Toying with folk

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Cherry Bomb Rock Photography/Courtesy photo
Stewart Johnson and his daughters Sophia and Hannah are the Toy Hearts. The band from Birmingham, U.K., is playing Sweetwater Grill & Tavern on Sunday night.

The grass is just as blue across the pond

The Toy Hearts return to Denton — and to the patio of Sweetwater Grill & Tavern — at 7 p.m. Sunday.

The English trio is as convincing as any Kentucky State Fair bluegrass and Western swing outfit, and the band first made its way to Denton on the recommendation of local upright bassist and Quebe Sisters band member Drew Phelps.

The Toy Hearts have a lot in common with their American Western swing peers. The band is a family act, with Birmingham sisters Hannah (on mandolin) and Sophia Johnson (on guitar) backed by dad Stewart (on dobro and banjo). The trio can turn on a dime, from tear-and-beer-stained laments to sawdust-floor-thumping reels, without a hitch.

The Toy Hearts released Whiskey almost one year ago. The album is a gem of sweet harmonies and saucy dance tunes. Western swing might not be native to England, but the form gets some blood from the British Isles, and the band of family players draws honestly from those roots. And the album is a collection of tunes about too much drink and too little love.

There’s no cover charge for shows on Sweetwater’s patio, at 115 S. Elm St.

— Lucinda Breeding

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