John O'Neill

Scott McLennan

Bill Thomas

David Ritchie

From the Telegram & Gazette
of 3/2/2000:

Twang's unique sound defies easy musical classification

Thursday, March 2, 2000

By Scott McLennan Telegram & Gazette Entertainment Reporter

Among my grandfather's worldly possessions when he died was a record storage cabinet that opened to reveal pre-marked sections.

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 discs into.

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 Slam.”

“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 that.”

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

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