THE WIYOS at The Eden Court, Inverness 13/11/2014.

The Wiyos have played Celtic Connections and Shetland Folk Festival and appeared at The Barbican Theatre in London with Seasick Steve
The Wiyos have played Celtic Connections and Shetland Folk Festival and appeared at The Barbican Theatre in London with Seasick Steve

Why not? Sailing in on a high tide from the wild Western Isles, The WIYOS arrived replete with an array of both curious and regular instruments. If you don’t understand where they are coming from then get yourself an educashun.

Sure there is that ‘old timey’ label hanging around with some blue-grass/new-grass, jug band, rural swamp-folk, foot-stomping Apalachian hip hop: but it’s just not that straightforward. The guitar sound harps back to the east coast surf and along with some scat there are definite swing jazz elements in there too.

"They sneak past your defences with the regular fare of love death divorce prison alcohol rivers and train songs"
“They sneak past your defences with the regular fare of love death divorce prison alcohol rivers and train songs”

There is something accessible but hypnotic and surreal going on. They sneak past your defences with the regular fare of love death divorce prison alcohol rivers and train songs, some planning your funeral stories; and they deliver that with typically great vocals and perfect harmonies. There is a table laden with allsorts of stuff – bells, whistles, kazoos and trumpets – but they are never gimmicky, always well judged and always enhancing the music.

So, these guys are not genre defying, but they have stretched the boundaries in some pretty subtle and contemporary ways. They have that authentic deep south vibe but hail from Brooklyn and name themselves after an Irish American street gang – there is almost an entire movie going on here.

They are seasoned and slick having played and toured together for some ten years and all that results in a quietly enthusiastic engaging and enjoyable performance. They have a fair few albums under their belt, including the Independent Music Award winning Twist: the bands homage to The Wizard of Oz.

If David Lynch did jug bands this is what he’d come up with, they really are quite special.

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Life-long engagement with music and a truly eclectic taste (although prog-rock and metal will usually have me scrambling for the off button). If pushed, I would have to say the Velvet Underground are one of the most important band’s of all time. Although I consider myself first and foremost a photographer, as regards reviewing I guess I cut my teeth in the vibrant fanzine scene of the 80’s. Around the same time I started taking photographs and, to be brief, performance and photography were made for each other: perfect match.