Twang's unique sound defies easy musical
Thursday, March 2, 2000
By Scott McLennan Telegram & Gazette Entertainment
Among my grandfather's worldly possessions when he
died was a record storage cabinet that opened to reveal
His cabinet gave him sections for Classical,
Instrumentals, Male Vocalists, Female Vocalists, Dance
Music and Popular recordings.
Today, it's much harder to find easy slots to slip our
Singer, banjo and tenor guitar player Jim Reidy of the
band Twang thought long and hard about where stores
should display his group's new compact disc, Second
We were thinking of putting a sticker on it that
said 'File Under Music,' Reidy said.
There is no easy way to categorize Twang's colorful
collision of old-time country, garage rock and
hard-driving folk. What slot would Grandpa have put this
record into, with its covers and adaptations of songs by
Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, Michael Hurley, Frank Zappa
and the Bad Livers?
This much we know: the chemistry works in this band.
Featuring hot pickers and singers with links to such
bands as The Chicken Chokers, Primitive Characters,
Boogaloo Swamis and The Weeds, this new group boasts the
talent to link its members' varied tastes into a
cohesive, albeit off-kilter, pattern.
Joining Reidy in Twang are Taylor Chip Smith on
fiddle, pedal steel guitar and vocals; Paul Strouther on
guitar and vocals; Robbie Phillips on washtub bass;
Mickey Bones on percussion; and Bob Jordan on guitar.
Twang recorded Second Slam after hammering
out material over the past year during biweekly gigs at
Vincent's bar on Suffolk Street in Worcester.
The band is heralding the release of the CD with a
show tomorrow at the Heywood Gallery, 70 Winter St.,
Worcester, as part of the Music for the Year Zero
Festival being presented by Worcester Artists Group. Show
time is 8 p.m.
Reidy said Twang formed after he and the other band
members got tired of the self-imposed restrictions
created by other bands in which they played.
All this music is good for playing in bars and
at music festivals in the summer. The big question was
'Can we play all these kinds of music we like?' It's
definitely not a marketing approach. We're in it for the
music, Reidy said.
With some musical associations spanning 20 years among
various band members, however, there's a warm feel in the
mix and a surprisingly steady hand at the helm --
wherever that may be. Thus the Nuggets-style psychedelia
of Strouther's Givin' Bob a Ride sounds right
at home on a disc with Smith's honky-tonk tear-jerker,
A-22. Reidy's cryptic and creepy
Surprise Party is as fine a cut as the old
Johnny Cash hit Ring of Fire.
Certain band things carry over from band to band
among us, Reidy said. The cohesiveness grew
out playing together a long time. It's not a conscious
thing or something we practice. Instead, it's more like
having a rhythmic in-joke based on something silly that
happened to us at a party 12 years ago, or something like
It's easy to find a band that's unwieldy simply
because it lacks focus. In Twang, though, one can hear
instinct, passion and curiosity combining to shake up the
band and its listeners.
The Music for the Year Zero Festival continues
Saturday at the Heywood Gallery with jazz icon and
clarinetist Perry Robinson joining forces with Beat-style
poet Herschel Silverman.
The festival runs Fridays and Saturdays through the
month. It ends April 1. Admission is $5 per show. Lucky
57 and Kevin James perform March 10; Magonia and Urban
Ambience, March 11; James O'Brien and Mike Duffy, March
17; Dissemble (with Jason Lescalleet), Skin Crime and
Angst Hase Pfeffe Nase, March 18; Juggernaut, March 25;
Stanley Matis and Bob Jordan, March 31; and Industrial
Sonic Echo, 12th of Never, Grubsteak and Rockets Bursting
From Streetlamps close the festival April 1. An
additional show is to be scheduled for March 24.
©2000 Worcester Telegram & Gazette