Giles Robson and The Dirty Aces

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GILES ROBSON & THE DIRTY ACES @ The Garage Swansea
THURSDAY, 6 FEB 19:30 TICKETS £8 ADV / £10 OTD

Giles Robson a British Blues nominated Harmonica player with his band of talented musicians will definitely bring the blues to the Swansea delta – they will entertain you ..

Review from Abertillery Blues Festival
Giles Robson and the Dirty Aces, a combination of great musicians and songs produced a dirty sound that whilst evocative of the past was contemporary and relevant, as they showcased their latest CD “Crooked Heart of Mine”. The highlights of the set included, ‘The Mighty Incinerator’, ‘Solidor’ with Giles providing an emotive harp solo and giving the band a break as they left the stage and Ian Jennings swapped his double bass for electric bass with fuzz pedal providing a different but strong bass line for ‘Ain’t Dead Yet’. This band definitely is one that gets your foot tapping and dancing along to the strong blues tempo. The encore was ‘House of the Rising Sun’ re-arranged with the distinctive Dirty Aces signature and it worked.

Ian Siegal & The Mississippi Mudbloods @ The Flowerpot, Derby

Ian Siegal and The Mississippi Mudbloods - Flowerpot - Nov 2013_0347l

For the second night running Rawpromo have a sell-out crowd for the acts they are promoting at The Flowerpot. Tonight the chatter was about Ian Siegal and the many guises he performs in and our favourite – tonight with the Mudbloods it was going to be swampy country blues delivered in Siegal’s own award winning and importantly crowd pleasing style. Tonight the Mudboods are a little bit different as ever Cody Dickinson is the stalwart master drummer full of flare, rhythm and gets the heat of the drums sounding out on the beat and adding a percussive type of sound; joining him on bass, vocals and sometimes lead guitar is fellow North Mississippi Allstar member Lightnin’ Malcolm and the third member Duane Betts on guitar producing a delightful rootsy rock sound the scene is set now for the music; they are described by Ian as the “Golden Ratio”.

It was a medley of the latest tracks from “The Skinny” & “Candy Store Kid” albums, delighting the audience as they love these tracks kicking off with ‘Kingfish‘, ‘I am The Train’ and a real good time ‘Picnic Jam‘; which got the vibe going and told everyone they were here for a good time, of zinging live music that will not be boxed and served up as aficionados of genres expect. It is all the better for that with music that has a free-form; full of great licks, superb lyrics and all instruments complimenting each other, this is live roots, blues country music at its best. Ian, as ever quickly built great rapport with the loud and excited audience and the interaction between the musicians on stage showed they enjoyed each other’s company and were here to play and have fun. Lightnin’ Malcolm took centre stage on lead guitar for a couple of numbers allowing anyone in the audience who has not heard him before to listen to his beautiful vocals, great guitar skills, he is a great songwriter and his solo album, “Rough Out There” is anything but rough! The opening track of the album ‘Workin” really suits his voice and guess who filled the gap as bass player! Why the multi-talented Ian Siegal who now adds another string to his bow as a pretty mean bass player. Ian Siegal and The Mississippi Mudbloods - Flowerpot - Nov 2013_0248l Then another swap round of instruments and the set list played on with the songs we all love including ‘So Much Trouble‘ written by Lightnin’ Malcolm and tonight sung and played by Ian who demonstrated what a great wordsmith Malcolm is. This was a stage of four equally talented musicians and this shone through on every track. Duane’s silky guitar licks added a different tone to the sound with a rocky edge firmly planted in swampy southern blues sound and the interaction between his and Ian’s guitar was special and this duo has the potential of being something exceptional – we want to hear more. Ian Siegal and The Mississippi Mudbloods - Flowerpot - Nov 2013_0294lWhat has now become a bit of a signature number when Ian plays with a band is the tremendous track ‘Hard Pressed’ from his “Broadside” album; he breaks of to do a tribute to Prince with snippets form various Prince tracks around the main thread of ‘Sign O’ The Times‘ then effortlessly back into ‘Hard Pressed’ showing the adept mastery of Ian and the band shaping and re-interpreting the tracks you love so you are always kept on your proverbial listening toes! The music played on and the lyrics washed over the appreciative audience and all too soon they were leaving the stage, an encore and then the stage fell silent and the audience reflected in the stupendous show of live music they had just had the privilege of witnessing. Ian Siegal’s stylish playing reminded everyone who loves the modern blues scene that he is definitely the best Blue’s performer this side of the Atlantic – Ian is the A.P. McCoy of British Blues and we want to see him time and time again in any of his guises, none of them boring as he produces the full spectrum of musical colours and textures for our delight.

