Thursday, October 06, 2011

10.5.2011, FTW

Went to see one-man bluegrass band Ralph White at Fred's. For a while, it seemed as though the cafe was booking all the same generically-named bands that used to play at the Fairmount, but now with Overtone handling the bookings and Carl Pack's hand on the tiller, formerly fonky Fred's has become a good place to go hear music again (even though I know that neither of my bands will ever play there again -- too loud/too weird).

Hickey and I met T. Horn and his buddy Sanj, whom he's known all his life, for burgers 'n' brews. Ralph showed up with Justin Robertson, who hustled the gig, around 7pm and quickly soundchecked. Cat can play anything: banjo, guitar (he calls it his "git-banjo"), kalimba, fiddle (which Justin said he broke out with Dim Locator in Denton the night before), even accordion.

He uses loops and samples seamlessly, so it'll surprise you the first time he puts down the banjo to pick up the kalimba and you can still hear him picking. His riddimic patterns on kalimba make me want to get better at playing that instrument. He doesn't hit you over the head with his virtuosity, but you can't help but notice, f'rinstance, the multiple picking attacks he applies to the banjo, or the way he constantly beats on its face with his thumb.

Ralph's singing is otherworldly, with a nicely imprecise intonation that makes you feel as though you might be listening to some dude from Appalachia a hundred years ago, or from England a few hundred years before that. There's beauty and purity to this rough, rustic music. Carl tried to get his son Zack, who's having success playing the banjo after previous dalliances with drums and electric guitar, to come down and learn something. Hickey said we should try to get Ralph on the next "Cavalcade of Unpopular Musics" show (whenever Doc's moves to its new location), but I have other plans for thatun. Myself, I'd like to hear him on a bill with Mark Growden.

His CD The Hanged Man captures his thang nicely, with what sound like some overdubs, but listening to it, I kind of miss spareness of his live sound and especially the transitions when he switches instruments. Worth checking out if you get the chance.


Post a Comment

<< Home