When you hear a band like Hayseed Dixie are playing at a venue called The Devil’s Arse, how can you not want to go to that gig? Watching Hayseed Dixie has never been a chore, but seeing them in a cool venue like a cave in the Hope Valley, Derbyshire is worth the bus replacement service to experience.
For those of you who have never come across Hayseed Dixie before, here is what they have added to their website to help out journalists: “Hayseed Dixie are the acknowledged creators of their own musical genre, Rockgrass. There are many converts and disciples to this genre out there performing today. In the year 2000, there weren’t any.”
Finally completing their 2020 touring schedule, on 10th July Hayseed Dixie played the Peak Cavern – aka The Devil’s Arse – with support from Troy Redfern.
Troy Redfern – an indie blues artist and slide guitarist – playing without his band, performed a five song set, including John the Revelator and Sanctify, as well as Voodoo Child. As he was performing solo, he used the slot in his set normally reserved for band introductions to introduce the audience to his guitars – a 1929 National Duo Triolion and a 1935 Dobro – both looking pretty good for nearly 100 years old. His guitar skills were brilliant, and if you’re a fan of slide guitar, you really should check him out.
Starting like any other Hayseed Dixie gig, the band took to the stage full of energy. Hippy Joe Hymas in his barely-holding-together dungarees, John Wheeler in regular shorts – rather than the tie-dye dungarees he’s favoured over the last few years – and Doc Martens, Jake “Bakesnake” Byers in cargo shorts and a vest, with only Tim Carter looking out of place in his jeans and tshirt.
Starting with a little AC/DC in the form of Dirty Deeds and Hells Bells – complete with Hippy Joe on a fancy-looking reception bell – before an original song from their 2005 album A Hot Piece of Grass, Kirby Hill, the audience’s attention was grabbed from the get go.
The set continued with the many rock songs which have become a staple of their gigs over the years. They added in a few newer numbers – whole or in part – such as Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Sixteen Tons, and Foster The People’s Pumped Up Kicks, and a couple more original ones including Tim Carter’s Whoa Whoa, along with Lady of the Bog (written for John’s wife), and If You Are Brave Enough – both taken from the band’s 2021 album Shattered Grass.
The crowd were happy to be there and, from what you could make out, thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They were singing and cheering along, and no-one seemed to take umbrage at anything John said – not always the case.
John was in fine form, talking between songs where needed and not really caring if anyone was annoyed at any political comments. He also made sure to tell everyone that Tennessee – his home state – has a better cave for gigs to be played. For those of you who are interested, he was talking about The Caverns in Grundy County.
If you enjoy hearing banjo and mandolin in your songs, and a band that takes songs you know and puts a completely different spin on them, Hayseed Dixie are worth checking out. They never disappoint live, they are all great musicians, and you’ll more likely than not get to see/hear them play Duelling Banjos on a banjo and acoustic guitar. Be warned – you, too, may end up with Backstreet Boys’ I Want It That Way as your earworm for days – even weeks – after.
More photos can be found here.