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Bopping and Hooping: The Ditty Bops w/ Jesca Hoop, 3/10/07 at the Barrymore Theatre

Post by Emily Mills on 3/12/2007 1:34pm

ditty11.jpgThe Ditty Bops must like Madison. Saturday night marked their second visit to the city in under a year, the first being while on their summer bicycle tour and this most recent stint part of a more abbreviated trip. They brought with them singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop, who opened and came out to sing on a number of the Bops’ songs.

If you’ve never seen The Ditty Bops live, you’re missing out on a very entertaining spectacle. The group is well-known for their playfulness, staging everything from pirate sea shanties to routines with marionettes made of old yogurt containers. Their costumes are always interesting, too, usually leaning towards 20s and 30s cabaret style.

As part of a petition they’ve started to reduce the use of plastic, Saturday night’s theme centered on creative uses of the stuff. Amanda Barrett (vocals, mandolin, washboard) wore a fetching bath mat cum top stitched together using old plastic bags and the like. Abby DeWald (vocals, guitar) was on her fourth Target bag bikini top of the tour. If I learned nothing else, it’s that you can wash clothing made of plastic bags to make them last longer and to keep them from getting too stinky.

ditty2.jpgThe Bops’ backing band, talented boys all, each modeled their own special plastic wear, with the bassist taking the cake in a fetching see-through plastic dress. Jesca Hoop, whose ethereal and eclectic songs won the audience over at the start of the show, joined the band on stage in her own Saran Wrap shirt.

They played through a good set of songs from both albums (“The Ditty Bops” and their most recent effort, “Moon Over the Freeway”), ending with their cover of “Sister Kate.” There were many highlights during the evening—Amanda doing the limbo under a string of plastic bags, Hoop and the Bops singing beautiful three-part harmonies, violinist John Lambdin’s hilarious rendition of a Dan Hick’s tune. The best, however, had to be the dance circle that opened up during the final song. Various brave members of the audience and the band itself dove in and strutted their stuff. There were swing dancers, drunken wobblers, one really good break dancer and then Abby and the bassist jumped into the fray to have a go.

The Ditty Bops make their home in Los Angeles and originally cut their chops playing regular shows around the city. Their music has been described as everything from folk-pop to modern cabaret or tin-pan-alley style rag. Whatever it is, the music is infectiously grin-inducing. It’s hard to stay in your seat for a whole show. The fact that Abby and Amanda have been a couple for years only seems to add to the sweetness and joy of their performances.

“We really like Madison,” they proclaimed. “You’ve got the Willy St. Co-op, you ride your bikes in the snow, and you’ve got lots of gay people!”

The audience cheered and laughed, happily clapping and dancing away. It seemed pretty clear that Madison liked The Ditty Bops right back.

Dane101 interview with the Ditty Bops from last August.

Emily Mills


Emily Mills is Editor-At-Large for Dane101, as well as Editor of Our Lives Magazine. She is also a freelance writer, photographer, actor, and musician (drummer and singer in local band Little Red Wolf). Originally from several states up and down the Midwest Emily has called Madison home since 2000. Contact her at