Second albums are always a difficult journey to take. Following on From Quick & Dirty; Blues Engine are on the right Blues Tracks with number two. Tracks definitely consolidates this London-based band Blues credential
Opening with a measured soulfully melodic Drop Dead Ugly, the reverse of what the title may have suggested, definitely gentle rather than dirty blues. As you step on board the eleven musical detours the Blues Engine are taking us on Tracks. The vocals of Katya Chernyakova are full of luscious textures that are reflected back by the considered guitar work of Alex Cooray. The juxta positioning of crisp and soft, sweet and sour are a signature of Blues Engine giving the blues a contemporary edge whilst still full of tradition. The ten originals and a single cover keeps you entertained and engaged as the Tracks widen out with Gunnysack John, harder edge faster tempo and juicy harp from guest Nick Payne. It is the rhythm section that keeps this ditty on the right track curling towards its destination with beat that is sustained and clear the combination of new drummer Hamish Burchell & bassist Alexander K Liutai. The tracks meander with a gentle flow of the blues picking up a Latino vibe on Lonely By Your Side full of warmth, the quartet are having fun exploring the tempos that mix up the blues. Opening with deep rumbling bass Boatman’s Blues takes us down the river with Alex on guitar raising the tone and Katya hitting the mid-range this is a sad song full of blues wistfulness.
Closing out with their version of Jimmy Cox’s Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out; leaving you with blues chiming as the sound fades. Having reached the end one track resonates as the star it is a Peter Green infused, British Blues number Tell Me A Riddle. Slow, thoughtful, melodies that suit the tonal range of Blues Engine.
What stops this album being outstanding is difficult to pinpoint. Every track is true to the sound Blues Engine creates. It is an album you would return to and smile and joy the sharp blues of Tracks that glint like well-cut Sapphire, reflecting out and beyond the scope of electric blues. Missing, it is a cutting edge, the dirty tones of blues and stories that really shout for attention. That said Tracks certainly never goes off the rails under the hands of Blues Engine.
Live Albums capture a moment, freezing the live sound into the grooves that you can take home and play. Tedeschi Trucks Band Music Live From Fox Oakland comprises fifteen impeccable tracks across two CDs and does more that capture you in the moment. The album is a total immersion into a world where the blues based Tedeschi Trucks Band takes you to sonic places that enthrall and leave you breathless with joy. The lengths of the tracks vary from short and sweet Within You, Without You, full of Eastern mysticism and crowds whoops as the Beatles number is delivered with a delicacy and passion; through to the other end of the spectrum of nearly fifteen minutes of Tedeschi magic on I Want More complete with a Soul Sacrifice outro; could be self-indulgent time filling. Not under the hands of the jamming, improvisation virtuosity led by Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi every track is full of stylish twists and turns a music fairy dust of those special wow moments. The twelve-piece band gives Trucks and Tedeschi the choice of the sound they want to create as the instruments are at times maximized to full tonal depth and volume; or diminished into the powerful simplicity of vocals and keys. Every combination is used as the music played by Tedeschi Trucks Band Music Live From Fox Oakland creates a sonic mural of deep tonal pleasure. The colouring from the broad spectrum palette of jazz, the power hammer of rock, the hit of funk and the roots of the Blues that holds the Tedeschi sound together.
Picking out a few numbers from this magnum opus, is a real challenge. Leonard Cohen’s Bird On The Wire must be one, the combination of Susan Tedeschi’s vocals and Kofi Burbridge keys are a combination that is full of sensitivity, passion and music that sears straight to the heart. Then there is the re-working of I Pity The Fool, dominated by the vocals on this Bobby Blue Bland’s classic; the horns section pulling you deep into the vibe created. We all love a stomp, Sleepy John Estes’ Leavin’ Trunk provides this in buckets changing the tempo and providing a cascade of tones, and textures as horns guitar and vocals deliver a sound that is uncomplicated but full of interest as they explore the depths of the blues.
Into the mix of clever covers add the growing discography of Tedeschi Trucks numbers where they have input into the writing we have a selection of numbers that explores the musical journey that has been the sound track of the last hundred years. As ever Dereck Trucks guitar is majestic. Full of licks and riffs adding a luscious tone to every track as the interplay between the other instruments and Susan’s vocals create a sound board full of delights.
