PACKING more swing than a driving range, this double-bill transported Dixieland jazz and the speakeasy sound of interwar years New York to Celtic Connections via Edinburgh and Mannheim, Germany.
Mardi Gras.BB / Bevvy Sisters
Opening were The Bevvy Sisters, a home-grown combo hailing from the capital, channelling classic sister-acts à la the Beverleys and the Andrews. Only with their own eclectic spin – lassoing in all from reflective folk and sassy blues to, in the case of final number Up Above My Head, spirit-raising country-gospel.
Formed for a party in 1992 and still going strong, Mannheim’s Mardi Gras.BB are a nine-piece male ensemble – from horns players and percussionists to a scratch DJ – doing hot jazz, dancehall reggae, funk, soul and just about everything else in between. All while dressed in a curious array of retro costumes, from singer and guitarist Jochen Wenz’s 1920s American gangster getup to flat-capped sousaphonist and found member Uli Krug’s outfit uncannily reminiscent of Paw Broon.
Understanding their odd jumble of reference points was not easy, Mardi Gras.BB’s set being skewed heavily towards Crime Story Tapes, their narrative concept album inspired by Damon Runyon-esque 1940s New York noir.
Swinging bodies only piled into the empty space in front of the stage latterly, once Wenz finally broke the fourth wall and asked whether we wanted Mardi Gras.BB’s memory of Scotland to be “people dancing in the dark in the flanks.” Suddenly they were a first-rate party band, dashing-off a groovy cover of Donovan’s Mellow Yellow, then going mobile to deliver a final flurry of trumpet and sax solos from amid the clapping crowd.