The pairing up of Spider John Koerner and The Front Porch Swinging Liquor Pigs
could only happen on the West Bank - that bohemian enclave, and long-time musical heart of the Twin Cities. With his battered old 12-string guitar (and what tales that guitar could tell if it could speak), John was sitting front and center on stage with The Front Porch Swinging Liquor Pigs joining him for this unique pairing.
Its always a ball watching John Koerner-long, lanky, thin-as-a-rail, that twinkle in his eye, his ready smile and pounding right foot keeping the beat. In fact, it was fun just watching him get his chair situated -- just right -- in front of the microphone prior to starting. It was an unconscious comic routine done in Koerner's inimitable style. Spider John Koerner, of course, was part of the now legendary trio, Koerner, Ray and Glover who helped pioneer the folk-blues revival of the early '60s. John, Dave and Tony all still live in Minneapolis and we are fortunate enough to see them (as a solo act, as a duo or less often as the trio) on a pretty regular basis performing around the area.
And The Front Porch Swinging Liquor Pigs are quite a phenomenon in their own right. Seeming to come out of nowhere over the past year they hold down a regular Friday night show (6:30 to 9 pm) at the infamous Viking Bar on Riverside near Cedar (across from the old Triangle Bar as some of you old timers will remember). Their eclectic brand of music covers the spectrum from jug band, skiffle, roots music, blues, folk, country, a little Irish, and even bar-room rock. In fact they like to take irreverent shots at just about anyone and any musical style all done in good natured fun.
Koerner has been around the West Bank, as he says, for over 28 years and combining his brand of American folk, blues and 60's bar music with the Liquor Pigs was a perfect match. With his trusty harp rack around his neck, Koerner and the Liquor Pigs ran through a stream of favorites that had the packed room singing along all night. Songs like,
"Reckless Love," "Wabash Cannonball," "St. James Infirmary," "Jack O' Diamonds," "Midnight Special," "Goodnight Irene" (the most famous good night song in the Western Hemisphere according to John), and of course he couldn't finish the evening without playing "What's the Matter With The Mill" for an encore.
The night turned into a regular hootenanny with the 400 Bar crowd hooting, hollering, running, jumping, and definitely not standing still. This was jug band, blues, folk and a few other surprises thrown into the mix for some great bar-room fun!
With less than a week of rehearsal for this grouping, the band didn't quite have the endings down but, oh boy, did they have the rest of it right-on-the-money.
You can catch the Liquor Pigs every Friday at the Viking Bar at 6:30 pm. Their new album (reviewed at Blues On Stage and The Twin Cities Blues News), "Forget Your Truffles and Dance" can be found on-line at: www.liquorpigs.com and www.coldwind.com. John's original Koerner, Ray and Glover albums (from the early '60s) have been re-issued on Red House Records: www.redhouserecords.com.
And the best news of all, they are going to do this again, so keep an eye out for the next show featuring Spider John Koerner and The Front Porch Swinging Liquor Pigs.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Ray Stiles , and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.