This Is The Life I Choose Says Zoe Schwarz Latest Album
With three studio albums under Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion’s belt the fourth is definitely not running out of steam, it is full throttle blues. The blues are stylish, a mix of pathos and humour, reflections and looking forward, sadness and hints of joy.
With hundreds of gigs notched up on the road, the miles piling up all shows on an album that reflects the lifestyle of the band This Is the Life I Choose, making music that pleases and makes you sit up and listen. Zoe and the band are getting noticed, the blues is distinctive, fresh and modern without gimmicks and bells but some excellent guitar work from Rob Koral, The pairing of Pete and Paul on Hammond and Drums respectively providing the deep grooves that allow Zoe’s vocals to sparkle. The whole album has a fiery energy and the addition of Sax from Ian Ellis and Andy Urquhart on Trumpet on some of the tracks makes those three tracks pop with a burst of brass power.
Zoe opens with Hold On, and yes we will as she and the band are going to take you on a musical high-ride experience blending blues, jazz and soul into an explosive musical experience. The whole album has a relaxed feel of a singer and band in harmony with the music they are playing. The music has a freedom and sense of purpose from the off with the instrumental breaks a listening delight and then the sultry distinctive vocals that are Zoe pulls the track together with lyrics that have something to say.
The second track has a cheeky acoustic beat with lyrics delivered with ironic humour as Zoe sings “high-ho life is sweet because my baby said so” despite being broke, no money to get to a gig, the sax adds to the feeling of desperation of swimming against the tide but we will get there with the support of people we love. The infectious beat and movement through the music continues with People with a dancing/marching beat as the percussion drives the melodic vocals forward with purpose. Every track has a nuanced turn of phrase the fun of delivering the music comes through with the up-lifting I Wanna Get Something Started With You, blues shuffling adds textures and optimistic tones fitting in with the lyrics that ‘Today Is going to be a good day’.
The title track is a reflection of the life of artists, the drive and dedication required to make a success with your own artistry in a corporate environment. Zoe Schwarz Blues Commotion have chosen the blues they want to play, remained true to it and this is an album that delivers. No song is constrained by a set length some are shorter others longer depending on the feel of the music. The feel for me is very very good.
The album has a deep connection with all sides of humanity the eleven originals drawing lyrics from in the main the winning partnership of Zoe Schwarz & Rob Koral with others written by other sources including Pete Feenstra, with his words shaping No Money In My Pocket and Call Of The Night. The mood changes with a harder edge, the riffs are strong raw with anger reflected in Zoe’s snarl as she spits out the lyrics. This number may be surprising for some but as Zoe says “but they shouldn’t be; I was a big Clash and Stranglers fan”… The poetic shaping of the Call Of The Night is reflected in the stripped down acoustic tone. The poem is allowed to be the star as a hypnotic melody pulls you deep into the night. Stunning.
The album closes with two bonus tracks, first Jack Bruce’s We’re Going Wrong and closing with Feeling Good, summing up perfectly how you feel having listened to Zoe Schwarz Blues Commotion. A commotion everyone will enjoy.
Live at Freak Valley blues rocking With
On first listening before the guitar warrior starts, I could sum up the album in a sentence – Caged raw live energy across the eleven tracks as Krissy is the comet of British blues taking us on a sexy and freaky ride.
The album is full of live energy as the band plays before a live audience, recorded May 27th 2016 at Freak Valley Festival, Germany. Every track has that special live ingredient, a mix of adrenaline, raw energy and sweat, it is the real deal with no studio over dubs, and is one-hundred percent as the music was heard that day. The blues rock from the first chord to the last can be no-one but Krissy himself. The rhythm section that surrounds Krissy are high-octane musically driven pairing of drummer Max Maxwell and bassist Sam Weston. Creating a trio that is full of power combining this intensity with subtleties, tasty licks and huge riffs from the guitar driven by Krissy himself.
