Happy Talk Band

Circle Bar

October 19, 2005


After the concert bassist Lefty Parker admitted that he hadn't heard some of the songs that he played with the Happy Talk Band before Wednesday night. I couldn't tell. The group of five performed with a confidence and passion that's unusual for a band playing together in public for the first time. Acoustic guitarist Luke Allen and electric guitarist Bailey Smith were the only pre-K members of the incarnation that played at the Circle Bar. Filling in were Parker, drummer Jay from A Particularly Vicious Rumor, and lap steel guitarist Mitch Palmer from Mike Hurtt and His Haunted Hearts.

The band played rowdy songs that mixed rock and country. But don't even go there. This wasn't alt-country. These songs were downtrodden, alcohol-induced, and weighty. In between songs, one guy in the audience yelled out, "This is the heaviest country band I've ever heard." The music might have been down on itself, but it wasn't all sad. The songs incorporated head-bopping rhythms, and Allen's loud, Irish bar room chants lifted the spirit of the songs out of the gutter. Happy Talk played music that was angry and annoyed but also resigned and hopeful, judging by the large amount of force in which it was delivered. The Happy Talk Band rocked out with a lot of energy, probably much of it pent-up Katrina stuff. It definetely seemed like a cathartic experience for them. Allen strummed his guitar in an exasperated way, and he did his fair share of screaming.

At one point, the band was going at it full force and a beautiful noise clouded the bar. A stranger leaned over to me and said, "This sounds like(Pink Floyd's) 'Interstellar Overdrive,' and that makes me happy." I had to agree that it did sorta sound like "Interstellar Overdrive."

Fens leader Peter Orr joined the band for the second set. His mandolin playing was drowned out often, but when it was heard, it was beautiful. He filled in the spaces of the songs nicely, and he added an extra umph of color that made the songs better.

There were a lot of people at the bar. It seemed like everyone picked this night to have a reunion. It wasn't super-packed, but it was a nice turnout for a Wednesday night, post-evacuation. We needed that, Happy Talk Band. Thanks.

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