Diesel Therapy @ Porters Coffee House, Tynemouth, March 13th 2009

by DT Admin on in Review

Though based in the North East of England, I was not aware of local band Diesel Therapy until someone at Maverick had the good sense to write a perceptive review of ‘The Turf House’, their excellent debut CD. Though steeped in country and bluegrass, the band has the ability to add a dash of Western Swing, blues and even jazz to their musical stew.
The Diesels are led by Newcastle native Jim Hornsby; revered by peers for the excellence of his wit, acoustic guitar and Telecaster skills. Jim is also an accomplished Dobro player; this versatility has led to gigs as a music teacher, producer and studio/touring musician for acts as diverse as Prefab Sprout, Martin Stephenson, Prelude and Irish singer Kate Purcell. It is as a band leader, though, that Mr. Hornsby has finally found his true calling and on this particular Friday evening, at the homely Porters Coffee House, he and his colleagues shone.
Situated off the platform, at Tynemouth Railway Station, this former waiting room has plenty of homely charm with its tables and candles, white-washed walls and old iron fireplace. The black and white photographs of yesteryear, framed railway memorabilia, wooden floor, high ceiling and soft lighting all added to the relaxed charm of the evening. Must crucially, people attended specifically for the music; unlike some gigs where performers have to play through constant talking.
Diesel Therapy kicked off the evening, appropriately, with Jim’s When Friday Comes Around, his deep, relaxed vocal style bore resemblance to Mark Knopfler while he framed the song with dextroush Telecaster playing. The dry, easy going Hornsby was flanked by the younger Danny Holmes. Quiet and studious looking, Danny proceeded to trade licks with Mr. Hornsby, each man playing impressive fills and solos.
Bass/double bassist Chris Ringer (veteran of Prelude and other local outfits) is a good addition to the band; his solid playing and easy persona are a good fit. “Chris always looks wasted, he’s from Hartlepool,” quipped Jim.
Ballad Of Billie, about an Elvis tribute band, was another fine song while Freight Train And The Talking Blues captured a snapshot of Jim’s youth; growing up in the North in the 1960s, around folk clubs and musicians. Listen To The Wind, from THE TURF HOUSE, was a wonderful slice of bluegrass, with a smile on its face! Fine harmonies and lightening acoustic playing drew appreciative applause from the partisan audience.
Jim next performed a couple of tunes on Dobro, the latter, Dixie Hoedown, was a stunner with impressive guitar breaks from Danny Holmes ably supported by the rhythm section. It has been problematic for the band to find a stable rhythm section but in a new drummer, Duncan Tyler, they have a tasteful, understated player who lays down a deceptively simple groove that sits well with the other players.
What separates Diesel Therapy from other English bands attempting to play country is their authenticity. Sure they are influenced by American bluegrass and country-rock, but the rich mining history of Northumberland, with its tales of hard times, is just as poignant as the likes of Kentucky!
The second set opener, Catch Your Death, was reminiscent of a Dire Straits rocker, a driving number with a dark lyric that included lines like; ‘Black coal freezing at my door.’ Jim Hornsby’s best songs are the personal ones; where he opens up his life for the listener. They don&rsquo't come any better than the beautiful Keeping It Real. He was the kid with his nose pressed to the music shop window; ‘Staring at the price on a Gretsch guitar trying to will it down.’ Other gems included the ‘boom and bust’ number Rules Of Life, a wry song about our economic woes. The closing That’ll Be Enough, a lovely ballad, ended the evening in fine style; ‘Spend time with your friends and your family, that’ll be enough’.
Diesel Therapy are the real deal; a band worth seeking out. This was an evening of fine music played with passion and precision. If they visit your town be sure to check them out; in the meantime don’t miss out on THE TURF HOUSE, or its successor, currently in the works.

Diesel Therapy Porters Cafe Bar Friday, 13 March, 2009 - 20:00 John Brindle The Maverick The Maverick