Bluesdoodles Dozen Albums of 2015 & more…..

Bluesdoodles Dozen Albums of 2015 & more…..  Album 2015 – Live Album 2015 and Artists & Bands to watch out for in 2016!

Having reviewed numerous albums this year Bluesdoodles has listened to Blues, Americana, Rock and so much more – more importantly the music has been fabulous.

Bluesdoodles picks of 2015 HERE – Forty Three Albums that stood out from the crowd. The albums will be on my play list long into 2016 and beyond…

Bluesdoodles Album of 2015

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King KingReaching For The Light


Bluesdoodles Live Album of 2015

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Ian Siegal – One Night In Amsterdam


 

Bluesdoodles Dozen

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Devon Allman – Ragged and Dirty

 

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Danny & The Champions of the World – What Kind Of Love

 

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Buddy Guy – Born To Play Guitar

 

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Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Dying To Live

 

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King King – Reaching For The Light

 

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Connie Lush – Renaissance

 

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Chantel McGregor – Lose Control

 

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Danni Nicholls – Mockingbird Lane

 

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Dan Patlansky – Dear Silence Thieves

 

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Joe Satriani – Shockwave Supernova

 

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Guy Tortora – Bluesman In A Boneyard

 

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Walter Trout – Battle Scars

 

 

Bluesdoodles Quartet of Live Albums

 

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Babajack – Babajack Live

 

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Erja Lyytinen – Live In London

 

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Ian Siegal – One Night In Amsterdam

 

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Layla Zoe – Spirit of 66

 

 

Bluesdoodles One’s To Listen Live & Recorded

 (alphabetical order)

Catfish

Rebecca Downes

Della Grants

Husky Tones

Inglorious

Jar Family

Kaz Hawkins

LaVendore Rogue

Elliot Morris

Tristan McKay

Red Butler

RavenEye

 

 

Bluesdoodles – Pick Of The Bunch 2015

Pick Of The Bunch 2015 ~
The order is random all are brilliant and in with a shout for the Bluesdoodles Dozen of 2015..

These are from the albums I have listened to and reviewed throughout 2015 – this is my subjective collection happy for others to disagree. Bluesdoodles wants to thank every artist who has submitted music to be reviewed I listen and will always be honest and fair

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Fish – A Feast Of Consequences
Joel Fisk & The Breakdown – The Well
Dan Patlansky – Dear Silence Thieves
John Mayall – A Special Life
Giles Hedley – Rain Is Such A Lonesome Sound
Lisa Mills – I’m Changing re-mix
Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman – Tomorrow Will Follow Today
Ian Siegal – One Night In Amsterdam
Dani Wilde – Songs About
Joe Satriani – Shockwave Supernova
Guy Tortora – Bluesman In A Boneyard
Danny & The Champions of the World – What Kind Of Love
Gill Landry – Gill Landry
LaVendore Rogue – Light Up With
Mark Pontin – Textures
Aynsley Lister – Home
Samantha Fish – Wild Heart
Little Devils – The Storm Inside
Erja Lyytinen – Live In London
Beth Hart – Better Than Home
David Phillips – If I Had Wings
Karen Lovely – Ten Miles of Bad Road
Micke Bjorklof & Blues Strip – Ain’t Bad Yet
King King – Reaching For The Light
Devon Allman – Ragged and Dirty
Joe Louis Walker – Everybody Wants A Piece
Danni Nicholls – Mockingbird Lane
Layla Zoe – Live at The Spirit of 66
Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Dying To Live
Chantel McGregor – Lose Control
Babajack – Babajack Live
Jar Family – Family First
Craig Finn – Faith In The Future
Buddy Guy – Born To Play Guitar
Delta Deep – Delta Deep
Kaz Hawkins – Get Ready
Groanbox – Groanbox
Jimbo Mathus – Blue Healer
Eddie Martin Big Red Radio- Live in Tuscany
Mike Zito & The Wheel – Keep Coming Back
Connie Lush – Renaissance
AndersonPonty Band – Better Late Than Never
Walter Trout – Battle Scars

Pick Of The Bunch July – Sept 2015

The Cream of the 31 CD’s Bluesdoodles has reviewed in the third quarter of 2015; what amazing talent there is out in the world musicians playing from pubs to arena’s all willing to record the music to be judged, download and purchased. Bluesdoodles is the first to admit the scoring is subjective there will always be music that just means that bit more to you so albums not included on the lists are still excellent; definitely worth listening to and purchasing especially go see music live at venues near you support music and the artists who travel the roads so we can hear it in the flesh.

This is the first list of 2015 and all of these will be in with a shout for the Bluesdoodles Dozen of 2015..

Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Dying To Live
Chantel McGregor – Lose Control
Babajack – Babajack Live
Jar Family – Family First

Craig Finn – Faith In The Future
Buddy Guy – Born To Play Guitar
Delta Deep – Delta Deep
Kaz Hawkins – Get Ready

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Groanbox – Groanbox

CD Review: Babajack LIVE

BabaJack Live Cover banner fbBabajack LIVE
Recorded before audience at The Cube, Malvern 10th May 2015

Release Date 10th October 2015

Babajack incorporates elements of music gathered in from Africa, Blues, Folk, Rock and beyond and then blends and distills with artful precision to create a unique sound that excites the audience as they are swept up into the whirlwind of emotions unfolding through the words and music. This is the album that capturing the very essence of the band, Babajack Live the full band plus the atmospheric cello courtesy of Julia Palmer-Price and the skillful live recording and production from Paul Long you have a live sound captured forever.
The track list is a mix of songs from previous albums, the must have tracks in a Babajack set and some glimpses of future work and the promise of another studio album. Opening with Money’s All Gone, the first sound is Trevor Steger’s harp playing so distinctive and the scene set as the guitar picks up, Becky’s percussion and the audience applaud this definitely a fun ride, this is a song that has a driving rhythm and tells a tale that is essential for this acoustic sound full with its electric force field of energy’ the extended live version gives the band time to explore and develop the melodies and Becky’s vocals ensure that we understand the money is gone!