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You will not have to wait long as he is back in a new guise Siegal Electric Band
13 Nov – PEER, Belgium @ 8pm 
14 Nov – W2, DEN BOSCH, Netherlands<a href=", AMERSFOORT, Netherlands @ 8pm
15 Nov – De Kelder, AMERSFOORT, Netherlands @ 8.30pm
16 Nov – Porgy en Bess, TERNEUZEN, Netherlands @ 9.30pm
17 Nov – Qbus, LEIDEN, Netherlands @ 8.30pm
18 Nov – Trix, ANTWERP, Belgium 7.30pm
19 Nov – Blues Sur Seine, PARIS, France

20 Nov – Borderline, LONDON, UK – 7pm
22 Nov – Met BURY, UK 8pm
23 Nov – Redcar R&B Club, REDCAR, UK 8pm  
24 Nov – Astor Theatre, DEAL, UK 7.30pm

Norman Watt-Roy & Friends @ The Flowerpot, Derby

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Sell-out gig with nervous anticipation around The Flowerpot started the evening off with a buzz even before the doors to the stage area were opened. Opening for a gig when there is so much excitement is always difficult and ‘Mojosa‘ entertained us royally. This duo of Pauls delivered an acoustic set of classic blues numbers with the duo using their resonators to full effect and the competing slides worked with the two sounds meshing together to create a pleasing sound. A warm-up act that entertained with a set of great blues rocks classics including ‘Brownsville Blues‘.

Norman Watt-Roy and Friends -Flowerpot - Nov 2013_0084l Now for the main event Norman Watt-Roy the incredibly talented and imaginative bass player who has been the preferred session player for many including providing the original bass line for Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s hit single, ‘Relax‘, and who played with Ian Dury and The Blockheads. The atmosphere was electric as the first note was struck by Norman and the band began to play ‘ Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’, the crowd was won over by this tribute to the great wordsmith Ian Dury. Norman was joined tonight by keys, saxophone/accordion and drums meaning this was a trio without a lead guitarist! But the sound produced was complete as the best bass player of the era fronted the band and filled in the gaps. The beat was kept up tempo with ‘Billericay Dickie‘; then the tempo genre style changed with some jazz-funky grooves as the set became definitely more jazz than blues or rock and this definitely made an appreciative audience sit up and listen. This was a perfect venue to showcase tracks from his new album Faith & Grace on Cadiz Label with an attentive audience that listened and absorbed this new Norman Watt-Roy style. The jazz influenced lead breaks made sure that every track was clearly stamped with the Norman watt-Roy signature of full bodied bass playing demonstrated throughout but stood out on ‘You are what You Are’ and ‘Me My Bass & I‘. Then the moment everyone had been waiting for – the entrance of Norman Watt-Roy and Friends -Flowerpot - Nov 2013_0136lWilko Johnson onto the stage, the cheers were resounding and immediately the tempo and temperature was raised; and the crowds moved forwards trying to catch a shot and glimpse of the machine-gun guitar slinger. He played three numbers straight off, it had been worth the wait, a barnstorming performance from a legend of the pub rock scene, with his style of guitar playing instantly recognisable. There was no need for Wilko to say a word his trademark black telecaster with red scratch-plate said everything that needed to be said. Then he left the sage and the band followed the roar was enough to take the roof off The Flowerpot; and then in a instant he was back at the mike for the encore he chose ‘Roxette’. This is the Wilko version similar but never the same as when Dr Feelgood played it as Lee Brilleaux’s moody, darkly sexy approach is missing; but who cares tonight was Wilko’s as the crowd couldn’t get enough of of Wilko! Every chord struck without a plectrum as he has played for the last forty years, every note he sung and every move he made. The show ended back at the beginning with Norman Watt-Roy and Friends returning to ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick‘. The crowd was still buzzing long after the band had left the stage. Rawpromo had put on a a very special evening that was thoroughly appreciated by everyone, and no doubt there were a few disappointed people who couldn’t get a ticket. This is a popular promoter and venue so the moral is – get your ticket early…

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Brit Floyd – Live @ St David's Hall Cardiff

