The Groanbox Boys**** Leith Folk Club MUSIC can be a little like cooking. Careful blending of ingredients can produce incredible and unusual tastes, while inexperienced bodging and hopeful guesswork can result in a sludgy mess that even the cook wouldn't want to try.
Sometimes though, someone comes along with impeccable taste and skill and knows instinctively how much of which ingredient to add, and precisely when. Remarkably, both acts at the Leith Folk Club last night fitted the latter description.
All the more remarkable when you realise that Scotland's Lori Watson and Britt Pernille Froholm from Norway hadn't actually intended to perform, but were persuaded onstage by the organisers when they came along to see the headliners.
Watson and Froholm had only barely rehearsed a few numbers for gigs elsewhere, but such was their sheer talent and ability, that the resultant sound was of a higher calibre than a great many supposedly well-rehearsed groups.
The pair are currently forming a full band, called Boreas, around themselves. Combining music and playing styles from their respective parts of the world, they entranced the audience to such a degree that it wouldn't be much of a shock to see the full band headlining at the club in the very near future.
If the duo of Watson and Froholm was the delicate starter, the Groanbox Boys were definitely a meaty main dish.
Describing them simply as American roots musicians really wouldn't cover it. They play with such a variety of influences, often within a single piece, that no genre would be able to contain them.
Roots, blues, bluegrass, European folk, country and perhaps even a little classical music slipped in throughout the evening as the Boys showcased material from their career so far.
Between them, Cory Seznec, Michael Ward-Bergeman and Paul Clifford play instruments from the commonplace, like the guitar and the accordion, to the bizarre, like the gourd banjo, the calabash, and the fabulous homemade 'freedom boot'.
Opening their set with the impressively named Pigman's Dog, there really wasn't a single dull moment. Even when the sensitive gourd banjo slipped out of tune before a number, Seznec just used the opportunity to tell a story or get the crowd laughing. There was a very good reason why the band got a repeat booking so soon after their last appearance in May.
If a single highlight had to be chosen, it would have been Train Take My Pain – a rip roaring bluesy song that had grins beaming and heart rates up throughout the club. Songs like Darling Lou, Drink The Magic Potion and Sea Bone Howl were no less powerful or memorable, though, and had the audience perched on their every note.
Finishing on a rowdy Long Tall Mama, they encored with a very noisy Wine Spodey Odey.
If some of the titles seemed a little incomprehensible, the emotion was on display for all to hear and feel. It wouldn't be too big a surprise if they found themselves with yet another speedy rebooking.
Certainly, no-one in the audience, sated as they were, would argue with that decision.