You may ask, do you want another live album with its mix of originals and re-working of classics that you already have numerous variations of and the original? Do you want another Tedeschi Trucks Band Album where half a dozen tracks are from last year’s album Let Me Get By? For me the answer is a resounding YES! Tedeschi Trucks Band Music Live From Fox Oakland, is full of fresh vitality and a pure hedonistic pleasure to sit and listen to from beginning to end time and time again.
Back in the O2 Sheffield for the second year HRH Blues III promised with a deep blues infused line-up to be an Easter full of music. They certainly delivered across the two stages, as ever clashes were at times frustrating, demonstrating the wealth of blues in town this weekend.
HRH Blues once again created an ambience, professional on the outside, inside pure unadulterated fun of listening to live music. The two days had a mix of blues from heavy and raw through to delicate and everything in-between. More people this year stepping on the bright blue HRH Blues Train crammed with live music in Sheffield.
With two stages, we heard a total of twenty-two bands and for some Royalty Passes & Media an extra five acoustic acts early on Sunday morning. The one disappointment for many was the missing act. King King had to pull out at the last-minute – now we know it was due to Alan Nimmo having acute Laryngitis. With the number of King King T-shirts in the audience you could have expected annoyance, but all you heard and saw on social media was empathy, love and get well. The bands that did play filled the gap with extended sets from Simon McBride and Ten Years After and a slightly early Saturday.
Getting the Easter music fest started was Dani Wilde who set the scene with quality opening act it was going to be high quality blues form the first to last note. Highlights in the main stage on Saturday were…
For the vast majority that I spoke to the stand out band of the first day and the festival were Billy Walton Band, they bought fun, blues and music that just gets every one excited. Following on from the band that wowed the audience and were still being talked about as the festival closed. Why? A full on band who really get that good-time vibe flowing the boys from New Jersey bring that East Coast joie-de-vie. Billy and the band want you want to party all night. With a horn section adding texture and tone they are just very entertaining and totally enjoyable. They were ready to party with the festival a fan supplied an array of hats and they were delighted to play with the donated headgear. The atmosphere was now loud, electric with blues flowing through the O2.
Follow that, well this is HRH nothing safe, nothing out-of-bounds as The Graveltones, a duo took to the stage. Heavy, raucous, energetic and loud they divided the room just as Marmite on toast would! The guitar was raw and the drumming hard with splinters of wood being torn from the sticks. Heavy, hard with complex rhythms and bucket loads of feel, delivering a punchy set that re-defines duos and the blues.
All aboard the next station on the blues train journey to Finnish Blues with Erja Lyytinen and her band. For many of her fans the first time we have had the opportunity to listen to the music from her acclaimed album Stolen Hearts. I was definitely excited having given her the full 10-doodle paws. High class set from the renowned queen of the blues slide guitar. In the set is Black Ocean for me a highlight and favourite on the album now a live favourite as prog meets blues under the charms and skills of Erja. We joined her on the rocking Chair, sang along with Stolen hearts. Then the trained steamed up the hill with her interpretation of Tina Turner’s Steamy windows. This was blues that sparkled as Erja smiled, played and won our hearts.
This year with the addition of food stalls and coffee there was no need to leave the arena and miss a single note of blues that was weaving their magic over the audience. Now we had two stages running parallel always a conundrum what to stay and listen too. Quick run upstairs to catch some of Will Wilde, this was the decision of many as the second stage was rammed and Will’s harmonica playing won him many new fans. For some the band of the weekend having never heard him play before. Will delivers more ‘authentic’ blues almost a match for Erja, a shame about the clash of blues titans. Will is one of the best blues-harp players on the UK circuit. Now we had a festival exploding under the glories of blues in full flight.
Back downstairs for Pig Iron returning for the second year. Describing themselves as Blues Metal this was pounding heavy blues that incorporates some delicate harp playing. Upstairs was Troy Redfern, the Welsh slide guitar troubadour. With tracks from his current album Backdoor Hoodoo. His rendition of John The Revelator is always a crowd-pleasing winner as it was tonight in Sheffield. The HRH Blues train was now gathering speed and pulling in a wide variety of acts.
Now back to the main stage for Simon McBride and the headliners returning for the second year Ten Year After. First, a stunning blues rock guitarist Simon McBride. The set saturated with scintillating riffs and licks making Simon’s PRS guitar sing and squeal. An accomplished set strewn with covers to extend the time on stage and numbers from his last two albums. What a set it was a tone the festival wanted to hear that mix of SRV, Hendrix woven together with McBride magic. The dueling between bass and guitar was magnificent. As he played Good Times Roll, following a McBride favourite Down To The Wire we were definitely having a great Easter Saturday as he closed with Deadman Walking we were all alive with festival fever.
