Otis Gibbs – The Basement, 30/07/10

Tonight it’s a solo (get it? No? Bear with me, you will…) outing to the Basement to see a gig that came highly recommended by a certain D Lucas.

The evening opened with three songs from Peter Marshall & The Lomos, who were playing twenty-four gigs in twenty-four hours around York, raising money for SASH. Now, the endeavour itself is a brave enough thing to attempt but when you are basically gate-crashing a gig which is almost the complete opposite of your own style of music, it takes on a much higher degree of courage. However, the comedy stylings of this due managed to raise a few chuckles, an appreciative round of applause and, most importantly, a bit of cash. Well done, lads.

Next on stage was Joe Solo (now do you get it?), an untraditional folk singer from Scarborough (via somewhere a little further North-East, if his accent is anything to go by). An ex-punk, Joe was, according to his wife, destined to be a protest singer because he was always moaning. Strapping on or inserting (into his shoe…) various bits of percussion and adding a bit of harmonica imbues Joe with a bit of a one-man-band vibe and added a bit more interest to the man and guitar act. Coming across between songs as unassuming and slightly bewildered, Joe has a distinctive singing voice and the songs performed tonight were good enough for me to buy copies of the two CDs he had on sale. Highlight was a true modern folk song, written by Graham Moore, called Tom Paine’s Bones, about this fellow.

The ever-reliable and always excellent GT Turbo was next up with a short set comprising of Leaving Victoria, Sweet Sorrow Surrender, Smoking In My Backyard, Dead Man’s Suit and a new song (to me, anyway) Father Time, for which he was joined by Vin North on harmonica. I was going to say that some of my favourites were included but, being honest, I’ve yet to hear song from GT that I don’t like. There’s not too much I can add to what I’ve said about GT in the past – his songs show variety, are brilliantly written and instantly catchy. I urge you to at least give his album, The Ship That Sailed, a try.

Finally tonight’s headline act, Otis Gibbs, took to the stage. He’d been wandering around the inevitably small crowd, shaking hands and taking requests during the evening. I can’t possibly do justice to the man by trying to summarise the bio from his website so, if you are interested, click on the link above and head for the Press Pack. Looking like a cleaned up hobo (no offense, Otis) and sounding like a rougher, acoustic Springsteen, Otis treated us to a set of wonderful alternative country style songs, mixed with some comic asides about growing up in what he thought was an artist colony (“it turned out we were just hillbillies…”), playing at an anti-war rally and being born (“I came out bearded, tatooed and asking for my hat”) . Songs included I Walked Out In The River, The Town That Killed Kennedy, Where Only The Grave Are Real and Kansas City, from his new album Joe Hill’s Ashes (duly purchased and loving it…), as well as Small Town Saturday Night, the brilliant Caroline and One Day Our Whispers. The inevitable encore was performed unplugged and off stage, with Otis wandering around the audience while playing. Superb.


About Ian

Regular gig-goer in York, both to see local and touring bands. Huge music fan, with more CDs than my wife thinks any one person should own. I also collect American comics, read a lot of SF and fantasy and am a season-ticket holder at Leeds United.
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