Ilya Portnov Debut Album Strong Brew

Ilya Portnov Debut Album Strong Brew

Ilya Portnov Debut Album Strong Brew


Russia born, now based in the USA harmonica player Ilya Portnov loves the blues. His debut instrumental solo album, Strong Brew, is a mix of old-school blues and ragtime with gypsy and tango-influenced tunes. Ilya says he wanted to feature different kinds of music that played a big role in his life. Originally, he had planned to include Brazilian choro and forro tracks but now he plans to release these on a separate album. Strong Brew, with seven self-penned tracks and two covers. The lively arrangement of the Rev Gary Davis classic, Cincinnati Flow Rag and in complete contrast, In a Town Garden. A composition from Malvey Blanter and Alexey Fatyanov a popular Russian tune of the 1940s and a favourite of Portnov’s grandmother. Ilya plays a mean diatonic harp and is ably backed by keys, guitar, drums and violin as he moves from 12 bar blues to ragtime to tango. The appropriately named track 1928 would work as music for a black and white film set in a smoky 1920s dance club while Surfing the Baltic Sea brings us a lilting gypsy influenced tune with virtuoso harp playing. Occasionally verging on the pedestrian but the album is ultimately intriguing. Ilya’s harmonica blends blues with folk music of Eastern Europe the combination of roots-infused music works. The mix of music is a refreshing take on the range of the harmonica and Ilya’s musical influences. Stand out tracks for this reviewer were the 12 bar blues Behind the Wall and the final blues track Till The Early Morning. The title track, Strong Brew is a smooth mix of bluesy harp over a prowling, slinky dance background – this could be the way to go for this versatile musician.

Ilya Portnov  – Strong Brew – Independent

SIXpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track Listing

  1. Sunny Afternoon Blues
  2. Surfing The Baltic Sea
  3. Dance of A Lonely Doll
  4. Cincinnati Flow Rag
  5. In A Town Garden
  6. Behind The Wall
  7. Strong Brew
  8. 1928

Ilya Portnov Debut Album Strong Brew

Wilde Blues-Harp in Hamburg

Wilde Blues-Harp in Hamburg

Wilde Blues-Harp in Hamburg

Will Wilde, Live in Hamburg is a mirror shining a light on why he is a live performer. Wilde Blues-Harp in Hamburg really does capture the playing from Will and the band in the moment. The adrenalin fueled energy that drives live music to that one feels is never quite captured in a studio. Live in Hamburg, has half-a-dozen previously unrecorded gems added to the mix are stand out numbers from his previous albums Unleashed and Raw Blues.

Opening with If I Get My Hands on You, greeted with cheers and driving guitar from Danny Giles we are on the road again with a Canned Heat/Southern Rock feel to the rhythm and guitar. This opening track reflects the always great Will Wilde re-enactment of Canned Heat’s On The Road Again. The opening and closing tracks are the perfect fit for a live album reflecting life of a touring musician getting the music live and personal to audiences far and wide. The opening track like the rest of the album captures the dual aspects of talent Will’s piercing Harp that shapes the melody and his vocals deep and emotionally charged.

Now the tempo rises and the music warms with Angel Came Down. The rhythm section drives this along with Victoria Smith laying down the bass line and Alan Taylor’s drumming punctuating blues-harp that weeps with a dripping intensity. A homage to the blues, What Makes People is a driving combination of the band as they artfully provide an inspired foundation for the harp to fly with energy into the musical stratosphere of free-form beauty. With a beat of the drum, weeping harp, Paranoia floats with intrigue almost as if the music has become paranoid itself. Then the lyrics are augmented with tasty riffs from Danny and the harp providing the licks. The layers of sound are complex, never over-stated as the track is all about the lyrics as the tale unfolds around the distrust Paranoia brings. As the deterioration of health and despair and frustration grows the harp becomes more intense the feeling of deep sadness overlaid with panic flows out of the speaker and dramatic track marking the half-way point. The instinctive applause after the harp-break is the reaction of a live audience immersed in the moment.