Opening with Feeling For The Blues, shows that Krissy has inherited the feel for blues without experiencing the life of the early bluesmen. Written when he was fourteen it showed the direction he would take and the lyrics put down a commitment to the inheritance that the blues have to music today. The guitar solo squeals with pain and beauty as the melodic tone of the opening number is defined. The tone and texture changes, the quality of delivery is consistently high as the songs many written before Krissy was a teenager show a maturity far beyond his years. All Night Long has a swing to its step as the guitar sings sweet and Krissy singing the lyrics with his distinctive vocals that seem to float above the music connected but never controlled by the guitar. Krissy, squeals, shouts ensuring the voice is heard loud and clear All Night Long. Everyone who plays the blues will be influenced by BB King, many have stories to tell and Krissy is no different as the tempo slows the blues are sparkling with intent from his six-strings. The Soul Will Never Die is not a tribute it is a young thirteen-year-old reflecting back what he heard and experienced when he had front row seats in Bournemouth. The impact of meeting BB; this is blues with love straight from the heart.
Unsurprisingly, a Hendrix number is in the live set this is Freedom, which made an impact when he heard Steve Lukather play the number then found out it was a Hendrix number from Isle of Wight album. Krissy keeps the essence of the Hendrix tone but makes the number his own.
The final three live tracks are a bonus recorded at Gerd’s Juke Joint in Garmany in April 2016. The signature drum beat a cymbal crash from Max opens The Rock and then the driving bass line from Sam underpinning the energy and zing of Krissy’s live performance. The rock is solid powerful blues track fading into Roadsick Blues about addiction to being on the road. With keys adding a mournful, reflective air to the final track Bobbles And The Seven Phones. Written in memory of a dear friend this is a song of remembrance and the chords are sharp, gentle and considered the tone and tempo are measured. Closing out Live At Freak Valley with love, of friends, music, the guitar and above all The Blues played in Krissy’s indomitable style. This is a live album where Krissy blues demons have been unleashed and ready to swirl with dramatic effect across the valley to your stereo thanks to the record button being pressed.
Nikka has just released a brilliant cover of the Prince classic. I attach the artwork for the single, plus a photo of Nikka. Nikka adds her soulful interpretation with a reflective blue feel as the lyrics so well know are given a fresh airing and a new Nikka touch.
Want to listen yourself check out the single Nothing Compares 2 U HERE on Spotify.
Friday March 24thsees the release of the first single “Nothing Compares 2 U” from the long-awaited forthcoming album from American soul singer Nikka Costa–“Nikka & Strings, Underneath and In Between” which is due out later this year. “Nothing Compares 2 U” showcases the lush production values of the album through Nikka’s personal and intimate interpretation of the classic Prince composition.
Says Nikka – “I’m really excited to have recorded the new album with a rhythm section and a string quartet! I have some songs I’ve always wanted to record with this lineup and make into a very special album featuring this music I love. I grew up surrounded by orchestras and its music that is close to my heart. The new album features some standards, some unexpected covers and some of my own new material written especially for this project! I’m so excited!”
Readers can also stream and download the new single via other platforms via this link – HERE
Bluesdoodles reviewed Cut Against The Grain “Aaron Keylock is a Cut Against The Grain Definitely on to keep watching a listening where will Aaron’s music journey take us? Get Onboard now!” – read the rest HERE
Tues 4th April: The Black Heart, London: Headline – TICKETS Sun 16th April: HRH Blues Festival, O2 Academy, Sheffield – TICKETS Sun 30 July: Ramblin’ Man Fair, Mote Park Maidstone – TICKETS
“A fabulous new talent” Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2 “Aaron Keylock is on the brink of international stardom” Daily Mirror – Top Tips for 2017 ““If anyone can shred like Gary Moore, this young buck can” Metal Hammer “The New UK guitar hero” Shindig “Toe-tapping electric blues beast” Total Guitar
The clocks change in March, but Midnight is still the witching, hour, mysterious dark or starlight with a hint of romance and forthcoming days. Lewis Watson is back with a powerful new album Midnight, following on from his acclaimed debut The Morning. Midnight cements him firmly as a talented pop orientated singer/songwriter with hints of melancholy and shafts of joy running through the album.
Midnight has a fresh feel, nothing is over produced and there is a lightness of touch reflecting that the Oxford based musician recorded the entire album in a fortnight with a live band, under the watchful guidance of producer Anthony West.
The influences are present but with the lightest of touches as the voice of Lewis Watson is the dominant force combined with his acoustic power. Opening with reverb underneath the vocals adding to a mixed reaction that of uncertainty and the power of the music it has a force that makes a pop song stand out as it fizzes with energy. The dominance of the simplicity of the form of singer/songwriter with the acoustic guitar is apparent in When The Water Meets The Mountain, the sound fills out with melodic and harmonising backing vocals. The number has a sense of purpose within its elegant searing musical beauty.
