The set from Erja at HRH Blues in Sheffield this Easter was a highlight of the festival “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.”
Tonight, the blues was never going to be sitting in the Middle of The Road the music was going to fizz with energy and the crowded venue was ready to welcome Eric Gales and his band to their first visit to the U.K. and the West Midlands. As we waited for the venue to open, the difference tonight was every bag was searched a solemn reminder that going to a live music event is now overshadowed by the horrific bombing in Manchester arena just over a week ago. As many commented, this was good to see.
Before the main act of the night the Tom Walker Trioset the musical Barometer to high raising the temperature with a stylish and far too short set. With a new E.P. Into Space joining, as Tom said their other older CD, there was a good selection of the blues sound the band creates. This was Blues-Rock punctuated by funky rhythms from Deano on Bass; combined with artful drumming of Nate Barr creating the perfect musical landscape for Tom Walker to build with his guitar and vocals. The blues were at times swampy with great slide guitar as we Cross The Border with the trio off the new E.P. Blues is about timing and feel and this is a trio that has it in triplicate. Closing with a re-working of John Henry; from deep in American Folklore and early music covered by many and Tom made it his own tonight. Only, complaint I have, we wanted the impossible to hear more of Tom Walker Trio whilst at the same time we were impatient for the main act.
Short break, time to catch with friends and connect with new ones as people had traveled far what an opportunity to hear Eric Gales and his band tonight. With a fanfare and smile Eric strode on to the stage with his signature guitar held aloft. Starting the show with Silence for Manchester he commented that this was his first visit to the U.K. and genuinely overwhelmed by the crowds turning out for him and how scary it was arriving on the night the bomb went off. Like everyone he was still clearly affected by the senseless slaughter. Tonight, was about his music and we want to hear that guitar burn up the venue with his distillation of blues with funk, jazz and so much more as he connected with the audience through his music. The band tonight was more than a bedrock for his guitar to fly from they added another dimension with a wildness and stupendous musicianship this is freeform blues drenched in feeling and raw heartfelt emotions. Joining Eric on stage tonight were a double helping of percussive tones with drummer Nick Hayes and Eric’s wife LaDonna Gales and the energetic, deeply talented bassist Cody Wright.
The set was a skillful display of tracks from the past, his current superb album Middle Of The Road and covers given the Gale treatment blowing a breath of fresh air though every arrangement he delivered. With Change In Me – which Eric announced as track 2 introducing us to the album; this is more than a melody and lyrics, the number celebrates the rebirth of Eric Gales. His emergence from a dark place of addiction; now his focus is his guitar and the music he creates bringing smiles and joy to the audience tonight. Boogie Man, the Freddie King classic was then given it’s Robin 2 debut; this is music that is hot, and full of electric energy taking us on a journey that fills our ears and gladden the heart. The musicianship was stupendous as the guitar wept and joined the emotional outpouring of high-octane delights. We heard Buddy Guy, and got to know the man behind the six-strings. At one point Eric left the stage allowing Cody and Nick to have centre stage. The magic fingers of Cody made the bass buzz with tonal textures it was a music driven sculpturing of notes. Then it was the turn of Eric for a solo built around Blue Oyster Cult’s, Don’t Fear The Reaper, this was an impactive solo, with the prism of notes creating a rainbow of tones and sounds; spellbinding. The delivery of Swamp another instrumental and eleventh track from the album Middle of the Road; was a whirling dervish of tambourine from LaDonna and the music flowed in a heady free-form blues extravaganza. Wow! Finishing off with Catfish Blues and then the encore this was a night of musicianship, innovative blues. There is definitely nothing Middle of The Road or standard about any of the music played by Eric and the band tonight. This is excitement, hope and joy distilled into a night that was hot and will be a highlight of 2017 that is for sure.
If you missed out on seeing Eric Gales this time; he is planning to be back possibly as early as October this year. In th emeantime his latest album Middle Of The Road out on Mascot Label Group available HERE
Tuesday Night Brighten with Devon Allman Playing Live in Bristol
Kick starting the evening loud, Mark Pontin Group who had traveled over the bridge to open for Devon Allman once again tonight. His set had a jam feel that didn’t showcase the music from his albums. Joined by Gwyn Ashton slide guitar was added to the rock-blues mix. They certainly got the crowd ready and impatient to hear Devon Allman in Bristol tonight.
