Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Mallard and Chris Con Carne at the Ridge Wine Bar - Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Chris Con Carne at The Ridge

The Mallard and Chris Con Carne at the Ridge Wine Bar

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

At it’s best moments, the Blues let’s you know that everything could be worse. By treading some sort of weird voodoo line, the singer lets the music take over and sing through his bones. The long history of possession, echoing with the thudding heart of darkness, and yet, still being sung out in a song. When it is good, it is like nothing else. There within the hardwood floored alterna-space of the Ridge, I heard Chris Con Carne sing and play the Blues in a way that I have not heard in a long time. There on the simple carpet stage: a chair, a guitar, and an amp. Stripped down slide string daemonic voodoo songs sending the dedicated crowd into a zoned-out trance of primal appreciation. This was conjuring music, the ghosts of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Mississippi Fred McDowell drifting in to sit quietly in the corner while “Wish I Was in Heaven Sittin’ Down” rang out. Each song developed upon complex rhythmic blues patterns creating a thing uncanny, weird and sadly beautiful. Chris’ voice singing out from underneath as an annotation on the human condition. At one point, he turned on an electronic tanpura on top of his amp which created an evocative drone under the songs. Echoes of Ry Cooder’s Paris, Texas soundtrack during the singing of “Going Down South” – fading in and out with a deep south swamp riff of “Baby Please Don’t Go.” There at the end, a plug was kicked or a circuit tripped, killing the mic and the amp, stripping the sound down to a raw purity. Chris played straight on through it, the slide raking now against the strings, clicking like locusts singing in the summer heat, summoning up the ancient spirits of the Blues.

The Mallard at The Ridge

The Mallard up next, consists of Greer McGettrick, vocals and guitar, and Dylan Tidyman-Jones, drums and vocals. There was sonic disturbance, low ambient feedback uncurling around the Ridge, before they even picked up their instruments. As soon as they kicked in, there were vestiges of The Cramps and Sonic Youth: the echo-drenched guitar noise amped way high. Simple snare sounding like gunshots. Coming on now like ironic Japanese Surf pop. Raw rock n roll noise music. Down in the primal Pulse of the thing. Makes you think about breaking something. The Mallard delivers her songs with harmonic hollers and yelps of being, defying you to find categorization. Imagine some sort of twisted 50s girl group filtered through the apocalyptic decades of the 80s and 90s, then warped from too many drugs and the all too natural cynicism that is endemic to the 21st century. Gives you an idea. The Mallard has the bones of music on display: a cranked-up amped-out guitar, a tribal drum pounding and an existential wail.  At the end, it was beautiful: they walked away and let the feedback swirl. Echoes of the machine.

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