Ernest Troost. Live At McCabe’s. Travellin’ Shoes Records.
For a man who’s main job is writing (and winning Emmys for) film and television scores Troost is a surprisingly good acoustic folk and blues performer. I reviewed his 2005 album All the Boats Are Gonna Rise favourably but missed out on the follow up Resurrection Blues. Here he delivers a fine set of songs old and new, solo and accompanied that proves to be an excellent companion to his studio releases. Kicking off with Resurrection Blues and the magnificent Travelin’ Shoes I was afraid that it would be downhill from there but Troost delivers several pieces that can match these. With tales of ne’er do wells and desperadoes balanced by some delicate love songs and dust blown ballads it’s not surprising to see that his songwriting has been compared to the likes of Dave Alvin and Richard Thompson. Switchblade Heart which earned Troost a songwriting award at the Kerrville Festival is the outstanding example but the black humour of Disturbin’’Blues combines his writing with his live appeal. A lively ““Piedmont” blues styled song Disturbin’ Blues features Mark “Pocket” Goldberg on bass, Dave Fraser, harmonica, Debra Dobkin, drums and Nicole Gordon on harmony vocals. They appear elsewhere throughout the album and Gordon in particular is excellent and is given the opportunity to sing lead on two of the songs. In all this is a great live album that captures the artist in fine style and is well recommended for anyone looking for an updated Woody Guthrie or a less cynical Loudon Wainwright.
Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra. Teepy Eepy. Independent.
We caught the tail end of this band’s set when they supported Pokey LaFarge on his recent Glasgow gig. A nice fit indeed as they draw from the same musical well as Mr. LaFarge with old time country blues and swing featuring large. They looked good and sounded swell from what I saw and heard and copies of this, their five-song debut were being snapped up at the end of the gig. Coming from Newcastle (with one Glaswegian in the line up) they offer a nod to Northumberland tradition by having an accordion player in the line up. Listening to this However one would imagine they were born and raised in some Southern US state despite the references to their hometown in The Great Fire of Byker based on a massive scrapyard fire which happened in Newcastle last year. They set off comfortably enough with Quaich Keeper’s Blues, a fine shuffle about the demon whisky while alcohol features again on the graveyard vamp that is Tonic Wine. Here they exhibit a sly humour with the song starting off sounding like a New Orleans shuffle before Heron extols the delights of what appears to be Buckfast and his character heads off for a night on the town ending up at a reggae party. At this point the band switch from New Orleans to Jamaica with some dub effects thrown in, sounds odd on paper but it’s great to listen to. Whisky features again in Killed by Love while the last song She Don’t Like The Fish has some great Django type guitar runs on a rousing song that has a great sense of dynamics and a wonderful scat filled chorus. Given their Northumbrian origin one wonders if this is not a modern (although swingtime influenced) riposte to that well-known diitty, When the Boat Comes In. Overall this young band has some fine players and a promising songwriter in the shape of Mr. Heron and we look forward to watching their progress.
She Don’t Like The Fish