Don McLean in a Botanical Garden

Don McLean in a Botanical Garden

The title track announces Don McLean’s 19th Studio Album, the first in eight years was it worth the wait. Yes, it was. The title Botanical Garden is the hook that the whole album revolves around. Like all gardens, the thirteen tracks are reflective as Don puts it, “the whole album really revolves around the title song. Later on, I realized that the gardens are really a metaphorical heaven, and there’s a kind of death and rebirth.” Botanical Garden from the first track to the closing Last Night We Were Young has an intimacy created by the easy flow of the songs. Nothing has been over processed there is the rawness of the natural below the surface this is a garden built on the song.

The album is timeless as the tones of textures from Americana, country and easy listening are woven with the insertion of boot stomping rocking tones.  Don McLean will forever be instantly connected to American Pie, his biggest hit. Many years have flown under the bridge, Botanical Garden is more reflective, with an assured delivery the voice has mellowed but the delivery still has an intensity and the tones of American  Pie can be heard as an echo linking the past to the presence on many of the phrasing and guitar licks throughout the album.

The title track has been inspired by walks around the gardens in Sydney, opens with a rocky drum roll and determination. This is not loud clashing rock but a singer/songwriter catching the power of rock. A narrative that sets the tone of the album. We are going to wander through the flowers on a path of stepping stones labelled, with Trouble, Love, Life,  Regrets, Relationships, Pain and Peace the garden is a journey of reflection through life so we can assess the present.

The happy sunny beat of The Lucky Guy lifts the spirits, the tempo and vocal range suiting McLean’s vocal range and the rolling driving rhythm is a wonderful detour in the garden that at times is rather serious. This is fun, he is The Lucky Guy. Waving Man is a jaunty road trip we get in the car and take a musical country journey picking up the beat adding a lightness to the album, whilst the lyrics look back showing we all have a history of memories many are sad. Now the highlight of the album a complete juxtaposition to Waving Man. Opening with the stillness of a piano, When July Comes attracts your attention immediately. Now McLean with is reliable companion his Martin guitar and his vocals at their best. The vocals pour with emotional pain looking for redemption. The tones and range give the song a melancholy air with the strings underpinning the lyrics.

The change of tempo with a good old Rock n’ Roll Your Baby, this is a number that makes you smile and tap your feet. The music flows and you are taken on an imaginative journey that can at times seem self-indulgent but this is avoided by the witty and at times humble approach from Don McLean demonstrated on Total Eclipse, an Americana fuelled number.

Closing with Last Night We Were Young, the Sinatra cover closes out the journey through the imagined Botanical Garden as we all reflect back to the days when American Pie was young and fresh.

Overall, Botanical Gardens is at times too safe, there are no unexpected but exciting weeds springing up among the at times contrived rhymes.  Highlights that give the garden some of the sparkles that after a rain shower and the sun comes out again are, When July Comes and The Lucky Guy. The album is a welcomed addition to every Don McLean fans collection the gems really do sparkle,

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track Listing 

  1. Botanical Garden
  2. The Lucky Guy
  3. A Total Eclipse Of The Sun
  4. Waving Man
  5. When July Comes
  6. You’re All I Ever Had
  7. Rock ‘n’ Roll Your Baby
  8. I’ve Cried All The Tears That I Have
  9. Ain’t She A Honey
  10. The King of Fools
  11. Grief and Hope
  12. You’ve Got Such Beautiful Eyes
  13. Last Night When We Were Young



Pre-order now with Amazon, iTunes, Spotify  and more and visit Don’s new Pledge store for exclusive signed copies of the CD, vinyl and tour posters.


Don McLean in a Botanical Garden

Beware Of My Dog Carolyn Gaines Debut Album Statement

Beware Of My Dog Carolyn Gaines Debut Album Statement

Blues that flow deep and true on every number recorded for this debut album from Carolyn Gaines. Beware Of My Dog, is a mix of re-imagined and worked classics and her own numbers. Beware Of My Dog perhaps is a double-entendre loved by the genre. The album could be named Beware of My Voice, as Carolyn’s vocals say I am coming to cast a blues spell over you.

Like many debuts, the opening track is the title track. It opens with a spoken cast of blues players that have and continue to inspire. Listen to the fine instrumentation and colouring you hear the echoes from Hound Dog, connecting you to Big Mama Thornton and Elvis Presley. This is no imitation and the tenor-sax lead break is stunning. Carolyn’s vocals are warm and determined this is a singer not to be messed with she means it when she sings Beware of My Dog.

Now it is well known that dogs and cats often don’t get on I’m Your Cat, Baby sits perfectly following on from the title track reinforces that Carolyn and her band are a smooth and stormy act to be reckoned with. The beat smooths out with the harmonica that sings with a melodic refrain that curls around the vocals as we are Stone Out Your Raggly Mind. This is picked up by the sax that is stunning as her vocals shape and bend the lyrics this is singing that comes as natural as talking to this talented vocalist.

