When: 7.30pm on Friday 17 May 2013
Where: The Ruby Lounge, 28-34 High Street, Manchester M4 1QB
We’re delighted to be working with the Handsome Family for the first time!
The Handsome Family is a 20-year songwriting collaboration between husband and wife Brett (music) and Rennie Sparks (words). Their music has always been Americana in the truest sense – echoing everything from medieval ballad to Appalachian holler to Tin Pan Alley and punk rock. The Sparks write songs that are full of an awed sense of emotion in the face of nature’s mysterious beauty and the wonders of everyday life. The Handsome Family’s 2009 release, Honey Moon, for example, is an album of love songs, but the beloved found within these tracks is a praying mantis, a sleeping bird, a cement truck, and a puddle.
In 2010 the band released Scattered, a collection of lost demos, orphaned songs and odd covers that included material culled from their entire career. The band’s seventh CD, Last Days of Wonder (2006), was one of Mojo magazine’s Top Ten American Albums and was called ‘an unqualified triumph’ by Uncut. The Sparks’ fourth album, In the Air, was named one of the most important records of the 21st Century by Uncut. In 2004, a reader’s poll in Mojo named The Handsome Family’s third CD, Through the Trees, one of the ten essential Americana records of all time, while the Guardian listed the Handsome Family song Weightless Again as one of the 100 best songs ever written about heartbreak.
Handsome Family songs have been covered by many artists, most notably: Andrew Bird, Christy Moore, Jeff Tweedy, Cerys Matthews, Kelly Hogan and an unknown singer on American Idol. The band has appeared in the 2005 movie I’m Your Man, a tribute to Leonard Cohen, as well as Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus (2004). The Handsome Family record all their songs in a converted garage studio at the back of their house in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Live Brett (guitar/vocals) and Rennie (banjo/bass ukulele/vocals) are joined by percussionist Jason Toth.
A recent live review in The Scotsman noted, ‘There’s a lot of smiling at this gig, on and off stage. That might surprise many people who have only read about the duo’s penchant for songs riddled with darkness, death and the macabre. But Rennie Sparks and her husband Brett are funny live… through their chit-chat, the song introductions and the banter with the audience. This sell-out show was a knockabout celebration of the deadpan, a real joy. Rennie’s words plus Brett’s music and strong, mellow vocals create a magical potion of grim fairytales in a rock and blues pot with grinning unavoidable.
‘The Handsome Family: as funny as fuck, as sweet as love, as serious as death’ – UNCUT
‘This is music that moves forward by turning the clock back— haunting, primal and strangely heroic’ – The Times
Tour support comes from all-female Amsterdam trio Snowapple. They play a variation of own compositions and forgotten old songs, while voices in harmony will give you goosebumps. The songs vary from slow ballads to fast and playful songs performed on banjo, guitar and a variety of instruments like mandolin, ukulele, violin, glockenspiel and accordion.