But Mary you are with me now, all around me in the waves

My cherished iRiver H120 is broken and I am rather depressed about it. Its last will and testament was a frustratingly obscure Kurtz-like “ata error -32” My efforts to revive it have been rather cack-handed and have only made things worse – can’t even coax anything out of it now. Indeed if I was a surgeon, I get the feeling I’d be followed gleefully around by Lionel Hutz…

Anyway, I’ve replaced it with a rather cute plastic-y Zen V plus, which you can cram shedloads of music into but which won’t allow me to use my microphone – the jack won’t fit into it. So anyway, I ventured off to Bristol last night with Josie, to see Albuquerque’s most dysfunctional, armed only with the Zen’s built-in mic.

The Handsome Family

I like St George’s – there’s something defiantly middle-aged and middle-class about it, which obviously suits me fine these days. And what could be more middle-aged and middle-class than a picnic and champagne tent in the grounds of the old church. We didn’t get ourselves organised for that part, I’m afraid, which was just as well because predictably the weather didn’t play along (really windy and later rainy).

Brett and Rennie Sparks are The Handsome Family, a husband and wife team who augment their rather sparse sound as they feel they need it (but you know all this). Last night they employed a guitar/fiddle player and a drummer for their selection, and also played two sets with an interval in-between (during which the Champagne was rather forlornly declared closed “due to adverse weather conditions”).

I enjoyed their songs, full as they were with skulls and snakes, grizzlies and airports, and I liked the way they switched around the instrumentation a little – a pedal steel here, a melodica there.

They’re also known for their between-song banter, which was genuinely charming and witty. On the subject of their upcoming twentieth weeding anniversary, Rennie informed us that she’d been sold to Brett by her family when she was six. “They told me she could sew” was the response from the other side of the stage…

All in all, it was a really good show, and ironically (given that there had been lengthy discussion from the front about ionisation, lightning rods and UFOs) our ride home was accompanied all the way by a suitably Night of the Hunter-ish freak storm.

I made a few recordings. To be honest, they’re not as good as I’d like, but they’re kind of OK. Unfortunately, the spoken intros and chat are not really audible, which was a shame.

After we Shot the Grizzly (Live, at St George’s)

Amelia Earhart vs the Dancing Bear (Live, at St George’s)

Weightless Again (Live, at St George’s)

There are a few downloads available, none from their site, I’m afraid, (“Sometimes I can’t even dress myself”), but the site does direct you here, where you can fill your boots…

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