Celtic Connections review: Petunia and the Vipers/Woody Pines - Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

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VINTAGE threads and vintage sounds were much in evidence on this North American roots bill. North Carolina’s Woody Pines and his band warmed up proceedings with a sharp-dressed but somewhat buttoned-down take on western swing, ragtime and hillbilly.

Petunia and the Vipers/Woody Pines - Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

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The foursome were fine on the peppy numbers – such as Addicted To Blood, a throwaway rockabilly rumble written “from a vampire’s perspective” – when they could show off their rhythmic prowess, but their slower country songs fell short on melody and musical interest.

Petunia & the Vipers, on the other hand, are a spry, light-fingered bunch, at ease with both headlong rock’n’roll momentum and with the elegant contours of a languorous ballad. They kicked off their set with an affecting lonesome and ever so slightly Latino lament which took its leisurely time before switching up to its scurrying, skiffly coda.

This Canadian troupe were skilled in inflecting their arrangements with a subtle hint of Tex Mex or zydeco flavour, then transporting us to a beach luau courtesy of Jimmy Roy’s mellifluous lapsteel guitar playing. Willowy frontman Petunia, looking not unlike a less skeletal Hank Williams, kept his fluent yodel under wraps until relatively late in the set before applying liberally to some oldtime country tunes. The diversity of their repertoire was showcased with a stealthy version of Little Willie John’s rhythm’n’blues rocker I’m Shakin’, which dovetailed straight into a rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust that owed more than a little to Willie Nelson’s meandering take on the melody.