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The Handsome Family

Fri Oct 25th, 2013

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Up With People presents.....

The Handsome Family live in New Zealand - October 2013

19: Masterton - Kokomai @ King Street Live - tickets available from
22: Wellington – Bodega - tickets available from, RPM & Slow Boat Records
23: Lyttelton - Naval Point Yacht Club - tickets available from, Mondo Vino & Penny Lane
24: Leigh - Sawmill Café - tickets available from & venue - presented by bFM & Up With People
25: Auckland – Galatos - tickets available from & Real Groovy - presented by bFM & Up With People

Hailed as the undisputed King and Queen of Americana, feted by the likes of Ringo Starr and Nick Cave and covered by artists such as Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Andrew Bird and Irish folk legend Christy Moore, The Handsome Family (aka husband & wife Brett and Rennie Sparks) make a return visit to New Zealand from their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico as part of an international tour on the back of their highly acclaimed new album Wilderness.

In a career that spans twenty years theyve toured New Zealand on several occasions - each time in their own charmingly DIY fashion - one car, one hotel room, one stage.... and in that time theyve built up a loyal Kiwi following who seem to have taken the bands decidedly offbeat take on lifes wonders to heart. Their shows are often unpredictable but always entertaining and as a result theyve earned a reputation as one of the best live acts around.

New album Wilderness is populated by wild animals, tall tales and folk-lore from American history and is their 9th studio release. Recorded at home in Albuquerque and at the Wilco Loft in Chicago its a record that finds the Sparks blending Appalachian holler, psych-rock and Tin Pan Alley inspired melodies to conjure up a world where David Attenborough meets David Lynch in a Honky-Tonk bar at midnight.

The album - and Rennies collection of essays that was published to coincide with its release - explores the little-known enigmas of the natural world: immortal jellyfish, woodpecker tongues, dancing octopi, fly royalty, the secret language of crows, and mysterious ant spirals. Elsewhere we discover why the Sparks never take seaside vacations and learn all about compulsive window-smasher Mary Sweeney. Its classic Handsome Family territory - twisted tales of the unexpected that may raise a smile but will also, thanks to Rennies knack for spinning a good yarn, leave you ever so slightly unsettled. But its not only the narrative that draws you deep into this zoological wonderland. From the opening bars of Flies to the albums closer Wildebeest - a parlour-piano led hymn that somehow successfully manages to bring together Stephen Foster, hungry crocodiles and the unity of the wildebeest herd, Brett Sparks lays bear a succession of deceptively simple melodies and dexterous instrumentation that combine with his wifes lyrics to a startlingly haunting effect and easily justifies Jeff Tweedys view that their songs are the product of two beautiful brains.

No one does it better - in fact, no one else does it all - Nick Bollinger, The Sampler

Wilderness is a world of wonder - Simon Sweetman

CD Of The Week - Sunday Star Times

Their new recording brought to mind a focus and refinement to the weirdness, and the weirder they get the more I like um
Kurt Wagner - Lambchop


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