The Be Good Tanyas – Bristol Bierkeller, March 2003
Indigo Black is transported by the Be Good Tanyas.
It’s a dusky evening, the sun just dipped behind the mountains and the late
summer breeze is gentle and cool. Three women, each with a past and a penchant
for travelling are sitting on the front porch sipping iced teas and recounting
tales of lost love and journeys now drawn to a close.
heart-achingly beautiful harmonies
Maybe. Except that this is a worn and creaky but strangely charming little haunt
in the city, with not a mountain in sight, and the women in question are
swigging from cans of Red Stripe instead of iced tea. But somehow, the Be Good
Tanyas, with their heart-achingly beautiful harmonies and wistful reminiscing,
manage to enchant this room and leave their fellow travellers, wanderers,
romantics and storytellers, hanging on their every word.
The opening ‘Horses’, taken from the new album Chinatown, mesmerises
with its wordless, ethereal shivers and from then on, the assembled crowd is
by Frazey Ford’s forlorn vocals. With a set taken from Chinatown and
debut Blue Horse, the Be Good Tanyas weave tales of heartbreak, of the
blues, of journeys
on the open road and of the lives they see around them. Some are hungry songs,
some weary, some full of yearning for the way things were. ‘Don’t You Fall’ and
‘In Spite of All the Damage’ are narrated with grace and bittersweet passion,
while traditional folk classic ‘Reuben’ and crowd favourite ‘The Littlest Birds’
give the set a much-needed carefree edge. For the encore, the band are joined by
support act and country-folkie, Erin McKeown who lends her strumming ‘n’ singing
to a rousing ‘Light Enough To Travel’.
Their songs are nostalgic and they dress like my mother might have dressed if
she’d been a Tennessee-mountain-home-country-gal in 1930, all cowgirl boots and
vintage dresses. Toting banjos and ukuleles and lamenting their ‘rambling ways’,
the Be Good Tanyas are the mountains, the sunset on the horizon, the dusky
evening on the back porch and the open road. I want to go with them and see what
they see. I want to sit in the back of the van, heading for Arizona, Vancouver,
Texas, Anystate, singing their stories with them.
But for now, I’ll settle for this.