Babajack In Departure Lounge Before A New Destiny

Babajack In Departure Lounge Before A New Destiny

Babajack In Departure Lounge Before A New Destiny

Departure is a collection of recordings made in 2 017, originally intended to form part of a full CD now released as a Limited Edition. Following the decision of Trevor Steger to leave the band and pursue his solo career, the band decided to release the tracks already recorded as a tribute to the original Babajack line up  The band are now working on new songs, with a new band member, Troy Redfern, who had joined them on tour in 2017.

The first track, Daddy’s gone, asks “What are you going to do when your Daddy’s gone?”. It is a familiar-sounding rootsy Babajack track, with Becky’s voice and Trevor’s guitar blending well and a driving beat from Becky’s cajon drum to take us on.

800 miles is a gentler song, showcasing Becky’s voice and a full band sound. Some soulful guitar work in the middle before the vocals build again, gently and steadily to the chorus. A really dynamic track, this one, building and sinking away to a quiet and poignant finish.

It’s your parade is a rhythmic song with some great harmonica in the middle. It is hard to hear the lyrics on this album without thinking of the back story and the emotion is clear throughout. This is particularly so on Nobody’s fault but mine, the old Blind Willie Johnson classic, This is the only non-original song on the EP and it is sung with enormous feeling by Becky, with some superb slide guitar from Trevor. The song starts with just the vocals, then the slide comes in and the voice picks up, echoed by harp. With lyrics part sung, part spoken over a solid instrumental background the track develops, accompanied by Trevor’s growled “how hows ” before dying away to the single voice to end. This is one of the best versions of this song that I have heard in a good while.

The final track on the EP is Long time dead. Once again, this brings us the familiar Babajack approach and showcases the strengths of all the band.

I came to this disc with mixed feelings, but having played it several times, I am glad the band have chosen to release these tracks. They show how strong there were and this, for me, is the key indicator of how much more they have to give in the future. I will look forward with relish to hear.

Babajack – Departure – Running Rooster Records

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

 

  1. Daddy’s Gone
  2. 800 Miles
  3. It’s Your Parade
  4. Nobody’s Fault
  5. Long Time Dead

 

Babajack In Departure Lounge Before A New Destiny

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

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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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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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Shrewsbury 2012 – Review and Photographs

