The waiting is over we can all buy, listen and listen again to the latest impeccable album from Buddy Guy, Born To Play Guitar. It is only to be expected that the legend that reaches back to the early days of Chicago Blues and back to Louisiana and the roots of the blues, has delivered once again a stylish album. Produced by Tom Hambridge a longtime collaborator of Buddy combined with guest appearances by Van Morrison, Joss Stone, Kim Wilson and Billy Gibbons. Every track reverberates along every string of the guitar and every note he sings with blues of stinging elegance. Born To Play Guitar is a fitting title as Buddy celebrates his 79th birthday and has been playing a stringed instrument he made himself when he was just seven years old, fashioning his first makeshift “guitar”—a two-string contraption attached to a piece of wood and secured with his mother’s hairpins.
There is plenty of vim and vigour, as he celebrates electric Chicago blues with many a track that just invites you on the dance floor. This is blues that that delivers celebrating and showcasing the heritage he wants to keep alive and the album is like a river full of hidden depths, lazy shallows and torrid white water. He is the river that flows deep into the past as one of the final surviving connections to an historic era in the country’s musical evolution. The album though has a modern looking forward feel, it is the work of a musical mind steeped in blues but does not want the music trapped in a jelly mould. The collaborations within the album work perfectly enhancing the tone and textures achieved thanks to his guest that include ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Fabulous Thunderbirds’ Kim Wilson, Joss Stone and Van Morrison appearing on a track dedicated to the late B.B. King, Flesh & Bone. Opening with the title track an autobiographical narrative that charts the highs and lows of Buddy’s life and the central role of the guitar from cradle to grave. There is a growl and drive in Wear You Out and the music is blues that is perfect for any road trip as Billy Gibbons adds to the vocals. This is an album that is full of remembered pasts and a shared history with the closing tracks Flesh and Blood and Come Back Muddy dedicated to BB King and Muddy Waters keeping the links with past and future alive. No blues album is complete without a track that has Whiskey in the lyrics. Here we have a bartenders list Whiskey, Beer and Wine, with its distorted guitar and the painting of the picture of a bar where many come to solve their problems one drink at a time; a classic track. Crying Out One Of Eye is full of deep drums and searing horns that act as punctuation marks to the lyrics; this is wailing blues that connects straight into our emotional DNA. The power of the word when emphasized through music is at the heart of Crazy World with the reverb of voice and guitar the repetitions and shadows of something we just can’t see and hear. It is a an anthem of the world today as seen by Buddy who has seen so much in his sparkling career bring Blues to be enjoyed and understood to many.
This is an album full of tributes to the great sound and style and purveyors of the blues it is also celebrating Buddy Guy’s fifty years of playing music we want to hear and a celebration of the relevance of blues and a man Born To Play Guitar right in the here and NOW!
Bluesdoodles gives this CD TEN doodle paws out of TEN ….
A weekend that was crammed with delights for your taste buds and musical ear and the weather was kind. Whether you like a hot cup of tea, a summer fruity jug of Pimms or real ale and cider the liquid refreshment was available on tap and consumed with relish by the number of empty barrels by late Sunday evening. The food was varied from falafel and all things veggie, curries chips and hog roast all served with a smile and provided a tasty appetizer between the music shows; then there were the hot sweet freshly cooked doughnuts to be dipped in sugar or cinnamon not licking your lips between the bites was impossible! Face painting and henna art were enjoyed by adults and children alike! Then at this friendly festival there was the music with so many highlights and acts that hit the spot it seems a tad unfair to select a few but they were the sparklers and cherries that stood out of the cocktail of delights that Julian and his team had artfully blended to form Blues On The Farm 2015. Friday was full of shows that just prove the diversity and depth of British Blues for me it had to be The Jar Family they add that dimension that make festivals fizz and sparkle closely followed by Layla Zoe, The Hoax and the final special moment the firework lighting up the sky Mud Morganfield and his authentic blues. The sparkle in Saturdays cocktail definitely shaken rather than stirred was Kaz Hawkins and her Band O’ Men and Sunday’s it had to be that act with a difference with fire in its cocktail mix Rodney Brannigan & John Pointer where beat box meets acoustic with a novelty trick or two thrown in. We are now counting down to the 25th Blues on The Farm 2016.
From Thursday evening through to Sunday night, the weather stayed fine, the sun shone, people had fun, food was enjoyed and the beer and Pimms flowed what more do you need to make everything perfect quality live music and that we all had with the twenty live acts and a drum workshop it was a full festival banquet.
