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The Gig Room, Perth

ian sutherland
Words: and Pictures: Ian Sutherland
31st July 2017

hayseed dixie

It's a Monday night and you're in a cosy back room of a building on an industrial estate beside the River Tay in Perth. It's not somewhere you'd expect anything very rock'n'roll to be happening, but tonight you'd be wrong. Inside The Gig Room are a couple of hundred people here to see the pioneers of rockgrass, a combination of traditional Tennessee mountain bluegrass music imbibed along with the spirit and many of the songs of rock.

An idea that stemmed from the simple notion of doing a bluegrass album of AC/DC covers, Hayseed Dixie have now been going for seventeen years, as explained from the stage by founding member and frontman extraordinaire John Wheeler. Something done for fun has turned into a kind of career but he and his bandmates don't take the fun out of it, they just add more.

hayseed dixie

Tonight's two hour set featured covers they are famous for such as 'Ace Of Spades', 'War Pigs' and 'Bohemian Rhapsody', the latter introduced as usual as "the best killing song ever written". That sense of 'let's party and fuck the rules' they always bring with them has allowed rockgrass to spread it's wings musically and also in the set were more unexpected covers such as 'Love Train' from disco legends The O'Jays, Bob Marley's 'Buffalo Soldier' and even Elvis Costello's 'Oliver's Army'.

That Dixie magic is a wonderful thing though and the bad dancing, singing along and general craziness it inspires in the audience continues no matter what they play. Personally I've always thought that original tunes they do such as 'Keeping Your Poop In A Jar' and the high energy fun of 'Kirby Hill' are just as much integral parts of any set from these guys as the rock covers and tonight's audience agreed.

hayseed dixie

No one seemed to have told the crowd here in Perth that this was a Monday night and the drink flowed both on and off stage with just about everyone joining in Wheeler's regular invitations to "...stop and take a drink". This kind of enthusiasm carries over to the music too and I'm sure when Arthur Smith and Don Reno wrote the Dixies traditional main set closer 'Duelling Banjos' in 1955 they never imagined the outbreak of mad moves it would inspire in a crowd thousands of miles away sixty-plus years later.

This really felt like a Saturday night gig, not a Monday night one. I love the way these guys from Tennessee travel the world and create an environment every night that just encourages everyone to relax, smile and enjoy themselves. I'm sure the hangovers were worth it and next time I will leave the car at home and join in. Hell Yeah!

hayseed dixie

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Check out more of Ian Sutherland right here.

judas priest


monsters of rock

Monsters Of Rock In Full Flight is strictly limited to 300 worldwide and is available from 30th November but those ordering before 31st October will have their name published within a dedicated page in the book.

It's a deluxe 128 page hardback book in a metal flight case with a narrative by Jerry Bloom.

When promoter Paul Loasby put on the first Monsters Of Rock Festival in 1980 he could probably never have imagined it would become an annual event that would endure for so many years.

Featuring bands from the UK, Germany, Canada and USA, Loasby chose to stage the event at the Donington race circuit in the middle of England and it would prove to be a defining moment for many of the bands on the bill.

Not least for headliners Rainbow as it was the their last ever show to feature drum legend Cozy Powell. As it would happen it turned out to be the last for vocalist Graham Bonnet as well. For many of the other bands on the bill such as Scorpions, Judas Priest and Saxon, they were all on the ascendancy and would soon go on to even greater success.

Now in celebration of this first ever Monsters Of Rock Festival comes this hardback book full of glorious photos of the bands that took to the stage for that inaugural event including back stage shots. Most of these shots have not been published before which add to the uniqueness of this deluxe 128-page book which is packaged in its own flight case.

Also included are stories surrounding the event with tales and recollections from those who were there, including artists and fans alike. Each book will be signed by the author. The 300 will sell fast and definitely go on to become collector's items so order yours now right here to avoid disappointment.


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