Lonnigan’s Skiffle Group

6pm, 4th July 2011 – Watch This Space, National Theatre

To celebrate American independence day Watch This Space called The Lonnigan’s Skiffle Group – some fella and his mates, a pub band from South London, knocking out American folk and roots music. The musicians, still dressed from the day job, seemed carefree about their lack of preparation. “Its in G” was heard more than once. The lead guitarist winced at his own misplaced fingers. The singer played blues harp best. The rhythm guitarist couldn’t be heard. The rhythm section went bom chugga bom chugga bom chugga bom. And the audience stole the show.

This good-times band happily encouraged the audience onto the stage. “Let’s hear it for Bob from Birmingham on the tea-chest bass” and we obliged. Several members of the audience took a go on the washboard and a kid retrieved thimbles falling from fingers. Someone else took over on the tea-chest bass. A woman from Brazil got up to take on the maracas and never left the stage. She jumped and jumped in unison with a bald bloke who shook the tambourine the wrong way. Hilarious. Who doesn’t know a tambourine is not played on it’s vertical axis? Not that he gave a rattles arse with his jumping and his smiling.

These audience players were not humble side turns. They posed and pouted and pushed the band aside for a chance at the microphone. All very un-English and all very un-NT. Tom from London and Megan from France took the vocals for the finale, “You are my sunshine”. They were remarkable. Tom had enthusiasm and a fragile voice – an intoxicating combination perfectly suited to this lugubrious song – which provoked roars of appreciation.

Artless as they were, this band pulled off an honest feat for Watch This Space. This was simple fun. The band enjoyed it. The audience clearly enjoyed it. By jiminy, even I sort of enjoyed it.

Good time Lonnigan

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