Word on the street from the bunker was that Homesick Aldo wouldn’t be visiting the Athens of the North, my neck of the proverbial woods, for quite some time, into the new year was the worrying promise; but at the last minute he was playing a gig, not only in the ‘Burgh, but about 500 feet from my flat. Needless to say, I was on board and en route as soon as I heard. I’ve already devoted a thousand words to explaining how his finely honed harmonica workouts and tribal self-imposed rhythm sections and thoroughly musically atavistic debut album is six-ways fun, so I’ll try to keep general Aldo fawning to a minimum. He was supporting local garage rockers the Kosher Pickles (to clarify kiddies, that be garage in the mould of 13th Floor Elevators and the Seeds, not so much MC5 and Rocket From the Tombs, that isn’t a criticism at all, just an observation) though the whole night felt much more like a double headliner. And a pub gig. A proper one, without a stage, where the band is set up in one corner and most of the crowd seem to be regular punters. It’s been altogether far too long since I was at such an affair and taking semi-pro photos at such an affair feels kinda stupid, when everyone is is just tryin’ ta get drunk, get twisted, get ripped, and have a dance. Aldo was immediately apparent when I got there, he looks like Iggy trying to do Alice Cooper with a whole Mick Jagger thing going on, you think I’m jivin’ ya kiddies? I sure ain’t. I ain’t dropping on you no hyperbole either, he really does, ‘cept he’s a full-on Fifer to speak to, and nervous too… which I struggle to square against his full-on Americana and ear-splitting harmonica wails.
I’ve been going round playing Homesick Aldo’s album for people, and without fail every single one has the same reaction that I did, a deep, long smile throughout the album, the same reaction everyone in the bar had; Aldo had the whole place literally jumping. When you call it chitlin blues, when you describe it as harmonica music, I guess it’s singer-songwriter, and I guess it’s rock and roll too; it’s totally Scots New Wave, it verges on MC’ing, there’s beat-boxing too… it’s a whole buncha things, but none of them really come close to describing what it is that Aldo does… which is unique; y’know when you first hear Reverend Beat-Man’s Fuck You Jesus Fuck You Oh Lord and you think “goddamn, nobody has ever done a song like this before”, well, that’s Aldo in a nutshell… even though he sounds nothing like Reverend Beat-Man. Pub gigs are blighted by flip-flops – people who open the door, take one listen to the band, make a face, and go next door instead. It’s not a crime, people like to have a quiet drink; rock and roll is not suitable as a spiritual tool for the great majority of the square population… Bullshit, says Homesick Aldo, whose ridiculous, energetic electric harmonica bounce had people coming in, their face-making transformed in a second as they were swept off, absorbed into this fantastically talented and deeply righteous dude with his harmonica and total absence of self-awareness as he pumped out hit after hit with utter conviction. I was doubly worried that all of the right-on energy and instant likability of Homesick Aldo’s album wasn’t going to translate into the show, but it was the opposite, the show was better than the album. All of the thrilling throwback fun was multiplied by Aldo’s skinny form and nervous talk between songs, not diminished by it. The set was a muscular and powerful collection of Aldo’s bayou harmonica boogies, taken right out of the East Village circa-1962 and yet somehow in a bar in Scotland in this hellish year of our lord, 2012.
The Kosher Pickles were different. Their stage persona, replete with blonde wigs and sub-Blues Brothers shades and suits. And o’course it wouldn’t be a rock and roll show without technical difficulties so the pedal trouble gives the whole thing an authentic smell. The gig, before stylistic comments, has to be described as tinnitus-inducingly ear-ruining. There’s no chance of getting out of here without whistling ears, no one here gets out aware. There’s a Seeds cover (Pushin’ Too Hard – oh yes! ‘all I want is just ‘a-be free, live my life the way I want ‘a be’) and a 13th Floor Elevators cover (You’re Gonna Miss Me – natch) I pick up through the general fuzz, there could have been more but it was a relentless and far more sonic assault than I was prepared for. Much more along the lines of sixties garage bands on the fringe I’ve loved for years, much closer to Blue Cheer and even the holy throne of Sir Lord Baltimore’s first album. Yessiree kiddies, these guys are the shit and the be-wigged be-suited profane frontman was the final chord that blew the amplifier away. Definitely catch the Kosher Pickles if you can, and with a name like that, how can’t you?
Go give Aldo love, forever, because what he’s doing is awesome. Download from bandcamp and the like. The Kosher Pickles have a facebook with some downloads, you know what to do.
Written under duress by Steven. Photos also by Steven.