After fifty years of touring with Ten Years After Chick Churchill & Ric Lee are now joined by bassist Colin Hodgkinson and the charismatic Marcus Bonfanti. Marcus’ vocals are full of power, tonal texture, his guitar playing sharp and the harp adds another dimension to the Ten Year After sound of 2017. No Ten Year After set is complete without The Hobbit, Ric Lee and his drumming acrobatics. A wonderful set blending old stalwarts and new numbers from the forthcoming album A Sting In The Tale out later this year. The whole set is a perfect platform for showcasing what a great and oft underrated guitarist Marcus is. Wow moments of the festival with Love Like A Man and Good Morning Little Schoolgirl. Ten Years After strong after Fifty-years and the thrill of a new album. What a Saturday now for Sunday’s delights.
Sunday, started with a Smörgåsbord of acoustic showcases, including Chantel McGregor; Big Boy Bloater, Crow Black Chicken and Dan Patlansky who we would be hearing in full amplified glory during the day. The sets were chilled whilst also demonstrating the varied sounds achievable from the acoustic. This was personified by the difference between Big Boy Bloater and Dan Patlansky, same guitar totally different tone and approach. We heard hollers, blues and songs given new shapes a perfect slow wake up call to join the main blues train downstairs on stage one. Into the mix the wonderful vocals and charm of Jack Hutchinson a welcomed addition to any blues gathering, with a new band album, Set Your Heart For The Sun, let’s hope he is back electric in 2018.
What a stunning set once again from the mighty Sean Webster with his new band The Deadlines. Having heard Sean many times he never disappoints, unsurprisingly he was the find of the weekend for many. His rendition of I’d Rather Go Blind moved many to tears with the raw, intense emotion he puts into every word sung and note played. Sean has the winning combination of a superb blues voice and plays the guitar with lightning blue touch. Now living in Netherlands, Sean is the enigma of the British Blues scene never reaching the heights his playing should be taking him. Let’s hope the station stop on HRH Blues Train will be the launch pad for a renaissance of Sean the bluesman. Following on from Sean, in a bright red dress is Chantel McGregor always a firm favourite with her many fans. The set was a mix of favourites and her latest album. Anyone hoping for some new material would be disappointed, though there was a new drummer in the band. The set was safe, definitely rockier than the early days of Chantel. She still smiles with warmth and affection and Freefalling was a guitar blazing delight as were the other guitar improvisations. Her rhythm section gives her a solid platform, bassist Colin Sutton and Ollie Goss on Drums. The mischievous Chantel was ever present with ‘Aving A Giraffe a fun out take celebrating the April the Giraffe giving birth the story that Chantel has been following on Social media. The set overall felt a little flat, come on Chantel lets have some new McGregor gems soon. This is the nuances that makes live music fun a have to be there moment. British Blues celebration continues with Laurence Jones with his new band. Laurence is maturing the new band seems to fit his style and the addition of Bennet Holland on keys certainly adds some textures to the music complementing Laurence’s stinging guitar. We are enjoying this stop on the train. Yes, this is British blues-rock personified; what is great to see Laurence continuing to grow in stature, developing his sound and staying fresh. The longer lead breaks played with growing confidence adds interest and variance in the live sound. Fantastic audience participation during JJ Cale’s Cocaine, conducted with vigour and winning smile from Laurence more Cream and Clapton than Cale. That is no bad thing in a stalwart of the blues circuit who wins fans whenever he picks up his guitar and plays. .
Quick sojourn to Stage 2 for StoneWire a band from the South coast that I had heard about. This is a five-piece led by a big voice. Another great female vocalist out front shaping the StoneWire sound. Whilst on stage one, young gun Aaron Keylock, was completing the very British Blues opening to the day. Solid set as this man’s stage presence grows. He is full of potential and the setlist was a perfect showcasing opportunity for Across The Grain his debut album. The slide guitar was over loud and the vocals slurred but every time you hear him there is improvement, Spin The Bottle a set residence that suits this young man who is truly motivated and shaped by the blues. Not to be missed, if you get the opportunity another HRH Blues festival favourites are definitely Black Crow Chicken. The sound is earthy, dirty blues. Every song has a colourful story as they take the blues train down an Irish lane as roots blues collide with Irish Tradition through the amplifier. The humour is dry and all-encompassing that follows through into the strong lyrics. With Jonestown and a tribute to Pat McManus from Pariah Brothers, the latest album. This is a band I could have listened to for longer. A definite bring back next year request. With Big Boy Bloater following, his acoustic set was superb so we were looking forward to electric Luxury Hobo. The sound was too loud for the small stage area and that meant the music lost its edge. That said what a rendition of bloater blues pushing them to the limits and he knows how to entertain the crowds vital for any set and sometimes missing. The superb track from his album Luxury Hobo, It Came From The Swamp won him many fans another strong contender for stage one 2018.