The short and catchy Forever is a catchy number leading into Run with its ear catching opening of movements in a room a record player and clicking clock, with a harder edge of grand piano and strumming guitar picking up the melody. Then Lewis’ vocals picking up the lyrics sad and questioning as the nights are getting longer. Counting in for Slumber featuring Lucy Rose, the acoustic guitar is strummed and the two voices harmonise with a simplicity as a lullaby sinks you into sleep. The closing track is the title song, Midnight again the simplicity of a piano as the intro adds rather diminishes the power as we visualize the cold and Northern Lights and a feeling of contentment.
This is a pop album with the added elements of songs with depth of feeling and interesting layering of tones and effects so that the listeners ears remain focused on the music at Midnight. Lewis Watson, is beguiling and a songster who uses the idiom of pop to deliver his songs. Lewis Watson new album Midnight Simply Pops!
ERIC IS BACK AUTUMN 2017 Read about the dates HERE
Weds 24 May – Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh UK TICKETS Thurs 25 May – The Ferry, Glasgow UKTICKETS Fri 26 May – Arlington Arts, Newbury UK TICKETS Sat 27 May – Worthing Pier South Pavillion, Worthing UK TICKETS Sun 28 May – Mr Kyps, Bournemouth UK TICKETS Mon 29 May – Sage, Gateshead UK – Weds 31 May – Robin 2, Wolverhampton UK TICKETS Fri 2 Jun – Nell’s Jazz & Blues, London UK w/special guest Gary Hoey TICKETS Sat 3 Jun – Grolsch Festival – Shoppingen, GERMANY – TICKETS Weds 7 Jun – Tonelades – Valencia, SPAIN – TICKETS Fri 9 Jun – Leganes Blues Festival South Side – Leganes, SPAIN – TICKETS Sun 30 Jul – Ramblin’ Man Fair UK w/ Supersonic Blues Machine TICKETS
Bluesdoodles reviewedMiddle Of The Road – No doubting that Eric Gales is back producing the best music yet. Blues guitar with attitude, lyrics with a heartfelt understanding of the myriad emotions this album lays bare for the listener to explore and understand ….. Read the rest HERE
“One of the best, if not the best guitar player in the world” Joe Bonamassa “He is absolutely incredible” Carlos Santana “How Eric Gales isn’t the hugest name in rock guitar is a total mystery”Dave Navarro “This guy could be the best player on Earth” Mark Tremonti “Sounds like ZZ Top covering Stevie Wonder…If you’re looking for the blues album of 2017. This is going to be very hard to beat” Total Guitar 5/5 “The injection of danger and unpredictability that the blues-rock scene desperately needs…some of his best songs yet” Guitar & Bass 8/10 “The more you listen to it the more the brilliance of Eric Gales becomes apparent” Powerplay
Erja Lyytinen Talking about
Stolen Hearts and Being On Tour
BD:Hi Erja hope you are well, thanks for taking time to speak to Bluesdoodles, lots happening new album Stolen Hearts released 7th April and lots of touring including the UK from 9th April
EL: Really well thank you it is great to catch up with you again Liz.
BD: Before we talk lyrics, songs and touring how is life back in Finland juggling being Queen of The Slide Guitar with being a Mother
EL: Basically lots of balancing. Right now the twins are in daycare. Touring needs to be planned just organising life as off on a mini tour of Germany & Holland. It is all a rollercoaster ride often rather manic but definitely fun. You just have to jump-in and hope it all goes smoothly, often it doesn’t and you just go with the flow, that way you minimise the stress. Society and others have high expectations, which we are expected to obey. That we are all brilliant multi-taskers. Well, sometimes you have to concentrate on one thing and let the rest wait. The twins are used to me touring I have been doing it since they were two and half months old. February was a period of intense touring across Scandinavia with 24 shows in 27 days it was rather manic, we got through. Sometimes when I am in Finland the children can come on tour with me which is fun. I have a nanny to help and the twins love sitting in on the sound checks, playing with guitars we have really fun moments making lots of memories. I am a musician, a rock star but when I get home after a tour I am Mama again. The secret is to be versatile and I am definitely super happy. So glad I had the courage to have children, continue my musical journey one thing for certain is three years on I am a different person motherhood has definitely changed me.