Now for an exploration of the nearly covers! First up is Hoochie Coochie Woman. Starts off similar to Muddy Water’s I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man. Then with a beat of the drum, it changes and this becomes a song owned by a woman. It is modern and the lyrics have shifted that makes you once again really listen to the re-working of a classic. This album is stinging blues now for a change of tone as David Junior Kimbrough’s Done Gone Old is explored around the tongue of Carolyn. Her vocals have a dark timbre that is personal, mischievous and slightly dangerous working so well in contrast to the acoustic guitar. We now have a change of blues tempo and colouration with country blues that dances. Played with a lightness of touch and is fun inspired but never dictated by Blind Boy Fuller’s I Want A Piece Of You. Carolyn and the band are having a good time and no-one can resist the foot-tapping beat and energy of Mr. Dill Pickles.

I Want Your Money Honey. This is the darker Carolyn’s vocals we are treading on dangerous waters if we challenge the interpretation of the blues, fuelled with rock n’ roll and the rawness of the vocal interpretation of the lyrics.

The harmonica on Jerry Rice – Busy man is the perfect foil for Gaines vocals on this country blues number. Her blues song is written in dedication to her Mum and Buddy Guy as we are treated to some wonderful harmonica playing on Charlie Mae & Chicago. Closing out the album with an organ opening that immediately gains your attention is a remake of Big Jay McNeeley’s Something On Your Mind. You are left loving Gaines varied and consistent interpretation of blues that is modern and exciting. A debut album that leaves you wanting to hear more.

A celebration of the distinctive vocal tone that has a roughness that is never smoothed into something it isn’t. Her vocals are full of warmth and expression.


Carolyn Gaines – Beware Of My Dog – Polka Dot Records

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track Listing 

  1. Beware of My Dog
  2. I’m Your Cat, Baby
  3. Stone Out Your Raggly Mind
  4. Catch That Train
  5. Hoochie Coochie Woman
  6. Done Got Old
  7. I Want Your Money, Honey
  8. Mr. Dill Pickle
  9. Jerry Rice “Busy Man”
  10. Charlie Mae & Chicago
  11. Something on Your Mind


Beware Of My Dog Carolyn Gaines Debut Album Statement

TURBOWOLF Third Album The Free Life Hits the Mark

TURBOWOLF Third Album The Free Life Hits the Mark

New band, despite the fact that this is their third album. I thought should I listen to the previous releases or just listen and gauge the band’s appeal from this offering. I decided on the latter option. On first listen, I thought Mmmm is this for me. But it is a rule over at Bluesdoodles HQ never judge an album by its cover or on first listen whether the band is familiar or an unknown. Turbowolf is a four-piece with attitude the music is rock, contemporary rock that uses synthesisers and distortion to powerful effect.  The sound is distinctive and at the same time accessible. They want you to have a good time, be uplifted by the music.

Opening very quietly with some spoken words, you are then straight into the melting pot of sounds that define TURBOWOLF with No, No, No.  This is an opening number that defines the journey we are taking in the world we are experiencing. There is throughout, and on this opening number, a feeling of chaos, the misdirection by false news and how we are shaped by the media. How nothing can be taken for granted in the maelstrom of change and old certainties being challenged. The discomfort of the times is heard throughout the album as the opening track kicks of the third album full of a tantalizing mix of harmonies and discordant riffs.

Four numbers have guest musicians joining the band. The first number is Capital X, with Joe Talbot from local band Idles adding his vocals with more clarity than his spoken intro at the start. The rock is harder with strong guitars and the lyrics once again at the front of the music this is a band that want to share their thoughts through strong songwriting.  The number is not the strongest on the album and doesn’t quite flow from the opener.  Cheap Magic follows with Sebastian Grainger, adding to the vocals adding that extra texture to the tones. His and Chris’ vocals work well on this fast and furious short number. Now Chantal Brown, joins the vocal party her vocals can be heard in other tracks. Very Bad, maybe the title but does not reflect the performance of all musicians involved in shaping this number.  The album is now fizzing the beats are deep and at times the music is darker then the brightness reappears.  Last but definitely not least is Mike Kerr on Domino.  The bass and vocals from Mike add to the high voltage delivery of Domino.

With the guests adding to the album we are left with the tracks that are pure TURBOWOLF. Halfsecret has a mystical feel snatching at the inner prog many rock musicians have. Again the high pitch vocals of Chris Georgiads captures your ears.   This is a prime example of how the band on The Free Life captures so many nuances that make rock longevity a certainty with bands delivering music that is different for all the right reasons.  The musicianship is superb, the rhythm section is the power base.  Blake Davis’ drumming is absolutely superb throughout, shining on Up & Atom combined with the female voice this is a song that has a zest for life.

The title track, The Free Life is a realization of the integrity of the bass tones throughout the album where they are essential in the delivery of this fast and heavy number.  Lianna Lee Davis delivers bass that sings a perfect contrast to the vocals from Chris with their higher pitch.  The album has twisted and turned building and now for the number to close out will it be heavy, a ballad do they have another surprise up their sleeve?  Yes, they do we have Concluder an acoustic number. Not folk, gentle acoustic. No this is TURBOWOLF we have to be challenged.

A third album that the fans will want to own. On tour, the fan base will grow. What the album lacks for me is that solid killer track, defining the album. The melody, lick or riff that sticks like an earworm reminding you to keep returning to the album.  That said this self-produced album is one that grows with every listen.

