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Review: 'The Moonshine Jamboree' by Anne Kapranos

Perching on the side of a couch, surrounded by young artistic types sitting cross legged on the floor around a drum kit, I swayed and stumbled, trying to gulp down a tiny bit of bile that rose with a belch in my mouth.

Drunk? I hear you accuse – eyes narrowed suspiciously like my mother. No. Just a little bit seasick. I was on the good ship Tamesis on the banks of the Thames to sample the sounds of The Moonshine Jamboree, a new (fairly) regular live music night taking place in the wonderful surroundings of a converted barge.

Moored halfway between Vauxhall and Lambeth bridges, the Tamesis is a fantastic venue. Beautifully decked out with quirky fittings and a laid back vibe – the Tanesis is a refreshing alternative to the usual durge of floating Wetherspoons usually docked alongside the Thames, filled to the rafters with leering City workers and 40th birthday parties.
The night I visited was a beautiful evening, the sun setting in the distance over the houses of parliament, but instead of up on deck with a glass of Pimms, I was in the belly of the boat watching the waves lapping against the porthole and desperately trying to figure out if the water level was actually rising, or if I was just imagining it. Either way, the rocking I felt every time another boat passed was making me feel slightly queasy, but that was all part of the fun and I was distracted from it by the fantastic music I heard that night from the Moonshine’s brilliant line up.

First up was Thee Intolerable Kidd – an acoustic solo act that sounded a little bit between Johnny Cash and xx- all simple chord progressions bashed out to accompany schoolboy lyrics. The kidd looked good, and his music was simple and effective. I felt like leaning out of a Cadillac gushing over a guy who was from the wrong side of town.

Next up was The Boycott Coca Cola Experience – a guy dressed in cut offs and Birkenstocks with random lyrics and a singing voice that hovered between Jarvis Cocker and Alan Partridge. Fantastic

The highlight of the night had to be Thomas Truax, the headline act of this particular Moonshine Jamboree. I had never heard of Truax before, but it seemed he had a loyal fanbase, who all crammed into the downstairs gig room to hear him play.

My intrigue about this particular act was sparked upon my glimpse of his extraordinary instruments, which were on display throughout his support performances. The most noticeable was a huge contraption that seemed to be fashioned from old pram wheels and rope. When he starts, it will all make sense, I thought to myself. I was wrong.

After taking a while to get ready, Thomas Truax finally came to the stage and began his set with his version of the Twin Peaks soundtrack. For this he used his ‘Stringaling’ - a musical jewellery box with an amp attached and what looked like a tumble dryer extractor fan. The noises were amazing, and added an unreal quality to the music, a sound fitting to a set that consisted mostly of songs from the movies of David Lynch.

After a few sound hiccups, we were introduced to the pram wheel machine. It served as a metallic, jerky drum beat of tin soldiers walking with limps or a Jack in the box. The whole effect was slightly macabre, but utterly beautiful, making you feel you had stepped into a Tim Burton film.

Using sample pedals along with his magnificent instruments, Truax brings an adventurous streak to his live set. Stepping away from the usual straightforward gig structrure, he adds multitudes of layers on to his sound without the use of other band members or sound technicians. I found this aspect fascinating. Going after strange new sounds can often take away from melody and structur but that wasn't the case with Truax’s set.

As I staggered upstairs to join my friends in a nice glass of wine in the sunshine, I thought to myself, what a perfect evening. The Tamesis is a unique venue in itself, and to hear such a diverse group of bands on board a barge was an added bonus. I would suggest you get your sea legs and come aboard for the next Moonshine Jamboree.

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