There is a trend for interesting duos around these days which has occurred in the wake of globally successful acts such as the White Stripes and the Black Keys.
Coincidence that they should both have had colour-based names but more interesting that they were both very bluesy in their approach. This is a common thread throughout most of the recent ones I have seen. The line ups vary, some being guitar/drums, guitar/bass, guitar/harmonica or two guitars. Those without a drummer sometimes include alternative percussion in some form, for example kick drum and hi hat cymbals, or in one case vocal beat-boxing using loop pedals.
The judicious use of loop pedals can greatly enhance these duos and can massively increase their depth of sound. Loop pedals have generally been a godsend to both soloists and duos over the last five years and are becoming more and more sophisticated.
Duo performances in recent weeks in Macclesfield have been from Tommy Allen and Johnny Hewitt (guitar/harmonica plus percussion), Swamp Candy (guitar/bass plus percussion), Mat Walklate and Dick Farrelly collectively known as Keep It Clean, (guitar/harmonica), Kill for Company (guitar/drums) and last weekend Xander (guitar/guitar, loop pedal). They are all very bluesy and all extremely good.
Xander, at the Wharf last Friday, were superb (as usual) and this was only a week after being involved in a car crash on the way home from a gig. They were extremely fortunate to have sustained only minor injuries and after a couple of days felt good enough to go out gigging again. They are two brothers, Keith and Stewart from Liverpool. Keith plays electric guitar and Stewart acoustic.
They have worked as a duo for a little over a year now, after disbanding their five-piece band the Peace Pirates. As the Peace Pirates they had amassed a good following and famously supported Bon Jovi. Keith is a wonderful showman, a superb guitarist and vocalist and a wizard with a loop pedal. What makes him exceptional is he was born with only one hand. This has not debilitated him one jot and he plays as well as if he had three hands. The fact that his right hand is a hook only adds to his charisma. They are really special.
On Saturday, the ridiculous Dung Beatles made a hysterical appearance at the Cabin. Put together by some very well known local musicians, they parodied the look of the ‘Fab Four’ and entertained a very full house with a large selection of Beatles music culled from their huge songbook. Good fun, well delivered and rapturously received.
Barnaby is upon us and a storming weekend lies ahead. Loads of stuff is happening throughout the town both under the Barnaby banner and independent ‘fringey’ stuff.
I can recommend the Art Trail, it has been open since last Friday and is already a roaring success. The Carnival on Saturday afternoon is a highlight for me. If you haven’t yet got a programme nip to the town hall square and get one from the black box.
Some of the music around town, official and otherwise is as follows:
Friday 21 – Loominus at the Snow Goose Live, F.I.G.M.O. at S2WN, RoughTwist unplugged at Cabin 5150
Saturday 22 – Konkoma Maximum Love Garden Orchestra + Lucas D and the Groove Ghetto + Samba Band at Snow Goose Live. Tickets £6 from the black box. On the Fringe all dayer 12 til 12 SW2N.
Sunday 22 – Bach Cello Concertos from Li Lu. Two concertos in each of – King Edwards Chapel, Cabin 5150, St Michael’s Church.
Fingers crossed for some sunshine so we can all enjoy the fun, and don’t forget the ‘people’s pianos’ all around the town.