We hear the intro’s from Becky and now with the djembe beat we have a love song she wrote Falling Hard with the harp once again painting a picture of hope and despair in the pure simplicity of the opening is what makes Babajack special. This is no heart and flowers love song it is about falling hard and the beat of the drums by Tosh Murase underline the drama of the whole track. Sunday Afternoon was perfect for this recording on a late Sunday afternoon and the intro was spellbinding combined with the anticipation of Becky’s vocals were reward as she joined in with the band harmonizing behind her and Trevor’s distorted backing vocals’ the moment captured. Then a new number Back Door, that has an acoustic simplicity and that driving Babajack bluesy folk riff recognisable as one of their songs so much more than sitting at a back door. With Breathe, one of the shorter tracks, the cello makes the music almost stand still its simple beauty the silence was deep it was as if the audience were collectively holding their breath so as not to interfere with the waves the music was weaving. A gentle track where vocal and cello merges and sends a shiver down the spine. Phew! We can breathe again; and the tempo changes with the title track from their last studio album Running Man full of storytelling tradition through song is unveiled, the listening picks up the fear of the unknown, running but cannot escape; the applause was huge no wonder what a rendition. This is followed by a mainstay of their set list Gallows Pole, from English Folk, over to the USA and Leadbelly then back as a rock anthem and now this, what is becoming an iconic version. The whole band had fun playing this Adam Bertenshaw as on all the tracks provides a bass line that allows the music to develop from and have a safe haven to return to so whatever path they choose the shape and form stays. Finishing the album with Skin & Bone the audience joined in with percussive clapping and Tosh’s drumming is immense, cello full of groaning emotion and then Becky and Trevor the heartstone of the band creating a song that lingers long after the last note dies away and the applause stops.
Babajack LIVE, works superbly as an album there is the tension and even hints of vulnerability of exposing a live performance to the recording process; the result is an emotionally drenched performance of the eleven tracks. The album could be reviewed in a sentence – Babajack LIVE has frozen the essence of Babajack, the energy and tension of a live performance frozen in time we can all enjoy this golden album again and again and get as much pleasure as the audience did.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD TEN pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Babajack – Babajack LIVE – Independent

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Babajack & Marcus Bonfanti entertain Malvern

Babajack- The Cube Malvern - July 2015_0055lTonight The Cube in Malvern had not one but two reasons to get out and listen to live music, each of the double headliners Babajack and Marcus Bonfanti play acoustic music with energy and combine the music with some great stories.

We had a cut down version of Babajack, the set was a combination of the original duo Becky Tate and Trevor Steger, joined on many of the songs by bassist Adam Bertenshaw and sound man for tonight, normally seen as part of the rhythm section with Tosh on drums when Babajack are a foursome.  This changes the texture and tone of the music but never the energy and quality of every song performed by Babajack.  The set was full of the songs fans associate with the band opening with Running Man the title track of their last studio album, made the evening of music hit the ground running could it get better. This was as ever entertainment that is blues with emotion drilling deep into the roots of the genre and taking us back through the cotton fields and across to Africa with Becky’s percussionist skills on her Djembe the west African drum, traditionally only played by men Babajack flies once again in the face of tradition. The drum’s name according to the Bambarra people is everyone gather around  in peace and we certainly did tonight as the magic of the beat produced flowed through the hall in Malvern. The Cube’s hall has great acoustics and performing on the floor rather than the stage with sitting around created an intimate session in the round and the wonderful local Malvern Ale was enjoyed as the perfect accompaniment to live music on a Saturday night.  The bass line from Adam on When I’m Gone had a funkier edge this time and worked well with the trio format.   We also heard some numbers not performed often these days including Jelly Love along with firm favourites no Babajack gig would be complete without Gallows Pole and Skin and Bones.  It was confirmed that the long awaited live album, recorded early in 2015 at The Cube in front of an invited audience can be pre-ordered and you will get a signed copy early September. Hurry because this is a limited early release, miss out on this exciting opportunity and you will have to be patient and wait for Babajack Live, Summer 2015 general release date 10th October 2015.  We had a preview of the next project a studio album with two tracks that may be included Religion & Backdoor; tonight Trevor weaved his harmonica notes through the narrative like perfect punctuation making the narrative of the lyrics sung by Becky have more power and deeper emotions. The wine box guitars add a tone that creates the sound frame that is both stripped back and full of musical grit.

A short break, a chance to re-fill our glasses catch up with friends and then co-headliner Marcus Bonfanti stepped on stage, with his Gibson Hummingbird and added his voice of the blues into the mix with Devil Girl.  We had a selection from past albums from Marcus, which unfortunately are no longer available and those from his latest EP & DVD Borrowed Time and his British Blues Award winning number The Bittersweet for his immaculate songwriting skills. The guitar solo was stunning on Now I’m Gone; underscoring that his skills on the Gibson are really underrated as he shaped the notes so they told their own take so much more than a collection of high speed, licks, riffs and twiddle bits. Marcus makes the guitar be an integral part of the shape of the story of the lyrics. Marcus is often described by the power of his melodic baritone vocals, this is only half of what makes him such a popular powerhouse on the circuit his guitar playing is superb as he manipulates the six-strings too shape a full acoustic sound the perfect backdrop for his voice and accentuating the mood of the lyrical narrative.

In between the numbers he informed, engaged and most importantly made the audience laugh most often at his own expense as he shared some of the gritty life experiences. We had ballads, sad, reflective, fast and slow songs; his contribution to the world of ballads was John Henry Blues, a work song that tells the story of John Henry who challenged a machine won then died!  From the new album we had Layla, no not that semi-famous track but a song full of longing and All She Ever Wants with the added lyrics and percussive guitar all about lost love.  Every Marcus set list has to include the song Cheap Whiskey as a salutary lesson to us all, and tonight was no different, he won some new fans by his charming stage presence and above all his music that entertains.