BD: Stolen Hearts, your tenth album. Has a different shape to your Live In London and studio The Sky Is Crying. With eleven tracks that shimmer with blues that rock. Tell us about the thinking behind the album?
EL: Tenth album is definitely not a scary place to be. My expectations through life was that I would record lots of music. In fact, Number 10 does feel a good figure. This one feels like me, it is honest and a way for me to open up on the album. Reflects my life since motherhood and my life over the last two and half years has changed the way I look at things. I now try not to stress, not to be perfect. By the same token, I do lots of things and want to be good at what I do. On the album, this new feeling of relaxedness comes out. I now really enjoy being on stage, I now can open up and share. The album is very personal, the lyrics are heartbreaking stories. It is the end of a period of my life when I had the feeling that everything was going to collapse, eventually, it did, it took time to get out of that dark place. Music became my analyst where I could analyse my thoughts and feelings. This process deepened my musical expressions, now I am not afraid of being vulnerable, not afraid of being weak through that knowledge I have found an inner strength.
BD: You took the decision to record the album in two countries your homeland Finland and then U.K. Was it the lure of Chris Kempsey at the State of The Ark Studios?
EL: We recorded the backing tracks in Helsinki, some of the songs I had recorded one and half years ago and I needed to give myself more time as they didn’t sound right. We used Sonic Pump studios in Helsinki it is new with energetic young guys running the studio. Perfect place to record the backing tracks with the band. I wanted to take the album to the next level to give something new. Not just go to my home studio for the vocals and guitar, thought it would be nice to go abroad. I love England, I sing in English, so be good to have a producer who could check out my lyrics and pronunciation. It is so easy to phrase words that should be beautiful but mean something else English is so complicated with sayings and double meanings. I spoke to Alan Darby who is the songwriter I worked with in 24 Angels, which has a brilliant video. He suggested Chris, I checked out his CV and was blown away what an amazing history behind him having worked with so many Rock greats including The Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton and Bad Company. I contacted him and we started emailing, sent a demo from my home studio of rough over dubs. He instantly messaged back lets do it. He was so active in the 70’s & 80’s and the album was using lots of sounds from that era.
We went through studios and State Of The Ark was available it was cool a small boutique studio, with a homely atmosphere. It was an amazing experience from the first to the last track. I would recommend that everyone explores new soul mates in music it is invigorating.
BD:When reviewing the album, on the first listen what struck me was the range of tones and styles across the album from Heavy, brooding Rocking Chair (a new sound for Erja) through to the acoustic feel of Broken Eyes and the prog of Black Ocean. The diversity works there is a continuity in the lyrics, the emotional journey and the heartbeat of the blues ensures they all make sense. How did you come to create such different sounds and take the decision to record them?
EL: Yes, you are right it is the power of the lyrics they give the whole album a sense of context. I had other songs left out these were the ones that worked brilliant together. The album is about sadness, heartbreak, fear of loss, frustrations. Into the personal mix there is hope, happiness lust and sex. I cried when I listened to the whole finished album the emotions are so close to me they are personal. I did for a moment consider dropping Broken Eyes as it is a different tone from the rest but then I realised that it fitted perfectly lyrically. The lyrics are the link but Chris Kempsey is the genius that mixed the album. The engineer that mixes the album can either kill it or make it. Chris used a mix of Pro Tools and Analogue a mix of old and new reflecting the essence of the album. Old rock is behind the music, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix. I decided to forget about the radio, I am not pop, so like the bands of the seventies if the track is seven minutes like Black Ocean it stays that length, I wanted the long killer guitar solos. It is my music, my album and it was a joy to work with Chris. The mastering done at Air studios started by Beatles producer George Martin; working with Ray Staff was a professional joy. What a humble, lovely guy who had mastered icons including Bowie.
BD: 24 Angels, a single from the album, how do you make the decision on which track works as a standalone track? This number Co-written with Alan Darby, certainly sounds like your vocals are flirting with the mic and blues guitar that rocks?
EL: This track was the second, the first single was the title track Stolen Hearts last autumn to boost my tour last year and highlight the forthcoming album. The album was planned to be released earlier with crowdfunding campaign but for various reason it was delayed that is the way often in the music world. 24 Angels is a story worthwhile telling to people with pictures. It is multi-dimensional with lyrics that are about morality and forgiveness; about doing something to someone or someone doing something to you and the resulting suffering.