Bristolians, TURBOWOLF takes the rock out of the city on The Free Life and twizzles the sound with an array of guest musicians on an album that zings with energy and verve.  This is a band that surprises as every track unfolded we turned a musical corner to a new experience. They are not afraid to experiment this is a band on a journey capturing and shaping influences.  These are from punk, heavy metal and beyond as the anthems and riffs curl around the lyrics and the speakers rock, On The Free Life, their third album it works. You return to the album as on every listen you capture something new, never predictable always intriguing.

SEVENpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track Listing 

  1. No, No, No
  2. Capital  X (feat. Joe Talbot)
  3. Cheap Magic (feat Sebastien Grainger)
  4. Very Bad (feat Chantal Brown)
  5. Halfsecret
  6. Domino (feat Mike Kerr)
  7. Last Three Clues
  8. Up & Atom
  9. Blackhole
  10. The Free Life
  11. Concluder

Chris Georgiadis (vocals/synthesisers),
Andy Ghosh (guitar),
Lianna Lee Davies (bass)
Blake Davis (drums)

Guest Musicians
Joe Talbot – Idles
Sebastian Grainger – Death From Above
Chantal Brown – Vodun
Mike Kerr – Royal Blood

TURBOWOLF Third Album The Free Life Hits the Mark

The End of the Line is just the start with Ritchie Dave Porter

The End of the Line is just the start with Ritchie Dave Porter

The End of the Line is just the start with Ritchie Dave Porter

I have liked Ritchie Dave Porter ever since I read an interview with him by Michael Limnios, where he said “I would encourage the younger generation of today to stop listening to crap like Kanye West and Justin Bieber and open their hearts and souls to real musicianship and encourage them to download Jimi Hendrix ‘Are you experienced”’. Now here is a man I can relate to.

If he is new to you, then a potted history… Birmingham (UK) born, he has been playing the guitar since he was 11. Having toured a three-piece band called Voodoo Witch Blues Band for a number of years, he called time on this format in the early 2000s and moved on to solo acoustic blues. He has also fought against cancer and is in remission. We here at Bluesdoodles wish you well in your continuing battle Ritchie. So, a lot has happened to this musician and experiences and tribulations like these have informed and coloured his writing. Although predominantly acoustic-based, RDP, as he refers to himself, is not averse to plugging in and rocking it up with his SG or Strat.

His latest release, End Of The Line, is 11 tracks of pure blues; there are no pretentions here. He cites the usual blues masters as inspiration but rarely can they be identified. He certainly has a style of playing and recording that sets him apart. This is mainly because, although he plays all instruments bar the drums, he has eschewed the usual voice and guitar only recording approach. He has used multi-tracking to great effect, giving depth to the instrumentation and the sometimes off-kilter, Jack Bruce type vocals are improved too. The tracks are all compact, lasting around 3 minutes, but a lot of music is packed into every one.

The album is bookended with two delightful instrumentals; Blues at Sunrise is an attention grabber with echoing acoustic giving an almost tropical feel, and Blues at Twilight providing expansiveness rarely found on an acoustic instrumental.

Dog Without a Bone builds from a picked intro with the guitar falling silent for the vocals. Until the chorus that is, when strummed patterns reflect the words “I can make it alone ‘cos I play the blues”. 12 Long Hours brings a standard 12 bar approach but the picking behind it, lifts it into a traditional blues classic in waiting. Hell Yeah Man, I got the Blues has the guitar replicating the melody and the signature picking/strumming overdubs which set RDP apart from the many. Track five gets us rocking with RDP plugging in and showing equal prowess on the electric guitar. Happy Home opens with a guitar sequence which reminds me of Paul Kossoff in his pre-Free days when he played with Black Cat Bones. A strong blues/rock number that has a clichéd riff but is not a cliché when it all comes together, especially with the solo which shows skill and feeling with more Kossoff undertones. Let Me Tell You About the Blues, does what it says. A lovely progression to this guitar piece, with his trademark picking expanding the overall sound to great effect. My Father comes out of the blocks like tunes Gallagher was producing around his Blueprint era. Sad lyrics have not infected the guitar, with a great solo included. Baby Why You Treat Me So Bad is a shuffle of the highest order, with descending chord patterns the highlight. I Needed Some Lovin’ takes a BB King like riff and by carefully inserting just a couple of notes on top of the classic phrasing, he brings a freshness to it. The title track, End of the Line has really strong echoes of Gillan’s (the band) Puget Sound; the verse follows such a similar melody. The song is lifted again by the guitar structure behind it and the short and sweet solo.

This is a hugely enjoyable album if you like your blues blue. RDPs playing always fascinates and, although there is no new ground broken, you get a style and skill that will never become tiresome and an album you will keep returning to.

SEVENpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN


  1. Blues at Sunrise
  2. Dog Without A Bone
  3. 12 Long Hours
  4. Hell Yeah Man I Got The Blues
  5. Happy Home
  6. Let Me Tell You About The Blues
  7. My Father
  8. Baby Why You Treat Me So Bad
  9. I Needed Some Lovin’
  10. End of the Line
  11. Blues at Twilight

Ritchie Dave Porter all acoustic and electric guitars, bass, vocals
Michael Tingle drums on ‘Happy Home’

Recorded at CapsaArx Studios and the Moon and Sky mobile recording studio.


