GIG / CONCERT REVIEWS
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* Indicates new review not previously published in Boston Target's Folk, Blues & Beyond Newspaper column or Folk, Blues & Beyond webpage ~ Gig reviews written by 'Alberta' & 'Mississippi Bill', (© Alberta & Missisippi Bill ~ unless otherwise stated) & some published in Boston Target Newspaper Group.
New Reviews ~ added Dec 2004
Click below to read reviews
Various Live Gig Reviews ~ 2004
Reviews ~ added Dec 2003
Rag Mama Rag ~ Spalding Blues Club
The Melt ~ Boom Boom Live, Sutton (Surrey)
Albert Lee & Hogan's Heroes ~ Running Horse, Nottingham
Dr Feelgood ~ Black Horse, Nettleham
Emma Williamson ~ Spalding Folk Club
Reviews ~ added Jun 2003
Bill Wyman & The Rhythm Kings ~ Lincoln Castle
Kent DuChaine ~ The Farm, Bank Farm, Chapel St Leonards
Eco Fest 2003 (Sat 14 Jun), Asterby, Lincs
Ally Sloper's Half Holiday (theatre) ~ Village Hall, Tattershall
22-20's Feature (Jun 2003)
Reviews ~ added May 2003
Guisborough Rhythm'n'Blues Festival ~ submitted by Mike Mager
Stringybark McDowell - Holton Le Moor (Lincs) ~ submitted by Mike Mager
Danny Bryant's Redeyeband ~ Boston Blues Club
Stringybark McDowell ~ Holton Le Moor (Lincs)
Born To Run (Bruce Springsteen tribute) ~ Berkeley Hotel, Scunthorpe © 'Born To Run' Fan
Reviews ~ Mar 2003
Guy Tortora Band - Spalding Blues Club
Skegness Rock & Blues Festival ~ Butlins Funcoast World, Skegness
Claude Bourbon ~ Tap & Spile, Lincoln
Reviews ~ Oct 2002
BBC Radio Lincolnshire Folk Song Competition - Spilsby Theatre
Sandfly - Playhouse Theatre, Sleaford ~ submitted by Ian Jones
Steve Arvey - Spalding Blues Club, Red Lion Hotel, Spalding
Review ~ July 2002
Kirkby Blues and Rock Festival - Kirkby-In-Ashfield, Notts ~ Barry Middleton
Reviews ~ April / May / June 2002
Frank White - Berkeley Hotel, Scunthorpe
Sandfly - Old Nicks Tavern, Horncastle
Spider John Hutchinson - Bull Hotel, Horncastle
Bill Jones & Miranda Sykes - Chestnut Street Primary School, Ruskington
Mundy-Turner - Heart Of Lincolnshire Club, Eagle Lodge Hotel, Woodhall Spa
Reviews ~ 14 & 16 Apr 2002
Byther Smith - Running Horse, Nottingham
Band From County Hell - Lawn Centre, Lincoln
A.G. & Kate - Methodist Church, Wrangle
Skegness Rock and Blues Festival - Butlins Funcoast World, Skegness
Slack Alice - Running Horse, Nottingham
Lincoln Folk Festival (Sunday Afternoon Concert) - Lawn Centre, Lincoln
Stairway To Zeppelin - Lawn Centre, Lincoln
New Reviews ~ 7 Feb 2002
* Deep Purple - Grimsby Auditorium
Acoustic Strawbs - Guildhall Arts Centre, Grantham
Reviews ~ Nov / Dec 2001
Slack Alice (Acoustic) - Heart Of Lincolnshire Folk, Roots & Blues Club, Woodhall Spa
John Wright Band - Workhouse Folk & Blues Club, Black Horse, Nettleham
Diane Ponzio - Alford Folk Club, Half Moon, Alford
One Week In November 2001 ~ 4 Brief Reveiws
Kate Campbell - Workhouse Folk & Blues Club, Black Horse, Nettleham
Coope, Boyes & Simpson - Reading Room, Ewerby
Bill Jones Band - South Holland Centre, Spalding
Bluesmove - Woodman, Louth
Kevin Thorpe's Out Of The Blue - Trinity Arts Centre, Gainsborough
Bob & Sheila Everhart ~ First Tour of Lincolnshire Gigs
Bob Cheevers ~ Trinity Arts Centre, Gainsborough
Emily Slade ~ Boston Folk Club, The Eagle, Boston
Les Wilson & The Mighty Houserockers ~ Boston Blues Club, Axe & Cleaver, Boston
BBC Radio Lincolnshire Folk Song Competition 2001, Spilsby Theatre
Joe Turner & His Memphis Blues Caravan
Slack Alice - Colne Rhythm'n'Blues Festival 2001 (By Mae & Bob Alex)
Martin Trimble - Blue Bell, Tattershall Thorpe
Gin House - Red Lion, Revesby
Kirkby In Ashfield Rock & Blues Festival
Cahoots - Alford Folk Club, Half Moon, Alford
Ben Andrews - Spalding Blues Club, Red Lion Hotel, Spalding
Karl Svarc Band / Winter Wilson - The Lawn, Lincoln
Bob Fox - Heart Of Lincolnshire Folk, Roots & Blues Club
Eugene Hideaway Bridges / Kevin Thorpe's Out Of The Blue - The Lawn, Lincoln
Dangerous Age - Boston Blues Club
* Slack Alice ~ Skegness Rock and Blues Festival (By The Midnight Ramblers)
Emily Slade ~ Spalding Folk Club
Ben Waters ~ Spilsby Theatre
Ruth Wyand - Heart Of Lincolnshire Folk, Roots & Blues Club
Christopher Hawley & Heather Ogren - - Heart Of Lincolnshire Folk, Roots & Blues Club
Jacqui McShee's Pentangle - Spilsby Theatre
Bill Jones - Boston Folk Club, The Eagle, Boston
The Houndogs - Tattershall Park Leisure Centre, Tattershall
David Rovics & Rich Caloggero - Heart Of Lincolnshire Folk, Roots & Blues Club
e2k - Belton House, Grantham
Blue Room - Belton House, Grantham
The Melt - Old Nicks Tavern, Horncastle
Stamford Folk & Blues Festival
The Two Timers - Spalding Blues Club, Red Lion Hotel, Spalding
AG & Kate - Wrangle Chapel
Band From County Hell February Gigs
Rudy Rotta Band - Spalding Blues Club, Red Lion Hotel, Spalding
Sonny Black & The Dukes - Stamford Arts Centre
Barachios - Chestnut Street School, Ruskington
Nearly Famous - Boston Blues Club, Axe & Cleaver, Boston
Walter Harpman Band / The Millennium Bluesbreakers - Grafton House, Lincoln
Connie Lush & Blues Shouter - Woodman, Louth
BluesMove - Axe & Cleaver, Boston
Mick Pini Band - Running Horse, Nottingham
Chris Farlowe - Woodman, Louth
Adrian Burns - Spilsby Theatre
Thanks to Alberta & Mississippi Bill for allowing us to include copies of their reviews, previously published in the Boston Target Newpaper group.
Email Alberta & Missisippi with details of your events for inclusion in their 'Folk, Blues & Beyond' Column in the Boston Target newpaper group, featured in Boston, Sleaford, Skegness, Spilsby, Horncastle & Mid Lincs editions of paper
Rag Mama Rag ~ Spalding Blues Club (14 Dec 2003)
Let's take a look back at a gig which took place last Sunday night at the Red Lion Hotel in Spalding, home of Spalding Blues Club. It was Christmas Party night and a full house had once again turned out, this time to witness the first appearance of French based duo Rag Mama Rag at the club. With a guitarist and percussionist they have a similar line up to the Two Timers, another British act based in France. Rag Mama Rag though base their sound more round the classic old blues songs rather than more modern and eclectic music.
The word duo can conjure up images of vocal performers or musicians performing with backing tracks and drum machines. Rag Mama Rag though, like the Two Timers and most blues duos rely on musicianship rather than electronics to produce a full sound.
Featuring Ashley Dow on a succession of guitars including acoustic, Debro Resophonic, Weissenborn lap steel as well as suitcase bass drum and Deborah Dow's lively percussive sound provided by washboard, African drums, tambourine and spoons provided a solid foundation for Ashley's skilful guitar playing.
Rag Mama Rag gave the audience an early Christmas treat with two great sets of classic and original blues songs. Their repertoire features material from the early years of the blues such as Bo Carter's 'Cigarette Blues', Bukka White's 'Fixin To Die' and 'Hard Times Killing Floor' by Skip James, featuring Deborah on harmonica which went down particularly well with the Spalding audience who love their blues, as well as some self penned songs, including a new song which will feature on the duo's fifth album.
Blues is regarded by the uninitiated as mournful music that will give you 'the blues', yet often even the most plaintive of songs often have a silver lining to the black cloud of depression. Others such as the opening number 'Wing And A Prayer' and 'Step It Up And Go' are uplifting, and of course in the old juke joints of the USA, it was songs such as these that provided music for dancing, Ashley joked that the audience could get up and dance if they found room, and encouraged them to sing along with several songs. As well as blues, Rag Mama Rag included one or two ragtime numbers such as 'Applejack Rag' and an old Unionist song 'Rally Round The Flag' played on lap steel.
Rag Mama Rag's tours of the UK are limited, this was the first time they had played in Lincolnshire, the response of the Spalding audience who called them back for two encores, one being a great version of 'Minnie The Moocher' should ensure that they will be back.
Its been a great year at the club with every gig 'sold out', testament to the hard work and late nights put in by organisers Richard and Cynthia and their small band of helpers. As well as the usual behind the scenes work to put the gig on, there was an excellent spread of delicious sandwiches, savouries and festive cakes to get everybody in the Christmas mood.
Already the club have an enticing programme for the area's blues fans in 2004, including the first appearance at the club by Dana Gillespie who is regarded as one of Britain's finest female blues singers, and her band in January and American blues legend Lazy Lester later in the year.
Live at BoomBoom LIVE, Sutton, Friday 26th September 2003
Opening for Leslie West's Mountain must have been galling enough, let alone hitting 300 expectant and impatient Mountain fans cold with your own material. But cometh the hour, cometh the band.
The band is The Melt, and by the end of their 45 miniute set, the band had impressed everyone enough to earn a merited encore on the first serious London gig.
The band blazed their way through some hugely impressive self penned material, from the funky feel of "Jumping South" to the riff laden "No Shame", which came topped by some full blooded harp from lead vocalist Trevor Bettison.
Guitarist Ashely Wilson impressed throughout, but it was the combo as a whole, exploding on the unsuspecting crowd like a fire cracker, that sent shivers down the spine.
It's years since a new band hit the circuit like this. The Hoax, the Nimmo Brothers and Ian Parker are some of the names, and The Melt belong right up there with the best of them. Power, energy vitality, creativity, and Rock Blues with a rock & roll undercurrent, all topped by steely licks, and great songs. What more do you want, get out and support them! The Melt are happening at a venue near you!
Pete Feenstra - RealMusicLIVE
Albert Lee & Hogan's Heroes - Monday December 15th
This was always going to be a good night, almost all the tickets sold before the event, we had been to our hearing and got the extension to our Public Entertainment Licence and the band playing had a reputation second to none, what else was left but to enjoy the evening?
The evening started with The Stomp Brothers again doing a brilliant job as the warm up act and then dead on 9.15 five really nice middle aged guy's fought their way through to the stage, then it all changed the five guy's changed into one of the tightest band of musicians you will see anywhere in the world playing Rock & Roll, Country Ballads, Country Rock, Blues but the standard of playing was something you have to see to believe (check out the web site www.albertleeandhogansheroes.com to read the CV's on these guys it is literally the who's who of the music world) at one time while watching with open mouth appreciation one got the impression of being on some illegal substance (NOT), where ever you were looking on stage, something very special was going on Pete Baron (drums) and Brian Hodgson (bass) kept everything tight, for the three men at the front Gerry Hogan on pedal steel guitar, Pete Wingfield piano & keyboards and Albert Lee electric, acoustic guitar and piano who between them rocked "The Runner" for two hours of simply stunning entertainment which made it one of the most memorable nights EVER at our little venue. Our thanks to the players, the audience and everyone who made it possible.
Barry Middleton ~ Keeping Music Live!!! ~ http://www.therunninghorse.ukpub.net
DR FEELGOOD ~ BLACK HORSE, NETTLEHAM (Nov 2003)
Photo ~ Mississippi Bill
Some 30 years ago Dr Feelgood, a band playing high energy harp led rhythm'n'blues were playing the London pub rock circuit. Their raw sound and energetic live performances provided inspiration to embryonic punk bands such as The Clash. They themselves went on to national acclaim with a best selling live LP, 'Stupidity' and several hit singles including 'Milk & Alcohol'. Even as late as the 90's the band were ripping it up with founder member Lee Brilleaux fronting the band at venues such as the Drill Hall and the castle in Lincoln. Sadly Lee died of cancer in 1994 and many perhaps thought that Dr Feelgood would too, but the three members of Lee's final band, guitarist Steve Walwyn and the rhythm section Phil Mitchell (bass) and Kevin Morris (drums) who worked with Lee for many years decided to keep the Feelgood name alive. The band continued to be a very popular live act at festivals and theatres throughout the land. Pete Gage took the place of Lee following his untimely departure for a while, before the band recruited a little known frontman Robert Kane from the 90's Animals line up. Kane had quickly caught the eye with his dynamic live performances with The Animals, and his style fits that which the Feelgoods have become renowned for over the years. The band have been fairly regular visitors to our area, headlining at the Skegness Rock & Blues Festival and bringing their 'Naughty Rhythms' tour to the Palace Theatre in Newark, but the Black Horse at Nettleham where the band appeared last Wednesday night must be the smallest venue that the band have appeared at in Lincolnshire, certainly for many years.
The gig which was effectively sold out months in advance, shows that a small but well supported village venue can attract bands of the calibre of Dr Feelgood. The band selected a set list previously performed in Switzerland for the Black Horse concert. It included numbers from their 70's heyday such as 'Roxette', 'Milk & Alcohol' and 'Baby Jane' that most in the audience would be familiar with. The band's roots are very much in rhythm'n'blues, and songs such as 'Don't Start Me To Talkin', 'Help Me' and the Chuck Berry song 'Nadine' which opened the second set showcased not only their influences, but also their ability to inject new life into these old favourites.
In Steve Walwyn, the Feelgood's have a guitar player of awesome ability, for 'Down By The Jetty Blues' the band left the floor allowing Steve an extended solo spot that bought the first set to a superb climax.
The ever moving Robert Kane gives the band a tremendous focal point, the audience never quite sure what he will do next, stage antics though restricted somewhat by the low ceiling included high kicks, hiding behind the bass player, occasional excursions into the audience and even an impromptu photo shoot (see photo!). He's a fine vocalist who does full justice to all the Feelgood classics too.
The band are a friendly bunch who enjoy talking to their audiences, and this engaging rapport was apparent right from the start of the concert. They seemed genuinely pleased by the audience's response when asked to participate with 'Back In The Night', the house was rockin' by then!
As well as classic oldies and blues classics the band also included the powerful Walwyn composition 'Instinct To Survive' in their second set. Following the final song 'Gimme One More Shot' the crowd gave the band a standing ovation, and following a mighty 'Feelgood' cheer the band were enticed back on stage for two encores, the first 'Mad Man Blues' once again featured some tremendous guitar work from Walwyn, they closed the highly memorable evening with 'See You Later, Alligator' and 'Tequila'. The policy of Tom and Clare who promote the music at the Black Horse is to just put artists on once no matter how good they are, only a few make a return visit, one suspects that one day Dr Feelgood may be back to the small Lincolnshire venue to thrill the audience once more, we'll just have to wait and see!
Alberta & Mississippi Bill
EMMA WILLIAMSON ~ SPALDING FOLK CLUB (1 Oct 2003)
Last week Emma Williamson, a relatively new name on the British folk scene made her Lincolnshire debut at Spalding Folk Club. It was good to see a fair sized audience had come along to support the gig, as sometimes when people are not familiar with an artist they do not turn out, many have missed excellent gigs because of this!
Emma's set featured mainly traditional material, such as 'The Golden Vanity' and 'When I Was A Fair Maid', performed acoustically with guitar accompaniment. She also includes some American songs such as Woody Guthrie's 'Pastures Of Plenty' in her live shows.
In addition to guitar, Emma plays keyboards on some numbers, including the bluesy and humorous 'Vicar Of Stiffkey' written by her husband Mike Barber, and 'The Miller & His Sons' which she first heard performed by fellow Norfolk artist Walter Pardon. Her sound on these numbers is reminiscent of another modern generation folk artist, Bill Jones.
Another song from the pen of Mike Barber stood out, inspired by a verse telling of how much seed needs to be sown to produce a good crop, 'One For The Rook, One For The Crow, One To Die & One To Grow' had a memorable sing-a-long chorus.
Many of the songs Emma performed at Spalding are included on her excellent debut CD 'Maids When You Were Young'. Over the coming years folk audiences are likely to see more of this talented performer from Norfolk at local venues and folk festivals, though she will be having a break later in the year and the first part of 2004 as she is expecting her second child. There is however another opportunity to see Emma in the county this month when she appears at the Half Moon in Alford as guest of the Alford Folk Club on Wednesday 15th October.
'Alberta & Mississippi Bill'
Bill Wyman & The Rhythm Kings ~ Lincoln Castle ~ Sun 22 Jun 2003
Last Sunday night, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings journeyed back from France to play a one off UK date in the beautiful setting of Lincoln Castle. Outdoor concerts at the castle nowadays have become quite sedate affairs, though one suspects that the night before when pop group Liberty X performed to a sell out audience of 4000 people things may have been a bit different! With picnic hampers, folding tables and garden chairs, a generation of people who perhaps once wallowed in mud, drunk scrumpy from gallon bottles and ran as fast as they could to get to the feet of their heroes are remarkably growing old gracefully! A percussion / horn group from the Nottingham area were a support act with a difference, playing a variety of Samba and reggae rhythms, one could fail to be impressed by their co-ordination, concentration and effort whilst playing and they even brought some late evening sunshine to the castle ramparts!
A fair sized crowd (though one suspects considerably less than the previous night), had gathered by the time former Stone Bill Wyman and his supremely talented band took to the stage. Many in the audience had probably never heard of Mike Sanchez before, by the end of the evening this remarkable performer had the crowd buzzing with his deft keyboard work and expressive vocals. Mike has plied his trade round the blues circuit for many years with The Big Town Playboys and later his own band and as a solo artist. For the closing number of the band's excellent set 'Let Me Tell You A Secret' Mike left the stage, performing the closing part of the song whilst circulating through the audience in front of the stage, even laying down next to Alberta to 'tell her his secret'!
In between the Rhythm Kings, an apt name indeed, treated us to some great music including 'Jump Jive & Wail' and 'Kiddio' which featured a superb duet from Sanchez and vocalist Beverley Skeete. The band play a variety of music that ranges between swing, rock'n'roll and blues. For the Chicago blues number, 'Down At The Bottom', a Willie Dixon song that is not covered too often, sax player Frank Mead swapped his main instrument for a harmonica for this number. Some of the shows many highlights included a superb rendition of 'Hit The Road Jack', two Jackie Wilson songs and their tribute to Lonnie Donegan who as Bill said in his introduction to 'Mule Skinner Blues' was such an influence for musicians such as the Stones growing up in the late 50's.
The 10 piece band features three guitarists, Wyman's long time friend Terry Taylor who previously worked with Tucky Buzzard and The Arrows, Andy Fairweather Low who is a member of Eric Clapton's band and Albert Lee, the highly respected guitarist who has both a rock and country pedigree, that includes working with Eric Clapton and Emmylou Harris. Other members of Rhythm Kings are keyboard player Chris Stainton, Graham Broad (percussion), Nick Payn (sax, flute and harmonica).
Bill Wyman remains largely in the background, obviously enjoying the fun of playing with such a talented crew of musicians, though he did step forward to take the vocals on 'You Never Can Tell'.
The Rhythm Kings were given a great reception at the end of the evening, which had fortunately remained dry and warm, despite the forecast of approaching storms, which later deposited an inch of rain on parts of Lincolnshire. The band returned to treat the audience to a three song encore which included 'Rock & Roll All Night Long' which featured Albert Lee on vocals and ended with 'Chantilly Lace' featuring Mike Sanchez of telephone, keyboard and vocals. Midsummer Magic!
© Alberta & Missisippi Bill
Kent DuChaine ~ The Farm, Bank Farm, Chapel St Leonards ~ Wed 18 Jun 2003
If you take the Anderby Road out of Chapel St Leonards, and follow the sea bank, you will come to one of the county's newest venues, The Farm at Bank Farm, where a variety of live music is planned over the coming months. There will be a mix of musical styles catered for, including folk and roots, acoustic and electric blues and jazz. Last Wednesday The Farm's Folk, Roots & Blues Club which will meet fortnightly was launched with a double bill featuring local blues duo Buck & Gill and the popular American bluesman Kent DuChaine. Buck & Gill opened the evening with a selection of covers including soul, blues, folk and country numbers and original songs. Stand out songs included 'Dock Of The Bay' and 'My Girl' which singer Gill's voice was particularly suited for and an original song about Buck & Gill's old band. Kent DuChaine has over the years become a big attraction wherever he plays, a whole hearted performer who over the years has with his battered steel guitar nicknamed 'Leadbessie' has certainly earnt the tag 'Road Warrior'. By the time Kent took to the stage, the restaurant where this gig was staged was comfortably full and extra chairs had to be bought in to ensure everyone could sit and enjoy Kent's performance. As ever Kent gave his audience good value, with a show lasting some two hours overall. A artist whose blues roots go right back to seeing and being inspired by blues greats such as Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon in the 70's, touring with the old bluesman Johnny Shines who decades before had toured with Robert Johnson, Kent lives and breathes the blues. As well as playing many of the old blues numbers Kent has also written many of his own songs such as which develop the blues theme. He treated the audience at The Farm to fine versions of classic blues songs including Robert Johnson's 'Come Into My Kitchen', Willie Dixon's 'Little Red Rooster' (for which Kent called on the audience to add to sound of barking dogs and howling hounds) and Bukka White's 'Aberdeen Mississippi Blues' which features some very fast fretboard work. Songs from DuChaine's own repertoire included the haunting blues number '16 Gauge Steel' which tells the story of Kent's old friend Johnny Shines and 'Edgemont Station'. In between Kent related stories of times spent with the old bluesmen and on the road. Kent closed his show with two old Gospel songs, 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' and his grandmothers' favourite 'When The Saints Go Marching In', the audience joining in with gusto! There's lots more planned at The Farm over the coming months including an appearance by another top acoustic blues artist, Adrian Byron Burns on Wed 9th July.
Look out for details of future gigs here in our weekly column.
© Alberta & Missisippi Bill
Eco Fest 2003, Asterby, Lincs. ~ Sat 14 Jun
Over the years the Ecofest has become a popular annual event on the Lincolnshire music calendar, for the second year in a row the festival was blessed by dry weather, and often hot sun. A family event, attended by those who perhaps had enjoyed music festivals back in the 60's and 70's, to those who were just a twinkle in their parent's eye in the 20th century when the pop festival phenomena was first recorded in history. People not only enjoyed the music, there were a number of craft stalls and workshops where you could learn to drum or children could learn to samba dance or create games. All this on a Lincolnshire hillside which provided a wonderful panoramic view of the county for miles around, surely no one attending could fail to be moved in some way by that glorious view!
As we arrived Lincolnshire folk rock trio Jack In The Green were playing a lively set of songs with a Celtic feel, including 'The Star Of County Down' on the main stage. The band have recently undergone a line up change, but its good to report the band are most definitely back on the scene. Founder members Byron Woodley-Maund (djembe / darabuka) and Mel Oyston (guitar / fiddle / mandolin and vocals) are joined by Paul Stone (guitar), since this change their set has developed a heavier Celtic sound that went down well with the festival audience.
Across in the marquee the Alford Music Sluts were playing a selection of contemporary songs, which drifted along on the still afternoon air to those enjoying the sunshine outside.
After enjoying a tasty veggie curry from the Big T-Pot Cafe we once again enjoyed the lively Cajun influenced songs of Lancashire festival favourites Streetworthy who also played at last year's Ecofest. The four piece band feature musicians playing accordion, guitar, mandolin, double bass, washboard and other percussion. Their goodtime mix of Cajun, rockabilly and skiffle had people up dancing, later they dedicated the Richard Thompson song 'Two Left Feet' to those less eager to dance.
The sounds of Lincoln performer Norbert Blocker, who was also acting as compere drifted from marquee. His early evening set taking an increasingly bluesy tone included songs such as 'Mustang Sally' and 'Take Me To The River'.
With the sun beginning its descent, the next band were getting ready to take the stage. The keyboard player caught our attention whilst setting up his instruments with some deft playing which even included a classical piece. The Asylum Seekers, an unknown act to us had travelled down from York, as had quite a few of their fans. The four piece band played a set of original songs, including 'Another Dream' which opened their well received set and the catchy 'Just Like A Star' which features on the soundtrack of a film by Kevin Liam Curran, 'Stranded on Cloud 9'. For their set at the Ecofest the band played in a striped down 4 piece line up, as the band's main guitarist Andy couldn't make the gig, Dirk taking over the electric as well as acoustic guitar and vocals for the night. Their set impressed us, certainly worth seeing if you enjoy rock with a melodic edge.
As the sun dipped behind the hills, the mid summer's night had a deceptive chill in the air as Slack Alice took to the stage. Introduced enthusiastically by Norman Blocker now attired as a alien spaceman in a silver suit the final band of the night took the stage. Singer Cliff saying what a great festival it was as the band opened their set, 'pity they don't hold it in summer' he joked! Like the Asylum Seekers, Slack Alice had several changes to their usual line up, new bass player Pietro's wife was expecting a baby, so Bert who depped earlier in the year stood in at very short notice, Foxy the band's popular roadie who steps up to play bass in some numbers was recuperating after a spell in hospital and drummer Ian Fletcher was playing his first gig with the band. Opening with ZZ Top's 'Gimme Some Lovin', the band played a mixture of covers and original songs. Featuring the twin guitars of Chris Preston who plays slide on some numbers and Colin Redmond, the band quickly drew a large audience towards the main stage which was now lit by spotlights which took affect as an abnormally large moon rose to replace the disappearing sun in the night sky. Highlights of the band's set included the more acoustic 'Get Your Shoes On', an original song written in true old blues style where lyrics were full of innuendo, and features Cliff on acoustic guitar and Colin on 'finger-plucking' banjo and 'Piece Of My Heart'. Cliff introduced the song, recalling a festival of a bygone age, when Janis Joplin performed it at Monterey way back in 1967. Original songs included 'Blues Machine', 'The Way Women Are Made' and 'Too Young To Sing The Blues' the story of Slack Alice, whilst others in the 70's made the big time, Stocker and the first incarnation of Slack Alice were a casualty of the fickle music scene. On night's like last Saturday whilst rock and roll stardom may have its attractions, philosophically one can look and say who is the richer, the superstar in his walled mansion, or those gigging in this beautiful setting on the Lincolnshire Wolds, few bands have had that privilege! Slack Alice closed their set with a great version of Led Zep's 'Rock'n'Roll', before being encouraged back on stage by the large audience for an encore, which due to a lack of rehearsal time was a reprise of 'Gimme Some Lovin'.
Then it was time for the fireshow, a procession of samba drummers, torch bearers and fire artists swinging flaming balls on chains behind which came a many legged pantomime style dragon. The parade circled the arena, parting the crowd as it passed towards the impressive wicker dragon structure in the centre. The structure once torched quickly flared up, the encircling crowd enjoying the sudden warmth that the fire provided. So for us the Ecofest was over for another year, but those camping for the weekend still had plenty of music to enjoy on Sunday. As we drove back along the deserted country lanes away from the festival, the fireshow could clearly be seen on the now distant hillside, marking the location of the friendly little festival so brilliantly organised by Suzi, Mel and The Wolds Collective with support from the local Arts Development worker, SoundLincs, environmental services and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.
© Alberta & Missisippi Bill
22-20's Feature (June 2003)
Over the years we have listed and watched many acts at local venues in our weekly column. Many visiting acts are known both nationally and internationally, whilst others are local bands who ply their trade round the area's pubs. In amongst our listings are many young musicians and bands who are hoping that one day they will be playing on larger stages, all too often dreams never materialise fading in the harsh light of day. Lincolnshire is regarded by many as a musical backwater, with little hope for the county's bands ever being famous. Positive feedback often helps to spur people on, and its encouraging to learn of one Lincolnshire musician who many may first of heard about via Folk, Blues & Beyond, and we ourselves heard about through the local music grapevine, who is actually breaking onto a national and international scene. Martin Trimble first came to our attention playing in the young band Crossfire, later in Martin Trimble and Outside Help and finally the Martin Trimble Band. The young blues guitarist and singer began to make an impact on the relatively unheralded British blues scene, playing with his own band and jamming with other band's at venues as diverse as Lincoln's Grafton House and Ronnie Scott's in Birmingham. At this time he could still be found on occasions playing solo or with fellow musician Glen Bartup at venues such as Old Nicks Tavern in Horncastle, and the Blue Bell at Tattershall Thorpe.
Over the past 12 months or so Martin's name hasn't been cropping up in our column, and local venues haven't been graced by his sublime guitar skills. Rumours of record deals and world travel began to circulate, eventually a new band the 22-20's emerged fronted by Martin. Touted as "tip for the top" by NME, this band is moving in different circles already from Martin's previous bands. They undertook a major UK tour this spring, the closest the band came to our area was an appearance at the Metropolis Lounge in Peterborough last month. In April the band played at the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival in the Californian desert, on the Mohave stage. Like Glastonbury this festival has a mainstage and other fringe stages, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and The White Stripes headlined on the mainstage. The 22-20's return to the States early in June to play at the Field Day festival headlined by Radiohead in New York on Saturday June 7th following a couple of shows in Philadelphia and New Jersey.
2003 saw the band releasing their debut single in April, available only in vinyl format. Featuring two Trimble compositions, the roots of the 'A' side 'Such A Fool' clearly come from the blues though much more rocky than one might expect. The 'B' side 'Baby You're Not In Love' is much more acoustic, and a pedal steel guitar interweaves with the other instruments giving the song a quite unexpected country feel. The single was released as a limited issue of just 1000 copies, and is already a collectors item, those wishing to purchase a piece of Lincolnshire music history who missed its release may find a copy via ebay. A little more information is available on the band's website at: http://www.the22-20s.com.
Hopefully the 22-20's will be the first of many modern generation bands to emerge from the Lincolnshire music scene!