Philby, a Rory Gallagher number changes the tension with a Rock n Roll feeling number and the mood lightens the harp once again focuses your attention. Will is without argument a prodigious harmonica player. We now see a different side of Will as he plays lead guitar on The Girl I Love and Jealous Woman, a true multi-instrumentalist. The inclusion of these two tracks adds depth and another texture and tonal context as we listen for over an hour the wondrous music of Will and his band.

As the album draws to a close A Man and the Blues, a slower number that again contains that Wilde intensity that makes his singing and harp stand out from the crowd. His band is awesome and the guitar break from Danny is sublime; a blues beauty. The whole album is a testament to the power of live blues music reflecting the wonderful talent of Will and his band and how fortunate we are to be able to see blues of this quality at clubs and festivals around the country. Live albums capture the moment but not the same as actually being in the same room as when the artist performs.

Wilde Blues-Harp in Hamburg had full control of the audience and sparkled, buy the album and get to see him live at least once a year.

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

Will Wilde – Live In Hamburg  Release date 29th January 2016 Purchase HERE

Track Listing

1. If I get My Hands On you
2. Angel Came Down
3. Thirty Eight
4. What Makes People
5. Your Days Are Numbered
6. Paranoia
7. Philby
8. The Girl I Loved
9. Jealous Woman
10. A Man and the Blues
11. On the Road Again

UK Tour – Octavia Blues Band

05-31-12 Octavia 019-1THE OCTAVIA BLUES BAND

Octavia, from the USA, is Pennsylvania’s First Lady of Blues. She’s a singer, songwriter, guitarist, harmonica player and blues-infused wonder. Octavia wows her audience with her wicked harmonica playing, sultry powerful vocals and her top notch high energy show engaging her audience – one of the hottest Blues-Roots acts around. She has already been noted as Top of the List of the very few female harmonica players in the blues world.

Octavia’’ blues show brings influences of the late Etta James. Etta invited Octavia to join her tour after hearing her at a show in Berkeley. She toured with Etta James for a year and then continued playing harmonica, guitar and singing with a wide variety of bands across the U.S. and in Europe including guest spots with The Allman Brothers Band, Freddy King, The Funky Meters (The Neville Brothers), Gil Scott-Heron and The Iguanas.

Octavia has also toured extensively headlining with her own band in the US at clubs, theatres and festivals and opening for B. B. King, Taj Mahal, Mavis Staples, Dr. John, Delbert McClinton and Elvin Bishop, She recently jammed harps with Stevie Wonder at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California.

Octavia endorsed by Suzuki Music USA and Godin Guitars

“This is a serious, gifted artist that has been immersed in blues for decades” PA Musician magazine

“She’s one of a kind! Her confidence and fearlessness, along with her harmonica virtuosity, has earned her respect and a spot on the stage beside several bona-fide legends over the years.”

“Octavia is certainly one of the classier lady singers on the contemporary blues scene.” Blues & Rhythm magazine

UK Tour September 2015

Wed 16th Octavia Blues Band: The Ciderhouse, Pump Bottom Farm, nr Chichester, Sussex
Thur 17th Octavia Blues Band: Ain’t Nothin’ But Blues Bar, London,
Fri 18th Octavia Blues Band + Maxwell & Moore: Limelight Theatre, Aylesbury, Bucks
Sat 19th Octavia Blues Band + Storm Warning: The Railway, Winchester, Hants
Thur 24th Octavia Blues Band: Fine City Blues at The Murderers, Norwich, Norfolk
Fri 25th Octavia Blues Band: St Harmonica’s Blues Club, Southgate, London,
Sun 27th Octavia Blues Band + Storm Warning: Tropic At Ruislip, Middx.
Mon 28th Octavia guest spot with Alan Glen & John O’Leary Flamingo Allstars: Bull’s Head, Barnes London

