Live Reviews

  The Hackensaw Boys and the Ballachulish Hellhounds live at Barfly in Glasgow

Bluesbunny awakes to find himself in the dark dungeon that is downstairs in Barfly. To further torture us, they serve our Guinness in a plastic glass. Besides the fact that it is not possible to get a good head on a pint of Guinness in a plastic glass, there is that problem of getting that first sip without spilling the drink of champions on your shoes.

On the stroke of nine, Glasgow's badly dressed boys take to the stage. Yes, the Ballachulish Hellhounds are here once again. Apparently the venue has a "no beer on stage" rule that confuses our resident rascals. Masters of the alternating performance style (one beer, one song in case you are unfamiliar with the concept), you can tell they are concerned that their creativity will be affected. We need not worry however as their good natured banter and sparkly delivery make it seem like they are playing in your front room. Even the less than distant roar of a rock band playing upstairs does not deter them. Pausing only to debate whether playing a John Martyn cover was Scottish enough, they romp through songs like "Shady Grove" and "Rolling in My Sweet Baby's Arms" in a manner that suggests that they have not been unduly hampered by sobriety.

Now what do we make of the Hackensaw Boys, tonight's headliners? Well, there are quite a lot of them - 7 to be precise - and they easily fill the small stage. They have brought traditional country instruments like the banjo and fiddle and the strangest piece of percussion that this Bluesbunny has ever seen. It looked like a collection of tin cans welded to a biscuit tin. Avoiding any kind of introduction, they hit their stride straight away. They play in a manner clearly polished with practice. The pace varies little but you can tell that this is good time music designed to keep you on your feet. As the set progresses, Bluesbunny feels himself drifting off to the band's home state of Virginia for a moonshine soaked night of drinking and dancing. Despite the small crowd, they never lose their enthusiasm or their determination to make our feet move. Vocal duties get shared round the band. Bluesbunny took a particular liking to "Oh Girl" from their current album "Look Out". As the venue curfew approaches, the Hackensaw Boys abandon the stage and take their music right into the middle of the crowd in a sort of reverse stage invasion. No kidding! They play for you at point blank range. Now that shows confidence in their own musical abilities. You just cannot hide anything that close in. It is real and people start dancing around them. They do a couple more songs and then they are gone. Impressive stuff.

Bluesbunny hopes that the Hackensaw Boys will come this way again. Spread the word so that they get a large crowd next time for you will surely enjoy the show.

Review Date: September 27 2007