Tin Hut Sessions presents Thunder and Rain at The Gartly Village Hall.

The Gartly Village Hall, also known as the Tin Hut is a wee corrugated tin hall in the Huntly hills and on arrival there was a queue at the door. On walking in we found it to be a wee warm hall with an old stage at one end with table and seating in the middle of the hall. The stage was waiting for the performers with rows of seating beginning to fill up quickly and there was a chitter chatter from the folk awaiting the start of the show.

The band on the bill was Thunder and Rain, a five-piece modern bluegrass band form the Rocky hills of Colorado. From stage left to right we had Dylan McCarthy on mandolin, Ian Haegele taking up the upright bass, Erinn Peet-Lukes on lead vocals and guitar, with Natalie Padilla playing the fiddle and last but not least Chris Herbst on dobro. And I should also say that all members of the band chip in with vocals throughout the set.  

As soon as the first song was struck up the audience went as silent as a whisper intent on listening to the show, the band breaking in with their first song ‘Angeline the Baker’ and this old song showed their bluegrass sound with the fantastic harmonies between and Erinn and Natalie. They followed up with ‘Omaha Song’ about a small town girl running away from home, and when the slide comes in in this tune it sends out an early twang with the lovely sound of the fiddle giving it warmth, with Ian backing up Erinn giving it giving quite a sweet sound.

With ‘Tennessee Is Burning’ the mandolin sings out in this song and the feel from the song we could easily be in a Tennessee Tavern instead of an auld village hall in the hills of Huntly.

it’s always great to hear new songs, it make you feel that bit privileged as an audience. ‘Nobody’s Darling’ could have easily been influenced by their travels and with many great country songs it has a story to tell with travel afar and hankering for home and also a loved one!

‘Babe You’re Going To Leave Me’ having listened to the album and now hearing it in the flesh has certainly not let them down. A tribute to her hometown and small-town heroes the dobro gives this song that Nashville sound and also a bluegrass feel and I should add that Chris’s vocal with Erinn’s makes this song stand out for all to hear.  

‘Sailor’s Love’ takes us back to a traditional sound of song sung by Natalie Padilla and it was nice to hear her lead the song and she is a very complete player producing a lovely sound with the backing of the rest of the band.

‘Wyoming and for Miles’ is about the high plains of Wyoming with the dobro and the fiddle very prominent with Chris bring up the harmonies between them both in this endearing love song.‘Barn Burner’ is a fast and furious tune which was a good way to bring us up to the interval.

They start back with ‘Cut The Wire’ from their current album ‘Start Believing’ and this is one of my favourites from the album, a ballad of remembrance which you catch yourself singing along with unwittingly! Now into the second half and this has had to be one of the best audiences I have witnessed with not a peep coming from it and everyone is intently listening and totally engaged in the performance.

‘Two Sips’, a bright popping song came along next with a modern bluegrass rhythm and fantastic wee solos from all the instruments. Then a sad country song written by Erinn, about a break up, ‘Walk Right Through’ had the taste of a classic country heartbreak song. Up next is an instrumental ‘Hangman’s Reel’ which showcases the band’s music ability with their instruments and it’s a cracking jig and really shakes up the set!

‘Make It Better’ has some heavy Spanish influences at the start but pulls back into a bluegrass feel with a kiss to make it better. ‘Once I Was’, a song written a decade ago while Erinn was studying in Italy has a deep toning feel with the strings to start with and a strong bass sound leading through with Erin’s vocal cutting through sweetly.

‘Start Believing’, the title track to their album, is quite a fitting tune that fills the hall with warmth and soul and the soft tune spreads their belief through you.Erinn sang acapella with a light crisp vocal which floated over the audience to tell them all a story they wanted to hear. It was another nice wee change in the set keeping the audience engaged

Finishing up with ‘Run With You’ a country song, it was a nice way to round up this evening.

However, we weren’t quite over as out step Thunder and Rain with their encore and it just had to be their cover of ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’ which had the audience singing along. It’s a cracking cover with amazing mandolin solos and worth a look if you have not already seen it. This was followed by ‘Look Down that Lonesome Road’ a fast paced bluegrass cover. The audience were just not wanting to let this band leave tonight!

It was well received show by the audience in a cracking wee venue and I really hope to return to Gartly Village Hall to check out what the Tin Hut Sessions has to offer! It’s a well run event but if you are heading along here’s a wee tip; take some refreshments with you as they’re not available at venue.

After the show I managed to catch up with Erinn for a wee chat who felt that “the gig went great, went way better, I don’t know why better than I expected a really enthusiastic and a big crowd. A place called the Tin Hut I thought would be smaller but it was big and great energy and they got us up for two encores which the first time on tour which felt great”.

As the tour was covering the UK I asked Erinn what had been her stand out gigs?

“They have all been pretty different. I really liked a gig we did on the south coast of England at a cidery called Square and Compass which was in a beautiful location and a fun young dancing crowd. It was different to everything else we have been doing, it was like a party crowd. I also liked a we church we did, A little chapel, Narbeth in Wales. It was a great place where also learnt the history of the miners that died there back in the day, so it had like this greater feeling about it. Every show has a different feel to me. They were some stand out ones because they were unique. We played some theatres all over England, we also played in Edinburgh which was great, its beautiful, played in a giant theatre in the middle of the city. They all stand out as they have all been great!”

I asked if Erinn had managed to get a chance to pick up some influences for more music in the future while on this tour?

“Last week while we were listening to some Scottish airs our host played some Duncan Chisholm. I’m going to add that to my playlist it has lovely little trills in the melody which I’m going to try imitate with my voice, sometimes when changing from note to note, I really like that kind of thing. I feel inspired to write in that vein, maybe pop out a wee Scottish air after this!”

I had to ask if they were coming back here to tour again?

Erinn enthusiastically answered ‘We’re going to come back next year! I would really like to go to the Islands around Scotland and travel a bit more up north and to the west, we only had 6 days in Scotland. We definitely want to dive into Scotland a bit more and the Faroe Isles would be beautiful ,hoping to maybe play a music festival on one of the islands. I would also like to return to some of the spots I’ve been! I really like any of the coastal cities as I’m from the beach, but I live in the mountains so coming to the coastal cities is really beautiful, the sea air makes me happy.”

Check out Thunder and Rain via their Facebook page