Brit Floyd - St david's Hall, Cardiff Nov 2013_0005l

St David’s Hall was packed for an evening of tribute to Pink Floyd, the lights were in place for the obligatory lighting and video displays and the places set across the stage for the musicians to step up and play tribute to the band that gave the world some fantastic albums that remain part of our collection today. Brit floyd - St david's Hall, Cardiff Nov 2013_0017lTonight was live music, a band covering the music they enjoy to play, much like going to see a classical concert, but there was something missing, personal interpretation that shapes and bends the music so that the artist makes the piece their own. That aside the first half was an excellent show with some great rendition of the music with the videos adding another dimension strengthening the words and adding to the moment. They utilised the circular sync familiar to Floyd fans and the video sequence used to introduce the albums was clever with a person selecting from their collection and putting the side to be played with reverence onto the turntable and carefully placing the needle onto the rotating disc and with that the live music erupted throughout the auditorium. Brit floyd - St david's Hall, Cardiff Nov 2013_0125lThey covered numbers from “The Wall”, “Wish You Were Here” and “Dark Side of The Moon”. Personally I would have left out the “Division Bell” and “Momentary Lapse” which are post-Roger Waters and miss that edge to the lyrics. Brit Floyd appeared to be missing a trick and I would have preferred the inclusion of numbers from that great album “Meddle”, especially ‘Echoes’.Brit floyd - St david's Hall, Cardiff Nov 2013_0013l The re-vamped CGI videos were superb and the 1100 attendees we truly entertained by a group of musicians bringing the music they loved into the St David’s Hall; accessibly live Floyd music. The highlight of the evening for me though was Angela Cervantes rendition of ‘The Great Gig in The Sky’ it was an epic Floyd moment and whatever you think about Tributes this was an entertaining evening delivered by a group of seasoned musicians who love the music they deliver. Brit Floyd truly deliver what they say on the tin a tribute to Pink Floyd.

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Foy Vance – Joy of Nothing – CD Review

Foy_Vance_-_Joy_of_NothingJoy of Nothing, Glassnote label, is the second solo album, of this Northern Irish, fine singer/songwriter who brings together a collection of wonderful songs, superb musicianship emulsified together by his soulful vocals that soar above the music and then mingle in the background and every-time pierce the vaults of your own emotional responses whether happy, sad, light and dark. This much anticipated second album has now released after a six year wait, but you have to wait for good things to happen and ‘Joy of Nothing’ is definitely a good album. So now we can journey through a luscious collection of ten songs that is authentic and gives you a feeling of hope as the thread of loves lost and gained. The album has a flow as one track flows into another with a different tale and tempo but always of quality; some of the tracks have a full sound others are stripped back. ‘Janey’ is a beautifully crafted song that has a country feel that draws you in so that you want to know Janey in person. The closing track ‘Guiding Light‘ with Ed Sheeran as his duet partner is the defining track of the album for me with its anthem soaring phrasing and full of hope and mellow fruitfulness that stays with you longer after the final note fades away. Unusually there is no weak track everyone has its strength whether we have Bonnie Rait as backing vocals on ‘You and I‘. It is Foy’s voice that is the standout element he has at times a bluesy approach, then he belts out a rocky anthem and then cuts it back to soul-searching simplicity all with a change of tempo and tone in his melodious, fluid vocals. As you listen he reminds you of many artists for a fleeting moment including Cat Stevens, Nils Lofgren etc. etc. but this is no imitation it is the real deal as Foys vocals and words burst out of the album on tracks like ‘Paper Prince’ with its metronome style drumming intro as you wait for what you know is just a beat away that voice as he drones out “Home alone again, although the sun still shines……. just the passage of time”. Foy Vance is an immensely talented musician whose profile should be higher and this album should certainly get him noticed especially following on from opening for Bonnie Raitt on her European tour. This is an album that is full of poetry and music and one that should not be absent from your collection because you always need a strong singer/songwriter to put your emotions into a song at some point in your life! Foy Vance does this for you on Joy of Nothing, which is not a subtle album but one where emotions in all there rawness are laid out whether it is pain or hope.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD a doodle rating out of Five of
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Red Dirt Skinners – Sinking Mary Rose CD Review

