I put it to you that Perth is the Nashville of Scotland. Consider the evidence: Perth hosts Dougie MacLean’s Perthshire Amber Festival (approximately 10,000 visitors per year for the last 12 years) and the Southern Fried Festival (coming up on its tenth year – alumni include Steve Earle, Seasick Steve, Rosanne Cash and Lyle Lovett) and now the city seems to have a new barbecue-flavoured event in the form of a Christmas residency by local heroes Red Pine Timber Company.
The Red Pines, led by former Southpaw frontman Gavin Munro, gig regularly throughout Scotland and their good-natured mix of country-tinged original songs and Kentucky fried covers is a recipe for a good time. Their schedule of Winter shows peaks with a show at the Perth Concert Hall scheduled between Christmas and New Year. It’s their third year at the Concert Hall, and it was apparently a sell out with nearly one thousand tickets sold. This is pretty good going considering Billy Bragg failed to fill even the stalls here last year (we were an appreciative audience but I doubt BB will return). Perhaps the good people of Perth had simply eaten enough chocolate, watched enough Muppet movies and collectively decided it was about time to get off their sofas for a practice run before New Year’s Eve.
Either way the venue was already buzzing by the time the support act ‘took’ the stage: the charismatic and (ahem) veteran, members of much loved and rarely seen Rancho Rebop and The Full Moon Howlers were rather brilliant and a lot of fun. But tonight was all about The Red Pines. They had expanded their usual seven members to twelve with the addition of a pedal steel guitar and a brass section. Thanks to the extra horns the songs, usually delivered with a rough-and-ready bonhomie, were transformed from Solid to Anthemic. I was reminded of early Waterboys. Excellent singer Katie Whittaker was underused but soared when given the chance, and the exotically monikered ‘Felix the Sax Cat’ took some blinding solos (on his saxophone, since you ask). The choice of covers was interesting – a strangely sassy country version of David Bowie’s Sorrow sticks in the mind.
The venue had removed the ground floor seating to make room for dancing and this was a wise move. It was a right old knees-up, potentially qualifying as a jamboree, or possibly (since I put it to you that Perth is the Nashville of Scotland) a hootenanny. 2017 must surely be a better year than 2016, but one way to make sure it is would be to see Red Pine Timber Company. There’s no need to wait until next Christmas – go here for their gig schedule.
Photos by Kev Robertson and the Red Pine Timber Company