My Sweet Patootie (February 9, 2008)

Last night we attended another brilliant chapter in the Knox Acoustic Café series. What a fantastic time! My Sweet Patootie is comprised of Sandra Swannell on fiddle, viola and vocals, and Terry Young on guitar, mandolin and vocals. Now, in case you’re thinking you’ve maybe heard those names before, you likely have – they’re also members of a band called Tanglefoot. Yeah, exactly. Imagine our glee! 

This was a specially-added show, since the Knox season doesn’t officially begin until April… then again, there’s also the new Youth Showcase coming up March 1st… Hm. You know, it seems to me that as this series deservedly becomes more popular, demand is starting to prove that (potential, and admittedly probable) bad winter weather in this area has become a distant second thought when compared to the strong desire of the local music fans to have great live music shows to attend.

The sold-out room was packed to capacity, a brilliant way to begin this year’s string of shows. We had a great table just behind Tanglefoot singer Steve Richie and his family, with a perfect view of the stage, and we got to sit with the super-nice proprietors from Kemble Mountain Roastery, suppliers of the coffee for the night. Shameless plug, you say? Sure, but it’s simply how seating worked out, and theirs is indeed great coffee. Around us, the crowd was respectful and engaged with the music. Once again the sound in the room was perfect, and I’m not just saying that because this time I got to very minimally help out with set-up and initial sound-check earlier in the afternoon. No, the balance in the room sounds clear and professional at every show. Everyone settled in easily to enjoy the performance – and what a performance it was!

I am understating when I say that this duo is extremely talented. Swannell sings clearly and beautifully in a voice that is ideal for these songs. Her instrumental work reminds me of seeing Diona Davies play with Carolyn Mark last November – perfectly supportive when the song requires it, and also able to step forward and lay down a solo that’ll make you drool. What a treat. And Young was all over the fretboard too, taking every guitar player in the room to school with runs, fills and licks that boggled the mind. He sings and plays with an exuberance and a smile on his face that is truly refreshing to see. These were musicians embracing the fun that makes music one of the greatest forces in our lives, even interspersing Flight Of The Bumblebee or Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy into their own tunes, and playing Willie Nelson’s Crazy on a 1919 Gibson mandolin.

Between songs the banter was light and fun, mostly tour and slice of life perspective stories that stem from that way of living which refuses to be dragged down by anything. But what impressed me most was just watching the two of them happily lose themselves in the music, such as on the instrumental Sweet Patootie Rag, or letting the audience in on their many lyrical gags with a sly wink and a grin that lets you feel an equal part of the whole thing. Some people play their whole lives trying and hoping to have a rapport like that, and these two did it effortlessly (although no one was fooled for one second into believing that anything but a ton of hard work has gone into this music).

And what do they sound like? Think of the guitar tracks on the Swing Kids soundtrack, mixed with the Squirrel Nut Zippers, and filter it through genuine acoustic folk. Add thoughtful and humourous lyrics, et voilà. In other words, fantastic! Follow the link to check out their sound on Myspace.

It was announced from the stage last night that My Sweet Patootie is currently recording an album, apparently due to be released in the spring. I, for one, cannot wait. Keep your eyes peeled! And if you get a chance to see this duo perform, climb over every obstacle in your way and be there. This is a show you don’t want to miss.

Finally, I believe I speak on behalf of everyone in the room last night when I extend our immeasurable thanks to the amazing Susan and Irwin for organizing and realizing this show. Your hard work and dedication to the Knox Acoustic series is an example for us all, each show is a bona fide windfall for this town, and your genuine love of the music is hugely infectious. Thanks so much.

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