Tuesday Night was definitely brightened with Devon Allman Band in town to play live music at The Tunnels. We were in for a guitar driven festival of music that hits all the right pleasure spots. Devon, jams, moulding the southern riffs and licks with vocals that have a tale to tell. Tonight Devon dipped into his back numbers from Honeytribe through to the last three superb albums.
The band that surrounded Devon, had a raw energy that bounced of the tone and textural delight that is the winning combination that sets Devon above many other troubadours of modern song; his and voice, he warms the room, engages the audience and leaves them wanting more of his music. This is why the atmosphere was electric, the audience surged forward as Devon played from the edge of the stage. Tonight, weaving the numbers together from his three Devon Allman Band albums on this Ride Or Die World Tour, with artful covers and a dip back into time to the Honeytribe his glorious licks from his Les Paul, a beautiful listening experience.
Following on from a favourite opening number Wash In A, we stepped on the Ragged & Dirty trail with Half The Truth, with that familiar yell of inclusion from Devon as he got the crowd clapping. Flowed by the distinctive open cascading of notes leads us into Can’t Lose ‘Em All leading us as the dance rhythm hits into Devon’s vocals, rich more and emotive. The room ant the The Tunnels was awash with the vibe of music that flows with an organic texture and form, not contrived this is music from the hearts, soul and talented fingers of every musician on stage. The interaction between Jackson Stokes animated playing and Devon was spellbinding it was music that you want every track to last longer. The rhythm section, powerhouse to any band did so much more that keep the beat. Between bassist Justin Corgan and drummer Anthony Steinhaur they shaped the music; providing the strong base for Devon to fly from.
From his time with Royal Southern Brotherhood, Left My Heart In Memphis joined the party, and it was a true Tuesday night party atmosphere as the wonderful lyrically driven Turn Off The World from Turquoise held us all in the hands of Devon’s guitar hands, with pick in his mouth and the fret board manipulated under his powerful direction.
Dipping into Honey tribe we heard Mahalo (Hawaiian for Thank you) from their debut album back in 2006, a wonderful instrumental that allows the instruments to communicate with you. The vibe is cool hints of Santana but one-hundred percent Allman a jam full of depth and wonder. We collectively thanked Devon for the music by loud cheers, clapping and dancing. We didn’t need any encouragement to participate in Bob Marley & The Wailers, No Woman No Cry. The Tunnels rocked on a Tuesday.
The music was an amalgamation that is all the strong with southern rock and the interpretations of the blues with Checking In On My Baby (Junior Wells); the music has a raw edge, slightly dangerous as Devon grins you are never sure what trickery will come out of the Les Paul. It always weaves its magic and tonight was no different.
Closing the set with Midnight Lake Michigan, we could not believe the time had flown by. The interludes and extras that Devon and the band blended into the set list let everyone shine a true celebration of music, live, dirty and energised. There had to be more in the bands tank of music. Yes, there was as they came back for a demanded encore. First, Devon teased us, with licks and riffs, named that tune. Before two numbers from Ride or Die Night Like This and Say Your Prayers. If we are good and say our prayers lets hope Devon Allman is back in Bristol real soon. As the last notes of the encore faded away with, we were all on a live music, Tuesdays just became a Saturday night as no-one was thinking about work the next day we had the uplifting melodies of live music, meeting of friends lingering in a haze of delights from Devon and the band.
You know it was a fabulous night when writing the review the music you choose has to be Turquoise, Ragged & Dirty & Ride or Die. However, good words can be let live music do the talking for you the energy s dramatic, uplifting and the perfect tonic for a Tuesday night in Bristol.
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.
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.
Hayseed Dixie, French Hard Rock Excites The Globe Cardiff Tonight
With a sold out show, everyone was at The Globe to hear the unique Hayseed Dixie take on classic songs we love to hear. Before the main event up on stage was an unknown entity, on the second night of their first UK Tour, a young French band, Dätcha Mandala. The band met Hayseed Dixie when playing Las Pieds Dans La Vase last year. With 22 dates they will be reaching audiences who will be amazed by the hard rock energy with psychedelic overtones all to a backdrop of blues riffs. Tonight the energetic leg flying Nicolas Sauvey, Bassist who takes the lead vocals and adds the tone of Harmonica whilst guitarist Jérémy Saigne who kneels as the high-octane Gibson fills the air provided an energetic front for the band. With a stand-in drummer following the band’s drummer breaking his wrist we were treated to a warm-up act that certainly got the musical adrenalin running. This is hard rock colliding with Buddhist spirituality they are a band who entertain and certainly put on a show.
