LITTLE RUMBA BAND
Yesterday being a Sunday at the height of summer, the missus and I went to Llangollen, where the Eisteddfod is about to start and the place was merry and lively in the sunshine with men and women showing their tattoos at their best. A month ago, some friends invited us to dinner and as we chatted played a CD of a band they had come across though never seen. We liked them enough that, when we spotted that they were fixed to appear at the Ponsonby Arms, we thought it worth the 65 mile journey each way; in particular when one throws in a chance to mooch around a town where we have spent many a happy hour with the kids in past years as a way-stop on our journeys to Dolgellau.
The Ponsonby Arms is a small boozer on the further side of the river from the town centre, squeezed between the main road and the bank, and with a garden to one side. Even in the absence of a band it would be a pub to recommend because it offers a large selection of draught craft beers, and I tasted a couple and they were well-kept and delicious.
The gig was held in the garden, which is laid out with wooden bench-tables, and filled today with a good-natured crowd of women whose bums definitely do not look too big for those pants and men who really do have the legs for wearing shorts – would I lie about these things? We were made very welcome by an amiable butcher and his spouse, on an outing from Rhyll.
Enter the band, clad generally in black and of well-kippered middle age excepting the lady bass guitarist who beams cheerily as if she is a social worker in charge of the rest of them, as may indeed be the case. Bearing in mind that “band time” seems to be set in a different universe, this lot are tolerably prompt, and the missus and I are hoping for a treat.
How does one describe music? I claim no expertise whatsoever, belonging to the “I know what I like” school of appreciation. However, by my standards the music is wonderful. Little Rumba are a quartet (there is also an occasional female singer, who is excellent to judge by recordings). They comprise two guitars, a saxophonist and a guy who doubles on violin/viola and accordion. Almost all their music is of their own composition, mainly with a Latin feel, a fusion of tango and rumba, spiked with jazz and a side order of zigeuner music. The style is both rhythmical and melodic and we were entranced by it; it pulls you onto your feet with a desire to dance sexily. In complete contrast, the English lyrics, instead of being romantic, are witty and satirical, being about the inadequacy of rural bus services and other pressing matters suggested by the tango.
We had a wonderful time, and, being rotten show-offs (I don’t care), got on our pins and improvised what we could of tango and rumba, there in the Sunday sunshine among the pants and the shorts, the tattoos and butchers from Rhyll.
Little Rumba are extraordinarily original and a must to see.
6. July 2014