Letham Nights 54 – The Review
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. As the landscape around paled into a frost-bitten melancholy of mists and mellow fruitfulness departed, and the fields hardened their hearts against Jack Frost’s nimble advances, those of us within The Hall were warmed literally and figuratively by that pot-bellied stove of rhythm and righteousness in the form of none other than our good friend and fellow traveller on the road to enlightenment and sweet fortune, Jez Hellard.
But patience, folks. More of old friends later. Before any of that came our support in the shape of Dundee and Fife’s own, The Mnemonics. This bunch are new friends in more ways than one, after all the guys were barely six years old when Letham Nights first opened our doors way back in the mists of time when phones were dumb and presidents were smart. Yes, The Mnemonics are just starting out on their voyage through the starry-eyed romp that is popular music but on this evidence they’ll be around for some time yet. From soon to be single, ‘Sunrise’, to set closer, ‘Bones’ their twinkly guitar interplay and solid rhythms jollied along strong lyrics and melodies and left no toe untapped. All the more impressive as they had eschewed their usual electric axes for acoustic instruments for the evening. Nice bit of African influence in the lead guitar at times too. Nice!
And then for the main event. Transitory Troubadour and veteran of the road less travelled, Jez Hellard, has haunted our house of harmonies on no fewer than three previous occasions but this was the first time he had brought members of his cosmic collective, The Djukella Orchestra. With him this evening were submariner, Nye Parson, on upright bass and fruit of the loins of myriad dangerous radicals, James Patrick Gavin, on violin. We’ve come to love and revere Jez’s virtuosity on harmonica and flat-picked guitar and his musical compatriots on this tour turned out to be maestros in their own right. Starting with the power-waltz instrumental of ‘Southwind’ Jez tickles the six-string and hands out the solos to Nye and James both of whom contrive through genius exertions to go the entire evening without playing the same note twice. C’est impossible? Non, mon ami! The trio power on through jigs (‘rashers and sausages’) and reels, calling in at reggae and the mouth-organ masterpiece of ‘Miners Picket Waltz’. Not content to just warm our cockles the gang then break our hearts with a soaringly beautiful version of our unofficial anthem, Scott Cook’s ‘Pass It Along’. And what more fitting climax could there be to Act One than the much anticipated Atlas Tango with our very own Ron & Janey gliding round the dance floor as if it was a bar in Buenos Aires. Poetry in motion!
Then on to the second set where, I confess, your humble reviewer somewhat abandoned the written form and gave in to bonhomie, joie de vivre and those seductive pleasures of Bacchus for which our species has such weakness. And so suffice it to say that there was mesmerising music, dizzying dancing and a very late bedtime for all and sundry. Just grand!
Check out Jez and The Djukella Orchestra here >>
Check out The Mnemonics on Facebook here >>
Review by Mick Pritchard
Photos by Caroline Tosin and Roy Campbell