Hayseed Dixie has been a crowd-pleasing act since they formed in 2000; after fifteen albums ‘Rockgrass’ must be hitting the crowd-pleasing button. This is a band that despite having a brand new album Free Your Mind and Your Grass Will Follow did not provide a sales pitch it was about delivering songs, a mix of Dixie’s originals and their creative re-working of songs from across the genres of popular numbers. Not many set lists include War Pigs, Bohemian Rhapsody, Ace of Spades and Oliver’s Army. Hayseed Dixies DID! This Bluegrass ho down meets classic rock as the acoustic bass and guitar, fiddle, banjo and mandolin are on a collision course of rock & country creating a genre of their own grass rock it is music mayhem that works it is infectious. Sold out at The Globe means the venue is crammed with excited fans who just want to have fun, they did not need any encouragement from the foursome. The members may have changed but the music has stayed the same. Tonight, John Wheeler, Jake Bryers, Joe Hymas and Tim Carter came and conquered the capital city once again. As they explained, “we have playing this music longer than many marriages, must be doing something right as we explore Drinking, Cheating, Killing and Hell”. We all agreed in one very loud voice.
This is a band that does music their own way with its foot tapping, arms waving let’s dance to the beat and harmonies. They may not appear to be taking themselves too seriously. Do not let the jokes and wise cracks fool you; this is music that delivers in spades.
Tonight Liz from Bluesdoodles was tired post-festival fatigue was setting in having been in Sheffield all weekend. So Tuesday night more live music, but having missed seeing Hayseed Dixie too many times she wasn’t going to let sore feet get in her way. The music was fun, lively with a good time vibe so staying until the last note died away was a pleasure, not pain. Why? A set list that is a rollercoaster of hell raising mayhem that hits the spot all post bank holiday blues were blown away by Hayseed Dixie in Cardiff tonight.
Spring sunshine warmed the pavements as the crowds gathered on the street outside the O2 Academy Bristol. The draw tonight was a double hitting rocking with energy delight with Biters opening the cavalcade of music, culminating with Blackberry Smoke. The bands are both label mates and friends so the pairing made sense on many levels to the audience it was the music, quality.
There was a rock n’ roll, retro bite as the band kicked off the night it was full steam ahead for music fun and games. The quartet from Georgia, stepped onto the stage with a step back into the past Norman Greenbaum, Spirit In the Sky. This is a band that have both feet in the 1970’s including a number celebrating the golden age of rock 1975. With the task of warming the crowd, they immediately connected with the Bristol tonight, with a shout out for the gigging venue on a boat we all love where they have played. Thekla the venue where we hear first many a band that become firm favourites, demonstrating the importance of a vibrant and varied landscape of venues in a city. Cardiff, please take note; Womanby Street is a cultural asset!
Now, back to the music with influences flowing through the veins of the music but never clogging the artistry with hints of Cheap Trick, Thin Lizzie and a large helping of T-Rex. Biters, have a forthcoming album due out 19th May on EarAche records; The Future Aint’ What It Used To Be. The superb and ear-catching single from the forthcoming album Stone Cold Love full of T-Rex vibe was part of the opening numbers and we certainly were riding a retro rollercoaster of delight. Fitting in with the southern rock/country rocking vibe Georgia and Gypsy Rose fitted the starter menu perfectly. This is music that entertains. Energetic young band the perfect platform of hooks that caught the vocals and licks that made you shout with joy as the drums pulled the rhythm through every number.
The Bristol crowd was excited and ready for more rock in the form of Blackberry Smoke. Back in Bristol, a band they are road warriors getting their distinctive sound majestic Southern Rock, authentic. They are as they describe themselves Too Country for Rock; Too Rock for Country the sound is a collision of two genres into a crescendo of rock that is full of southern warmth and edgy charm. Tonight Like An Arrow Tour rolled into Bristol, the city music fans appreciated this as the venue was packed from top to bottom. Opening with Fire In The Hole we are ready to put reality on hold and be transported into the land of Blackberry Smoke with the setlist full of songs from the discography covering the whole of the twenty-first century. Yes, Blackberry Smoke are a millennium southern rocking explosion. This is good time rocking music with an edge, the sound permeated through the crowd creating an electric party atmosphere. With Waiting For Thunder from current album having the audience singing and this will be a keeper for a live set becoming a classic. The melding of American music is evident in a number that rocks and Charlie Starr, pulling on the tradition of the holler and the lead break from the keyboard under the guidance of Brandon Still is picked up by the guitar. What a number only five songs in and the venue is steaming with this heavy hollering delight. The music flows with an energy as the southern rock credentials pour through the O2, with Pretty Little Lie. The wonderful southern slide sound from Charlie’s Gibson 335 was a joy to behold, and the keys add that extra tonal layer we are all transported to a special place that live music takes you. There has to be the jam moment, tonight A Sleeping Dog, from The Whippoorwill album is segued with Your Time Is Gonna Come as Zeppelin and Allman’s sounds are pulled into the version tonight. This is the moment when time stands still as the audience is collectively transfixed by the music we are a single entity absorbed and re-vitalised by the cleansing sound of guitars washing the dust away.
