If you study in the South West, the Wurzels are a cultural phenomenon that you really can’t miss out on. Founded in the 1960s in Somerset, the band play original songs on themes such as farming and drinking cider, in a genre described as ‘Scrumpy and Western’, as well as covers of a range of big pop songs. When my friends and I saw that the Wurzels were playing live in Bristol we couldn’t miss the opportunity to go and see them perform. The small venue of the Fleece meant that the show was fairly informal and we could get pretty near to the stage.
The opening act, Corky, was the self-proclaimed best ‘agricultural hip hop artist’ in the world, and performed some original songs including a rant about the price of milk. He also did a South West-based parody of ‘Gangster’s Paradise’ as well as some covers including ‘I’m a Believer’. His music was surprisingly catchy and I was disappointed when we didn’t manage to find him on Spotify!
The Wurzels performed a good range of songs including several of their original hits, such as ‘The Blackbird’, ‘Drink up Thy Zider’, ‘I am a Cider Drinker’ and ‘The Combine Harvester’. As it was December of course they had to play a ‘Wurzelised’ Christmas hit – ‘White Christmas’. They also performed several of their covers, including our particular favourite, the Kaiser Chiefs’ ‘Ruby’.
Their interaction with the audience was great and the audience were all very willing to get involved and sing along to the choruses. I was very impressed by the fact that two of the band members are in their 80s now but still going strong after all these years. At one point two of the members played a duet on accordion and guitar which I really enjoyed – I find the accordion a very cool instrument! It is certainly a key element of the Wurzels’ sound, with accordion melodies being very recognisable parts of songs such as ‘The Cider Drinker’ and ‘The Shepton Mallet Matador’.
“I was very impressed by the fact that two of the band members are in their 80s now but still going strong after all these years”
I personally don’t know much country or folk music but I feel that the Wurzels are a very accessible way into the genre through their own unique style. A great thing about their music is that even if you don’t know every song, the choruses are usually easy to pick up and if in doubt, you can just stick in an ‘ooh argh’! Overall we had a great night and I would suggest anyone would benefit from adding a bit of Scrumpy and Western to their playlist.