Woody Pines

Venue: Grateful Fred's @ The Atkinson
Town: Southport
Date: 4/3/15
Website: http://www.woodypines.com/

Grateful Fred's has a growing reputation for serving up the best in Acoustic and Roots music. That reputation was further enhanced by a superb performance tonight from the wonderful Woody Pines from North Carolina via Nashville.

Don't just take my word for how good these boys are, no less a personage than Billy Joe Shaver has called them "the best damn band I've ever heard in my life". High praise indeed.

Woody Pines is a trio who combine all that is best in American Roots music including country blues, ragtime and viper jazz, not forgetting honky tonk country, rockabilly and western swing.

The evening got underway with a polished performance from Liverpool singer-songwriter Mark Pountney, formerly frontman of Country Rock band Mojave Collective. Mark treated us to set of his own finely-crafted songs, as featured on his debut solo album called, appropriately enough, Mark 1. Of particular note were "The Diamonds Of My Mind" [which Mark wrote in Texas]and "Rebound Girl", a bluegrass number usually performed with a band. Equally noteworthy was Mark's "God On My Side", which, he told us, was influenced by the Sam Peckinpah movie "Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia". With its Morricone-like whistling it certainly had a touch of the Spaghetti Westerns about it. Mark concluded his set with "Finish What You Started", which he recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis, at the invitation of legendary rockabilly drummer Jimmy Van Eaton.

Following Mark were the grateful Fred's Ukulele Trio [or GFUT for short] who romped through a set of covers and original songs. The covers included "Downtown Train", "May You Never", "Cloudbusting" and "Oh Boy"- an eclectic selection if ever there was. Self -written numbers included Pete McPartland's countryish "Friendly Fire"and Colin's "Denver Railroad", "a revamped B-side from 1969" which featured an incredible bluesy wah-wah ukulele solo from Vinnie Gillespie [on just four strings!].

After the interval, Woody Pines took to the stage for the first gig of their British and European tour to promote their brand new album "Woody Pines", which has just been released on Nashville's Muddy Boots Records and which was produced by Grammy winner Mitch Dane.

The trio is led by Woody Pines [National Resophonic guitar and lead vocals], who bears an uncanny resemblance to Phil Silvers in his Sgt. Bilko days. Woody is ably accompanied by Brad Tucker on vintage electric guitar, kazoo and vocals and Skip Frontz Jr. on red hot slap bass.

Woody Pines took us on a journey through the heartlands of American Roots music with classics including "Ain't Got No Honey Baby Now"; "Walking Stick" by Irving Berlin, complete with kazoo solo; Mississipi John Hurt's "Satisfied And Tickled Too"; a Western Swing version of Leadbelly's "Keep Your Hands Off Her"and Howlin'Wolf's "Who's Been Talkin'", with a killer rockabilly guitar solo from Brad.

Another highlight was a storming version of Willie Dixon's "Mellow Down Easy"which was recorded by Little Walter in 1954. Brad was in the middle of a great slide guitar solo when a string broke. Undaunted, he continued on kazoo! What a trooper!

Talking of great solos, Skip Frontz Jr. wowed the crowd with a manic slap bass solo on Ernest Lawlar's "Black Rat Swing".

Charismatic front man Woody Pines showed his tender side on his own composition "Little Stella Blue"which he dedicated to his niece. In total contrast was his dynamic delivery of the tongue twisting "Chew Tobacco Rag", which was a hit for Zeb Turner in 1951. This then mutated into the traditional "plantation song" "Mama's Little Baby Loves Shortnin' Bread"which in turn transformed itself into Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love". The famous "Diddley Beat" was provided by Woody on drums.

And so ended a superb performance by Woody Pines and another hugely enjoyable evening at Grateful Fred's

Peter Cowley

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