Jo Carley and the Old Dry Skulls, plus Martin Arundel

Another excellent night at the Muse, expertly compered by Paul Keddle, saw a welcome return to Brecon by some familiar faces, playing to a sold-out and enthusiastically appreciative audience.

To start the night, Martin Arundel from the the Low Down Dirty Dog Blues Band very kindly agreed to step in at the last minute and take the support slot. Candy Mountain was sadly ill – and we all wish Aled a very speedy recovery, and hope to see him play for us again soon.

Martin Arundel from the Low Down Dirty Dog Blues Band

Martin gave us an excellent set of songs from some of the greats, including Sonny Terry, Muddy Waters and Otis Redding, plus some of his own material. With lyrical tales of gin and debauchery, Martin effortlessly channeled the soulful gospel-tinged old-time blues sound of his usual band. If you get a chance to see Martin with the full Low Down Dirty Dog Blues Band, then don’t miss them.

We were then treated to two memorable sets from Jo Carley and the Old Dry Skulls. The band features the captivating vocal, washboard and theatrical skills of front-woman Jo Carley, ably accompanied by the excellent rhythmic guitar and percussion of Tim Carley, and the accomplished double-bass and banjo of James Le Huray.

Jo Carley
Tim Carley
James Le Huray

Their self-written material is absolutely compelling, taking you on an eerie and entrancing journey into the sinister world of Voodoo, witch doctors, zombies and demonic possession… yet this is all presented in a relentlessly driving foot-stomping blend of washboard jazz-skiffle, macabre Vaudeville, and New Orleans swamp blues. The result is irresistibly danceable, and the audience were on their feet in no time. The band really carried the room with them, working impressively as a tight cohesive unit.

Jo Carley and the Old Dry Skulls

The numbers featuring Jo’s mandolin playing and James’ banjo worked particularly well to expand the overall variety of their music, adding a melodic old-time country dimension to their sound.

The band was given an enthusiastic encore, and it was clear that the audience had been spellbound by the band’s Voodoo, and would have carried on dancing all night, given the chance. Maybe some of them still are…

As ever, grateful thanks to all at the Muse for hosting this gig, and to everyone else involved in making it happen.
Thanks also to The Pizza Box for some lovely food, as always.

Photos by Barry Hill
Review by Jim Kerslake

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