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Listen to this the third album from Red Dirt Skinners with an open ear, they refuse to be pigeon-holed into the blues or country, having reaped nominations in both British Blues Awards & The British Country Music Awards during 2013. “The Sinking of the Mary Rose”; it has a distinctive shape and the self-penned numbers have a recognisable Red Dirt Skinners sound, they create a sound that has a complex weft and warp creating a moving tapestry of sound that is a careful blending of Country, Folk, Blues especially the tradition of the holler making the sound full of American influences but the style of lyrics and delivery is definitely British. Sarah’s emotive Saxophone playing makes many of the tracks take on an emotional heart searching that makes the sound stand out in the crowd, especially when blended with Robs melodic tenor and his percussive and guitar playing, seen to great effect on their self-penned number ‘Still Water‘. The two covers included in the mix the Delmore Brothers’ Browns Ferry Blues with some good banjo befitting of this bluegrass influenced song, and Clarke, Cooper, Peadon’s Idabel Blues are delivered with style. It is their own numbers that really let their collective talent shine through; ‘Just 18’ and ‘Last Card’ both have the bitter hurt timbre to their voices as they sing of hurt and loss pulling you into the lyrics. This is a quality album with great production that ensures every note is heard and the textures, contrasts and tempos are perfectly balanced; and ‘Mr Landlord‘ who is no jolly publican but a Landlord who cares nothing for his tenants misery and uncomfortable living conditions. Despite this the guitar has a jauntiness that is reflected back later on by a fine sax solo and some powerful vocal harmonies.

This is a carefully crafted album of songs that have something to say that uses the musical skills of Rob & Sarah who have followed the tradition of many songwriters using their own experiences to shape, colour and add true emotion and feeling to the tracks.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD out of five doodle paws a doodle rating of
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Mississippi Blues Part 2 – North Mississippi Allstars Gig & CD Review

Mississippi Blues @ St Bonaventures, Bristol 22nd October 2013 Part 2 – North Mississippi Allstars
North Mississippi Allstars - Bristol - Oct 2013_0108bwl
This is another Bluesdoodles combined Gig & CD review

No wonder this was a sell out gig two quality acts for the price of one, no one can call North Mississippi Allstars (NMAS) as subtle, laid back or conventional, what they are is artistic, feeling the beat and shaping the music to create dark rhythms, wild beats and musicality of the top drawer every note that can be possibly be created on a guitar is meshed together to create this unique blues fuelled party. The NMAS create this sound out of a chaotic and at times seeming random connection of melody and lyrics but it works on stage and in the recording studio. It is due to the immense talent and mutual understanding of the Dickinson brothers Cody & Luther who are the backbone and fronts-men of this band with the combination of Luther’s guitar skills with his silky and seductive slide skills combined with energy and at times anger that makes the guitar squeal, sing and weep at you drawing you into the sound reaching deep into your soul; and Cody’s inspired, intuitive and free-form drumming and percussive skills no wonder his boogie sound is the bands trademark!. This is a sound that is driven and the drive makes you want to have fun and enjoy being in their company as much as they enjoy playing for the crowded venue in Bristol. The energy is created by Luther who hardly stays still for a second as he prowls around the small stage looking for an outlet for is pent-up energy, and he does through the music. This is certainly not simply a duo since joining them on stage to provide the bass line is Lightnin’ Malcolm who hardly had time to draw breath from his own opening set and then there is the fantastic interaction and stage craft as they play musical chairs when Cody moves from behind the drum kit out front to for the folksy, ‘Train I Ride’ where he played electro-washboard linked up to a WahWah pedal creating a uniquely Allstars sound; or stomp and boom with the big bass drum held aloft, so Lightnin’ Malcolm now has the drummers role and Luther plays on sometimes with a Coffee Can Diddly Bow. Then it is all change again as the energy rises amongst the band and the excited foot stomping crowd as they all don drums and walk amongst the crowded room making the beat pour out throughout the room wow what a sound as they did their own rendition like you have never heard before of ‘Does Your Dog Bite’ what an atmosphere. Throughout the night all three musicians played multiple instruments sometimes the bass, other times lead guitar or the drums seemingly on a whim but it all made perfect musical sense. Exceptional! This is a unique innovative, and thoroughly enjoyable progressive Blues incorporating sounds from the woods, hills and any genre that feels right in the moment, this is a live sound that you need to have been there to have felt the beat and absorbed the mystery that is the North Mississippi Allstars. The stand out tracks for me played tonight was the opening on the encore ‘Goin’ To Brownsville’, ‘Goat Meat’ and ‘World Boogie’. Fantastic music and atmosphere in a crowded, hot and sweaty bar, all too soon we had a reality check as we stepped into the damp dark evening in Bristol and left the steamy swamps of Mississippi behind us.

