THE GUTHRIES with AUDIO PLAYGROUND HIGH + WIDE, at Ted's Wrecking Yard, November 1. Tickets: $5. Attendance: 40. Rating: NNN
The advance word on recent Guthries appearances in the area indicated that the Nova Scotia cardigan country combo were better experienced live than on disc. For once, the scouting reports were on the money. The twee-twang of their recent Off Windmill (Brobdingnagian) album put them more in tune with the Elephant 6 janglers than anything that might get punched up on a honky-tonk jukebox, yet onstage the Guthries were a far rougher proposition.
They still had those sweet West Coast harmonies -- with gossamer-voiced accordionist Ruth Minnikin playing Emmylou to guitarist Matt Mays' Gram-ish warbling -- and the gentle tippy-tapper they were using in place of a drummer kept things light 'n' airy, but the ragged charm of their waltz-time stumbling saw them through. Each move gleaned from the Band, Buffalo Springfield and the Burritos is painfully obvious at this point in their development, but there are worse things they could be ripping off.
Take, for example, the comical duet of moonlighting Watchmen Danny Greaves and Ken Tizzard living out their wildest Savage Garden fantasies as Audio Playground High + Wide. Observe serious singer dude Greaves bellowing earnestly about "eye contact" as bass-thumbing buddy Tizzard coaxes waves of whoosh from his laptop with a furtive gaze. The New Music's Byron Wong slowly nodding along to the ping-pinging with eyes tightly shut was feeling it too deeply to notice half the crowd was doubled over with laughter.