The End of the Line is just the start with Ritchie Dave Porter

Matt Schofield Shining A Lantern on The Blues in Bristol

Matt Schofield Shining A Lantern on The Blues in Bristol

Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival filling Colston hall and beyond with Jazz, blues, dancing and people having fun enjoying live music.  This year due to snow and other constraints Bluesdoodles crossed the bridge into England only once to visit the festival. Friday was a night not to be missed for a lover of electric blues guitar as Matt Schofield Trio were back in town for one night only playing the blues that filled the Lantern with pure pleasure.

We deliberately arrived early. The music in the foyer entertains and the buzz of the festival adds to the pre-gig excitement.  We were not disappointed. Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion entertained in the foyer on arrival. The show was early but already the hall was teeming with people and the dancers were warming up their dancing shoes. As ever Zoe and her band delivered classy blues that eased the stresses of the week, putting us in the mood for fun. Showcasing songs from their latest album, The Blues And I Should Have A Party including Chislehurst Caves.  Zoe’s vocals power through the songs that are melodic and bluesy. Her band Blue Commotion are inspiring, perfectly formed and executed guitar lead breaks, the intricacies of the Hammond and the bass lines combining with drumming that pulls the sound together. They delivered a harmonious set that pleased the foyer crowd immensely. Following on from this with the seats pushed back forming a dance floor for a short but exciting dance routine from the Bristolettes. Then a jazzy set of Paper Moon as they took over the foyer stage. Fronted by the second female vocalist of the evening Lucy Moon. This is a quintet that is full of swing and the dancing continued with rhythms that no one can ignore as I overheard ” A lovely way to chill on a Friday night”, so true the Foyer music and atmosphere was the perfect start to an end-of-week evening out.

Now for the main event for Bluesdoodles tonight, a rare opportunity to hear the wonderful guitar tones and playing of Matt Schofield. Now he has moved to the States his visits are far too few and far between.

The trio re-formed with Jonny Henderson’s Hammond magic, and Evan Jenkins’ wizardry on the drums added to the blues sorcery that Matt Schofield’s guitar produces on every outing. This is blues that shimmers and sparkles igniting your blues DNA with pure unadulterated joy.

The opening number was perfect the opening track from his album Heads, Tails and Aces – What I Wanna Know. The trio played as if they had never parted it was music to my ears. The music flowed with the trio having fun, the audience was having even more! We were totally immersed in blues that was a sparkling dancing mix of licks, riffs and rhythms this is blues that is pure and clean as a summer sky. The solos from Evan and Jonny were delightful. Above all the jamming between the three maestros was an ecstatic listening experience.

The set was replete with tracks from Siftin’ Through Ashes. The music was top-notch. The tones that Matt cajoles out of his custom Strat-styled guitar is sensational. This is top notch blues from a master craftsman. The trio cast their spell over us we wanted more, alas a short encore, Troublemaker closed out a night of blues that was simply electrifying.  The message from everyone in the audience was sincere and clear, come back soon Matt, a new album would be welcomed too.


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Matt Schofield Shining A Lantern on The Blues in Bristol

Divine and Dirty talking with Kris Barras About Guitars and Albums

In 2016 Kris Barras released “Lucky 13”. The album was titled as such as it was his 13th year as a professional musician and a “now or never” moment.

That moment led to a first European tour, playing a crowd-drawing set at Ramblin Man Fair and a headline slot at the world’s largest indoor arena blues festival in RAWA Blues Poland the following year. Strutting into December 2017, Kris signed with Mascot Label Group amidst all sorts of conspiracy theories; including one of a suspected terror incident in London upon his first visit to their UK office. The Kris Barras Band new album “The Divine and Dirty” is due for release March 23.

Being an ex-professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter, Kris Barras will take a punch, endure and toy with it after. He’ll then fire it back at you when you least expect it…

The Divine and Dirty” comes out March 23 in the UK, are folk about to hear two sides of the Kris Barras Band?
Possibly, but we’ll get into that later…It was kind of based on the fact that there’s the dirty, slidey, rockier elements that’s contrasted by the gospel side on the album which brings a balance to it. I felt it summed up the album with the riffs and songs I had written and bringing in the ace backing vocalists really added to it, there’s different sides to everyone and the title came about later on whilst writing.

It’s a great collection of songs that’s going to have a wide appeal to blues rock fans everywhere, what was going through your mind whilst writing?
I started writing for it about 18 months ago and songs like “Hail Mary” and “Propane” have been in our live set for at least a year. I wrote the album quite gradually really, rather than at the end of the process going “Right, I’ve got 30 songs, which ones am I going to do?”. I was sifting through them as I was writing them, throwing out what didn’t work or feel right for where I wanted the album to go and sound. I’d write a song, leave it for a bit, come back to it and if it wasn’t sticking with me, I’d chuck it on the pile aside, perhaps for another time.

Did you draw from moments in your life for the songs such as “Kick Me Down” and “Lovers or Losers” and were there any specific messages you wanted to throw out there?
Some of the songs, you know they’re just stories to tell, are not necessarily things that have happened to me but there are a fair few autobiographical tunes in there and people can figure that out for themselves. It’s quite a nice release to be able to write about things that have happened, people, places etc but they’re not always about me even if they’re sung in the first person. I think anyone who plays music enjoys that release and to let people find something for themselves in a song.

