After an 18-month layoff, Scotland's premier folk band, Silly Wizard, has reunited for a North American tour that stopped at Club Saba last night.
The band's impeccable balance between quickly tumbling instrumental dance tunes and evocative ballad vocals was intact as was its deliciously dry humor. John Cunningham was back in the fold, and he turned an unaccompanied fiddle medley into a seeming duet as he played both the lead and high harmony parts without a catch.
His brother Phil started the jig "Scarce O'Tatties" with a spry whistle solo and then led the way with a lively accordion melody. Andy Stewart introduced his own song, "If I Was a Blackbird," with a hilariously deadpan discourse on peasant courting, and then sang the gorgeous ballad with a haunting sense of doomed love. Guitarist Gordon Jones and bassist Martin Hadden supplied the rhythmic oomph to numbers like Stewart's rousing "Queen of Argyll."
In the opening set, the local country-swing quintet Grazz Matazz applied its tight ensemble picking and precise three-part vocal harmonies to a wide range of swing standards, cowboy yodel tunes, country ballads, bluegrass breakdowns and acoustic rock oldies. The real standout was Mike Stein, who proved an expressive vocalist and a stylish fiddler in the Bob Wills vein.90:Geoffrey Himes