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Music Review

Music Review (5/18/01): 

Headley Grange Appears at Gandalf’s
By Greg Leary


     The local rock band Headley Grange gave a performance at Gandalf’s Pub on May 18th. The band performed, to a comfortably full house, an evening of its brand of classic and contemporary music. Gandalf’s, best known for its popular vegetarian menu, also provides, with its dim lighting, high ceilings, and bohemian flare, a great atmosphere for live music. The combination of live music and a good venue, set the stage for an enjoyable evening.

 Headley Grange, named after the large stone farmhouse in England that Led Zeppelin recorded in, consists of three members, Mark Gowans on lead guitar, Mark Jackson on bass, and Alex Hicks playing the drums. Gowans does a majority of the lead vocals. Alex Hicks adds lead vocals to a few songs each set, while Mark Jackson provides backing harmony.

     You knew you were in for a serious musical treat when guitarist Mark Gowans launched into the Jimi Hendrix tune “Voodoo Chile” on their opening number. Mark milks the strings of his Fender Stratocaster with precision and passion. Eyes and ears were pointed in the bands direction from that point on. Gowans’s seemingly effortless command of the guitar is a focal point of the groups show. He plays electric guitar on most songs but also switches over to the acoustic for several  numbers. The acoustic added a rich variety and served to round out the show well.

     With a guitar, bass, and drums setup, Headley Grange is a threesome in the vain of the great 1960’s power trios such as Cream or the Jimi Hendrix Experience. However, as the 
play list unfolded that night, the group displayed their ability to play a wide range of musical styles from the blues rock of Stevie Ray Vaughn to the more progressive sounds of The Dave Matthews Band and Rush. For a classic three piece setup, the group didn’t show a tendency to allow themselves to be constrained by their format. They were not  afraid to take risks and challenge themselves.This was apparent when midway through the two and a half hour show, the band broke into the Charlie Daniels song “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” The song brought many to their feet. Those that remained seated found themselves tapping their feet and hands and looking at one another with a big smile. The tune highlighted the guitar prowess of Mark Gowans as he picked both the guitar and the fiddle parts of the song.

     Alex Hicks, who displayed a wide vocal range, shined when he sang the Elvis Costello tune “Allison.” His warm tone and easy vocal stylings added warmth and soul to the number. Mark Jackson anchored the band throughout the evening working the
strings from the bottom to the top of the neck of his bass with grace. The entire band shined when they did several Led Zeppelin tunes that they obviously are a big fan of. On stage, the band’s love of music came across and drew the crowd in. They perform  with a relaxed enthusiasm that frequently brought smiles to their faces as they would surprise each other with a creative twist they had added.

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