Woody Pines/The Hot Seats. Glasgow. 29th April.

Two great bands playing in two different venues on Sunday night required a modicum of planning however it was a toss of a coin that led me to visit the Woody Pines gig at Lauries Acoustic Music Bar first. This Trongate live music stalwart has changed its name recently and now proudly proclaims itself as Avant Garde. All well and good but this proved problematic for the band who apparently circled the area several times looking for Lauries Bar. Nevertheless by the time they appeared on stage they were unfazed by this slight hiccup and proceeded to turn the venue into a veritable southern roadhouse. The four piece North Virginia band led by the tousle haired Woody (who left his usual headgear to a barman in Ireland) immediately had the crowd going with a vibrant rendition of the traditional Long Gone Lost John before easing into Hank Williams’ Can’t Keep You Off My Mind. With guitarist Lyon Graulty switching between clarinet and some fine slide guitar playing the band slid from New Orleans type vamps to old time country blues with 99 Years a particular delight as Felix Hatfield excelled on the washboard sounding like a full drum kit. Crazy Eyed Woman loped along splendidly and an extended version of Counting Alligators with a spoken rap from Woody recounting a trip along Highway 61 encapsulated their appeal with a tight rhythm and a lot of swing.
Sadly the desire to see The Hot Seats led us to leave Woody and his band at half time in order to hoof it on up to The Universal and due to crossing the Glasgow dateline we caught most of their set. Another band who drink from the old time music well The Hot Seats are a (mostly) bearded raggle taggle crew who swap instruments with gay abandon and to great effect. Anyone who’s heard their latest live album would know what to expect but in truth the humour and sheer vibrancy of their set has to be seen live. The first song we caught, Trouble in Mind was a steamroller of banjo, fiddle and guitar flailing away, a great start. In full flight the five-piece band serve up an unplugged wall of sound that can make the hair on the back of the neck stand up. No Plans from their next album was an outstanding example of this, forget the cinematic Soggy Bottom Boys, this is the real deal. Playing tunes by the likes of Gid Tanner’s Skilletlickers and Earl Scruggs there was plenty of bluegrass action and even a turn by Shannon Dunne, an American “flatfooter” who whetted the audience’s appetite for a dance. The sly entendre of Peaches allowed the band to wallow somewhat in a vaudevillian humour fully realised on Soft John Blues, a fabulously louche country slouch that pays tribute to that old viagra.
Earlier on Woody Pines had commented on the somewhat cramped confines of his gig lamenting the lack of dancing space. At The Universal there was no such problem and by the closing and rousing Another Day, Another Dollar you couldn’t see the band for the dancers.
If this had been a battle of the bands then I’d declare it a draw and the only loser was the reviewer who haplessly missed out on the second set from Woody Pines. It’s safe to say however that both bands are smoking hot and if you get the chance to see one or both then do so.

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