Live review and photo credit: Adrian Hextall (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
To quote the ‘Industry Hype’ from Hayseed Dixie’s website, Hayseed Dixie began in the summer of 2000 in the fertile valley of Deer Lick Holler, deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee USA. In this area which was completely isolated from outside cultural and musical influence, the boys grew up playing the traditional music of their forefathers on banjo, fiddle, mandolin, acoustic guitar and acoustic bass.
All of this changed abruptly one afternoon when a stranger crashed his car into a stately old oak tree on a particularly dangerous curve, which the locals refer to as the “Devil’s Elbow.” Sadly, the stranger expired, but his legacy lives on! As the boys searched through the wreckage looking for identification, they discovered several vinyl AC/DC albums. After playing these back on an old Edison 78rpm Victrola, everyone agreed that the songs were right fine country music . . . and that the Lost Highway of Brother Hank Williams and this Highway To Hell of AC/DC were indeed the exact same damn road! And the rest is now enshrined in musical history.
With a supposed history like that, how can tonight’s show at the Boileroom in Guildford (small but passionate about music !) be anything other than good fun? The show is a sell out and early in the Dixie’s set, the band have to ask everyone to squeeze in more and let people outside into the venue as ticket sales may have slight exceeded capacity!
The Nefarious Picaroons
Before Hayseed Dixie arrive to entertain us, The Nefarious Picaroons get the ball rolling with a folk music set that perfectly compliments the headliners. The band, formed in 2012, describe themselves as wayward musical buccaneers sailing the seven seas far and wide in search of an adventurous collection of rare and classic gems for their melodic treasure chest…
Opening with a folk music rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ they present a slick, polished set with members taking turns on vocals across their 10 song set. Vocals aside, we have musicians on stage playing acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, violin, mandolin, harmonica and even a musical washboard for one song Located somewhere at the back, their drummer is the latest addition to the band but he’s hidden behind the six strong line up at the front. As such the sound they band deliver is truly unique and great fun. We also get new workings of Kirsty Almeida’s ‘If You Can’t Make Me Happy’, and Pokey LaFarge’s ‘La La Blues’. If I’d known these facts last year I could have won a competition for tickets to see the band… Ah well !
So then to the headliners. I’ve waited many years for the opportunity to see the band so expectations on my side are very high. Their irreverent humour combined with a mix of excellent covers and original material presented in a bluesgrass style is great fun to listen to. Their set encompasses a veritable treasure trove of rock classics and they open with AC/DC’s ‘Hells Bells’ the band that led to their formation and first album of covers. Due to a few ‘copyright issues’ their original moniker of AC/Dixie was changed and they became the band we see in front of us tonight.
A sign to the side of the stage requests, nay, insists! that bands do not take drinks onto the stage. A rule that Hayseed Dixie are happy to adhere to.. oh wait… nope, we have bottles of quality scotch, what looks like a bottle of prosecco and others. Ah well, it’s a silly rule anyway!
‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ follows with a superb rendition of ‘War’ which then segues into Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’. All of which induce the audience to have a mass sing along. The young girl stood next to me in a Motörhead t-shirt, who’s come with her brother to see the band, knows the words to every single song tonight and belts out the words to each and every one with as much gusto and enthusiasm as the four guys on stage.
Latest single ‘Eye of the Tiger’ with a solo taken straight from Sergio Leone’s ‘The Good, The Bad & The Ugly’ soundtrack is followed by ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ and proves that not only do the band know how to convert a song perfectly to their unique bluesgrass \ rockgrass style but they also know exactly which songs to pick to garner maximum love from their fans with cries of “man I love this one…” ringing around the venue. Those clever choices of tunes are also radio friendly and see the likes of Ken Bruce on BBC Radio 2 championing them and playing these songs to the masses.
Hayseed Dixie do not however opt for the easy option of playing simply other acts’ songs. They are adept song writers and the set is sprinkled with original material from the band. Highlights include ‘She Was Skinny When I Met Her’ and stone cold classic lament ‘I’m Keeping Your Poop’, telling the story of a man who, after his wife leaves him and takes all of her belongings has left just one item in the house for him to remember her by. I think perhaps that is enough detail to form your own visuals at this point in time!
If you don’t know Hayseed Dixie then check out the set list below and accept that a good night is guaranteed. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ has to be seen live to be believed, it’s that good. They even, tongue in cheek, have a self penned tune to ensure that the crowd know where the merch stand is and what to buy.
The main set finished with a mix of ‘Duelling Banjos’ and ‘Highway To Hell’ before they return for a mash up encore of more songs than I can recall. It certainly includes ‘Hotel California’, ‘Careless Whisper’ , ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’ and more. The more element is something lead singer John Wheeler (Barley Scotch) is well known for and tonight is no exception. Not only does he give his opinion on the dangers of Fracking and the UK Independence Party but he also plays additional songs and mixes the set list up much to the ‘supposed’ annoyance of his band mates who regularly wave the set list in front of his nose as he goes off playing something else. It is all great fun though and highly recommended. See them when you can.
Hayseed Dixie are:
John Wheeler aka Barley Scotch – guitar, fiddle and singing
Jake Bakesnake Byers – bass and harmonizing
Hippy Joe Hymas – mandolin and harmonizing
Johnny Butten – banjo and harmonising
You Shook Me All Night Long
War / War Pigs
Eye of the Tiger
Don’t Stop Believing
In The Backyard
Ace of Spades
Bohemian Rhapsody / Paranoid
Schnaps das war Sein Letztes Wort
We’re Not Gonna Take It
She Was Skinny When I Met Her
Fat Bottom Girls
I’m Keeping Your Poop
Merch \ Duelling Banjos
Highway To Hell
Encore: incl Careless Whisper \ Hotel California \ Riders On The Storm and more