© Alberta & Missisippi Bill
Ally Sloper's Half Holiday ~ Village Hall, Tattershall ~ Sat 3 May 2003
Over the past 20 years the Lincolnshire Rural & Community Touring Scheme has brought a variety of professional shows and musicians to the area. Held mainly in village halls, these events which are organised by local community groups provide a potential fund raising opportunity for these halls which are at the heart of rural communities and a chance for audiences to see some wonderful acts close to home. Last Saturday night saw the first such event at Tattershall Village Hall with over 70 people enjoying 'Ally Sloper's Half Holiday'.
We're sure few in the audience knew what to expect, the one man show based on an old comic strip character being the unlikely storyline. Set around the year 1897, when the country was celebrating Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, Ally Sloper, a larger than life comic strip character played by Chris Harris took the audience on a trip through the upper echelons of British Society.
Soon he had the audience almost believing that Queen Victoria would be visiting Tattershall Village Hall later that evening, practising the assembled 'rent a crowd' to stand up, salute or curtsey and one member of the audience to give up her chosen seat for Her Majesty in preparation for the momentous occasion when Ally Sloper finally took his recognised position in British Society and royalty came to Tattershall.
Turning the pages in the giant comic set up on stage, Ally dressed in a black and white dress suit introduced us to the monocled Duke Snook, the dog Snaffler who appeared somewhere in every cartoon strip and other characters, in the setting of an Art Gallery.
Then whipping off his suit to reveal racing silks it was off to Ascot for the races. Ally being a character who both wanted to move within these society circles yet also to poke fun of it at the same time, put a certain emphasis on the invisible 'R' in Ascot. Audience participation adds an extra dimension to shows like this and Ally chose a man from the table in front of the stage to provide the horse racing sound effects for the race, using two half coconut shells.
A turn of the pages, took the audience the short distance across Royal Berkshire to the Henley Regatta, Snaffler living up to his name appeared on the well painted backdrop snaffling a chicken leg from the picnic! Sloper attired in a striped blazer with big buttons emblazoned with 'AS' brought out the picnic cloth spread with plates of food, and bottles of Bass.
Throughout the first half, Ally described etiquette and related stories mixed with copious amounts of humour and a brilliant adaptation of the old song 'With a Knapsack on My Back' complete with bicycle bell and hooters that had everyone in the audience in fits of laughter.
This was a show with great appeal, the younger members of the audience were enjoying the show as much as the older members, though perhaps each laughing at different things, straight humour and innuendo a plenty, brilliantly portrayed by a superb actor, whose fast repartee left you feeling that however many times you saw the show, a new joke or subtle innuendo would jump out at every occasion.
Free light refreshments were provided by the hard working village hall committee at half time, though Queen Victoria still hadn't made her appearance.
Then 'she' appeared, resplendent in black dress, hurried salutes and curtseys from her Tattershall subjects before she took the stage making a speech extolling the virtues of Ally Sloper. Sloper re-emerged from the black dress and wig as the pages of the cartoon strip turned again, revealing a parade, Ally watching from a balcony bedecked with the Union flag, Snaffler peering over the balustrade at the sight of the Empire's subjects marching in honour of the monarch.
Another turn of the page drew the interesting comparison between fox hunting and war, each having helpless victims be they the fox or innocent foreign women and children butchered in the cause of sport or the empire. Neither thought to have feelings or being able to feel pain by the all conquering aristocracy. To reinforce this powerful picture of war, Ally mimed a soldier leaving his lover to set off for war, a strong yet humorous image.
Sloper decided that the show's grand finale must go ahead, despite the absence of the esteemed guest, the real Queen Victoria! The final turn of the page revealed a stage, the audience once again encouraged to join in with 'Waters Of India' a tongue in cheek song about the British Empire. Ally, now resplendent in robes similar to those that in future years would adorn entertainers such as Freddie Mercury of the rock group Queen, took his final bows to great applause.
The undoubted success of this first show due to the efforts of the hard working committee, a tremendous performance by a superb entertainer and the support of both local and travelling audience heralds more exciting theatrical and music shows being brought to Tattershall in the future.
Chris himself was particularly proud to be the first act to appear at Tattershall as part of the rural and community touring scheme. One sad aspect, not known at the time was that he was also the last act to appear at the old North Kyme Village Hall, which was badly damaged by fire last weekend, a great loss to the local community there.
© Alberta & Missisippi Bill
Stringybark McDowell -The Hope Tavern; Sunday 11th May 2003
Nestling at the foot of the Lincolnshire Wolds midway between Lincoln and Grimsby, The Hope Tavern is a new venue on the burgeoning UK blues music scene. Landlord Graeme Sellers is a real blues fanatic, and regulars and diners at his establishment are used to the gentle strains of BB King and Peter Green accompanying their cooked lunch and hand-pulled ales.
Graeme is starting up a monthly live blues session, and the inaugural event was launched by Aussie Bluesman - Stringybark McDowell (aka Kenny Terrington). Stringy (to his friends) has been building up a solid reputation in the UK blues clubs over the last few months, not least due to his collection of homemade instruments, and his cutting Aussie humour. Stringy's musical influences include most of the late 19th and early 20th century blues masters, including Mississippi Fred McDowell whose name he has 'borrowed'.
Amongst his selection of guitars is the legendary Fence-O-Paling-O-Caster, made literally from an old fence post! In recent years, he fronted the Aussie band "Muddy Puddles", who carved a unique niche for themselves in rural Australia with their jug-junk band attitude to the blues.
In this neck of Lincolnshire the afternoon music session seems to be gaining ground, so at the stroke of 4pm Stringy armed with his Steel Resonator guitar, and 14" bass-drum "Doof-Doof", launched into the opening number of the opening show "Mississippi John Made me Cry" a self-penned tribute to Mississippi John Hurt. Next up was "Fred's Worried Life Blues" from his hero Mississippi Fred McDowell. A slower ballad from Taj Mahal followed, the lovely Corrina with it's poignant lyrics and melodic chord changes. At this point, Stringy upped the tempo slightly with Bukka White's "Fixin' to Die" which came complete with a Leadbelly middle 8 (in the form of "Black Betty" and "Pick a Bale uh Cotton"). Stringy's frantic delivery of this tune was almost acid-death blues, but a clever compilation nonetheless, and well delivered. Underneath Stringy's acerbic wit and good-natured banter, there is a slide player of considerable ability, with a rasping vocal delivery.
If the locals didn't know what to make of this Rasta-haired, tattooed, blues-singing Aussie, then they certainly warmed to him after that one! Another original tune followed in the form of "Traveling Blues" and then it was straight down to some Tom Waits material with an excellent version of "Black Wings". For this one, Stringy swapped the resonator for a lovely white semi-acoustic Gretsch guitar. The soft and warm tones of the guitar counter pointing the dark and brooding lyrics of the song. Another les-than-cheerful ditty followed, "St James Infirmary", but this was immediately balanced by the delightful "Delia" from Blind Willie McTell.
Another guitar change followed, to the box-like Fence-O-Paling-O-Caster, on which Stringy played a spirited version of John Lee Hookers "No More Doggin", followed in quick succession by Fred McDowell's "Shake 'Em on Down" and Muddy Water's 'lost' classic "Country Blues"
Before taking a break, Stringy introduced us to another homemade instrument, a one-stringed box-like device which when struck, produced a droning Aboriginal sound. The song was introduced as Techno Music, and was another Stringy original entitled "Kylie Monogue's Gonna Have My Babies". This was a gem of a number. Very funny lyrics delivered tongue-in-cheek, complete with techno backing from the one-stringed thing!
The second set saw Stringy back with the Steel Resonator for Bob Dylan's "Blind Willie McTell", followed by "The Prodigal Son (That's No Way to Get Along)" from Reverend Robert Wilkins. Next up was another Stringy original "Preaching Blues" with a tip of the hat to both Robert Johnson and Son House. Stringy's slide ranged over the entire fret board during this excellent tune. A contemporary song was next from Texan Chris Whitley, entitled "Living With The Law", and then it time to strap on the unique Fence-O-Paling-O-Caster for a spirited version of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues", followed by "Going Out West" from Tom Waits.
Stringy then introduced us to his alter ego, the heavy metal guru "Axel Baconfat" and proceeded to give us a rock-and-roll pastiche, or a little heavy-metal blues in the vein of Captain Beefheart! Another very funny song.
It was then back to the white Gretsch and the serious stuff, with Bukka White's "Everyday Mississippi" followed by "Man's Too Strong" from Mark Knopfler, and then a third from Tom Waits, this time "Gun Street Girl".
Nobody can accuse Stringy of doing things in half measure, and his assured and entertaining (and very long) set was received rapturously by the audience. A portent of good things to come, but in the meantime Stringy had to find a couple of encores, which he did in the form of the well-covered "One Room Country Shack" from Mercy Dee Walton and a very funny version of "Shave 'Em Dry" from the bawdy Lucille Bogan, during which Stringy sang both the male and female parts (with suitable sound effects!).
This had been an afternoon of first class blues playing and singing from an Aussie practitioner with more than a good grasp of blues history and delivery.
A good mix of classic blues and humour interspersed with some great slide playing. On this showing, the monthly blues sessions will be eagerly anticipated by local blues and roots fans. Roll on the next one!
© Mike Mager
It's always a risky business when an established R&B Club decides to push the boat out and organise its own Festival, but this was a risk that paid off for organisers Kath Whinyates & Ralph Wareing from the renowned Guisborough R&B Club. The inaugural Festival took place on Sunday 4th May 2003, at the local football club, and between 150 to 200 local (and not so local) R&B fans responded magnificently to the invitation and turned up to witness what is hoped to be the first of an on-going and annual event.
Six bands featured in the main hall, and there was also a smaller acoustic stage in a separate room, for the benefit of pro and amateur acoustic musicians, in a relaxed workshop-style setting. There was even a busker, who set up outside to entertain the punters who had wandered out in search of food, fresh air - or whatever, in the form of The Hoochie Coochie Man(cunian).
The honour of opening the afternoon fell to local band the Smoking Spitfires, a 10 piece (featuring 3-piece brass section), who belted out some funky tunes in the vein of Dr John and Van Morrison. They brought along a nice New Orleans carnival flavour to get the crowd into the mood.
Next up were the redoubtable Harpbreakers, a Manchester-based 4 piece, led by Nigel 'The Duke" Dunn on harp and vocals. They tore into a series of frenetic harp-led swinging jump-jive tunes including a great version of BB King's "Rock me Baby", as well as several original tunes such as "Ready Freddy Go", a Freddy King tribute that included some inspired fretwork from guitarist Tony Roach. Showboating and gymnastics were the order of the day, as Tony, Nigel and string bassist Andy Sykes took to the dance floor and demonstrated how to play the blues whilst on the move - whilst on your knees, and whilst doing unspeakable things with the string bass. We even had a somersault from an obviously fit 'Duke". More original tunes in similar vein followed, including "If You Love Me So Much - Why do you want to Change Me?", complete with some impressive George Benson-style octave guitar picking, and "Think" a full bore 12-bar groove that got the dancers onto the floor. The Harpbreakers put on an uncompromising show, backed up with excellent musical ability and driving rhythm from drummer 'Big Vern' Seymour. Just the sort of seasoned act to liven up the proceedings. They deserve a wider audience!
Trafficker led by young guitarist Tommy Allen was the next featured act, and it was a pleasure to see Sam Kelly (award winning drummer) take to the drum stool. An assured set followed, with Tommy going from strength to strength in both the vocal and guitar playing camps. This young man is highly regarded (although his keyboard player Paul 'Dave' Jobson at just 20 tender years of age - pipped him in the youth stakes!). Bass player Grant Tunbridge completed the line-up. Tommy has an impressive musical pedigree, having played with both Marcus Malone and Nicky Moore Blues Corporation for many years, as well as recording and performing with Sugababes.
This very diverse musical apprenticeship has given Tommy a very individual guitar style, ranging from rock-oriented to mellow blues, to the contemporary. Coupled with his burgeoning song-writing ability, this makes for a very potent mix. The band's set featured several original tracks from their new release "Natures' Most Wanted", including the shuffle-based "Texas Love" with a lovely walking bass-line from Grant. "Going Crazy" is a contemporary funk-fuelled tune, and "When Love has Gone" is a slow building ballad in an almost Bryan Adams-style. A real tour de force with some excellent guitar from Tommy and some superb harmonies from the band. "Talk To Me Baby" was an Elmore James inspired tune, and one that really got the dancers moving. Tommy managed to wring just about every flavour of the blues out of his Fender Twin and Strat.
With young talent coming through of this calibre, the future of live R&B in this country is in great shape!
Errol Linton's Blues Vibe were next onto the stage, and I thought for one moment that drummer Sam Kelly had forgotten that his band had finished playing. It soon became clear that we were going to be treated to another percussion Master Class. Although it has to be said that Errol employed the considerable talents of a second percussion player on a variety of bongos, spanners, screwdrivers, washboards and just about anything else that could produce an interesting sound. (It's the fist time I've ever witnessed a spanner solo get a standing ovation!). Errol plays an eclectic mix of Chicago shuffle and Kingston skank, with a healthy dose of Brixton blues thrown in for good measure. Guitar player Adam Blake (on Gibson SG) was always complementary, never over the top, and keyboard player Dom Pipkin kept the arrangements rocking along nicely with some tasteful and driving ivory tickling.
Errol is an engaging performer and a first class harp player and vocalist, and very under-rated. His many years of busking around the London underground are now paying healthy dividends. He is also flexing his song writing muscles on the latest release "Roots Stew". Many songs in tonight's set were from this release, including Willie Dixon's "Too Many Cooks", "Fool for Love" a rocking little tune, "Skank Easy", an instrumental with dub overtones and more than a hint of Errol's Kingston roots. Other songs in the set included "The Early Morning Blues" with its tempo change from Latin to swing and back again. Errol Linton's Blues Vibe is an extremely entertaining act covering a wide range of rhythms and genres. It's not hard to see why they are currently in such demand on the club and festival circuit.
The penultimate act of the show was Detroit-born Marcus Malone, and you could tell from the twin guitar sound-check that we were in for dose of rocking and funking blues. Complemented by guitarist Stuart Dixon, Moz Gamble on keyboard, bass player Jonathan Banks and drummer Chris Nugent, the band treated us to a goodly selection of tunes from Marcus' back catalogue including the releases "One More Time" and "Walking Shoes", and also from the new album "Blue Radio".
Marcus is a songwriter and vocalist of the highest order, and has been honing his craft since his younger days as an LA-based heavy metal icon (his first release "Marcus" is considered by many to be amongst the top ten most influential heavy-metal albums of all time!). He returned to his R&B roots in the 90's and now infuses his songs with a mix of gospel, metal and classic blues riffs.
The set list tonight included "Day I've Gone" with some blistering fretwork from Marcus and Stuart, the funky "Walking Shoes" and "Start Me Up Again". The heavy riffin' "Keep on Pushing" was next up, followed by the slower but still funky "Double D 51; Double Delight" (my wife's favourite track 51; can't think why!) and the straight ahead rock song "My Sweet Christine" with its Thin Lizzie inspired twin guitar-lickin' harmonies. Marcus cleverly broke up the tempo of the set with two lovely acoustic tunes, the ballad "Take it to Heart" and the funkier "Redline Blues". We were then back into the dancing groove with the slow builder "Walk Away", "This Heart's for Rent" and "Tell me Why". Three songs that saw the dancers take to the floor in considerable numbers. Marcus received a well-deserved ovation, and gave the crowd his encore number, the excellent "Blue Radio".
Marcus has spent a considerable part of his life honing his musical talents, and although he has been UK-based for a number of years, his early Detroit and LA influences continue to flavour his music. He brings a lot to the blues table, and boy doesn't that make the feast all the tastier for us punters.
Headline act Eugene 'Hideaway' Bridges took to the stage around 9pm and launched immediately into an instrumental swing number, just to loosen up both musicians and audience. "I'm a Bluesman" was followed in quick succession by "You're Gonna' Miss Me When I'm Gone", two very groove-some up tempo numbers that had the floor packed and gyrating. An original self-penned number from the new release "Jump for Joy" was next up, the excellent "I Got The Blues". Eugene then slowed the tempo for "I Got an Aching Heart", and the Sam Cooke inspired "I Just Can't Help Myself" and "I Will Always be a Part of You". "She Want to Move & Groove" from the "Born Blue" album was next, and was followed by "I Won't Be Your Fool No More", during which Eugene went walkabout into the audience, serenading several young ladies on the way.
Eugene was very ably aided by musicians Roger Coleman on 2nd guitar, Alan Savage on drums and Italian bassist Silvio Galasso (who also plays with the Todd Sharpville band). I wasn't clear whether these guys were Eugene's regular touring band, or had just got together for tonight's show, either way they sounded polished and rehearsed, and did an excellent job of backing Eugene. The dynamic was in all the right places, and they laid back and provided tasteful licks and rhythm when required.
The band finished the night as they'd started, with a lovely slow blues "It Hurt Me so Bad", and the brisker "If You Don't Love Me". The band and Eugene in particular received a standing ovation from a very appreciative audience, and played us out with "A Man Without a Country. Man Without a Home" also the title track of an earlier release.
Eugene's origins are in Louisiana, and he is also no stranger to the roadhouses of Texas. He is very much a blues performer from a traditional and ingrained background, and has successfully created his own space mid-way between swinging Chicago-style blues and the soul-infused music in the Otis Redding and Sam Cooke mould. I've absolutely no doubt that had Eugene been born 10 or 20 years earlier (he was born in 1963) that he would be just as famous and well known as both Otis and Sam. He is a man out of his time, but also very much of his time! But let's at least be thankful that Eugene continues to be very accessible to blues music fans, and isn't off into the rarefied strata of concert venues and auditoriums.
Once organiser Ralph had thanked each of the acts, the audience, the engineers and the crew, he and Kath were given a heartfelt ovation by all and sundry for their sterling efforts in setting up the festival, and for their enthusiastic and continuing support for live music. Hope to see you all again next year!
© Mike Mager
Danny Bryant's Redeyeband ~ Boston Blues Club ~ Wed. 7 May
Unpublished review from Folk, Blues & Beyond (14 May 2003) ~ Last week saw the debut appearance at Boston Blues Club by Danny Bryant's Redeyeband, another excellent band featuring some fine young musicians. Sadly only a small crowd turned out to witness a superb performance by the band that drew a standing ovation from a huge crowd at this year's Skegness Rock & Blues Festival. Fronted by Danny Bryant, a superb young guitar player with a powerful voice, the band played a mix of original songs including the spellbinding 'Watching You!' and classic blues rock covers, their version of 'Voodoo Chile' mesmerizing the audience. Encouraged by the enthusiasm of those present, they played two long encores. Only time will tell if those who missed this excellent gig will have another opportunity to see the Redeyeband in Boston!
© Alberta & Missisippi Bill
Stringybark McDowell ~ Hope Tavern, Holton Le Moor ~ Sun 10 May
Folk, Blues & Beyond:The landlord of The Hope Tavern at Holton Le Moor, a relatively small venue, is a fan of the blues, and last Sunday afternoon Australian acoustic bluesman StringyBark McDowell brought along an array of instruments including National steel and electric guitar, a square self made guitar, bass drum, and a unique one stringed instrument played with slide and stick, that produced a modern techno sound when played. The name StringyBark comes from an Australian gum tree, McDowell from the famous old bluesman Mississippi Fred McDowell, a major influence on StringyBark. An appreciative audience were treated to over two hours of classic blues and original songs, interspersed with some fine Aussie humour, making for a great afternoon's entertainment, look out for StringyBark, he'll be back! This week's gig takes place in the grounds of the inn, rather than the bar. Next month another amazing acoustic blues artist will be appearing at the venue, Ben Andrews, who has appeared at big blues venues and festivals around the world including Bishopstock, will be appearing at this friendly roadside pub on Sunday 8th June.
© Alberta & Missisippi Bill
BORN TO RUN BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN TRIBUTE BAND
THE BERKELEY HOTEL, SCUNTHORPE, SATURDAY 29 MARCH 2003
Nobody notices the wiry, dark haired, telecaster brandishing figure and his crew as they stand silently at the side of the stage awaiting the curtain call. Seconds later they shake hands, the band is on stage, the lights are up and the opening chords to "The Rising" ring out. The crowd cheer and whistle in appreciation of the rare chance to see an uncannily perfect version of their hero's latest offering performed live on stage and 'Born To Run', the only regularly gigging Bruce Springsteen covers band in the UK, is in action.
Half way through the set the audience have warmed to the occasion having experienced an energetic performance by five very accomplished musicians of some of Mr Springsteen's most famous efforts 51; Thunder Road, The River, Glory Days, Fire, Brilliant Disguise, Badlands, Hungry Heart and more. By the end of the night and the inevitable Born In The USA, Born To Run, Streets Of Philadelphia and I'm On Fire, the punters are well pleased and many are up dancing and clapping and shouting for more. Surprises thrown in during the night such as Murder Incorporated, Rendezvous and Stand On It, lesser known tracks but strong songs in their own right, were cheered by the Bruce 'experts' and yes all the girls were on the dance floor for Dancing In The Dark.
© 'Born To Run' Fan
CLAUDE BOURBON ~ TAP & SPILE, LINCOLN
FRI 28 FEB 2003
Many pubs around the area currently put live music on regularly, though with the Labour government reviewing live music licensing laws the future of live music at these venues is very uncertain. One venue where live music may soon disappear if the new licensing laws are brought into force is the Tap & Spile in Lincoln. Last Friday French born blues musician Claude Bourbon was playing his brand of acoustic blues at the Hungate pub. Arriving sometime after 9pm, the pub was packed with a mixture of fans who had come along like us especially to see Claude playing, those who regularly go along to enjoy the music on Friday nights, and those just out for a few drinks. As so often seems to happen, pubs have good viewing areas or separate function rooms which would seem to make ideal live music venues aren't interested in putting music on whilst smaller pubs where viewing is limited due to the layout and size, such as Lincoln's Tap & Spile are dedicated to putting music on for people to enjoy. With many people in the pub not able to see, there was some background noise, though those who arrived at the pub early enough to congregate in the half of the bar where Claude could be viewed from were certainly enjoying both his music and his fine guitar style. During his two sets Claude play a mixture of original songs and classic old blues numbers such as 'Mind Your Own Business' and 'Death Don't Have No Mercy' in his own style. At the end of the evening it was soon apparent just how many people in the pub had really enjoyed Bourbon's music, with a lot stopping to chat with him and purchase a CD. Many musicians are understandably very concerned about the proposed new licensing laws, which will almost certainly stop nights such as these at many of the country's smaller venues which provide the 'bread and butter' gigs where people can both see talented musicians such as Claude Bourbon and of course his British counterparts for free and purchase merchandise that helps keep musicians on the road. Its often forgotten that bigger name artists first 'cut their teeth' in the music scene at pubs such as the Tap and Spile, and the lose of these venues will have a major impact on the British music scene which is already losing its standing on the world stage. Hopefully many music fans have already expressed their concerns by writing to their local MP's, you can also sign the on-line petition which can be accessed via the Musicians Union website at http://www.musiciansunion.org.uk, don't leave it until its too late or in the not too distant future our Folk, Blues & Beyond column will be a lot shorter! If you haven't seen Claude Bourbon yet, there is another opportunity to see him playing in our area again this week when he appears in Boston.
SKEGNESS ROCK & BLUES FESTIVAL ~ BUTLINS FUNCOAST WORLD, SKEGNESS
FRI 31 JAN - SUN 2 FEB 2003
Firstly we'll take a look at the first two days of the fourth Skegness Rock and Blues Festival which took place last weekend at Butlins Funcoast World Centre. Earlier in the year than the past festivals, which took place in March, the January date meant that many of the audience face long and arduous journeys to Lincolnshire, one couple we spoke to had taken six and a half hours to travel from the West Midlands, with many fans from Newcastle, Scotland, Lancashire and other areas, no doubt others had even longer trips. Was it all worth it, certainly everyone we spoke to had had a great weekend, with an excellent line up of bands, an opportunity to enjoy a few drinks with friends old and new, with a good choice of well prepared food for those booking half-board, and of course a warm Butlins welcome.
There were one of two changes from the originally announced programme, though not due to the weather, with Stan Webb's Chicken Shack, and local Skegness band The Melt who have impressed at the last two festivals not appearing on the revised bill.
For us the weekend kicked off in the resort's Centre Stage venue, with The Nimmo Brothers featuring for possibly the last time together as The Nimmo Brothers band Scottish brothers Alan and Stevie Nimmo on guitars, former Hoax drummer Dave Rayburn who is now based in Lincolnshire and bass player Lindsey Coulson well known to local blues audiences for his work with the Walter Harpman Band.
From the opening number 'Black Cat Bone' the audience who had managed arrive witnessed the superb twin guitar approach that the band are famed for, with Alan and Stevie taking it in turns to display their breathtaking ability on both original songs and fine cover versions. Voted blues rock band of the year 2002 by readers of 'Blues In Britain' magazine, the Nimmos have become one of the top attractions on the British blues circuit, indeed two women we spoke to had travelled down from Newcastle for the weekend after seeing that the band were playing. We understand that that Stevie is going to take time out for university studies, though Alan will continue playing, their performance here will leave a lasting memory for those lucky enough to see the band in action.
The presence of the Nimmos as an opening act must leave a feeling of trepidation for bands following, especially when their music is both totally original and does not conform strictly to one genre. Amor are one such band, rock based with blues tones and samples are led by another former Hoax musician, guitarist Jon Amor. Like The Hoax, Amor's music explores the boundaries of rock and blues, by the end of the band's live set which featured songs from both their debut album 'Amor' including the outstanding 'Man Of Steel', and their new CD 'Even After That', the audience had warmed to the Amor groove.
The final act of the evening The Blues Band are a great favourite with many, though not all blues fans. By now many late arrivals had swelled the audience in Centre Stage with many of the expectant crowd gathering at the from of the stage. As always the band didn't disappoint, playing a mix of classic blues and original songs such as 'Green Stuff', with plenty of great guitar work from Dave Kelly and Tom McGuiness, excellent harmonica and vocals from the ever expressive Paul Jones and solid backing from Gary Fletcher (bass) and ex-Family drummer Rob Townsend. With snow falling once again the hour was late as we returned to our chalet.
Other commitments meant that we missed the solo unplugged spot by Dave Kelly at Saturday lunchtime and some of Mick Abraham's acoustic set. Mick and the bass player from Blodwyn Pig were in full swing as we found a spot of the floor near the front, the set being well received by the audience slowly coming round from the previous night.
Following Mick's acoustic set Blodwyn Pig for which Abrahams swaps acoustic guitar for electric and added a drummer upped the tempo with their rocking blues numbers, including original songs such as 'Lies'.
One of the bands who brought blues to the attention of many in the audience were the Animals, The Animals and Friends include two members of that ground breaking Newcastle pop act, founder member drummer John Steel and keyboard player Dave Rowberry who replaced Alan Price. They are joined by vocalist and guitarist ex-Mindbender Peter Barton (who also has much to do with the organisation of the Skegness Rock and Blues Festival), his vocals being well suited to the Animals repertoire, guitarist John Williamson who many in the area will recall played with Skeleton Crew and bass player Jim Rodford (ex Argent and The Kinks). Plenty here for the audience to sing along to including of course 'Don't Let Me Misunderstood' and 'House Of The Rising Sun'!
Len Tuckey's Legend featuring former Suzi Quatro guitarist brought the afternoon session to a close with some rocking covers.
By 7.30pm the Centre Stage was packed once again for the opening act of the evening, Mickey Moody and Paul Williams with Blue Thunder. Moody best known for his work with Whitesnake previously worked with Williams in the late 60's early 70's band Juicy Lucy. Plenty for guitar fans to enjoy here!
Next up were Dr Feelgood whose high energy set bought a standing ovation from the capacity crowd. Now fronted by the never still vocalist and harmonica player Robert Kane, they whipped through a set of old Feelgood favourites such as 'Down By The Jetty', 'Down At The Doctors' and of course 'Milk & Acholol'. Higher than high spots included Steve Walwyn's awesome guitar solo in 'Down By The Jetty Blues' and 'Mad Man Blues'.
John Coglan's Quo featuring the original Status Quo drummer and a collective of musicians who both look and sound very similar to band who they were all fans of in the 70's. All songs played come from the pre-1978 era, as well as many of the classic hits they also included album tracks such as 'Spinning Wheel Blues' and the 'live' favourite 'Roadhouse Blues' in their set.
The final act of the evening Otis Grand took the stage around midnight, the audience had thinned a little by this time as the many Feelgood fans had headed for the 'Reds' venue. Each of the acts appearing at the festival played once in both venues, so if you sat around long enough, you could see all the bands without moving to far!
Otis Grand is one of Britain's top guitarists, so far his only Lincolnshire appearances have been at the Skegness festivals in the late 90's and this year. The band currently features soulful American singer Jimmy Thomas backed by keyboards, double bass and a brass section, with Otis they play the blues very much in the American big blues band mould and many in the audience come to the front to dance to the swinging blues they played. Otis returns to the region this spring with the American Festival Of The Blues II, appearing at the Corn Exchange in Kings Lynn on April 15th and Scunthorpe Baths Hall on May 15th.
With time and space limited, we'll take a look next week at the final day of what was an excellent festival, and report on the return to the area of a top acoustic bluesman, who will be hosting a programme about the blues on BBC Radio 4 in March, a performer who has had a number one hit record and the first appearance in the UK by a storming rock band from Holland. You'll find out too, which young British blues guitarist received a standing ovation from the crowd, and how an act who regularly appear at the Axe & Cleaver fared. Finally don't miss next week's column to hear about the three acts that bought the festival to great close, of course you may already know the answers but we've a feeling that many of Lincolnshire's rock and blues fans may not have realised what a good time they could have had right on their doorstep, for around £40.00 self catering, based on four people sharing, for the whole weekend!
As promised last week, we'll take a look at the final day of the Skegness Rock and Blues Festival which took place over the first weekend in February.
Like Saturday, Sunday afternoon commenced with two fine acoustic blues acts, opening the afternoon session The Blues Shoes played mellow often jazzy numbers, a duo featuring sax player Snake Davis and guitarist and singer songwriter Jim Diamond who had a number one hit with 'I Should Have Known Better' in 1984. Jim was encouraged in his early career by British blues legend Alexis Korner, but only recently has returned to play at blues festivals such as Skegness, Jim commented on the great atmosphere of these festivals, and their set was very well received by the audience, many of whom queued afterwards to purchase the duo's CD.
Next up were American born bluesman Michael Roach who plays acoustic and steel guitars and British harmonica player Ian Briggs. Michael has appeared in the area before, though it is several years ago now. Their set featured both traditional and original blues and a number of spiritual songs, including some from his latest CD 'Cypress Grove'.