You recorded your last album “Lucky 13” in your own studio, but this time round you’ve had a change of guard…
Yeah, I and the keyboard player Matt recorded, engineered, produced, mixed, the lot on “Lucky 13” which was really well received and led on to a really great year for me. With this album, I really wanted to work with a dedicated producer, a guy that was going to tell me what to do so I could just concentrate on the playing and singing. We recorded it at Momentum Studios in Plymouth UK with Josiah J Manning producing. Josiah was a guy I knew of from a gig and I knew a lot of bands that had recorded with him and I really liked the sound of their albums. We got together, had a chat and it went from there. During the recording, my band line up changed as we recorded the album in two halves. When I started it I was self-financed so could only afford to get 4 tracks down with Huw Weston on the keys and Ricky Mitchell on bass. As the band’s developed over time, signing with Mascot Label Group and commitments getting bigger and bigger by the weeks they’ve had to drop out due to work and family commitments. As a result, Josiah has joined the band as permanent keyboard and organ player which is really exciting and his playing is on the album.

When it comes to your guitar playing, do you find it difficult from trying to get as much guitar on the album as a player or do you consider yourself to be more of a songwriter/guitarist?
I don’t really like placing a label on it, to be honest so I’ve not put much thought into which one I am! Hahaha! You know, I just write songs that I want to write and some songs on the album have lent themselves more to the vocal and melody and others are clearly balls out guitar tunes…I don’t sit down and decide what I’m going to write or play it’s really just what comes out at the time. I like to think that I’m not just writing songs where the verse and chorus is just passing time to get to the guitar solo, my songs have more substance to them than that. I really put a lot of effort into creating these songs, with all the songs I’ve written and I hope that people enjoy them and get something out of them for themselves. I think that’s already been reflected in the airplay from Planet Rock with “Hail Mary”.

You mentioned guitar solos, and you knew I was going to ask anyway, what’s your approach to them as there’s a bunch of “less is more” moments (which I think are going to surprise some listeners) on this album…
It varied from song to song how I approached them. To be honest, and don’t tell anyone, I’m not very good at writing solos or playing the same thing twice! Hahaa! I never have been – I’ve always been about improvising. I’ve had to work really hard re-learning some of the solos from my songs to actually play them on this coming tour as some of them are memorable to the audience so I need to give them the actual thing rather than widdling with new ideas all the time!

Everything’s off the cuff when you record then?
For some of them I do have a rough structure, some themes or ideas I want to include so I’ll bang a few takes out and we’ll pick the best one. On some of the solos on “The Divine and Dirty” there was no preparation at all – I was just gonna play whatever I was going to there and then.

…all in one take then, none of the cutting and pasting nonsense?
Well if there was I wasn’t aware of it! Maybe Josiah did that after I left, you’ll have to ask him mate! Nah, not really, all solid, one take, it’s the only way. I know some of your readers like their gear so here we go: most of the album I played my Fender Custom Shop Telecaster that we talked about before, the one I took a punt on eBay for and really liked it. A few tracks had a couple of overdubs with my Strat, but the Tele always sounded best. Amps wise my Laney Lionheart which is a beast of an amp with a 2 12 cab was the main one. For 4 tracks I recorded first prior to my Laney endorsement, I used my Roberts 50W all valve combo amp and that amps still a bit of a mystery if anyone knows who built it?

The first round bell of your Divine and Dirty tour rings out Tuesday March 20 at Thousand Island in London –  are people in for it, but in the nicest possible way?
Definitely! We’ve been rehearsing so much and really putting a lot of effort into making the best show that we possibly can. It’s not just about having new songs to play and a new set, but really making a show in the way that songs run from one into the other. It’s really polished, yet raw and we’re really looking forward to getting out there and hitting people with it at Thousand Island and debuting songs from “The Divine and Dirty” for the first time. The other dates of the tour are going to be great also; one venue in Sittingbourne has been upgraded to a larger venue in UKP Leisure as the original venue sold out and Tavistock Wharf is a few tickets shy of selling out…

With your full band on the tour, there’s going to be a bit of a difference when you’re opening for Beth Hart on her UK tour shortly afterwards…
Yes, we’re doing an acoustic trio for that and it’s gonna be great to be out on tour with such a cool and powerful singer in Beth, who’s a label friend. Again, for that we’ve come up with a really cool set with some different takes on the songs which people will love and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. The audience will see a different side of me on that tour and not just the guitar player some may think I am.

In your MMA fighting days, you stepped into the ring with a whole heap of characters and went toe to toe. Not that music is a competition and shouldn’t be, but if you were to step into the guitar face off ring with anyone living who would that be?
Bloody hell…that’s a good one…give me a minute. It would have to be Joe Bonamassa. He’s the biggest name in my genre and there’d be no competition as you say – it’d be great for a laugh! Joe’s been a big influence on me in the past recent years and is a really nice bloke so that would be awesome to have that shot.

…and a guitarist who has passed on?
C’mon now, you know it’s Gary Moore! That guy played with such balls and passion – it’d of been great to share a stage with him and feel that passion and intensity up close.


