When you hear the name The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show the image that comes to mind is a rickety old cart and two sleazeball snake oil salesmen, what actually turns up, however, is a raucous and rowdy 9 piece folk punk band from Dorset who will blow your bloody socks off. We’ve had the pleasure of seeing these guys perform before and couldn’t wait to get our teeth sunk into this EP.
The lead track from the EP is a beautiful journey into the childhood and outlook on life of the band’s frontman Mark Lyons. It’s a jangly little track that sparkles with a skip in its step and is the perfect opener for the EP. Speaking about the track himself Mark says its about “Obsession with reading great books as a youth and how I actually thought I was the hero when reading them. I would honestly believe I was Owen Meany or the next Bilbo Baggins, escaping reality through literature.”. They say that a great EP can show the versatility that a band has to offer, it’s a brochure of their range. If the next two tracks are the harder and softer turns of the dial for The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show then ‘Me Oh Mi‘ is their perfect middle.
The EP’s second track ‘Make The Bed‘ is a true love story, it’s honest, it’s bloody sleeved, it’s tender and it’s a bit of a jerk sometimes. It’s a back and forth Sonny and Cher kind of song, except instead of glitzy flowery nonsense, it’s more gritty, grey and… well sorry Sonny and Cher fans, good. The harmony and interchange is well-paced and beautifully delivered and the haunting chorus of “you won’t understand what the slammings for” works so well passed between the two voices.
The final track off the EP is the gut-puncher and it’s quite suitably violent. ‘My Banjo Player Hates Me‘ is a visceral account of the anxiety and tension that can arise in a band constantly on the quest to perfect their sound. It’s a love song as well as a murderous coup that sees the rest of the band quite literally sharpening their knives behind Lyons back. Out of all the tracks on the EP this ironically shows off the best how incredibly tight and together with the band actually are, they subtly pass the baton between themselves and even when the music is seemingly relatively still there are still ripples, flourishes and magic happening on the water. This track is the knockout blow on a slobberknocker of an EP.
The Two Man Traveling Medicine Show are capable of fierce and fiery as well as they can smoke and smolder. They’re a punk band that went and got pissed at a pub somewhere out in Swanage and had all their guitars stolen and replaced with violins and fiddles. The lyricism and songwriting is straightforward and honest, which means it can connect so much easier and with so much more impact. They veil less, wear themselves on their sleeve, and bleed for the audience; whether that be in heartfelt vocals, the heartbeat of the drumset or the lick of a banjo flourish. This is real, proper, actual music folks and it’s folking lovely.
If you want to bask in the glorious sounds of The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show, here’s a list of their upcoming gigs and festivals going into the summer.
Sat March 23rd The Grove Tavern, Southbourne
Fri March 29th The Winchester Gate, Salisbury
Sat March 30th The Ropemakers, Bridport
Sun April 7th Queens Park Pub, Bournemouth (4pm)
Sun May 5th Teddy Rocks Festival, Blandford Forum
Fri May 17th The Compasses, Damerham
Sat June 1st Potato Pants Festival, Wimborne
Sat June 15th Henfest festival, Wimborne
Sat June 22nd Le Stomp Rustique, Lymington, Hampshire
Sat June 29th The Big Sessions, Sixpenny Handley (4.30pm)
Sat June 29th Bradfest, Witchampton
Sat July 13th Wonkydonk Festival, Lychett Mctravers
Sat Sept 7th Becon Hillbilly fest, Dorset
Sat Sept 21st Last Of The Summer Cider Festival, Dorset
The EP will be out shortly and should be available from their record labels website.
Words by Matt Miles