeking out quality Americana acts and established venues such as the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath are prepared to make room in their indie-dominated schedule to host  these artists but often the missing link is an enthusiastic crowd to give them a warm welcoming reception. The two artists who showcased their talents on a shared bill this evening were regular UK visitors the Water Tower Buckets Boys, who played a nearby venue around eighteen months ago, and the inaugural trip overseas of Texas based multi-instrumentalist Lincoln Durham. To be fair to both acts, they played a couple of storming sets that far outstripped the modest lukewarm environment that provided the backdrop to their performances.
Lincoln Durham. Photo not taken at gig
Lincoln Durham opened proceedings with an electrifying (well predominately acoustic) demonstration of dust n’ dirt Texas blues in true tradition of those who have produced a blue bonnet sound from the barren landscape of the Lone Star state. With the support and backing of the widely respected figure of Ray Wylie Hubbard, Lincoln has managed to blend perfectly the raw sound of his plethora of stringed instruments with the thoughtful song writing that is often an inbred trait of travelling Texas musicians. Never dwelling on one instrument, Durham fidgeted from fiddle to electric to acoustic and even played a couple of tunes on a contraption comprising of a cigar box for a body and a broomstick for a neck, in his own words – true Bo Diddly style. Throughout each change he expressed a passion for care and though beset by a couple of technical hitches, produced a spellbinding sound which complemented his gravelly vocals that carried all the hallmark of his mentor. With the added sound of the ubiquitous harmonica, this was a display of pure Texas soul music straight from an intense performer, who with a touch of work on audience rapport can make great strides in the world of Americana music. Notable tracks performed on the night from his debut album THE SHOVEL vs. THE HOWLING BONES were the stunning ‘Last Red Dawn’ , the engaging ‘Clementine’, ‘How Does a Crow Flow’ and the Texas drifter song ‘Mud Puddles’. Lincoln Durham is definitely one to watch on the live circuit.

Water Tower Bucket Boys
The Water Tower Buckets Boys are currently in a state of rebranding. When they return to the studio and the road again in the New Year they will be known simply as Water Tower. So they took their swansong with the more distinctive band name as an opportunity to both celebrate the past songs that have often featured on previous UK visits with a selection of numbers set to be an integral part of the band’s re-launch. Both old and new tracks all carried the mark of the bands frenetic bluegrass/indie/punk/roots style with the odd pure country tune thrown in. ‘Crooked Road’, ‘Fromage’ and the instrumental ‘London Breakdown’ were amongst the tracks played from their popular 2010 release SOLE KITCHEN. ‘It’s Wrong’, ‘Don’t Look Back’, The Tide of Time’ and show closer ‘Anthem Song’ were all new songs aired during the evening and look set to feature on forthcoming releases.

In sync with the line up on this tour, the boys are retaining their four-piece make up with Jason Oppat on drums and rousing harmonica, joining the established trio of Gordon Keepers – stand up bass, Josh Rabbie – guitar/fiddle and Kenny Feinstein – guitar/mandolin. The latter two share most of the vocal duties with the wit of Kenny being an essential part of the on- stage chemistry. Other notable songs performed on the evening by this tight knit quartet were stomping bluegrass number ‘I’m Working on a Building’, ‘Cocaine’ and the Townes Van Zandt song ‘’White Freightliner’.

Both acts deserved a far better turnout and more enthusiasm than this Birmingham audience gave them and thus it becomes more imperative that artists like these are increasingly actively promoted and the word is spread that quality live music is being delivered to our doorstep.

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