 

The third segment was a combined encore with Babajack joining him on stage for a closing jam that included a rousing rendition of Leadbelly’s Midnight Special. What a night of high energy and inspired acoustic blues that has a sting of delight in its tail looking forward to the next Babajack and friends event at The Cube.

 

Blue Rocky Quirky… Good Music 2014 Blues On The Farm

530586_10151220959912724_204957856_n Blues On The Farm                               Thursday 19th – Sunday 22nd June 2014

Blues On The Farm, is a wonderful festival that mixes the music up, we have artists from overseas, headline acts and bands we all know some we love others not quiet our cup of tea! then into this delicious mix of delights every year they add some bands that are just plain quirky. The winning mix is like a jug of Pimms full of fruity textures, the hit of alcohol, sweetness of lemonade and the shock of ice on our teeth…..

I missed the two Thursday  but they were a great way of starting this wonderful festival with Antionio Forcioni with Sarah Jane Morris starting the festival fun, followed by The Big Chris Barber Band (unfortunately without Chris Barber who had broken his ankle) but the show went on.

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As I arrived on the Friday for the start of my festival experience I was greeted with a harmonious mix hot sunshine, well stocked beer tent, that also included tempting and refreshing jugs of Pimms, delicious food, interesting and colourful stalls from Blacksmith through to CD’s and the instantly recognisable guitar chords of Robin Bibi. A great start to three days of wall to wall entertainment, you had the choice of sitting relaxing in the sun and letting the music drift over you or getting up close and personal with the bands in the marquee.

Friday was a day of contrasts from Robin and his band playing blues with heart and soul bring SRV to Chichester, through to the full Southern Rock/Blues/World music of Royal Southern Brotherhood. Opening with Robin Bibi and his band set the tone that was to be the overarching theme for the weekend was going to be quality from the first to last note. Robin delivered a set that was full of favourites and the blues swelled across the grounds as Robin played guitar as if he meant business full of fluency and solo’s that were just the right length; everyone was delighted as he left the stage and played his magic of the blues close and personal.

The first act from U.S.A. Lisa Mills with her regular partner in music on the Double Bass, a harmonious combination Read all about it in Over Atlantic

LaVendore Rogue With a quick stage change and the opportunity to top up our glasses and catch some of the sun then the first powerful chords of LaVendore Rogue were heard across the festival; I was really looking forward to hearing this band live. The bedrock of the band is a trio of musical compatriots who were part of the popular Hokie Joint who believed in doing it differently. So we still had JoJo Burgess up front on vocals, stage right Joel Fisk on guitar and the ever mercurial drummer at the back Steve “Cupsey” Cutmore. The addition of a keyboard player Warren Lynn and Rob “Tank” Barry on Bass to the trio gives the required depth of sound and adds colour and texture to the music being created. Jo Jo’s story-telling provides a meaningful and entertaining intro into each track, they all have a story to tell and then there is the very special stage persona combined with powerful vocals; and Joel’s guitar playing shines through clear as he shreds up the tracks and pumps up the volume. LaVendore Rogue are definitely not a re-making of Hokie Joint this is a band determined to drive a new groove rockier a little bit Rock N’ Roll with a bit of death and voodoo magic added… a 21st century sound that will not be silenced or pigeon-holed into the blues they want to be heard in venues across the land, and so they should good music like this deserves to be heard.

Another popular act strode onto stage Hamilton Loomis with his band from the U.S.A creating a feel good atmosphere with a musical tone the complete opposite to the previous act. Like Lisa Mills, Bluesdoodles has reviewed this already so click for the link

No wonder the tent was filling fast and the crush at the front full of excitement as many had come dressed and ready for this act this was the reason they were at The Farm tonight, as the next up is the ever popular British Boogie-woogie larger than life full of energy Mike Sanchez whose fingers fly across the keys. Great musicians in his 6-piece outfit featuring Tom Bull on guitar, bassist Nick Whitfield (both Tom and Nick hail from Leicester’s Drugstore Cowboys), Mike’s long-term drummer Mark Morgan, Nick Lunt on baritone sax (Jools Holland’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra) and Martin Winning on tenor sax (Van Morrison); a loud cheer and warm welcome was given to his wife Sarah when she joined the band to sing a a couple of numbers and the happiness and love flowed from the stage and into the night air! The evening hummed with rock ‘n’ roll and blues with medley of our favourites given that Mike Sanchez treatment. We even had a change on the double bass as Ian Jennings gave Nick a rest and took over the roll… Rockabilly was king of the tent tonight. This created a great atmosphere in preparation for the Headline act The Royal Southern Brotherhood from U.S.A They also had a special guest join the Hamilton Loomis we had a real festival feel the set was superb.. see Bluesdoodles review Headline Acts… They certainly were the delicious cherry on top of a musical pie full of textures and delights as the music faded away the crowds left with the music of Royal Southern Brotherhood and the title tracks flowing through there head from their latest album heartbloodsoul what a musical Friday.