Have lulled the audience into a laid back Sunday afternoon mood, the unknown JR Band from Holland hit the stage like a tornado! Featuring guitarist JR, Jan Rijbroek who is a showman in true rock style with long flowing blond hair, awesome stage presence with vocals that could awaken the dead. This was only the band's second appearance in the UK, though Jan has worked in this country previously with Elvin Bishop. Their set featured many original songs taken from the band's two CD's, debut album 'My Way On The Highway' and 'The Real McCoy', including the long and bluesy 'Trouble Blues' which featured the award winning keyboard work of Professor F. Weber. The band also feature British born bass player Peter who formerly worked with The Motors, who sung on the band's fine version of 'Roadhouse Blues'. Another song covered by the JR Band is the old Bob Seger number 'Turn The Page' which they first played at a funeral of a friend, for this song Jan puts aside his electric guitars and plays an acoustic 12 string. Near the end of their powerful set, The Professor appeared to prepare an accordion at the rear of the stage perhaps in readiness to play the tender 'For Lyn' (on their excellent debut CD), however the band opted for an uptempo ending. The band hope to return for a British tour later in the year, if you enjoy original rock look out for the JR Band!
The tempo was maintained by Danny Bryant's Redeyeband, the Cambridgeshire based guitarist has make a big impact on the British blues scene over the past year or so, and its not hard to see why! Over recent years Aynsley Lister, The Davey Brothers, Ian Parker and Lincolnshire's own Martin Trimble have impressed blues audiences, perhaps in a similar way that Eric Clapton and other 60's British blues legends caught the eye of audiences of that era, Danny Bryant is another name in the frame, the many in the Skegness crowd signalled as much after his superb set, which featured original blues rock songs with some classic covers such as 'Help Me' by giving the young guitarist a standing ovation.
The final act of the afternoon will be known to many local fans, The Nottingham based blues rock trio the Mick Rutherford Band are regulars at the Axe & Cleaver. Mick attired initially in a black wig and flamboyant 60's style coat plays bass and sings. The band's repertoire features covers such as Cream's 'White Room', unfortunately the 4.30 to 6pm mealtimes don't coincide with band timings on stage, so we took our leave as Mick had dispensed with his coat and wig and was encouraging the audience to join in with their a cappella version of 'Chain Gang'.
The weather, timing of this year's festival and the lack of day ticket sales appeared to have had an impact on audience figures, which was especially noticeable at the Reds venue when Slack Alice took the stage, whilst the main area in front of the stage was well populated with fans, the outer reaches of the room where relatively empty. Fronted by gravelled voiced singer Cliff Stocker, Slack Alice are still carving a niche for themselves in contemporary music history, 2003 sees the 30th anniversary of the group who unlike many acts from their era, continue to produce quality new and original songs as well as playing numbers from their older repertoires. Departing from their usual opening song ZZ Top's 'Gimme Some Lovin' which the band cover superbly, they opened of the evening's sets with another ZZ Top number 'Jesus Just Let Chicago'. For their early evening set they included some of the more acoustic based songs from their latest CD 'Somewhere Between ... Nashville & Chicago ...' including the ribald 'Get Your Shoes On'. For their later set on Centre Stage they played rockier blues including 'The Hunter' a number made famous by Free and there was plenty of fine guitar work from messers Preston and Redmond. The night's gigs also signalled the probable end to an era, with bassist and acoustic guitarist Malcolm Crossley who featured in those early Slack Alice line ups all those years ago, when as the song 'Too Young To Sing The Blues' relates the story of how the band almost made the big time first time around and drummer Chris Tattersall due to depart the band shortly, though new recruits are lined up to fill their places in time for this year's festival season.
Following Slack Alice's performance at Red's we moved across to Centre Stage which was still buzzing following a performance from Zoot Money's Big Roll Band. Next act of the evening are another favourite of ours, and many others. Paul Lamb & The Kingsnakes rarely make it into Lincolnshire these days, so its always a treat to see them in action. Lamb fronts the band on harmonica, his whooping style is instantly recognisable, alongside Paul guitarist Johnny Whitehill is regarded as one of the finest blues players in the country, whilst vocalist Earl Green has already, like Lamb passed into the Gallery of Blues Greats. Strawbs fans will recognise Rod Demmick who now plays double bass with the Kingsnakes. The band's swinging blues drew many of the audience to the front of the stage but the band also include some slower songs such as 'Don't Answer The Door' which features some humorous interchanges between Lamb and Green, as to just who might be calling. One number featured a great solo from Paul which culminated with the harmonica maestro on his knees at the front of the stage playing to the crowd gathered there, memorable indeed!
The festival drew to a great finale with the ever rocking trio The Hamsters closing the weekend. Their set as always included a selection of original songs such as 'Wanna Make Love To You' and covers from Hendrix and a great version of ZZ Top's 'Sharp Dressed Man'. Despite mass calls for an encore at the end of a great set the management decreed that the festival was over and the stage curtains remained closed.
A great weekend and good value for money too, lets hope the probable drop in this year's attendance figures does mean that Butlins drops the festival from the annual Skegness programme. The venue has a number of other festivals planned during the quiet season, including 60's, 70's and 80's festivals featuring both original acts and tribute bands. Tel 0870 242 0870 or visit the Butlins website (www.butlins.co.uk/18) for details of these events.
GUY TORTORA BAND ~ SPALDING BLUES CLUB
SUN 12 JAN 2003
Alberta & Mississippi Bill
As we finish off this weeks column at some time past the witching hour and another week's work beckoning, we would just like to include a few words about a southern based blues band who were the latest act to sell out the Spalding Blues Club. The Guy Tortora Band led by American born British based guitarist and vocalist Guy were a name unknown to the majority of the audience at the Red Lion Hotel, apart from the producer of their excellent CD 'Footnote To The Blues' who has just moved to Lincolnshire where he is hoping to set up a studio. Guy and the band have rarely brought their music to northern blues fans, though they're certainly hoping to be heading our way again before too long, and with performances such as this and airplay on blues programmes such as Henry Ayrton's Northern Blues show (also on Sunday nights) people will get a taste for their music. What can you expect ... well, tonight was a veritable mix of delights, with acoustic solo slots from Guy which opened both sets, old time blues classics such as 'Sweet Home Chicago', the occasional Gospel number enhanced by backing singers Charline and Frankie (alias The Family Jewels), soulful American blues, including original songs such as 'Love Nor Money' which was another number that featured the girls, and even an acoustic cover of Marvin Gaye's 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine'. Another original song that caught our ear was 'Late Starter'. The regular four piece band also features Hungarian keyboard player Janos Bajtala, Brendan Canty (bass) and Neil Littman on drums. Each in their own way enhance the band's overall excellent sound, which leans not surprisingly more towards the American blues style. Two fine sets, the closing number 'Let The Good Times Roll' the second encore, perhaps typifies the way the band enjoys playing 'live' at venues such as the Spalding Blues Club, where the audience have a feeling for the music the band are playing and an ear to listen, look out for the Guy Tortora Band when they're back in town!
BBC RADIO LINCOLNSHIRE SONG COMPETITION 2002 ~ SPILSBY THEATRE
THU 10 OCT 2002
Lets take a look at the BBC Radio Lincolnshire Folk Song Competition. For those who are not familiar with this event, each year local musicians are invited to write a folk song about Lincolnshire, the songs selected by a panel of judges are then performed live at Spilsby Theatre and at the same time recorded and played at a later date (normally over the Christmas Holiday period) on BBC Radio Lincolnshire. This year's competition hosted by BBC Radio Lincolnshire's folk presenter Tom Lane was the eleventh and it was interesting to note a number of new names reaching the final 10. Over the years the standard of songs and performances has risen, and once again we were treated to an evening of excellent songs with a local flavour. New performers included David St Paul whose song about the road to Skegness 'The 158' opened the finals, Richard Langridge and Kathryn O'Connor who regularly perform at venues in the Horncastle area, June Vernau and Dick Papps and the band Webbed Foot from the Louth area who won the award for best performance of the evening for their song 'Waiting For The Hainton Straight'. Regular entrants Paul Bellamy and Mark Campbell and Stitherum, a duo from Gainsborough Folk Club also made the finals along with last years winners Clarty Sough who once again provided a strong entry 'The Iron Miners Song' introduced with the duo hammering stone chisels. At the end of the evening after some debate by the 5 strong judging team selected Dave Evardson's song 'A Lincolnshire Family' as the winner, its immigrant theme having both historical content and a message for modern times! Runners up were Bill Whaley and Dave Fletcher with their song 'Follow The Drum' about threshing at harvest time in bygone days. It was good to see the third award going to David & Hannah Hurdman two young songwriters from the county with their historical song 'Slash Hollow' written about the battle of Winceby, and performed by the young band Doonvarna. The evening ended with Dave & Julie Evardson performing their winning song to the capacity audience.
SANDFLY ~ PLAYHOUSE THEATRE, SLEAFORD
FRI 20 SEP 2002
A sparse yet appreciative audience were treated to a characteristically sparkling set from talented Sleaford based band Sandfly at Sleaford Playhouse on Friday evening.
Playing as support to the main act, Kevin Brown and Moussa Kouyate, Sandfly's set was necessarily compressed, yet achieved a spellbinding tour through some of the band's melodious and highly original material.
Currently featuring the core founding trio of Mary Beeson, Geoff Daley and Gordon Hewitt, Sandfly have hit a groove with their acoustic repertoire and are beginning to garner plaudits from audiences who recognise fine musicianship and truly exiting song writing skills.
Highlight of the set must have been "Turbulent Bells", a new song recently completed, and performed for the first time. The song immediately evoked a magical atmosphere and featured some delightfully delicate guitar from Gordon and Geoff.
Well established songs such as "In Your Shadow", "Be On Your Way", and the ever popular "Whispering Melody" were delivered with a sureness of touch indicative of Sandfly's rapidly developing maturity.
What this band lack in gimmickry is more than compensated for by sheer talent, creativity and musicianship, and I would urge anyone who appreciates these qualities to go and hear Sandfly.
Review submitted by Ian Jones
STEVE ARVEY - SPALDING BLUES CLUB, RED LION HOTEL, SPALDING
SUN 1 SEP 2002
First a look back at a gig that took place last week. American blues musician Steve Arvey first emailed out of the blue to us a couple of years or so ago after reading a Folk, Blues & Beyond article on the internet. The following year he played a few UK gigs including the Bushy Blues Festival on the Isle Of Man, but none in our area. Chicago based Steve who has played with a host of blues legends, including Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Rogers and Homesick James eventually made it to our area last week, when he appeared at Spalding Blues Club on the opening night of their new season. Steve was backed by his new found UK touring band, who themselves are no strangers to local blues fans, keyboard player Julian Grudgings and drummer Mike Hellier are regular visitors to the area, playing with Bluesmove and the Mick Pini Band, they have also backed another American artist Jonathon Kalb. Bass player Kevin Jeffries has also worked with the Mick Pini Band. A natural joker, Steve had specially saved a pair of 'designer label' pants for his appearance at the club, well Spalding sports ware is famous throughout the world!
Opening with 'Blues Messiah', a number with a contemporary singer songwriter feel, rather than a classic blues, yet a very powerful song, that Steve normally performs acoustically, indeed on his 'Its A Fine Line' album he is backed by a fiddle player for this song. Drummer Mike added to the feel of the song by using padded drum sticks.
It wasn't too long though before Steve introduced the audience to the sound of his home city, Chicago. 'Its My Soul' featured some laid back yet expressive guitar work from Steve. Unfortunately for this UK tour Steve didn't have a harp player such as Mark Hoekstra who is a member of his West Side Heat band back in the States to add that instrument's distinctive sound to the Chicago blues songs, Steve though introduced keyboard player Jules for an extended keyboard spot.
Steve's not a 'one horse' musician, with 'Sweet Mama' he took us and his band down to the city of fonk, New Orleans where the music has a funky feel, enhanced by Jules' driving organ sound and Kev's bass work. Steve obviously enjoyed working with his new found friends, they in turn had quickly adapted to Steve's style. The second set included the old Gospel song 'Love Light' (Let It Shine On Me) and a Louisiana style number with the emphasis on guitar work and heavier drum sound and Jules' keyboard note picking style.
Other highlights of the first half included 'Love Ain't Easy' a song composed by Steve back in 1987, 'Rock The House' from Jimmy Rogers' repertoire and a song with references to St Peter, during which Steve moved down through the audience playing his guitar as he eased his way carefully through the packed audience. OK, so he's not the first (or the last!) guitarist to do this, but it moves the hairs on the back of your neck when fine musicians such as Steve are playing right next to you!
After chatting to members of the audience at half time, Steve played a classic old blues number to those not still at the bar, before starting the second half.
'Hip Hop', a song taken from Steve's latest CD 'Soul Of A Man' featured some impressive drum work from Mike Hellier, whom Steve introduced in 'boxing promoter style' and a solo from bassist Kev.
Steve's first gig in Lincolnshire the previous week at Cleethorpes had clearly made a great impression, he included references to the town in 'Whiskey, Wine & Song', and whilst Spalding is a listening audience rather than a dancing crowd, due mainly to the size of the venue, Steve appreciated their attention and applause throughout his performance.
For several songs including 'WRFG', a great original song dedicated to radio DJ's, Steve pitched his vocals deeper, the smoky southern drawl reminding us a bit of Omar & The Howlers.
His interpretation of 'Little Red Rooster' was markedly different from others we've heard, at times the basic underlying riff was reminiscent of Status Quo, one things for sure though, there was more clapping along with the band's sound during this number than we usually hear at the club! Steve and the band received a rousing reception at the end of the night, for a well deserved encore they chose the swinging 'Its A Fine Line', the title track from Steve's 2000 album. A memorable start to a new season at Spalding Blues Club,
KIRKBY BLUES & ROCK FESTIVAL
SAT JUL 13th 2002
Thanks to all the people who prayed for good weather for Kirkby Festival, it worked and some more. As predicted 'The 5th annual Kirkby Blues & Rock Festival' was the best one to date. As is the norm the organisation was impeccable, the timetable ran like clockwork, the 2000+ crowd ate, drank, danced, laughed and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The festival is entirely run by volunteers and all the money taken is ploughed into making the next year's event even better (is this possible?).
The music started at 1.00pm with local favourites 'Old School' who warmed up the already large crowd. Then followed the amazing 'Guitar Hero' in the making Danny Bryant with his 'Redeyeband', this young man is destined to play many bigger stages. The International theme to the festival started with 'Derrin Nauendorf & Dave Downing' 'the two lads from 'Oz' who are wooing crowds the length and breadth of the country, check them out.
Next up were the legendary 'Climax Blues Band' who really got the crowd dancing, veteran blues man Colin Cooper has lost none of his amazing talent or enthusiasm for the festival circuit, a class act. Welsh legends 'Sassafras' amazed many with their solid energetic set of blues/rock, they do not do many gigs these days, but well worth looking out for.
Texan blues man 'Eugene (Hideaway) Bridges and his Big Band' raised the level yet again with a 90minute set that passed oh so quickly, a true blues man who deserves all the accolades he is given. But the crowd still found enough energy to dance for another 90minutes with Scotland's No 1 blues export 'The Nimmo Brothers', who have supported the Kirkby Festival for many years now, and deservedly got the headline spot this year. Then it was over and the small army of volunteers started work cleaning the site, dismantling fences, stage, loo's etc etc.
Thank you Kirkby for a great festival.
FRANK WHITE ~ BERKELEY HOTEL, SCUNTHORPE
SAT 8th JUNE 2002
Sheffield blues artist Frank White has been a name sadly missing from the Lincolnshire music scene for several years, once a regular visitor to the area, he was the first act to appear at Spalding Blues Club way back in December 1992, which was the first time we saw him play. At that time he had just been voted UK Blues Male Vocalist of the Year. Frank broke his ankle a while back but is now back doing what he loves best, playing music to an appreciative audience. Best known in modern times on the blues scene, Frank actually began his career back in the 60's, and played, we understand with Dave Berry and The Cruisers in their early days, a fact gleaned from BBC Radio 2's Sounds Of The Sixties programme. Whilst Frank has been playing the blues since the 70's, he still enjoys playing some rock and roll numbers in his live sets.
Whilst another Sheffield bred artist Joe Cocker made an impact at the Golden Jubilee Concert, Frank's vocal have similar gravelly tones, combine that with his amazing guitar playing and songwriting one wonders just what factors influence people's musical careers, one playing at Buckingham Palace last week, whilst the other playing at Scunthorpe's Berkeley Hotel the following week! Along with Frank's excellent vocals, guitar work and songwriting he as always is fronting an excellent band with keyboards, drums and bass.
A great set included blues influenced original songs such as the excellent 'I Took A Chance On You', rock'n'roll numbers, the band opened with a Chuck Berry song and later in the evening played a flying version of 'Good Rockin' Tonight' and some other fine covers such as Randy Newman's 'Louisiana 1927', Dobie Gray's 'Drift Away' and a Sam Cooke song which Frank performed solo. The highlight for many though an immaculate version of Cream's 'Sunshine Of Your Love'.
Frank's philosophy is that his shows are fun, and he really takes notice of how the audience are responding to his songs and music and stages his sets accordingly, providing a fantastic show for the seated audience and the dancing audience alike. Towards the end he encouraged the audience to sing along with 'Shake, Rattle & Roll' before closing the show playing both British and American national anthems. A member of the audience who is a musician who has toured the UK, Europe and the USA , was heard to say "I have never heard a band as good as that!". Its great to see him back in such fine form!
SANDFLY ~ OLD NICK'S TAVERN, HORNCASTLE
WED 29th MAY 2002
With so much going on musically in our area its difficult to see many of the bands who play at venues around the region. One band we have been trying to see for ages are Sandfly, who were still called the Mud Monkeys last time we saw them! Since then the group have undergone a number of line-up changes, released a now sold-out CD 'What Rhymes With Lobster' and have even appeared at the Glastonbury Festival.
The latest line-up change has seen the departure of the group's drummer, leaving the band down to a trio for their appearance at Old Nicks Tavern in Horncastle last Wednesday evening. Basing their sound around acoustic guitars, Sandfly's music lends itself to acoustic performances and the band had previously played a number of gigs without a drummer, so it wasn't an entirely new experience for them. Whether the band will recruit a new drummer in the future remains uncertain, their acoustic sound might perhaps benefit from the addition of a variety of percussion, rather than a standard drummer.
Sandfly feature Mary on lead vocals and acoustic guitars, Gordon on acoustic guitar and Geoff on acoustic bass & guitar plus vocals. Their live shows comprise almost entirely of original songs with deep and thought provoking lyrics, but these are lightened by engaging melodies and some catchy choruses. Young bands often find venues and audiences unwilling to accept original material, though thankfully David Dean at Old Nicks encourages bands such as Sandfly to perform their own songs.
They opened their set with 'Be On Your Way', we were soon singing along to the song's chorus. 'Country Pumpkins' extols the pleasures of living in the countryside and featured some fine bluesy guitar work from Gordon. 'Freak Show' with it powerful guitar pieces is one of the groups longer standing songs, coming from the days of the Mud Monkeys. Some careful guitar tuning was required for 'Whispering Melody', the band aren't able to afford the luxury of pre-tuned guitars for certain songs, once tuned together Geoff and Gordon provided a solid base for Mary's soaring vocals making this song one of the standout numbers of a fine set. With its powerful and delicate vocal contrast 'Riddles' is another fine song, seemingly about a person who speaks in riddles and rhymes. The group ended their first set with 'Falling Girl' a song which impressed Gordon Giltrap when Geoff and Gordon supported the guitar wizard in Sleaford in April. Geoff takes the lead vocal part for this number.
They opened their second set with 'Sheltered By Your Flame', the powerful 'Shivered' blended excellent guitar from Mary and Gordon with acoustic bass played by Geoff with fine vocals from Mary and Geoff. Their set included just one cover, that of 'Flinch' a song from the new Alanis Morissette album 'Under Rug Swept'. They are still working on their interpretation of this song which is a recent addition to the band's repertoire. 'Bittersweet Pill' with some more bluesy guitar from Gordon and its powerful climax make for another memorable song. They closed their set with 'One Draw Pass' and enthusiastic calls for an encore where answered with another superb original number, 'God Rota'.
Blending fine musicianship with excellent vocals, and distinctive original songs Sandfly are one of the most innovative bands currently playing at locally, if you're tired of mass produced pop Sandfly offer the alternative at a venue near you!
SPIDER JOHN HUTCHINSON ~ BULL HOTEL, HORNCASTLE
FRI 3rd MAY 2002
After performing on stages across the UK, Europe and Japan before thousands of fans during Bowie's Aladdin Sane tour in 1973, one might wonder what brings Spider John Hutchinson to a small Lincolnshire market town on a Friday night. Oddly perhaps truth is even stranger than fiction, about a year back Martin the promoter of the gig shared a cabin on a cross channel ferry with Spider John, Martin's Lindisfarne Tee shirt caught the eye of John, who introduced himself and with music a common interest a friendship was struck up, and Martin later travelled to York to see Spider John in action, impressed by John's playing but disturbed to find so few opportunities for John and other musicians of his calibre to play live in the UK, he decided to try to promote some gigs himself, the Bull Hotel being his second venture as a 'Stigwood'.
Calling on some friends who work in the band Shoot The Crow who hail from North Lincolnshire, to provide support for the evenings gig and bring along their supporters, Martin also invited friends round to his home to listen to John's CD and calling on others, CD in hand to promote the guitarist's music to them, thus ensuring the man had the kind of audience he deserves.
The unusual setting of a medieval style banqueting hall at the Bull Hotel provided both good acoustics, a bar and good sized room for such a venture. Shoot The Crow, a four piece band opened with a set of mainly original songs. The band base their sound round acoustic guitar and congas, and laid back electric guitar.
Opening with a number of original songs the band stepped up a gear with their rendition of The Levellers song 'What A Beautiful Day', other highlights of their set included their original songs 'Prozak', and 'Cyber Sex', a wry look at the internet age!
A quick turn round and Spider John was on stage, his nickname probably comes from his time with the Spiders From Mars, though his dexterity over the frets might also have a bearing, as his fingers weaved spider-like around his acoustic guitar, the audience drew closer to admire and wonder at his playing and listen to his stories of his time with Bowie, which included the period when 'Space Oddity' was written.
Whilst strongly influenced by jazzy blues, his repertoire did not consist solely of blues songs, numbers such as 'Summertime' and the Gram Parsons song 'Brass Buttons' also featured during the evening. John actually played in a country rock band, American Echoes whose debut single 'Ooh Las Vegas' was a BBC Radio One Record Of The Week in the late 70's.
Also featured in his live set was a great version of a John Lee Hooker song, and the classic blues song 'My Babe' and original compositions 'Turn Your Lamp Down Low', 'Peculiar Behaviour' and 'Freebird' (not the Lynyrd Skynrd classic!) which feature on his 'Solo You Can Hear Me' 5 track demo CD recorded for a radio show in 2001.
MUNDY-TURNER - HEART OF LINCOLNSHIRE FOLK, ROOTS & BLUES CLUB,
EAGLE LODGE HOTEL, WOODHALL SPA
TUE 23rd APRIL 2002
Australian based duo Mundy-Turner were the guests at The Heart Of Lincolnshire Folk, Roots & Blues Club, their appearance in Woodhall Spa being the only Lincolnshire date currently scheduled on their 2002 UK Tour.
The widely acclaimed duo are promoting their latest album, 'Wholly Road' their first live CD, which was recorded at a number of sell out shows in intimate acoustic clubs similar to the Heart Of Lincolnshire club during their recent Australian tour. The British weather doing its best to emulate the Australian climate, the club providing the intimate setting for Cath & Jay's music, songs and stories, the only thing missing was the sell out audience!
Those who did come along and support the concert were not disappointed, Australian Catherine Mundy and English born Jay Turner putting on a memorable show. Highlights included 'Little Birds', a song sung beautifully a capella style, about poor mothers in South America who cannot afford to look after their large families, 'Somethin's Cookin', its rock'n'roll feel inspired following their visit to Sun Studio's in Memphis, they originally recorded the song at the studio in tribute to the studio's history and the lively instrumental 'Jayology'.
Each song was introduced with by a story, sometimes entertaining as for 'Naked', which was written after Jay was woken up early in the mornings by a group of Kookaburras outside his window, sometimes poignant as with the 'Women Who Have Learnt Not To Cry'. With the windows of the concert room open on the warm evening, the local residents of Woodhall may have heard an unusual bird call last Tuesday evening, it was actually Cath's remarkable mimic of the noisy Australian bird that pierced to still night air!
The duo's original songs draw on influences from around the world, some such as 'High-life' have been inspired just from snippets of conversation, Owen, a waiter in an Australian hotel being the inspiration for the title track of the duo's debut album.
All in all fine entertainment for a warm spring evening.
BILL JONES & MIRANDA SYKES ~ CHESTNUT STREET PRIMARY SCHOOL, RUSKINGTON
WED 24th APRIL 2002
The following night Bill Jones and Miranda Sykes appeared at Chestnut Street School in Ruskington and we were surprised when the headmaster of the school who organised the gig said that like the previous night's gig, there had been limited interest in the concert. Bill Jones was voted Newcomer of The Year in 2001 by BBC Radio Two in their annual folk awards, whilst local musician Miranda is another young performer who is making an impact on the national folk scene. The duo, who have previously worked together in the Bill Jones Band, have continued to work as a duo, adding some new material from Miranda's parents song repertoire. John and Penny are well known on the Lincolnshire folk scene and it was good to hear Miranda and Bill's interpretation of songs such as 'The Wild Goose Man', 'Fenland Dye' and 'Borrowed Places' which are featured on the new Old Parrot Band CD 'The Swing Bridge' as well as material from Bill's two CD's.
The duo's voices blend well together, especially on the a capella song 'Panchpuran' the story of Bill's Anglo-Indian grandmother. Other highlights included Bill's reworking of the traditional song 'The Tale Of Tam Lin' and her original song 'Turn To Me' which closed another superb evening of music.
BYTHER SMITH ~ RUNNING HORSE, NOTTINGHAM
SAT 13 APRIL 2002
There are few venues in Lincolnshire inclined to or able to put top American blues artists such as Byther Smith, so we travelled across to Nottingham to the Running Horse to see the Chicago blues man in action last Saturday.
For those not familiar with the venue, for gigs such as this early arrival is advised as seating is limited, by the time we arrived soon after 8pm a large audience had already assembled in the small homely pub and the 'Sold Out' signs were pinned on the door. There's a thriving blues scene in Nottingham with regular big blues nights at both the Running Horse and The Old Vic.
By the time Barry introduced the band on stage, the pub was packed but as ever the crowd was both friendly and good humoured. For some in the audience it was their first time in the venue, a fact noted by Barry in his introduction, as apparently one person asked if the pub put blues on! 'Do we put blues on!' Well indeed they do, and Byther is certainly not the first American star to perform at the venue. As with most American blues artists the early numbers featured Byther's touring band The Sunset Travellers building up the scene for the Chicago blues mans entrance, which took a little time as he extricated himself through the crowd, under the mics to the stage.
The Sunset Travellers who hail from Holland, feature keyboard player and vocalist Roel Spanjers whose height would certainly given him an excellent view if he'd been in the audience, Nico Heilijgers (bass & vocals) and Arthur Bont (drums).
Byther, now in his late 60's is a true legend of the Chicago blues scene, he has worked with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Otis Rush amongst others, yet despite his fame he looked quite at home in the British pub, chatting to people passing by.
Once Byther took the stage virtually all eyes were on the American whose guitar style, vocals and presence were reminiscent of the legendary B.B. King. With introductions to songs limited, and room to write notes non existent a full run down of songs played in the two sets isn't possible, but standout tracks included 'Messin' With The Kid', 'Everyday I Have The Blues', and a song that drew heavily on 'Hoochie Coochie Man'.
Like all the best American blues guitar players, Byther's playing is not flowery, each chord carries weight and meaning, just enough never too much! Behind him the Sunset Travellers provided the perfect accompaniment, with some great Hammond sounds from Roel's keyboards. By the time they played 'Funky Man' near the climax of the second set the whole pub was bopping along. Towards the end of the show Nico's bass amp gave out, but with the crowd behind him Byther looked reluctant to call it a night too early, encouraging Roel to accompany him for 'Green Onions' before closing with another instrumental number.
Widely regarded as one of the UK's premier blues venues in the 90's, the Runner as its affectionately known lost a bit of momentum in the first part of the 21st century due to managerial changes, however the Pub has been taken over by blues enthusiasts Barry and Sally who have made improvements such as a raised viewing area and fresh coats of paint, and with gigs like this they will soon re-establish the venue as one of the UK's major blues pub venues.
BAND FROM COUNTY HELL ~ LAWN CENTRE, LINCOLN
SAT 16 FEB 2002
A packed Lincoln Suite at The Lawn in Lincoln eagerly awaited the show from a fantastic Lincolnshire band, Julie McLelland and The Band From County Hell. The scene was set with the band's Celtic logo and pictures of Julie from the latest CD as a backdrop and fabric with a Celtic cross painted on it draped over the drums and some tartan cloth over the monitors at the front of the stage. Then from this wonderfully set scene, the show began in great style with 'Kenbar Furey', Ken Garfield playing 'Danny Boy' solo on the whistle and then another member of the band staggering on stage pretending to be drunk, bottle in hand, swaying over the stage he tries to sing 'Danny Boy', before the lights go out and he introduces the band, most of whom have taken their places. 'Mad Dawg' Johnny Dowd providing the backbeat for the band and audience clapping the rousing intro tune before the first song. Then Julie is introduced on stage and they go into the first song which is very well received by the crowd, which was made up of people who were already fans of the band and lots of people new to their brilliant sounds.
The Band From County Hell's music for the shows is mainly their own material with one or two Pogues and Traditional numbers. All their songs whether self penned or others are given the Band From County Hell treatment, personalised and they've made them all their own. Also every song written by them is written, sung and played from the heart. The song writing team in the band are singers / songwriters and musicians, Julie and Steve McLelland, [their nicknames in the band being 'Joolz' - Julie and 'Jock' - Steve.] All the music is composed by Steve, the lyrics written by Julie and songs arranged by both of them. Late 2001 saw them releasing their third album of powerful, cheerful and thought-provoking music that characterises the Band From County Hell. We and countless numbers of people in Lincolnshire and beyond have loved that combination well in their albums and live performances, recent years have also seen them touring further afield and winning many new fans with their special blend of music and original style. The Band From County Hell have exciting lively delivery of songs and tunes, excellent vocals and musicianship and their shows whether a Theatre, Arts Centre, Pub, Club, Festival or playing at the London Palladium [as they did in 2001], their music is still as fresh and brilliant as ever. The thought they put into their songs, music and shows is self evident wherever they appear or if you take their recordings home with you after the show.
In the third song , the trumpeter 'Gangster' - Bruce Brealey came onto the stage for a song written about Steve's Granny who lives in Glasgow. The song is entitled 'These Words', written by Steve and Julie it contains this catchy refrain 'These words were never meant to hurt you Granny, never meant to bruise your soul, These words were never meant to hurt you Granny, It's just rock'n'roll.'