Opening the event were two fine bands that got the crowds in the mood and the campers full of party spirit, with the surprise of an impromptu guest singer when Jo Harman joined Kokomo on stage. Friday afternoon the crowds swelled as the award of a Friday afternoon away from the office were rewarded by a talented young band Stark who a put the electric into rocky blues with a different way of playing the resonator and arrangements of classics including some Blind Willie Jefferson. They were fun and entertaining a young band with lots to offer. As ever this is the festival that rings the changes no band is ever the same as the rest on the set, with a quick sound check and the ever superb sound and lighting men had the stage ready for a five piece Owen and the Mockingbirds they knew how to entertain with their country blues with self-penned numbers that, despite at times lacking that magic that makes them different, the appreciative crowd enjoyed this knowing that the choice of beers and cider to be tasted throughout the weekend and then the lure of yummy doughnut rings would provide entertaining accompaniment.
Returning again this year following a successful debut at the festival in 2015 The Jar Family built up the tempo and added their unique, eclectic mix of folk, roots and a touch of Hartlepool Americana shaped into their music, which they call Industrial Folk. They certainly didn’t disappoint they were very good last year but the excelled in 2015, a team of six men make the jar full of music that fills the marquee, across the field and into the campsite beckoning everyone to get up dance, smile and enjoy this band that adds a spark to any festival. They delivered a spellbinding set as they all took turns to lead sharing vocal duties with their fine tuneful voices and songs that reflect the experiences of life of folk today, they took the roof off the marquee and no wonder an encore was screamed for and they happily obliged, as they left the stage the whole festival wished Lee a happy wedding day on the Saturday. How was Julian going to follow that act, easy for a man who has planned festivals for twenty-four years he follows up with three headline acts in a row, Layla Zoe; The Hoax and Mud Morganfield who just kept raising the excitement of the festival. Layla Zoe knows how to pull the crowd in close she has a voice that is full of emotion mirroring the drama she brings to the stage with her flowing hair and raunchy approach to her interaction with her guitarist and all the good things musically, the rhythm section is solid and the guitars solos were pure delight; she showcased her latest album Live At Spirit 66 and The Lily was a special moment in the set but the real tingling on the back of the neck was her a Capella encore of The Beatles Let It Be; follow that The Hoax. They certainly did returning once again to the farm having first performed at Pump Farm twenty-two years ago we were all so much younger then. The group is as popular today when they play a few special gigs when they can all get together. Jesse’s guitar work is sublime with Jon to match at the other side of the stage and Hugh as the frontman still draws our attention. They are still a British Blues super group the tent was crammed and the fans up front were transfixed as they sang along to every lyric they played our favourites and raised the roof with Feeding Time, Gimme A Drink and Shine On were mesmerising as the music cascaded up and down your spine they have the Hoax effect on audiences every time they step onto the stage. The sky was darkening as midsummer sun set on closing this night of festival delight was Mud Morganfield, with his authentic Chicago Blues sound, close your eyes and it is his father the great Muddy Waters on the stage. Leaving you wanting more and already wanting more music tomorrow beckons with another line-up of delights.
Beer tent visited another ale sampled and Idlewood a young band with loads of potential got the blues tempo underway. There self-penned numbers showed the power of harmonising and had a British pop blues feel that certainly had a pleasing tone. The tempo was raised with a Memphis/Detroit take on the blues when Ricky Cool and the In Crowd stepped up onto the stage. They delivered an accomplished set of rock n’ roll with the twin sax and the hint of swing this was Saturday afternoon dance and party time as we heard some Booker T and so much more. Following the opening acts the vibe was good as the quartet of acts to follow beckoned, the first of this lucky four-leaf clover of blues was the effervescent Sam Kelly’s Station House. They are always a welcome sight on the stage and a pleasing cocktail of free-form eclectic music that stirs you from the sole of your feet to the top of the head. The whole set was perfect for a Saturday afternoon with a twist of funk; a dollop of bleggae and the delight of listening to a quintet of musicians who just love to play the music that sets them on fire. Spy on bass is the smartest player and Sam on drums kicks the band into action their version of Pink Floyd’s Breathe captivated and I Shot The sheriff was fun come back soon you are welcome every time to this friendly festival. Now we have some heavy blues guitar delivered with attitude Ben Poole strode on to stage and let his guitar do the talking, raising the volume and clear any cobwebs we had. Hey Joe is definitely his festival piece with the intriguing intro, you recognise then as you pinpoint the tune he launches into a full assault making this Hendrix number his own.