The longest day was going to bring a mix of sounds with an intriguing line-up another exciting line-up starting off with solo artist Devenport and ending with King King bringing their exciting version of the blues into the mix. Such an appropriate act for a sultry summers afternoon with his laid back charm and rootsy Americana style as his vocals and guitar combined to make you want to listen I loved the track Elouise. This is a difficult slot with people arriving greeting each other, but he managed this well through his easy engagement with the crowds with his tales and comments and music you wanted to sit back listen to and relax…. The next act up were a real contrast Toy Hearts a four piece no drums with at its core a family trio of sisters Hannah (vocals and mandolin) and Sophia (guitar and vocals) together with their father Stewart (Banjo, Dobro, Steel) and an honorary Uncle on Bass; creating an afternoon party feel with their take on western swing blues. The sound was very addictive, foot tapping let’s dance sound with lots of change in pace that meant everyone was smiling and saying this is so perfect for a sunny afternoon. The track Stutter Blues and others from their album Whiskey and others from Flyin’ Too High including Cindy Walkers, Baby That Sure Would Go Good. I particularly enjoyed their rendition of St James Infirmary this is definitely a feel good act.
Next up, unexpectedly, were the Midnight Ramble a six piece from Liverpool who stepped in as Federal Charm were awaiting for the AA to bring the broken van and themselves to the festival. This young band certainly knew how to deliver and along with the Jar Family who played on Sunday were my finds of the weekend. The vocalist Paul Dunbar could belt out a song and the musicianship of the band was superb with some great timing nothing seemed rushed and the addition of a sax and trumpet added another dimension. I would describe them as a raw, full of potential and intriguing mix of early King King with the vocals of Ian Siegal in his younger days. South Paw Billie and Lions were two great live sounds and having heard their CD they are good in the studio; into the mix of their own numbers they interspersed classics of which they did a fine version of Sam Cooke’s Bring It On Home To Me. To assist the festival and fill in the time as we waited for Federal Charm a longer encore and then Paul with guitar and his delicious vocals played on delivering a couple of solo numbers. The Midnight Ramble acquired a new set of fans who wanted to take some of the magic home with them. This is a band full of potential and hoping that the 2015 festival season see this band on many more stages across the U.K. and beyond.

With that Federal Charm arrived and dashed on the stage quick sound check and they were off, hitting the ground running delivering their brand of high-octane fueled rock with a twist of blues. They played fast and hard including a cover of Led Zepplins Nobody’s Fault But Mine, they are a really good band but there is still plenty of stagecraft and that skill of knowing when to slow it down still to be learnt. The two guitarists, Nick Bowden and Paul Bowe create completely different sounds and the interplay between them works really well they are a real crowd pleaser and gaining a following my favourite was when they slowed it down a bit for a slow bluesy track really showing the skills and the way the two guitars interplay was superb.

The Blues Band on next had the tent full of excited fans who wanted to get up close and great and chat with the band, there were many staunch and loyal friends arriving to see this act. There is no argument that tonight everyone loved to hear Paul Jones play the blues. They are consummate professionals and can always be relied upon to deliver the goods, the set tonight had a biography/anthology theme an opportunity for all the old numbers to be heard turning back the years for many with tracks like Talk To Me Baby, they left the audience very satisfied and the energy levels went up again as the young guns British Blues Award winning band King King stepped on to the stage, to bring Saturday to the close. This headline act, came, Played and conquered even more fans tonight… the skies on this longest day were still not inky black as the last chord died away. Bluesdoodles reviewed King King in Headlines Saturday was a day of contrasts the stand-out acts for me were Midnight Ramble and King King they both in their own way took control of stage and festival a delivered quality at Blues on The Farm 2014.

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Sunday saw seven acts, they all had one thing in common they were determined that everyone should have a good time listening to some great music. Opening the final day of the sunny festival was Electric Revelators featuring The Revelettes, they delivered to an appreciative crowd traditional delta blues Robert Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson this was the first festival performance of this recently reformed group, with Gordon ‘Slim Blues’ Wride and Simon Gregory joined by the Revellettes Carol Edwards adding to the vocals with a lovely vocals and Joanne Phillips bringing a percussive beat to the group. They certainly got the growing crowd into the mood for the next act Stomp and Holler who stamped a distinctive beat to the proceedings; this is a band I had been looking forward to hearing live after reviewing their album, Groove Grease and they certainly cut a dash in there co-ordinated colour matching outfits in turquoise and black. I wasn’t disappointed with the combination of lively colourful musicianship great interplay between the members and the opening track of ‘Crazy Up Here’ really set the scene. We had a real mix of instruments, flute, sax, accordion, trumpet. Bass, keys, drums and guitar, no one sound dominated as they delivered an eclectic mix that blended and turned into the Stomp and Holler musical shape, jazz, blues and folk and layered on top of that was a mix of four good voices. The band was obviously really enjoying playing the music in a style they love this bonhomie was infectious, as they paraded through the crowd with Sax, trumpet and the freedom boot, a great band that can really deliver what they say on the tin.. You might say how do you follow all that festival excitement …easy says Julian Mores as The Jar Family filled the stage. This band of men from Hartlepool refuse to have the music contained in a single jar! The music will not be captured in a single phrase though the describe themselves as Industrial Folk, they may be quirky, may not be blues but they are most definitely a band delivering great music. The sound they produce is brash, in your face they want to be noticed and noticed they were with the melding and twisting and reinventing mix of folk, country and the underlining hum of the blues, one thing for certain they are unique, there are similarities to the Oysterband. All the songs were hard-hitting lyrical carried by a tuneful melody ‘You Took My Money; ‘Pay It Back’; this is collective of a band with no real lead vocalist or guitarist as they all took turns, swapped instruments this interchanging could have been anarchic mayhem but it wasn’t because they knew which track who had centre stage and the rest stepped back and support with this colourful music visually and aurally a delight. The self-penned lyrics were strong and introduced a new song ‘The World’s too Fast For Us’ what a band the time on the stage dashed by and far too soon they were leaving, this is a band that deserves a really high-profile on the music scene brimming with talent, stage craft and delivering a full and interesting sound.

Now up the volume Moreland & Arbuckle the last of the quartet of acts from across the pond creating out of the bedrock of rootsy sound that has blended and melded blues, Southern rock a twist of psychedelia producing quality music; reviewed in bluesdoodles.