CD Review: Giles Hedley ~ Rain Is Such a Lonesome Sound

Giles front


Giles Hedley
Rain Is Such a Lonesome Sound


The cover is beguiling with raindrops like tears obscuring two people on a park bench, there is a story in the picture and I was filled with expectation as I placed the album in the player and pressed start. I was right, this is fifteen tracks of pure blues and there is nowhere for Giles to hide in this stripped back acoustic vocals-and-guitar the timing and emotional connection has to be spot on. Giles you have hit it spot-on every time as the blues beat peels off the guitar and across the room. The tracks have been put together to complement each other and work perfectly with Giles’ style; the opening and title track is one of the many traditional blues given the Hedley treatment. Rain Is Such A Lonesome Sound has a weary undercurrent and is charged with sadness, regret and then there is a glimmer of home and you know that the acoustic and traditional blues are in safe hands with performers keeping them alive with integrity and love. In the mix are three self-penned numbers the first Emilia Buck brightens the mood with a dancing tune that has its musical heart firmly in ragtime with its jaunty tempo that brings a ray of sunshine to the proceedings. The other two are Sidevalve Stroll a blues harp instrumental that holds your attention with its full sound that are the result of two harmonicas being played simultaneously by Giles one in his mouth the other an octave higher on Giles nose. The third and last of Hedley’s own numbers is Shadows Falling a guitar and vocal blues that this album just keeps on delivering.

There is a broad range of early bluesmen numbers including Son House; Robert Johnson, Mckinley Morganfield, Rev Gary Davies and many more, the selection of composers and every track selected has been considered with care. Every track has something to add to the musical lexicon of the blues collected here; his rendition of Death Ain’t Got No Mercy is full of emotion that builds from the opening three bass notes and the simplicity of the arrangement ensures it is the vocals that have the centre stage. Ending with Jealous-Hearted Me, a Robin Hicks number that has a fluidity and a toe tapping beat leaving you with a spring in your musical step, an album for the dedicated collector of the blues and a
fabulous introduction to the greats and the songs we love for anyone new to traditional blues. The production by Richard Sadler, an album recorded in the studio as a live take with no over dubs is superb the result is a blues gem for any collection

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

giles - 1

Will Wilde – Live in Pontypool, South Wales

Will Wilde - Borough Blues Club - Apr 2015 -  5 - _0022l


Will Wilde @ Borough Blues Club, Pontypool.

Easter Saturday, 4th April 2015



Will Wilde - Borough Blues Club - Apr 2015 -  5 - _0026lThe Borough Blues Club always has a good attendance but tonight they were boosted by many who had traveled to see Will Wilde and his band, whilst some hadn’t even heard him live before but had heard enough to come and hear for themselves. There was no argument that their was a seven year-old who was the most excited and was delighted that Will Wilde took time before the show to demonstrate harmonica techniques to this young aspiring harp player and he really enjoyed the show as well before being taken home. By the end of the evening Will had many fans and will be invited back, with a regular saying the band’s performance was in the top three gigs since the club started ten years ago!
Will got the crowd going with some Raw Blues, sensational Harp playing, with a band that added tonal depths and textures to let the inspired harp playing shine through.

There was a mutual understanding between Danny Giles on Guitar and the rhythm section comprising Victoria Smith on bass and drummer Richard Newman. Angel Came Down, is a track that combines both Will’s vocals and harp playing , he has a wonderful voice that sings the blues adding that emotional soul that makes the lyrics become more than words. His vocals are powerful with a silky undertone that makes Thirty-Eight have passion and grit connecting with the audience and the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. Will Wilde’s harp playing sets him out from the crowd and his playing gets better – their appears to be no limits to the sounds, tonal qualities and musical shapes that he can cajole from his harpsichord. Paranoia as ever a very emotionally charged performance of this fantastic self-penned number, augmented by an intoxicating simple driving sound from the rhythm section.
We heard Buddy Guy’s A Man OF The Blues, from Buddy’s second album and tonight was a rousing rendition which we were told will feature on an anticipated live CD due for release later in 2015; one for the collection of anyone who loves blues with modernity and stellar harp playing. It was time for everyone to have a breather, refresh there glasses and revel in what they had heard and experienced in the first set, the buzz of delighted blues lovers was around the club, everyone was happy.

