We were invited to attend a church in Kingskerswell to watch a trio of Swedish sisters called Baskery play their unique blend of alt-country-banjo-punk, what else was I to do on a school night in the middle of October?
Entering the church, I was welcomed by a display of posters advertising future gigs, these included the likes of Boo Hewerdine, Lisbee Stainton and many other established names on the scene. I was to meet the girls at 7pm for an interview, I found a pew, wished I had bought a cushion with me and waited for the call.
I was ushered into a side room whilst the support act 'Crow Puppets' sound-checked, met the ladies and had a good chat about their music, background and future plans (you can read the full interview at musicmuso.com/introducing from October 31st).
The ladies were busy readying themselves for the evening ahead so I made myself scarce and went in search of the bar. Despite there not being a bar, I was informed that I could have bought my own alcohol with me, not to worry, I had a bottle of water with me, maybe there would be a stash of communion wine kicking about.....
The church was filling nicely, a more 'experienced' audience with high expectations from the evening, would they be impressed? read on to find out!
First to the stage were Crow Puppets, a Devon based female duo of singer songwriters in the contemporary folk tradition with nods to their forebears. The instruments are acoustic guitars, banjo, penny whistle and improvised percussion via a cajon.
Cara and Em bring brightness and vigour from the off, one voice dark and mysterious with subtle hints of Joni, dappled shadings in amongst the shafts of sunlight. Their finger-picking is expert, yet languid.
The sound in the church was exquisite, I was half expecting it to drift, bounce and reverborate from the high ceilings, instead it was delivered perfectly, such a great venue for this style of music.
After their set, the refreshment stall opened and for a good ten minutes, people queued to indulge in homemade cake, biscuits and lashings of tea and coffee.
I'd heard that the ladies have a 'fierce live attitude' and their shows are referred to as 'energetic', did this mean that they encourage crowd surfing and mosh pits? from looking at the audience, sat nicely in their pews, sipping tea from china cups, I couldn't envisage this happening!
The lights dimmed as Stella, Sunniva and Greta took to the stage and opened their show with a spellbinding 3 part a cappella vocal harmony that only sisters can produce, they mentioned after the song that they had originally recorded the track in a church in Stockholm so it was a great chance to perform it again in such surroundings.
The ladies then picked up their chosen weapons and proceeded to play an awesome track about working in a guitar store in Stockholm, this was the first time I have seen a double bass played alongside a distorted electric banjo, amazing!
Some amusing stories came between their songs, Sunniva asked if anyone was familiar with a genre called 'Bro Country', blank expressions were given and she explained that it was a particularly male dominated style of music, enjoyed by middle aged folk who enjoy driving about in their gas guzzling American farm trucks whilst getting drunk on moonshine....Stella then added that they thought that Country music had been misbehaving and they thought it was time to bend it over and give it a good spanking! and boy did they do just that, I can't recall the name of the song but towards the end, I witnessed an impressive bout of 'speed banjo' by Greta, had Norris McWhirter still been alive, I am sure he would have been happy to measure the speed to see if she could have been entered into the Guinness Book of World Records! (I have just looked Norris up on Wikipedia and found out that he passed in 2004, so maybe one of his kids or another spokesperson from TGBOWR).
More tales from the ladies followed, Sunniva introduced a song called 'Tendencies' which was about some drunks who hung around a kids playground in their hometown, their father had explained that they weren't very happy and decided to drink their troubles away...
Their final offering was a track caleld 'The Last beat' which centred around a newspaper story that they had read whilst sat on an aeroplane heading to France, it covered a story on a lion being loose in Essex and a feature on the passing of astronaut Neil Armstrong.
The ladies took a bow and left the stage to raucous applause, something you don't come across in a church every day.
Go catch them if you can before they head back to Nashville, they're an act well worth seeing.
Baskery are on tour until November 1st at the following venues;
Oct 28 Kitchen Garden Café Birmingham, UK
Oct 29 The Musician Leicester, UK
Oct 30 The Canteen Bristol, UK
Nov 1 Little Rabbit Barn Essex, UK
Review by Steve Muscutt