Sunday 10 September was 3hattrio at the Live Room, Saltaire; strangely enough a 3 piece all wearing hats. That was about as far as predictability went for the rest of the night.
Hailing from the desert region of Utah, the rain of Saltaire must have been unusual. Comprising Hal Cannon on lead vocals, banjo and guitar, Greg Istock on upright bass and bass drum. Eli Wrankle completes the trio on fiddle. Eli considerably the youngest by some way but up there musically in a way that made a mockery of his relative youth.
They opened with “Flight” a jaunty banjo opening before the fiddle joined the tune, some vocals and then the bass and bass drum joined the party on ‘River’. Musical layering formed a massive part of what can only be described as unclassifiable. They have rightly been described as a genre of 1 –‘An ethereal magic that puts them (3hattrio) in a field of one’, as Julian Piper of Acoustic Magazine puts it. Maverick magazine describes them as desert chamber music.
The number of audible influences are too many to mention but this was no mish mash of style, rather a unique and very refined, ethereally haunting and possibly addictive blend. Minimal conversation between songs had the audience entranced, at times an almost Tinariwen style beat was hypnotic. At times, almost classical music reverence from the audience, at other times whoops and yells for instrumental breaks. Not something that happens too often in the UK.
Vocal styling varied as much as the music with jazz style scat as well as new age multi layering. The 2 sets flew by swiftly leaving a very satisfied audience who would have booked their tickets for a return visit on the spot. Let’s hope they return to the UK soon. Full marks to Ron and Hilary for sharing their excellent taste in music with the good folk of Yorkshire.
Review and Photos by Keith Belcher