Open House Presents: Dog Ruff String Band with support from Southern and Spirit Family Reunion
Friday 31st August 2012 – Goat’s Toe, Bangor
Southern played with an air of freshness throughout their short set with their particular brand of acoustic music. The young duo, fronted by charismatic Thom treated the surprisingly small crowd at this stage of the evening to a set that included the melodic ‘Head Spins’ and the upbeat, toe tapping song ‘Where the Wild Are’, which Southern have just recorded their video for in their hometown, Belfast. This band’s real strength is the wonderful two part harmony of Thom and Lucy that shows an organic chemistry that comes with the territory of being brother and sister. Based in London, Southern have got exciting times ahead in the near future as Thom has recently become the face of Burberry which should allow this up and coming joy to be heard by a wide and varied audience. The audience in The Goat’s Toe on the night responded very well and the band was cheered off the stage by a now slightly larger group that made up for it with shouting for more.
By a country mile Spirit Family Reunion were the highlight of the evening. They opened their set with the lively and fiddle heavy ‘Leave Your Troubles at the Gate’. This collective, held together by vocalist Nick, had the audience eating out of the palm of their hand with their take on the Hank Williams Jr. classic ‘Jambalaya’. Things took a slower pace for a moment but the audience were captivated and it seemed like this band could do no wrong. Moving back up tempo again, and a banjo heavier, they flexed their musical muscle for the Bangor audience via their new single ‘No Separation’, which had the familiar sounds of classic roots music in 2012. With each of the six members bringing something new to the table with their “very different histories and very different influences”, drummer peter feels that this is key to making them stand out. Not liking to be described as ‘bluegrass,’ this hardworking band has got a busy touring schedule and shall live out of each other’s pockets on the road until December 7th. A must see, Spirit Family Reunion did the simple thing well this evening, something that a lot of roots bands over complicate. The Open House Festival struck gold with this booking!
Taking the headline slot of the evening is Dogg Ruff String Band . They appeared on stage and sounded well. The audience were somewhat subdued however as they had to follow a much mightier and all-round tighter group. This was the disappointment of the evening as people left the floor for the smoking room or bar (or both). As a set, it ticked all the right boxes as a good old shin dig band should, however, ice-creams (boozy ones of course) could have been sold between songs! Regardless of how lead singer John Kennedy dressed in his outrageous pink top hat, or bass player Pedro Lennon’s Top Gun t-shirt, there was something endearing about this five-piece but for whatever reason they failed to ‘bring it’ and convince the crowd that they were worth listening to on the night.