Sugar Maple Fest featuring the Shotgun Party; July 30, 2011; Lake Farms Park
Josh Harty had his CD release show the same night as the second day of Sugar Maple fest, but I didn’t make it. I felt bad, but as I see it, it’s his own fault. I was too exhausted to go to the High Noon after spending most of the day at the traditional music fest. I went to see the Shotgun Party, basement alumni and guaranteed good time. They are a can’t-miss show anytime, but even more so this time since it was, sadly, their last time playing Madison. The band is splitting up and following different paths. It isn’t an ugly break-up, they all still love and respect each other, but I guess they felt it was time. Of course I never would have booked the Shotgun Party in the basement if they hadn’t mentioned their friend Brennen Leigh when they first contacted me. And I wouldn’t know the Fargo-born Austin musician if it weren’t for Harty who is also from Fargo. So you see, it is totally his fault that I didn’t make it to his CD release show.
I was planning on seeing both of their sets, one early and one late in the afternoon, but on my way there I got a flat tire on my bike. I haven’t had a flat since my tire was mysteriously slashed at the swimming pool when I was in fifth grade. I was about a mile away from home, and I did exactly what I did after discovering my flat at the pool, I walked my bike home and asked someone to fix it. Then it was my dad, today it was the nice gentlemen at Willy St Bikes.
I’m not a fan of girl singers. My joke is usually “what’s worse than a girl singer?” The answer, “Two girl singers.” But that is not the case with the Shotgun Party. Guitarist Jenny Parrot has a very distinct voice, a girly yodel that fits her perfectly, while fiddler Katy Rose Cox has a more traditional voice, but one that blends with Parrot’s nicely. Parrot usually sings lead, but Cox has a few songs of her own. Some of the best are the duets between the two, like the high-spirited “Great Big Kiss” from their new CD Here’s What You’re Getting. Their set drew from all three of their releases going back such classics as “Gladiola” and the naughty “Canned Peaches.” In addition to the entertainment on stage, we were treated to some very entertaining dancing on the floor in front of it. Foremost among the dancers was a remarkably unselfconscious teenage boy in a tight pink Shotgun Party shirt. He bought the shirt even though it was a girl’s shirt, claiming it was discrimination not to have pink in men’s sizes. When Jenny asked for two volunteers, his hand and that of one of his many dancing partners, and adorable redhead in a yellow dress, shot up. Jenny handed them each a maraca and told them to “go crazy” during “Why When I Cry.” They took her advice and the stage bounced noticeably as they danced around the stage.
The last time they played Sugar Maple, two years ago, Katy had to miss it because she was on tour in Europe with another band. Filling in was the fiddler from the Asylum Street Spankers. This year it was bassist Andrew Austin-Peterson who was absent, having already left the group. His replacement… the bass player from the Spankers. Luckily he seemed to have the wardrobe necessary to play with the Shotgun Party and he looked sharp in red next to the two girls.
The band has definitely made a lot of friends and fans of all ages in Madison. They will be missed.