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The Zen Hussies- A Band to Make Bath Proud
The Zen Hussies
The Zen Hussies graced Bath tonight with an incredible gig at The Bell, on Bath's Walcot Street. Wisely described by Festival Magazine as 'the sonic definition of happiness', this superb band formed in 2001, and have been delivering joyful, dance-making musical magic ever since. It was literally standing room only tonight, and a musical and lyrical extravaganza that I shall not ever forget. It was one of those gigs that makes a person feel intensely glad to be alive, sharing an experience. I loved every second!
The Zen Hussies mid song, with Matt 'Methusalah' Hurst playing a trumpet solo.
So what is their music like? Lead vocalist Jules 'Jonah Flatfoot' Landau described them as 'Post-Punk, Swing, Bluesy Rock and Roll Ska Rockabilies', which I reckon is pretty accurate. Jules exploded on to the stage like a multi-instrumental fireworks display, and has a wonderful ability to draw in the audience in shared camaraderie, then make them dance like mad. He is a frontman in the best of ways and elicited both gales of laughter and whoops of joy from both the band and the audience.
Jules 'Jonah Flatfoot' Landau, charming the audience with gravelly sophistication and wit.
Their mesmeric two-hour set included all manner of genres and fusions of genres from the early 20th Century to present day musicality. I genuinely enjoyed every number, but loved one described by Jules as 'an old Croatian circus drinking song'. With mesmeric wit, he then announced 'Danger Field', a raucous stomper of a tune written in Helston, in deepest, darkest Cornwall. Another brilliant aspect of this gig was watching the close harmony work and superb solos between Matt Hurst and Charlotte 'Cha Cha Gabor' Ostafew. She is a beautiful and soulful musician, who wields her Baritone Sax with both great power and masterful skill.
Cha Cha Gabor and Methusalah share some harmonies.
Any and every trip to Bath should include a visit to The Bell, for anything from a quiet drink, Sunday vinyl DJ session or evening gig. It has a passionate and loyal following, and there is a definite warmth and friendliness to the community that frequent the pub. Impressively, it was saved from closure in 2013, and is now proudly owned by over 500 customers and staff. As a 'Free House' that stocks several real ales and a vast array of other refreshments, it is a truly unique and independent place. You will find The Bell on many, many websites and award organisations, be the accolades for commitment to live music or the 'Pizza Bike' that visits weekly and offers homemade pizzas from a mobile oven.
The stage runs down the long interior of the pub, offering an exciting yet intimate performance space.
Despite an ever-evolving line up and hectic lives, the band are hoping to create a new album with a lot of new material towards the end of the Spring. With several albums already under their belt, this drive is a testament to a band that is committed to reclaiming the joyful sounds of swing and jazz from halcyon nostalgia. They really bring to life the best and most exciting of sounds, and are one of the very few bands that have succeeded in making me attempt to dance!
An elegant and lovely gig-goer next to me summed up the whole joy of the evening tonight when she said 'Everybody wants to be a cat!', and started to dance like Dutchess from the Disney film The Aristocats. I had been picturing the same scene in my head. I mean this as a compliment because all the best experiences in life should create a sense of joy and escapism.
If you are coming to the South West in the next few months, then you have a good chance of seeing The Zen Hussies perform at festivals and other venues. Check out their brilliant website for further information. I cannot wait to see them again.
Wherever in the world you are reading from, I cannot more highly recommend this brilliant band. Go and see them!
Barn-stomping showmanship! The band equivalent of a glitterball.