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In Case You Missed It: Review: Sassparilla, Ramshackle

“In Case You Missed It” is our new tag for albums that we got a while ago but just didn’t want to see go unrecognized. And sometimes, things just take a little longer to reach our shores. Communicating by message in a bottle is slower than the post office, you know!

Sassparilla
Ramshackle
[Panniculous (2010)]

Mere seconds into the first track of Ramshackle, it’s obvious that fans of good-time blues are in for a good time. Comparisons to The Wyos, the Steel Workers of Montreal, and Tom Waits come immediately to mind, at least in terms of either style or mood, but Sassparilla definitely has its own collective personality, and it’s a strong one. Although the group performs mostly original material, the style is pure vintage and imbued with the infectious spirit of jugband music. The instrumentation, which includes harmonica, National Steel guitar, banjo, washtub bass, washboard, and a homemade drum set, is interesting enough in itself. However, the songs, as well as the vocals, are also solid features of the Sassparilla sound.

The group, originally from Chicago but now settled in the Portland, Oregon region, must surely be mesmerizing in a small club or as street performers. One could easily imagine Sassparilla tying up pedestrian traffic on a busy streeet corner. It’s ramshackle blues in the very best sense of the term.

—Paul-Emile Comeau (Comeauville, NS, Canada)

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