Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hot Damn Scandal with Kristin and Will - Redlight - June 23, 2012

Pete and Charly - Tom Waits Tribute Night at Shakedown
Photo by LBDL

Hot Damn Scandal with Kristin and Will – Redlight

June 23, 2012

Walk into the Redlight with Kristin belting out the blues on a resonating steel guitar and Will accompanying her with a banjo that underlines and accents her performance. Always a good living-room feel at the Redlight, hardwood floors and high ceilings, the luminous glow of warm lighting. The summer evening brightness falling from the air as a beautiful woman sings about sorrow. There is no other place to be right now. Kristin is one of those rare singers graced with a voice beyond her years: you can hear the soul of a Deep South female blues singer from 100 years ago in the style of her phrasing and along the hard edge of her high notes.

Then, like devils from the dust, Hot Damn Scandal just sort of stands up and becomes a band. No microphones, just sitting there at the table right next to you, suddenly playing a guitar or a stand-up bass. They have an immediate presence. “Stinky” Pete Irving there in the center with that steel guitar and broken down wardrobe. His wife, Charly Baby, beautifully tattooed beside him with a musical saw. Andy “Mutha” Ingraham atop the stand-up bass and Harper “Stone” Stone kicked back on a washboard. Train whistle in the distance, cars rolling by like a tide outside, a needle sets down on a scratchy surface and Hot Damn Scandal performs music that seems to have been carved out of the broken heart of the American Dream. It is beautiful and strange. Perfect.

You feel like you have heard these songs all your life. These are your favorite pair of boots, your lucky hat, your Saturday night shirt, your old dog that disappeared after the rain. But here the familiar also has a shadow. Pete’s songs are built on traditional structures but twisted around and turned into strange objects of broken brilliance. From The Rain Comes Down: “Every day’s been feeling like the sun is falling down / and the ocean’s will all go off into steam clouds / And I’ll walk down to Atlantis with a foley and a smoke / sit down on the marble steps and catch the last show. And you’ll be there to catch my sorrows and turn them into sweet nostalgic dreams.” You can sense of ghosts of Tom Waits and Nick Cave. But right there with them is Woody Guthrie and Louis Armstrong. The music is pure performed being at the crossroads of hope and despair.

Everyone at the Redlight is snake-charmed and swaying, smiling and bobbing heads. Charly’s saw sings like an Aeolian harp in the winds of rapture: eerie and full of the ache of memory. Andy’s bass rumbles like thunder with Harper’s washboard conjuring up Bojangle rythyms. Pete’s voice and guitar playing centered in the soul of the evening.

They finish with the always sweet wedding song, “The Dust Is Calling,” Charly and Pete trading off verses until: “We had nowhere in sight ‘cause nowhere’s our home / in motion ‘cause we ain’t alone.” After having broken the heart of the room, they encore with “Twist It Up and Drink It Down.” And like sinners at a pagan tent revival, everyone gets up to dance and lose their souls.

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