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Next up were The Swing Commanders who turned the marquee into a barn dance, good to see Julian and his team relaxing as they joined in the fun. The Swing Commando’s bought the first fiddle of the festival and the only Disney tune with a swinging version of Talk Like You from the Jungle Book. They bought some swing to the festival as the shadows lengthened, and the dancers danced and swung their hips in time with th big band sound bring more variety to this festival of delights. Change of mood and tempo with award-winning Babajack with the full band tonight as the skies began to darken. and delivered as expected leaving a lot of people satisfied and happy as Becky &Trevor weaved their magic and delivered blues that re-charges the songs of Leadbelly and explores a deeper past from Africa with the addition of some gorgeous drumming from Tosh Murase and bass from Adam Bertenshaw. The skills of the band are immense and the delivery and timing and mutual understanding is gained by the amount of gigs and festivals they perform at. This is a real 3D sound that they produce whether self penned numbers such as The Running Man full of dark foreboding of the must have track on the set list their version Gallows Pole this is their signature number it now belongs to them. It was yet another wonderful set from Babajack full of authenticity and originality they make the blues sing.

Oh No all too soon it was the last act a headline act from France Big Dez see Bluesdoodles Headlines This band bought blues that could only please and a fitting end to another Blues On the Farm.

It is the variety that makes this festival a delight they bring you good music year after year what ever the weather the stand out acts for me were Midnight Ramble, Stomp and Holler The Jar Family, The Royal Southern Brotherhood and King King.. I love festivals where you hear new music and find new bands you want to follow so thank you Julian and the team for introducing me to Midnight Ramble and The Jar Family two acts I recommend you look out for and enjoy.

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Babajack Live at The Flowerpot, Derby

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The warm up act tonight at The Flowerpot thanks to Raw Promo were , Rita Payne are singer songwriters from Doncaster this duo describe themselves as ”Acoustic Foot-Stompers” the name they have chosen to perform under is eclectic and different just like the act and has no relevance to their actual names, Rhiannon Scutt (Acoustic Guitar, stomp Box suitcase and backing vocals) and Pete Sowerby (Vocals and Tambourine). They delivered a wide range of music from self-penned through to the Beatles and a very fine version of ‘Billy Jean‘ given the folksy treatment making the song stand out from the crowd with this intuitive re-arrangement. The set they delivered was very entertaining, Pete had warm personality that ensured the audience related to their approach to traditional music dragged into the 21st Century with a twist of modernity. There own ‘Patchwork Song‘ about a previous and disastrous relationship was delivered with confidence – this is an entertaining act that is definitely worth seeing live. Rhiannon has a deft touch on the guitar making it sing which complemented her powerful and tuneful voice and when combined with Pete’s clear tenor vocals make a duet in harmony and they work well together communicating where they are taking the music. This is an act with a clear vision of the sound they want to produce and delight the audience with.
This warm up act was definitely slightly off-the-wall but with their charismatic stage presence, augmenting their musical skills, Rita Payne are just what you need in a warm up act they made you wanting more and left you in the mood for the main act of the evening; they were the perfect act to combine with Babajack’s unique approach to the blues.

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Tonight was Babajack the band, not a four piece as unfortunately Tosh (drummer) was unwell so Becky had the responsibility of providing percussion all night a task she was delighted to fulfill, so tonight at The Flowerpot it was a trio with Adam Birtenshaw providing a solid bass line to give a solid foundation as Becky and Trevor took their songs on a walk. At times it was free-form, as the music took them on a journey with no beginning or end and then they pulled it back to the original plan and the song came to a celebratory end. This energised the audience who had come to see Babajack in full flight.
Becky was on sparkling form her chatter between tracks continued to be energetic interspersed with her melodic laughter, with Trevor’s self-made guitar boxes being introduced, firstly Joanna – made using resources from a variety of sources including the dog bones and pieces from an old piano hence her name. Later in the set we were introduced to Graham, made from a port box and had a ‘fruitier, stronger tone and flavour… goes well with strong cheese…” the story ended with a bubbling laughter from Becky it was true this guitar had that depth of range delivered to your ears in much the same way a good Port delivers to your palette.

This was a confident performance, delivered with passion and the sheer delight of performing music that is loved by the performers and the very essence of the beat understood and shared with the audience. Babajack delivered the beat with every note creating a verve and energy in the audience so that an electric frisson of live music magic swept across the audience. The set was a walk through their back catalogue, a seductive delivery of tracks from their latest album ‘Running Man; with a fantastic live rendition of the title track where Becky, Trevor and Adam created the illusion through timing and vocal delivery the feeling of running from something fearful, that you do not understand. The set was a balanced musical walk through the colours textures and emotions of the Babajack discography and the airing of a new track Religion, which has a different feel about the tone with an undercurrent of country/Americana and as ever has strong vocals, harmonica and percussive force, the song definitely excited and whetted the appetite that an anticipated fifth Babajack album will be a fixture on our decks very soon. The set as ever included Babajack audience’s favourites including Gallows Pole, Death Letter Blues and Black Betty with enthusiastic crowd participation, this had the performers working themselves up into a dervish whirl… with Trevor falling off his stool, this did not stop the show they just played on as he regained his breath with only his pride hurt! The Babajack sound is like coming home to a security blanket, you are rooted and sustained as a giant oak that spreads its branches across the land and drives its roots into the heart of the soil. There is no doubt about it a deep wisdom in each song sung and beat delivered by this award winning band that has the mighty Trevor as its engine and the twirling, swirling Becky as the wind that whispers and cajoles the inner meaning from every song so that you are drawn into and totally captured.

