Artist: Andrew Duhon
Venue: The Square Tower
Date: 25th July 2014
It’s not every day that this historic venue of ours gets a Grammy Award nominee gracing it’s not-quite-as-aged stage, but with the sovereign news that Andrew Duhon’s 2nd and latest offering, “The Moorings”, did in fact elicit said nomination, the atmosphere in the sold-out Tower was more akin to a celebration.
Andrew’s songs are often glimpses and sometimes full-blown stories, delving into the lives of everyday folk, the paths they choose to travel and the consequence of those choices. There may be happy endings, there may not be – but the heart, soul and essence of these people are what makes these songs come to life. Duhon can paint the Masterpiece – his tools are just his guitar and an extraordinary songwriting talent, not a brush and canvas.
Of course, there is an undeniably dark vein of humour pervasive throughout his work. From the off, he explains that it’s pretty difficult to write a Blues tune when your woman keeps treating you right – before opening with “Crosstown Southern Blues”.
Naturally, the majority of the songs are taken from his current release – and that’s no bad thing, as the album is packed full of golden musical moments waiting to be heard and rediscovered time and again. “Land Rush” is his homage to California, and somehow apt on this steamy humid summer night in Old Portsmouth, with the ocean lapping gently outside of the Tower’s 20ft thick walls.
“Just Another Beautiful Girl” has the proverbial hairs standing up on the back of the neck. The story of bible-belt middle America and it’s attitudes to modern life, and a love that crosses colour lines. Here Andrew holds the audience rapt in the palm of his hand…and then lets the hammer fall…”She knew that town would never love her baby girl, but in any other town she was just another beautiful girl”. Spine-tingling stuff!
New song “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To” is sufficient proof that the 3rd album will be at least the equal of its mighty predecessor. A paean to the spirit of the unsung heroes and characters of near yesteryear, it’s melancholic lyric underscores the fragility of the melody and Andrew’s understated acoustic guitar work. Yet another example of what the New Orleans songwriter does best and naturally, and what sets him apart from others.
With every seat taken, there was standing room only at the rear, and back there listening and enjoying her good friend Andrew’s set, was one Lucy Spraggan, erstwhile chart-topper of the South Coast parish. She and Andrew met when she was 18, in a courtyard in New Orleans, and have remained firm friends ever since. So it was a lovely surprise when Andrew invited Lucy on to the stage to play a song together. “Don’t Know Nuthin’ About The Blues”, written and sung by Lucy, had the crowd giving it up as she laid down a rocking acoustic guitar rhythm beneath Andrew’s wicked harmonica, and a strident vocal from a genuinely talented young lady.
And all too soon Andrew is breaking out the dirty bottleneck slide intro to “Sidestep Your Grave”, to much whoopin’, hollerin’ and stompin’! A crowd-pleasing guitar tour-de-force and a fitting end then to a top notch evening of entertainment – as the long queue to purloin CD’s and grab a quick word with Andrew assuredly testified.
His website describes him as a folk and blues influenced singer songwriter, but that is far too simplistic a description. Here is a young man whose songs and stories transcend such trite labels. Andrew doesn’t just tell stories. The listener becomes part of the story, and lives it through the music itself. To have the ability to do that, marks Andrew Duhon out as someone special, and once you’ve listened to him, there are few who would argue the opposite.
Grammy nominated this year. How long before he becomes a Grammy winner?
Photos by Liam Brown ©2014.
“ Good job! Another great gig in one of the best music venues imaginable!” (Jar Vahey)
“Always impressed with who you book and how you organise it…” (Gareth Howells)
“Great evening and another great CD added to the collection!” (Sandie Houghton)
“A surprise appearance from Lucy Spraggan…while it provided a highpoint, it was one of many…here’s hoping he’ll come back to the Square Tower for a third successive year in 2015! (Chris Broom – The News)
As a bonus for those who came…and indeed those that couldn’t make it, here is a video filmed and edited by Lloyd Brown of Andrew performing another new song (which he didn’t play in his set that evening) on top of the Square Tower…enjoy!