CONCERT REVIEW: My Sweet Patootie, Morton Village Hall, Lincolnshire Rural and Community Touring
A Canadian/Devonian trio described as "two parts exemplary musicianship, one part vaudeville comedy" delighted an audience in Morton on Sunday night.
My Sweet Patootie, made up of classically trained violinist Sandra Swannell, clasically trained tenor/guitarist Terry Young and Brixham-based drummer John Jackson, was the latest offering in the Lincolnshire Rural and Community Touring series.
Telling amusing tales of their Canadian home, adapted for a south Lincolnshire setting, the blues/country/folk/ragtime band ended their eighth UK tour with an intimate, but lively Sunday night variety show.
Adopting their name from a 1920s' North America slang term meaning "hot dame" or "sassy sweetheart", My Sweet Patootie won their audience over with a combination of personal warmth, musical skill and addictive humour.
Speaking before the show, Terry said: "We're kind of a boutique musical trio for rural areas of Canada, the USA and UK.
"I've been coming to the UK since 1999, initially with a group called Tanglefoot which is where the seed for this project came from.
"Tanglefoot was definitely more of a Celtic-influenced, folk band in terms of culture.
"But me and Sandra thought of the idea of doing something that was lighter and more fun for the most part.
"We've found that wherever we're playing, there's the same demographics and sensibilities of our audience."
My Sweet Patootie started their concert in Morton with a song as far from blues and ragtime as it is possible to get - Soft Cell's UK Number from 1981, Tainted Love.
But then the musical repertoire that has seen the three-piece band likened to Chet "The Country Gentleman" Atkins, The Andrews Sisters and Hank Williams came thick and fast, including Make Yourself a Happiness Pie, This Old Quilt, Orange Blossom Special and Patsy Cline's Walkin' After Midnight.
Depending on where they play, My Sweet Patootie alternates percussionists between Paul Clifford (North America) and John Jackson (UK) who did a guest number of guitar for one of the songs, just to show his instrumental versatility.
Sandra said: "It boils down to a matter of convenience where we thought 'Instead of getting somebody who would have to make a bigger commitment to coming over to the UK, why not get somebody who would be interested in working with us when we're over here'?
"So we hooked up with John who has been amazing in that he's provided opportunities for us to do shows like this because he knows other musicians.
"Also, John supplies us with all our equipment because it's really difficult to hire in the UK."
In return, John (who is a musician and nightclub DJ in his own right) acknowledged that he gets to enjoy being part of unique musical performances around the UK.
He said: "It's so enjoyable to be part of My Sweet Patootie and great fun to do because the whole show is so story-generated.
"Whereas other musicians I've played with tend to be more tunnel-visioned, Sandra and Terry are so different in a way that makes you enjoy the show with them."
Both Sandra and Terry acknowledged that their classical backgrounds have helped them in moving towards a more ragtime style of performing.
Terry said: "I convinced my parents that it was good for me to get a classical music education which has given me a really good grounding for other music.
"A good show has less to do with the space you're playing and more to do with the event itself.
"We're usually able to make a connection with people and when you get the feeling that you've really made the room come alive, that's the musical experience we're looking for."
Sandra said: "The feedback we get from the audience is that they love the fact that we talk to them and they definitely appreciate the conversation.
"But we're not trying to be preachy because we feel that people are quite divided and, more and more, they don't get to talk to each other on a common level.
"So we wanted to find some common ground where people can come together and have a good time with each other.
"As a result, we've made some wonderful friends over the years because we've found a nice balance of how to highlight our musical skills to people and draw attention to it.
"But the biggest message from us is just to be kind to each other and help each other."
Towards the end of the concert, Sandra had another message in support of Lincolnshire Rural and Community Touring itself.
She said: "This is a wonderful way to build up a community when you can walk into a room and feel this energy and just have a wonderful time.
"Without the audience, this would be a bit weird but we're well-suited to rural tours because we're darned rural ourselves."
Review and interview by Winston Brown