The Divine And Dirty out 23rd March 2018 on Mascot Label Group


Bluesdoodles review – “The Divine And Dirty is a very good album. He is an excellent guitarist and with so many hooks and bristling solos, the album has drive, intensity and passion”. Read what else we said HERE


Divine and Dirty talking with Kris Barras About Guitars and Albums


The Della Grants Buzzing throughout the Live Sessions Album

The Della Grants buzzing throughout the Live Sessions Album

The Della Grants, keep on giving their blues with a twist. Ten tracks on Live Room Sessions are a mix of something old, something new and lots of blue. The only cover is Too Fast, notably recorded in the past by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The rest are Della Grants compositions, the album recorded live in July 2017 in the White Room at Yellow Bean Studios, West End Leicester.

Opening with Lay My Head, the harmonica leads us into the tone and texture of the album building the tempo as drums join the party your feet are already tapping this is Blues that fits the bill. Max’s vocals are crisp and have a tonal quality that is tinged with devilment and a rough edge that bites into the lyrics and spits them out across the instrumentation. The band are playing and breathing as one no one will be laying down their head in despair while The Della Grants are playing. This is one of the four tracks included from their Time For Change album – Too Fast, Fairground Soul and Weaker Man. Fairground Soul, we now are off down the country road, the soulfulness of Max’s vocals give a gentler reprise to a song steeped in sadness and regret.  Weaker Man takes us to an age of jazz and bootleg spirit and speakeasies. It’s the tonal notes of the Trumpet that paints this visual picture from the sound.  The song may be about a Weaker Man as Max’s tones are reminiscent of Marcus Bonafanti there is nothing weak about the number. These four tracks show the depth of approach to the music they love, but what do the new numbers say?

The quartet of new tracks The River, Sunrise, Midnight Special and William Clay ensure the album has something new to add to the band’s discography. Stinging guitar drives the numbers crisp and melodic and capturing the essence of the blues. The vocals are deeper and act as a counterbalance to the guitar. The River is confident and the development of the band’s skills are evident in the flowing combination of instruments and vocals. This is a river not ideally flowing but determined and knows the direction it wants to go. The river is a metaphor as he sings “I know things are going wrong. Take me back to the place where the river flows.  We all have that place that makes us stronger in darker times.” The musicianship is blistering.

Following on with a change of tempo and tonal shape as we greet the day with Sunrise. Another reflective number, making sense of life and finding a reason in a person as you see the sunrise on your face. A gentler song easy on the ear with wonderful keys underlying the melodic shape of the number.

Midnight Special is not captured in the witching hour. The narrative of the lyrics starts with waking up in the morning. Then the gospel-infused chorus refrain with “Let The Midnight Special, Shine a Light on Me”. This is an upbeat foot-stomping number, played live no audience could resist the invitation to sing the chorus with feeling.

Last of the new numbers William Clay, starts at a pace with a harder beat and honky-tonk piano accompanying the uplifting vocal delivery. This is about trying to be someone else and becoming at ease with yourself.  With William Clay, goes by the name Memphis Bill, we are on Beale Street catching snatches of this tale. Including “Stay Young Don’t Ever Get Old”. The Della Grants are full of youthful vim and vigour delivering 21st century blues.

Closing out the live sessions with Red Mist, from their First fix EP still played with the anger you feel when you see the red mist coming over your eyes.  This high energy track leaves you with the enduring memory that this is a band you want to hear live and in the meantime, you have The Della Grants Buzzing throughout the Live Sessions Album. Blues with a twist that adds spice but never loses its integrity still is the music of the folk.

There are so many elements that set The Della Grants apart. The distinctive vocals that growl and rumble with melodic swampiness. The combination of instruments including harmonica and trumpet and driving rhythms. They should be in such demand on the blues circuit. This is blues with a Leicester delta twist, but importantly the band is The Della Grants buzzing throughout the Live Sessions Album. The music flows, ebbs and flows but is never stagnant with the inherent energy of a band playing with feeling, soul and the fluidity of playing live.

NINEpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track Listing 

  1. Lay My Head
  2. The River
  3. Sunrise
  4. Too Fast
  5. Fairground Soul
  6. Midnight Special
  7. William Clay
  8. More Than Pray
  9. Weaker Man
  10. Red Mist

Max Manning – Vocals and guitar
Tom Best – Vocals, guitar & Harmonica
Andy Boulton – Bass Guitar
Tom Walker – Drums
Tony Robinson – Keyboard & Trumpet

Producer: Jez Burns

The Della Grants buzzing throughout the Live Sessions Album

Cardiff Celebrating Classic Rock Tonight Skid Row Toseland Bad Touch

Cardiff Celebrating Classic Rock Tonight Skid Row Toseland Bad Touch

Three Bands, entertaining Y Plas in Cardiff tonight.  The bands span the years, varying in longevity. They were connected, all were five pieces, with two guitarists and a charismatic vocalist upfront. First up tonight the first of the five-piece rocking delights Bad Touch. High energy start, straight into their hefty Southern Rock inspired sound. What a band to warm the crowd they know how to entertain. The set included numbers of their well-received debut album, Truth Be Told. Stevie’s vocal delivery just gets better and better his confidence and freedom to perform grows with every gig he adds to the Bad Touch roster. The future of British Classic Rock is safe in the hands of young bands picking up the torch and setting stages alight with rock glory. The anthemic My Mother Told Me allowed the audience to join in the singing. In between the numbers we knew they slipped in a new rockier number from their anticipated album out later this year. We all raised our head with Get Your Head Up – now you have really whetted our appetite for a whole set of new Bad Touch songs.  The guitars of Daniel Seekings and Rob Glendinning work together with depths of harmony that will always be a delight. We hear the cowboy song, Daniels favourites as his guitar brings in the narrative-driven number Outlaw. Closing out the set with the single from the album 99% leaving everyone wanting more. The set was short and I could have listened to them all night, but we have two more bands to entertain us Toseland and headliners Skid Row.

