Every now and then we get an act at the club which
goes the extra mile to put on a show. The Red Dirt Skinners were such an
act. They arrived a couple of hours early and then got busy sorting
their equipment out. They had their own PA with two huge speakers,
wireless mics and other impressive kit including an iPad as a
mixer control. They set up a black carpet on the stage, a backcloth with
decal behind them and then filled the stage with drum kit and cymbals.
They had everything ready to go well before the start of the evening -
an impressive effort. With all of this equipment there was no room on
stage for the local artists and so we were grateful to Bob Bignall, who
in Derry's absence, set up a couple of mics in front of the stage with
his own deck patched into the main sound system.
The Red Dirt Skinners are Rob and Sarah Skinner, and they take their
name from the type of music they play which has been likened to Red Dirt
Music from Oklahoma. Rob plays guitar and drums (pedal only) and Sarah
plays Soprano Saxophone, harmonica and percussion. This gives a very
full sound with a powerful insistent rhythm. They started off with a
blues number, Brownie McGhee's "Cornbread, Peas and Molasses", and interestingly finished with another blues number,
"They're Red Hot", a Robert Johnson classic. The rest of the evening
fitted into this blues sandwich perfectly. We had a couple more blues
numbers including an incredible rendition of "I've Got My Mojo Working"
which featured Sarah providing some very energetic vocals. But they
weren't a blues band. They also performed some high octane country
numbers and quite a few self penned songs, predominantly from their new
album, including an excellent rendition of the sensitive "Just 18". The
variety of their music was impressive, as were the moods created by the
different styles of music and themes.
Their music was a mixture of blues, jazz and country old and new, with
an extra dimension brought about by the Soprano Sax, which Sarah played
with evident enthusiasm. At one point she walked around the audience
playing it, aided by a wireless mic fixed to the end of the instrument.
It was impressive. If they really represent the Red Dirt Music genre,
I'll be looking out for more.
However technically good a band is what really matters is the
entertainment value, as people primarily go out to enjoy themselves.
They didn't let us down. They were a great act to watch, and everyone
had a good time, including the act themselves. Rob and Sarah threw
themselves into the performance and were clearly having as good a time
as the rest of us. It makes all the difference - it was a great night.
Support for the evening was provided by Velvet Green, the newly formed
"Less Than Nothing", and yours truly.