Viper Central have been bringing their unique and cheerful style of bluegrass to the world from their humble home in Vancouver, Canada for just shy of ten years. During this time they have garnered themselves legions of fans across the globe with their soulful, dancing bluegrass and country tunes and harmonious vocals.
Despite having entertained fans for close to a decade, this year actually see’s the release of what is only their third studio album release. As desperately as their fans must have been clamouring for this release and irrespective of the eager anticipation they faced it is refreshing and invigorating to have a band as dedicated as Viper Central. Since they first formed back in 2008 they have always consistently taken time between their releases to ensure they create an album that they can be proud of. The Spirit of God and Madness is their latest foray; it is a rich and versatile album that fuses bluegrass, country, folk, rock and blues with hints of jazz and even a soft mariachi style. Songs such as Losing my Mind take a rapid-fire folk tune complete with daring fiddle playing and emblazon it with a resplendent brass section and a strong Latin vibe. This contemporary fusion is something that is carried throughout their songs and The Spirit of God and Madness is an invigorating album that is rife with jubilant tunes that can’t help but elevate your heart and mind. Rich, smooth and jaunty, they will get your feet pounding along to every beat.
Driven powerfully by deep and playful bass lines with breakneck fiddle tunes alongside determined guitar melodies, Viper Central bring a jubilance and spirited sense to their work that is relentlessly cheerful and filled with charisma. Though this album doesn’t contain any live tracks it’s clear from their music that they will have a monstrous stage presence as they whip their instruments to life and transport you back through time. Despite their determination to fuse contemporary music into their work and a clear talent for experimentation the band still manage to create a glowing time portal for you with their 50s infused blues stylings. Lead almost exclusively by the tender Canadian lilt of Kathleen Nisbet the band are elevated further still by her smooth, smouldering and sultry vocals. Impassioned, charming and filled with a tender warmth, Nesbit’s voice leads the way with an endearing sense of cheerfulness and a smoky blues note that is all too contagious.
Viper Central might have a somewhat ominous name but there isn’t a trace of venom in their work. Instead the band concentrate on creating a series of astonishing and beautiful melodies with dazzling slide guitars and combine them with textured and powerful vocals to create an album that can move both your heart and your feet.
Viper Central · UK & Ireland Tour · August-September 2017
Kathleen Nisbet (vocals & fiddle), Steve Charles (vocals, guitars & banjo), Patrick Metzger (vocals & bass),
Tim Tweedale* (vocals & steel guitars) & Chris Suen* (banjo & vocals) *select dates only
Wed 2-Sat 5 Belladrum, nr. Inverness Tartan Heart Festival
Sun 6 Strathpeffer, Highlands House Concert
Wed 9 Cookstown, Co. Tyrone The Red Room
Thu 10 Cookstown The Red Room
Fri 11 Naul, nr. Dublin Seamus Ennis Arts Centre with Ulaid & Duke Special
Sat 12 Rathfriland, Co. Down Bronte Music Club
Sun 13 Comber, Co. Down Enler Delta Blues Club, Comber Rec F.C.
Tue 15 Richhill, Co. Armagh Groucho’s
Wed 16 Omagh, Co. Tyrone The Weigh Inn
Thu 17 Bangor, Co. Down Ballyholme Yacht Club, Open House Festival Bangor
Fri 18 Ballincollig, Co. Cork The White Horse
Sun 20 Ballydehob, Co. Cork Levis Corner House
Tues 22-Wed 23 Carlingford, Co. Louth Thomas D’Arcy McGee Summer School
Fri 25 Carrig-on-Bannow, Co. Wexford Colfer’s Pub
Sat 26-Sun 27 Dunmore East, Co. Waterford Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival
Wed 30 Ballybofey, Co. Donegal Balor Arts Centre
Thu 31-Sun 3 Castletown, nr. Omagh Bluegrass Music Festival, Ulster American Folk Park
Review by Joe Knipe