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With many fans in the room, wearing Toseland T-shirts it was not surprising the welcome and a Boogie-woogie fanfare accompanied the entrance to a roaring welcome from the Cardiff crowd, many of whom had heard Toseland up the mountain at Steelhouse.

The temperature rose as Toseland’s, vocals and warm smile connected to the Cardiff crowd tonight. The guitarist added depth of tone as Zurab Melua and Ed Bramford complimented each other’s tones during another energetic set. When Toseland sat behind the keys the sound deepened. Opening with Puppet On A Chain from their album Cradle The Rage along with another two numbers on their very short six-track set.  The drumming solid as ever from Joe Yoshida with booming rhythms and timing that gives the band a depth of shape when combined with the bass tones from Roger Davis.  This is the defining rock from Toseland that allows James’ voice to soar and connect with the audience. The performance was top-notch rock that sings the vocals it is the glory that makes this band a firm favourite.


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The stage is reorganized and the anticipation grows for the headliners Skid Row, as we leave behind British Rock and new bands and are treated to American Rock. I confess I have not seen Skid Row live before in any of their formats. I loved the music from the Sebastian Bach period but willing to hear the vocals from new singer ZP Theart.  Skid Row finished the night off with some furious heavy rock, definitely the heaviest tonight. Yes, the sound on the classic numbers from the original line-up was not quite the same. But ZP was not imitating previous vocalists, he was delivering the numbers his own way. Yes, he certainly looked the part and at times his voice was lost in bands delivery of heavy melodic riffs and rhythms. Other bands have had changes and Skid Row is no different from them. This the heaviest of the bands tonight with dualling guitarists that hit the mark. The duals between Snake Sabo and Scotti Hill were superb. For me, this was rock that lifted the spirit and the feel-good factor was delivered in every number that was mainly from the Seb Bach period. The atmosphere was hot, with the crowd singing, chanting along creating a friendly rocking atmosphere as we were united by the love of live music.  The crowd went wild at every opportunity. The numbers that really got the crowds ecstatic were Sweet Little Sister and 18 and Life. With some punk rock was added to the mix delivered in their signature fast, and heavy style. Monkey Business gave the band the opportunity to jam. Including solos from all the band members. Great showmanship by the guitarist this was the battle of the guitars and the judicious use of cowbell added to the atmosphere.

For me the weakest number of the night to my disappointment was I Remember You. The tempo is slower and something of the inner majesty of the number was lost tonight.  Closing with Youth Gone Wild, our youth may have disappeared over the years since we listened to Skid Row deliver the number back in 1989, the energy is still there. We left on a musical high.

The three bands format is a fabulous way of hearing new bands. For some, this was Toseland, for others Bad Touch and a few the first time hearing Skid Row live. What it does do for me every time I leave with a feeling of disappointment. However, entertaining the headliners were you are left wishing one band had a longer set to play. Tonight, for me that was Bad Touch I wanted more from charismatic vocalist Stevie Westwood and the band from Norwich. The short set gave us a glimmer of a bad that is destined for the top of the classic rock tree.  There is no argument on tonight’s performance the wait for the second album will be worth it and another headline tour. Thank you, Band Touch for your music you Rock.


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Join the Blues Party with Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion

Join the Blues Party with Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion

Zoë Schwarz has been a big name on the blues scene for a few years now, with her live performances particularly lauded by fans and the press. Now with her band, Blue Commotion comes an album that should lift all of them to the heights they deserve. The band got together in 2012, and this is their 5th studio album in six years; that is quite an output in a short space of time. Fortunately, there has been no sacrifice in quality, and The Blues And I Should Have A Party, has class and high production values by the bucket load. It is also a generous album with 13 tracks clocking in at over an hour.

The band is packed with talent and, even though there is no bassist listed, there are some fantastic bass lines behind some of the tracks and the sound they all achieve throughout fills any room with warmth and paints pictures with the sound they conjure.

Please Don’t Cheat On Me has a great bouncy riff and typical classy guitar from Rob. To my ears, this track is the only (very) minor disappointment on such a strong album; the lyrics and the vocals feel a bit disconnected. All is forgiven when the 6 minute plus masterpiece and title track, The Blues and I Should Have a Party kicks off. Majestic is the word…vocals, guitar and Hammond combine to give an object lesson in what blues is and should be. The guitar solo is simply superb, with notes all across the fretboard; no histrionics just sheer class. You’ve Changed is ‘Bassey does the blues’… in a good way. Zoë should do the next Bond theme, in fact, the singing is so powerful, they should write a movie to fit this song! It has an enigmatic, harmonic quality that is fleshed out by great Hammond backing and a solo of such depth and simple skill. The drumming is ingenious too; fills and flourishes you wouldn’t think would fit.

