Hayseed Dixie in Leeds
Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Friday 2nd February 2018, £17.50
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Hayseed Dixie began one innocent Summer day in 2000 when John Wheeler and Mike Daly drank roughly enough whiskey to float a battleship from the Florida Coast over to Portugal and back and decided to play around in John's studio. Having spent the previous few years touring around with assorted country hat-acts, John had assembled a proper pile of recording equipment. Thus when he and Mike discovered in their drunken epiphany that the Lost Highway of Reverend Hank Williams and the Highway to Hell of Bishop Bon Scott were indeed the same identical stretch of tarmac, they were well and truly prepared to document this revelation in situ.
East Nashville, Tennessee in the Summer of 2000 was a proper Bohemian party place, and a few friends stopped by, drank some of John's whiskey, and played and sang on this recording here and there, as was the custom of the times. And ten AC/DC songs were suddenly reimagined and recorded forever anew, entirely reinvented as Appalachian Mountain hillbilly rave-ups. Everyone danced (oh how they danced!) around the studio room and out onto the porch and drank more whiskey. (You should have been there. Really. You should have.)
Now, functioning well as Exhibit A in the demonstration of how one's beginnings rarely know one's ends, Hayseed Dixie have evolved into a proper force, one that most people either love, hate, or have never heard of. There isn't really any middle ground, nor should there be. But fourteen albums - consisting of both original material and reinterpretations of previously rendered songs - and global physical *sales in excess of half a million copies, with over 1,200 live shows in 31 different countries testify: Hayseed Dixie are the undisputed creators of the musical genre, Rockgrass. There are many copycats, converts, and disciples out there. Accept no imitations.
And now, holding up their own idiosyncratic mirror to an unsettled and unsettling 2017, Hayseed Dixie offer up their 15th studio album, a collection of both original songs and reinterpretations of R&B and Soul classics. Dance with them as they probe the queries: Why do we still believe there is such a thing as 'race'? Are concepts like 'nations' and 'nationality' really useful to people who lay bricks or perform kidney stone surgeries? and Why does every song always sound better with a banjo in the mix? The boys are seeking after the root core categorical commonality that runs like an eternal golden braid throughout all of humanity. Then they will buy it a drink!
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