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wbic-cover-hp North Mississippi – CD – ‘World Boogie is Coming’

The production of the record is superb and it is novel how the CD is divided into four segments the first three reminiscent of a gig – Set 1, 2 and an encore then the film and bonus track; encapsulating what makes the North Mississippi Allstars so popular and how they always look to do their music a little bit differently. Any album that gets you excited about a version of ‘Rollin’ and a Tumblin’ has to go to the top of the pile in my records and the version on “World Boogie is Coming”; by Mississippi Allstars certainly does, this is a fantastic update of the loved song with use of Luther’s vocal and a Coffee Tin Diddle Bow, a metal resonator that takes you down to the earthy, muddy dirt driven blues of making music from what is available while sitting on a stoop. The whole album is as fresh as a daisy full of verve, vim and vigour, whether revamping old favourites including ‘My Babe’ , that sleazes its way into your musical lexicon with the gentle penny whistle and hypnotic drumming and the contrasting vocals of Luther. The whole album has an anarchic, chaotic frenetic feel as they make music that makes you sit up and listen this is artistry, this is different and with tracks like ‘Boogie’, whilst is using traditional blues rhythm they add a modern direction and freshness so that you want to dance and stomp around the house leaving boredom, the chores and the reality of life behind you. This is an album that has some impressive guests including Robert Plant playing quality harmonica on ‘Goat Meat’ and the compatriots, that have worked with them on myriad projects including Ian Siegal & Mississippii Mudbloods, including Duwayne & Garry Burnside, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Sharde Thomas and many more. There can be no doubt that this is the best album they have released so far, it is an infectious re-configuring of the blues that holds your attention and leaves you wanting more and throughout the album you have a feeling it will be even better live and the gig at St Bonaventure’s confirmed that it is despite losing some of the studio tricks and the loss of the backing singers. The length of the tracks vary some are mere snippets whilst others go on for a glorious ten minutes such as
‘Jumper on the Track’. This is an anthem of a song that should be played at least once a day, bringing the Burnside classic straight into the 21st century with its chugging line, vocals that are as clear as a bell delivering words so relevant for today; the mix is perfect my only complaint is it all too quickly comes to an end – now that is the advantage of CDs so easier to set to replay and on random you get a mix that the studio never intended but then you are becoming part of the NMAS anarchic approach to the blues.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD a doodle rating of
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Mississippi Blues Part 1 – Lightnin' Malcolm Gig & CD Review

Missisippi Blues @ St Bonaventures, Bristol 22nd October 2013 Part 1 – Lightnin’ Malcolm

This is Bluesdoodles first combined Gig & CD review

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Opening tonight was Lightnin’ Malcolm in the guise of a one-man band – what a sound he created swampy blues at its best with a twist of influences from across the genres embedded in world music today. To quote Lightnin’ Malcom himself ‘Do it in the name of the Blues’ how very true the sell out audience were delighted as they warmed to the superlative music and the great repartee and company of Mississippi Bluesman Lightnin’ Malcolm. Tonight Lightnin’ Malcolm did a stellar rendition of his own song ‘So Much Trouble‘, this version was cut down from the Ian Siegal & Mississippi Mudbloods rendition on the album “Candy Store Kid”. The fact that it was still so good demonstrates the strength of the lyrics and melody as the charismatic blues-man delivered the track with verve and vigour wow you wanted to dance, jump up and down – but the space was restricted as the audience packed into this small venue to catch some true artistry. Lightnin’ Malcolm is a true performer having fun himself, engaging with the audience with his warm, smile, cheeky grin and great one liners, he is there so that we can have a great time. The tempo was hot and varied creating a swamy atmosphere as St Bonaventure‘s got warmer and warmer so that the atmosphere of a Juke Joint was replicated on a damp October evening in Bristol. Every track he played was a little bit special and as he referred to himself as a “One Man Mississippi Stomp Sound” he created the perfect storm of sound with the combination of his voice, guitar skills and the rhythmic back line produced by his scaled down drop kit, definitely the real deal. Anyone who has not had the opportunity (and if I was you I would remedy the situation as quickly as possible) can purchase his album ‘Rough Out There’.