Will Wilde - Borough Blues Club - Apr 2015 -  5 - _0079lThe Second set opened with audience participation and the crowd loved it and then we saw Will put down the harp and swap to a guitar on The Girl I love, showing that this is a multi-instrumentalist as he played some great licks augmented Danny’s guitar creating a completely different tone and style from the rest of the evening. There is no doubt that Will is the complete artist when it comes to modern blues, it is always a pleasure to be at one of his gigs and tonight was the best I have seen him perform. Will and the band definitely deserve a greater recognition of his extensive talents, easy-going manner and the pleasure his music brings.
There was some great harmonizing and interplay between Will and Danny on lead guitar as they dueted on Jealous Women they certainly made those instruments dance to their delightful tune. Danny Giles came forward to take the lead for Johnny Guitar Watson’s number, Three Hours Past Midnight which really allowed Danny to display is guitar playing skills we have heard some fabulous riffs, licks and solos from him it wasn’t just about the harp tonight. I Got a Real Good Feeling, picked up the pace and got the Borough Blues Club Dancing their night away. All too soon the notes were faded but with much stamping of feet and cheering the band returned with an encore we all wanted to hear, they played a trio of delights Creedance Clearwater Revival’s, what a great take on this popular number, Suzie Q; followed by Blind Al Wilson’s number a fitting choice as one of the great influences on Will’s harp playing and closing with I’m On The Road Again, this Canned Heat number got even more people on the floor and the rest joined in the chorus line as the night reached the final crescendo of musical satisfaction.
Will Wilde - Borough Blues Club - Apr 2015 -  5 - _0152l

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CD Review: The King Biscuit Boys ~ All In A Day’s Work

TheKingBiscuitBoysAllinadaysworkcoverwebThe King Biscuit Boys
All In A Day’s Work

King Biscuits are an acoustic, laid back blues driven duo; Jonathan on guitar, vocals and songwriter & Craig on harmonica, melodica, spoons, washboard and anything else percussive he can find. The majority of the tracks are their own the two covers have been given the biscuit treatment dunked into their vibe and resurface as two powerful tracks. Cocaine there are so many versions, lyrics have been gathered from various sources focussing on these with a twist of humour and Craig given the space blow his harp. How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come Around, is another traditional number, they have evolved the sound to what it says today with a definite John Lee Hooker rhythm.

Every self-penned number is strong on telling a story reflecting the blues tradition they are steeped in, we have slow blues feet tapping blues, some slide and dirty guitar and the necessary double-entendre.
There is no doubt that this is an album rooted deep in the soul of blues you can imagine the duo sitting on a porch strumming and creating the effects they want by a few technical tweaks on the instrument of choice as demonstrated on the stand out tracks of this mighty fine album, which were Cold In the Morning with a grand harp intro before being joined by the guitar laid back blues at its best and Lies Travel Faster Than the Truth, this up tempo number gets the feet tapping and shows the skills of this talented duo who make The King Biscuit Boys.

The duo play acoustic blues if that is what you love then go no further pull up a chair read then buy All In A Day’s Work; an album packed with raw, dark blue acoustic that has been given a minimalist treatment that still packs a hefty musical punch.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD SEVEN doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

Katie Bradley – Anchor Baby Sessions ~ CD Review

KB-AnchorBabySessions_V4_Katie Bradley
Anchor Baby Sessions

This album hit the decks with a sense of anticipation as the follow-up album to the sensational She’s Ready; and as the first note of warm guitar from Dudley Ross became the intro for Katie’s sultry vocals I was instantly engaged this album had my full attention and bluesdoodles knew they were in for a musical treat.
Anchor Baby Sessions is jammed packed full of smooth sounds from the varied vocal range of Katie, with soul, blues and gospel put to masterful use so that every track has its own identity and musical feel ensuring that the lyrical tone and poetry is enhanced and never drowned out. This is achieved by empathetic accompaniment by Dudley on guitar whose timing is impeccable and augments the tonal quality that Katie is producing as shown with the lead break of such purity and intensity as One Day fades away. A Katie Bradley album would not be complete if you did not have some spectacular haunting harp from her sweet lips that shapes the notes to pierce your blues soul and make your hairs stand on edge as your body responds to the clarity of each note as the harp is used to great effect throughout the album.

