The Danberrys

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Rob Adams

four stars

BEN DeBerry has altogether too much fun at work. Between feeding the audience mischievous misinformation about song derivations and Southern States life, threatening to teach his wife, Dorothy Daniel, to read (she’s a fully qualified accountant, turned professional singer), and getting round the fretboard of his guitar with conspicuous musicality, the staff side of the Danberrys partnership makes it easy to settle down with the group in person.

It’s the musicality aspect that matters most, and the Danberrys in this configuration, with double bassist Geoff Henderson completing a very compact trio with DeBerry and Daniel, project it in no small quantity. Their songs have a smart, up-to-the-minute quality, even when reworking an aged nursery rhyme on Rain, and yet a large part of their attraction and strength lies in the traditions they draw on in varying degrees.

Jug bands, bluegrass, gospel and country music’s love affair with Fender Telecasters, here realised through DeBerry’s sure, expressive acoustic flatpicking, all feed into song arrangements that find Henderson and DeBerry creating a momentous groove under strong and close two- and sometimes three-part harmonies.

The groove got swampy behind Daniel’s beautifully clear singing of The Mountain and the combination of hard-edged guitar and bass riffing and committed singing gave the gospel-bluegrass-styled Working on a Building soulful power.

If Daniel, whose tambourine playing adds clearly defined percussive detail to the string-driven locomotion, never actually got round to explaining, as promised, the story behind Don’t Drink the Water, it mattered little. The message came through and there were tales, observations and leg-pulls enough over two thoroughly satisfying sets that deserved a bigger audience on an unusually quiet night for these Traverse Music Mondays.