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lightninmalcolm1 CD – ‘Rough Out There’ – ReviewThe queue at the end of the gig was long as people wanted to take some Mississippi magic home with them. The album is a contemporary blues sound that shakes, stirs and rattles together a myriad of sounds and styles; there is fantastic slide guitar courtesy of Luther Dickinson on four tracks adding another layer into the mix; two of these numbers ‘Workin’ and ‘So Much Trouble’ were played live in a cut down solo version which worked really well creating that swampy juke joint fill. Whilst the versions on the album have a fuller funkier sound that fill the room and make you stomp your feet and wiggle those hips; what a beat and the lyrics are superb. This album again confirms the wealth of talent in the blues world but this album is a cut above many due to the combination of three layers of tone and sound that is melded together in perfect formation on every track. Firstly the tight back line driving an authentic rhythm giving every track a forward motion; overlaid with clever sympathetic mean guitar, this is no fast paced SRV clones so often heard, but a distinctive sound that draws into the beat and makes you want to squeak and shout. Lastly, the vocals, here we have the melodic, tuneful clear voice of Lightnin’ Malcolm who sings with conviction and meaning he believes in the music and wants you to hear every word and understand the nuances of the song. This magic, and so often rare, combination is demonstrated on ‘My Life is a Wreck‘ when he sings ‘No Place to Stay Baby‘ you are drawn to the melancholy lost sound of the voice and it becomes the truth in that moment. There is never a feeling that solos have been used to pad out they are there to add tempo, feeling and colour to the tracks that all have a twist of different genres with the creation of his own version of bleggae with that Caribbean feel added into the mix on tracks such as ‘Dellareesa‘ and ‘Reality Check‘. These are not reggae tracks they simply use the beat and mix it up and it works. The title track is hidden in the middle of the record and has a lovely spoken intro before the music builds up and the sorry and regret is reflected in the words and the tone of the musicians. This is an eclectic combination of modern sounds that have been woven into the structure of the blues – what a refreshing sound – blues that has escaped the constraints of the past but still true to its roots. The closing track demonstrates this so well with hip hop sound, gospel and blues mixed into a cocktail of delights that makes you believe and reflect on ‘How Blessed You Are‘. There is no doubt that Lightnin’ Malcolm is an immensely talented musician, with all the songs written and produced by himself and the selection of the special guests and the use of backing musicians show the understanding he has of the sound he loves and wants to reproduce for you. This album keeps the beat going and will definitely be on replay for a little while longer.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD a doodle rating of
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The Royal Southern Brotherhood @ The Flowerpot Derby

Samantha Fish Opening for The Royal Southern Brotherhood
@ The Flowerpot, Derby, Friday 27th September


There was an air of controlled anticipated excitement at The Flowerpot, the atmosphere was evident as soon as you walked in an hour before the gig was due to start. There was a lot of chatter about how good the evening was going to be and how everyone was looking forward to the evening; so the stakes were set very high for The Royal Southern Brotherhood with its celebrated line-up

Before the main event of the night, Samantha Fish had the unenviable task of being the opening act when the audience was already buzzing; and from the moment she stepped on stage with her guitar she was making friends and fans through the clarity and authenticity of her playing style. Those of us that had heard her last album “Black Wind Howlin’” were expecting this but for others it was a delightful new experience. Her use of the cigar box bought another musical texture and then she was joined by Grammy award-winning drummer Yonrico Scott, celebrated bassist Charlie Wootton and guitarist and the producer of her latest album Mike Zito this was live music full of excitement that bought the tracks from the album to life breathing in the energy that the artist gets from the crowds and feeds back through the music. Samantha is no doubt the real deal great guitar player with her strong guitar licks, combined with a great voice which articulates the songs with meaning and clarity a glorious 45 minutes of blues driven music but we were all still anticipating the act to come.

