Monday, August 28, 2006

This is Vaudeville

Cheltenham Spa’s Calmer* evenings are growing on me like an exotic ivy and I am beginning to really appreciate the eclectic mix of music these showcases provide. Last night’s cracking double bill made a fine impression. First up was American one-man band Philip Roebuck thumping his banjo strings in a frenzied and frenetic fashion and beating out relentless riddims on his back to complement his plaintive and personal numbers. He rocked. I always enjoy encountering novel musical experiences and Roebuck’s set was an unusual and challenging excursion. Frankly, I had approached the evening unaware of any other acts on the line-up so New Yorkers The Wiyos’ incredible set was a delightful surprise. I’m not supposed to like jug-bands who harmonise old-style country songs backed by double bass, washboard and geetar but, I confess, this was the most delirious forty minutes entertainment (not a dirty word, I reckon) I have encountered for ages. The flyer used the word ‘vaudeville’ and the stagecraft, musicianship and ability to get the audience’s toes a-tappin’ adhered to that old-fashioned scene too. Their songs were fabulous, they looked great and, importantly, they made this punter grin from ear to ear with their well-rehearsed antics and humorous interplay. I thoroughly dug them and I sensed the whole Calmer* crowd had taken the trio to their hearts too judging by the extent of the warmth of the applause and the volume of the cheering at the end. I have yelled ‘More!’ on numerous occasions over the years but have rarely meant it as much as last night. Their long player, Hat Trick, captures their live show perfectly and the Coles are considering popping down to Bristol on the morrow to witness The Wiyos experience once more. For now, they are this house’s favourite new band.

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