Po’ Girl, All Saints Centre (Lewes, UK. September 23rd 2011)
The penultimate show of a demanding two month long tour of the UK and part of continental Europe saw Po’ Girl play in front of a sold out crowd in Lewes, East Sussex. The evening, promoted by the (local) Union Music Store was simply enchanting from the first note to the last.
More usually a foursome, tonight Po’ Girl were a trio because Benny Sidelinger had had to return home during the tour due to a family bereavement. The line-up therefore comprised founder member Allison Russell (vocals, multi-instrumentals) together with Awna Teixiera (vocals, multi-instrumentals) and Mikey ‘Lightning’ August (drums and keyboards). The array of musical instruments used tonight included the afore-mentioned drums and keyboards and acoustic guitar, bass guitar, clarinet, accordion, glockenspiel, banjo, harmonica, ukulele and gutbucket bass. The latter literally combines a bucket, with a pole and string; Teixiera made her own gutbucket bass but that’s not all, she’s also written an introductory ‘How To’ guide about the instrument which is available to purchase at shows and online via her website www.hazytales.me
So let’s get back to the first note…the opening song was When We Are Love from their latest album FOLLOW YOUR BLISS released last year. Of the 14 tracks featured on the album, quite a few were showcased tonight including my personal favourite Kiss Me In The Dark. Earlier in the day they had recorded the title track Follow Your Bliss for Balcony TV Brighton. The mention of ‘Brighton’ drew some good-natured hissing from the audience who are proud of their separate (Lewes) identity.
With both Russell and Teixiera writing material, both taking turns at lead vocals and both playing a range of instruments, Po’ Girl’s music really defies categorisation. What you get is a heady mixture of folk, jazz, blues, soul, country, and world music – something for everyone but it never feels dislocated. Po’ Girl somehow weave it all into a seamless whole and are captivating live performers. They have honed their craft through sheer hard work averaging almost 300 days per year on the road. Fortunately, unlike some writers, they are able to write whilst travelling and often draw inspiration from the places they visit e.g. Montana and people they meet e.g. She Slips Through. Their song writing also draws inspiration from their respective family backgrounds. Teixiera dedicated Gandy Dancer to her grandfather and Fernanda to her grandmother (the songs are their stories put to music); Russell sang Kathy for her mother, a victim of domestic abuse.
Po’ Girl often work in collaboration with JT Nero and the Clouds (August also doubles up as the drummer in that band) and tonight they covered a pair of Nero’s songs Grey Ghost and Double Helix, Rainbow. Both were received enthusiastically. Nero and Russell will be touring the UK together later this year – watch out for them!
Two sets, nineteen songs, plenty of interplay on and off stage culminated in a lively, energetic and extremely engaging performance. The last note was saved for the encore Go Easy.
There were a few in the room who on the strength of tonight’s show were making plans to see them again the following night for the final show on the tour. Had I not been otherwise committed I might well have joined them! Jela Webb