I’d Rather Go Blind is a track we all have many versions of; here is another take of Etta’s song and it is the backing vocals that give this version a ghostly feel, once again Dudley and Katie perfectly augment each other’s musicality. Aaron Birks on keys adds more tone and passion and the drumming from Wez Johnson has a purity that this track needs with all the emotions pouring out of the speakers – this track as they say is a keeper adding to the lexicon of quality versions of this classic.

What a contrast with The Levy, swampy blues, a little bit dirty and conjures up slow-moving waters full of dark shadows with harp that really adds to this effect, once again her talent has layers and layers of depth and musical understanding,

We are treated to two versions of Long Way From Home, first the full band as the slide guitar hints of country blues the track moves along at a pace that gets the feet tapping to accompany the beat of the drum, this is a song destined to be a classic the lyrics so suit the music and Katie’s voice. The acoustic version is full of slide and harp and gives a sultry take as the whole number is slowed down – shows what talent can do with a track!

The last number Some Kind Of Women opens with Drums and Keys giving a bass sound that will move this track along and is a perfect end as unfortunately there is always an end to any album – great thing with modern plays you can put on repeat, listen randomly the album works just fine any way you want to listen.

This is blues with an edge that really works Anchor Baby is a class album with a mix of self-penned and clever renditions of Little Walter, James Cotton, Etta James and Luther Allison and will get Katie lots of nominations once again!

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


Katie Bradley – Vox/blues-harp
Dudley Ross – Guitar
Aaron Birks – Keys
Wez Johnson – Drums

KB-AnchorBabySessions_V4_5Available to Pre-Order Now: ‘Anchor Baby’ is the new album by Katie Bradley featuring material that is already receiving a lot of attention from the Blues Radio and Press. To celebrate this milestone, the first 50 orders of the album will receive a signed limited edition piece of artwork designed by artist Andrew Budell. The album will be despatched on the 1st October by Chrome Note Records.
The album will be Officially launched on 16/10/14 at the beginning of Katie’s Tour of England and Scotland. Twenty two dates with her stellar band and Kirk Fletcher – Tour dates and tickets: follow the link you will not be disappointed

The Dirty Aces – Live and Recorded

The Garage in Swansea is a venue that is now putting on a variety of blues acts regularly and tonight The Dirty Aces with the mighty Giles Robson were the act delivering the music live from the stage.

Opening tonight was local bluesman Gordon Wride, tonight the Revelators were a duo with a harmonica player joining Gordon delivering a set of Chicago Blues, Robert Johnson and Howling Wolf that set the ambiance for the evening as we all waited for a new line-up for The Dirty Aces, Giles robson (Harp & Vocals),Filip Kozlowski (Guitar) and new to the line-up Simon Small (Drums) and Tom Hull (Bass).

Dirty Aces - The Garage, Swansea - Feb 2014 - DSC_0203l

Tonight we were treated to a display of British Blues with a modern edge with tracks from previous C.D. “Crooked Heart of Mine” and their latest E.P Sinnin’ ‘Gainst Me creating a high octane beat that drove the tracks forward creating a live sound that delivered a real feel good factor from the opening note through to the closing note as the music faded away and everyone would have liked to have heard more. There is no doubt that the new E.P and line-up were delivering a different sound with more than a twist of anarchy curtsey of a punk beat; and rougher making the performance seem slightly edgy and riskier; this revamp makes The Dirt Aces a really exciting live act. Giles as ever led and shaped the form and texture of every track with the combination of his distinctive laid back haunting vocals and his very own style of blues harp, definitely dirty , high tempo this was a virtuoso performance and set the band out from the rest. Giles is able to walk the wild side of blues thanks to the rest of the Dirty Aces who provide a solid bedrock of musicianship that lays down the perfect platform for Giles to soar from and at times almost go free-form taking a leaf out jazzy blues.

