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The subdudes Live and Acoustic: Live at the Rams Head/Unplugged at Pleasant Plains

Biographica Films

With their rootsy mix of blues, soul, gospel, folk, rock, and country, New Orleans' the subdudes have cultivated a devoted following. After nearly two decades, which included an eight-year break, it finally seemed like a good time to finally document the quintet in concert. Two DVDs provide two intimate venues and performances under very different circumstances. The Rams Head offers a full concert, while unplugged performances and interviews at Pleasant Plains Farm provide the opportunity to receive a little background on the inner workings of the group's music.

The Live at the Rams Head portion finds the ‘dudes playing in the cozy quarters of the Annapolis, Maryland club. The premise offers the opportunity to make the viewer feel as if they are part of the crowd, yet the surroundings have some drawbacks. Without having control of the environment, a lack of lighting drenches the musicians in a sepia tone, and camera angles are kept to a minimum. The image works best when the editing occasionally mixes the band members in action with audience members grooving to the rhythms produced onstage. Considering these circumstances, it’s the song selection of the subdudes that impresses most in this situation. Despite the lack of production values, the quality of the music shines through.

Personally, I preferred the Unplugged at Pleasant Plains DVD. Without an in-depth knowledge of the subdudes, the interview segments give a quick primer of the band’s background. That being said, l finished the interviews craving more details, but those thoughts were dashed by the splendid living room performances that focus on the group’s 2007 album, "Street Symphony." The quaint setting really enables the viewer to get a true feel for why this band has had such lasting success.

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