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all photographs copyright Liz Aiken
Blues Matter reviewed the festival that last year took place on a snowy Saturday afternoon in early February 2012, the festival got under-way with one of the hottest and original acts on the circuit Babajack. The innovative percussion from Becky Tate who uses a combination of an African Hand Drum, Djembe and the Cajon (Spanish for box) on which Becky sits with aplomb combines with her great voice with its vibrancy that Trevor Steger on Guitar (including Wine Box Guitars made by Trevor) and Marc Miletitch (Double Bass) build on to create the BabaJack sound. The set is a mix of self penned numbers including strong tracks from their much-anticipated third album “Rooster”; and their own arrangements of traditional blues from Sleepy John Estes, Blind Willie Johnson et.al. BabaJack manage to conjure the deep south, traditional music. The use of the African drum also brings deep African rhythms evocative of heat, and raw emotions of slavery taking the blues back to its roots…… This band has a rootsy style that is drenched in the essence of the blues what a fantastic sound they create. The afternoon was crammed with acts, and next up was a young man from Shrewsbury, Blues Boy Dan with his Acoustic guitar blues harp and a stomp-box made from a shortbread tin covered in fabric! He delivered an accomplished set of well-known classics and his voice shone through with a fantastic range accompanied with skilful acoustic guitar playing. This young man is a blues-man in the making and will be heard on the festival circuit very shortly as talent shines through as he includes his own take on these classics. Then a contrast again, Andre and Dermont from Rhythm Zoo who organised the festival, have definitely thought about the sound and tempo as they mixed up the acts, repetition was not going to happen today. Northsyde stormed the stage next full of energy and life as the musicians support Lorna up front the second female lead vocalist if the day. Once again the set was a clever mix of Northsyde favourites such as Allman Brothers, ‘Whipping Post’, ‘Mercy’ and new tracks from their much-anticipated album including ‘Rocking Chair’……. Last act of the afternoon section was Dave Arcari bring to the stage his punk acoustic blues, bold sound from his National Resonators including his electric resonator. His slide playing is magic and as he leaps around the stage his energetic performance leaves the audience gasping for breath. This Scottish wizard of the blues is a bit like Marmite you either love or hate him and today he made some new fans and the crowd loved the tracks including ‘Devil’s Left Hand’, title track of his latest album and ‘Got Me Electric’. With a short break everyone gathered their thoughts and sat down for a well-earned rest and a catch up with the musicians who were all in the foyer all to happy to talk to fans both new and old. Rhythm Zoo opened the evening session producing a strong set with the third female lead vocalist Andrea Jones, who added loads of energy despite the stress of being integral in the organising of this exciting new festival. Andrea’s powerful vocals were supported by four strong musicians, a solid rhythm section comprising Dermot (Drums) and Dave (Bass); Carl (Guitar) and John on Flute and Saxophone making this band just a little bit different. They certainly lived up too their slogan ‘keep it blue, keep it zoo’; this was blues with confidence and animal magnetism. Andrea was witty and warm introducing the numbers with relevant anecdotes great set full of original material and a beautiful cover of Robert Cray’s ‘Playing In The Dirt’. For their encore they invited Blues Boy Dan to join them on the stage, now brandishing an electric guitar for a mini jam – ‘Shake You Money Maker’ demonstrating that his talents stretch beyond the acoustic fitting the band as neatly as a glove.

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all photographs copyright Liz AikenBlues Boy Dan - Shrewsbury 2012 - DSC_0264l
Jon Amor strode onto the stage with Jon Amor Blues Group this set upped the tempo for the evening with a selection of numbers off their excellent album. The polished performance showed that all of Jon’s catalogue now belongs to The Jon Amor Blues Group, the band members Doherty brothers Chris (Bass) and Dave (Rhythm Guitar) and Si Small (Drums) complimenting each other creating a bluesy sound. ‘Juggernaut’ and ‘Repeat Offender’ from their début album had the festival rocking on their collective feet. Once again a great set at a fast pace with Jon letting the music do the talking and keeping the talking between songs to the minimum. Now with a festival hum around the theatre Big Pete from Netherlands introduced his band, he is a blues harpist with extraordinary talent and a lightness of touch. The set included self-penned numbers, traditional blues all performed with style, probably the most traditional act so far, a pleasant contrast to the more modern blues sounds that had preceded Big Pete. He was anything but staid as he varied the pace of each number from long-drawn out slow blues through to high-octane 12 bar-blues that got the dancers dancing and we heard the first drum solo of the day. This was a classy performance from a great band and superlative harpist delivering quality harp-inspired blues with very colourful style of harp playing from Big Pete, embellished by his smooth vocals.
All too soon the last act of the day Big Joe Louis and his Blues Kings, including Little George Sueref (Harp) took to the stage. What a sound Big Joe Louis produces, something very special that sets him out from the rest. There is an innate authenticity about his act. He delivered all the favourites you would expect from this accomplished showman including ‘Catfish Blues’ delivered in Big Joe Louis own indomitable style making the song truly his own. The audiences were delighted dancing with the great rhythm being offered whether Big Joe Louis renditions of old favourites or his own penned offerings. This band was the icing on the amazing cake of sound that went into making Theatre of Blues such a success. The sound and lighting were fantastic and the brilliant MC Lionel Ross who did a sterling job as last-minute MC introducing and thanking the bands. Above all great to see people out supporting and keeping blues music live, that is what it is all about. I am positive 2013 Theatre of Blues will be bigger and better if that is possible but on the evidence of this year as the standard has been set very high indeed anyway. Liz Aiken