In the video, a relationship ends in a fight with hints of him dying in a car crash. It is that mix of forgiveness and regrets. Whilst writing the lyrics I was thinking of people walking the last walk on death row would you be regretting, how much you would suffer do you understand all that when walking the path. When I write I go to the very extremes. I have now opened that box and have for the first time explained my thinking behind my songwriting. This one I co-wrote with Alan Darby, a few years back he came up with the lyrics for the chorus ‘Bring me water, make me stronger’. He also put his emotions into the song. There were only simple chords before Alan jumped in and worked on the Erja idea. He made it rock more which really works. He is a sensitive guy with a long experience in songwriting for many including Eric Clapton & Bonnie Raitt among others.
BD: With the album taking you on new directions where are you planning to take us on the next road in Erja’s musical journey?
EL: Blues will always be at the heart of my music. I mainly listen to blues at home. But I like to make it modern for these times. It is more acceptable to do blues differently. There is a blues revival, with European invasion into blues music. I will always have my own style, I do not want to go back for one thing, it is impossible to get the sound nowadays. I am involved in a Jimi Hendrix tribute in May already sold 1000 seats. The show will be a celebration of fifty years since he visited Helsinki.
In music, you meet people and we all know that Rock n Roll can kill you. You have to take care of yourself so take care of myself try and eat healthy. Returning home after 31 shows in 37 days where you have no time for sports. It is important that you take it easy and do exercise take care of your heart physically and spiritually.
Now I have opened Erja’s box I have a couple of songs in the style of Stolen Hearts and have some ideas for the next album but they are my thoughts at the moment. I feel really strong about my writing new stuff at the moment.
BD: Having toured the new album, I believe you had a February launch date in Scandinavia. Do you have a personal favourite that really works on stage in front of an audience?
EL: I have had positive feedback in Scandinavia, where audiences can be a bit tight on the blues. I did wonder if they would like the new songs, a different Erja, but they seemed to like my new songs the edginess. So the feedback has been amazing. Personal favourite Black Ocean.
Looking forward to being back in the UK for five shows including launch party at 100 Club, London; HRH Blues and a double-header with your own Chantel McGregor. Hoping to be back to do more later on with a longer run of shows.
BD: Last time we finished with what your dream band would be this time – what are you listening to and what Erja Lyytinen track would you liked covered and by whom?
EL: Listening to Robert Randolph, his steel guitar sound is fabulous. Also, listening to John Mayer he is smooth, easy-going and Eric Johnson loving his new album EJ,
Who to cover my song What a question! It would have to be Stolen Hearts by Jimi Hendrix.
BD: Thank you for your time and looking forward to hearing the new numbers live at HRH in Sheffield.
Do not let the clear blue skies deceive you, Cardiff is in for a British rock invasion with the promise of stormy weather brewing under the mighty hammer of Thor as Thunder hit the stage with an array of cameras. The show was being filmed tonight which added to the eagerness to get the show underway. Opening the evening, Cats In Space filled The Motorpoint Arena’s stage with energy and ready to warm up an already excitable Cardiff crowd. The rock is classic, British taking you back to the seventies highlighted by the entrance to The Sweeney theme tune. The vocalist and frontman Paul Manzi is engaging and sings a mighty fine rock melody, reminding you why they caused a noise a few years back with Too Many Gods, their debut album. The sound was polished with layers of sounds and textures with keys and guitars displaying in all their glories on Greatest Story Never Told a track that stood out from the others. With Andy Stewart behind the keyboard wearing a mighty fine Top Hat adorned quirky decorations the choice of The Mad Hatters Tea Party was a perfect fit and introducing fans to their forthcoming album of the same title. With all the cats launched into space replete with rock. the crowd was ready for the forecasted stormy weather as the mighty Thunder took to the stage.
The Motorpoint was hot the cheering immense as Jungle Boogie from Kool and The Gang rang out and the band took to the stage and Danny Bowes lifted the mic to sing, Brit Rock never sounded better in a set that was full of tracks from their acclaimed latest album Rip It Up. The welcome from the Capital City of Wales was warm and heartfelt we wanted the evening to rock our socks off with energy and surprises and Thunder certainly delivered from the first to the last note. As ever The Motorpoint a vast cavernous space more Sports Hall than Concert Hall the echoes were present but the sound guys had certainly worked hard to reduce them for tonight to a minimum.
