By Ken DeLaat
The Rough & Tumble do it right.
They’re a duo extraordinaire who produce a wide range of music. Strong instrumentals from the guitar of Scott Tyler combine seamlessly with the absolute cavalcade of sound makers (both named and unnamed) Mallory Graham uses to create a carnival of collaboration. Their songs are lyrical stories that can amuse with a twist of sardonic wit or give a pull to the heartstrings with poignant prose.
Thursday night at the Dogwood’s Black Box they played to a crowd mostly unfamiliar with their music and didn’t just win them over, they absolutely charmed them. The self-deprecating humor, the road stories and most of all the wonderfully winsome musical creations they shared with the audience seemed to forge a connection.
Mallory puts into play her funky collection of musical tools from a toy piano, small xylophone,various shakers and sand blocks to the kazoo, accordion and banjolele and each provide a well placed addition to Scott’s string work. Scott also brings out a well played harp on too few occasions.
And then there are their road companions and sometime recording accompanists Butter and Pud a pair of pleasant pooches who take their places on stage and settle in for an evening of audience interaction.
Scott and Mallory each possess a wide vocal range allowing for some impressive and innovative musical harmonizing, yet what sets Rough & Tumble apart is the obvious rapport between the two.Their shared adventures involving the intriguing people they’ve met, life on the road in a 16 foot camper with a couple of canine companions, and a playful relationship that seems to work well personally as well as professionally collide to produce a whimsical presence on stage.
Having listened to their music and spoken to them by phone before the show my anticipation level for this concert was high. I was anxious to experience this duo whose music seems to challenge and charm the listener. The couple who displayed a delightful sense of humor during a recent interview and spoke candidly about their compassion for the less fortunate.
They did not disappoint and truly exceeded expectations.
Granted, their music is not for everyone, nor perhaps should it be. They are Americana Folk Artists with musical lineage tracing back to the creative contributions of outsiders. Those gifted musical folks who passed along tuneful tales after tweaking them into their own versions or perhaps created songs others would honor in the same way. Songs crafted from the stories of real people met along the way combined with insightful vignettes inspired by a deeply personal view of the world we live in.
And The Rough & Tumble?
They get it. Their music is powerful yet kind. Their songs are humorous and touching, warm and witty,and always, without exception entertaining. They connect with people and build a relationship with their audience.
And as we said in the beginning…
They do it right.
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