Friday, December 01, 2006

Burlesque by Bellowhead

When Jon Boden and John Spiers appeared on the English folk scene, they quickly made their mark as a gutsy duo, reverently belting out their songs and tunes with complete conviction. With Spiers on melodeons and concertina and Boden on fiddle and vocals, their youthful fervor added to the growing and vibrant roots movement, and Spiers and Boden were tapped to add texture to Eliza Carthy's Rough Music album in 2005. But by then, Spiers and Boden were already looking to expand their palette of sound. In 2004 the duo released an E.P. from a new project of theirs called Bellowhead, and it became clear that what Spiers and Boden were about was something different.

Bellowhead brings big band arranging to English music, featuring a full-on horn section and the Bellowhead of 2006 is most certainly a large band, with eleven members kicking up a wall of sound. Burlesque set me scrambling for comparisons. Perhaps Brass Monkey, which featured Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick with a horn section? Not really, as Bellowhead's rhythmic flair is more dynamic and diverse than even Brass Monkey had imagined. Perhaps The Barely Works? Well, not even the Barelies are a fair comparison, as that band combined horns with more of a bluegrass/Irish influence, although the sense of experimentation and having fun is certainly apparent in Bellowhead's music.
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