Now back to Stage 1 for South African, Dan Patlansky who always delivers fireworks from his Strat. Tonight, with a band of session players from Germany we were treated to a stand out set of guitar acrobatics. Old Red is the signatures Strat of Dan, and is off for a refurb after this UK tour. With his latest single from Introvertigo, Sonova Faith given a live airing we hear the clever improvisation that is part of the live show. Never expect to hear the songs the same, chords and lyrics are a constant but the interpretation every time is a certainty. Dan can rock his blues, and then with an application of the blues breaks will slow it right down. Then you listen with care as it is as good as it gets. Dan Patlansky is a showman. He brings Laurence Jones back to play Bright Lights, Big City that sees a guitar dueling that sparked with jaw dropping intensity. Closing the set, instrumental My Chana is a majestic exploration of the every sound a strat can make. As he experiments with feedback, ringing single notes. The audience are spellbound, a collective holding of breath with wonderment. No one wanted the moment to end. Sadly, it did one more act Stan Webbs Chicken Shack and 2017 HRH Blues fell silent.
Easter Sunday, this year more music that chocolate. What a tasty day once again HRH train ride was full of blues hooks, licks and riffs, laughs and friends the perfect festival journey.
HRH Blues III blues train was full of exciting stops along the complex musical map that incorporates The Blues. The festival does not rely on have the same favourite acts returning each year. Weaving into the acts surprises and variance in the sound of blues.
With such an array of blues it is unsurprising, with not a single act announced HRH Blues IV; 14-15th April 2018is already over eighty percent sold. People want to come back, reserving there spot for when the HRH Blues train leaves the station once again in Sheffield 2018. HRH Blues a definite for Blues lovers diaries.
Joe Bonamassa Live At Carnegie Hall – An Acoustic Evening Out June 2017 – On January 21st and 22nd 2016 world-renowned platinum-selling and Grammy-nominated blues-rock, singer-songwriter and guitarist Joe Bonamassa performed two unique all-acoustic shows at the iconic Carnegie Hall in New York City. Both performances were filmed and made into “Joe Bonamassa Live At Carnegie Hall – An Acoustic Evening”.
“Joe Bonamassa Live At Carnegie Hall – An Acoustic Evening” is an evening of extraordinary music with new arrangements of favourite songs as well as brand new, never-before-heard songs.
The line-up is completed with Reese Wynans (piano), Anton Fig (Drums) Eric Bazilian (mandolin, hurdy-gurdy, saxophone, acoustic guitar, vocals), and three Australian backing vocalists, Mahalia Barnes, Juanita Tippins and Gary Pinto.
Bonamassa comments: “Despite being among the most ambitious things I’ve done – I played with a 9 piece acoustic band – It came out great. It was a typical Joe freak show.”
Everyone knows the old saying about how to get to Carnegie Hall, but Bonamassa has truly lived that advice. His entire life and musical career had been practice for this moment, and a young blues-boy finally made good on a childhood dream of playing one of the most hallowed stages in the world.
This stripped-down, all-acoustic show allowed his fans a glimpse into his soul and presented a thrilling and musically dangerous spectacle akin to walking a tightrope without a net.
“JOE BONAMASSA LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL – AN ACOUSTIC EVENING” – TRACKLISTING
The Valley Runs
Driving Towards The Daylight
Black Lung Heartache
Blue And Evil
Get Back My Tomorrow
How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live
Song Of Yesterday
Woke Up Dreaming
Joe Bonamassa Live At Carnegie Hall – An Acoustic Evening Out June 2017
Joe Bonamassa is the winner of the Sena Performers European Guitar Award 2017 (SEGA). He will receive the award at a special ceremony on 21st May in the Dutch city of Bergen op Zoom. Last year Steve Vai won and accepted the award in person in the same town. An impressive list of former winners of the Sena Performers European Guitar Award led the way for him: Slash from Guns N’ Roses, Brian May from Queen, Walter Trout and Steve Lukather from the band Toto.