Julie asked where the audience came from, they gave various places in answer to her question [we heard some say Germany]. They played 'Killing Time another of their compositions, with lots of different instruments skillfully played and featuring Julie's superb bodhran playing. Julie and Steve had took off their jackets by this stage, Julie was wearing a beautiful top and trousers in the first half of the show and all the gentlemen of the band had teeshirts under their jackets with the tasteful celtic Band From County Hell logo on the front. The band continued with a stirring version of the Traditional song 'Star of the County Down', once again strongly featuring the talented whistle player Ken, with both Julie and Steve on lead vocals and other band members backing vocals, beautiful musicianship and vocals from all, the audience very much enjoying the show and clapping along, the band finished the song off nicely with everyone singing 'Hey'. This was followed by a great 'Pogues' song.
The next song was written by Julie and Steve for one of their band members the talented fiddle player 'Bootstick' Daniel Mayfield. Dan overcame cancer, was poorly last year, getting better this year. The song 'But it did' is sung by Steve and Julie joins in on the choruses, as well as Dan playing the fiddle with a bow it also features him plucking the fiddle strings to great effect, and at some points in this song Julie and Dan stand back to back playing bodhran and fiddle. They followed up with a number which is a true story about a man framed for a murder he didn't commit called 'Prison
Walls'. His Mum took the trouble to write to him every day and the other prisoners would read it out to him as he was unable to read and these letters from his Mum kept his spirits up until he was finally released. Julie, Steve and the whole band put alot of work into their stage performances, making their shows visually as well as musically exciting for their audiences. The next song is a song written for Lucy their previous fiddle player, and some of the audience are up dancing to the wonderful music. The Band From County Hell start the next song a'capella with Julie starting the singing of the Traditional number 'The Irish Rover' and then all the band joined in with singing and playing instruments, then the fiddle player jumped off the stage and went playing through the audience and then three of the other band members went into the audience and started playing on the tables delighting the large audience in the Lincoln Suite at The Lawn. This brought the first half of the fantastic show by Julie McLelland and the Band From County Hell to a close.
. . . To Be Concluded in next weeks Folk, Blues & Beyond with Alberta and Mississippi Bill.
We start this week, concluding our review of the recent Band From County Hell's gig at the Lawn Centre in Lincoln. The band opened their second set with the title song from their debut album 'Money Worries', Julie now in a black sequinned gypsy skirt and blouse, playing the bodrhan during the song.
Since their formation in the mid 90's the band have built up an extensive repertoire of self penned songs about the area, some of the area's characters have been written into these, and songs such as 'Fag Ash Lil' may become the folk classics of the future, and will certainly provide an interesting insight into these times for future generations.
One of our favourites is 'Born To Be' written and sung by Steve, this song was voted the 'Celtic Sound of The Year' following its release on the band's second album 'Brand New'. This song combines slow melodic pieces with high tempo Pogues style passages.
Many in the audience followed the lead of the band members clicking their fingers during 'Brand New', though sadly two people behind us spent most of the time conversing about matters other than the excellent music during both this and the previous song. Once again we wondered why a few people spend a lot of money on tickets to see a band and then talk though their performance! Like many of the songs 'Brand New' was written by Julie and Steve and is about playing in a band.
Julie joked that the traditional song 'Dirty Old Town' could have been written about Lincoln, she quickly clarified that she actually thought Lincoln is a beautiful old city. The band then went straight into the lively 'Waxies Dargle' another traditional number.
The band followed these older favourites with four songs from the band's new CD 'In My Mind' including Julie's song 'You're A Liar' is about men's ability to fib, 'In This Small Town', 'Hero' a song written for a local traveller, and the raucous 'Jimmy Baker' introduced by drummer 'Mad Dawg' Jimmy Dowd.
One of the band's obvious influences are The Pogues, they included three songs from the Irish band, the second being 'Transmetropolitan' for which Dan swapped his fiddle for the banjo.
Another of our favourites is 'To Hard To Hold' a heart rending song written by Steve when he was just 15, about his mother.
'In My Mind' the final song of an excellent second set is also the title song of the band's latest album, a song of the dream they had 6 years ago when the band first began thrilling local audiences. Through hard work, musical and songwriting ability they have emerged from 'County Hell' to become one of Lincolnshire's most successful and distinctive bands.
Aptly for their encore they chose The Pogues song 'The Band From County Hell', a song which has become their theme tune and one which they have adapted in their own distinctive way. They followed this with the traditional song 'The Wild Rover' which had the audience in full voice, a fitting climax to a great night's entertainment. For those who enjoy Celtic music with bite, but feel that the Band From County Hell's shows may be a little too raucous for their liking, do go along to one of their forthcoming shows at some of the area's local Arts Centres, as whilst their music is full of energy, the audience at The Lawn were relatively reserved, it was only members of the band 'dancing' on the tables (carefully!). Details of the band's forthcoming gigs can be found on the band's regularly updated website at http://www.bfch.co.uk, details of how to purchase the band's three albums is also available from their web pages.
A.G. & KATE ~ WRANGLE METHODIST CHURCH
SAT 2 MAR 2002
Once a year Dutch duo A.G. & Kate tour the UK, and play several concerts in our area, we caught up with them at the Methodist Church Hall in Wrangle, where they have appeared a number of times in the past.
Celebrating their 30th Anniversary this year, their musical career has passed through several phases, each of these continues though to influence the duo into their fourth decade. Sadly with the advent of the line dancing craze which has demanded that country music is 'beefed' up often by the use of backing tapes that provide the backing rhythm and the fuller sound required by dancers acts, acoustic acts such as A.G. & Kate who rely solely on acoustic instruments and musical ability rarely play in Britain's country music clubs. We suspect that like many other genres, country music fans will one day turn the full circle and rediscover the roots of the music that has developed into modern day country. One of the acts which will hopefully benefit from this will be A.G. & Kate, who take their audiences on an excursion through country music history as well as their fascinating experiences touring prisons both in the UK and the USA, where their music is eagerly received by inmates grateful that someone takes an interest in them.
Opening with 'Long Legged Guitar Pickin' Man' the words of which certainly apply to A.G. who treated the audience to some fine solo guitar picking during the song. Next came the up-tempo 'Even Cowgirls Get The Blues' and then rather surprisingly 'But I Do' which was a hit for New Orleans R'n'B artist Clarence 'Frogman' Henry. They followed fine renditions of a song made famous by Waylon Jennings, 'Luckenbach, Texas' and 'Lonely Street' with the song 'Far Side Banks Of Jordon' written by American songwriter Terry Smith, Kate reading a letter they'd received from a prisoner in an American Jail saying how he'd been comforted by the words of the song after the duo had performed it during a concert.
A.G. & Kate go right back to the roots of country music, playing the instrumental number 'Wildwood Flower' and the lovely 'Sunny Side' both recorded by the first family of country music, The Carter Family. They also use traditional instruments including the banjo and autoharp during their shows, A.G. playing the unusual multi-stringed autoharp standing up rather than on his lap, whilst Kate is a very able banjo player. They followed these old time favourites with the Vince Gill song 'Go Rest High On The Mountain' and 'You And Me' which is also the title of their latest CD.
They then decided to try out some songs on the audience in preparation for a forthcoming concert in a school, we were treated to two delightful Waylon Jennings' numbers 'I'm Little' and 'Bad, Bad Day', which went down very well with the audience.
Over the past 13 years many of A.G. & Kate's concerts have been performed in prisons, both here and in the USA, 'I'll Break Out Tonight' is a song that tells of how whilst the body can be shackled in jail, the prisoner's mind is free to 'break out'! Another song with prison connections is the great Wesley song 'And Can It Be' which followed.
During their prison visits they were presented with a hand made mountain dulcimer by Rick Ellison, a prisoner in Mount Olive Prison in USA who learnt how to make these beautiful traditional instruments whilst in jail. Whilst he still remains a prisoner, his instruments bring music to many around the world, the audience savouring its unique sound on a tune composed by Kate whilst learning how to play the instrument, 'We All Belong To Our Father' and 'Amazing Grace' which brought the concert to a rousing finale.
Church members provided a splendid spread of refreshments for the audience to enjoy after the memorable show, and we're already looking forward to next years tour by the duo, perhaps more of the area's many country music fans will come along and support A.G. & Kate's shows at local venues. There is however one more opportunity to enjoy a show on the current tour this coming Friday, see our daily listings for further information.
SKEGNESS ROCK & BLUES FESTIVAL ~ BUTLINS FUNCOAST WORLD, SKEGNESS
8 / 9 / 10 MAR 2002
Once again the Skegness Rock and Blues Festival attracted music fans from across the country to Butlins Funcoast World over the weekend of the 8 / 9 / 10 March. This was the second Rock and Blues Festival, the first being a complete sell out last year, though the company had tested the waters in the late 90's with an excellent Blues Weekend, which was accessible to day visitors as well as those staying at the holiday camp.
Many of the same names who appeared at last years festival were back this time, the opening night featured John Otway, Slack Alice, Monsters of Rock and Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone and Their All Star Band sharing two spots on two stages during the evening. Arriving some time after the doors had opened at the Centre Stage, the plusher of the two venues we opted for the no smoking balcony area, which was less crowded than the cabaret styled main hall, perhaps this was partly due to the fact that something appeared to be wrong with the heating, with warm air rising the upper area was uncomfortably hot. We'd heard some good reports of the Argent / Blunstone line-up, we're not sure if this was their usual set or one put together specially for the rock and blues weekend. After hearing a great new track from their recently released album on the Bob Harris show, we were disappointed that material from this album didn't feature more in the band's live performance.
The obsession with constantly tracking back in time with tribute bands seemed to influence the Argent / Blunstone group too, as the majority of their sets took the audience on a musical trip back through time, from the Zombies and Argent, but very little of what the band can produce in the 21st century!
Of course they were never going to get away from playing hits such as 'She's Not There' and 'Hold Your Head Up' and indeed we ourselves would have been disappointed not to have heard these classic tracks, as well as one of two others, yet whilst the revisiting of early 'B' sides and other less well known songs from the 60's and early 70's era was interesting, it left us wondering what their new material which we'd heard such good reports of was like, we're still wondering as the new album was retailing at £15.00 after the gig!
There was plenty to enjoy though, Colin Blunstone's superb vocals and Rod Argent's impressive keyboard work showed just why they have been around the British music scene so long and for many in the audience the songs they played seemed to bring back happy memories, judging by the whispers between people as the songs were introduced.
Heading off to the less salubrious Reds venue for Slack Alice's opening gig we found that like the Centre Stage the bar was pretty full, the audience recovering from the high jinks of John Otway's gig earlier. Unfortunately Slack Alice's set here was marred by persistent sound problems which resulted in the keyboard player moving the monitors around in a desperate attempt to hear the rest of the band, mics being switched on by the struggling roadcrew during the set, and a variety of sounds feeding back through the monitors that certainly didn't help the band, who struggled manfully through their set which included both classic covers and new original songs, from their forthcoming CD.
Heading back to the Centre Stage we caught the majority of the second set by Argent and Blunstone, who to their credit ensured that their two hour long sets featured different material.
Slack Alice brought the night in the Centre Stage to a fine close, sound engineer Steve doing a fine job in combining the band's multi-instrument line up, they feature twin electric guitars, slide guitar, harmonica and keyboards as well as bass & drums and on occasions add acoustic guitars and banjo too.
Opening with ZZ Top's 'Gimme Some Lovin', Stocker's gravely North Eastern vocals are not dissimilar from Rodgers' original sound, they followed this with their classic reworking of 'Penicillin Blues'.
Slack Alice had hoped to have their new CD out in time for the festival, unfortunately for both fans and band this hasn't been possible, the mouth watering album 'Somewhere Between .... Nashville & Chicago' is tantalising close to release, but for now fans had to be content to hearing songs such as 'The Way Women Are Made', 'Let The Rock Roll In' and the story of Slack Alice 'Too Young To Sing The Blues' performed live, many though are already favourites with the band's growing fan base, one such song being 'Get Your Shoes On' which features Malc on acoustic guitar, Colin on banjo and the band's roadie Foxy on bass.
The band's sound lies somewhere between rock and blues, two songs from the band's formative years feature these differing elements, the classic 'Monday Morning Blues' is British style blues at its best, whilst 'Somewhere Tonight' is straight ahead head shaking rock. Slack Alice set out on their musical journey in the early 70's alongside names like Led Zeppelin and their version of Zep's Rock'n'Roll with which they closed the night's music is one of the best covers of this song we've heard. If you were able to attend the festival, there will be an opportunity to see Slack Alice when they play at the Eagle Lodge Hotel in Woodhall Spa on Sat. 6th April.
Unlike other years the afternoon's music was based solely in the Centre Stage venue, so one didn't have to pick and chose acts to see, Saturday afternoon kicked off with a fine set from Steve Hooker's Rumble, a trio fronted by the talented guitarist Steve. Their set of rockabilly influenced blues with a 50's feel a nice balance of original songs and covers, including 'Let Me Play Wit. Yo' Poodle'.
The other act appearing on the afternoon's bill were also a trio, though somewhat different from the first, Eric Bell's Blues Band play rock blues based around the guitar work of Eric Bell, once of Thin Lizzy. Eric's guitar solo in 'Whiskey In The Jar' is regarded as one of the defining moments in rock, and the audience didn't have to wait to the end of the set to hear it, this was reserved for another classic Lizzy number 'The Rocker', in between the band played some impressive blues rock songs, and there was a memorable drum solo from Andy Golden thrown in for good measure.
Find out how Skegness based blues rock band fared following 60's legends The Animals on stage in next week's column, when will be continuing our review of the festival!
This week we complete our review of the recent Skegness Rock and Blues Festival and find out how local band The Melt fared on the all star bill!
Following the sound problems in Reds on the first night we took the option of staying in the Centre Stage venue for the evening too, each of the bands on the bill play at both venues anyway during the evening so by the end of the night we had seen all the acts playing. Getting the night of to a great start an act which many from these parts may not be familiar with, the Midlands based Trevor Burton Band, who feature guitarist Trevor formerly in 60's pop band The Move. Their rocking set was laced with some great blues too, such as 'Full Moon On Main Street' as well as a great version of 'Heartbreak Hotel', both taken from their excellent 'Blue Moons' CD. Judging from the number of people queuing up to purchase the band's CD after their performance, the band were very popular with the audience.
The Monsters Of Rock who we believe featured some members from NWOBHM band Fist played a selection of rock covers which were well sung by the lead singer whose vocals were well suited for the rock numbers covered.
Eddie & The Hot Rods were next up, led by that cheerful 'chappy' Barry Masters the band rattled off their hits and other songs in quick fire succession. Emerging on the crest of the punk wave, the band's raw pub rock / R'n'B was the catalyst for a new generation of rock, the anthemic 'Do Anything You Wanna Do' and their powerful cover of Van Morrison's 'Gloria' still remain classics of their live show.
Eddie & The Hot Rods had emerged from the Canvey Island scene of the mid 70's, one of their inspirations was another act from the area, Dr Feelgood who at that time featured one Wilko Johnson on guitar, fittingly it was the Wilko Johnson Band who followed Eddie & Co on stage. Like Masters, Wilko is highly mobile on stage, his eye-catching playing and darting movements across the stage along with his distinctive vocals add to the band's performance, most of the songs featured during their set being originals.
And so to Sunday, Sunday afternoon's programme had a topsey turvey appearance, 60's legends the Animals with friends opening for local Skegness blues rock band The Melt! Of course The Animals have long separated from singer Eric Burdon who incidentally is over from USA on tour this spring, original keyboard player Alan Price moved on in the 60's and bass player Chas Chandler who left the band around the same time and was to discover Jimi Hendrix sadly died a few years back, so for this occasion the Animals featured original drummer John Steel and keyboard player David Rowberry who teamed up in The Animals for a short stint around 1965. The friends joining them included John 'Guitar' Williamson who played with Dutch band Titanic who had a hit with 'Sultana' in the early 70's, young bassist Simon Crumbly who has worked with John in blues rock band Skeleton Crew, and more recently has done some work with Rick Wakeman, completing the line up vocalist Pete Barden whose deep vocals were well suited to the songs, these three additional members work together in the tribute band Credence Clearwater Revived. Plenty of hits for the crowd to savour including of course 'House Of The Rising Sun' and 'Gotta Get Out Of This Place' as well as Credence song 'Proud Mary', the crowd lapped it up and gave the band a great reception, which must have worried the young band who followed in their wake.
Excitement mounted in the dressing room before The Melt took the stage, and the many friends had been allowed in to support the band. With no other musical attractions around most people stayed and they witnessed a vibrant performance by the young band. The Melt's music is deeply rooted in the blues, based around Trevor's harmonica, whilst Ashley's guitar playing, and John and Gav's rhythm work gives it a modern, often funky edge, Encouragingly the band took the bold step to play mostly their own material in front of an audience who might perhaps fail to appreciate their songs, after hearing so many classics over the weekend.
'Jumping South' soon has you singing along, whilst 'Whisky Blues' will appeal to those who love moody laid back blues. The band have rejuvenated 'Stop Breaking Down' the old Robert Johnson song, which has been given a 21st century funk work out. The band also included some recently written songs including 'After Midnight', and 'Keep On Moving' which is sure to become a favourite with their audiences. The band did include three covers in their set, Lowell Fulsom's 'Reconsider Baby', 'Hoochie Coochie Man' and a breathtaking version of Dylan's 'All Along The Watchtower'. The band certainly acquitted themselves well, and they did not look out of place on such a bill.
Sunday evening opened with Nine Below Zero, some wag called from the crowd 'What's the score Dennis?' a reference to the lead singer / guitarists loyal support of Spurs who had been dismissed from the FA Cup earlier in the day. Dennis put on another brave face and the band produced another fine set of rocking blues.
Former Status Quo drummer John Coghlan's Band were next on the bill, not being fans of tribute bands, we were a little disappointed to see a pony tailed guitarist and singer a la Francis Rossi, a blonde haired Rick Parfitt look alike and Alan Lancaster's double on bass guitar. Yes it was John Coghlan's Quo, ever prepared to listen we settled back to enjoy the sounds of the Quo of the 70's, well played and rehearsed, of course from the drummer's position one could see and recall the moves of the band in their heyday. As time when by the sudden thought occurred to 'Mississippi' that if indeed the band were recreating the golden years of the mid 70's, one song must feature, 'Roadhouse Blues' to make the set authentic and show that the band weren't just recycling the band's top 10 hits, someone in the front called out for the song too, so we were treated to 'Roadhouse Blues'. Apparently the band who feature Paul Carr, the Parfitt guitarist were all fans of the Quo around this time, hence their affinity with the music.
With over 30 years of music behind them Dr Feelgood are one of the institutions of the British rock scene, following the death of founder member Lee Brilleaux some years ago the future of the band looked in jeopardy before first Peter Gage and more recently Robert Kane have picked up the baton and continued the Feelgood tradition. Kane especially has his own style, he works his microphone stand hard, some songs are sung whilst on his knees or lying on his back, Kane indeed is both a fine singer and a showman!
Highlights of the band's blistering set included 'Down By The Jetty Blues' featuring a Steve Walwyn guitar solo of some 10 minutes which brought the house down, as Kane said "You'll not see anything to better that over the weekend!", for a deserved encore Kane opened with a harmonica solo before being joined by Walwyn then the rest of the band for 'Mad Man Blues'.
A worried 'Mississippi' noted that the final act of the weekend didn't take to the stage until midnight, with another 1.30am finish in store, a 5.30am rise time and a full days work didn't look far off, but we'd missed the Climax Blues Band last year too, so never mind about the time enjoy the music, the band who feature Colin Cooper on vocals and sax played a fine set of blues which was melded with some 70's style funk. The band are best remembered for their hit 'Couldn't Get It Right' they also played great blues 'Georgia' and 'Seventh Son', their laid back sound wasn't to everybody's taste, some people drifting off during their set, but those who stayed certainly enjoyed the festival finale. All in all an enjoyable and good value weekend full of great music!
SLACK ALICE - RUNNING HORSE, NOTTINGHAM
RUNNING HORSE - NOTTINGHAM
SAT 30 MARCH 2002
Over recent months improvements have been made to what in our opinion for blues and blues rock bands is one of the best pub venues in the UK, the new raised viewing area where we sat gave us a fine view of the stage, though in the Runner no-one is far from the stage. The improvements have been instigated by long time music fans Barry and Sally who have recently taken over as landlords of the pub, following a period when it looked like this excellent venue might fall by the wayside due to mismanagement by previous staff.
This, surprisingly given Slack Alice's blues rock credentials, was actually the band's first appearance at the venue, a good size crowd had built up by the time the band took the stage, and one can assume if Ms Lush hadn't been playing a few miles down the road in Derby, that the audience size would have been doubled.
The 6 piece band who are augmented by roadie Foxy for some numbers fairly filling the stage area, launched into their version of ZZ Top's 'Gimme All Your Loving' which gives ample opportunity for the band's exciting twin lead guitar line up of Chris Preston and Colin Redmond to exercise their fingers early on.
The band's sets feature many original songs, including a number from their forthcoming CD '...Somewhere Between ... Nashville & Chicago ...', but old favourites too like Lucker's 'Blues Machine' and their reworking of 'Penicillin Blues' taken from their excellent 'Just The Blues' album which came out soon after the group's reformation in the mid 90's. Fronted by Cliff Stocker whose distinctive gravel edged vocals had the superstar potential of Rod Stewart and Joe Cocker, and also featuring Malc Crossley on bass the band almost made the big time back in the 70's, they tell the story in the song 'Too Young To Sing The Blues', a bittersweet anthem of what might have been!
The band include a number of covers that many acts would shy away from, most of these songs are known for great vocal performances, Stocker seemingly thrives off challenges, few tackle Janis Joplin's 'Piece Of My Heart' and The Boxtops 'The Letter' originally sung by Alex Chilton, yet his voice has the qualities that can successfully pull them off.
The first set closed with an impromptu, yet soulful rendition of Warren Zevon's 'The Heartache' by Cliff and keyboard player Paul Lucker following the loss of a guitar string in 'Piece Of My Heart'. The song was picked up after hearing a version on the Trevor Burton Band excellent 'Blue Moons' album.
The band opened their second set with 'Get Your Shoes On', a song with an old time blues feel which has become a favourite with audiences, who soon catch on to the suggestive lyrics! For this song Colin Redmond switches to 'finger-plucking' banjo whilst roadie Foxy takes over on bass, whilst Malc switches to acoustic guitar. Behind all this Chris Tattersall, who has recently rejoined the band maintains an effective rhythm on drums. They also included 'Might As Well Get Drunk' a song new to Slack Alice's live sets, which will feature on the forthcoming album.
They started the build up to a powerful climax to the evening with their original song 'Monday Morning Blues' written in the 70's, a ten minute blues opus, next Cliff recalled the 60's and a small club in his native north east he'd first heard 'Hoochie Coochie Man' performed by John Lee Hooker himself. Picking up the acoustic guitar, Cliff passed those vivid memories to a new generation of blues fans, the primeval tapping of the guitar's wooden body between the potent 12 bar blues chords conveying the soul of the great man's music as much as the chords themselves. They followed this with a rendition of 'The Hunter' an old song made famous by Free before closing with another superb original song 'Just The Blues'.
With the crowd clamouring for more, the band's regular encore number 'Somewhere Tonight' was followed by their version of Zeppelin's 'Rock'n'Roll' and The Boxtop's 'The Letter' bringing the night to a great close. For those who missed this gig, we have it on good authority that the band will be back before too long.
Reviewed by The Midnight Ramblers
LINCOLN FOLK FESTIVAL ~ LAWRENCE HALL, LAWN CENTRE, LINCOLN
SUN 31 MAR 2002 (afternoon concert)
One of the highlights of the year for local folk music fans is the annual Lincoln Folk Festival which took place over the Easter weekend, limited space in last week's Target meant that our preview of the festival could not be included, hopefully people who wanted to go managed to find out about the festival via other sources. Unfortunately due to other commitments we could not attend all the events, but we were fortunate enough to be able to see Sunday afternoon's concert which was extremely good value, entry to the concert at The Lawn Centre costing £3.00, only a fraction more than the cost of car parking, and certainly money better spent! Sadly though despite the very reasonable entry fee there were quite a lot of empty seats, perhaps people were waiting for the evening concert which featured two of the acts appearing on the afternoon's bill. The concert opened with a short Mummers play presented by The Festival Children which told the storyof St George & The Dragon.
There was then an opportunity for local musician Damian Woodings, who in his other guise was the festival's hard working sound engineer, to take a break from his duties behind the sound desk to perform a selection of folk and blues songs, including one of our favourites 'St James' Infirmary Blues' and a delightful original song about a session in a traditional Irish bar. His rich deep voice and noteworthy guitar work provided an excellent start to the concert.
Next up came East Anglian band Mooncoin who feature guitarist Skryp who is well known in Lincoln music circles. The multitalented four piece band who also feature Uli Schwabe (violin / percussion), Chris Schwabe (whistle, flute, melodeon, percussion and vocals) and Paul Keeler (bozouki, fiddle and percussion) played a mix of foot tapping Celtic influenced jigs and reels including 'Swallow's Tail' and 'The Banshee', traditional songs including the mournful 'I Am Stretched On Your Grave' and some excellently performed Eastern European tunes, that certainly don't look easy to play! The second bringing their set to a great close with a flourish of percussion with all members of the band lending a hand. The band who have two CD's available, the latest being 'The Fathomless Sea', hope to release their third album shortly.
Vikki Clayton was the headlining act for the afternoon concert, originally from Lincolnshire, Vikki had previously performed with Mooncoin's Skryp in the band Ragged Heroes many years ago. She opened her set with 'Matty Groves' a song made famous by Fairport Convention, before enchanting the audience with her delightful voice and her original songs which were introduced with little stories such as the time she introduced members of her band to art in a Birmingham art gallery, only to find them disappearing to the pub leaving her alone in the gallery, the beautiful song she wrote after studying the painting 'Merlin Beguiled' entitled 'Bewitched' a testimony to an afternoon well spent! As well as being a wonderful singer and song writer, Vikki is also a fine guitar player, her deft touch adding to the mood of the songs. She encouraged the laid back Sunday afternoon audience to sing along 'These Are My People' written for an African friend, another song taken from her latest album 'Looking At The Stars' which featured in Vikki's afternoon set was 'Last Love'. In addition to her original songs, she sung a Sandy Denny song a capella and closed the afternoon with Richard Thompson's 'Crazy Man Michael'. A great way to spend an afternoon!
STAIRWAY TO ZEPPELIN ~ LAWN CENTRE, LINCOLN
FRI 5 APRIL 2002
A large audience at the Lawn Centre in Lincoln stepped back to an age when rock was at its height last Friday, when Stairway To Zeppelin brought the sounds of Led Zeppelin to the city.
Whilst the venue had the intimacy of an early Zeppelin show, the acoustics of The Lawn Centre display some of attributes of vast concert halls such as Earls Court where Zep played to thousands in the mid 70's.
Possibly for many in the audience, this was the closest to a Led Zeppelin concert that they'll ever get, and its good to report that the band certainly gave an accurate representation of that great band's music. A major factor in this being Kenny Stewart's (alias 'Robert Planet') vocals which were very close to those of Robert Plant's.
In a show lasting over two hours the band played many of the band's notable songs, highlights included 'Kashmir', 'Heartbreaker', 'Whole Lotta Love' and of course the song this tribute act take their name from, 'Stairway To Heaven'. The stage lighting added to the overall feel of the show, including a revolving psychedelic circular illumination on the backdrop.
The band, some of whom incidentally were part of the 70's rock movement, touring as Dirty Tricks, feature in addition to Kenny, Johnny Fraser-Binnie as 'Jimmy Beige', Terry Horbury (alias John Tom Jones) who originally hails from Newark, on bass and keyboards and Andy Beirne (drums).
It was though their excellent rendition of 'Dazed and Confused' including the rarely seen bowing of the electric guitar using a violin bow, which by chance we'd seen on a TV clip of the original band performing the same song on the previous night, and 'Moby Dick' which featured a dramatic often thunderous drum solo from Andy, who by this time had stripped off his top, that took the breath away!
The night drew to a close with some of the crowd dancing wildly to 'Rock'n'roll' and 'Communication Breakdown'. This concert is hopefully a foretaste for a number of rock events to take place in the city over the coming months, and its good to note too that in addition to top tribute shows, that some of the bands being considered will be original acts, living their own dream!
Stairway To Zeppelin's 'No Quarter Tour' returns to Lincolnshire on the 24th May, when they appear at The Embassy Centre in Skegness.
DEEP PURPLE / THE PLANETS
GRIMSBY AUDITORIUM - 6 FEB 2002
Picking up a postcard promoting The Planets who were supporting Deep Purple on the 2002 British Tour, our initial impression was why a clean cut four girl, four boy act with a pop image were on the same bill as the legendary rock band.
Once they took the stage it was soon apparent that the eight piece band are all fine musicians, their instrumental versions of classic melodies and self composed pieces taken from their forthcoming album 'Classical Graffiti' performed on a variety of instruments including violin, double bass, flute and electric and acoustic guitars had elements of rock, classical and pop. In spite of the contrasting styles of their music and the headline act they were well received by Purple's audience.
After a brief interval whilst the hard working roadies reset the stage ready for the headline act, excitement mounted, then the lights dimmed and then they were back!
Drummer Ian Paice first on stage taking the seat he has filled since 1968, quickly followed by keyboard player Jon Lord, who back in 1967 was a member of the band Roundabout who were to evolve into one of the most famous rock bands ever, bassist Roger Glover and new boy American guitarist Steve Morse who joined the band in the mid 90's followed. Finally from the back of the stage Ian Gillan emerged! Whilst his long hair has gone, his voice is as remarkable as ever which was evident from the opening classic Purple number 'Woman From Tokyo'. The barefoot singer working hard to ensure that all in the auditorium which by now was full to capacity could feel that he was singing especially for them at some point during the evening. Pleasingly Purple's twenty-first century set is not just a rerun over their old hits, but includes some newer songs such as 'Ted The Mechanic' and 'The Aviator' which Gillan introduced by saying that not only was it his dream to be able to fly, but band member Steve Morse actually is an aviator, and a former airline pilot.
As Lincolnshire's only venue able to be able to consider bands of the magnitude of Deep Purple, Grimsby Auditorium is a state-of-the-art venue with excellent sound and great lighting effects, the extended strobe lighting during 'NoOne Came' effectively catching Gillan's whirling mic stand and other band members frozen in dozens of momentary 'snapshots'.
The first notes of 'Child In Time' drew much applause from the audience, whilst we have heard it many times on record, seeing this awesome song performed live sung by Gillan for the first time will live long in the memory. Spine shivering!
