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My Sweet Patootie - Nowheresville


My Sweet Patootie

EBR 101

Available from My Sweet Patootie's web site


A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

I've commented previously that it's damnably difficult to find comedic musics, so this duo / band comes as a huge relief in straitened times. Violist, violinist, fiddler Sandy Swannell was principal violist with the Georgian Bay Symphony, a member of a string quartet, and she's recorded with Stompin' Tom Connors. She's a great vocalist too! In the Canadian band Tanglefoot, she met mandolinist, banjo player, guitarist, and vocalist Terry Young, and the two hit it off so well, with such a penchant for the tongue-in-cheek and ribald, that they formed their own combo, attracting one of Oscar Peterson's bassists, Dave Young, and Chilliwack drummer Bucky Berger.

As might be expected, the tone is light and breezy, but, as might not be quite so standard, the two have deceptively erudite ways with their instruments. Young's an extremely talented picker, and, if you don't listen carefully, you'll miss a world of string wizardry. The guy puts so much into each measure and can change up with such jaw-dropping dexterity that while you're dazzled at one passage, he's already half way through the next. Swannell's equally skilled on her axe, adopting a strongly gypsy flavor with loose Cajun fluidity flowing like quicksilver atop Young's patterns and progressions.

The humorous elements lie, of course, in the lyrics, so, when it comes to gardens and The Dandiest of Dandelions, we hear:

Have you ever looked closely at a blade of grass?
The way it keeps growing is a pain in the...
As plants go, it's skinny and common at best
And yet I remain the one you detest

…which is chuckle-producing and runs the "as" in place of "ass". Other stanzas, as in The Roadside Evangelist, are trenchant while wry:

I met a man on the side of the road
He was a raggedy man
I couldn't make out what he was on about
Some conspiracy or master plan
He said "Brother, keep your spare change
For some other poor unfortunate
I don't need your pity now
But I sure could use a cigarette

…and there are plenty of turns of phrase, in Jiggity Jig for instance, that a whole lot of good writers, like some I can think of (ahem!), would envy:

I play a couple of tunes and down another beer
But a packed house is empty when my baby isn't here

Then we have the instrumentals, three of 'em, with Letting Go of the Weight of the World trotting out the pair's complexities, incorporating elements of such prog-folkies as Cano, Hometown Band, Conventum, Valdy, and perhaps even Flairck. Much of the material is swing or something very close, and whatever doesn't swing sways in that direction even when bayou lazy. There's a bit of Dan Hicks, the Andrews Sisters, Asleep at the Wheel, and even City Boy, a rock band which penned clever verses very much like Sweet Patootie's. Lots to like here, o' you tavern trawlers and moon-eyed hipsters, lots to like.

Track List:

  • The Marble
  • Kemble Mountain
  • That Wailing Hound
  • The Dandiest of Dandelions
  • Gucci Gumboots
  • Sweet Patootie Rag
  • Lead Me Now
  • Out of Luck (Terence Young)
  • The Roadside Evangelist
  • You're Not the One (Sandra Swannell)
  • Letting Go of the Weight of the World (Terence Young)
  • The Box (Terence Young)
  • Jiggity Jig
  • Damn Bee
All songs written by Terence Young and Sandra Swannell except as noted.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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