Dirty Aces - The Garage, Swansea - Feb 2014 - DSC_0206lFilip Kozlowski provides a lead guitar sound that compliments the vocals and with Giles’ harp at times there is an interesting battle as to which instrument is in the ascendency this friendly duel adds an exciting dimension to the band, ensuring that this is a band the blends and bends the tracks to allow all the skills to shine through – it is not the case of I am the leader you follow… Simon Small the drummer has a style that is recognisable and with his at times broken, not quite complete blues shuffles suits the measured anarchic side of the band when combined with his impeccable timing and delivering of a beat that makes the rest of the band feel secure with this skilful anchorman at the back who is never going to hide behind the symbol as he drives the tempo and keeps the shape on every track. In to the mix add Tom Hull, on bass, despite being the first outing with The Dirty Aces he provided interesting bass lines that add to the mix swelling the depth of sound and adding a funky twang to many of the tracks performed. The tracks from the latest E.P. demonstrate the quality of lyrics as evidenced on ‘That Simple Step‘, with the beautiful harp opening that sets the tone of wishfulness and strength that fits in with the lyrics delivered in a soft vocal countering the high pitch assertive harp, that goes to the depth of your soul and sends tingles up the spine as the music draws you in until only the stage matters, this is hypnotic harp playing. The set was interspersed with Dirty Aces favourites including Mighty Incinerator, Devil Led Evil and Cooling Board and some exciting new tracks including a very apposite, apocalyptic number ‘When That Final Storm Rolls In’ considering the bout of rain that has fallen from this sky over the last few months, this is true Devil music that stirs up a range of emotions. And what Giles referred to as his Jeremy Kyle song, with its modern, strong lyrics, ‘The Song of All Our Songs’ (apologies if the title is not quite right but this was a superb number and my personal favourite of the evening). All too soon it was the end of a the set that took the audience through every emotion and ensured a good-time, the encore was The Dirty Aces, unique take on House of The Rising Sun, this is no cover as it is given the harp treatment by Giles; like all great bands you were left wanting more..

After the pictures – review of a tantalizing E.P. my only wish thatit was much much longer…

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dirty aces ep

The Dirty Aces – Sinnin’ ‘Gainst Me –

This is a three track E.P. A tempting taster of the re-vamped The Dirty Aces, a raunchier, bluesy punk sound that full of energy that is focussed into the lyrics and music creating a full upbeat driving rhythm that has a real twist of punk, this is controlled anarchy! Giles leads from the front but he is one of the Dirty Aces not a front man who expects the band to follow this is musicians working as one to create a complex woven tapestry of sound that takes you on a mesmerising journey as his hypnotic harp style acts apun the senses like a blues version of the Pied Piper of Hamlin. Each of the three tracks are distinctive sound opening with the title track you are treated to 3 minutes of a journey starting of deep with a bass intro, then the tempo and tone rises as the harp joins then some percussive drumming then vocals and guitar joining this party of sound; it is an infectious foot tapping hand clapping track that makes you sit up and take notice. That Simple Step the middle track opens with harp and has a break-neck tempo that the vocals calm down as you realise often what seems to be a simple step is full of complications and confusions, the music reflects the fear that The Simple Step often generates; the playing of cymbals really represents the hesitancy we have all experienced when taking a life-changing decision. The all too soon it is the last track Ain’t No Forgetting, punk really comes to the fore right from the oft with the count in and the music just follows on this is a track that would get crowds to there feet, other stomping, it is impossible to sit still whilst the tempo rips through your body and soul. This is a great introduction but like a taster menu, the music is delicious but you are left in the lurch and wanting more a bigger earful of this great blues sound… counting the minutes until a full CD is released until then these three tracks will just have to suffice…

Babajack Live at The Flowerpot, Derby


Rita Payne @ Flowerpot Derby Feb 2014 - DSC_0016l

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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Babajack @ The Flowerpot Feb 2014 - DSC_0115l

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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