The Hot Seats touring this month.

Regular visitors should know that Blabber’n’Smoke rates Richmond, Virginia’s Hot seats very highly. Their album are always great but live they just kill. They’re in the UK next week for a short tour with the majority of the dates in Scotland. Press release and dates below.

“A band that has appeared at just about every major festival in the UK, Virginian livewires The Hot Seats, return to these shores later this month for their sixth tour here.
The hot five-piece will be one of the main attractions at this year’s Summertyne Americana Festival at The Sage in Gateshead, and have a string of other dates, mainly in Scotland this time around, where fans will get a chance to hear blistering new material from a brand new album – their eighth. That gets its official release as soon as they arrive on these shores.
The Hot Seats have gathered praise following performances at big events such as Celtic Connections, Didmarton Bluegrass Festival, Maverick Festival, HebCeltFest and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where they picked up the biggest accolade possible – a Herald Angel – for their outstanding contribution to the event following a sell-out run at The Famous Spiegeltent.
They were widely recognised as one of the outstanding acts at last year’s Shetland Folk Festival, their fiery brand on blistering Appalachian old-time mixed with left of centre bluegrass and a sprinkling of their own compositions winning them loads of attention.

Frontman Josh Bearman, a multi-instrumentalist, like several of his sidekicks, said they were delighted to be heading back to areas of Scotland they have visited and enjoyed previously.
“It’s great to play on the big festival stages, but we love it too, whenever we get a chance to take our music into the more intimate performance spaces,” he said.
“We are playing at three UK festivals this year, as well as returning to some smaller clubs and halls, so the balance is just how we like it.”

The band started out fine-tuning their skills on the redneck bars and college clubs circuit where they experimented with a suitcase-full of assorted toys to supplement the guitar/mandolin/banjo/fiddle/bass line-up, employing everything from jawharp to washboard, tin can percussion and vintage trap-kit drum set.

Their original music is simultaneously hard to classify and instantly identifiable, combining the virtuosic soloing and tightness of bluegrass, the band-driven rhythm of old time, the jerky bounce of ragtime, and the swagger of good old rock and roll.”

Thurs 17: Music on The Marr Festival, Brampton
Fri 18: The Border Club, Hawick
Sat 19: SummerTyne Festival, Gateshead (afternoon – 3pm) – (evening) Coldingham Village Hall
Sun 20: The Corn Exchange, Biggar
Tues 22: The Steeple Hall, Kilbarchan
Thurs 24: Universal Hall, Findhorn
Fri July 25: Glenbuchat Hall, Aberdeenshire
Sat 26: The Salmon Bothy, Portsoy
Sun 27: Harbour Arts Centre, Irvine
Wed 30: Eastgate Theatre, Peebles
Thurs 31: Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline
Fri Aug 1: The Grapes, Stranraer

The Hot Seats. Feel.

Hot on the heels of their live album recorded at a coffee shop in Ashland Virginia last year here’s a new studio album from The Hot Seats. They unveiled several of the songs and tunes on the album when they played here in May and anyone who knows the band will know what to expect here. That’s not to say that they are repeating themselves or going through the motions. Rather it’s another opportunity to marvel at their musical dexterity and to revel in their essential mixture of reverence and goofiness. Driving string driven workouts such as No Plans and Here To Get My Baby Out of Jail swing like hell and allow for plenty of inspired fiddle, banjo and guitar licks while the instrumental interludes (Rattletrap, Mineola Rag, Beasties In The Sugar, Hell and Scissors) almost inspire one to start a barn dance in front of the old desk. While the sheer vim and vigour of this whirlwind of plucking and picking makes The Hot Seats a must see live attraction their more restrained jug band side excels on the recorded medium. The rather risqué Peaches (unofficially accorded the title of the top song of the Shetland Folk Festival they recently played) allows Josh Bearman to fully wallow in the potential lasciviousness of this entendre laden ditty while the band slink along with a devilish mischievousness. Bearman carries on in this vein on Reminisce and Damaged Goods while his erstwhile bandmates strum and pick excellently along. The album culminates in the wonderfully titled I Wouldn’t Take Her To a Dog Fight, a song recorded by country singer Charlie Walker which for some might seem a tag misogynist. A great rendition by the band with all of their signature elements it’s a fine end to the album however we must say that on finding out that Walker’s version of this was recorded in 1967 was a surprise as the attitudes contained therein are somewhat antediluvian.

We must mention here that due to the sweet talking of the band members’ Blabber’n’Smoke was cajoled into buying a companion disc to this album at their gig in the Universal in May. Titled Leftovers it has six pieces they recorded but didn’t put on Feel. No barrel scraping here with Yonder Comes A Sucker a fine addition to the canon while they positively buzz on the instrumental Shaking Down The Acorns. Benjo is a measured and almost stately banjo rag with some rugged guitar and washboard backing. Ragged But Right is a fine piece of country braggadocio and Texas Gals is a veritable hurricane of ensemble playing with fingers flying and strings a buzzin’. A hidden song at the end has one of the band singing a plaintive cowboy trail type song, a little out of character for the band but a neat little addendum for fans.



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.

The Hot Seats. Live

Well we’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that The Hot Seats, one of the finest string bands around at present are coming to Glasgow soon. The bad news is that they’re playing the same night as the fabulous Woody Pines, a bit of a predicament indeed! Well, there’s one more piece of good news. It appears that promoters Brookfield Knights have generously agreed that on presentation of a ticket stub for one of the gigs patrons can choose to catch a set each from both bands by utilising the break to head from the Universal to Lauries or vice versa. You takes your pick.
We’ve reviewed Woody’s latest offering here and had an opportunity to review The Hot Seats latest live album for Maverick magazine where they had previously been described as “fantabulous” and “bonkers but brilliant,” The album is a fantastic document of their live set. Straight from the off they tear into the traditional Trouble In Mind and it’s apparent that they were on fire this night. Whether they are playing honky tonk songs (Another Day, Another Dollar) or jug band (Sugar Pudding) the playing is spot on but the best moments are on the old string band arrangements of songs like Same Old Man and Killing Time where they mesh together while a well oiled machine. The closing cover of Hell Broke Loose in Georgia pulls out all of the stops in a tour de force that would defy any audience to remain in their seats.
Looks like Sunday 29th April will be a fine night for music in Glasgow so get your running shoes out and start training.


Another Day Another Dollar

The Hot Seats are playing some other gigs.
04/27/12 Edinburgh, Scotland at House Concert at Douglas Robertson’s House
04/28/12 Brookfield Village Hall
04/29/12 Glasgow at The Universal
05/03/12 Shetland Islands, Scotland at The 32nd Shetland Folk Festival

The Hot Seats Glasgow gig

Just time to note that The Hot Seats, a fantastic band from Virginia are playing at Lauries Bar this Thursday. Winners of a Herald Angel award for their appearance at the Edinburgh festival a few years ago they’ve also wowed the crowds (as we say) at Celtic Connections. Old time country, Appalachian yearnings and good old bluegrass fun this is a rare chance to see them in an intimate venue and it looks to be a great night.


Same Old Mill