Well, this evening was unexpectedly great!
I’m not a fan of country as a genre, but went along to see The Drystone Cowboys for the first time, at Sam’s Rest, as it’s my local venue and I am good friends with two of the band, Debs and Chris (fiddle and, in this case, somewhat unexpectedly, drums, respectively). Country is a bit of a misnomer for the Cowboys – more Americana. I like Americana.
The pub was absolutely rammed. Standing room only, a good half hour before they started.
My party was somewhat divided, with some over by the bar, closer to the music, but I fancied sitting down, so found a tiny table in a corner to sit at, with a very good friend. It wasn’t the best place to sit, acoustically, but with the volume of people, I’m not sure anywhere was perfect.
Drystone Cowboys are a great live band, playing some quality tunes with first rate instrumentation – guitars, bass, steel guitar and fiddle, with both male and female lead vocals. It all fits together seamlessly.
The following comments about the tunes are sketchy, in direct contrast to the set they played, due to not being able to hear everything. The table next to me was, well, a little noisy, to say the least…
The band took to the stage (well, the space between the ladies, the kitchen and the bar), which was bedecked with straw bales, to a resounding ‘Yee haaaaa’ from the audience. Here we go… I thought, resurrecting all my memories of the dubious country bands I saw in my youth. Those memories were quickly swept aside for the musical delight that followed.
A bit of ‘Lay Down Sally’ really brought the crowd together. Soon followed by a bit of harmonica leading into Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’. I knew I was in for a good evening.
After we’d journeyed with the Cowboys through the desert on a horse with no name, we were introduced to a lady by the name of Jolene. Not the one who runs the pub in The Archers, one who’s a bit of a head-turner. A bit of a flirt. You know the type.
The vocal harmony from the male/female lead was impeccable, but visually, from where I was sitting, the band was essentially a wall of people above which the headstock of a bass guitar occasionally emerged.
The good folk of Sam’s are usually pretty good at bursting into song when there’s a band on. They didn’t disappoint. Billie Jo got her blanket from the bedroom and they all joined her to go walking once again. Somewhat out of tune, but with masses of enthusiasm.
A bit of Old Crow Medicine Show rocked us like a wagon wheel into the break. I popped over to say hi to Debs and Chris and found half the band were suffering from the flu… You wouldn’t have realised, with the energy that was coming over in the music. The singer swigged from a bottle of Boots’ cough syrup, then picked up his guitar and launched into ‘Apache’ to start the second set.
The amassed choir of Sam’s Rest joined in very enthusiastically with Ms Parton’s ‘Nine to Five’, whilst the table next to ours set about a beer mat flipping contest. Something I was introduced to at college (well… in the pub round the back of college). Place a beer mat hanging over the edge of a table. Flick it up with the back of your hand then catch it in mid air. After several drinks, the beer mats were stacking up and they were having a great laugh.
When I went to the bar for another beverage, the band broke into The Eagles’ ‘Take it Easy’. One of my favourite songs to play on banjo. Everyone knows it and everyone was singing. I added Stu, my tame mechanic’s variation to the melee…
Well, I’m a-standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a Honda Accord
Speedin’ up to get away from me…
The evening drew to a close with raucous accompaniment to Rhinestone Cowboy and Take Me Home, Country Roads.
I walked into Sam’s this evening a bit doubtful of what was to come, but I’m rather glad I did. Again, a splendid night in wonderful company.
Tomorrow I do it all again… I’ve been seconded for a trip to see Mr B, the Gentleman Rhymer – the inventor of Chap-Hop. And we’re dressing up. Hmmm… Watch this space…