Fresh from the recent Glasgow Americana Festival The Fallen Angels Club have wasted no time in bringing some more top-notch acts to the city. For the Tennessee trio, The Howlin’ Brothers, this was their first time in Scotland (in the UK in fact), riding the wave generated by their recent album, Trouble, released on Brendan Benson’s label, Readymade Records (and reviewed here). First thing to say about them is that they have probably the coolest hat line up we’ve seen in some time. Straw Boater, black crumpled Trilby and stained Stetson sat atop the magisterial musical skills of Ian Craft (fiddle, banjo, kick drum), Ben Plasse (double bass) and Jared Green (guitar and fancy footwork). Aside from the hats the most pleasing thing about the band was their versatility and the variety of the songs they played. Bluegrass, blues, jug band, Cajun and country all tumbled from the stage with all three taking vocal duties on their respective songs.
From the off it was clear that this was going to be great fun as Craft’s fiddle and Green’s amplified step dancing bounced through the room while Plasse’s risqué Boogie showed that they can slow the tempo and still thrill. In a fairly lengthy set they ploughed through their two albums along with some cuts from their new Sun Sessions EP with the likes of the mighty George Jones country waltz of World Spinning Round and the bluesy swoon of Tennessee Blues standing out. Green’s Louisiana steeped Monroe showed that these Tennessee boys can wade through the bayou while The Boatman Dance positively reeked of chicken scratching’ dirt porch old timey American music and was a delight to see and hear. It was even more invigorating when the band later covered John Hartford’s Julia Belle Swain, another song steeped in Americana lore. Perfectly paced, the band ramped it up towards the end with Pack Up Joe a revved up road song while Hard Times stomped along with a defiant attitude. Ending with a fine Cumberland Gap The Howlin’ Brothers came across as a fine patina stained capture of some of the best rootsiest music we’ve heard in some time and this was reflected in the audience’s participation as the set progressed ’till the end when there were folk dancing at the back and the handclaps and whoops were drowning out the band. Catch them if you have the chance.
The night opened with a fine set from local chaps, Ten Gallon Bratz, high on a recent review for their album, Tales From The Long Shadows from R2 Magazine. Stripped of the album backing they entertained with three guitars and three voices recalling the likes of Poco and (early) Eagles opening with an acappella rendition of Hole In The Ground while Poor Man’s Money resonated with the audience. All in all a fine night.
The Howlin’ Brothers have a few more UK dates coming up http://thehowlinbrothers.com/shows/