Who could follow that high voltage performance well a lady from Belfast could and did the one and only Kaz Hawkins & Her Band O Men. This is a high energy live act that focusses around the power and delivery of Kaz’s vocals with the added swish of petticoats, stomp of her bright red boots; on top of all that she can play guitar. None of this would be possible without the skill of her band O Men who play to her tune with skill and make sure they are keeping up with her random approach to her show. She has stage presence nay stage domination she is a flash of polka dot whose voice sings the blues with a gruffness, gospel with clarity and her rendition of Nina Simone’s Feelin’ Good the second of the festival was for me the best I have ever heard. The croThe crowd at times were rowdy but she dealt with them there is a no-nonsense approach to Kaz when singing her music and dealing with fools in the crowd, if you missed her this weekend check out the act and get to see her soon; closing with Etta James’ I Just Want To Make Love To You we were in heaven and wanted more. There was more music, this was time to refresh yourselves, put on your dancing shoes as the stage was set for The Jive Aces; a band coordinated in eye-catching yellow they swung into action with some jive and rock n’ roll numbers that were the perfect finale to party Saturday night away.
With a few hours’ sleep it was all too soon the final day many friends met and new friends made it was time for the music opening with Malaya Blue who coincided opening the last day of the festival with the launch of her single Hope from her forthcoming album. Following up from Bourbon Street, Malaya’s approach to the blues is very different form the energy charged approach of the two power divas Layla and Kaz. Malaya’s approach is gentler more constrained and it is fantastic to have three women heading talented bands one each day for the festival; this set-up is fairly new and building their presence on the circuit which will surely grow as we get to know Malaya’s brand of blues with soul. The next band, The Cajun Roosters, drew the audience away from the sun and into the stage area to hear Louisiana Cajun based music, with fiddle and squeeze box this was sunny afternoon music you have to dance and smile as the beat with its infectious quality as much of the set was sung in French patois. Now newt was something completely different, a duo of Rodney Brannigan and John Pointer. Rodney has entertained this festival before and today accompanied by a fellow Texan he added more to the always entertaining event. There was everything in the set some great acoustic guitar with the addition of percussive fingerstyle guitar pioneered by Michael Hedges, which captivated everyone listening this afternoon. The Stomp box was huge, the beat box was a stylish and the mix of instruments changed with a blink of an eyelid. This was a complex act for any sound desk with twenty-seven inputs but nothing phases BOTF who are never afraid to book acts that stretch your boundaries and delight every time . Closing the imaginative set with his trademark playing two guitars at the same time Rodney once again delivered what a festival needs some excitement this certainly pleased the crowds with its originality, energy and skills. Phew after that you need to draw breath and before you know it Champion Doug Veitch changed the groove again with a mix of Cajun swing with a brass section which added energy and that unique musical range. We saw some country dancing as the audience enthusiastically joined in with the musical delights, a real feel-good band playing music they love with the audience warming to the show with every song delivered. With just two bands left on the longest day that coincided with Father’s Day there were lots of happy people who were delighted to dance and join in the fun as Brilleaux from New Zealand delivered Dr Feelgood style music much of which were self-penned. In between they played some great early British R ‘n’ B from Yardbirds to Billy Fury. This was a crowd pleasing high energy set and the delight of the band and many of the audience was when John Potter key board player in bands with WilKo Johnson including Solid Sender, Wilko Johnson Band adding some authentic 1960’s vibe. This was a real festival moment that everyone present will remember for a long time leaving Brothers Groove to close this 24th Blues On The Farm Festival. This was the perfect set to bring a blues festival to a cheering, barnstorming close leaving everyone wanting more music and countdown to the twenty-fifth anniversary Blues on The Farm Festival; with Julian asking if we had any bands we want to hear next year, let him know and they will be considered!
Second track in is the title track, we have an homage to blues and a city forever connected to the music that remains forever popular, Chicago a city of electric guitars and blues that hit your music soul.this is an album full of self-penned numbers, with the lyrics curling around the guitar and a rhythm section that adds power and knows when to be heard and when to step back into the background.
Every track has a riff, lick and general musical drive that certainly encourages foot tapping and nods of delight as they blend the music like a skilled cocktail maker so you have a hint of sweetness and a twirl of sharpness with power, jazz and funk all interplayed throughout the album. The musicians have timing that makes the blues sing, garnered from years of playing, Ryk Mead is the heartbeat of the sound being produced guitar, bass on some tracks and vocals all superb but the standout is the guitar work that is like molten metal being bent and channeled into the shape and soul of blues stretching back to its very origins.