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Review of the Five Paws Album of 2013 Babajack’s – Running Man

CD Review – Babajack – Running Man

running man

Babajack – Running Man – Running Rooster Records

“Running Man” is the Babajack sound encapsulated into 10 tracks that ebb and flow pulling you into the Babajack sphere so that you are entwined in modern music that is so firmly rooted in the early blues and the drumming have the echoes of distant African shores. Once again a beautiful, musical album, full of autumnal mellow fruitfulness, whilst inside the lyrics and the phrasing of the vocals and instruments is a harder edge. The album introduces a new venture for the duo of Becky and Trevor that is the heart and soul of Babajack they are joined by Tosh Murase (Drums) & Adam Bertenshaw (bass) for half of the tracks, this format works as well in the studio as it does live; they give Becky a freedom to explore the vocals without the ties of providing the percussive sounds. The opening and title track sets a scene as a story telling tradition through song is unveiled, the listen picks up the fear of the unknown, running but cannot escape reflecting the original inspiration for the song where Becky and her son were running from an angry-looking storm cloud when out in the French countryside which was always going to drench it was inevitable that there was not escape. Excitingly on the studio album Julia Palmer-Price (Cello) adds some glorious chords that send a chill up the spine and reach deep into your musical lexicon of sounds, the cello works especially well on ‘Coming Home’. The main component of the other tracks is that glorious sound of Becky’s vocals and percussive skills, with Trevor weaving into the mix his effortless guitar and sharp harmonica playing as demonstrated so well on ‘Death Letter’; a favourite live and a studio classic. The new format has given Babajack a release of fresh energy, this is a modern blues sound that retains the integrity of traditional blues telling a story with strong earthy rhythms, as seen on ‘Every Day the Same’ with the line the “Money Man Comes” which Becky brings to the vocals a sense of fear we have all felt; this is a track in which Trevor’s harmonica combined with the cello reinforces the despair and frantic feeling of the lyrics. This is a strong album made possible by the support of the phalanx of Babajack fans – if I was going to change something the last track of the ten would have been ‘Hammer and Tongs’ as the mix of vocals and harp are simply delicious the memory of this would last long after the last notes fade. This is the definitive Babajack album, why Running Man manages to capture the energy of a live concert there is an inherent energy captured in the CD case that is released every-time the music starts up whatever the track.. and definitely on of the top 2013 albums.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD out of five doodle paws a doodle rating of
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Review – Bentworth Blues Festival August 2013

Celebrating the fantastic Bentworth Blues Festival and Bluesdoodles 100th posting…
This year prior to the festival, there were giant hurdles of bureaucracy that Matt Williams landlord of The Star Inn had to jump over to bring the delightful palette of sounds that is the unique come-back again draw of this festival. He surmounted the obstacle and once again the festival was delivered with the efforts of his whole team and the marvellous musicians who entertained us throughout the weekend delivering the whole range of blues music this was live music at its best, musicians enjoying playing and an appreciative audience whatever the weather threw at us.

This review cannot adequately cover all 29 acts that performed on the three stages, The Green, Garden and Bar what it hopefully achieves will be a flavour of the talent on show and the vitality of the event that is a sell out every year and attracts music lovers from across the land who camp in the allocated spaces nearby and those less hardy myself included who stay in local B&B’s and then there are the people who can simply shut their front door and stroll through the charming village to hear music on their doorstep. The weekend is truly a celebration of live music, good fun, meeting old friends and of course Matt Williams all this makes Bentworth Blues Festival that little bit special and keeps people returning.

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Opening the proceedings was the talented King Rollo with a complete acoustic set that got the early doors crowd into festival mood, the perfect accompaniment to the first pint of the weekend.

Friday saw a mix of bands and solo artists, acoustic and electric including Split Whiskers, Fran MacGillvery & Mike Burke and Will Wilde; though their approach to the blues was different the common link between the three was that they all had women bass players who kept the rhythm as part of the engine house of the band.

Split Whiskers managed to deliver many blues standards with a twist of whiskers magic making them come alive and delight in these tunes and lines all over again, this was a band that was a little bit different with a custom-built steel guitar that had its own unique sound. Fran McGillvray & Mike Burke set was a contrast with a great laid-back sound, created by the combination of Fran’s vocals, Mike’s silky guitar licks and beautiful lyrics with the three-dimensional sound completed by the percussive Djembe sound provided by Roger Nunn. The set was a perfect showcase of their style of country blues with tracks from their latest CD “Some Luck” and old favourites. Will Wilde delivered a powerful set with Stuart Dixon (Guitar) Victoria Smith (Bass) & Richard Newman (Drums) providing a great, solid accompanying foundation allowing Will’s powerful combination of vocals and searing harmonica-dominated blues to shine through – what a set. Harmonica playing that ranged from the raw to the gentile, teasing and caressing every displayed emotion as musical pictures were painted that reflected the lyrics. There is no doubt that every time I see this band they get better with a mix of tracks from their forthcoming album ‘Raw Blues’ and some covers. Not the normal string of covers which included a stonking rendition of Buddy Guy’s ‘Smokin Dynamite’ and Earl Thomas ‘ Soulshine’. This band is not just about Will’s talent, with the great emotional lead breaks delivered by Stuart Dixon adding an extra layer of sound that was incorporated to create a complete vibrant sound. Also on fire during the afternoon was Guy Tortora and his band in the bar who had to cope with a stand in bass player as the bass player was stuck in the accident tailback on the motorway which also delayed Stuart Dixon. Laurence Jones Band on the Green bought to the event youthful delivery of high energy blues whether playing self-penned or his covers delighting everyone as he strutted his guitar playing skills with a confidence and a swagger of a young man who loves the music he is playing and wants to entertain you. From youth to experience “Serious Blues“ fronted by drummer Sam Kelly, delivering that funky style, with layers of complexity with the fluidity of a jam creating an exciting and very listenable sound in the bar whilst Blues Associates set themselves up in the garden delivering an eclectic set that got everyone dancing and was a real change from the rest of the bands during the day back in the Garden. The sky’s were darkening as night fell and the last two bands of the first day – Stuart James Band with his rock-blues power trio approach blew away the crowds as they partied the night away with Bentworth festival stalwart Jules Benjamin bringing the first day’s proceedings to an end entertaining everyone and leaving us all very satisfied and already looking forward to the next day as we went humming to our beds from the selection of brilliant tunes we had heard over the last 12 hours.

