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September 30, 2005

Plugging the Demon Barber Roadshow

I mentioned this in the sidebar, but it needs promoting*. The Demon Barber Roadshow is Britain's premier live folk extravaganza. The music is provided by Damien Barber's rather nifty band the Demon Barbers and fiddler Bryony Griffith. And it's great. But the show is also rounded out with clog (Tiny & Fiona Taylor), morris (Dogrose Morris) and rapper (Black Swan Rapper). Just in case you weren't sure what traditional English dance was like.

The Demon Barbers are very much to my taste, with a mixture of folk and electric instruments, and a proper bass section. Damien fronts of course, and I think one of the finest things about this band is that he has a brilliant authentic folk voice. I can't think of another electric folk band with such a strong, traditional vocalist (I know, you're going to give me dozens in the comments). The songs are traditional but obviously the arrangements are not, and it's good and loud.

The Roadshow is something really fine though. I am not a big fan of clog but the clog is well-done, and wisely set to the full band music. Dogrose Morris call themselves "Morris with Altitude" and I don't think I've ever seen morris dancers jump so high. But the showstopper is the rapper. Rapper is a dance for five athletic young men with flexible swords who weave in and out at high speed. Black Swan Rapper are just about the best rapper side there is at the moment. And if the fabulous dancing weren't enough, they also use glow-in-the-dark-swords. It's a complete showstopper.

We've seen them live twice, most memorably at Cecil Sharp House where we were about ten feet from the dancers. And very exciting it was too.

I think in an effort to persuade people to book the Roadshow, they've put together a promo DVD, and you can download it all from their website. You'd probably want broadband. The videos are pretty good quality for internet downloads, and include studio versions of all three of the dances, songs by the Demon Barbers, and festival footage. Oh, and some very cute footage of a schools workshop with kids doing rapper with balloon-animal balloons instead of swords.

When I tell people I like electric folk music, they sort of wince and you can see they're thinking of late sixties stuff played by people in floaty dresses. I have to say, no, I like the stuff that's new and exciting now. And hey. Now there's a website I can point them at.

One more thing. You won't see it live because they're never repeated it, but at Sidmouth a couple of years ago Black Swan did a rapper firedance. Because they are nutters. Actual nutters. And you can download the video for that too. It is the most amazing thing and required watching for anyone who thinks English dance is dull. There is a bit of a flaming pentacle issue though -- I'm not sure if they'd worked out that would happen in advance.

flaming rapper swords forming a five-pointed star

hot flaming pentacle action

*Admission: Damien said I could have one of the actual DVDs if I plugged the band on my blog. But you know, they're brilliant, I'd go to a festival just to hear them play and I have everything they've ever recorded.

Posted by Alison Scott at September 30, 2005 12:16 AM


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