Among our many other adventures in the last few weeks, Mrs. Geek and I took some time to catch The Ditty Bops playing live. I've been a fan of the Bops for a couple years now and I was thrilled to find out that we could see them live. I wanted to finding out how well their tight harmonies and antique-sounding instrumentation work in a live situation. They did not disappoint!
When it comes to the stage show, the Bops favor a presentation that is part liberal politics and part whimsy. Their tour this summer has a sustainable living theme to it, and so part of the evening's festivities was a raffle for some kind of planter box that you can use to grow your own vegetables. There was also a petition to abolish plastic grocery bags. Abby and Amanda themselves came out dressed in vegetable costumes -- Abby was either an artichoke or an asparagus stalk, and Amanda, a carrot or a yellow beet.
The Ditty Bops didn't let the message get in the way of the music though. Abby and Amanda travel with a two person backup band, and pretty much everyone on stage played at least two instruments. Amanda mostly played an electric mandolin, but also switched to the dobro, washboard, and cocktail drum on occasion. Abby mostly played this big old electrified arch-top Gibson guitar, but also played Amanda's mandolin at least once, as well as finger picking out a Doc Watson tune on the dobro, and picking up this thing that was an 8-string Venezuelan ukulele (the real name escapes me right now.) One of the guys in the band played predominantly grand piano, but also played some synth bass and accordion, and the other switched off between fiddle and lap steel guitar. Not all the playing was exactly perfect, but all of it was pretty strong and had a lot of energy.
The Ditty Bops' live harmonies are amazing. It's all Everly Brothers kind of close. Mitchell Froom obviously required no studio magic to get that on album. They ran through most of their two CD's worth of originals (though sadly not "Sister Kate") and a couple interesting covers (including that Doc Watson tune.)
Our only disappointment of the evening came after the show. We got a Ditty Bops calendar and their latest EP and were told that they would be signing stuff after the show. We waited around for about 20 minutes but no Ditty Bops appeared from back stage.
We then chose to depart. It was a great show. I hope I'll get to see the Ditty Bops again soon.
on 2007-08-21 at 11:19 a.m.
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