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The Dread Crew of Oddwood, Surly Wench Pub, Saturday, July 30



There didn't seem to be any Somalis about, but there was a Capt. Jack Sparrow impersonator present when this San Diego pirate band returned to Tucson for a gig at the Surly Wench Pub.

'Twas a full-on pirate party, with all sorts of buccaneer pants, buckled swashes, striped bandanas and peasant blouses adorning many of the patrons who turned out. It was surprising that so many people have pirate costumes stashed away at home, but who was I to argue with the proliferation of saucily dressed lasses?

The six-piece Dread Crew of Oddwood is probably the pre-eminent pirate band, at least among those playing on dry land. Half the battle in creating credible pirate music is the instrumentation: an accordion and a concertina; a mandolin; acoustic bass; a toy piano slung like a guitar; and a drum kit that looks as if it were pulled from a trash can.

These guys nailed it throughout. Multipart vocal harmonies, some of them half-spoken, recalled a bawdy and drunken barbershop quartet, with the baritone growling menacingly. Along for the ride was a merch guy/cabana boy who stomped around the room, waving the Oddwood standard so energetically that innocent bystanders had to duck for fear of being smacked.

Much of the music was of Celtic origin—reels and jigs were the most popular numbers for dancing. The formula was fueled by performances so rambunctious that they were almost out of control, along with occasional deck-rocking choreography and oodles of terribly naughty songs, the most tame being the a cappella "Land Ho," a sort of an international travelogue of questionable sex practices.

Not all of the Dread Crew's tunes were dirty. Some, like "Queen's Decree," recounted historical tales of the seafaring life; that one was enlivened by each member of the band taking a verse. Another, "Earth's End," told the tale of Sir Ernest Shackleton's doomed 1914-1917 Antarctic expedition. And "Ocarina of Time Medley" paid homage to the Legend of Zelda video game, featuring songs that "cater to nerd-dom," said accordionist Captain Wolfbeard O'Brady. Guess you could say the same for brief musical quotations from Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" and "Careless Whisper" by Wham!

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