Review: Hayseed Dixie, Academy 3, 2007

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Hayseed Dixie at Academy 3

Hayseed Dixie. I am ashamed to admit that I didn't get the AC/DC pun as soon as I should have; as obvious as it is in retrospect. I'm glad I didn't, I may have underestimated this band as a mere 'let's turn everything into a hoe-down' tribute act.
It is somewhat telling that it takes a bunch of American country folk to remind us how a back-to-basics, stripped down, no fuss, grassroots music gig should work.
Hayseed Dixie (c) Colin Warhurst
Hayseed Dixie (c) Colin Warhurst
On paper, the band sounds too good to be true. Take four travelling musicians, get them to cover rock tunes spanning AC/DC, Aerosmith and Queen, preach old fashioned values, the virtues of simpler times ("at least in the Cold War, we all knew who the bad guys were!"), the love of "curvier" women and to all have a jolly good time. But Hayseed Dixie make it work.
After hearing banjo-tastic versions of Walk This Way, Fat Bottomed Girls and a magnificent version of Scissor Sisters’ I Don't Feel Like Dancing which makes you wonder if Jake and Ana hadn't planned it as a line-dancing number all along, it would be fair to say that after only a few songs, any Hayseed Dixie virgins were converted.
Best of all, it’s not all covers. We were treated such self penned epics as I Wish I Was You, So I Could **** Me, All We Want Is A Case Of Lager And Some Ale and a unexpectedly charming ballad about a break-up that goes by the name of Poop In A Jar.
Hayseed Dixie (c) Colin Warhurst
Hayseed Dixie (c) Colin Warhurst
With their tongues firmly in cheeks, Hayseed Dixie are absolute masters of their craft. At one point, there was a team-up on one banjo, with Don Wayne Reno playing the strings, while brother Dale worked the fret board, all at frenetic blink-and-you-miss-it pace. Not to be outdone, Jake Byers and lead vocalist Barley Scotch then did the same on the bass guitar. They might have a comic fun-loving persona, but Hayseed Dixie are serious musicians.
Hayseed Dixie mesh country and rock together in such a way that to go and listen to either genre apart seems a little disappointing. By the end of the night, only one course of action was open… convert to their self-styled Rockgrass. Hallelujah brother!