Kings Heath’s Hare and Hounds was the venue last night for the first appearance in Birmingham of Police Dog Hogan.
PDH has a loyal fan base that’s been clamouring for a long-overdue appearance in the area. The Hare and Hounds was an ideal venue for an intimate night of rockabilly, Cajun, gypsy and downright pop-tastic music.
Comprising an accordion player, a banjo player, a violinist, acoustic guitarist, bass player and a trumpeter, all driven along by some great drumming, Police Dog Hogan seem to have formed a genre of their own.
I was reminded at times of a French gypsy band I saw in Portsmouth in the early ‘90s, Les Negresse Vertes, but only for some of the songs. At other times there were reminders of Appalachian hoedowns, Irish drinking songs (Shitty White Wine being the apt title of one) and West Country folk music.
James Studholme fronts the band with his songwriting, guitar playing and a voice that sounds, to me, like it’s coming from the throat of a thousand fags. He engages with the audience in a self-effacing way, almost as if he’s surprised to find himself doing what he does. There are elements of verbal knock-about – banjo jokes are de rigueur (Why are there no banjos in Star Trek? Because it’s the future.) and make a change from taking the mickey out of the usual band target, the drummer.
Tim Dowling, he of The Guardian and books like How to be a Husband, plays the banjo. And bloody good he is too.
In fact you’d think they all were just good musicians and you’d be right. But you’d also be wrong.
These are chaps, apart from Emily who plays the trumpet, who have come to the lark of gigging in a band later in life. Having formed in 2009, in middle age, they’ve had proper jobs – thus they head out on the road because they want to and not because they have to. But you can read all that stuff on their website.
Last night they were a mandolin player short. Tim Jepson, who writes about travel for The Daily Telegraph, was missing. Some wag suggested he was still celebrating from last Thursday’s election result.
Suffice to say, if you want a great night out watching a band that incorporates fun, jigs, pathos, humour, sarcasm, intellectual rigour and a relaxed and easy opportunity to buy CDs, tea-towels, mugs and t-shirts, then the band to see is Police Dog Hogan.
Here’s hoping for an early return to Brum.