Two other new works are 'Well Dressed Guitar' given the working title of 'WD40' by the band, a well oiled instrumental piece that showcases Steve's remarkable playing abilities well, and 'Up The Wall' a song which was written towards the end of 2001 and currently unrecorded, Glover and Paice's pounding drum and bass rhythms and Jon Lord's distinctive Hammond Organ providing the classic Purple sound.
'When A Blind Man Cries', another song with the 'blind man' theme that seems to bring out something special from Gillan, has been plucked from the obscurity of an early single 'B Side' to feature in the band's 21st century shows.
Steve Morse then treated the audience to a selection of classic riffs from songs by The Who, Hendrix and others before launching into perhaps Purple's best known song, 'Smoke On The Water', with Gillan encouraging the audience to sing with him on the chorus, the crowd bathed in light sang and the years rolled back!
Closing their set with an extended version of 'Speed King', a song with its roots in both rock and rock'n'roll, we were treated to solo spots by each of the band's members before the band took their leave.
The crowd erupted, 'More!, More!' croaked 'Mississippi', voice not standing the test of time as well as Ian Gillan's! Then they were back, choosing for their encore their version of Joe South's song 'Hush' that was one of the first songs the band ever recorded, followed by another Purple classic 'Highway Star'.
The band were delighted with their reception for their first night at Grimsby, the good vibe running through the audience transmitted to the band who were clearly enjoying playing their music even after all these years. Few in the audience could be disappointed by what they saw and heard, in the coming days many more rock fans will enjoy Deep Purple's shows.
THE ACOUSTIC STRAWBS
GUILDHALL ARTS CENTRE, GRANTHAM ~ 30 JAN 2002
Little things are rarely missed by songwriter Dave Cousins, a newspaper preview about Strawbs acoustic tour had apparently described the band as having 30 decades in the music business, gave opportunity for an introduction to their concert at Grantham's Guildhall Arts Centre which took an almost full house on a trip through 'Strawb-Land', a journey through the band's remarkable 30 plus years history.
Stripped down to a three piece format, the acoustic Strawbs featured Dave Cousins, whose distinctive vocals have been a constant factor in the band's unique sound, accompanied by Dave Lambert whose electro-acoustic guitar sound blended superbly with Brian Willoughby's more acoustic guitar style.
The almost 'unplugged' format gave the group an excellent opportunity to perform songs which hadn't featured in their live shows before, and rework favourites of the band's electric sets, despite the relaxed approach to the concert the trio actually find the acoustic sets quite demanding, but rewarding!
Over the years Strawbs have built up a loyal band of fans, people who appreciate meaningful songs, strong melodies and fine musicianship, not surprisingly the comfortable concert hall was just about full by the time the show started!
For the opening song 'Benedictus' Cousins played an unusual electric dulcimer. The title song written whilst in deepest Devon for Strawbs 1971 album From The Witchwood followed, the Witchwood being the name of a bungalow where Cousins was residing at the time.
The stories behind the songs played gave a fascinating insight into the band's career, an early sortie into Europe resulted in the band arriving in Italy, whilst their instruments, tour equipment and roadies failed to materialise. Following this aberration, Cousins decided to travel with the tour entourage to ensure such problems did not occur again, during the journey through the alpine regions, they stopped near a bell tower by a beautiful lake, the scene inspired one of Strawbs classic numbers 'Tears & Pavan'.
The three musicians first met around Richmond, in South London in the late 60's. This was an era when the White Bear Folk Club was the haunt of young people, when mini skirted girls added to the scenery in Richmond Park and children gathered tadpoles and tiddlers from the Minnihaha, a tributary of the Thames, these times inspired the song 'You and I When We Were Young.
Perhaps best remembered by most people for their song 'Part Of The Union', which hasn't been transposed into acoustic form, Strawbs' songs are both lyrically and musically powerful, none more so than 'The Hangman and The Papist' written by Cousins sometime after a visit to Belfast, where the band had an excellent time, yet in the weeks following many stories of the undercurrent of fear and violence emerged, and some 30 years later that country still lies in the whirlpool of terror where children are attacked on their way to school and postmen are killed whilst delivering letters. Against this bleak backdrop, the song which is perhaps Cousins' darkest work scythes its way into the heart, yet leaves that unanswerable question, will things ever change?
Not all songs performed during the evening's performance were written by Cousins, Dave Lambert and Brian Willoughby also provide material for the acoustic show, Brian's offering 'Alice's Song' was written for his autistic niece, who when hearing that Strawbs were recording her song asked "Am I going to be famous?", ever the realist Brian said, "No!". Dave Cousins played the banjo for this song, and should ever this song deservedly reach a wider audience, perhaps one day Alice will be famous!
A New Year trip to Scotland and all the pubs in Fort William shut, a trip to Loch Shiel where a statue of Bonnie Prince Charlie stands inspired 'The Soldiers Tale', a song that shows Cousins' vocal abilities to full effect.
One of our favourite songs 'Ghosts' brought the first set to a close, another song inspired by Cousin's childhood memories about the fear of nightmares. This long song featured both Cousins and Lambert on vocals, and some intricate guitar work from Willoughby.
Appearing for the second half in different shirts, Cousins aptly attired in a blue shirt with strawberries on, the trio continued with 'A Glimpse Of Heaven' a song inspired by the beautiful village of Branscombe in Devon.
Like many in the audience, Dave Cousins could recall when the black avalanche of coal slurry blotted out many young lives in the Welsh village of Aberfan, 'Not All The Flowers Grow' is his touching tribute to the children and teachers who perished that day.
For 'Simple Visions', a song written following a day at Tatton Park, Cousins laid aside his acoustic guitar, allowing freedom of expression with his hands as well as words, Cousins is a visually impressive performer, even when sitting down as he and other members of the group do for this laid back acoustic show.
Introducing the Dave Lambert song 'Inside Your Hell Tonight' with a story of how he and Lambert saw Marlene Dietrich in a small New Orleans venue whilst on tour with the band in USA, and how that wonderful artist disappeared at intervals behind the black backdrop, Cousins left the stage allowing the spotlight to fall on Lambert & Willoughby solely, Lambert too is a fine vocalist.
A harrowing film about Sarajavo inspired the song 'There Will Come The Day', that expresses the hope that countries which have been torn asunder by war will one day be able to celebrate. Lambert's guitar playing on this song had an Eastern feel in places.
For the final song of the set Strawbs chose one of their best known songs, 'Lay Down' which was the band's first chart hit in 1972, Cousins thanked the audience for coming along and invited them to 'Sing along with Dave'.
We have noted on occasions people slipping away, whilst the crowd call for an encore, such was the rapt attention of the audience that no-one left at this point, the group duly returned, playing rather aptly 'On My Way' the first song the band ever recorded, back in 68, when Sandy Denny sung with the embryonic Strawberry Hill Boys who were to become one of Britain's most unique and enduring groups, Strawbs.
If you missed this excellent show, we understand that the trio will be appearing at several folk festivals over the coming months, including Otley in Yorkshire. There are also plans for the full band to tour later in the year.
CLIFF STOCKER, PAUL LUCKER & CHRIS PRESTON - SLACK ALICE ACOUSTIC
HEART OF LINCOLNSHIRE FOLK, ROOTS & BLUES CLUB, EAGLE LODGE HOTEL,
WOODHALL SPA - 18 DEC 2001
Before we look forward though we'll look back to a special concert which took place at the Heart Of Lincolnshire Folk, Roots and Blues Club at the Eagle Lodge Hotel in Woodhall Spa last week, when three members of the Lancashire blues rock band Slack Alice played what was scheduled to be a one-off acoustic concert.
Few people in the area have had opportunity to see the full band in action, though they did play at the Skegness Rock and Blues Festival, and the Spiders Web in Grimsby earlier in the year. Fewer still in the UK will have witnessed this show!
The band's roots lie back in the early 70's when they almost hit the big time as a progressive rock band. Fronted by that band's original lead singer Cliff Stocker on harmonica, acoustic guitar and lead vocals, the trio's line-up was completed by Paul Lucker on keyboards (including some swirling Hammond sounds) and vocals and Chris Preston, one of the band's talented guitarists.
The acoustic show gave Cliff an opportunity to include songs which don't feature in Slack Alice's regular sets, including the opening song Warren Zevon's jazzy 'Blue Feelings', 'Your Cheatin' Heart' by Hank Williams, and Leadbelly's 'Goodnight Irene'. Their set also included a number of new original songs which feature on the band's forthcoming album 'Somewhere Between ... Nashville and Chicago' due out early in the new year, as well as numbers which had influenced Cliff over the many years he has been playing, including 'St. James Infirmary Blues', 'Take This Hammer' a song he recalled seeing performed in the 60's by the Spencer Davis Group which featured at the time a remarkable young keyboard player, Steve Winwood. Another artist whose vocals inspired Cliff was Frankie Miller, who he saw in the Mean Fiddler venue in London in the 70's, one of the songs the Scottish musician performed that night was 'Your Cheatin' Heart'. Newcastle born, Cliff's distinctive gravel toned voice has similar qualities to the Glasgow born singer and to Rod Stewart, as shown by his cover of 'I Don't Want To Talk About It', a song Rod Stewart had a hit with during the 70's.
It was an ideal opportunity to showcase a number of songs from the new album which promises to be another memorable offering from the exceptional band who if talent and song writing ability were prerequisites to success, would be far better known!
Songs from 'Somewhere Between ... Nashville & Chicago' included 'Greenfingered Blues' which was used in the TV programme 'How Does Your Garden Grow'. Its not all been success though for Cliff and the band, 'Too Young To Sing The Blues' encapsulates in a song the British music business of the 70's, indeed it is the story of Slack Alice, the same attitudes face modern day bands trying to make the big time today!
As well as new original songs, the trio played a number which featured on their earlier CD's 'Broken Dreams' and '...Just The Blues'. Two songs which rarely feature in the band's electric sets, 'Love and Pride' and 'Pick Up A Heart' worked very well in this stripped down format. Another song which transposed well in this acoustic setting was 'The Bottle Song', one of the songs played by BBC Radio Lincolnshire in advance of the concert, taken from the 'Just The Blues' album. '(Get Your) Shoes On' with its risqué lyrics is certainly one song on the new album which you won't hear on the radio, the audience though loved it!
By way of introduction, the trio recounted some of the stories behind the songs, 'My Little Girl' for instance, written by Paul and featuring his sensitive piano playing was written after someone commented of another Slack Alice song that no-one could write a sadder song than that, Paul did, producing the haunting song about the affect of marriage split on children.
The more uptempo 'The Way Women Are Made' which was co-written with Foxy, who acts as roadie, soundman and occasional bassist and will also feature on the forthcoming album.
Chris's impressive guitar work throughout the evening's show was an added bonus, as the trio were originally billed as a duo. During the concert he played both acoustic and electric guitars, as well as some excellent slide guitar.
Back in the 60's one of Cliff's first bands The Saracens supported John Lee Hooker, a song which the legendary bluesman played that night was 'Hoochie Choochie Man', the trio performed a superb version of the popular Willie Dixon song. Another song specially performed for this show was the Creedance Clearwater Revival number 'Have You Ever Seen The Rain'.
Two fine sets, the second being well over an hour long concluded with a well deserved encore, an epic version of the Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee song 'Penicillin Blues'. Only time will tell, but the success of this concert may lead to further 'acoustic' Slack Alice gigs at suitable venues, they certainly seemed to enjoy playing and it gives the band a new dimension to explore.
We're sure the trio's performance added to Slack Alice's ever increasing fan base, look out for the return of the full band for a Blues Special Night at the club in the new year. Local performers Jason Smith and Martin Browne added to the evening's musical entertainment with two short, but well received floor spots, and a mention to for soundman Tim who provided an well balanced sound despite the short time the band had for a sound check prior to the concert. The journey from Lancashire to Woodhall Spa, via Lincolnshire's rural road network on a foggy evening taking longer than expected!
JOHN WRIGHT BAND (Trio)
WORKHOUSE FOLK & BLUES CLUB, BLACK HORSE, NETTLEHAM ~ 4 NOV 2001
One of the final concerts by the current John Wright Band took place last Tuesday evening at the Black Horse in Nettleham. Sold out days in advance, its not hard to see why the trio were so popular with local audiences, their blend of contemporary songs from a variety of artists including Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dougie McLean and folk performer Kieran Halpin. One of the trio's members Stewart Hardy has already left the fold, however Norfolk based fiddle player Joe Wright (no relation to John!) stepped into the breach in October to save the remainder of the tour. Joe's mother and father travelled across to see their son's performance, they must have been proud to see how well he fitted in with the trio, we understand that Joe will continue working with guitarist Kenny Speirs after the band go their separate ways in Jan. 2002. The band's line up was completed by the irrepressible frontman John Wright, whose remarkable stage presence and voice held the audiences rapt attention throughout the evening, be he be singing soft and tender ballads, or more rocking numbers such as Andy S. Stewart's 'Queen Of All Argyll'. Of particular note were the band's interpretation of Brian Bedford's (of Artisan) 'What's The Use Of Wings', the intense 'The Snows of France and Holland', 'Knee Deep In A River' and Robin Laing's 'Black Clothes'. The band received a well deserved encore and we're sure that like us many in the audience could have listened to them all night long, fittingly for their closing song they chose the Utah Phillips song 'All Used Up' which was powerfully delivered by John and brought a memorable evening to a close. The good news for fans of the band is that the new John Wright Band line up has been confirmed, featuring Tommy Roseburgh (who was the soundman for the Nettleham gig) on piano, Tony Gibbons (ex Garva) on cittern and vocals, Tai Wyskowslzi who has worked with Deacon Blue and Bonnie Raitt's UK touring band on guitar and vocals, Maartin (sic) Allcock on fretless bass, mandolin, bazouki and vocals in addition to the main man himself. Meanwhile talented guitarist Kenny Speirs and Joe Wright are teaming up with a female singer to form a new band as yet unnamed. Look out for developments on both fronts!
One Week in November ~ 4 Brief Reviews
WORKHOUSE FOLK & BLUES CLUB, BLACK HORSE, NETTLEHAM ~ 27 NOV 2001
Last Tuesday saw the first appearance in our area by American folk-country cross-over artist Kate Campbell. The singer songwriter from Nashville delighted her audience at the Black Horse in Nettleham with her songs such as 'Moonpie Dreams' written about her personal experiences. 'Bud's Sea-Mint Boat' about members of her family and 'See Rock City' about her native land. A number of people had travelled a long way for this sell out concert and with the quality and charm of her live performance its not hard to see why! It was Kate's first tour for four years, hopefully she'll have the opportunity to return quicker this time.
COOPE, BOYES & SIMPSON ~ GARLAND OF CAROLS
THE READING ROOM, EWERBY ~ 29 NOV 2001
The latest in the series of tours organised by the Lincolnshire Rural and Community Touring scheme brought a special festive show 'A Garland Of Carols' to the Reading Room in Ewerby. Regular folk fans mingled with the village audience to see top male A cappella trio Coope, Boyes and Simpson accompanied by Fi Fraser, Jo Freya and Georgina Boyes take us on the musical history of Christmas carols, from a time when they were banned by the church as being ungodly and sung riotously on the streets at Yuletide, to the 20th century when war stopped for a day in the trenches of France. The concert provided a fascinating insight in words and song to Christmas of yesteryear, including different versions of well known carols such as 'The Coventry Carol' and 'While Shepherds Watched' and more obscure carols such as 'As I Sat On A Sunny Bank' and 'The Carnal & The Crane'. A great start to the folk fans festive season!
BILL JONES BAND
SOUTH HOLLAND CENTRE, MARKET PLACE, SPALDING ~ 30 NOV 2001
Last Friday saw the return to the county of Bill Jones, voted Best Folk Newcomer of the Year. This time Bill who has made solo performances at many of the area's folk clubs brought her band to the South Holland Centre in Spalding. The concert attracted a good size audience, who were treated to a fine selection of original and traditional songs. Bill (short for Belinda) plays keyboards, accordion and whistles is accompanied by fiddle player and guitarist Roger Wilson, percussion Keith Angel who plays an interesting variety of instruments and local lass Miranda Sykes who plays double bass and electric bass, and provided some excellent harmony vocals, especially on 'Panchpuran' the title song from Bill's second CD, which has attracted the attention of Bob Harris who has featured songs from the album on his Saturday night show on BBC Radio 2. In addition to some fine original songs, the band played versions of some traditional folk songs such as 'The Blackleg Miner', 'Loving Hannah' and 'Farewell To Nova Scotia'. For a well deserved encore they returned to perform 'Turn To Me', a song written by Bill that reflects her love of her adopted North East and some of the worries of the people who see industry in the area dwindling.
THE WOODMAN, LOUTH ~ 1 DEC 2001
Bluesmove who are regular visitors to the area returned to The Woodman in Louth last Saturday evening. The band feature Howard Smith on guitar and vocals, his eye-catching style of playing impressing the audience, one person a guitarist himself commenting that he had seen many guitar players over the years, but few had impressed him as much as Howard! Behind him Mike Hellier on drums and Graham Lacey provide a punchy rhythm section whilst Julian Grudgins adds both piano and Hammond style keyboards, and provides vocals for such numbers as 'Rhythm Of Life' and a new song about drinking which was given its first live airing in Louth. A song which always stands out in Bluesmove live shows is Howard's self written 'Slow Train' featuring Howard on slide guitar, which received rapturous applause. Bluesmove with their full sound and powerful original songs are rapidly developing into one of the best bands on the British blues circuit. Unfortunately Dave who has been so instrumental in keeping live music going in Louth and bringing bands of the calibre of Bluesmove, the James Hunter Band and Nine Below Zero among others couldn't be at his gig due to illness, and fittingly one of the biggest cheers of the evening came when Howard acknowledged Dave's commitment to the local music scene! We wish him well and hope he is soon able to be back in his usual place on gig nights!
ALFORD FOLK CLUB, HALF MOON, ALFORD - 21 NOV 2001
Its always interesting to see a new performer appearing in the county, last Wednesday saw the debut in Lincolnshire by American singer-songwriter Diane Ponzio at the Alford Folk Club. As the organiser Nick said in his introduction, Alford Folk Club which was re-established in the 90's tends to be less traditional than some (though a number are diversifying to introduce new people to the clubs), Diane is not a folk performer, rather an acoustic artist who delivers her own repertoire of meaningful songs.
Diane has often visited Britain in her capacity as demonstrator for Martin Guitars, however she had never toured in her own right, perhaps due to the difficulty of arranging a tour from the other side of the Atlantic. She has been fortunate to be discovered by Leicester based musician John Montague who some may know from Dr Bob's Acoustic Blues & Roots Band, John has put together a tour that has given British audiences an opportunity to see this superb singer-songwriter in action and Diane an opportunity to play to different people.
Based in New York, Diane reflected over the events of September 11th during her set, bringing the audience her feelings of shock and some of the good that emerged from that awful day. She had been in New Zealand at the time, she spends much of her time travelling the world, playing her songs.
One inspired by a friend in New Zealand 'Hurt No More' carried the spiritual message of forgiveness. In true singer songwriter style Diane's songs are written about events and feelings - from simple observations, such as the surprise of a friend who when visiting the Big Apple wondered why people were in such a hurry to catch buses which run every two minutes, so was born the song 'Run For The Bus' to much more emotive songs.
In spite of travelling the world, she has strong family roots which have inspired two songs that tug on the heart strings, 'I See Your Face In Mine' written when her mother suffering from Alzheimer's disease and cancer, was in a nursing home and 'Now I Understand' written shortly after her father passed on.
Not all Diane's songs are in the same mould though, another of New York's young generation of music fans, a young rock fan with spiky green hair provoked the uptempo song 'Didn't We Rock' reflecting on the fact that the youth quickly said when asked about his favourite band "you wouldn't have heard of them!" - of course Diane is one of the generation who helped established rock as the musical force it is today! This song obviously struck a chord with her mesmerised audience who sung along heartily!
Its not often we have witnessed such a powerful and riveting performance, and one which featured all original material. Diane has not only striking stage persona but is a fine singer whose voice at times reminded us of Joan Armtrading's, and skilful guitarist making her a complete all round performer.
KEVIN THORPE'S OUT OF THE BLUE
TRINITY ARTS CENTRE, GAINSBOROUGH
FRI 9 NOV 2001
As so often happens its been quite a while since we paid a visit to the Trinity Arts Centre in Gainsborough, then suddenly two Friday nights running we find ourselves travelling to the old church that has been converted into a great venue in the north east Lincolnshire town. The lure this time being what is becoming an increasingly rare appearance by one of Britain's top blues bands Kevin Thorpe's Out Of The Blue in the county, perhaps surprisingly as many of the band's excellent musicians are actually based in Lincolnshire. The band first came together for a one off concert at the Colne Blues Festival in 1994, such was the reception received that the band decided to continue and it was in some of the small Lincolnshire venues that the band first 'cut their teeth' on a new and receptive audience.
This has given the five piece band a strong fan base in the Lincolnshire and it was good to see many in the good sized audience turning out on a cold evening, and proving that despite claims by a major corporation that the 'new going out is staying in' (watching TV) there is nothing to beat live entertainment, especially when the musicians are of the calibre of these boys. Even ardent Out Of The Blue fans were surprised to see a new bass player in the band's line up, this being just the sixth gig that Hungarian born Zoltan Dekany had played with the band.
Opening their set with 'The Thrill Has Gone' the band play a mix of smooth soulful American blues including songs by Lonnie Brooks and Taj Mahal and original songs with a funky modern feel, such as 'Unfinished Business' a number from the band's long awaited second CD, 'Shadowplay', one of a number of songs from their latest offering.
We were soon introduced to the band's newest member Zoltan who not only plays 6 string electric bass, but also double bass on some songs. He quickly demonstrated his ability on one of the band's first numbers. Later in the evening he performed one of the most remarkable double bass solos we have seen, his fingers flying over the strings in a flurry of different moves that produced a multitude of sounds from the vibrating strings.
Kevin Thorpe gives plenty of opportunity for the band's fine musicians to display their remarkable talents during their concerts, as well as some exceptional double bass work from Zoltan, Jason Ashworth's distinctive and jazzy keyboard sound has bought a new ambience to the band's sound, whilst Eddie Tatton's guitar work always stands out. Last but not least the intricate and dynamic beat provided by Nigel Lobley on drums, showcased in an extended drum solo in the band's final number which was very well received by the audience.
From Out Of The Blues own songbook stand out tracks performed included 'New Man, New Woman', 'Unfinished Business', 'If You Were Gone' and the title track of their first CD 'Blues In A Bottle'.
Combine the instrumental power of the band with Kevin Thorpe's deep and soulful vocals, tasteful guitar work and songwriting ability and you have one of Britain's most distinctive blues bands. On current form it may be a while before fans have another opportunity to see the band locally, but if they are playing at a venue near you, do yourself a musical favour, believe us the new going out is not staying in when these boys are in town!
BOB & SHEILA EVERHART ~ 29 / 30 / 31 OCT 2001
WORKHOUSE FOLK & BLUES CLUB ~ NETTLEHAM
HEART OF LINCOLNSHIRE FOLK, ROOTS & BLUES CLUB ~ WOODHALL SPA
LINCOLN ARMS ~ SPALDING
Two American acts caught our eye last week, duo Bob & Sheila Everhart played three concerts at venues around the area, the Black Horse at Nettleham, the Heart Of Lincolnshire Folk, Roots & Blues Club at Woodhall Spa and Spalding Folk Club. Interestingly when the duo whose music encompasses old time country and bluegrass first contacted venues in the UK regarding their tour, the country music clubs they approached said that the style of music they play is no longer accepted by country music audiences, a number suggested they tried some of the folk clubs whose followers were more likely to accept the traditional music of America. They noted too that many of the country's folk clubs whilst upholding traditional music, more readily embraced the modern technology of the Internet, whilst few country clubs seem to broadcast their details to a worldwide audience! Starting their set with Wabash Cannonball a song about a mythological train from the hobo's folklore, Bob, who plays 12 string guitar and harmonica and sings & Sheila who at home plays double bass but for her gigs in Lincolnshire played an electric bass stood on a stool, and fiddle for one number, took their audiences on a trip through the musical heritage of old America, via New Orleans (Jambalaya), the days of cowboys (Sioux City Sue) to the early days of the country music with songs by Jimmie Rodgers ('Waiting For A Train') and Ernest Tubbs (Walkin' The Floor Over You). A delightful medley of tunes featuring Bob on guitar and harmonica tested their audiences knowledge of old time music at the start of the second half, these included The Carter Family's 'Wildwood Flower', a tune from the times of the 49'ers the Goldrush pioneers and 'Red River Valley'. Another memorable song was Bob's self penned 'Time After Time' written about divorce rates, a song that was nominated for a Grammy award but pipped in the final stages by a Doc Watson song. Folk fans in their audiences especially appreciated their version of the Woody Guthrie song 'Going Down This Road Feeling Bad'. As well as playing the music of the old days, Bob embroiders their shows with some of the stories behind the music, in his introduction to Uncle Dave Macon's 'The Roving Gambler' he recalls the story of the day the alcoholic musician was taken to the drying out clinic by his brother only to reverse the roles by rushing in to the doctor first and insisting that his brother 'Dave Macon' out on the wagon should be taken into the clinic in a straight jacket and would tell the doctor lots of lies to avoid treatment, the Dixie Dew-Drop then returned to his home and his drink, leaving his fuming brother at the clinic! As well as stories of the old time musicians, Bob includes some stories about his life as a musician, including how he met Sheila 'slopping hogs' on a song finding expedition in the Ozark Mountains and how the Ozark people keep their mud floors polished, this explanation being followed by a display by Sheila of traditional Ozark dancing. Perhaps the most widely known song in the couple's repertoire is the Huie Ledbetter (Leadbelly) song 'Goodnight Irene' which was sung with gusto by their audiences. A fine entertainer, Bob brings alive the roots music of USA, making it relevant in the 21st Century, long after it was first popular, odd though that its the folk audiences of Europe who are appreciating Bob and Sheila's music rather than country audiences, fortunately such folk clubs are helping to keep this music alive, so that when the day comes in the future, when country audiences look to rediscover the roots of their music, it will still be there played by ardent enthusiasts like Bob and Sheila who are keeping it alive for future generations.
BOB CHEEVERS ~ 2nd NOV 2001
TRINITY ARTS CENTRE, GAINSBOROUGH
Last Friday American singer songwriter Bob Cheevers, originally from Memphis, appeared at Trinity Arts Centre in Gainsborough as part of his 'We Are All Naked Tour' UK Autumn Tour. In spite of a radio interview on one of the local radio shows and publicity through the Arts Centre's Guide, the audience was sparse, more noticeable especially as the concert was in the venue's main theatre. Notwithstanding this Bob, who at times had opportunity to talk to the people in the audience individually, introduced us to his music, which only vaguely resembled the rootsy blues description afforded it in the art centre brochure. It is often hard to classify singer songwriters such as Bob Cheevers as his original songs are not traditional as in folk, not country though he currently resides in Nashville, not blues, some such as 'Underpants' humorous, others such as 'The Ballad Of Caleb Leedy' are sad, love songs such as 'My Beautiful Suzannah' are very personal, whilst many of his songs with fanciful characters such as 'Large Marge' (and her Louisanna Love Barge) and 'Annalee Saint Pierre' spring from a fertile imagination, perhaps due to Bob being an only child. Other memorable songs include 'We Are All Naked' the title of his latest CD, 'Its All About Time', 'Rose Hips'
and 'Old Soul'. Acoustic Americana story songs perhaps best describe the man's music.
In spite of occasional tuning problems due to the change in humidity between Bob's homeland of Tennessee and the UK, (oddly the air in England is drier than that of Nashville!) Bob's guitar work was enjoyable, his vocals are strong at times reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen in both in accent and delivery.
He closed a winsome set of original material with his song 'Heroes' which has taken on a new feel since September 11th, and a two song encore, the aforementioned 'Underpants' and 'That Was Eli'. Look out for Bob Cheevers' return in the spring of 2002, this man deserves an audience for his songs!
EMILY SLADE ~ BOSTON FOLK CLUB ~ THE EAGLE, BOSTON
MON 8 OCT 2001
Last week was a particularly busy week on the local music scene, first there was another opportunity to see rising young folk performer Emily Slade at a local folk club, when she appeared at Boston Folk Club last Monday. Her appearance attracted a comfortably full house to the club's upstairs room at the Eagle, which was good to see sometimes audiences tend to go along for big name acts and not support younger less well known performers. Emily is an excellent guitar player, whilst her vocals have earthy quality. Her repertoire includes a wide variety of songs, from the traditional folk song 'Cursed Fields Of France' which recently featured on Mike Harding's BBC Radio 2 folk programme, to Dusty Springfield's 'Only Want to Be With You'. In between Emily included the Brooks Williams song 'Postcard From The Gulf Side' and a selection of her own songs including 'Shire Boy', the title track of her debut album, which relates the changing of suburban areas where local people can no longer afford houses due to the influx of new business people. Another original song 'Ladders To Grass' was inspired by reading about the tin miners of olden days, whilst her song 'The Collectors Lot' was written about her mother who is an avid collector! Emily interweaves her songs with informative introductions, her natural ability to converse provides a bridge between her and her audience. She will surely become a star on the national folk scene, its good that in her first full year as a professional, Emily who hails from Hertfordshire has found Lincolnshire clubs and audiences some of the most supportive in her early days when its often difficult for young performers to get gigs at established folk clubs.
LES WILSON & THE MIGHTY HOUSEROCKERS
BOSTON BLUES CLUB, AXE & CLEAVER, BOSTON ~ WED 10 OCT 2001
On Wednesday night Les Wilson and The Mighty Houserockers made a rare appearance in the county, at Boston Blues Club. With football on TV, the gig didn't start until quite late in the evening, which gave us opportunity for a quick chat with Les, Ted and Delroy before they took to stage. Once again the problems of getting gigs arose, interestingly the band are now more active in Europe where audiences appreciate blues rock bands more than in this country. This was the opening night of a short UK tour, a the first time for several months that Les had picked up his guitar. It wasn't obvious from his playing which is as good as ever. Superbly backed by long-time Houserocker Ted Williams on bass and Delroy on drums, Les played both slide, Fender and Gibson style guitars including many old favourites such as 'Blue Lamp', 'Elmore's Boogie' and 'Houserocking Blues' from his own repertoire and 'I'll Play The Blues For You' and some Chuck Berry songs. The band are releasing an CD containing the best of the first four albums shortly, and their set included many of the numbers which will feature on the album, songs such as 'Fly Like The Wind' which Les poignantly dedicated to the times we live in, and 'Fine Looking Woman' from the band's debut album released over ten years ago. It was interesting that the band steered away from the Hendrix songs that became their trademark in the mid 90's, after the band's long second set they didn't return for an encore, wondering if a Hendrix number would have featured, Les told us that if they had have played an encore it would probably have been a Chuck Berry song!
