Case Hardin take their name from a character in the award-winning thriller by Boston Teran — ‘God Is A Bullet’.
This week we saw this amazing band (whose third album “Colours Simple” is soon to be released on Clubhouse records) at the excellent Riverside Club Staines on their regular “Down By The Riverside” blue-grass night.
The set proceeded quickly and smoothly. Never letting the Staines crowd catch-a-breath between all the sorrowed lamentations and lazy waltzes.
There was something ‘Pete Duel’ about the frontman, songwriter and singer Pete Gow.
He looked like a dishevelled gunman. With a lop-sided Liam Gallagher style aspect and
angry white teeth that shone through a black-dusty Che Guevara beard.
Jim Maving, on lead guitar, looked like a cowboy version of Burt Bacharach (with silver hair and angular face.) And Tim Emery on bass was like an eel. He stretched elegantly — as every long note was carefully matured. Andy Bastow was the rhythm machine behind the others.
We were charmed by songs that were dark, sensual and intriguing. Like the mild-mannered “Three Beautiful Daughters” (the girls who were named “After hurricanes…”) with cantering beats and a sultry voice that was as fresh as marsh water in June. The lyrics convinced and fascinated us. And when we got to the swaying chorus, it was all we could do to stop ourselves being totally immersed in the Vermilion River-style muddiness, which became particularly sweet when the guitar drooled out.
A crowd favourite was “Three For The Road” which was taken from the band’s
acclaimed album “Some Tunes For Charlie Spencer.”
Here the voice was friendly and relaxed. Guitars were pleasantly smooth and the rhythm was pretty leisurely.
This song moved a slovenly path like a muddy river… Before winding its way into a dark lake of mystery.
Like many of the Case Hardin numbers, there’s was an inevitable sadness in this song. And its only release (before any fall) was through the beautiful lyrics and the clever finger-picking.
As an encore, the band played a cover of the Felice Brothers “Whiskey In My Whiskey”. Here we had tot of anguish, a wading rhythm, a haunted voice, some finely picked guitars and — as always —a dark bone to chew upon & meditate over.
Some songs left us with a terrible pain in the chest. Others appeared to be sent from a higher power —as if the words had been specially chosen (for us) — perhaps to convince, remind or anoint us. All the songs seemed to contain jots of sadness. But the overall atmosphere was cheerful, although not exactly breezy.
This was a night of witty and wading country rock, with beautifully developed guitars, slowly fermenting voices and richly addictive rhythms.