Joe says: “This is really a big thing for me, looking at the people who won it before me. Guitar players like Brian May, Steve Vai, Steve Lukather and Walter Trout are such an inspiration. I’m honoured by this.”
Dan Patlansky In Conversation
Touring 2017 and Beyond
BD: Morning Dan, great to see and catch up with you in Sheffield at HRH Blues and the opportunity to talk this morning
BD: Dan Patlansky,Back in UK and Europe for an exciting tour. Latest single Sonova Faith from the award-winning and acclaimed album Introvertigo.Returning to venues new and old favourites? With a new band tell us about your touring plan. Starting off at Mr Kyps with Ash Wilson opening and HRH festival you have hit the ground running
DP: Yes, back in UK and Europe with second round touring with Introvertigo. Following the achievement of Introvertigo being number 1 Blues Rock Album of 2016 by the influential American website Blues Rock Review. So we are back with a new band of session musicians from Germany bringing a different feel from my South African band. Part tour back at The Globe in Cardiff which will be such fun with Ash Wilson opening a great band, great songs the combination will be a good night of live music following on from Mr Kyps. HRH Blues was amazing great crowd and some amazing bands the atmosphere was really positive.
BD: Having heard your acoustic set at HRH which was wonderful, elegant, beautiful with lingering notes that I wanted to last forever; have you thought about doing more acoustic in the UK?
DP: Yes, it was fun. Acoustic is a different beast to playing electric. In some ways limiting with the change of guitar style. It is a challenge in the way you play and think about the music. As for playing acoustic in the UK; back in South Africa we often do the combination acting as our own support act. Yet to do that in the UK. Perhaps for the future; the logistic of travelling with an Acoustic rig as well as electric will be another travelling challenge. For acoustic at HRH I borrowed Big Boy Bloaters guitar, it was great to play and a big thank you to Big Boy Bloater’s loan of his lovely acoustic guitar. It was a different vibe when I played the guitar showing the power of acoustic.
BD: We all love to hear you get that special sound out of your Strat Old Red and is certainly how you continue to build your fan base. Tell us about strings, pickups and I believe you are retiring the beautiful guitar. How will you find a replacement?
DP: I play with twelve gauge strings, they are considered heavy, but I have always used them. I don’t just use them for the showmanship of the last number. I like the sound they produce. I use standard Fender pickup. For the last number, I turn my amp up to achieve sonic textures, feedback making it as musical as possible. I always have the amp fairly high, I play loud which is why I have speakers facing the wings and turn them up which can surprise front of house guys.
Old Red not being retired just refining parts of her. Just the neck is being overhauled. The neck has become a liability, 1960’s Fenders used Brazilian Rosewood, this is now a restricted wood and can cause a problem at customs in some countries. In addition, the neck is getting tired and twisted. When I get back home from this tour I’ll be getting a new neck for the guitar. A face-lift, not retirement.
BD: How do you keep the tracks we love to hear you play the sound is so fresh and vibrant when playing live? It is as if we are hearing the tracks for the first time as you add interest and surprises.
DP: This tour there is a new dynamic with the German musicians. It is though the nature of the music improvising. I may be playing the same song every night on tour, yes the melody, lyrics and chords stay the same but I go in different directions. Not always the way I expect, I grew up playing Jazz music the king of improvisation so every night has its own journey. Can be good or not that is the nature of the beast. It keeps the music exciting for us as musicians and puts a fresh breath into every night’s performance. We are definitely not playing by numbers, traditional blues is steeped in improvisation. I am just keeping that tradition alive and flourishing through my music.
BD: With a hectic touring schedule here, Europe and South Africa what are your plans for 2017 and beyond?
DP: Yes touring is hectic but always great to catch up with friends and fans we make on the tour. This will be the last UK tour focused on Introvertigo. I have dates in South Africa when I return. Then in June we go back in the studio with new songs, new ideas for my next album which will be released Spring 2018. Then back touring South Africa. We are also possibly back in the UK November 2017; where we could be previewing new tracks from the forthcoming album. So watch this space once dates finalized we will be letting the fans know.
BD: You are back in Cardiff at The Globe, what makes venues fun to return to? Is it building the fan base?
