Review: Dom James and the Dixie Ticklers, The Spiegeltent
Dom James and the Dixie Ticklers *** The Spiegeltent
Insulting a paying audience is never the wisest thing for a performer to do. Case in point: Dom James, clarinettist and bandleader of the Dixie Ticklers. When describing the harsh realities of love to those before him midway through the first set, he foolishly said: "Everyone in here looks old enough to have experienced that." What some of his more mature audience members responded with isn't suitable for a family newspaper, but let's just say he's fortunate that he, and his band, made up for it with a commendable, if unflashy performance.
Made up (mainly) from London's Guild School of Music graduates, the Dixie Ticklers embrace some the earliest forms of Dixieland/ New Orleans-style jazz; a swinging demonstration of its roots and branches. Loaded up with banjos, trumpets, clarinets, saxophones, drums, bass and piano, the septet exhibited a loyal and heartfelt devotion to the genre, that, although picture-perfect in presentation still left you with the notion you were listening to a tribute - a tip of the Biltmore hat if you will - rather than an ensemble keen to put their own spin on things.
Starting off at funeral pace, the group soon got their groove on with the up-tempo I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate. A tune originally published in 1915, some nifty soloing gave it a nice splash of colour, before Basin Street Blues - a reference to the notorious red-light district of New Orleans' French Quarter of the early 20th century - added some heat to a slightly chilly Spiegeltent. On the quieter numbers, sound bleeding in from neighbouring performances occasionally muddied the water, as it were. But things got funkier and more energetic later on as a call-and-response chant of Walk Right In/Walk Right Out - the right hand side of the hall shouting much louder than the left - bequeathed much of the innuendo early jazz and blues is famous for.
The Dixie Ticklers may seem more like history teachers than charismatic showmen, but apart from James's boob, they're still on the money.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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