9 May 2012

Prog folk folk 2

Still at FrogFest, and I was to see Ben Hauptmann’s band, BOB, and Mr Fibby.

BOB was a totally different experience. Highly trained playing that was tight, richly improvised and ornamented and arresting in concept and in performance. It started with a subtle but mobile solo on keys from Damien, precise and understated, then into melodies that spoke of folk song and solos with long crescendos that built steadily and unerringly. Ben’s guitar is always honest and impressive, sharply toned and with a touch of banjo or country-hick influence. Julian entered on tenor for several melodies but I was surprised his solos seemed so few in number. Damien reappeared for solos, but I particularly liked his presence as organ bass and piano/organ accompaniment. I was particularly following Evan. I seldom have much to say about drummers, but I was dazzled by this display: rock solid and stable beats, singular grooves of deadened snare and toms or smashing cymbals. All the time with precision and delicacy and refreshing, committed fills. I heard this as a master class in rock drumming. BOB features Ben Hauptmann (guitar) with Julian Banks (tenor), Damien Slingsby (keys) and Evan Mannell (drums).

Last was Mr Fibby. I’d heard tell of the band, so I was interested to have a listen. How clever was this, and how different? Classically-trained instrumentals accompanying zany story telling with an Eastern European accent. I’m sure I caught some Bach amongst the Gypsy instrumentals. I certainly enjoyed the story-book references to ANU V-C Ian Young for his current threat to the School of Music. (He was not a welcome man at this event!) These were contorted and somewhat improvised stories with dreamy logic and fairy tale characters. And tones of violin, cello and acoustic guitar that were played with real skills and panache, despite the none-too-classically-perfect environment. This was serious theatrical fun with great wit and serious fine-music skills. Highly recommended. Mr Fibby are Zavi (aka Sam King, guitar), Rusalka Seraphina (aka Emma Jasmine Kelly, violin), Borracio (aka Spike Thompson, cello) and No Important (aka Adam Hadley, story teller).

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