Tonight the Soundlounge presents us with a unique proposition, a young and prodigiously talented family jug band originating from the picturesque Perch Creek area of Northern New South Wales. Now wowing audiences in their new home town of Melbourne, the Perch Creek Family Jug Band stay both true to the original spirit of the authentic jug band music they grew up with, while also splashing healthy dollops of folk, country and gospel into their rollicking and fun musical concoction.
First up on tonight’s bill is local songstress Nadia Sunde, and due to an earlier than advertised start time I only manage to catch the last 3 songs of her set. Her sweet country and folk inflected sounds coupled with her personable, chatty persona engage the room as she serenades the appreciative audience with a couple of Patty Griffin numbers and an acapella finale dedicated to her daughter.
After a short break it’s time for our headliners, stepping out with warm smiles and dapper attire. At least half of the band look like they’ve walked straight out of a bygone era, lending an even more authentic aura to their old-time musical influences.
New single Big Things Calling makes an early appearance in the set, a relatively contemporary sounding number driven by banjo and harmonica. Tracks such as Captain Thunderbolt (You Better Run), performed by double bass player James Chandler (the only non-sibling in the band) and the rousing Bitchin’ Betty Lou prompt plenty of toe tapping and smiles amongst the audience, who are primarily on the mature side of the gig-going demographic.
Those authentic jug band elements begin to surface as their set picks up steam, with drummer Lear Hodgkins strapping on washboard and jug and also joining sassy sister Eileen in an energetic demonstration of his recently revived tap dancing skills. Younger brother Christi delivers an impressive performance throughout on vocals and harmonica, with interjections of trombone and the haunting strains of the saw. Melodica, banjo and even a train whistle, courtesy of the keyboard weilding Camilla Hodgkins, also make an appearance as the evening unfolds. By this time a few of the crowd are up an dancing, caught up in the infectious vibes radiating from the stage.
Throughout their performance all band members sing and harmonise impressively, rising to a magical crescendo on their final song, a spell binding take on Paul Kelly’s gospel tinged acapella track Meet Me in the Middle of the Air. The crowd give them a rousing ovation as they depart…
With summer festival appearances scheduled and a new album hitting the shelves shortly , this talented bunch are definitely a band to keep an eye out for during 2014.