Tonight, music is a celebration of the sound of Americana with a willing audience participating in Ain’t Got The Blues, no-one in the audience tonight had the blues the music was a celebration of the positive, feeling good was the result. Another number celebrating the sound of the Acoustic guitar was One Horse Town. All to soon time was catching up the encore left us with a trio of delights. We wanted more, tonight Blackberry Smoke were on top of the game. The guitar harmonies flawless, the percussive rhythm full of edge and the vocals poured out across the auditorium. Closing with Ain’t Much Left, the music had said it all. Live Music rocks with Blackberry Smoke and Biters tonight.
April Roadstars Are
Broken Witt Rebels and Bad Touch
Spring sunshine warming Cardiff pavements, but not as hot as The Globe scorching from the two rock n roll sets from rising British Bands 2017 Planet Rock Roadstars show; Broken Witt Rebels & Bad Touch. First up in a lava flow of Rock from the red hot Birmingham band Broken Witt Rebels. Many bands would leave the crowd-pleasing signature number that Low, from the acclaimed EP Georgia Pine, has become. BUT, not the rebels this is the opening track they are opening on a high. High flowing rock that rolls around The Globe the crowd are jumping with delight they want more and more of Danny’s power blazing vocals, they are howling so the next number is perfect for the atmosphere created on a Sunday night, live music that Is Howlin’ good. Broken Witt Rebels are tight, they are having a great time playing the music we want to hear. This is a band that will rise to the top as the music is hot, tasty and created by a volcanic amalgam of music that shaped the seventies into a creative free form delight of classic rock infused with soul and whisky flaming southern riffs. The beating, pulsing heart of the Rebels is front man Danny Core, his vocals and stage artfulness catapult the band to the top of the rock face of young bands with ambition. He makes every song distinctive, the phrasing shaping the lyrics and the rebels behind him provide him with a trampoline that bounces with musicianship that sparks with attitude and flair. The drumming is energetic full of dramatic beats and cooled with phrasing and cymbal work from James Dudley whose sticks rise high and create the percussive tone for every song. Adding to the rhythm is the bass work from Luke Davis whose deep notes give us tone that takes us deep into the crater of joy that is the BWR music. Up front and on lead guitar giving Danny structure and his own delicious lead breaks, riffs and the hooks for Danny’s rhythm guitar as he described his playing ‘I am just a chord monkey’, James Tranter is the guitar wizard. At times through the set Danny sinks to the floor kneeling full of emotion, this is not in praying but in victory as the songs leap from a title on a set sheet into full blazing live glory. There is another chilled side as Turn Me On demonstrated that new songs are being added to a catalogue that has depth and that makes a live band great. Closing out the brilliant sparkling volcanic rocking set was Guns, we all know this from radio play and the number of times they have played the back catalogue. The encore was Shake Me Down, Danny and the boys definitely gave everyone a demonstration of a rock n rolling shake down that made Sunday night fizz.