BBC RADIO LINCOLNSHIRE FOLK COMPETITION ~ SPILSBY THEATRE
THU 11 OCT 2001
Thursday night saw the 10th BBC Radio Lincolnshire Folk Song Competition, which was held at Spilsby Theatre. Its always an exciting night with performers from many of the areas folk clubs entering songs, its an ideal opportunity too for everyone to meet up, so it was surprising to see quite a number of unfilled seats in the theatre's auditorium, as often additional seating has had to be bought in to accommodate everyone. Once again though those present were treated to an evening of fine original songs from the ten finalists with the added bonus of an additional warm up track by each artist and an humorous opening song from organiser Tom Lane. Its always a difficult decision for the judges to decide at the end of the night which song is the best and so it proved, but first prize went to 'Jag Day' (about a old traditional event rather than the car!) by Clarty Sough, with runners up, 'I'm Coming Home, Mam' performed by Silver Birch and 'Apple Crumble Court' by Paul Dickinson. For the first time a special performance award donated by the local Musicians Union was awarded for artists' performance, this went to Clarty Sough, whose rendition of 'Jag Day' was accompanied by some traditional dancing, costumes and splendid introduction!
JOE TURNER & HIS MEMPHIS BLUES CARAVAN
HEART OF LINCOLNSHIRE FOLK, ROOTS & BLUES CLUB with THE EAGLE LODGE HOTEL
Tue 25 Sept 2001
Last week saw the memorable first appearance in Lincolnshire by Joe Turner's Memphis Blues Caravan at the Eagle Lodge Hotel in Woodhall Spa. The concert seemed to catch the imagination of local music fans who turned out in force. The long wait from door opening time to 9pm, when the band took the stage was quickly forgotten (though it has been noted for any future concerts!) as the band performed an excellent 45 minute long opening set beginning with the instrumental B.J., the time just flying by! In addition to the great Joe Turner himself, who has played with B.B. King, Isaac Hayes and Albert King to name but three, the band feature the amazing young singer Keith B. Brown, who hails from Memphis, his soulful voice and great stage presence just one of the night's talking points. The band also featured two surprise guest musicians, drummer Stevie Washington, who also hits the skins for Scottish band Texas, and London based guitarist Todd Sharpville who has played with many top American artists and also has his own band. The sound and lighting provided by Tim and Graham was excellent throughout, and the occasional problems with the cordless mic actually added to the show, the venue being intimate enough to allow vocalist Keith to sing acoustically whilst the problem was fixed. The band's second set was equally good, and the final song 'Love To See You Smile' written by Keith we're sure will live long in people's memories, the funky rhythm whipped up by the band helped along by many of the audience by now on their feet clapping along, with Keith weaving his way through the crowd singing, before the band put their instruments down and singing the catchy chorus a cappella style left the stage. They returned for a much demanded encore performing two more songs to the delight of the audience. After the gig Joe and the band spend a long time talking to fans and signing their CD's, a memento of a unique concert. The good turn out for this concert shows that there is a potential audience for the blues in the area, though it is not always possible to attract the big name acts to the county, the organisers of the Heart Of Lincolnshire Folk, Roots & Blues Club hope that this gig may have helped put the little club on the musical map.
SLACK ALICE - 12TH GREAT BRITISH RHYTHM & BLUES FESTIVAL ~COLNE
FRIDAY 24TH AUGUST 2001 - INTERNATIONAL STAGE
The Sell-out opening night of the Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival in Colne, Lancashire saw a large and excited crowd building up, filled with anticipation for the weekend's blues festivities and waiting in front of the International Stage for a glimpse of the amazing band who were destined to set the whole show on the road . . . . . Then the Compere for the weekend on the International stage - 'Ricky Cool' stepped out and introduced the excellent 'Slack Alice', led by 'Cliff Stocker'. Ricky by way of introduction said "Cliff is one of the finest Vocalists and Songwriters to come out of the North East", something which we wholeheartedly endorse.
'Slack Alice' kicked off the festival with a crackin' version of 'Gimme All Your Lovin', the ZZ Top song, putting their own special stamp on it and drawing the already large audience closer to the front of the stage ready to party along with them. For those who haven't seen 'Slack Alice' before here's a quick run thru' of the band members - Cliff Stocker - Lead Vocals, Harp, Acoustic Guitar and Tambourine, Malc Crossley - Bass, Guitar, Acoustic Slide Guitar and Vocals, Chris Preston - Guitars, Acoustic Guitar and Vocals, Colin Redmond - Guitars, Banjo and Vocals, Foxy - Roadie and Bass, Paul Lucker - Keyboards, Gary Jones - Drums.
On the stage, they played a fine song from their '. . . Just The Blues' album, 'Blues Machine' written by Slack Alice's brilliant keyboard player, 'Paul Lucker'. By now the crowds in the Municipal Hall were groovin' on their feet and in their seats. Lots of people including us commented that it was the biggest crowd they'd ever seen for a Friday night for the International Stage and especially seeing as Slack Alice were the first band on, when understandably people are still travelling to the festival. It seemed no-one wanted to miss a moment of these guys' splendid performance.
Slack Alice began their musical journey back in 1973 and 'Penicillin Blues' is a song they have always enjoyed doing since the early days of the group. It exemplifies the deft touches the whole band bring to any song in their vast repertoire and emphasises the exciting vocal range and blues harp talents of Slack Alice's band leader, Cliff Stocker. Now the crowd were really buzzing and it was time to unleash some of the band's fantastic new material on the Colne Festival audience. The first of the new numbers, which was co-written by Slack Alice's talented Roadie, Soundman and 2nd Bass player, Foxy, and Cliff Stocker. The song is entitled 'The Way Women Are Made'. This is the second time we have heard it in a live performance and it would be the first time for many of the audience, but immediately it's catchy lyrics and tune make you want to sing along and groove, this song hi-lights the mighty tight Drums of Gary Jones and solid groove Bass work of Malc Crossley and hot Guitar sounds from Chris Preston and Colin Redmond. This will be on Slack Alice's new album 'Somewhere Between . . . . . Nashville and Chicago' due out in October 2001 thru' 'BluesMatters Records'.
They followed this excellent song with yet another new strong original number that compliments their previous work and will also be on their new album. This song is written by Cliff and Malc and documents the bands history back from their start in 1973, thru' the break and then the reformation of Slack Alice. It is titled 'Too Old To Rock (Too Young To Sing The Blues)' and whether you hear it for the first time live or on the new album you are guaranteed to be singing the chorus for weeks and weeks afterwards and thinking how true the song is about the way Slack Alice and many other fine bands get treated when they should all be receiving much more critical acclaim and be up there with the greats. On 'Too Old To Rock (Too Young To Sing The Blues) Cliff adds some superb Acoustic Guitar work. All of Slack Alice's songs are very individual whether it's slow blues ballads, blues rockin' numbers, humorous touches, going way back to the roots of the blues and total classics.
They did an excellent adaptation of the great song written by 'Little Junior Parker' and later covered by Elvis Presley in his years with the Sun Label, 'Mystery Train', featuring Cliff's stunning Vocals, Harp work and all the band working to make their version a stand out one with the brilliant twin Guitars of Colin Redmond and Chris Preston. 'The Bottle Song', of which a re-recording is on the new album begins with the beautiful, melodic keyboard work of Paul Lucker and then all the band blend their sounds together very well into this number as Cliff sings and acts out the story with impassioned vocals and gestures.
Another song which many would be reluctant to try is 'Piece Of My Heart' which was done superbly by Janis Joplin, and yet Cliff's striking Vocals and the bands undoubted ability always make this a stand out number in Slack Alice's repertoire, they have made it their own, and tonight was no exception from the response they had to the song with people cheering enthusiastically. Then Foxy is welcomed onto the Stage to a mass of applause and takes over the Bass from Malc Crossley, then Malc plays Guitar for 'There Goes Another Dream' which is an interesting blues ballad, with a meaningful story line and lots of breaks in the song for excellent solos from the band. The mood then changes and this shows how versatile the band are moving seamlessly from slow to faster numbers and having the audience right there with them. 'Get Your Shoes On' is a catchy number that had the large audience dancing, clapping and singing along, it is a blues in a modern style, but one that also takes you right back to the roots of the blues with humorous lyrics written by Cliff which have an unexpected twist at the end. For this number Colin plays the Banjo to excellent effect, there's brilliant Vocals and Harp from Cliff, and exciting Guitar work from Malc on Acoustic Slide Guitar and Chris on Acoustic Guitar. 'Get Your Shoes On' and 'Another Dream' are also on the new album which the band are hoping to release in October.
The band had the opportunity to do a great rockin' blues adaptation of ZZ Top's 'Jesus Just Left Chicago' in which Gary Jones' Drumming is tight and exciting from start to finish. The next song 'Monday Morning Blues' was extremely popular with the audience at Colne and is always a feature of their live shows each time they do it. 'Monday Morning Blues comes from the '. . . Just The Blues' album. Following that song Cliff led the band into a superb performance of 'Hoochie Coochie Man' featuring his amazing Vocals and excellent Acoustic Guitar work. Old Bluesmen looking down on Cliff and Slack Alice in Colne tonight would be appreciating their performance and the passion they all put into all their music, 110% effort into every song and piece of music.
All too soon it was time for Slack Alice's last number, this song has some of the song titles of a number of their earlier songs incorporated into it and it features elements of a band on tour and playing . . . . . 'Somewhere Tonight' combines Cliff's powerful Vocals and the whole band working wonderfully thru' the song to a fantastic crescendo of beautiful sounds. The Audience really enjoyed Slack Alice's show, they cheered and shouted for more, but the festival schedule was already running late. Slack Alice really set the International stage alight with their performance and provided a benchmark for the rest of the weekend's performances. Catch Slack Alice soon at a venue or festival near you and look out for their new album due out in October.
Published with thanks to Mae & Bob Alex ~ 2001
MARTIN TRIMBLE (solo)
BLUE BELL INN, TATTERSHALL THORPE
Wed 8th August 2001
Last Wednesday night saw the first acoustic blues night at the Blue Bell Inn at Tattershall Thorpe, where rising star of the British blues scene Martin Trimble was appearing. Arriving early it was encouraging to see a number of cars already in the car park and by the time Martin began playing, opening with the Lightnin' Hopkins number 'Late In The Evening', a good sized audience had accumulated in the intimate village venue. Not acoustic in the true sense, Martin playing electric guitars including slide through an amplifier as a solo performer, rather than with his band had opportunity to perform classic blues numbers such as John Lee Hooker's 'Dimples', 'Catfish Blues' and 'Rollin & Tumblin' with full emphasis on his guitar work which is remarkable, more especially as he is still in his teens. In addition to his playing, Martin's vocals seem to emulate from a singer of more mature years than the young performer sat in the Blue Bell. Martin's second set included old blues songs such as 'Big Boss Man' and 'Help Me' as well as songs which have featured in modern blues artists repertoires such as 'Come Back Baby' the old Jimmy Dawkins song revamped by Eric Bibb. Towards the end of his performance, he introduced Glen Bartup who also plays guitar in the Martin Trimble Band for 'Hip Shakin Mama' and 'Black Night' before closing with a Hendrix number, steering clear of oft covered songs Martin chose Jimi's 'Hear My Train a Comin'. The audience who were both considerate of the performer playing and appreciative of his music and undoubted skills called for a well deserved encore, for which Martin played a song made popular by Eric Clapton, another guitarist who like Martin began playing in local venues, namely 'Before You Accuse Me'. Only time will tell if in years to come those who were clearly impressed by the young performer will recall the day when he played in their local to incredulous listeners!
Hopefully there will be more such blues evenings at the venue in the future, in addition to the music there's a variety of real ales to sample, many such as 'Spitfire' with a RAF connection, as befits the many photos which hang around the pubs walls. There are also many signatures on the low beamed ceiling left by passing airmen over the years.
GIN HOUSE ~ RED LION, REVESBY
SAT 28 JULY
The opportunity to see one of the busiest blues bands in the area, and pay our first visit for a gig to one of the venues regularly listed in our column seemed too good to miss, especially on a hot July evening when a cool refreshing drink or two would be very welcome.
When we arrived at the Red Lion in Revesby, there were already plenty of people enjoying meals in the bar, and in the neatly kept beer garden, where a number of young children were enjoying themselves on the play equipment.
With dusk approaching outside and the numbers in the bar swelled by members of the local cricket team who'd just won the cup final the atmosphere was building. In addition to the regular sound equipment required by a four piece band, Gin House also bring along their own lights which gave the stage area a warm red glow. The Red Lion is one of the few local pubs to have a natural raised stage for the performers to play on. The venue has live music every Saturday evening, ranging from solo artists performing 50's to 90's music, Country acts, to rock'n'roll bands.
As the band's front man Phil explained landlord Richard had a darker side too, booking the occasional blues band such as Gin House. The band quickly dispelled the notion that their repertoire would be full of blues standards, opening with a Johnny Winter number 'One Step At A Time', which was quickly followed by 'I Can Tell' a song written by Bo Diddley and more recently recorded by Dr Feelgood. The band's set includes some popular Chicago blues songs including 'My Babe' and 'Sweet Home Chicago' on which lead singer Phil plays blues harp. 'Worried Life Blues' showcased the lead guitar work of Adie especially well, with a great guitar ending. For the Peter Green song 'Black Magic Woman' Phil took the lead guitar role, he is also a fine blues singer whose vocals come across clearly and on songs such as 'Hi Heeled Sneakers' have touches of the dark brooding menace of the original blue singers. 'Hi Heeled Sneakers' and the Chuck Berry song 'Let It Rock' encouraged some well practised jivers onto the small dancing area. Phil and Adie's guitar work is backed by solid bass and drum work from Michael and Jed respectively, they have been playing together for over two years and their tightness as a band shows on songs such as 'Just A Little Bit Of Your Love' where timing is particularly important. Towards the end of a great hour long first set Adie introduced the 'black monster' slide guitar for their version of George Thorogood's cover of the primal Robert Johnson number 'Steady Rollin' Man'.
After a short break Gin House returned opening their second set with a Chuck Berry number 'Talkin' About You' followed by Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'Pride & Joy'. The band are currently building their reputation across the Midlands as a blues band, already playing gigs at Nettleham Blues Club and in Leicester, Gin House also have a November date at Nottingham's Running Horse, one of the Meccas for the blues in the Midlands. Tonight though they aimed their set at the wider audience who enjoy music at the Revesby venue, including songs such as Eric Clapton's 'Before You Accuse Me' which had some fine interaction between Adie and drummer Jed, and 'Mustang Sally', before returning to the blues with Sonny Boy Williamson's 'Don't Start Me To Talkin' with some excellent guitar playing from Adie and another slide number Dr Feelgood's 'Back In The Night'. The band's version of Steve Gibbon's song 'Tulane' and 'Route 66' encouraged the dancers back to the floor. A special treat for us was the inclusion of Texas bluesman Mike Morgan's song 'If My Baby Quit Me', probably many in the audience hadn't heard of Mike or his band The Crawl, but they certainly enjoyed the song. Culminating another long set, Gin House played the rocking Gary Moore song 'Walkin' By Myself'. After delivering two great hour long sets on such a warm evening it was perhaps not surprising the band did not return for an encore, despite calls for more from an appreciative audience!
A band with a real feeling for the blues, Gin House are actively seeking to play further afield than Lincolnshire, with performances like this they can expect to be spending more time on the road in the future. They also like to have a bit of fun with their audiences, testing their knowledge about the origins of one particular song played, Phil offering to buy anyone in the audience who can come up with the answer a drink with money from Michael's wallet! Sorry if you thought you'd get any clues from us, we're not telling!
KIRKBY IN ASHFIELD BLUES & ROCK FESTIVAL
MARTIN TRIMBLE & OUTSIDE HELP / NICKY MOORES BLUES CORPORATION / GREGG WRIGHT BAND / JAMES HUNTER BAND / NIMMO BROTHERS / NINE BELOW ZERO
SAT 14 JULY 2001
With so much happening last weekend music fans in Lincolnshire were spoilt for choice, though many blues fans made a short journey across the border to North Nottinghamshire to Kirkby In Ashfield, where the 4th Kirkby Blues and Rock Festival took place, there was some local interest here, with Lincolnshire band Martin Trimble and Outside Help opening the festival with a set that was very well received by the already considerable crowd. The young band now feature experienced drummer Dave Raeburn formerly of The Hoax as the Outside Help. Their set included 'I've Got News For You' an original number, 'What's Inside Of You' an innovative reworking of Cream's 'Strange Brew' and Muddy Waters song 'I Just Want To Make Love To You', Bernard Allison's 'Walking' which had some of the audience up dancing and the evocative Albert King number 'As The Years Go Passing By' which showcased Martin's excellent blues guitar work. Alongside Martin, guitarist Glen Bartup added some splendid guitar solos of his own, the band's talented line-up is completed by Dave Wheeldon on bass. Its good to see this young band making their way up the blues ladder, from formative gigs at local venues to festival stages.
Nicky Moore's Blues Corporation following the young Sleaford based band, fronted by the remarkable singer and guitarist himself, Nicky who has been in the music business some 30 years, including a period fronting the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal band Samson in the 80's, sadly though this is one of Nicky's last gigs as he is retiring later in the year due to ill health. However his son Tim who was standing in for regular guitarist Tommy Allen is continuing in the family tradition! Nicky was given a memento of the occasion and a standing ovation by the crowd following the band's fine set.
The final set of the afternoon featured a guitarist well known to Lincolnshire audiences, Gregg Wright (from the U.S.A.), who is currently undertaking a short British Tour. Gregg is working on a new album due for release soon, however his set included old favourites from the Round One CD, including 'Heidi Ann' and 'Between Heaven & Hell' as well as songs such as 'Nocturne' and 'Fast Woman' which have been staples of his sets for some time. Gregg's British band is Chris Jago (drums) and Adam Clarkson (bass). Adam, a fine guitarist in his own right is taking time out from his current band, The Motel Kings for Gregg's UK tour. Gregg was introduced as one of the world's greatest guitar players, he did not disappoint his fans, and won some new ones with his showmanship which included some behind the back playing during 'Fast Woman', a delightful interlude of 'These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things' during 'Come Together' and a blistering version of 'Voodoo Chile'. The crowd demanded more, and Gregg duly obliged with 'Crank It Up' a fitting end for a great set. Gregg and the band can be heard in session on the Paul Jones show on September 6th.
The James Hunter Band provided a complete contrast from the rocking blues of the preceding set, his soulful vocals and guitar style have more of a 50's feel with the more acoustic style of their instruments, including a stand up double bass. The cheerful Londoner engaging well with the crowd, especially the children dancing at the front.
The Nimmo Brothers were next up, and it soon became apparent why the band were described in the programme as 'the undisputed stars of last years festival', now with a new line up, a Lincolnshire connection in Lindsay Coulson (bass) and Dave Raeburn (drums) providing the rhythm section for the powerhouse frontmen Alan and Steve Nimmo, the extraordinary guitarists from Scotland who first enticed the audience to the front to provide 'a club atmosphere', a masterstroke especially on a July evening which had a chill breeze blowing, then treated us to a succession of guitar laden songs, including a great version of 'Help Me' that had the audience transfixed. Despite the march of time there had to be an encore, as the Nimmo's once again staked their claim to Festival stars and perhaps ultimately Britain's top blues/rock band.
Left with the unenviable task of following the Nimmo Brothers, Nine Below Zero manfully regained the attention of the audience still buzzing from the previous set. The Irish rhythm section of Gerry McAvoy and Brendan O'Neill on drums, formerly of the Rory Gallager Band provided the driving backing for guitarist Dennis Greaves and harmonica player Billy Boy Miskimmim as they powered their way through some old style Chicago blues numbers and original R'n'B. A nice touch from the band was the dedication of their encore 'On The Road Again' to John Lee Hooker, the blues legend who passed away recently. All in all, a great festival run by fans for fans, including families, children and dogs, and one blessed with fine weather despite a none too promising forecast, and one seemingly enjoyed by all!
CAHOOTS / BUCK & GILL
ALFORD FOLK CLUB, HALF MOON, ALFORD
WED 20 JUNE 2001
With some many bands and artists appearing at venues around our region, it is often hard to catch up with a particular act, local duo Cahoots have regularly featured in our listings, but until last Wednesday the duo and our paths hadn't crossed. On some occasions expectations can be too high, after months of anticipation, happily though this was not the case with Cahoots, who shared the bill with Buck and Gill, an act that sounded as if it was a boy / girl duo but in fact was a male trio featuring guitarists Buck and Gill (pronounced as the fish's gill) plus a bass player, augmented by a female accordion player. Buck & Gill played a varied mix of songs including some well played acoustic blues, a Dylan song, an excellently sung cover of 'My Girl' as well as some good original material such as 'Happy Days'.
Cahoots, who are singer and whistle player Linda Carroll, and guitarist Phil Barr, who also sings on some numbers. Their set included a number of melodic original songs as well as some well performed covers, including blues song 'Love Me Like a Man' made popular by Bonnie Raitt and written by Chris Smither. Linda also sung a Janis Joplin number which showed that her voice is not only well suited to the folkier singer songwriter material but also the harder edged blues songs. The duo's music was very well received by the sizeable audience at Alford Folk Club, Cahoots perform regularly at venues around the county and later in the summer will be returning to Alford to play at the Alford Craft and Music Festival.
SPALDING BLUES CLUB, RED LION HOTEL, SPALDING
SUN 13th MAY 2001
Perhaps one of the laws of physics exerts itself in the music field, the law that says for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction, so with so much modern music manufactured in recording studios rather than before live audiences, the resurgence of music that draws inspiration from the folk tradition is particularly encouraging for those who enjoy music with a grass roots feel, played live! This resurgence has also seen music of artists such as Kate Rusby reaching a wider audience due to radio air play by DJ's such as Bob Harris. We have been especially pleased to note that another performer who has appeared at a number of local folk clubs, Bill Jones is now being featured in Bob's Saturday night programmes.
Many of the folk and blues concerts we have attended recently have been sold out or very well supported. The latest being the Ben Andrews gig at Spalding Blues Club. It was Ben's first appearance at the club and people travelled from as far afield as Hull to see the Washington DC based musician play the blues. Ben's stunning guitar work on a variety of guitars including acoustic Martin, twelve string and National Steel, including some fine bottleneck playing was enhanced by the wooden stage top which provided a percussive soundboard amplified through the PA, adding a powerful rhythm backing for his songs. Add to this his remarkable vocals, which many people commented on after his two hour show as being very authentic for a white boy singing the blues. Ben interlaced old blues favourites such as 'One Kind Favour', 'Stagolee' and 'Death Have No Mercy' from the Delta tradition with songs from a variety of styles, including Ragtime and Piedmont blues, and stories of his journey as a blues musician, from the time when aged 11, he fell asleep each night listening to a two hour tape of Blind Willie McTell songs, to playing guitar long into the early hours with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble after seeing them perform live, learning songs from the old blues man Browie McGee to the sadness of the loss of fellow musician and friend Eva Cassidy. Along the way Ben has picked up a real feeling for the music he plays and this really shows in his astounding interpretation and delivery of the songs, including Leadbelly, Robert Johnson and John Lee Hooker numbers.
His music is as real as it gets, and perhaps its his startling rendition of a song that is his tour-de-force, as well as being the title of his latest CD, 'Gallows Pole' that epitomises this realness. A song full of powerful emotion laced with fear that has passed down through blues tradition for many years, yet had its beginnings in Eastern Europe some 600 years ago and has been handed down through Celtic tradition eventually surfacing in the Delta in the 20th century. Under the blue glow of the stage lights Ben's pleading vocals and striking guitar work during this eleven minute long encore song bought the night to a remarkable close. If you love the blues make sure you see Ben on his next tour in 2002!
KARL SVARC BAND / WINTER WILSON
LAWRENCE HALL @ THE LAWN CENTRE, LINCOLN
SAT 28th APRIL 2001
Our last trip to The Lawn in Lincoln to see a gig ended in disappointment with tickets for the Wrigley Sisters gig being sold out. Last Saturday night we were pleased to see two Lincolnshire acts drawing another large audience to the Lawrence Hall at the Lawn Centre. Singer songwriting duo Winter Wilson opened the evening with a well received set of original songs including a number which will feature on their forthcoming CD 'Matter Of Time' which is due for release in May as well as songs, such as 'Someone Else's Bed' from their debut CD. The duo who will be appearing at a number of festivals during the summer also introduce a lot of natural humour into their live shows. A particular highlight was the bluesy 'Find Myself A Man' for which the duo invited special guest Rob Law to play harmonica. They ended their set with a rousing version of Lindisfarne's 'Lady Eleanor' their only cover and one that certainly did justice to the original.
For the second half of the evening Lincoln based musician and singer Karl Svarc and his band took the stage. Karl has recently released his new CD 'Running Water' and this specially organised gig provided an opportunity for people to hear his new songs in the ideal concert setting his work deserves. His compositions draw on blues and roots influences and a spiritual theme runs thorough much of his work, though as his introduction to 'Preacher Man' suggests, Karl transmits his ideals through his music and songs rather than words. His band features his son Nick, a fine guitarist in his own right and perhaps one of the most innovative rhythm sections currently playing on the Lincoln music scene in Sean South and Ralph Spencer who play bass and percussion respectively. Ralph's array of percussion used to full effect on a number of songs including 'Hold On' included congas, cymbals, egg shakers and a ring shaped device that rang tunefully when struck. Backing singer Corrine O'Sullivan provided some delightful harmonies on a number of songs including 'The Magician' and 'Silence Between The Lines' a song written by Karl six or seven years ago. As well as his original songs Karl included excellent versions of two traditional songs, 'One Kind Flavour' a traditional blues number and 'Satisfied Mind' a song that had its roots in early bluegrass music, and has been covered by both The Byrds and Bob Dylan since, and tells of how money cannot buy a satisfied mind. An intriguing double bill that showed just what talent abounds on the Lincolnshire music scene, look out for both acts when they next play in your town.
HEART OF LINCOLNSHIRE FOLK, ROOTS & BLUES CLUB
EAGLE LODGE HOTEL, WOODHALL SPA
THU 12th APRIL 2001
The Heart Of Lincolnshire Folk, Roots & Blues Club, another folk club which recently was brought to the very brink of extinction due to several poor attendances, was filled to capacity for the first appearance in Lincolnshire for many years by north east performer Bob Fox. People had come from as far afield as Ely to see Bob's performance in the small rural club and once again the professionalism and quality of his performance coupled with his relaxed style made it a memorable gig. Bob's set included a number of songs which have been featured on national radio including 'Champion At Keeping Them Rolling', 'From Clare To Here' and 'Take Her In Your Arms'. Bob's rich deep voice is well suited for acoustic concerts, where audiences are intent on listening, & the size of the room at the Eagle Lodge Hotel meant that Bob was able to dispense with his P.A. for the evening. His songs came from a variety of sources including both traditional and songs from songwriters such as Ralph McTell, Ewan McColl and even another north eastern singer Jimmy Nail, the writer of 'Big River'.
EUGENE HIDEAWAY BRIDGES / KEVIN THORPE'S OUT OF THE BLUE
THE LAWN CENTRE, LINCOLN
FRI 6th APRIL 2001
Driving though the heavy rain last Friday evening left us wondering if people would support the double bill of blues featuring Kevin Thorpe's Out Of The Blue and Eugene 'Hideaway' Bridges, one of the biggest blues gigs in Lincoln for sometime. We were pleased to see by the time Out Of The Blue took to the stage that the Lawn Centre was virtually full, the band have undergone some line-up changes recently, bass player Lindsay Coulson has left to join the Scottish band the Nimmo Brothers (who appear in Lincoln on April 20th) whilst the band's talented young keyboard player Johnny Dyke has joined the Suzi Quattro Band, their places have been taken by Gary Rudd who many blues fans in the area may have seen playing bass with the latter day Walter Harpman Band, whilst Jason Ashworth who has played keyboards in jazz bands is a very able replacement for Johnny. Their set featured songs from their debut CD 'Blues In A Bottle' and some from their long awaited follow-up album 'Shadowplay' due for release on the Armadillo label in May.
Eugene 'Hideaway' Bridges, who hails from Houston in Texas, first appeared in Lincolnshire a couple of years ago when he supported The Blues Band at their convention held in Grimsby. We'd forgotten just how good he was in the ensuring time, in his thirties Eugene is one of a new generation of blues performers, & his playing and presentation is reminiscent of B.B. King, his performance not just a concert, but a show, his modern interpretation of the blues has a similar feel to many of the blues classics of yesteryear. Alongside Eugene, rhythm guitarist James Henderson stepped into the limelight on occasions with some fine playing, whilst Robin Clayton (bass) and Alan Savage (drums) laid down a solid foundation for both the soulful ballads and the funky uptempo numbers. A great show was rounded off with Out Of The Blue's Lincoln based guitarist Eddie Tatton and Kevin Thorpe joining Eugene and his band for the final two songs. As the older generation of blues players pass into history, their legacy will live on in performers such as Eugene who will surely play on stages far bigger that can be currently found in the city of Lincoln, a city that is in desperate need of a suitable venue which can cater for the bigger name acts, with both suitable capacity and sound quality, as the acoustics of the Lincoln Suite are not particularly suited for electric bands.
BOSTON BLUES CLUB ~ AXE & CLEAVER, BOSTON
WED 28th MARCH 2001
We always find it interesting to see new bands in action, last Wednesday was the first opportunity we had had to see the recently formed blues band Dangerous Age who are based around the Boston area. The four piece band who were the guests of Boston Blues Club, are a blend of experience and youth, lead singer and guitarist Rick Knight and harmonica player Colin Smith are joined by Colin's son Grant Smith on drums and Nathan T. James on bass. Considering the band have only been together for about two months, they have worked hard on an entertaining set of blues and blues rock numbers that should whet the appetite of blues fans. Rick's vocals are just one of the band's strong points, both delivered with strength but retaining clarity. Their first set included well performed crowd pleasers such as Hendrix's 'Hey Joe' & 'Red House' and Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'Pride and Joy', an excellent rendition of 'Black Magic Woman' for which Colin swapped his harmonica for a set of bongos to add the Latin percussion sound that characterised Santana's version of the Fleetwood Mac classic, as well as some more unusual covers such as 'Talk To Me Baby' which often features in The Blues Band's live performances and Alex Harvey's 'Framed' which closed a fine first set.
