Artist: Andrew Duhon
Venue: The Teatray, Osborne Road, Southsea
Date: 4th July 2016
How fitting it was on Independence Day that New Orleans native and Square Roots favourite, Andrew Duhon drop in on the last night of his UK tour. An intimate and quirky new venue, bearing the hallmarks of the local street artists it is run by, had a capacity crowd privileged to witnessing the sublime talents of this lyrical wordsmith. Blessed with a steely edged deceptively fragile vocal timbre, honing his ever improving guitar skills, and with an easy accessible manner building a rapport with his audience, Andrew is the complete package.
‘Scared To Death Of Dying’ (“but not afraid to live”), set the bar with the incisive evocative lyric and empathetic guitar work. In contrast ‘Girls From Other Countries’ with its wry humour and self-deprecating punchline showed his lighter side, before the catchy ‘Gonna Take a Little Rain’. With Andrew’s back to the glass frontage facing in on the partisan crowd, it was amusing to see passers by taking a quizzical second look in to see what was going on, and surreally, not understanding the magnitude of the experience for those fortunate enough to be inside.
The yet to be recorded ‘Cecilia Champagne’, with a fabulously poignant lyric inspired by a picture of a beautiful waitress from the 1940s on a coffee shop wall, sparkled and enchanted to receive a rousing reception. A Ray Charles inspired ‘You Don’t Know Me’, recently nicely covered by Paul Carrack, preceded a lovely lyric detailing his preference for our small towns over the metropolis of London. Next up was the superbly acerbic and mordant lyric about bible belt hypocrisy and small town promiscuity ‘Just Another Beautiful Girl’, a favourite which showcases Andrews ability to tackle serious issues but create a wonderfully compelling piece of music at the same time.
The sublime ‘Evelyn’ closed a first set to see a dive for the merchandise table resulting in just one cd travelling with Andrew on his way home.
An autobiographical song inspired by a single class in geology embellished with some haunting harp got the second set underway before some more “Mississippi sax” on another favourite ‘Tandem Bike’ with that aching steely edged vocal in all its splendour. Another lovely story about his veteran guitar guru Sol and his time machine of a shop, ‘They Don’t Make ‘Em’ Like They Used To’ painted a lyrical word picture of times and crafts sadly now largely long forgotten. Love and passion of course too with ‘Let you Down’ about seeing the end of a relationship before your partner, and the superb title track of his Grammy nominated album ‘The Moorings’ with its Folk and Gaelic cadence.
A singular request saw an “untasteful amount of reverb” applied to his guitar and vocal to perform a somewhat surreal and incongruous cover of ‘Staying Alive’, yes indeed the Bee Gees song complete with scat vocal and crowd refrain. Fascinating in a way to see an artist so much out of his chosen genre.
Another saucy crowd favourite, a drinking song never to be recorded out of respect for his mother, preceded the relaxed maestro regaling us with a joke about the dog shot by a bar tender returning “to look for the guy that shot my paw”!
A fiery and passionate end to a memorable evening with a superb ‘Sidestep Your Grave’ with compelling slide and vocal hook. A tasty preview for his next release came with the mesmeric ‘Street Fair’ to close out with a promise to return next year, hopefully with his band who are becoming more integral to his musical progress. A last minute filler in the Square Roots programme maybe but with a talent like this you can never lose.
Photos © by Ken Brown & Dickie Spurgin
What The Audience Said….
“That was just bangin’” (Fark)
“Absolutely blew us away, mega evening!” (Jeannie Whalley)
“Another fantastic show!” (Karen McClumpha)
“A great night in a great venue!” (Paul Wild)
“Another excellent night!” (Dickie Spurgin)
“High quality americana! A wonderful, intimate gig! (Dan Ogus, Express FM)