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On Saturday, the weather was going to challenge us but started off fair as the Dave Raphael Band delighted everyone on the Green with a great set of traditional blues, including numbers by Koko Taylor. This was a great authentic sound ably complimented by Dave’s laid back vocals and harp playing. With the combination of great grooves and rhythms I really enjoyed the set, and then there was the twist in the tail as Dave took to the keys with a blues/reggae approach that woke everyone up ‘Bleggae’ a first for Bentworth. Saturday - Bentworth Blues Festival - August 2013_0063l Saturday is traditionally ‘hats day’ and there was a wide array of decorated hats that brightened the proceedings from Sombreros to Top Hats every shape and size was on display. “Red House, the first band in the Garden, certainly knew how to entertain and got the audience participating with lots of dancing this early on the afternoon, they were fun to listen to as they delivered for me a first at a blues festival Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In the Ball’ given the “Red House” Rock n’ Roll treatment and it worked. This was cider driven west country blues that worked well on a Saturday afternoon in the sunshine with a pint in your hand. Now the festival was hotting up as the next three acts were simply brilliant all delivering the blues with passion and all with their own distinctive interpretation of this genre. Kick starting the trio of delights was Ben Poole and his band, a class act and his CD “ Let’s Go Upstairs” showcased throughout the set is certainly one to add to your collection if you enjoy clean, solid and intuitive guitar playing. This is a complete band with an engine house of driving rhythm delivered by Craig Bacon (drums), Barry Pethers (Bass) and adding further depth of tone that complements and adds to the guitar there was Sam Mason on keyboards, and the sultry backing vocals courtesy of Amy Eftekhari. This is a band that delights on lots of levels and just gets better, and Ben is surely master of his own destiny now. He has managed to get the mix of vocal, lead guitar breaks and the showcasing of the band right. He does have clever tricks that work as he does not overuse them and he can definitely play guitar with one-hand as or even more competently than many using both hands. He may sing ‘They Call Me Mr Pitiful’ he is definitely not – this act was SENSATIONAL! Phew who could follow that power guitar demonstration – Clare Free could in the Garden with her own characteristic take on the blues with a style that uses emotions and a gentle touch making the guitar sing in perfect harmony with her voice. This is not a sickly sweet rendition it is full of sugar and spice and the music and lyrics are important to Clare as she introduces her songs which are a delightful mix of re-worked classics and self-penned songs, producing the perfect late Saturday afternoon set. Her band work with her so that the sound is complete and, if I have a comment it is ‘Clare believe in yourself, you are a really good guitar player producing a pleasing sound that is missing from the circuit – we want to see you playing at more gigs now you are back in the U.K’. The final act in my trio of delights is Bentworth festival favourites Northsyde; expectations were high on the Green, with a deputy drummer Joachim Greve the rest of the band Jules Fothergill, guitar; Ian Maurico, bass and fronting the band full of fizz and style is Lorna Fothergill. They ripped through a funky, bluesy rocky set with old favourites and tracks from there brilliant 5* new CD ‘Storyteller’s Daughter’ They are certainly one of the best live acts around confidently delivering their style which is so pleasing on the ear and Lorna’s interaction with the crowd is fantastic as she swapped hats to be part of hat day at Bentworth. Expectations were high and they delivered and to sum it up I overheard someone say “Wow that lady can sing!” The rest of the evening was a triplet of Bentworth stalwarts, these are acts that know what the festival goers want, a party to dance the night away to great music this was achieved by Pethers and Friends – an awesome jam of quality musicians having fun in the Bar, local band Five Field Holler from Hampshire in the Garden with their own take on blues-rock melding styles together so that you get a hint of Chicago, funk and a bit of swampy rock played with passion and vigour. The band also act as deputies for bands throughout the weekend, and more importantly ensure that the sound is perfect for the bands and the crowds and a brilliant job they do every year. They are soundmen extraordinaire who play jolly good entertaining blues. Ending the evening are the young guns who bring a party-like frenzy to the stage ensuring a feel good feeling at the end of the evening that energising combination of great music, fun, dancing clapping and happy people. Sugar Mama strutted across the stage, this youthful band from the West Midlands play favourites that bring back memories and are a sure bet the evening ends on a high; despite the rain and wind nothing could dampen the delighted festival goers.

