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Review: The Subdudes - Live and Acoustic

The Subdudes
Live and Acoustic
Biographica Films and Recordings

Live and Acoustic comprises a well rounded cinematic visit with the pleasantly eclectic Louisiana-based roots group the Subdudes. The Live half of the package features an intimate gig at Annapolis Maryland's Ram's Head, a cozy venue that lends the performance the clubby feel of a VIP outing. After being introduced by an emcee with a British accent, who urges the crowd "to get behind them" for the documentary's filming, the band, with the help of the eccentric-looking John Magnie who mock conducts using a drumstick (in place of a baton), launches into the harmony-rich "Poor Man's Paradise."

Throughout the set, the group's soulful, lushly vocalized, often

gospel-tinged, songs flow one to the next, segued by affable and mostly

amusing stage banter led by main vocalist Tommy Malone. Other pleasing

numbers on this portion include a somewhat laid-back pass through "Papa

Dukie and the Mud People," pleasing versions of the 'dude classics

"Light in Your Eyes," and "All the Time in the World," as well as the

movingly reflective "Carved in Stone," which is dedicated to Malone's

father.

The Acoustic portion of the two-disc offering explains the origins of

the band's name. In its previous incarnations as the Continental

Drifters (and before that, the Percolators), the group was often told

that it was too loud. Thus, the collective eventually decided it would

be a good idea to be a bit more "subdued." Alas, the notion and the

name stuck and the band dialed it down, exchanging the drums for a

tambourine and light percussion, and the rest is roots rock history.

The unplugged portion examines the 'dudes' penchant for amusingly

low-tech instrumentation (including spoons, soda cans, etc),

investigates its songwriting process/prowess (group vs. individual),

includes an informative visit to the storied Blackbird Studio in

Nashville (engagingly impressive in terms of its cutting-edge

acoustics), features some relaxed living room performances (including

an up-close version of "Poor Man's Paradise"), and generally provides a

behind-the-scenes look at what makes the band tick. The disc also

allows for a closer-than-usual look at each of the guys: Malone (lead

vocals and guitar), Magnie (vocals, keys, accordion), Steve Amedee

(vocals, percussion), Tim Cook (harmony vocals, bass) and Jimmy Messa

(bass, guitar and vocals).

Overall, the DVD package serves as both a good primer on the band for

the non-initiated and a must-have document for longtime fans.