+ Sons of Noel and Adrian
(Thurs Nov 5th 2009 / 8pm / £9 adv)
A Qu Junktions Production
Its been a while coming but it is happening - Jack Rose, one of the most raw, emotive as well as proficient and gifted acoustic guitars players of his generation comes to Bristol with The Black Twig Pickers. A fine night of ragtime, old-time, blues, some J. Rose originals, and fine traditionals. Performed by Rose on guitar and steel guitar, Gangloff on fiddle, banjo and vocals,and Bowles on percussion, banjo and vocals. Solo and duo excursions from all members are planned throughout the set... as well as some drinkin'.
Pre-WW II American folk music has long been a calling card amongst many musicians in the underground and aboveground scenes -- usually updated to fit some version of whatever's contemporary, used as basic fodder to give credence to one’s own songwriting and/or music-making abilities, or presented as a note-for-note re-enactment of the past. Ultimately all of these approaches fall short and sound artificial. As Strage Glue state “Jack Rose and The Black Twig Pickers tell it well, from their side of the ocean, without making an effort to be accessible, palatable, academic or lo-fi. It’s a big fuck you to the gentrification (and homogenisation) of traditional American folk music. “
This band rip, instruments used to give the trks a more percussive edge, the middle tones shredding the air looking for a good time, while sometimes a vocal will leap out or a harmonica will rub nicely against the lap steel. They have pedigree and spirit aplenty.
Jack Rose and Mike Gangloff have been musical partners for almost 15 years, mainly within Pelt, an improvisational drone collective that remains one of the U.S. underground's better-kept. Rose and Gangloff for years have obsessed over pre-war American folk music and often played it together on and off within Pelt and casually on their own in their short-lived group with Amy Shea, the Lick Mountain Ramblers.
Gangloff, along with guitarist/harmonica-player Isak Howell and fiddler Ralph Berrier Jr., formed the Black Twig Pickers in 1999 and have released four albums on the VHF label. In the past three years, the band has cemented a regional reputation as a ferocious live unit, mostly gigging at dances, bars and community events near the band members' homes in South-west Virginia.
The new self titled full-length delivers a unified group sound that drives and swings, lilts and kicks, and never, never gives in to flash and pretence. Like the best of the old-timers, Rose and the Twigs have found a way to stay simultaneously loose and tight, and to go directly to the heart of the matter, which is forging the strongest possible musical connection to one another and to anyone with an ear to listen or foot to stomp.
For Justin Farrar's musings on the Rose/Twigs sound, see
The Here Shop (Stokes Croft)