DP: Yes, excited to be playing back in Cardiff. I love the vibe of the venue. Why return to venues, it is a bit of both the venue and the audience is a big part of the show. The Globe is a great little venue, great audience who have such a positive response. I love the sound of the venue, the guitar always sounds good to me on stage which is really satisfying. The Globe is a loud room, lots hard surfaces. It is a venue I will always look forward to playing. The Cardiff crowd are always up for loud music and to enjoy the blues.
BD: Thank you for sharing with your growing group of fans. We have asked you your fantasy band, what you are listening to in previous interviews. So today who would you invite to play with Dan Patlansky band?
DP: Dream scenario would be David Gilmore from Pink Floyd. Gilmore got me into music generally and in particular the guitar.
BD: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule and looking forward to seeing you play live in Cardiff on 4th May.
READ what Bluesdoodles said about the TEN Doodle paw album Introvertigo – We voted the album as the best Overseas album heard over at Bluesdoodles HQ.
Introvertigo with its carefully crafted lyrics that blend urbane wit and honest observation, this is blues pertinent to today’s lifestyles, not so much whisky and women more the corruption of power and social interaction. Ten tracks there are no fillers every number is full of strength and tonal power but there is not an off note or lyric.
Mick McConnell sophomore album Gets Under My Skin, certainly punches a hefty blues punch. The album out of Dewsbury journeyed through Europe and was polished in Nashville. With Bruce Miller at the helm as producer Under My Skin has ten tracks that combine a winning combo gravel vocals and stinging guitars this is a smokin’ gun of the blues from Mick McConnell.
Mick, says “stick to what I know”; that said there is a flourish and a confidence as the ten tracks take us on a journey that never stays within the constraints of traditional blues. He sets down a deep groove with his six-string and then explores the lyrics adding gloss, brightness and energy as he sings No She Don’t Like Country; we get to know her tastes and she likes Rock n’ Roll!
The guitar is a blues clarion call as Mick takes us Visiting Mr ‘J’; his song that reflects on the legacy of Mr Robert Johnson, he sticks to his approach to the blues not copying or reinterpreting Robert. The middle of the album is rich pickings with Moods On A Rainy Day and Cross The Line. The album is full of peachy songs that grow and underneath the guitar and instrumentation are lyrics with something to say. Mick is his own person, this is his blues that he wants to share with you as he closes out the album with Spell On Me. This is Blues that shimmers piercing through the genre with a vibe that is warm and inviting. As the album title infers Mick does get Under My Skin and anyone who listens to McConnell Blues.
Jack Hutchinson, is a troubadour, he sings with his heart and travels far and wide with guitar electric, unplugged as part of a jam Jack with his infectious blues will be at a festival or gig. Now, the trio has a debut album Set your Heart For The Sun as Jack J Hutchinson’s Boom Boom Brotherhood releases their debut album. Surrounding himself with musicians who rock to the sound Jack has perfected a recollection of the seventies but not so much retro as the music is of the now. Joining Jack are Rick Baxendale who can be found adding bass guitar, piano and keys and percussive depths, Jim Brazendale on drums and Harmonica courtesy of guest Tom Brundage. This is a vintage sound that makes you smile, Jack and the brotherhood have captured music sunshine in an album that is bright and full of optimism. Yes, some of the tracks, fans of Jack will recognise from previously released EPs; some re-worked and work as a definitive collection of tracks defining Jack and The Brotherhood style. Fusing harmonies within a cocoon of vintage blues, roots, southern rock and the special ingredient bravery to be themselves making Set Your Heart For The Sun a standout debut.
Opening with a fuzzy psychedelic opening refrain we are introduced to Jack’s vocals for the first time with Love Is Gonna Bring You Home. A number that would have fitted neatly into Led Zep’s or Peter Green’s discography. The tempo and texture are smoother with Hey Hey Hey; a rootsy number that is beguiling in its strength and simplicity. The piano and guitar work in harmony playing off each other’s chords with a searing intensity. We are pulled back into the heydey of the sixties with a Beatles infused Fight Fire With Fire, the energy is youthful dynamic and we know this is no slavish copy it is the Boom Boom Brotherhood in full flood of celebration. Nothing is dampening this band’s fire in the belly to play the music that inspires them.
Now we have some blues with Tom’s harmonica adding a tonal layer of authenticity on Souled Out, the fluidity of song that builds around the roots core will have every listener tapping their feet with delight. The guitar weeps as we are exploring The Rivers Cries, the harmonica moans and Jack’s voice intones the story as it unfolds a wonderful track that fuses all the elements that make Jack J Hutchinson stand above the crowd. With songs of betrayal unveiled as we meet Jezebel, there is a sting a harder edge to the drumming as the tale is ground out and we see the darker side of love.
