Lyn Guy reports on Hayseed Dixie - The Junction, Cambridge 4 March 2008

Hayseed Dixie
Well hey, I get off the 18.50 just over the other side of the railroad tracks, and wheel myself round to the Junction for a night of full steam action on the ‘rockgrass’ train. But before Barley Scotch and his crew pull in, we’re crushed under death metal wheels. Instill play with all the speed and subtlety of a freight train thundering by, so I’m as far from the platform edge as possible. The Junction Bar is a busy waithng room tonight.

Right on time at 21.00, the Hayseed Dixie special sets off with all the speed four finger picking, wood burning musicians can muster. After reading reports this band had jumped aboard the ‘rock express’ – electric instruments, drums ‘n’ all – I’m more than relieved to see the same (albeit ‘plugged’) banjo, mandolin and full-bodied geetars being played onstage, with all the piston-pumping force of the Flying Scotsman under a red-hot head of steam.

Yep, these Appalachian fellers show you don’t need a wall of Marshall amps turned up to eleven, or a Les Paul guitar plugged into them. Black Sabbath’s War Pigs – minus Iommi’s trademark crunching riff – still hits the tracks running. As does Highway To Hell. Hardly surprising when we’re told there are four elements to a good song: drinking, cheating, killing and... going to Hell!

Paraphrasing a song they don’t cover, hell ain’t always a bad place to be. Especially when it stokes an inspirational boiler. Original songs such as Corn Liquor, Bouncing Betty Boogie and the ironically titled Keeping Your Poop In A Jar sparkle with Scotch’s irreverent – and at times, autobiographical – humour. Every one has a story that he’s happy to tell. And we’re ready to listen. Just like a peak time train, it’s standing room only tonight. But no-one’s complaining.

And there ain’t no shunting going on at this Hayseed hoedown. Show closer Duelling Banjos sees Don Wayne and Deacon Dale bring our journey to a steaming halt with their frenetic finger-picking. Red flag down, they leave a satisfied crowd all ready to book their next ride on the Dixie special.

Writer: Lyn Guy