Continuing where they left off, the band treated the ever growing audience to fine versions of Stevie Ray Vaughan's songs including 'Texas Flood' which featured some good guitar and harmonica work, 'Willie The Wimp' with its compulsive beat, 'Cold Shot' and 'Lovestruck Baby'. Between these Texas style blues songs, the band played the crowd pleasing number 'Mustang Sally' with featured a meaningful harmonica solo from Colin, the Doobie Brothers funky 'Without Love', the old blues song 'Someday Baby' and a good version of Rory Gallagher's 'Bullfrog Blues' which featured some fine bass work from Nathan, before the band closed the second set with another SRV number 'Mary Had A Little Lamb'. After calls for an encore, Dangerous Age returned to the stage treating the audience to a second Doobie Brothers number 'Long Train Running'. All in all an impressive display by the band, look out for further gigs from Dangerous Age at the area's venues, they are scheduled to appear at the Indian Queen in Boston on Saturday 12th May.
SKEGNESS ROCK AND BLUES FESTIVAL 2001 ~ BUTLINS FUNCOAST WORLD
SAT 10th MARCH 2001
By the mid evening the main theatre at Butlins was packed, behind the stage curtains the next band were about the take the stage, for some in the expectant audience Slack Alice were a new name, few there could probably recall seeing the band in action in their formative years when for a brief moment the band stood on the very brink of stardom.
Those at the festival were to get a taste of just what the music industry missed! They opened their set with 'Gimme All Your Loving', one of the two ZZ Top covers that feature in the band's live performances.
Fronted by Cliff Stocker, whose vocals have comparable elements to others of his era such as Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker and Frankie Miller - world-worn, whiskey whetted in a thousand smoky barrooms, the sound that is ideal for singing British blues! This combined with an animated stage presence that emphasises the band's songs, and his ability to play some evocative harmonica on songs such as Blues Machine, make Stocker immediately striking as a frontman.
Penicillin Blues featured two musicians who have been an integral part of the modern Slack Alice band, the powerful slide guitar work from the ever impressive Chris Preston was followed by some fine keyboard work from Paul Lucker who with the spacious stage was for once was not tucked away in the array of equipment that the band take on the road.
Not many acts attempt to cover Janis Joplin songs, Slack Alice are one of the few we have witnessed, and with Stocker's amazing vocal prowess the band's delivery of 'Piece Of My Heart' had both the power & conviction that were a vital ingredient of the original. They followed this with their version of Elvis's 'Mystery Train'.
The original song 'Monday Morning Blues', which many in the audience would, in some 36 hours be experiencing first hand, successfully blends power with subtlety, the reverberating drum work of Gary Jones pounded round in our heads whilst Colin Redmond's excellent guitar skills were prominent before Lucker's gentle piano finale provided a contrasting climax. Slack Alice's well crafted song provided a foretaste that was a lot more palatable that the real thing!
With jacket draped over one shoulder, hair ruffled and vocals tinged with despair Stocker conveys the image of a forlorn man whose solace comes in drink, 'The Bottle Song' which was originally recorded on the band's excellent 'Just The Blues' CD has been re-recorded for the band's forthcoming album and once again featured some excellent guitar work from Redmond.
There's more than a hint of emotion in the words of 'There Goes Another Dream', for which Mal Crossley, who played alongside Cliff in the band's original guise played an acoustic guitar, whilst roadie Foxy stepped into the limelight taking over from Mal on bass.
This excellent song which will also feature on the summer CD release, relates to the band's musical career and we're sure it will become a great favourite with Slack Alice's many fans.
For their penultimate song the band again chose an more obscure cover 'Jesus Has Left Chicago' recorded by ZZ Top, which they followed with 'Somewhere Tonight' a song that reflects on the time when the band were always on the road, a real rocker!
Their flamboyant stage presence coupled with excellent songs still gives the band a big time feel, just what might have been, we'll never know, but just be thankful that the band are not only playing their older songs so lamentably overlooked first time around, but writing some superb new material too for a new generation to enjoy. By coincidence a few days later someone we got talking to by chance, said Slack Alice were for him, the best band at the Rock and Blues Festival!
Reviewed by the Midnight Ramblers
SPALDING FOLK CLUB ~ THE LINCOLN ARMS, SPALDING
WED 6th FEB 2001
The following evening we took the opportunity to see another up and coming young performer on the folk scene, by coincidence another Emily, this time Emily Slade, a singer and guitarist who is currently on her first national tour. Young musicians are often remarkably talented, but have due to their age have not developed their stage presence, a flyer describing Emily as a seasoned performer drew comment recently that this was unlikely, however the 23 year old impressed us and the rest of the audience at Spalding Folk Club where she made her Lincolnshire debut, not only with her excellent singing and playing but her ability in effortlessly introducing her material. Emily has a deeper voice than many singers of her age, & at times her singing reminded us of Sandy Denny's. She also has a varied repertoire that includes both traditional songs such as 'The Two Magicians' as well as more contemporary numbers such as Brooks William's 'Postcard From The Gulfside', an a capella version of Bruce Springsteen's 'Working Life' and the original song 'Small Talk, Grand Ideas'.
Emily looks to have a great future on the British folk scene, and must be in the frame to succeed Bill Jones (another folk artist who has appeared at clubs in our area) as BBC Radio 2's Young Folk Performer of the Year.
SPILSBY THEATRE ~ FRI 19th JAN
Over the past few years the young boogie woogie keyboard player Ben Waters has been making quite a name for himself as both a session musician performing with artists such as Shakin Stevens and Ray Davies, and as a solo performer.
The sizeable audience who braved the thick freezing fog and bitter weather to travel to Spilsby Theatre were treated to a evening of spellbinding piano playing from Ben. Playing the house piano, from which the front cover had been removed & the polished top tilted to reflect the piano's interior action, Ben performed both classic old boogie woogie pieces including Fats Domino's 'Fat Man' as well as songs by more obscure artists such as Prince Partridge's 'How Come My Dog Don't Bark' and some self composed works. As well as being a fine pianist Ben adds his engaging humour to live performances, both with his expressive facial expressions & hand movements and by his subtle switches of musical styles, between straight boogie woogie, classical, rock'n'roll, popular & children's music sometimes all in the same number! Another number which stood out was a great version of 'Down The Road Apiece'.
During the second set, Ben introduced a special guest Bruce Cutts from the audience, Ben found out that Bruce played as he said 'a bit of boogie woogie' following his first appearance at the theatre a couple of years back and together they amazed the audience with their four handed piano playing, Ben clearly enjoying playing with his seasoned guest. Ben bought his second set to a close with the old song 'Caledonia' during which Ben delighted the audience with his instrumental excursions throughout the musical spectrum. He returned performing the humorous 'Being Sick Blues' requested by his mother who was in the audience, and a great piano rocking instrumental number.
HEART OF LINCOLNSHIRE FOLK, ROOTS & BLUES CLUB,
EAGLE LODGE HOTEL, WOODHALL SPA
24th NOVEMBER 2000
The live music scene has a volatile reputation, with TV and other forms of entertainment, work pressures and soaring petrol costs all affecting audiences, especially at local venues. It is often understandably difficult to attract people out to see an unknown performer on a dark, wet autumn evening, but the few who turned up to see American performer Ruth Wyand's first gig in Lincolnshire, at the Heart Of Lincolnshire Folk, Roots & Blues Club were treated to an evening of superb music! A remarkable guitarist and slide player, Ruth used both 1947 Gibson acoustic and a 1932 Dubro during her performance, the old instruments lending themselves very much to Ruth's style of music if not to 21st century intercontinental travel. Her live set included both classic numbers and original songs, her interpretation on guitar of 'House Of The Rising Sun' as she had heard played by an old black female piano player in New Orleans raised the hairs on the back of the neck. Her original songs such as 'Paranoia Street' written about a late night walk in New York City have elements of jazz and folk, her reworking of Benny Goodwin and Charlie Christian's 'Seven Come Eleven' also showed her jazzier side. Ruth comes from a large family, her siblings all have normal lives compared to her life on the road, this American lifestyle inspired her song 'They Won't Know The Difference' which has a Latin jazz feel.
Ruth draws on many influences, a keen sailor her the song 'Sailors Prayer' has a folk roots feel. As well as some classic blues numbers during the evening Ruth who has a powerful voice also included the Janis Joplin song 'Turtle Blues' in her show, and 'Me And Bobby McGee' as her well deserved encore. Despite the low turn out, Ruth apparently enjoyed playing in Lincolnshire and hopes to return to the county next May, with word spreading about her live performance we're sure she be playing to bigger audiences then! Meanwhile if you enjoy acoustic blues music don't miss Emily Druce's appearance at the club on Friday 1st December.
BOSTON FOLK CLUB, THE EAGLE, BOSTON
9th OCTOBER 2000
There's been a feast of folk during the past week, starting on Monday evening at Boston Folk Club where Bill Jones was the guest, fortunately the rain and wind eased in the early part of the evening and it was good to see a larger than usual audience to see the young woman (yes, Bill is short for Belinda!) who is attracting a lot of attention in the folk media, indeed two days after her appearance in Boston, she was enchanting a nationwide audience with a live show on BBC Radio Two. Bill has one of the most distinctive voices of her generation (or perhaps any generation!) of folk singers, clear like a nightingale yet haunting as a siren, blending traditional folk songs such as 'Mist Covered Mountains' and 'The Fisherboy' with her own modern arrangements for piano, accordion and flute, Bill's set delighted the audience. She also performed some of her original pieces, notably 'Chloe Brown's Set' inspired by her young niece and a humorous song about the attitude the British have to complaining, that drives Bill mad, though she suggest she might have to review the song following the publics stand during the recent fuel crisis! Other highlights of her performance included her delightful coupling of 'Blood & Gold' with Universal Soldier and 'Turn To Me' the title song from her debut CD. A few years ago a certain Kate Rusby appeared at the Boston club, like her Bill seems destined to greater things. Mention to should be made to some excellent floor spots by local singers, unfortunately it was impossible to fit everyone in during the period between Bill's two sets.
JACQUI McSHEE'S PENTANGLE
11 OCTOBER 2000
After playing to a packed house in Norwich the previous evening Jacqui McShee's Pentangle performed a fine set at Spilsby Theatre, sadly though many people missed it, as someone said 'why won't they come out', no logical explanation was forthcoming though perhaps the hour long special of a certain soap programme on TV had an effect on the audience size! The latest incarnation of the band features founder member & lead singer Jacqui McShee, whose remarkable vocals still have that magical quality that were first heard on albums such as 'Basket Of Light'. She has assembled a group of highly accomplished musicians in the 2000 reincarnation of the band including percussionist Gerry Conway, Spencer Cozens on keyboard & programming, Jerry Underwood on alto & soprano saxophones, and bass player Alan Thompson whose sense of humour provided some lighthearted interludes during the show. Like the original Pentangle, this line-up blended jazz with folk, especially on songs such as 'Jabalpur' which featured some fine percussion work from Gerry, this piece also had Indian influences too, whilst other numbers, including 'Lovely Joan' and 'Thyme' drew on more traditional folk roots. The band also included some numbers from their forthcoming CD 'In A Little Theatre'. Those who stayed in missed an excellent concert, make sure you're in the audience if the band come back to the area, otherwise sadly concerts such as this may become a thing of the past!
CHRISTOPHER HAWLEY & HEATHER OGREN
HEART OF LINCOLNSHIRE FOLK, ROOTS & BLUES CLUB,
EAGLE LODGE HOTEL, WOODHALL SPA
13th OCTOBER 2000
American performers Christopher Hawley & Heather Ogren were the guests at The Heart Of Lincolnshire Folk, Roots & Blues Club last Friday. In an age when communication across the world has been made relatively easy, quick and cheap by using the world wide web, Heather & Chris had set up their tour of Britain, Ireland and Europe solely on the Internet. Sadly, the audience was rather sparse, perhaps due to a combination of unknown artists and Friday the thirteenth, despite this those who did turn out appreciated Chris & Heather's Alone Together Show. Heather, who was actually born in Louth and lived in Lincolnshire until she was five years old, played a number of solo original songs, some of which are featured on her CD 'Crickets In My Backyard' as well as songs by Tracy Chapman & Natalie Merchant whilst Chris accompanied her on slide guitar for a Joni Mitchell number. Chris opened the second part of the show with an instrumental piece which immediately showcased his finger picking style of guitar playing, he also included the traditional number 'Hobo Song', a self penned bluegrass song 'Waiting For The Snow' and the classical piece 'Greensleeves', all of which are featured on his CD 'Naked Songs'. Chris's guitar playing, which included some slide work was especially enjoyable. Jason who is a member local band Wishful Thinking performed three songs during an acoustic floor spot. Future dates bring Nashville singer songwriter Cathryn Craig with guitarist Brian Willoughby, well known for his work with The Strawbs on Friday 10th November and American slide guitarist & singer Ruth Wyand to the Eagle Lodge Hotel in Woodhall Spa on Friday 24th November.
TATTERSHALL PARK LEISURE CENTRE, TATTERSHALL
19th AUGUST 2000
Last weekend provided us with the opportunity to see one of the county's up & coming young rockabilly bands The Houndogs who were appearing at Tattershall Park Country Club. Summer evenings at the club cater both for guests staying in the park's amenities & for those who wish to enjoy live entertainment such as The Houndogs or perhaps the disco which caters for the younger dancing audience.
The nucleus of The Houndogs consists of guitarist Robert, Ian on double bass, both of whom sing, & David who plays the drums in true rockabilly fashion, standing up! They are joined by a variety of singers & musicians during the evening, which gives their performances a friendly & informal feel.
The opening songs included 'Shake, Rattle & Roll', the Eddie Cochran number 'Twenty Flight Rock' & 'Blue Suede Shoes' which had the younger members of the audience whose outlook on music hasn't yet been shaped by the latest fads, crazes & radio, cartwheeling across the dance floor in obvious delight.
These early numbers featured Bob, one of the Houndogs fathers on guitar & vocals, after the pacey opening songs, the band joked as they slowed the tempo for 'the old man' with 'Sit Right Down & Write Myself a Letter', which they followed with a lively number they aptly described as 'hot' during which a sudden flash of flame from David's flailing cymbals rose licked briefly towards the ceiling, whilst there was some fine guitar work from Robert & Ian was standing on his double bass on the dance floor.
Young female singer Gina took over from Bob, for 'I Love You Baby' which included some fine blues style guitar, the host of youngsters taking a break from their wild capers sat in a row mesmerised by the band's playing, soon they were joined by Robert playing guitar seated on the end of the row, he was quickly surrounded by the children who seemed keen to see the finer points of guitar playing close up!
Not all rock'n'roll songs come of course from the 50's, The Stray Cats revived the classic Rock'n'Roll sound in the late 70's, & The Houndogs trio included their version of the Cats pulsating debut single 'Runaway Boys'.
The band's next number featured 14 year old drummer David, whose playing on the band's version of 'Wipe Out' was superb. To follow the band introduced another singer Tony, whose expressive vocal work was notable on 'Johnny B Goode', 'Matchbox' & 'Memphis Tennessee'.
The high tempo first half was brought to a rousing close with 'Rock Around The Clock' & another Carl Perkins number 'Bopping The Blues'.
The band were joined by 12 year old guitarist Ashley at the start of the second half, & he received rousing applause for his playing on 'Just Wanna Dance The Night Away' & the excellent Stray Cat song 'Stray Cat Strut', which featured some great bass work from Ian. The fast tempo was maintained with a Matt Curtis song & 'This Cat's Shaking On A Hot Tin Roof' followed another Carl Perkins song.
Tony returned for 'Everybody Wants To Be My Baby Now' & 'Route 66', before Bob took the lead on the band's version of 'Tutti Fruiti' & 'Blueberry Hill'. A major inspiration for songwriters of the 30's, 40's & 50's were the trains that snaked across the expansive American heartland, many of the songwriters were indeed hobos who 'jumped' the trains to travel & play their music. Spawning many a classic song, the influence of the railroad continued on into the rock'n'roll era, tonight a member of the audience requested 'Lonesome Train' which isn't in the band's repertoire, but this gave them a great excuse for playing another train inspired song 'Mystery Train'. Bring the night to a fine conclusion, the band played Buddy Holly's 'Oh Boy', followed by a medley of rock'n'roll with reprises of 'Blue Suede Shoes' & 'Boppin The Blues' which featured Ian & David standing on their respective instruments & more flaming cymbals.
Thought for the day, why is it that during the band's great version of 'Tutti Fruitti' the dance floor was relatively empty, yet later packed when the disco played the same song on record!
DAVID ROVICS & RICH CALOGGERO
HEART OF LINCOLNSHIRE FOLK, ROOTS & BLUES CLUB ~ WOODHALL SPA
18th JULY 2000
Earlier in the year the organisers of The Heart Of Lincolnshire Folk, Roots & Blues Club received an e-mail out of the blue from David Rovics, an unsung American folk artist who was planning a tour of Britain in the summer to coincide with some festival appearances. A visit to David's web site where some of his music was available to listen to convinced them that David would be someone a little different, & special to appear at the relatively new club. Last Tuesday the singer songwriter & guitarist little known on this side of the Atlantic made his debut in the county, accompanying David on guitar his long time friend Rich Caloggero, the two performers hailing from Boston, USA.
David writes songs that are both thought provoking & topical, songs such as 'Minimum Wage Strike' that told the story of a strike by McDonald's workers in Ohio, though many around this region can sympathise with their thoughts. 'We Just Want The World' the title song of the American artist's third album which features all original songs, emphasises the importance of environmental issues. The disturbing song about Henry Ford tells the lesser known story of one of America's icons, which certainly left the listener reflecting on their image of this business man & his profit orientated ideals. War too was the theme in 'Song For Hugh Thompson' the story of a helicopter pilot in Vietnam whose intervention to stop a massacre was only told to the American people some 30 years after the event.
One of the most poignant songs of the evening 'Big Mountain' describes the old Navaho women whose stand against the expansion of mining into the traditional Navaho reservation looks doomed to be overcome by the authorities of the USA, who are systematically moving the entire population of the reservation to a new site, that incidentally was the site of a major nuclear disaster in the 70's, many of those people have apparently since died of cancer related illnesses, why do they need to mine the region, to fuel the lights & machines of Las Vegas!
'Glory & Fame' has an anthem like quality, & one of those songs that you think you've heard somewhere before, perhaps from the folk protest era of the early 60's, but its an original song, written by David in the 90's. A song about the workers who have toiled through the ages, those who have struggled for workers rights & those who have died in the cause of freedom.
David is no ranting protest singer, his voice has a quality & richness that gives his songs an appeal that others might not have, for whilst his concerns & passions show through in his lyrics & singing, his delivery touches the heart & fires the spirit, yet his work accessible those with time to listen. His humour showed through too on a song about pollution which had affected alligators in a way that was particularly disturbing to the men in the audience, could the use of pesticides & other chemicals have the same effect on the men of Lincolnshire .... !
As well as his own songs David also included numbers by other American Folk artists, including Woody Guthrie & Phil Ochs & some such as 'Big Rock Candy Mountain' written by train hopping hobo's such as 'Haywire' Mac McClintock. Another hobo song the beautifully performed 'Hobo's Lullaby' is one of our particular favourites.
In addition to David's remarkable songs, the audience thoroughly enjoyed the guitar work of Rich, which would have been remarkable even if he wasn't blind, but this exceptionally gifted artist amazed everyone with his playing, with David often standing back to allow the audience to admire his smoothly executed solo pieces, which featured some intricate work.
The following evening David & Rich made an impromptu appearance at Alford Folk Club delighting the audience with 3 songs that typified their style, including once again 'Big Mountain' & the story of why it was written. This is one of the songs that will be featured on David's fourth CD due for release later this year, as will a touching love song that David & Rich also performed during their open floor spot. Some people there enquiring where they could see a full performance by the two artists, were disappointed to have missed the duo's only Lincolnshire gig, hopefully David & Rich will return again in 2001, & certainly justified the Heart Of Lincolnshire Club's organisers faith in what they heard first on the Internet! If like those in the audience at Alford missed the opportunity to see David Rovics & Rich Caloggero, look out for their return!
e2k (formerly Edward II) / BLUE ROOM
Judging by the size of the audience at Belton House last Thursday night for the rescheduled concert by e2k few people in the area realised the concert was taking place. Another factor may have been the unseasonably cold evening, which could be felt despite the shelter of the large marquee erected for the weekend International Dance & Music Festival, currently the largest & most significant festival for fans of folk & roots style music in the south of Lincolnshire.
Opening what was to be a superb evening of musical entertainment, were the locally based band Blue Room who hail from Stamford. The band's repertoire includes songs about the history of Stamford as well as songs with a more general theme, whilst their music has its roots in folk many of the songs would appeal to a wider audience. They opened their set with a song familiar to those who have attended recent Lincolnshire Folk Song Competitions, 'Run The Bull', that describes the bull running event that used to take place in Stamford each year until the 18th century, a song that reached the finals of the 1998 competition, which was the first time we had encountered the group. Singer & acoustic guitarist Andy Croft recalled a different age with 'Bring The Light, Joe' a song about his grandfather, who was Stamford's last lamplighter. Stephanie, the band's bewitching Australian fiddle player performed a fine solo sat at the feet of Andy.
The melodic 'Home (Is Where The Heart Is)' with its twin acoustic guitars & catchy chorus featured some lovely backing harmonies from singers Laura & Lucy.
Returning to their home town, 'Albert Road' a song which the band dedicated to folk presenter & organiser of the Lincolnshire Folk Song Competition Tom Lane, is about the street where the old Stamford gasworks were, the smell of the gas, the little sweet shop & old Joe the lamplighter were just a few of the memories of the old street.
Moving away from the historical Stamford theme the band performed 'A Time For Love', their first love song, which featured an evocative fiddle opening.
Stamford's historical importance in the past lay in the wool industry & 'Pull The Wool' another song written for the Folk Song Competition recounts when clothes made with Stamford's wool clothed many an important person, both in Britain & abroad. Andy coped very well with the tongue twisting lyrics, whilst Lucy, Laura & keyboard player Kate provided some excellent harmonies, on another of the band's catchy choruses.
Unlike many more folky bands Blue Room feature piano & electric guitar in their line up, these two instruments featured in the song 'She Told Me' during which guitarist Ben Swan played a fine bluesy guitar solo.
The story line of the next song a tragic tale of a widowed wife & her baby entitled 'Sing One, Sing All!' was more typical of traditional folk songs, Laura & Lucy took more leading vocal roles in this number. There was some pleasant keyboard work from Kate in 'The Frost'.
The tongue-in-cheek philosophical song 'One Way To Heaven' featuring some great singing from Laura, whose powerful vocals required some good microphone technique, the band's final song an impressive set of original work, 'The End' is a song about the end of the world, the band were joined by some of the women's group Wide World Voices who visit The Cellar Bar where Andy works after rehearsals.
Though Blue Room do not as yet perform many live shows, this was quality set splendidly performed by a band whose early promise that was apparent when we first saw them looks like being fulfilled. Hopefully this support slot will have brought them to a new audience & word will spread about their music.
This was the first opportunity we had to see the recently formed e2k, the band who have emerged from the remnants of the very popular Edward II, a band that had many followers in our region, following a succession of gigs at Spilsby & other venues in the area. When three of the band's primary members returned to Africa, the remaining members of Edward II were left with the difficult task of replacing them. Rather than trying to imitate that great line-up, it was decided to introduce Kellie While, the daughter of the renowned folk artist Chris While, on vocals & guitar, a move that would distance e2k from the old Edward II. Rest assured though the band have lost none of their energy, nor the funky edge that characterised their sound. A few of the old songs remain, including 'Those Gone Before', 'The Soldier', & the two final songs 'Come & Join Us' & 'Shepherds Hey', but the rest of the material is new & will be featured on an album due for release in the late Autumn. From the opening number 'Where Does It All Go' the breathtaking fusion of sounds that make up e2k's unique music was immediately apparent. The band combine the traditional folk sounds of melodeon & whistle, with the brass of trumpet, baritone & alto saxophones & the modern electric guitar, drums & keyboards. Kellie's vocals have added a new dimension to the bands sound, & one that works well, like their predecessors e2k perform some traditional folk songs in their own way 'The Water Is Wide' being a prime example. St George's Quay recalling a corner of Lancaster, a song written by the band's guitarist Jon Moore also had a traditional feel. The bass beat of 'Everdance' emulated from Kwame Yeboah's keyboard which he wears like a guitar, this coupled with the baritone sax & trumpet gave the song a distinctly funky feel. The lights dimmed as Kwame on his keyboard & drummer Robert Fordjour created the atmosphere of an African night including the bird & animal sounds, only the tropic heat was lacking! Joined by Simon on melodeon the band then launched into a collection of exhilarating tunes collectively entitled 'Jigs'.
The 'Wind In The Trees' featured a fine muted trumpet solo from Neil Yates, a session musician who has worked with Supergrass & the Brand New Heavies amongst others, & this song & 'Love You For A Season' showcased Kellie on vocals. Many different rhythms ran through 'Reels' which featured Andy Morel on saxophone. With the evening drawing to a close the band encouraged the dancers in the sparse, but appreciative audience to 'Come & Join Us' a song driven by the wild whistle of Neil, all too soon it was time for e2k take their leave with a song from the days of Edward II, 'The Shepherds Hey'. Sadly there was no time for an encore, due to the council's restrictions on finishing time, but we'd seen enough to see that e2k are worthy successors to the much loved Edward II.
THE MELT - OLD NICKS TAVERN, HORNCASTLE
Young bands rarely play the blues! Try telling that to two of Lincolnshire's up and coming bands, Martin Trimble & Outside Help have caused quite a stir not only in their local region, but as far a field as Birmingham where the band are booked to appear at Ronnie Scott's club. Another band are following closely in their wake, Skegness based blues rock band The Melt who formed last October returned to Old Nicks Tavern in Horncastle last Wednesday. Here again are a young band who are dedicated to playing the music they love, inspired by old bluesmen such as Muddy Waters & BB King. Opening with 'Killing Floor' is was immediately obvious that here are a band that can certainly rock the blues, but do it with style too. The band's set featured predominately covers of well known blues songs, though we understand they have some fine original numbers waiting in the wings. Frontman Trev who had already shown his prowess on blues harp on the second number played slide guitar on 'Little Red Rooster'. Two other well known songs 'Hoochie Coochie Man', & 'Smoke Stack Lightning' a song featured on a TV advert a while back, followed, before the band performed the delightful jazzy instrumental piece 'Riviera', which showcased the band's talented lead guitarist Ashley. The band ended the first set with a fine rendition of BB King's 'Paying The Cost To Be The Boss'.
Opening their second set with 'Crossroads' the classic & powerful number which featured some fine slide guitar playing from Trev once again, the band immediately captured the audiences attention after the interval. A number of the band's followers had swelled the crowd just before the break, its good to see people making the effort to support bands such as The Melt, especially in the make or break early stages when the band are developing their live shows. As well as his fine harmonica & slide guitar work, Trev has plenty of stage presence & is a fine singer. Continuing with classic blues songs 'Sweet Home Chicago' & a great version of 'Shake Your Moneymaker' the band continued to impress, their funky interpretion of 'Stop Breaking Down' which featured some great bass playing from Greg who had only joined the band last week, & a drum solo from Gav, was excellent & for us one of the highlights of the night. Hot & flowing, The Melt were obviously somewhat restrained by the size of the initmate venue for their version of Hendrix's 'Fire', the pulsating Fleetwood Mac number 'Oh Well' & the full on Zep rocker 'Rock'n'Roll' they never the less left the crowd calling for more, they duly obliged by returning to play a blues jam that featured each of the musicians. The Melt look destined to make an impact on the national blues scene before too long, & its venues such as Old Nicks who give young bands the opportunity to perform live who perhaps one day will recall nights such as these!
STAMFORD FOLK & BLUES GUITAR FESTIVAL
ARTS CENTRE, STAMFORD
Sat 10 June (evening) / Sun 11 June (early morning!)
A number of festivals take place during the summer months, last weekend the third Stamford Folk & Blues Guitar Festival took place, with a host of renowned guitar players performing during the weekend. Saturday evening's concert saw the return to the county by two popular performers Michael Messer & Ed Genis, it was their first appearance in the area for three years. Michael was voted acoustic blues guitarist of the year a few years back, his playing is influenced not only by traditional blues, but by the Hawiian sound.
Moving from the theatre to the ballroom venue, we caught a couple of songs from a local duo The Elderberries before the start of the evening's entertainment in the larger venue. Michael Roach is another performer who hasn't appeared in the area for some time, accompanied on harp by Ian Briggs, his interetation of traditional blues & original songs had a freshness & sincerity. Following Michael & Ian was a performer new to us & we suspect to many other people in the audience. Tommy Emmanual was born in Austrailia, though he now lives in the UK, playing an electro acoustic guitar he delivered probably the set of the night, his playing had influences of folk & blues, but more prominent were rock & classical styles, playing mostly instrumental pieces, including some Beatles numbers as well as his own original pieces. Apparently Tommy has had a number of CD's released on a major record label, but recently he has split from that company to forge out in a new direction. A number of pieces had special meanings for Tommy, including 'Mombassa', that was written after a visit to see children he sponsors in Kenya. Perhaps the most eye catching number was a percussive piece played on guitar, during which Tommy rarely actually played the strings of the guitar, but used the whole instrument & his microphone as a percussion instrument, this piece set the scene for the atmospheric number 'Incantations' inspired by the Aboriginal people of central Australia which brought his performance to a tremendous climax, & afforded the performer a well deserved encore. If you think you seen all there is to see from a guitarist, look out for the return of Tommy Emmaual, we're sure he'll be back in Stamford before too long, judging from the reception he got! Finally it was left to local band Dr Bob's Acoustic Roots & Blues to bring the evening concert sets to a close, sadly with the national & international stars gone a number of the audience drifted off during the band's set, but those who stayed were treated to a set that encompassed blues, rock & roots numbers, including songs by J.J. Cale & The Band. Now a true festival, there were fringe events to enjoy in the Cellar Bar (which became the festival Folk & Blues Juke Joint) long after main Arts Centre had closed, we were able to enjoy some fine acoustic guitar work from American Johnny Miller who had appeared the previous evening & Woody Mann whose set earlier in the evening had coincideded with Michael Roach's set, the one problem with festival that have seperate stages, what do you miss! By the time Michael Roach, Woody Mann, Michael Messer & Ian Briggs left the stage following the final jam of the night, the sky was lightening in the east!
THE TWO TIMERS - SPALDING BLUES CLUB
RED LION HOTEL, SPALDING
12 March 2000
Spalding Blues Club has become renowned for putting on some great acts, yet again the Red Lion Hotel was full last Sunday evening, for the debut performance by the Two Timers. This British duo, featuring former Dr Feelgood guitarist Gordon Russell & the striking red-haired Sarah James are based in France, and by all accounts very popular over there, indeed when they supported the Corrs at a concert, the enthralled crowd demanded an encore from the duo. Whilst the act are well known across the continent, they are largely unknown here, partly due to the often staid demands of British audiences who perhaps try to relive their past listening to tribute bands & rehashed hits, rather than move on with music that demands that they listen again with an open ear. Once again here are a duo who rely on their live musical skills, & an array of instruments rather than electronic drum machines & backing tapes. Energetic vocalist Sarah plays a variety of percussion, including snare drum strapped around her waist, cymbals, shakers & the spoons, as well as harmonica & kazoo, Gordon plays both electric slide, acoustic guitar, mandolin, as well as the suitcase drum, which is exactly what it says, a large suitcase played with a bass drum pedal. They performed a wide range of material, which had a variety of influences from country blues, to rock, hints to of the bluesy side of Lindisfarne, especially in some of the harmonica work.