Closing the album out with Wake Up; it is a message wake up and get to know Jack J Hutchinson’s Boom Boom Brotherhood, as they meld the essence that is roots that rock with a modern cadence of tone and texture. The originals certainly make you feel the warmth of the bands Blues sunshine.
Quinn Sullivan Born to Play Guitar Exploring The Midnight Highway
Quinn Sullivan Born to Play Guitar Exploring The Midnight Highway, with this his third studio album at seventeen. How? Quinn has been a musical professional since he was first heard jamming at the age of three with Toe Jam Puppet Band. By the time he was six he appeared on Ellen, two years later saw him taken under the wing of Buddy Guy, whose protégé he remains to this day. Teenager Quin has shared the stage with a phalanx of music icons including Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and when opening for BB King he was invited to play King’s treasured Lucille. That is a snapshot as Quinn steps out and begins to play in the adult world he needs to deliver albums that are more than about his age, or who he has played with. He will be judged on the songs, vocals, guitar playing and production everyone expects a high standard being good is not enough. The album produced by Tom Hambridge who also drums who has added a sublime group of session men surrounded by musicians with a wealth of experience and knowledge as bass duties are delivered by Michael Rhodes or Tom MacDonald, guitarist Rob McNelly and adding in the interest on the keys is Reese Wynans.
No one can do everything, too many people try to be a songwriter and performer when they do not have the skills. Quinn has stepped back with three numbers co-written including Eyes For You, an acoustic folk-infused highlight showing this is a musician who understands the value of textural change within a collection of songs recorded in the studio. This folky vibe is revisited later on Going, they work so well as the dichotomy between the maturity of his electric guitar playing and the light youthful pop characteristics of the vocals. As the voice matures then you will hear the real voice of Quinn Sullivan. Hints of what could be coming are heard on Rocks a bonus track, with an edgier, deeper refrain this a Quinn that is a little bit dirtier. As he travels the blues highway he will slip and out of that will come the mature artist that this album hints at. Quinn Sullivan has talent, Quinn is a man on the precipice of greatness and one to watch develop. He needs to find his own sound and play with his guts, not with one eye on ‘will this be a crossover number with mass appeal’.
Opening the album with Something For Me, the opening bars are expansive, distorted tribal and inviting. His vocals are fuzzy but clarion clear as he pulls every syllable out of the lyrics. This makes for an interesting tweak of the blues genre that is forever expanding and reinventing itself. All lovers of blues will know this is a highway that has Something For Me. On this, his first album under Mascot Label, home of Joe Bonamassa has thirteen tracks including the bonus numbers. Yes, the tone of the album is youthful, and times pop orientated as on Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming. Then you have glimmers of where the young man is heading towards the place where genres meet down at the Crossroads of the Highway where blues is fused with so many musical opportunities.
Midnight Highway gives an insight into a talent that is burgeoning will it fulfil its youthful promise time will tell. Quinn’s musical Highway is going to be I am sure long, deep and an interesting ride to share. In ten years’ time there will be another young guitar slinger being compared to the now matured Quinn Sullivan.
the story unfolds under Eric Bibb Blues Mastery
When you listen to a new Eric Bibb album you expect extraordinary blues, he is one of the best. Does Migration Blues reach my expectations? Yes, the album surpasses expectations. The reason fo the album name, Migration Blues is the connectivity between now and the past. As Eric said “ Fleeing war & hardship is something people have been doing all over the world for millennia – nothing new … Whether you’re looking at a former sharecropper, hitchhiking from Clarksdale to Chicago in 1923, or an orphan from Aleppo, in a boat full of refugees in 2016 — it’s migration blues.”
On the album, Eric joined by JJ Millaeu with his harmonica and the multi–instrumentalist John Browne on guitar, fiddle and banjo. Also on the album are sympathetic drumming, at times harking back to the pain of slaves forced migration out of Africa from Olle Linder, Big Daddy Wilson and Ulrika Bibb’s backing vocals. It is Eric Bibb that drives the album directing tone and tempo as he emotionally sings the lyrics with strong and at times painful stories to tell. Bibb is the modern man of the blues he is the real deal.
