GIG REVIEW | ART TERRY AND THE BLACK BOHEMIANS | TOLBOOTH

Groovy, passionate, and colourful are just three words to describe this gig, avoiding the obvious word choice: fantastic. 

Art Terry and The Black Bohemians played at Tolbooth in Stirling on February 18, to a varied crowd of all ages and backgrounds. The performance consisted of an intriguing and intimate half hour short film before the live music began.

The Self Isolation Songbook film

The film is entitled ‘The Self Isolation Songbook’. It was a collection of short songs, all filmed during the first fifty-two days of Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. Terry created all the songs and performed them by himself in the film.

Terry’s aim for lockdown was to write one song everyday. He recorded it all to candidly let us see the reality of his time in isolation.

The later into lockdown the film got, the more artful the videos became. An example – Terry was topless and crushing oranges in between his hands in one of the later songs. His first few was just him simply playing an instrument.

His songs covered everything from the gentrification of Crenshaw, L.A., the loneliness of Easter, the prison system, and his love for marijuana. 

The result was an incredibly fascinating film, which became only more interesting when we got to see the featured songs performed live by Terry and his ten person band.

Art Terry and the Black Bohemians (Image credit: Alex Paterson)

The Self Isolation Songbook performance

The band consisted of four vocalists, a violist, a bassist, a trumpeter, a drummer, a clarinetist, and Art Terry himself, vocalist and pianist. There was also a theremin brought out for a couple of songs, a treat the audience visibly appreciated. 

The contrast of watching the songs performed solely by Terry and then with a powerfully talented band was delectable. 

A selection of songs were played live, but the crowd favourite was blatantly the track dedicated to American political activist, Angela Davis.

What started as a swaying ballad turned into a gospel foot stomper. The stands were quivering with the dancing bodies, mops of hair banging as the band played chorus after chorus of this appreciative kind of love song.

 During another ballad about the loss of soul in the world, the vocalists and theremin along with the rest of the band created the most beautifully haunting wails. It was a sound I’d have thought only possible through physically grieving vocal cords, but the instruments were manipulated in such a way that they accentuated and mirrored the true genuine cries of the vocalists. It was true art. 

Image credit: Alex Paterson

Art Terry and the Black Bohemians provided excellent entertainment in an intimate environment that can’t be forgotten in a hurry. 

The audience will be forever grateful that when lockdown started, Terry’s thought was “if you’re feeling locked out during lock down.. get f****’ with it!”, making a musical experience to define the Covid-19 era. 

If you ever have the chance to see Art Terry live, definitely go for it- you won’t regret it. 

Feature image credit: Alex Paterson

About Alex Paterson 20 Articles
Dipping into great music, I call that guac'n'roll. Often seen writing about the Scottish music scene with a focus on alt-pop, punk, and local (Central Belt) events.