Yep... more gigs!
Jude and I headed across to Birmingham's Glee Club to see Duke Special.
On this occasion, the Duke was supported by an artist I'd not encountered before, Thomas Truax. Truax can only really be described as a mad musical scientist! On stage alone, he accompanies himself with a range of self-created instruments like nothing I've ever seen! Least obscure is a guitar with a built in amplifier cone (not one of his own inventions). The rest are the hornicator (pictured) - a gramophone horn with added spring for weird sounds, string for plucking and space into which he sings, Sister Spinster - a motorised contraption using pram wheels and old radio arials to trigger sprung drumsticks hitting drums and cymbals, the backbeater - spinning percussive things which he wears on his back and the stringaling - made from a tumble drier ventillation tube and yet to receive its own page on his website! Musically... err... interesting!
In my opinion, Duke Special just keeps getting better and better. When I first heard him play a short set at the Kashmir Klub back in 2003, I was struck by the richness and the raw, vulnerable soulfulness of his music, enhanced by, at the time, the small intimacy of his gigs. (For Greenbelters, more Performance Cafe than Mainstage). Since then, his gigs have got bigger, and his music has expanded (in sound) to fit them but the original vulnerability hasn't been lost. It just draws you in. Duke and Chip did 16 songs - 10 of which I'd not heard before so he's had a productive year! The gramophone added its usual atmospheric noise although I'm all the more convinced that it's actually just for show and the sounds come from elsewhere but that's by the by. If Duke Special is ever playing near you, GO!!