Opening with Walk Right In, Walk Right Out, the Durham family, better known to us as Kitty, Daisy and Lewis and their folks Graeme on guitar and Ingrid on double bass, are ready and willing to suck you into their county-rhythm and blues-swing world. Drown in it, compadres; it’s delicious.
The harmonica is a criminally underused instrument. I know it wouldn’t suit most musical acts (“Please welcome, Katy Perry on harmonica!”), but for any band digging deep into the roots of music of the past, they could do worse than the rustic Deep South sound of the ol’ harmonica.
Front-woman Kitty takes the lead harmonica and ukulele-wise (another gorgeous instrument not seen enough) for most of the show but sets about banging what I assume is a djembe for Honolulu Rock and Roll-A. The Hawaiian mood is pulsating and the crowd puts on their best hula pants.
The beautifully tinny sound of a banjo indicates Hillbilly Music is to follow, but there’s none of those to be seen in the crowd tonight. For a band that peddles a sound steeped in poverty and hardship, there’s enough Route 66 gear and hair gel in the room to fund Lollapalooza. Leopard-skin ladies get their heels stuck to the floor; men that look like Jesse ‘The Devil’ Hughes sport their best moustache-cowlick combo. Kitty, Daisy and Lewis appeal to a niche that yearn for days gone; to have grown up or belonged to a totally different era- one that many of us, not having seen it first hand, no doubt, consider a golden time for music and culture.
Blues standard Mojo Workin’ follows, in which Kitty displays a great bluesman’s growl, but the band don’t quite do justice to the classic, despite some great harmonica work from Kitty. Luckily, Mean Son of A Gun– one of the band’s finest tracks from their debut self-titled album, from which they are mostly playing tonight- gets the crowd in a jitterbugging, rock-n-rollin’ frenzy.
The London family band end the night with their signature track, Goin’ Up The Country. The handclaps beat and papery, rustic acoustic guitar break into a bluesy-swing piano the likes of a downbeat Jerry Lee Lewis (which is still pretty spirited) and, of course, a buzzing harmonica solo or two. Kitty and Daisy take vocal lead together at times; Mama Lewis thumps on the upright bass. The band are so gelled- and not just their hair- that even deviations from the original music are easily manoeuvred and catered to. You don’t see this kind of multi-instrumental finesse often; much respect.