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May 12, 2011

12-5-11 Electric Hearts

12-5-11 Electric Hearts

It’s been too long since I’ve seen The Toy Hearts live. Last Sunday I finally made it to an ‘all electric’ date at The Actress And Bishop on Ludgate Hill, though only for the first set as the dread tinnitis began to ring in my ears. I should be more careful about carrying ear-plugs to higher-volume events; the persistent dweeeep! doesn’t subside overnight as it once did. Skeptics please note that although my little foam buddies are clearly uncool (so *prudent* my dears) you actually hear the music more clearly.
It was a revelation though to hear Sophia J’s Gibson 135 pushing out fat, fuzzy, jazzy melody lines instead of the usual gipsy jazz and bluegrass picking, another reminder that the electric guitar is a different country.
I always look forward to Howard Gregory’s solos: for my tuppence the best of the shifting rosta of fiddle-players to go out with the band. I try to push to the back of my mind that he considers it his second instrument, dammit.
I like The Hearts on principle. There’s nothing easy, no corners cut to get the sound they want, and it’s been a long trek to get their trad and alt.bluegrass music heard, though they’ve recently made it onto national radio. Apparently the editor concerned had liked the review cd he’d heard around the house but had previously laid it aside unheard because he wasn’t desperately keen on Brit bluegrass. Yeah well, they’re liked and respected in the States…
I have a tiny footnote in their history as the first to do a (gender-adjusted) cover version of a Hearts song, ‘Giving You Back Your Troubles’ from their second cd, When I Cut Loose, partly because it’s a great song and partly as a bit of folksy promo. Like the caveat they used to print on the flimsy flexi-disks you used to get taped to music papers, I’m quick to point out that ‘this version is not representative of the professional recording.’
There isn’t a vid of The Hearts’ electric set, but there’s a very slick vid for Femme Fatale off the third cd, one of their numbers whose gipsy-jazz accent conjures up a kind of Weimar Kabaret decadence, more ja,doch than yee-haw.