Short break and many of the crowd took time out to chat with the Rebels and buy some merchandise to take home. The Globe was on musical fire as the red lights reflected back the heat of energy generated by live music. With a young band from deepest Norfolk, there was nothing flat about the Southern rock infused quintet Bad Touch. The only task they had was following on from the dynamic crowd-pleasing Broken Witt Rebels to ensure the audience’s energy didn’t wane. Did they achieve this, Yes they did! How, Truth Be Tolda mix of showcasing their latest album and the combination of front man vocalist and tambourine man Stevie Westwood, and a trailblazing secret, well not so secret weapon the guitar playing of the latest member of the band Harry Slater. The shape and approach is different from BWR, so we all wanted to hear the harder edgier rock from Bad Touch. Opening with One Night More, technical gremlins attacked the drummer George Drewery, who continued playing his loud hard drumming despite not being able to hear the rest of the band. Once sorted the band were firing on all five cylinders again. Completing the Bad Touch sound is Daniel ‘seeks’ Seekings on guitar and bassist Michael Bailey who add such depth and tone to the Bad Touch Rock. Highlights of the set were Sweet Little Secret from their debut album that hit the mark and Half Way Home. Bad Touch are a sure touch that they will be making musical waves that purr with a lion’s roar of dominance. They have a sound that connects, heavy, hard and full of licks and vocal refrains that are earworms. We had cowboy refrains with Outlaw, softer with a sting in its musical tail. Stevie whirls and swirls tambourine held high but it is his vocals that gain your attention they have an attitude that makes them compelling on numbers such as Words I Never Say and then a different tone with radio friendly 99%. This is a number that has a little extra with its huge chorus and energy there is much more to be heard from these young guns of rock. Closing with The Mountain, we were left with Harry’s guitar fireworks and Stevie’s gritty vocals singing in our ears. Live music made Sunday sparkle with Rock n’ Roll.
Tonight, everyone at The Globe came to hear and see the Roadstars a duo of bands Broken Witt Rebels & Bad Touch. The reward was seeing to young bands creating a summit of rock numbers that will become classics of the future. The future of rock is bright strong and full of vigour with these young bands.
Do not let the clear blue skies deceive you, Cardiff is in for a British rock invasion with the promise of stormy weather brewing under the mighty hammer of Thor as Thunder hit the stage with an array of cameras. The show was being filmed tonight which added to the eagerness to get the show underway. Opening the evening, Cats In Space filled The Motorpoint Arena’s stage with energy and ready to warm up an already excitable Cardiff crowd. The rock is classic, British taking you back to the seventies highlighted by the entrance to The Sweeney theme tune. The vocalist and frontman Paul Manzi is engaging and sings a mighty fine rock melody, reminding you why they caused a noise a few years back with Too Many Gods, their debut album. The sound was polished with layers of sounds and textures with keys and guitars displaying in all their glories on Greatest Story Never Told a track that stood out from the others. With Andy Stewart behind the keyboard wearing a mighty fine Top Hat adorned quirky decorations the choice of The Mad Hatters Tea Party was a perfect fit and introducing fans to their forthcoming album of the same title. With all the cats launched into space replete with rock. the crowd was ready for the forecasted stormy weather as the mighty Thunder took to the stage.
The Motorpoint was hot the cheering immense as Jungle Boogie from Kool and The Gang rang out and the band took to the stage and Danny Bowes lifted the mic to sing, Brit Rock never sounded better in a set that was full of tracks from their acclaimed latest album Rip It Up. The welcome from the Capital City of Wales was warm and heartfelt we wanted the evening to rock our socks off with energy and surprises and Thunder certainly delivered from the first to the last note. As ever The Motorpoint a vast cavernous space more Sports Hall than Concert Hall the echoes were present but the sound guys had certainly worked hard to reduce them for tonight to a minimum.
Opening with No One Gets Out Alive, from Rip It Up, the crowd were totally immersed into the waves of Thunder sound, the question to be asked would they let the band on the stage? Cardiff was in a mood to party especially with camera’s aloft swooping across the arena. Danny Bowes was in his element engaging and egging the crowd on to be louder as he danced and swirled around the stage with is signature boundless energy. Combining this with never missing a beat and his vocals always clear and soaring majestically out across the auditorium. Thunder is not a band supporting the frontman’s antics they are a tour-de-force to enjoy with rock melodies and riffs cascading through every track. Luke Morley’s guitar playing was immense the solo lead breaks pulling out the emotional energy within the rock with the power of Gary James aka Harry drumming immaculately as ever a demonstration of how cymbals can be subtle as well as clanging with brute force. Completing the quintet, bassist Chris Childs with his solid rhythms and Ben Matthews with his guitar, keys and the mighty cowbell towards the end of the set on Love Walked In.
The perennial crowd pleaser River of Pain (Shooting at the Sun), proves Dany’s voice is as lyrically powerful and full of singing acrobatics as ever and makes Thunder’s rock a fizzy delight, a storm brewing that always refreshes and never cools the Cardiff Crowd. In between the half a dozen tracks from Rip It Up including the title track and yes Cardiff did Rip It Up, the cheering of the crowd was off the Richter scale. Old favourites were given an airing sounding fresh as ever with Backstreet Symphony and Don’t Wait for Me slipped into a set list that was alive with hallmarked British Rock verve and energy.
