East of Ealing

Thursday 25th September 2008

East of Ealing- Staines - Hob Neil_Mach Sept 2008

Folk / Roots / World Music

“Dancing Round the World!”

East of Ealing play an entertaining blend of rock and roots fusion with traditional brick-built and foundry-forged folk foundations.

Folk songs are commonly regarded as songs that express something about a way of life that existed in the past (or is about to disappear) and that sense of melancholy dominates the EoE experience throughout. But the songs are lots of fun and whimsical puns are in abundance with occasionally surprising interludes that, when they pop-up like pop-tarts during the seisiún, remind you that folk music is a  shared worldwide experience. Like Druhá Trava or Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, East of Ealing provide insights a-plenty into the ‘nuts n bolts’ regarding folk-music’s evolution into what we now consider to be popular music and the emergence and distortion along the way into the forms we now consider to be rock, metal and even progressive genres. They provide intriguing and unexpected perceptions along this meandering pathway and their shared sense of fun is as welcome as their undeniable virtuosity. For example, in their imaginative and entertaining song ‘The Great Unknown’, Moorish influences prevail, but the tune soon chugs along as a ska number with Balkan folk flourishes. And for those who did not know that punk rock is a direct descendant of folk (I kid you not) East of Ealing provides plenty of references of this musical criss-crossing from the reels, hornpipes and jigs of trad folk to the kind of stripped down rock that foretold punk and can be witnessed in the early Pogues but also in Hothouse Flowers and later The Clash. In fact EoE pays a decent and respectful nod to retropunk founders The Clash circa 1981 with a very eloquent version of ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’.

Along the way, there is lots of fun in the East of Ealing repertoire with musical puns a-plenty and always a glint-in-the-eye and a tongue-in-the-cheek as you try to keep up with the myriad of tiny musical one-liners and tuneful punch-lines. There is plenty to get your teeth into including third generation bluegrass style where each instrument takes a melody and improvises upon the sounds that pops up around it, (kinda like jazz folk) similar to Druhá Tráva or Béla Fleck and the Flecktones.

There are also large portions of Eastern European sounds especially in the new single ‘Black Ship’ and these sounds cross-over to more traditional Roma music and then back to punk/ska  like other brands of rebel music similar in light-hearted style to Gogol Bordello or DeVotchKa. Pre-Raphaelite beauty Stephanie Graffitti squeezes some amazing sounds out of her electric fiddle from Pink Floyd-esque or Moody Blues-ish ‘mellotron’ type sounds all the way through to Led Zep style screeching ‘guitar’ breaks. Judging by her undisputed talents I would guess that our Stef is  a classically trained musician but she still seems to be more of a ‘fiddle player’ than a ‘violinist’ in that she seeks adventure, uniqueness of sound and versatility in her instrument rather than wanting to be confined by traditional expectations. Her voice, though, is not sharp, pronounced or even remarkable …so don’t expect something similar to Steeleye Span or early Fairport Convention if you come to an East of Ealing gig.

Jim Bean provides most of the lead vocals and looks like a tall pirate with a neckerchief and an artful grin. When I met Jim he was suffering from the early onset of flu-like symptoms and looked like he was about to peg-out! But he is truly a working class hero and a musical warrior to boot and so pulled off a brave second set with energy and enthusiasm.  He plays a wonderful acoustic bass and also uses an electric squeezebox to give the sounds more imagery. Paul Castleman on percussion cannot be ignored. Paul is a superbly talented drummer with a sense of the mischievous in his reliable rhythms. Mik P plays guitars and it is he who provides the rawness and energy that lifts East Of Ealing from its trad-folk roots and prods, pushes and pokes the sound towards the folk-rock genre.

East of Ealing are folksters tinged with punky irony like ‘The Knitters’ mixed and slooshed about-a-bit with some metal irony like Korpiklaani. The result is bliss!

© Neil_Mach
Sep 2008

See ‘em here next:

Nov 1 2008      8:30P Roots @ The Red Lion
Nov 15 2008     8:30P Filthy’s Twickenham

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Music & Leisure in Staines UK

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