Big John Bates delivers Germanic-tinged album

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      Big John Bates: Noirchestra

      Skinners Cage

      It’s fitting that Big John Bates and his Noirchestra will be spending a lot of time in Germany this year. The band’s cheekily named Summer Tour 2019—all but one of the shows are actually in the spring—will include roughly a month playing gigs from Hamburg to Berlin and all points between, including some side trips to Austria and Switzerland.

      That makes sense, because with Skinners Cage, Bates and company have taken their sound from southern-gothic Americana to something approaching a mutant hybrid of postpunk and Weimar Republic cabaret.

      The addition of violinist RequiEmily to the usual lineup of Bates (guitar, mandolin, banjo, vocals), Brandy Bones (bass, cello, vocals), and Ty-Ty the Saviour (percussion) certainly helps in that regard—her approach is more European chamber-punk than Kentucky bluegrass.

      But if that doesn’t convince you, consider that the Noirchestra recorded Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s “Moon of Alabama” for this LP—a midnight-exorcism version that will make you want to throw your copy of The Doors onto a Samhain bonfire.

      So, yes, this music will make perfect sense in Köln and Dresden, and it might make sense to you too, if you’ve ever wished Jeffrey Lee Pierce had lived long enough to make the cabaret-noir record you always knew he had in him.