Royal Southern Brotherhood - Flowerpot -  Sept 2013_0313

The Royal Southern Brotherhood (RSB) hit the stage with the double guitar sound provided by the talented pair Devon Allman and Mike Zito, whose complimentary sounds created a musical harmony and exciting southern rock blues driven music. Added to this powerhouse at the front is Cyril Neville with his silky smooth but gritty vocals and percussive rhythms, but for the RSB a trio is not enough to deliver the powerhouse of Southern Rock sound they produce, so into the mix is added the talented Charlie Wooton on Bass and at the back of the stage the powerhouse of the group drummer extraordinaire, Yonrico Scott. Opening the proceedings with Paul Butterfield’s ‘You Can Run But You Can’t Hide’ demonstrated the talent and the easy way they all compliment each other, they are not individual pieces of a jigsaw they fit snugly together creating a fully picture of tones, harmonies and sounds, that is pure ecstasy! Mike Zito put his silver flying V to good use on the next delivery, one of his own ‘Hurts My Heart’ this put a little bit of funk into the proceedings as the excitement on the floor was getting more intense with every note RSB delivered tonight at The Flowerpot. For over two hours they entertained, teased and mesmerised us as the focus went from Devon’s deft and skillful licks, his vocals with a distinctive growl or Cyril adding that bit of soul to the proceedings and the hit of African rhythms and a times the sound or Bob Marley; then Charlie Wootons superlative bass playing wow what a solo… Mike Zito interchanging guitars going from leading the pace to add that extra layer seamlessly and then the tightest drummer providing a bedrock for the rest to play from. RSB were definitely on fire and enjoying themselves, at times there was a distinctive feel of a jam but this was quality jamming made up from talent individuals creating a cohesive and controlled sound. All thirteen songs delivered tonight deserve a mention as they all were a little bit special but for me the highlights have to be Cyril’s own title track ‘Magic Honey’ phew that was a blow away funky number, Grateful Dead’s; ‘Fire on The Mountain’ and the glorious Devon vocals that delivered ‘Gotta Keep On Rockin’ that said it all and summed up the night and why it is vital to keep music live.

The encore was the third segment of the evening as Samantha Fish joined RSB, with the fantastic duet straight from Devon’s album Turquoise ‘Stop Draggin My Heart Around’ that set the emotions on fire and the energy in the audience reached a new high – this has to be my gig of the year – a whole week later and I am still reliving the experience and for once Wow really means WOW!!!!

There can be no denying that Samantha and The Royal Southern Brotherhood, came to The Flowerpot, Derby, conquered our hearts, and left some musical magic dust in our souls. When are you coming back? very soon we hope and a big shout to Alan and Lisa that are RAW Promo for putting on another stunning evening of live entertainment.

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All photographs copyright Liz Aiken

Kris Kristofferson @ St David's Hall Cardiff

Kris Kristofferson St David’s Hall 24th Sept 2013
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There was a warm feeling of anticipation, excitement and for many of the fans meeting an old friend once again through his own style of Country; Kris Kristofferson stepped onto the stage to an awed hush amongst friends. At 77, Kris Kristofferson is still lean and ruggedly good-looking as his guitar and voice meld into one as he delivers song after song full of meaning firmly corralling this country singer as the first who was influenced by Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. He bought the spirit of the sixties to the hall with the protest and more than a whiff of a joint being shared among friends. Kris Kristoffenson - St Davids Hall -  Sept 2013_0003It takes a big act to stand alone on the stage, just a man and his guitar; there can be no doubt that Kris Kristofferson was such a man as his music and caged emotions filled the stage and his skill, love and warmth spread throughout the vaulted auditorium. Everyone had one or more favourite song(s), and he tried not to disappoint; even taking requests from the audience. As he sings the songs his face lights up with memories of love found and lost, of tears and smiles; his rapport with the audience meant that the feeling fed back and forth and more than one person in the packed hall wiped their own tears from their eyes. His songs sound mild especially with his gentle strumming of the guitar, but the words put the grit in your eyes, and pierce your soul as he does not lay out blame but paints a kinder world that could be at peace with itself despite the fact that so many of his songs are about losing rather than finding love reflecting his journey through his broken marriages and relationships.
The highlights for the audience will be varied as the repertoire delivered and for me they were ‘Me and Bobbie McGee’; ‘Nobody Wins’, so bleak and haunting it tears at the very fabric of your being; ‘Help Me through The Night’ and ‘Feeling Mortal’ from his latest album reflecting where he is now in his own words more inclined to laugh than cry as he stares down his own mortality.
Kris Kristoffenson - St Davids Hall -  Sept 2013_0003l
What Kris Kristofferson bought to the proceedings was an authenticity, he was humble as he shared the highs and lows of his life as a travelling troubadour; and at the end he did not want to leave the stage to silence as he reached down and shook hands raised up to him, thanking Kris for once again entertaining us with his songs not just tonight but back across the years. St David’s Hall, Cardiff certainly hopes he is back again soon.

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All images copyright Liz Aiken