Live Review: The Rip-Roaring Success [October 7, 2017] The Green Note, Camden

Call: ‘What’s the matter with the mill?’ Response: ‘Absolutely nothing, in fact it is a Rip-Roaring Success!’ Errr I mean : ‘It done broke down. Ain’t got no grinding’. The […]

Call: ‘What’s the matter with the mill?’ Response: ‘Absolutely nothing, in fact it is a Rip-Roaring Success!’ Errr I mean : ‘It done broke down. Ain’t got no grinding’.

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The Rip Roaring success blasted through the North-South divide, bringing their wagonful of prohibition panache from the Wild North West.

With a winning combination of self-deprecating humour and heaps of pizzazz, Rusty plays benevolent ringmaster to the irrepressible Miss Lucille on slap bass and Miss Jay on fiddle.

Their outfits herald the theme of fun and frolics – a Kitsch kaleidoscope of Hawaiian shirt, two tone brogues, polka dots and tigerstripe guitar.

Casually jotted on a serviette, the setlist takes us on a wild ride from Wall Street speakeasy to prairie dustbowl with hot rod momma at the wheel.

Despite their bombastic name, they are very down t’earth and occasional threw Rusty of tack – unable to decipher the blots without his reading specs!

Miss Jay makes the fiddle sing like a bluebird – trilling with ease over the slap bass and taking flight on jazz solos. Not only can she seamlessly shift between country, jazz and gypsy genres on fiddle, she’s hiding one hell of a singing voice. The close harmonies between this talented trio were even greater than the sum of their (formidable) parts. More of this in future gigs please!

At the risk of sounding like a desperate housewife, there is something empowering about seeing a lady on stand up double bass. Not only on it, but totally tearing it up. The crowd holler as Miss Lucille breaks out perfectly syncopated solos, setting frenetic rhythms that smoke the lindyhoppers out of their seats. Sadly Green Note is a cosy venue, accustomed to mellow crowds–what it lacks in dancefloor, it makes up for in intimacy. Nonetheless, those compelled to Charleston were warmly invited to do so –though advised to keep their extemporaneous flailing to a minimum.

Rusty is one of those people that was just born in the wrong era. Clearly at home channelling the bluesgrass drawl and completed when geetar in hand, he faithfully resurrects the spirits of the past in his performance. Without hesitation he claims Bob Wills as his main influence – and it shines through.

The setlist sashayed through genres , all tinted with a rockabilly edge. ‘The Devil Goes Down to Georgia’ was a particular favourite – dark and rich vocals kept in check with jaw dropping slap bass metronome.

Taking a Teutonic turn, ‘I’ll bet you my heart I love you’ posed a particular artistic challenge – yodelling. Thankfully, Rusty pulled this off with aplomb – hitting the notes with a clarity and precision, mastering a technique that can so easily have gone wrong!

‘Hot Rod Momma’ heralds an authentic rockabilly interlude followed by the ribald ‘Hey Mr Ice man’. Kitsch and tongue in cheek these were simple pleasures, harking back to golden oldies on the Cadillac radio.

‘I wanna be like you’ induced us from our seats to Charleston like billio! The bluesy vocals and eurhythmic pace sparking a veritable Cajun cacophony on the dancefloor.

Turning back time, the cover of Memphis Minnie’s ‘What’s the matter with the mill’ roused the crowd into luddite rebellion. It’s pantomime call and response ‘What’s the matter with the mill?’ Queue ‘It done broke down, ain’t got no grinding’ just kept on rolling!

This devilishly talented trio left us satisfyingly exhausted, compelled to jig hither and thither on the tiniest of dancefloors. Having truly stormed the south, they hit the highway back up north. Watch out for these guys rollin’ into a town near you….they’re on my ‘Most Wanted’ list!

Sarah Dabbs

About Sarah Dabbs

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