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ReViewed: The Duhks at Schubas

By Julene McCoy in Arts & Entertainment on May 18, 2007 7:00PM

There are still smiles on our faces from last night’s show at Schubas. The Duhks, who hail from Winnipeg, defy categorization. Sure, they’re playing bluegrass, but there are elements of soul, gospel, Brazilian samba, straight-up country, African beats and Celtic harmonies mixed in, too. On paper it sounds like a mess, but live it sounds like home.

The Grammy-nominated quintet took songs from other artists and truly made them their own. From Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” complete with the requisite hip-grinding by vocalist Sarah Dugas, to Leonard Cohen’s haunting “Everybody Knows” and Tracy Chapman’s “Mountains O’ Things” we were playing "Name That Tune" most of the night.

2007_05_duhks4.jpgThe Duhks’ instrumentals featured the phenomenal percussion of Scott Senior, the bow-destroying fiddling of Tania Elizabeth, the twang of Leonard Podolak’s banjo, and the almost beaten instead of played guitar of Jordan McConnell. These elements all came together in brilliant interplay that can only happen when a band is on top of their game and enjoying it. The emotion of the sultry vocals on “Death Come A Knockin’” and the song that has given them their most accolades, “Heaven’s My Home,” proved that The Duhks have nothing to worry about when it comes to creating their own contemporary folk music.

About a third of the way into the set, Dugas — lead singer for all of two months — explained what The Duhks are trying to achieve when they are up on the stage. She talked of “kitchen parties” where everyone just starts singing and picking along to a tune, adding to the moment and making communal music, while munching on some snacks and having a few drinks — a kind of gathering related in Uncle Tupelo’s “Screen Door.” Judging from the hoots, hollers, and stomps throughout the audience we had all been searching for just such a hootenanny. The Duhks achieved an intimate and creative, yet informal kitchen party last night and like all great parties, it was over too soon.