We guessed that this night was going to be a bit special, not just because we were off to see the wonderful Handsome Family, but because we were going to see them in a shed, in the middle of nowhere that only holds 100 people (we made up nearly 10% of the crowd!).
Our Dave (one half of North South Divide) lives in Malton, North Yorkshire so we convened at his place. A further 40 minutes drive into the moors brought us to Gillamoor. Lee and I instantly recognised it as the place we’d Bed and Breakfasted (B+Bd) sometime BC (Before Children). We stayed at a farm where they kept horses and unbeknown to us, Desert Orchid was stabled there. We got to meet him after breakfast. First time I’d ever been close to a racehorse – an awesome beast!
A little further up the road was Low Mill where the bandroom is situated. An unlikely venue for Albuquerques finest family, but it turns out to be their 4th time there.
First up was support act Liz Green who sings in an old time southern states style that would have easily fitted onto the “Brother where art thou” soundtrack, but she hails from Manchester. Her first song was accapella and after that accompanied by her lovely guitar playing. Each song was also accompanied by a wood carving, which she placed in a light box at the front of the stage. “In this one the man sat at the table should be drinking wine but I couldnt carve that small so hes got a pint glass, which makes him sadder”. The Band Room has a BYO policy so we were drinking wine out of wine glasses! Sad, strange hypnotic songs that are well worth checking out.
The sad, strange song trend was continued when the Handsome Family stepped onto the stage. Seeing them live is a great experience – they’re all round entertainers. Strange, sad songs, now augmented with a brace of strange love songs to celebrate Brett and Renee’s 20th anniversary. I loved the intricate interplay between the guitars and best of all, the banter between songs. “You know when it’s Christmas and you put that snow around your windows..well its happening here look! and with these Christmas lights around the stage….” the windows were steaming up “it’s freaking me out! We’re not used to moisture – It hasn’t rained in Albuquerque for thousands of years”.
And on drinking wine….”The first time I met his mom we had a glass of wine and she said ‘you know, when I drink a glass of wine I feel sort of…’ and I thought she was going to say relaxed or happy but she said ‘psychotic’ – I then knew this was the Family for me!”
I can’t rate this line up highly enough – they had us in raptures! “This song took place on the hill at the back of here…..that’s why they don’t have weddings in this town anymore..!” After the encore, Renee revealed that someone in the crowd had been marked with a chalk cross on their back as they came in, as a sacrifice for the local wolves “If you see it on someones back, don’t tell them, its better that way”.
Si drove Kyla, Dave, Lee and I back to Daves whilst Mike and Gerry hiked back to their B+B where a large proportion of the crowd were staying. Spontaneous singing of Handsome Family songs ensued and went on until the early hours. One couple they met who’d driven up from Wales, couldn’t get a B+B, so were sleeping in their car! “Still it was worth it!”
Bob the Chiropodist
McD outside the Bandroom