The context of the album is Migration, the impact, hurt and pain of leaving home whether from Aleppo in 2016 or the migration from rural South to industrial North. Scratch the surface and we all have migrants in our ancestry, moving from home is a shared history. The parallels weave through the album from contemporary to historical migration. Shaped and discussed on social media, and news stories, on migration blues the elegant simplicity tells the truth of the pain of migration.
Opening with Refugee Moan, the plucked strings deep and redolent of journeys yet to take and we board the train at the heart of many a blues song. Eric Bibb, implores to be able to ride the train, let me board the ship this is a song of the desperate need for deliverance into the great unknown. Powerful messages pen your minds and take the journey through the vocals and words of Bibb the bluesman for today. With simple arrangements acting as gentle punctuation and soundscapes for the power of the lyrics redolent with meaning and the human condition. Every track is special. Highlights for me are the prayerful intoning of Prayin’ For Shore, as you want to reach a stranger’s land unknowing if help or violence will greet you the harmonica cries in harmony with the lyrics. The deep southern blues of Migration Blues, an instrumental with the depth of his twelve string resonator and the imploring of the harp cries the pain that no words are needed to explain. The stunning cover of Bob Dylan’s Masters of War fits perfectly in the track list of the album, as does Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land. The hope of a better life is there with Brotherly Love and the closing Mornin’ Train. Once more Eric Bibb has captured today in the simplicity of his blues shining and pure. This is an album that makes you think, feel the plight of others and be slower to condemn and quicker to find out the story behind the stranger in a strange land as Eric says Peace and Love.
Kaz Hawkins Brings European Blues Challenge Trophy Back Home
Saturday the 8th April 2017 was a big day for blues in the UK because of events many miles away in Horsens, Denmark, the venue for the 7th European Blues Challenge organised by the European Blues Union (EBU) in conjunction with the BluesKartellet of Horsens, a town described by its mayor, Peter Sorensen, as ’a city of music – with streets of blues’ and a city ‘known throughout Denmark for its concerts with renowned artists, festivals and major events’.
For the first time in the event’s history, the European Blues Challenge was won by the UK with Northern Ireland’s Kaz Hawkins Bandbeating off some stiff competition, particularly from Belgium’s The Bluebones who were placed second. The event saw acts from some 21 European countries competing over two nights at the Forum in Horsens, a venue which, in the past, has played host to many major names including the Rolling Stones, Madonna and Paul McCartney.
In an emotional acceptance of the trophy, Kaz first thanked the UK Blues Federation for making it possible for her and her band to take part in the International Blues Challenge, which took place in Memphis, Tennessee in late January and where the band reached the semi-finals, as well as the European Blues Challenge.
She also expressed her gratitude to the event organisers and to the judges for ‘getting’ her music which is so much a reflection both of her and her life.
In addition to the trophy, the band will also have the opportunity to play at a number of top European Blues Festivals as well as enjoying a considerably raised profile on the European Blues scene.
Kaz’s acceptance speech was full of emotion, warmth and the power of the blues.
Before the results were announced on Saturday night, The European Blues Union announced the winners of the Blues Behind the Scenes Awards for 2017 which saw the Award for Production going to veteran and legendary producer Mike Vernon whose career spans many decades working with many great artists including John Mayall and Eric Clapton on the iconic Beano Album as well as many other major names over the years. Recently he has come out of semi-retirement to produce a number of albums for 21st century blues artists as well as putting together his own band with which he is touring.
Accepting the Award, Mike commented that he was knocked out to receive it but also very proud. He confirmed that he had no intention of stopping yet suggesting that if John Mayall is still touring in his 80s there was no way he (Mike) was going to quit!
Earlier in the day at the General Assembly of the European Blues Union, Dave Raven, award winning blues broadcaster, Chair of the UK’s Independent Blues Broadcasters Association and Treasurer of the UK Blues Federation, was elected to the Board of the EBU, the first time that the UK has been represented on this board and another big step towards blues in the UK being better represented in Europe.
For the UK Blues Federation (UKBlues), Ashwyn Smyth – Chair – said: ‘ We are both thrilled and very grateful that Kaz and her band have done us and blues in the UK so proud. Whilst the winning was down to Kaz and her band, we are so happy that we were able to facilitate them taking part in both Challenges and the win in Denmark is the cherry on top of the cake and can only serve to raise the profile of the blues in and from the UK!”
Bluesdoodles send our congratulations to Kaz Semi-finalists first in Memphis and now the Winner in Europe.