this one didn’t make it into this month’s Narc magazine so I thought I’d post it here
The Wiyos / Rob Heron & The Teapad Orchestra – The Cumberland Arms, October 1st
Spending a long time on the road affects different bands in different ways. In the case of Rob Heron & His Teapad Orchestra, a hectic summer (70-plus gigs) has made them a more relaxed, intuitive live act with the kind of telepathic musical understanding it takes a long tour to develop. The old songs sounded invigorated, the new songs sounded great and they just seemed to be having a ball.
The flipside of this are The Wiyos, who’ve been touring hard for a decade or more. I first saw them about 5 years ago and they were fresh and funny and original, a heady blend of folk blues, jazz, western swing and vaudeville. Now they seem a little tired and way too polished. Their onstage patter sounds hackneyed and everything felt a little flat. They’re great musicians of course, but too many times tonight what should have been brilliantly ramshackle was just too slick. Of course, classics like Blind Willie Johnson’s Dying Crapshooter’s Blues are bulletproof, but material from their recent, rather po-faced Wizard of Oz project Twist fared less well. The Wiyos were fun tonight – especially when they broke out the washboard and kazoos – but they failed to really shine.