Opening with No One Gets Out Alive, from Rip It Up, the crowd were totally immersed into the waves of Thunder sound, the question to be asked would they let the band on the stage? Cardiff was in a mood to party especially with camera’s aloft swooping across the arena. Danny Bowes was in his element engaging and egging the crowd on to be louder as he danced and swirled around the stage with is signature boundless energy. Combining this with never missing a beat and his vocals always clear and soaring majestically out across the auditorium. Thunder is not a band supporting the frontman’s antics they are a tour-de-force to enjoy with rock melodies and riffs cascading through every track. Luke Morley’s guitar playing was immense the solo lead breaks pulling out the emotional energy within the rock with the power of Gary James aka Harry drumming immaculately as ever a demonstration of how cymbals can be subtle as well as clanging with brute force. Completing the quintet, bassist Chris Childs with his solid rhythms and Ben Matthews with his guitar, keys and the mighty cowbell towards the end of the set on Love Walked In.
The perennial crowd pleaser River of Pain (Shooting at the Sun), proves Dany’s voice is as lyrically powerful and full of singing acrobatics as ever and makes Thunder’s rock a fizzy delight, a storm brewing that always refreshes and never cools the Cardiff Crowd. In between the half a dozen tracks from Rip It Up including the title track and yes Cardiff did Rip It Up, the cheering of the crowd was off the Richter scale. Old favourites were given an airing sounding fresh as ever with Backstreet Symphony and Don’t Wait for Me slipped into a set list that was alive with hallmarked British Rock verve and energy.
Friday night provided a big kick start for the weekend and before the encore, Cardiff was having the weekend of their lives. With three more numbers filling in the encore sandwich was She Likes Cocaine from Rip It Up a special track on the album with the addition of Lynne Jackaman’s powerful rock operatic soprano crescendos. Tonight for Cardiff Jackaman stepped on stage and lifted the atmosphere a notch higher. What a way to lead into the last song of the night. A great gig by one of the best live British Rock acts around.
Kaz Hawkins Kicking Up A Music Storm At The Tunnels
Outside as the March wind blew through Bristol, we knew that the hot sirocco of a vocals storm was brewing in The Tunnels as Kaz Hawkinsand her band hit the stage. Kaz is riding on a blues fuelled crest of a wave as she embarks on a mini British tour and they were tight and hot across a set that made us laugh, cry and be awash with the emotional power of live music. Fresh from a solo trip to Nashville and the band reaching the semi-finals of the International Blues Challenge with the U.K. having a band showcasing British Blues for the first time at the event.
Tonight, it was as we all expected a rip-roaring performance from the band who grow from strength to strength. The rhythm section brothers bassist Ján and drummer Peťo Uhrin provide more than a solid base. The rhythms were deep and adding another layer of drama into the mix is the fiery fender displays from guitarist Nick McConkey. His tasty licks and hooks are a feature of the Kaz sound providing the perfect accompaniment for the full-on power of Kaz.
The set was full of firm favourites from her debut album Get Ready and her latest Feelin’ Good with numbers that mix up the blues with funk, country, and Celtic soul, every number sung as if for the first time from the heart. Every song is a special moment for everyone who had turned out to The Tunnels on a Thursday night. Those who missed her tonight in Bristol missed a night of live music fireworks. As Kaz sung Believe With Me, we all believed in the music being delivered this is blues with an extra shot of high-octane energy. As Kaz arranged her signature petticoats as she sat behind the keys to sing This Is Me, dedicated to everyone searching for inner strength and a pray for all of us to love ourselves for who we are. Like all of Kaz’s numbers, the emotions are raw, personal and hit your spine with honesty and soulfulness. Kaz’s songwriting is always aspired by real people, I Saw A Man, about a homeless man Kaz met in London, but always dedicated to Belfast man Norman the intensity of the lyrics are added to by the drumming of Peťo using felted drumsticks, the beat is muffled beating out the endless repeating rhythm as if walking the streets as Kaz narrates the tale hitting the high notes with perfect pitch and howling with pain and then the deep colour of her powerful voice adding to the drama.
