The Perch Creek Family Jugband @ The White Eagle Polish Club. Fri 25 Oct, 2013
With special guests Moochers Inc.
I’ve seen the PCFJB a few times now but this is probably the most excited I’ve been to see them again.
It must’ve been 5 or more years ago when I was wandering around the Channon Markets on the north coast of NSW and happened to catch part of their act for the first time. It seemed like a cute idea; a family band from northern rural NSW with old timey instruments (inc banjo, jug, saw, harmonica, washboard) and sweet vocal harmonies, led by their eccentric old man (since retired) doing the markets circuit and busking the Gold Coast.
I don’t think I expected how far they would come and how much their music and performances would develop. Apparently they have charmed the pants off the Melbourne music scene they now call home, and I don’t think these are easily charmed pants wearers. Not that I really know what I’m talking about.
But first; local dixieland purveyors Moochers Inc started the night in suspenseful style with Cameron Smith in the back corner of the room treating the hushed room to a slow and rousing trumpet opening to The Battle Hymn of the Republic (Glory, glory, hallelujah). By the time he crossed the floor and joined his bandmates on stage the pace and energy (and number of instruments playing) had increased and the room had started moving along with it.
As usual the swing dancers were the first to get down and proper on the dance floor as the MI boys treated us to a selection of faster trad jazz songs and slower bluesy stuff. Highlights included their take on the Astroboy theme song (this got more peeps dancing, or flying through space), Mark Levers delicious drum solo in Human Too*, and some spontaneous speaker booboo (mixing desk blew up – Ed) during At Last that surprised people on and off stage but seemed to pump everyone up even more.
After their encores, everyone took a break to freshen their pints of Zywiec Porter or precious glasses of golden delicious honey vodka, and recharge for the main attraction. By the time the PCFJB opened the room was ready to go, and they kicked in real fast, nice and lively straight-out with Party*. Soon the dance floor was full and frequent audience whoops and yips punctuated the night’s set of old-timey, bluegrass staples, and soulful, bluesy newer compositions.
Crowd faves seemed to be Woman (and why not with those sassy and soulful sisters!), Good Old Mountain Dew (this inspired a lot of drunken male excited yipping), and basically any time younger brother Christi had a harmonica solo. His singing voice is on the sweeter side of youth but the boy plays a mean harp.
For more than half of their main set I was afeared that the sassy Eileen wouldn’t break into the beloved spunky tap dancing I had been looking forward to all night, but when she finally did I breathed a sign of relief – ‘and the crowd went wild’. Bonus points for the group’s command of the room to have us whooping in one moment and hushed the next, like for their beautiful rendition of Paul Kelly’s gospel acapella Meet Me in the Middle of the Air.
I was really impressed with this gig by the family band. I am by no means a musical aficionado but it seems to my layperson ears and eyes that they have matured a lot in their sound, their voices and harmonies, and their proficiency in their multiple instruments. And they were already pretty darn good to begin with.
I have their last studio album – Tall Tales – and it is great, fun and very tight but doesn’t seem to quite capture the richness of their voices and harmonies live, or the spirit of their live performances. And they’ve also clearly grown since it was released in 2011 and their move to Melbourne. From the taste we got at the Polo of some of their more recent compositions, I think we can expect a richer, even more soulful, energetic and yes, ‘grown-up’, next album to come (set to be released in early 2014).
They are also ridiculously attractive to look at (the ladies in particular) and this is also getting better with age (the gentlemen in particular). In addition to their purdy music and faces, their on-stage banter is effortless, cheerful and sincere, and they are also plenty friendly and approachable offstage. Fingers crossed they play the National Folk Festival next year, especially as this family band proved at the National 2012 they can pull off a super fun and inclusive music and singing workshop – check ‘em out if you can!
Thank you Moochers Inc and the Perch Creek siblings (and stray partner) for an awesome night of music! And of course thanks also goes to the CMC for putting on another great local gig, the White Eagle Club for your usual lovely venue and genial service, and of course, Polish honey vodka for being you.
(*Please excuse me Culturazi readers if I got any song names/factoids not quite right)