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Sunday, sun was shining and spirits high – this was ‘Shirt Day’ so lots of gaudy prints and T-shirts that never normally see the light of day all adding to the fiesta feel. Sometimes tradition becomes stained and boring but Kyle and Shaw opening the proceedings on a Sunday is one tradition that really works. This laid back acoustic duo are just what everyone needs after a red-hot Saturday evening and heads need the gentle caress of this simple blues played well. ‘Andre and the J-Tones’ made a welcome return and the full sound they achieve with the addition of a superb horn section, they may not be the purist’s band but they are just the thing for the dancers and foot-tappers to delight in. The highlights of Sunday were two acts whose approach to the blues are different ‘BluesBeaten Redshaw‘, who combines a charming mix of Northern banter and blues songs from his new CD along with others. The audience warms to him as he interacts in an open and honest way including eating cheese and biscuits from a member of the audience’s picnic which he reckoned was just perfect with his Guinness. A great foot-stomping number reaching a furiously fast rhythm with his banjo ‘Rollin’ & Tumblin’, a really different version. He walked and charmed his way through the audience including serenading an appreciative dog. He saved his skills on his home-made diddley-bow until the end, when Barry Pethers joined him for lessons, but he soon realised he was not going to out play the master who was simply breathtaking. Look out for this spell-binding precocious talent near you, with his gruff voice and rough rootsy guitar a delicious combination of musicality. The only point is he needs to broaden his repertoire so that he has plenty of tunes in his back-pocket because audiences will always want more. The other act was Paint It Blue, a young five-piece band who deliver the blues with plenty of soul creating a freshness of sound. Vocalist Hannah Robinson has a beautiful voice and is ably supported by a quartet of skill on Bass, Blues Harp, Guitar and Drums. The whole band mesh together delivering music that fits together like a perfect-fitting glove. This is a comfortable sound that makes you want to listen to more, no wonder they are in demand at Blues Clubs and Festivals they bring real magic to any event. They delight in what they sing and play and in return the audience appreciate the music this is truly dancing blues. I have wanted to catch this band ever since I heard their début CD which was a really good listen but as ever live music gave us a little bit more. Loved their version of ‘My Babe’ and their self-penned numbers; with the intricate drumming in combination with the subtle accurate harp playing they deliver true authentic blues. As ever the stars that stole the show on Sunday were ‘Babajack‘, today in duo form with the effervescent Becky Tate on Percussion and Vocals and Trevor Steger on Guitar and Harp this is a winning combination full of style, energy and blues given a distinctive twist taking the sound back to Africa with the use of raw percussion courtesy of the Djembe and Cahon combined with home-made wine box guitars and with the clever use of the harp to blend the music together. The sound created is fantastic but it is Becky’s voice that soars above delivering the lyrics with passion this is a band that delight in each other’s skills and truly understand the essence of the blues. They delivered a set that was all the shade of emotions, a musical equivalent to all the colours of the rainbow. This was an opportunity to showcase the tracks we all love including Leadbelly’s ‘Gallows Pole’ and the new stuff from their forthcoming much-anticipated album ‘Running Man’. Bentworth was rewarded with the first live rendition of the title track which is definitely a little bit special. The rest of Sunday past with a wall of sound including blues soul delivered by ‘Soul Alliance‘, skillful playing by ‘Ivan McCormick’ and then the Big Jam at the end – leaving everyone happy with the scope of music they had heard and penciling into their diaries next year’s festival.

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Babjack meets Dave Arcari @ Re-con Club, Malvern on 20th April 2013

Dave Arcari -  Malvern April 2013_0160l Dave Arcari arrived with an impressive array of string instruments Banjo, his solid electric is a National Resolectric Junior, a shiny Silver National Style O and the one I describe as the black beast which is more precisely a National Delphi; both of these have been custom-made for Dave by National so they produce that Arcari sound the trade-mark of artist who in his own words delivers ‘Fucked Up alt. Blues! Delivering some exciting tracks from his excellent new album “Whisky In My Blood” including the fantastic track ‘Cherry Wine‘ showing a gentler side of Mr Arcari well know for his hell raising guitar playing and stage presence. Included in this opening set of an evening celebrating Trevor Steger’s 50th birthday in Babajack’s hometown, was some of Dave’s classics including Blind Lemon Jefferson, ‘Hangman’s Blues’ and ‘Stagolee‘.

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As ever Dave played like a lightning storm heating up the Re-Con so the temperature was definitely tropical rather than a mild British spring evening and the crowds were loving it. What made tonight’s performance was Trevor and Becky joining Dave with a fantastic performance of Johnny Cash’s ‘Blue Train‘ As the video demonstrates that this was a collaboration that produced a stellar performance and everyone was delighted, excited and entertained, this is a live music moment that though captured on camera you really needed to be there to get the full on effect of the energy and good-time vibe they produced.

Now for Babajack’s showtime tonight a new addition forming a trio with the addition to the line-up; electric bass player – Adam Bertenshaw; storming the stage as on home turf they were at their confident best full of energy, vim and vitality. The crowds were enthralled and delighted as Becky delivered heart stoppingly beautiful vocals whilst providing the trade mark out of Africa percussive rhythms courtesy of the stomp box, African drum and the cahon combined with the 2013 British Blues Awards nominated harmonica player, who also plays acoustic guitar and wine box guitar which he makes himself and provides great vocals Trevor and providing a layer underneath this was the bass addition provided by Adam. It is no wonder that Babajack is so popular where ever they play. No Babajack set is complete without their trademark songs from previous albums including ‘Money’s All Gone; Death Letter’s Blues’ and ‘Gallows Pole’; this is not a band trapped in the rut of tradition every rendition is given the Babajack treatment giving the songs a modern and exciting edge whilst remaining true to the very soul of early blues music; understanding what made the likes of Leadbelly so very special. Trevor’s vocals are always a delight and tonight there was a roughness perhaps picking up the gravel tones of Dave Arcari, and demonstrating why there is such a great synergy between these talented artists; this was especially apparent on ‘Burn All The Bridges‘ and definitely added another tier of emotion to this powerful song.

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Not only has Trevor been nominated for the British Blues Awards; but the title track of their last album ‘Rooster Blues‘ has been included in the final voting round of the Kevin Thorpe’s 2013 Award for Original Song – so Babajack will be celebrating long after Trevor’s 50th birthday is a distant memory. as well as old favourites interspersed throughout the set was tracks from their much-anticipated new album “Running Man”; this was an opportunity for Becky to thank all the contributors to making the album possible, this was received with a cheer as so many supporters were standing enthralled by the music at this sell-out show. A work song, ‘Hammers and Tongs’ was a duet with Becky on vocals and Trevor on harp, not a guitar in sight using a chain gang style, was effective and was for me the highlight of a wonderful set. Another new song from forthcoming album “Running Man”, ‘Falling Hard‘; followed by a dramatic rendition of ‘Skin and Bones‘. What an evening of full-on entertainment which included a rousing birthday song to Trevor; an end to a fantastic evening of music at The Re-Con in Malvern but  I am positive Babajack will be celebrating throughout 2013…

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