Thursday, March 03, 2016

Three Cane Whale

13th Feb 2016
The Bowerhouse, Maidstone

Alex Vann from Spiro (who I last saw at The Bowerhouse, truly one of the best gigs I've seen) is part of this trio, whose name they enigmatically claim originates with "a misspelling and a misunderstanding". He plays numerous stringed instruments (bowed psaltry and zither among them) beyond the usual mandolin. Paul plays acoustic guitar (and miniature harp on one number) and "leader" (well, the one who does the talking) Pete plays trumpet, cornet, a keyboard called a "dulcitone
", harmonium, lyre, glockenspiel and tenor horn. They were on tour promoting a new album called Palimpsest (a great word!).

It being The Bowerhouse (a tiny, intimate venue) there was no need for a PA, so Pete had to reign in the trumpet a bit so as not to drown out the strings. But it worked. I was amused and impressed by Alex's "zither maps" (trapezoidal sheets of paper he slid under the strings for each tune that he played zither on). A lovely, warm, unpretentious kind of gig. It was good to see Ben from Arlet there (they recorded their forthcoming album Big Red Sun in the space, named one of its tunes "Bowerhouse", and take a lot of inspiration from Spiro).

Here they are back in 2012 playing in St. Catherine's Chapel on a hilltop near Abbotsbury in Dorset, somewhere I've been a couple of times and always wanted to play music in:

They announced a gig at a very special venue in London at the end of March, supporting Spiro, so I've already got a ticket for that.


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