Way Down in the Caves is a true story of an unlikely venue, with lyrics written by blues promoter and broadcaster Pete Feenstra. Chislehurst Caves are actually old mine workings and, in the 1960s, provided a major music venue. The song tells of acts that appeared there “Hendrix, The Doors, David Bowie too”. That must have been one hell of a venue and here, the tale is conveyed in the lustrous tones of Zoe with Rob playing up a storm on a Marshall fuelled Les Paul. It starts off like the Stranglers had put blues into their repertoire. It also manages to evoke a flavour of some of the bands they name check in the lyrics, particularly the Yardbirds. Don’t Worry Blues has a conventional structure with an oft-forgotten appreciation of space. Rob again showing he knows how and when to play the right note and not go for unnecessary filling. With the expressive keys and subtlety throughout, I can’t help but think of Purple’s When A Blind Man Cries in the song’s atmosphere. Next comes a lovely guitar/bass/keys piece of interplay introducing Shout. This is pure 60s blues boom refined. A sort of slow progressive blues feel echoes through You Don’t Live Here Anymore. This is a beautifully sung recounting of a “hollow space where once a warm embrace”. A guitar solo of such thoughtfulness backs this emotion-laden song. We are quickly back in the groove, literally, with My Handsome Man. This has an infectious, catchy 60s poppy feel to it and will make any toe tap.  A great up-tempo swing introduces Tell Me, the only sub 3-minute track here. The three musicians are obviously having a ball and you can’t help but be caught up in the fun. Zoe’s “pulse is way too high” as she mirrors the energy with a great melody.

Don’t Hold Back is next, and, although a slow paced blues, they don’t hold back! Unexpected key changes keep the song on the edge, reflecting the steamy blues behind the melody and lyrics. Although rooted in sadness, the next song was written after the loss of Zoë’s Mother, In Memory of You has an impetus behind the fascinating chord sequences. The genius behind this is the up-tempo beat that illuminates the words, where the subject matter would suggest something much slower. The solos again are pure fascination. The mood is lifted with Pete Feenstras lyrics providing the inspiration for Time Waits for No One. If like me, some social media applications leave you cold, then the theme will surely resonate… “Changing values with different peers, digital living with new ideas”. The music takes these words and makes them real. Beautifully sung and with the instrumentation utilising an oblique time signature, it just flows out of the speakers and transfixes. It has an early psyche feel at times with echoes of a very velvety Velvet Underground. Final Track, Thank You, is just that. The band thanking all of us lovers of music be it recorded or live. This song is so clever in its composition; expansive guitar, heavy Hammond, a drum kit tour and a wonderful vocal. This listener reciprocates those thanks. Zoë, Rob, Pete and Paul have supplied an album which delivers everything a blues lover could wish for. Zoe’s vocals are always striking, but the real revelation is the breathtaking playing by the band. Every song has clear demonstrations of skills so subtle and yet so damned effective. The first track remains a weak point for me, but the album is so strong overall, frankly who cares?

NINEpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …


  1. Please Don’t Cheat On Me
  2. The Blues and I Should Have A Party
  3. You’ve Changed
  4. Way Down In The Caves
  5. Don’t Worry Blues
  6. Shout
  7. You Don’t Live Here Anymore
  8. My Handsome Man
  9. Tell Me
  10. Don’t Hold Back
  11. The Memory Of You
  12. Time Waits For No One
  13. Thank You

All songs written by Rob Koral & Zoë Schwarz except on tracks 4 & 12 lyrics by Pete Feenstra


Zoë Schwarz – vocals
Rob Koral – guitars
Pete Whittaker – Hammond organ
Paul Robinson – drums & percussion

Recorded at Superfly Studios by Andy Banfield, Nottingham on 9th to 14th October 2017

Mixed by Wayne Proctor & Steve Wright at Y Dream Studios, Wales
Mastered by Jon Astley at Close To The Edge Mastering Design


Join the Blues Party with Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion




Support from Mollie Marriott and her Band

Tickets are selling fast three venues SOLD OUT, Leek, Sheffield & London  Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol catch up and make these shows Sold out. Dan is one of the hottest guitar players on the planet. Get the remaining tickets they are hotter than any hot cross bun!

TICKETS –  The Gig Cartel or DanPatlansky 

Manchester, Deaf Institute             Thursday 15 March           

Newcastle, The Cluny                      Friday 16 March

Leek, Foxlowe Arts Centre              Saturday 17 March SOLD OUT

Bristol, The Tunnel                          Sunday 18 March 

Sheffield, Greystones                     Tuesday 20 March SOLD OUT

London, Borderline                        Wednesday 21 March SOLD OUT     

South African singer-songwriter and guitarist, Dan Patlansky, is set to the release his new studio album Perfection Kills in the UK on Friday 2nd February 2018. The album is the follow-up to 2016’s critically acclaimed Introvertigo which was voted #1 BluesRock Album 2016 by Blues Rock Review.




 New Album Perfection Kills


Dan Patlansky Guitar and Vocals asks if Perfection Kills

Bluesdoodles loved the album Introvertivgo . We listened and reviewed Perfection Kills a perfect 10 doodle paw album in our opinion. We said this and more “Dan may say Perfection Kills – one thing for certain very track is a Killer and who cares about perfection? We love the tone, texture, feel and organic energy captured by voice and guitar that define Dan Patlansky on every track he plays. Blues that definitely rocks perfection of its pedestal.” Read the Rest of the Review…