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Its easy to overlook people like Scott H. Biram. There are so many people doing very similar things at the moment, this kind of updated one man band scenario. What makes Biram different is that when you hear him you believe it. For me it sounds like Dylan, Robert Johnson and a bar full of Hillbilly’s bawling and clattering through as many fucked up microphones as they could lay their hands on.
Stomp box, freight train guitar and harmonica accompany a foul mouthed tirade by Biram as he recounts stories of Drinking, Truckers and buses full of schoolgirls! The primal rage and quality of material he shoves down your throat means you forget about what he’s playing (and how) and instead stand back with a beer and enjoy the ride.
He has a good loyal following at the venue tonight, trucker hats and checked shirts litter the venue in tribute to the man. His own material is a fantastic patchwork of blues, country and rock and roll, lyrically entertaining and delivered with conviction and sincerity he is definitely one of the most exciting draws on this year’s schedule.
Finishing off with a couple of covers, ‘Black Betty’ being a particular highlight and a far removed version of Muddy’s ‘Can’t be Satisfied’, the audience dance like lunatics and scream for more. Long may Biram continue.
We miss the start because the bar upstairs is five deep and we are forced into the market downstairs for an emergency Weisbeer. When we return we are dragged through the doors and towards the stage by a wave of warm keyboard fuelled pleasure. This is huge, anthemic resonance is being orchestrated by John Wesley Myres on key’s and Van Campbell on drums. Apparently the duo used to be a trio before their guitarist departed but, as with so many of today’s finer blues rock outfits, the stripped down, bare boned riot that remains is more than capable of delivering the goods.
Comparisons with Tom Waits (vocals), The Stooges (sweat soaked bare backed writhing) and RL Burnside would be easy but these guy’s offer so much more. The diversity of their set is incredible and sticks two fingers up at the marketing man’s desire for monotony.
Melancholic, tumbling anthem ‘All to Hell’ gives way to free flowing jazzy stomps in the form of ‘Let Me Coco’ and the best is yet to come. What the Heavies really do best is rock’n’roll. And I mean real old fashioned, vintage, nail you to the wall rock and roll. Myres is incredible on key’s - pounding out a thumping rampaging bassline with his left hand while bending and whaling out sludge rock brilliance with his right. ‘Poor Brown Sugar’ is another standout track.
For the finale, Biram and the Heavies (who toured together for a long time) conduct an extended jam of Muddy Waters covers which unite the two in perfect unison. An encore is inevitable and ‘Got My Mojo Working’ is the icing on the cake.
Both acts were great tonight but what really made it for me was the crowd. The venue was packed full of young, enthusiastic people; dancing, and screaming and even more strangely singing along with early Muddy Waters & Leadbelly covers. This proves that there really is an audience for this kind of music and surrounding variations.
For me it’s purely a case of exposure. Quite a few of the crowd had obviously just slipped off their ties and wandered in pissed from the city, not exactly sure where they had ended up. At the end of the gig they left (CD in hand) shell-shocked but inspired by music they never imagined existed.
One big step towards maintaining this exposure is keeping the Spitz open as a roots and alternative live music venue. God knows there are enough sterilised chain bars for the great and good to spend their bonuses in. Please, go to The Spitz, watch some music and let’s keep this place alive.