Fooling Me Too Long ups the intensity with rock added to the mix this is power blues that makes you listen, whilst Blues Latino shows a lighter side with its hip swaying sultry Latino tempo this is border country music and not the one USA shares with Canada. Hurricane Blues, upping the tempo Texas fuelled blues and you can understand why Ryk’s is being labelled The Blues Hurricane. Closing with Cyprus Grove the guitar playing is full of tone and the whole slowed down blues sound just leaves you knowing that is blues played with delight, “Rather Drink Muddy Water, …. Rather be buried in some old Cyprus Grove …..” lyrics that just love the guitar work that is full of blues passion a great version of this Skip James’ track.
This is an eleven track album infused with the love, insight and understanding of the blues, how the timing works with an added bonus of many embellishments, changes in tempo and style and the mixing of the instrumental sounds so that every track has a reason to be on the Album Chicago. If you love your blues then this is an album that will not disappoint with lyrics that take you back whilst the music is fresh and contemporary.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD EIGHT doodle paws out of TEN ….
1. Heartful of Misery
3. I’m Not Afraid
4. Put Away Your Blues
5. Fooling Me Too Long
7. Blues Latino
8. Walking In The Sun
9. Running Out Of Time
10. Hurricane Blues
11. Cyprus Grove
Guitars/Vocals/Percussion – Ryk Mead
Bass – Jake Libretto or Ryk Mead
Drums – Piers de Margarey or Jake Libretto
With less than a week to go and tickets going fast what better way of dispelling the late winter blues than Theatre of Blues Festival in Shrewsbury Friday 5th and Saturday 6th April
The first Festival at Theatre Severn, was a resounding success as the review published in Blues Matters shows; definitely one of the many highlights was the talented young singer/guitarist Blues Boy Dan who was for me the find of the festival; what will they be pulling out of the hat this year? Blues Boy Dan will be making a special appearance at the festival this year following the recent news coverage in The Standard
5th April – Friday Night at The Lion Stage, The Lion HotelGetting the festival of the a flying start at 7pm – is the talented Jenna Hooson
The LegendarySlack Alice and headlining a quality evening of live music is the award-winning who are without doubt one of the UK’s most exciting and original crossover blues band 24 Pesos.
6th April – Saturday 2pm – 11.30pm. at Walker Stage, Theatre Severnopening the day of exceptional live music are The Drivetones a local band who always pleases, followed by the delightful Bex Marshall fresh from her successful tour of U.S.A.
the ebullient and energetic Tim Aves & The Wolfpack will certainly energize and delight the audience with blues straight from Chicago town.Fuschi 4 bring their own funk blues to the proceedings they definitely wow! festival audiences when ever they play. Dani Wilde will certainly add some glamour combined with her gorgeous voice and beautiful guitar playing and the band are excellent musicians in their own right this will certainly up the tempo even further. The topping the evening of is the Six-string Svengali himself all the way from Texas Buddy Whittington what a finale to a line-up that will definitely thrill and delight you. Live music at its best.
GROOVE-A-MATICS – Gotta Use what You’ve Got
Having won the “New Brunswick Battle of the Blues 2012”, and traveled to Canada they are building on this experience, delivering a polished album which confirms that this is a band of experienced musicians, Johnny Whitehill (guitar), Mick Cantwell (vocals, sax and harp), John Morgan (bass) and Barry Race (drums); and this talent is evident on every track. The tracks allow the whole band to shine with Barry Race’s relentless beat, on the drums which gives such a stable bedrock for the band to build on. Barry is not a drummer that has to hit hard he plays with a subtly that at times is hypnotic. There can be no argument that the driving Sax delivered by Mick Cantwell is what makes this CD stand-out from the crowd, combined with his warm, emotive vocals, he is not just singing he is sharing his soul with you as demonstrated on ‘Casino Kate’ with its dance rhythm and delightful interplay between sax and his vocals. John Morgan on bass provides a link between all this talent, with solid clear bass lines, as shown on ‘More To Life Than This’ that allows the men up front to dazzle.
Close your eyes on tracks such as ‘I Know’ and you are back in a record shop booth listening to the latest release through headphones, or in a steamy coffee shop selecting your favourite on the Jukebox. For me that would be ‘Good Man’, where Johnny Whitehill, delivers some blistering Chicago style guitar playing no wonder he has been nominated and awarded so regularly – Johnny, who played for many years with Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes, was voted blues guitarist of the year four times running. The balance of Barry’s drumming and Johnny’s playing sets shivers up the spine, this is a band of musicians who listen and understand each other not an ego driven competition who can play the loudest.
This is an impressive CD, the band has produced a live-sound in the studio that represents why they are such a popular gigging band, buy, listen, sit-back, enjoy and relax; this is quality blues; then get out that door and listen to them live…
Bluesdoodles gives this CD a doodle rating of
In the meantime this short live video to whet the appetite.