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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