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The Courier Mail, Brisbane (AUS) April, 2005

Kuepper serves up a heady brew
ED KUEPPER AND JEFF WEGENER – The Troubadour, Fortitude Valley
Review by Dennis Atkins

When Les Paul, Leo Fender and Seymour Duncan started making electric guitars in the 1930s, it was mostly to amplify the growing sounds of country and rhythm and blues music. But a spin-off was the inclusion of the electric guitar in big bands, where the instrument's job was to kick the saxophone sideways and make a bigger sound.

This tendency was at the forefront of sounds at the Troubadour when Ed Kuepper and Jeff Wegener played a stunning set of oldies, goldies and sweet interpretations.

A big moment was during the Saints' tune Know Your Product, an anthem to the music industry and life. The original recording, on the Saints' exhilarating second album, Eternally Yours, was the pinnacle of the band's soul-deep sound, complete with a tribute to Muscle Shoals horns. But when Kuepper and Wegener were weaving their rock 'n' roll magic there was no such back-up, so the guitarist who made his name with the Saints, and has been playing essential rock ever since, improvised. The guitar became the sax and the joint jumped.

This is Kuepper's first weekly gig in an April residency and he rolled into it like the guitar lover he is. After a restrained version of Crying Dance, he picked up the pace and paid tribute to Del Shannon with Runaway. This piece of homage was matched again and again during the night -- Lou Reed's Waiting For The Man, Johnny Cash's Ring Of Fire, Canned Heat's On The Road Again and even Gimme Shelter from the Rolling Stones.

What held all of this together was some of the best guitar riffing you'll ever hear in Brisbane. Kuepper is a superb artist, working his way around the instrument with an ease that would make most grown men and women cry. He can pick the blues with a syncopated heart and rock to soul grooves with a hip-swaying lean.

He also can use the guitar as a vehicle of sonic charm, enticement and assault. For instance, he finished the first set with a cracking version of Messin' With The Kid, a tune based on a riff that built like a tsunami and spilt on to the audience.

The grounding force of the duo is their understanding of the blues-soul-jazz axis that keeps so much of modern music together -- not to mention the country sweetness you can hear in any number of Kuepper's tunes.

Wegener, who cut his teeth with Nick Cave's Birthday Party so many year ago, is a red-hot drummer -- the jazz beats are driven and the blues' nuances are exposed in broken time. He finishes with some sensuous teasing of the cymbals. It's great to have one of Brisbane's greatest rock music sons playing at home. Go see him.

Kuepper and Wegener play The Troubadour each Wednesday night in April.

Dennis Atkins

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