Friday night provided a big kick start for the weekend and before the encore, Cardiff was having the weekend of their lives. With three more numbers filling in the encore sandwich was She Likes Cocaine from Rip It Up a special track on the album with the addition of Lynne Jackaman’s powerful rock operatic soprano crescendos. Tonight for Cardiff Jackaman stepped on stage and lifted the atmosphere a notch higher. What a way to lead into the last song of the night. A great gig by one of the best live British Rock acts around.
Kaz Hawkins Kicking Up A Music Storm At The Tunnels
Outside as the March wind blew through Bristol, we knew that the hot sirocco of a vocals storm was brewing in The Tunnels as Kaz Hawkinsand her band hit the stage. Kaz is riding on a blues fuelled crest of a wave as she embarks on a mini British tour and they were tight and hot across a set that made us laugh, cry and be awash with the emotional power of live music. Fresh from a solo trip to Nashville and the band reaching the semi-finals of the International Blues Challenge with the U.K. having a band showcasing British Blues for the first time at the event.
Tonight, it was as we all expected a rip-roaring performance from the band who grow from strength to strength. The rhythm section brothers bassist Ján and drummer Peťo Uhrin provide more than a solid base. The rhythms were deep and adding another layer of drama into the mix is the fiery fender displays from guitarist Nick McConkey. His tasty licks and hooks are a feature of the Kaz sound providing the perfect accompaniment for the full-on power of Kaz.
The set was full of firm favourites from her debut album Get Ready and her latest Feelin’ Good with numbers that mix up the blues with funk, country, and Celtic soul, every number sung as if for the first time from the heart. Every song is a special moment for everyone who had turned out to The Tunnels on a Thursday night. Those who missed her tonight in Bristol missed a night of live music fireworks. As Kaz sung Believe With Me, we all believed in the music being delivered this is blues with an extra shot of high-octane energy. As Kaz arranged her signature petticoats as she sat behind the keys to sing This Is Me, dedicated to everyone searching for inner strength and a pray for all of us to love ourselves for who we are. Like all of Kaz’s numbers, the emotions are raw, personal and hit your spine with honesty and soulfulness. Kaz’s songwriting is always aspired by real people, I Saw A Man, about a homeless man Kaz met in London, but always dedicated to Belfast man Norman the intensity of the lyrics are added to by the drumming of Peťo using felted drumsticks, the beat is muffled beating out the endless repeating rhythm as if walking the streets as Kaz narrates the tale hitting the high notes with perfect pitch and howling with pain and then the deep colour of her powerful voice adding to the drama.
Tonight was a time for smiling as well as tears with fans flying in from Belfast and an old friend from school days seeing after a long time no wonder Belfast Time was included in the mix. But Kaz is more than the power of her vocals it is her ability to connect with people. As she shares fears and bad times of her life along with celebration of hitting two out of three life goals, making a career in Music, being a non-smoker both ticked off and now she embarks on becoming fit under the supervision of her personal trainer. Kaz laughs with you and at herself, with a wardrobe failure her hair would not behave, first losing the scarf and then escaping the pins. This is Kaz, a real person who wants you to find the power of life through her songs.
A song that always brings a smile and tonight we all enjoyed singing on Hallelujah Happy People a real highlight of her set as is Feelin Good, a great rearrangement of this classic. With a great emotional lead break from Nick as the first half finished we were all feeling good in the presence of Miz Kaz.
Opening, the second set was a Kaz solo with her acoustic guitar a song she recently wrote in the Bluebird Café in Nashville, The River That Sings. Dedicated to Alabama legend Tom Hendrix and the wonderful stone wall, taking over thirty years to complete in memory of the 600 miles his Great, great Grandmother walked. As the notes faded and the applause filled the venue the boys came back on stage.
Her teenage years were difficult and the cleansing power of the emotional Believe in Me and the songs inspired by ex-boyfriends, Drink With The Devil and Can’t Afford Me put them firmly in their place out of Kaz’s life. We had soul with Soul Superstar and a flick of the legendary petticoats and the wide smile that warms The Tunnels. The night closed with Kaz’s re-working of I Just Want To Make Love To You, and then the encore with Shake that allows Kaz to display the full vocal range and colour of her voice. Kaz Hawkins Kicking Up A Music Storm At The Tunnels as she took her turn on the drums, reaffirming this is not an act to miss.
With the love of Kaz’s warm heart and the power of her vocals ringing in our ears we collectively wish her and the band every success as they go off to The European Blues Challenge in Denmark.