This year’s local celebration of Americana, country, gospel and blues – RiverTown – kicked off last night at St George’s with the rousing solo sounds of Drunken Prayer (aka Morgan Geer) who warmed up the crowd very nicely with some masterful vocals, ahead of main event The Handsome Family, whose vibe we immediately recognised from True Detective’s theme song Far From Any Road.
Musical husband-and-wife duo Brett and Rennie Sparks were joined on stage by their drummer and percussionist who, Rennie assured us, had tonight decided to spare us his 20-minute solo on that most romantic of instruments, the triangle. Giving the set extra oomph, she told us, was a Horlicks-guzzler looking for an endorsement – consigned to the ‘guitar graveyard’ to cut through the soundscape with some wistful slide and chime in with the dreamy vocal layering.
In celebration of their debut album Through The Trees’ 20th anniversary – and the fact they’re all still alive and playing – the band performed the record in its entirety, recounting stories of snowy days on tour and fudge shops to hardship after moving to Chicago and living in awful apartments, all with an enjoyable element of dark comedy. Brett and Rennie bickered and muttered at each other with good-humour throughout, playing on their dynamic to add an extra dimension to the performance, but coming back together vocally in perfect harmony as the set swung along with South Western pace – sounding clear as a bell thanks to accomplished sound engineers – and made a smiley little Thursday-eve slumber in our seats seem both appealing and perfectly acceptable.
RiverTown tickets are now on sale. Don’t miss performances from songwriting aces Graham Nash and Roseanne Cash, bluesy folk-rockers The Barr Brother, high-energy country from Jess and the Bandits – plus loads more this July and August.