The Out to Lunch festival is now into its last week. Boo hiss. It’s good sign that many of the shows have sold out … but if you’re quick and check the festival website, there are still tickets available for some of this week’s gigs.
On Sunday afternoon, the Black Box hosted The Henry Girls playing alongside with the boys from The Fox Hunt. The transatlantic collaboration between “West Virginian Americana and Irish nu-folk” is a continuation of a commission for last year’s Earagail Arts Festival in Donegal.
The Fox Hunt play and sing around a single condenser microphone, standing in a rough semicircle with their fiddle, guitar, banjo and upright (double) bass. Singers needing to he heard lean in towards the mic. Similarly instruments that need to come to the fore in the mix edge closer to the mic.
As well letting the band control the sound mix (there’s only one mic and a pickup on the double bass for the sound guy to fiddle with) it also creates a visual dance around the mic. When you add the three Henry Girls to the four Fox Hunters, you get up to seven people swapping position and leaning in and out. With a couple of switches during a verse and another for the chorus, its’ a visual treat as well as music to the audience’s ears.
The members of the Fox Hunt swap instruments between each other between songs. The main guitarist is left handed but plays guitars and fiddles stringed for right handed players. The Henry Girls add harp, accordion, keyboard, fiddle and mandolin (or was it ukulele?) as well as a beautiful blend of close harmony singing. Everyone also manages to play and sing at the same time – try that next time you’ve a violin under your chin!
Playing for around two and a half hours (with a short interval), it was a great value gig and the audience seemed to be loving it. A particular highlight came near the end when the combined group dropped all pretence of folk music and played a crowd pleasing cover of Dire Straits’ Walk of Life … with a lot of the audience joining in!