Tonight was a time for smiling as well as tears with fans flying in from Belfast and an old friend from school days seeing after a long time no wonder Belfast Time was included in the mix. But Kaz is more than the power of her vocals it is her ability to connect with people. As she shares fears and bad times of her life along with celebration of hitting two out of three life goals, making a career in Music, being a non-smoker both ticked off and now she embarks on becoming fit under the supervision of her personal trainer. Kaz laughs with you and at herself, with a wardrobe failure her hair would not behave, first losing the scarf and then escaping the pins. This is Kaz, a real person who wants you to find the power of life through her songs.
A song that always brings a smile and tonight we all enjoyed singing on Hallelujah Happy People a real highlight of her set as is Feelin Good, a great rearrangement of this classic. With a great emotional lead break from Nick as the first half finished we were all feeling good in the presence of Miz Kaz.
Opening, the second set was a Kaz solo with her acoustic guitar a song she recently wrote in the Bluebird Café in Nashville, The River That Sings. Dedicated to Alabama legend Tom Hendrix and the wonderful stone wall, taking over thirty years to complete in memory of the 600 miles his Great, great Grandmother walked. As the notes faded and the applause filled the venue the boys came back on stage.
Her teenage years were difficult and the cleansing power of the emotional Believe in Me and the songs inspired by ex-boyfriends, Drink With The Devil and Can’t Afford Me put them firmly in their place out of Kaz’s life. We had soul with Soul Superstar and a flick of the legendary petticoats and the wide smile that warms The Tunnels. The night closed with Kaz’s re-working of I Just Want To Make Love To You, and then the encore with Shake that allows Kaz to display the full vocal range and colour of her voice. Kaz Hawkins Kicking Up A Music Storm At The Tunnels as she took her turn on the drums, reaffirming this is not an act to miss.
With the love of Kaz’s warm heart and the power of her vocals ringing in our ears we collectively wish her and the band every success as they go off to The European Blues Challenge in Denmark.
The duo set the scene, opening with a haunting instrumental Sweet & Low with Martin Harley playing his signature Weissenbom, a traditional Hawaiian acoustic lap guitar and the deep melodic chords from Daniel Kimbro’s Double Bass whether by bow or plucked creating an atmosphere where the music dominated.
The evening was replete with tracks from Static in the Wires, released earlier this year and Live At Southern Ground. The slide work created a palate of tones reflecting the lyrics, sad and reflective as the lyrics unfurled with Martins vocals adding emotional layers into the mix. The acoustic guitars changed and the music flowed with Sweet & Low and This Little Bird full of imagery bringing the numbers alive via the double bass under the skilful guidance of Daniel Kimbro. There can be no argument tonight we are in the presence of two artists who have deep understanding of the essence and power of roots music. This is why blues is so infectious connecting with the listener with its musical pictures of doom and gloom we all have discovered at various times in our lives. Yes, the musicianship was superb, Daniel’s bass playing is divine he makes the large and cumbersome instrument talk from a whisper to a deep and mournful groan, combined with Martin’s dexterous manipulation of the six strings, making the acoustic sing in harmony with the lyrics. The added magic tonight was the warm interplay between Martin and Daniel, with wry observations of life on the road, and humorous anecdotes. One leading neatly into I Need A Fried introduced by Martin and a quick quip from Daniel.
The styles change a hint of country and swell of a dance and the country bluegrass of Dancing on the Rocks. Then One Horse Town reflecting leaving the city for a small town and wondering why you changed your environment. Interspersed between the Harley/Kimbro originals were two re-arranged classics made new. Goodnight Irene, origins unknown but via Leadbelly was desolately dark. The other classic with a whole new setting was the closing number Nobody’s Fault But Mine, a truly innovative and compelling listening of a blues classic. Before the last song we had a wide array of numbers including the beautiful Winter Coat with the harmonies between Daniel and Martin having a gentle resonating power. Daniel, then put down his Bass and picked up one of Martin’s acoustics and we had a lesson in the pronunciation of Appalachian as he shared the common experience of having villages submerged in water. Along with guitar Daniel took over the vocals for a number that described the drowning of the village a background to the community that was changed forever as was the landscape.
This was a night where the blues sparkled and the audience was spellbound by the performance of two troubadours one from Hertfordshire the other Tennessee who found a unifying force through roots music.
Once again Roots Unearthed in Cardiff provided an evening of entertaining music with St David’s Hall bringing Acoustic Delights Martin Harley & Daniel Kimbro.