It’s a long time since I first saw the Pine Hill Haints playing Cork. It was about ten years ago and they were on tour with Connecticuts Can Kickers (legends in their own right, but that’s another story). It was in The Wolfhound on Barrack St., now long gone. At that stage the bar was usually host to all form of audio intensity involving large amps and guttural vocal stylings.
The Haints (as they’re often abbreviated to) couldn’t sound more different, playing with acoustic guitar, mandolin, a rustic looking bass constructed with a steel washtub and a drum ‘kit’ consisting of one solitary snare drum. And yet what thay lacked in volume and amplification they more than made up for with soulful intensity, good honest tunes and a whole load of danceability.
Since then, The Haints have returned regularly to Ireland with more tunes, a more impressive selection of hand made t-shirts and vinyls, playing to growing audiences in better and more numerous venues all around the country. Their sound too has developed along the years. Based for many years around the ghostly timeless songs of Jamie Barrier, sung through a vintage mic and accompanied with guitar, there has been a recent shift in the set which sees Bucket player Matt Bakula picking up the banjo and leading us in an altogether different direction.
Whether its guitar, banjo, washboards or bucket bass you’re listening to though, the Pine Hill Haints will have you singing to their songs, swaying to the freight train tempo and maybe wondering just what year it is and whether it’s a damp and windy Cork awaiting you after the gig or a sweaty swampy Alabaman night full of the ghosts of the past and the promises of the future.
Pine Hill Haints
Crane Lane Theatre, Cork
Friday July 6th
9pm, Adm Free