The duo don't want their sound to become stuck in one particular groove, & it was good to see a blues club audience responding very favourably towards their original songs, such as 'Aubrey Rex', written about Sarah's uncle whom she only knew from a faded photo, who was killed in action in the war, 'My Big Mistake' & 'Forget I'm A Woman' which weren't strictly of the blues genre.
Other standout songs included 'The Harder You Pull' reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt's style, a song about unrequited love 'I Keep Knocking On Your Door', 'Long Gone' a classic blues style number, & the best version of Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love' Mississippi's heard since Earls Court 1975, which brought their tremendous set to a superb close! Insistent demands for an encore were fulfilled when Sarah & Gordon returned to treat us with their version of 'Stand By Me' & a rock'n'roll style medley. Hopefully their reception at Spalding will be reflected at other venues across Britain, thus ensuring that the Two Timers will be enticed back home from the continent, at least for tours!
AG & KATE
WRANGLE CHAPEL ~ COUNTRY & GOSPEL CONCERT
4 March 2000
About a year or so ago we heard the Dutch duo A.G. & Kate playing live on Mick Smith's Country Music programme, their authentic acoustic sound had a definate folk & bluegrass feel to it, which caught our ear. Since they last appeared in England, A.G. & Kate have spent 6 months touring the USA, playing at venues such as the Ozark Folk Centre in Mountain View, Arkansas. The duo, who have built up a following in this area following appearances at the Peterborough Country Music Festival are playing a number of dates in the area, the first being last Saturday evening at Wrangle Chapel, where we were afforded a warm welcome.
For this evening the duo were perfoming a enthalling mix of country, folk & Gospel music, on a variety of instruments, including guitars, banjo played by Kate & autoharp played by A.G. During their last tour of the USA, a prisoner in one of the prisons where much of their work takes place, presented them with a mountain dulcimer, a stringed instrument, which Kate now plays, in guitar style similar to English folk star Alan Taylor.
The duo shared a joke with Tony who had organised this concert, suggesting that they had bought some backing tapes for the show. With such a wealth of instruments, which they both play the duo have no need for the tapes that many of todays country music artists rely on! They played a variety of material, including old traditional folk songs such as 'The Wildwood Flower' & 'Keep On The Sunnyside' by the Carter Family, the Johnny Cash song 'Ring Of Fire', 'Oh Boy' by Buddy Holly & modern material such as the Steve Earl song 'I Still Carry You Around'. As well as being gifted musicians the couple harmonise superbly, for one song a lullaby Kate taught the audience to sing the chorus of 'Sleep Baby Sleep' in her native language Dutch. Their set also featured some Gospel songs, some of which got their earliest airings in the county of Lincolnshire when the Wesley Brothers first wrote them, it was interesting to see just how good these old hymns sounded on stringed instruments rather than the usual organ. A.G. & Kate brought a fine concert to a close with the song 'Build A Bridge'. A excellent supper was laid on following the concert, compliments to the caterers for a fine spread.
A.G & Kate return to our area next weekend when they perform a Country & Gospel concert in Boston as guests of the Assemblies of God tel 01205 366480 & the following weekend when they are the guests of The Heart Of Lincolnshire Folk, Roots & Blues Club at the Eagle Lodge Hotel in Woodhall Spa, tel 01526 343989 for further details, in between these concerts they will be performing a number of shows at prisons in the Midlands, including North Sea Camp.
BAND FROM COUNTY HELL
AXE & CLEAVER, BOSTON / SPIDERS WEB, GRIMSBY
18 FEB / 25 FEB
(submitted by band member Chris Watson)
Two very similar gigs, a week apart and at different ends of the county. Both gigs attracted a good-sized crowd; one saw BFCH back a favourite regular venue the other saw BFCH playing at a new venue. A copious amount of beer was drank at both venues and your favourite band had a ball too. So far this year BFCH are using local gigs to try out some new material for the new album. The reception to new songs like "Jimmy Baker", "Oor Lassie" and "Prison Walls" make it seem certain that these will definitely be appearing.
18th Feb saw BFCH back in Boston at the Axe and Cleaver and on the 25th the band gatecrashed Grimsby's Spiders Web. This was the fourth time that BFCH had played at The Axe and, of course, the band always love playing there. Malcolm, the promoter, Eddie and the rest of the gang there always treat you well, they ensure that there's a good sound (and an in-house PA) and for crowd that usually prefer a diet of hard rock BFCH's own brand of Celtic Rock goes down a treat.
The Spiders Web is billed as a blues club but Larry, the promoter there, had heard good things about BFCH, had come to see the band when they raised the roof at The Woodman and decided that Grimsby needed an injection of Celtic attitude. Good press coverage before the gig meant that the audience was knocking at the door whilst the band was still soundchecking. We knew it was going to be a great gig when we got a round of applause for warming up!!
Man of the Match award went to Filthy Phil Harris, newest addition to the band, who played a faultless bass across both gigs and blew the room away with an inspired mandolin solo on Too Hard To Hold.
Two notable omissions from the band were Seamus McNulty (departed, couldn't stand the pace) and the PA (stolen from the van by some miserable lowlife b******s).
Losing the PA is a major setback of course, but the press and media coverage has generated some leads that the police are following up and also a pleasing amount of goodwill. Offers of loans or gifts of replacement PA have come in, new bookings have been taken and the White Horse pub in Sleaford (our favourite home-town venue) passed the hat round for us 70;70;70;70; and the PC on the case is a BFCH fan. How about that !! You can't keep a good band down and it has given Julie something new to talk about when introducing "Housebreaker".
BFCH are offering a cash reward for the return of the PA or for information leading to its return.
SONNY BLACK & THE DUKES ~ STAMFORD ARTS CENTRE
SATURDAY 5 FEBRUARY
One of Britain's top blues guitarists Sonny Black brought his band The Dukes to Stamford Arts Centre last Saturday. Unfortunately readers of our column may have been unaware of his & Rudy Rotta's appearance at Spalding Blues Club the following night, as information regarding these concerts was dropped from our column, due to lack of space. If you have the facility its always worth checking out the Fizgig website at http://fly.to/fizgig as gigs a little further afield are included within their pages.
Interestingly the blues in the south of Lincolnshire seems very popular, with a huge audience turning up to see Sonny Black & The Dukes. This quietly spoken man just loves playing the music, he has been playing the blues since he was just 15 years old, though a superb player, for Sonny his music has always been a hobby, rather than his work hence he rarely plays in the north, yet just now & again we have the opportunity to admire Sonny & his stylish band, for this gig they were augmented by The Yardbirds harmonica player & vocalist Alan Glen. His relaxed style of presentation has the air of a blues jam session, with each musician having ample opportunity to display their talents, including bassist George Pearson who effectively played the bass as the lead guitar for 'Top Of The World'. The newest member of the band, Bob Haddrell who has replaced the popular keyboard player Daniel Smith who has left the Dukes to form his own band, plays Hammond style keyboards & for some numbers, the Arts Centre's grand piano. The band's line up is completed by Dino Coccia on drums. Together they provided a super evening of blues which ranged from the BB King song 'The Thrill Has Gone' to instrumental pieces written by Sonny, the family man, for his 2 daughters, country blues pieces on National steel guitar, culminating with a jazzy instrumental piece 'Free Spirit' that epitomises Sonny's outlook on both life & the blues. He returned to play a solo country blues for a well deserved encore. Mention too for a fine opening spot by the Welsh born, Leicester based acoustic blues guitarist Tony Jones, who performed some of his own original songs as well as classic county blues numbers. Everyone should have the opportunity to get to hear music of this quality, sorry if you missed out!
RUDY ROTTA BAND
SPALDING BLUES CLUB ~ SUNDAY 6 FEBRUARY
A recent letter in a Spalding paper suggested that the Spalding live music scene was 'dead beat' & this year saw the death knell for music in Spalding, obviously the person who wrote that isn't a blues fan as once more the Blues Club introduced another great musical talent to the South Lincolnshire market town, hard on the heels of Britain's two top blues bands, & the best British female Blues singer, Italian guitarist Rudy Rotta may not be a name that many people (even blues fans!) have heard of, but those lucky enough to squeeze into the Red Lion Hotel, & two people we know of actually only came because of hearing a track on the excellent Paul Jones Blues programme last week, will long remember what they saw! It's easy to see why this band have rolled the blues right back to the USA, now it is the turn of the British to see this great band in action. Their version of the Robert Johnson classic 'Crossroads' was probably the best version we'd heard played live, with some superb drumming as well as spellbinding guitar. Other major factors in the band's driving blues sound come from Pippo Guarnera's soaring Hammond organ & some great bass playing. Rudy has been inspired by people such as Freddie King & Albert Collins, & shared stages with Luther Allison & John Mayall on the Ultimate Blues Cruise. Whilst he sung most of the songs in English, for 'Loner & Goner' he alternated verses in English & Italian. Two sets totalling over two hours Rudy & the band left the stage to a well deserved standing ovation, returning to play an extended encore featuring the Freddie King's 'Hideaway' - live music dead in Spalding - sorry we don't agree! Its worth noting another guitar master comes to the town next month, when Albert Lee appears at the South Holland Centre on March 2nd, by the way for the person who thinks live music is dead in Spalding, Albert is one of the finest guitar players to grace the planet, he is also the guitar player Mississippi saw with the Eric Clapton band in the 80's, & who almost stole the show from the great man himself! Not bad for a town that's musically dead!
CHESTNUT STREET SCHOOL, RUSKINGTON, nr SLEAFORD
TUESDAY 25 JAN 2000
Last Tuesday Canadian band Barachois appeared at Chestnut Street School in Ruskington this time to a capacity audience. It was the first time we'd seen this group of Arcadians from Prince Edward Island, & we were amazed! They set their set around the rich traditions of their culture, with music & song, mixed with a stage show full of humour. Lead vocalist Albert Arsenault was the Arcadian equilvent of John Otway, his axe twirling during a song about the importance of the ability to make axe handles in order to win the hand of an Acadian girl, left a few hearts skipping on the front row!
The Acradians have played their lively music down through the generations, during the 1700's the church decreed that dancing was a sin & banned it, the innovative musicians of the time continued to play their dynamic music sitting down, but using their feet as the percussive driving force behind their sound. Indeed lead fiddle player Louise Arsenault appeared to run the equilvent of a half marathon during the evening, sitting down!
Folk fans in the audience will long remember unscheduled appearances by two local performers during Barachois set, first Phil Biggs was selected from the audience for a song about Arcadian style, which culimated with Phil attired in a fetching outfit, including furry waistcoat & bright yellow leg warmers. Later in the evening the band explained the importance of the Co-op in their homeland, a Co-op box even formed part of Albert's unusual drum kit, which was augmented by 4 members of the audience, including local folk musician Paul Dickinson, wearing an array of percussive extras, 2 fez like drums, a bucket with a cut away portion so the audience could see the somewhat nervous looking woman sat beneath, and a workman's helmet with cybal attached. With this assorted set of percussion instruments in front of his own kit Albert & the band proceeded to play, Albert famboyantly florishing his brushes across the co-opted drum kit at the approprate times, though probably even Keith Moon had less trouble keeping his drums in line than Albert! The bucket being especially difficult to keep under control! The audience by this time in stitches, Mississippi with tears running down his face for the entire song! (still simple things appeal to simple minds!). Completing Barachois line-up guitarist, harmonica, trumpet & sousaphone player Chuck Arsenault & keyboard player & singer Helene Arsenault. Their wonderful performance won a highly deserved standing ovation from the audience. If you enjoy Cajun style music make sure you're in the audience if Barachois return to our area!
BOSTON BLUES CLUB, AXE & CLEAVER, BOSTON
29th DEC 1999
Often at this time of year gigs are planned at short notice, we found out about last weeks gig at Boston Blues Club after the deadline for our article for last weeks Target. Nearly Famous made their first appearance at the club, a reflection of the current trends is the fact that this was only the second gig this locally based band had played in the past 6 months, not because of their ability to entertain, judging from the enjoyment the larger than normal audience had dancing to the band's music, which encompassed both classic blues songs such as 'The Thrill Has Gone' & 'Crossroads' & more rocky numbers such as 'Cocaine', & towards the end of their lively set the Doobie Brothers song 'Long Train Running' & finishing with a second encore 'Born To Be Wild'. Unfortunately the lack of venues means that there is less opportunity for bands, such as the 5 piece Nearly Famous to perform. There was plenty to enjoy in their set, lead singer Gary has a fine voice, & there was plenty of guitar work to enjoy from both Gary & a young guitarist Jim Wiggins, who impressed us. Another important factor in the band's bluesy sound is the harmonica playing of Pete Shaw. Look out for the band's return!
WALTER HARPMAN BAND / THE MILLENNIUM BLUESBREAKERS
GRAFTON HOUSE, LINCOLN ~ 23rd December 1999
Grafton House was the venue for a great blues party last Thursday evening, local favourites the Walter Harpman Band being joined by a number of special guests to become after their opening set, The Millennium Bluesbreakers. For the opening hour the current Walter Harpman line up entertained, the band now feature Peter Wallis on keyboards who has added a new dimension to the band's Chicago influenced sound. They closed their set with the Commander Cody song, 'Going Back To Tennessee', which has become a favourite with audiences. The band's bassist Gary then joined keyboard player Stu Moseley & John Roberts for a short but entertaining set as the Stu Moseley Band, Stu including the Ray Charles song 'Mary Ann' one of our favourites in his set. Then came the Millennium Bluesbreakers Part One, the Walter Harpman band line-up being joined by former band members, guitarist Eddie Tatton & the band's original bass player Lindsay Coulson, & a little later Mark Barrett, taking over on drums from is namesake Paul Barrett (no relation) on drums. This line up played a number of songs that featured on the band' s early tapes, 'Feel So Good' & 'Juke', that are now available on remastered CD's, the second of which contains 2 bonus tracks not on the original tape editions. (for more info contact 2Gether Records tel. 01522 721322 / email email@example.com ).
Egly Lucas & Eddie combined forces on slide guitars for the band's powerful version of 'Little Red Rooster' always one of our favourites. For 'T-Bone Shuffle' vocalist Ken Mayle introduced an young guitarist new to many of the audience in the now packed Grafton House. Martin Trimble is the guitarist with the young blues band Crossfire, as Eddie Tatton nodded across to the young guitarist, to take the lead guitar role, few were aware of his ability, perhaps not even Eddie, who cast some admiring glances across the stage during his solo, in the audience reaction was even more pronounced with jaws gapping & hushed whispers, as Martin's obvious ability, deft touch & love of the blues was greeted by a great ovation from yet more new fans!
Two more guests were introduced as the night drew to a climax, Helen Kirk, who has just moved back to the county, literally that morning, took over on vocals, borrowing Ken's hat as she used to when she first used to sing a number with the band whilst still at school, & former Hoax guitarist Jon Amor. Bringing the night to a great climax, with songs such as 'Cry Like A Baby' superbly sung by Helen, the Millennium Bluesbreakers ensured the the county's blues lovers could celebrate the Millenium in style!
CONNIE LUSH & BLUES SHOUTER ~ THE WOODMAN, LOUTH
27th November 1999
The remarkable Connie Lush & Blues Shouter have thrilled audiences throughout Britain & Europe with their live performances. Few in the audience at The Woodman in Louth had had the opportunity to see or hear the band before, though some had travelled many miles to see the gig, including a couple from Kidderminster & others from Yorkshire, which proved yet again the importance of band mailing lists that keep people in touch. Perhaps the importance of Lincolnshire's live music scene is overlooked as a potential tourist attraction, the couple from the Midland's hadn't visited Lincolnshire previously, but had enjoyed the friendly welcome they received, as well as the excellent music, who knows they may return for a week's holiday next summer! Odd then than most of the local press failed to acknowledge that the gig was even happening, denying many local people the opportunity to see Britain's top female vocalist in action at a venue close to home.
We have been fortunate enough to see Connie & her band in action on a number of occasions, including their appearance in 1998 at the Royal Albert Hall, supporting B.B. King. What puts her head & shoulders above others in the same field is the passion she puts into her shows, & the warmth of her personality which comes across both on & off stage. Behind her the band featuring John Lewis on guitar (who was a member of China Crisis), Terry Harris (bass) & Carl Woodward (drums) just gets better & better, with some excellent guitar solos from John during the evening. Another aspect of the band's live performances is their ability to play with both subtlety on songs such as Tony Joe White's 'Out Of The Rain' or with a dynamic approach on songs such as the self written 'Dog'. It wasn't long before the room was full of Connie fans, the applause increasing with every song, until they left the stage after a second encore of the Little Willie John song 'Fever' which followed 'One Monkey Don't Stop The Show'. Connie includes a variety of songs in her live shows, including Billie Holliday's 'Now Baby Or Never', 'I'll Sing The Blues For You' made famous by Etta James as well as songs such as the inspirational 'Any Day Now' written by Jack Roberts (a friend of the band) & original songs including the rocking blues number 'House Straight'.
Hopefully Connie & Blues Shouter will return to Louth, as those who found out about the gig had a great night, judging from the positive comments we heard following the show, including "the best female singer I've heard since Janis Joplin & Elkie Brooks in her Vinegar Joe days!".
BLUESMOVE - AXE & CLEAVER, BOSTON
WED. 3rd NOV
Songs featured in first set - Talk To Your Daughter / Tore Down / Dangerous Mood / Slow Train / Diplomat / Cold Cold Feeling / Burglar
Songs featured in second set - I'm Broke / Hit That Highway / Get Some Insurance / Five Long Years / Woke Up This Morning / Take Me To The River
Encore - Good Thing Is About To Run Out
Lincolnshire's oldest Blues club has brought many fine acts for the people of Boston & the surrounding area to enjoy, yet despite the quality of performers, many of whom appear at top blues venues across Britain & also in Europe, audiences are often disappointing, perhaps due to sport on TV, work the following day, apathy or just a lack of awareness of the quality of music that can be heard at the club. Since its halcyon days when the club brought bands such as The Hamsters, who have just been voted Britain's premier blues band, to its West Street venue, the club has seen a decline in audiences, which resulted in the dropping of the door charge, which of course enabled the club to bring bigger name acts to Boston.
All is not gloom though, certain musicians have won many fans in the area, for their excellent musicianship & superb live performances. One who stands out is Howard Smith, whose past performances with The Razors & more latterly The Snake River Hornets surely were partly responsible for the larger than normal audience (despite football being on ITV), who turned up to see the debut making BluesMove at the Axe last week. Howard has recently teamed up with three other fine musicians two of whom are based in the Leicester area where Howard comes from. Its some 4 years since keyboard player Julian Grudgings & bassist Graham Lacey have appeared at the club with The Mick Pini Band, whilst the more observant of the audience may have recalled Michael Hellier drumming for Wamma Jamma at the Axe! They have now combined their own remarkable talents in a band that looks sure to become favourites with audiences the length & breath of the country.
Last Wednesday's gig at the Axe was just their fourth live appearance together, already the band is positively tight. Interestingly its the first time than guitarist & lead vocalist Howard has worked in a band with a keyboard player, & in Julian BluesMove have an excellent player whose fine work complements Howard's guitar work. Currently the band's set consists primarily of blues covers, yet perhaps one of the finest moments of the evening came in Howard's self written & magnificent song 'Slow Train', coming from Howard's time with the Hornets, as the first chords of Howard's slide guitar rang out, a cheer of recognition came from the audience. This was followed by another of Howard's songs 'Diplomat' also from his Hornets period.
Julian keyboard work was an important feature of the evening's music, going from the delicate piano on 'Five Long Years' to the full blooded Hammond Organ sound on their thrilling interpretation of Keb Mo's 'Dangerous Mood'. Freddie King's 'Burglar' brought the first set to a fine close, with luscious lacings of organ from Julian.
There's plenty of guitar work to enjoy on songs such as Sonny Boy's 'Get Some Insurance' notable too for some precise drum work from Michael Hellier, whilst Graham's bass work provided an excellent anchor for the song's swinging rhythm. For the BB King song 'Woke Up This Morning' Julian took over the lead vocals.
Another of the songs that Howard has featured in his live performances since his Razors days has been 'Take Me To The River'. Over the last few years this classic has become standard fare for covers bands, & like 'Mustang Sally' has lost some of its sparkle, yet Howard with his passion filled vocals, coupled with the band's funky reworking made this one of the highlights of the evening. Aptly the band closed with a well deserved encore, Lucky Peterson's 'Good Thing Is About To Run Out'.
To ensure a good thing doesn't run out, make sure you're in the audience on Wednesday nights at Boston Blues Club, cause one thing's for sure you guaranteed some top class music, & currently its free!
For further information about the band visit the BluesMove website
For information of forthcoming gigs at the Axe & Cleaver in Boston,
visit our Rock / Blues / Folk pages
It was somehow fitting that the Mick Pini Band are the subjects of our first live review, published on our website. It was after a gig by the band at the Axe & Cleaver in Boston, in August 1994 that Mick suggested that we ought to produce a gig guide to keep people informed about gigs taking place, a month or so later the first 60 copies of Fizgig hit the streets, the rest as they say is history!!!
MICK PINI BAND - RUNNING HORSE, NOTTINGHAM
SAT. 25th SEPTEMBER 1999
Songs featured in First Set: Shuffle (Pini) / Ball Game (Chuck Willis) / Last Night (Walter Jacobs) / Woke Up This Morning (BB King) / Watch Out (Green)
Songs featured in Second Set: Run You Can Hide (NK) / Big Legged Woman (King/Thompson) / Like A Road (Penn / Nix) / What Makes A Woman (Pini)
Encores - World Keeps Turning (Green - solo) / Green Onions / Help Me (Booker T / Sonny Boy Williamson)
We always relish a visit to The Running Horse in Nottingham, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!) its a little far from our Lincolnshire home to be a regular haunt. The city venue isn't large by any means, but its homely feel, & friendly & welcoming atmosphere make it a great place for both performers to perform, & audience to enjoy a great evening's music.
Mick Pini used to be a regular fixture at venues across the Midlands until he moved from his hometown of Leicester to Germany a while back. Now Midlands audiences rarely see the guitarist who they've grown to love, not just for his prowess on the fret board, but his genial ways & appreciation of his many fans.
Backed by an excellent band, Mick was coming to the end of a 14 date British tour. The departure of the band's previous bass player shortly before the tour meant that high stepping Kevin Jeffries was hastily brought into the ranks, joining Julian Grudgins (for tonight 'Cadenza Blue') on keyboards & Michael Hellier, whose subtle & tight drum work provides a fine platform for the band's music.
Opening his first set with 2 numbers off the recently released album 'Blues Gonna Be My Way', an instrumental jaunt 'Avenue 54', & the Chuck Willis song 'I Feel So Bad', which quickly reminded us what a fine, & often underrated guitarist Mick actually is. He has been playing the blues since the 60's, a contemporary of Peter Green, Mick dedicated his version of Green's 'Watch Out' to the great man.
Julian, whose keyboard work is notable feature of the band's live performances, sung the BB King number 'Woke Up This Morning'.
Nights at The Runner are always a bit special & tonight was no exception as Mick introduced a behatted harmonica player from the audience to accompany the band for several numbers during the evening. It transpired that Stephen Nurse had seen Mick performing for the first & only time 3 years ago in Leicester, the astute guitarist discovering then that he was a musician & inviting him on stage for a number. Stephen's soulful harmonica work added a new dimension to the bands sound, on a number of songs including Little Walter's solemn 'Last Night'.
Mick's guitar work is often mesmerising, his choice of material reflects his own love of guitar orientated blues, Peter Green, B.B. & Freddie King whilst his original songs such as 'What Makes A Woman' mirror that style.
One of the biggest ovations of the evening followed the gospel flavoured 'Like A Road', which by all accounts hadn't been fully appreciated by some blues purists. Somehow they perhaps missed the fact that blues is not only a musical form but something that comes from the heart too.
Bringing the evening to a close, the band left the stage to Mick for a solo rendition of Green's 'The World Keeps Turning', (an acoustic version of this song can be found on a new CD of acoustic blues classics recorded by Mick & Peter Paul Bruder) before the band returned joining Mick, to treat us to 'Green Onions' & 'Help Me', two of our favourites. An a excellent ending to another great night at The Runner!
Link for further information about the MICK PINI BAND
For more information about The Running Horse, visit our blues / rock / folk pages for dates or Link to the Running Horse website.
CHRIS FARLOWE - WOODMAN, LOUTH (25 June 1999)
One of the gigs that caught our eye recently was the appearance by a singer who made his name in the 60's, at a small venue in Louth. On a weekend that saw Jools Holland in Lincoln & The Blues Band in Grimsby, sadly only a few people turned up to support landlord Dave's dream of bringing Chris Farlowe to the small town of Louth as part of a short Northern tour. By all accounts a number of people from the Nottingham area were the first to book their tickets. Perhaps the local audience felt that as little had been heard of the performer who only had one top 10 hit, 'Out Of Time' way back in the 60's & also recorded 'Handbags & Gladrags', Chris Farlowe was just living on past glories.
As so often happens, many people find out too late that they have just missed a great gig! The small & intimate nature of the upstairs room at The Woodman caught the star by surprise as he entered by a back door before the gig. The eye-catching murals of former jazz & blues stars provided a fine backdrop to the stage.
Chris was backed by the Norman Beaker Band, who include former 10 C.C. drummer Paul Burgess, the irrepressible sax player, Lenni recently recovered from illness, who has toured with Otis Redding & Chuck Berry as well as 10 C.C. & Sad Cafe, keyboard player Dave Baldwin (ex Icicle Works), bass player John Price who has played alongside Larry Garner, Lowell Fulson & Paul Jones, finally of course there's guitarist Norman, who has recorded & played with many famous blues stars, including B.B. King. Not a bad backing band!
With few hits to pad out a 60's revival set, Chris is not hampered by people's incessant need to hear only the songs they want to hear, & he obviously relishes the fine songs that he includes in his 90's sets. Songs chosen for their power, meaning & which especially suit Chris's voice which lends itself to the blues. Songs such as 'Lonesome Road', Lonnie Mack's 'Tough On Me, Tough On You', Tony Joe White's 'The Guitar Don't Lie' which showcased Norman Beaker's superb guitar playing, & 'Miss You Fever'. A few early problems with the sound, were overcome, Chris showing his professional approach with some timely advice for the hard working sound engineer, before amazing the audience with his singing, both backed by the band & on occasions virtually a capella, at times imitating the sounds of Norman's guitar or Lenni's sax, but always full of passion & expression, he is still a truly great live performer. He also sings the praises of the Norman Beaker Band, encouraging solo spots from each of the band members during the evening. Closing the main set with the obvious choice of 'Out Of Time', Chris & the band returned for a well deserved encore. We sure those in the audience will long remember the night Chris Farlowe came to town, sadly perhaps the only time he will come to town! The following night Chris was headlining a festival in the North West before an audience of 1200, if just a tenth of that number had supported the gig in Louth, Chris would probably be returning to Louth, as he seemed to enjoy playing in the small venue. Instead the chances of him coming back seem remote, & the lack of support surely will not instil confidence in bringing further big names to The Woodman. Don't bemoan the fact that nothing ever happens in your town, support it when it does!
ADRIAN BYRON BURNS - SPILSBY THEATRE (Friday 14th May)
As so often happens in Lincolnshire, a new performer struggles to get pull a big audience on his first appearance at a venue. However even we were surprised at the disappointingly small audience that witnessed the debut by Adrian Byron Burns at Spilsby Theatre last Friday. With two sessions played recently on the Paul Jones Blues Show & his latest CD 'Back To The Wood' selected as Northern Blues presenter Henry Ayrton's album of the year in 1998, we felt that Adrian would attract many of the local blues lovers to Spilsby Theatre, especially now the theatre has its own blues club that can spread the word about forthcoming gigs. Adrian performed a fine set which included both original & classic old blues, songs such as 'Nineteen' & 'Come On In My Kitchen', in the intimate surroundings of the theatre bar. His between song chats revealed a deep thinking man who is often forthright in his views, yet full of fun. He also related some of the history of the blues, such as the near impossibly of playing in tune on the old guitar strings, yet pointing out that the recordings of Robert Johnson showed that his guitar was always in tune, leading perhaps to the legend that he made a pact with the devil to play the blues! Adrian is also a fine guitarist, his acoustic rendition of a medley of Hendrix songs showcased his abilities to the full, his voice & singing style too is memorable. It was noticeable that at the end of the night virtually everyone brought one or more of his CD's! Those who stayed away missed a great gig, hopefully Adrian will get the opportunity to play again at the theatre in the future! Please try to support venues who often risk all, to bring new musicians to our area, who knows they may become new favourites!
FIZGIG SITE ~ LINKS TO MAIN INTERNAL PAGES
INTERESTED IN OTHER STYLES OF MUSIC? CHECK OUT OUR OTHER GIG PAGES
Index for all music styles as follows
Guide to Blues gigs / news in Lincolnshire & East Midlands
Guide to Folk gigs / news in Lincolnshire & East Midlands
Guide to Rock & Pop gigs / news in Lincolnshire & East Midlands
Guide to Country gigs / news in Lincolnshire & East Midlands
Guide to Jazz gigs / news in Lincolnshire & East Midlands
Guide to Soul gigs / news in Lincolnshire & East Midlands
Guide to Light / Popular music gigs / news in Lincolnshire & East Midlands
Guide to Classical Concerts / news in Lincolnshire & East Midlands
Guide to Theatre productions in Lincolnshire & East Midlands
Guide to Miscellaneous events in Lincolnshire & East Midlands
FIZGIG - LINCOLNSHIRE'S MUSIC WEBSITE
A variety of aspects related to the Lincolnshire music scene
List of Lincolnshire, East Midlands & South Yorkshire venues with telephone numbers, etc
FOLK, BLUES & BEYOND
Weekly column written by Alberta & Mississippi Bill for Boston Target Newspaper Group
VIEWS FROM THE SOUTH BANK
Music Articles kindly submitted for use on our website by Steve Jackson, Music Corrospondent for Grimsby Evening Telegraph
Fizgig reviews of Lincolnshire / East Midland gigs
Information about Local / National Radio shows
Record fairs in Lincolnshire / East Midlands
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Look out for further reviews of artists appearing at venues listed in Fizgig, as time allows!