Blues Shone Bright at Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival

Blues Shone Bright at Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival

Blues Shone Bright at Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival 2017

Colston Hall was buzzing to the sound of live music from the Foyer, through The Lantern and into the Main Stage. Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival has become a regular event in music lovers diaries from Bristol and beyond with its sparkling mix of Jazz & Blues.

Bluesdoodles dipped into the weekend for a Smörgåsbord of blues on offer, from Sari Schorr to Mud Morganfield and we had listening fun and the magic of live music, festival delights of food, beer and meeting and making friends.

Blues Shone Bright at Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival 2017Blues Shone Bright at Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival 2017

Thursday Night Double Header


Sari Schorr & The Engine Room

The Lantern shone bright as Lorna took the vocal lead for Northsyde and their distinctive blending of blues, funk twisted with the free flow of blues jam tradition weaving in the Allman Brothers and a rocky edge…………………….

No gentle warm up with Sari and her band, she hit the ground running and the tension power and sheer beauty of live music just kept coming. The set list was dominated by tracks from her critically acclaimed debut album Force Of Nature. The album title perfectly describes Sari’s voice it is a true force of nature. Read more HERE

Triple Blues Power Saturday.

Whilst we waited we were treated to Bristol based Elles Bailey in the Foyer deliver blues with power and emotion not surprisingly the applause was warm and loud after every number.

Robben ford was the first act on the main stage today, as blues touched the soul of Jazz we heard a trio on top form as Jonny Henderson’s Hammond and Evan Jenkins drumming provided the support for Robben’s vocals and glorious guitar.

No one would argue, Robben Ford was on fire this afternoon for the Bristol Jazz &
Blues Festival. This was a masterclass in blues guitar playing full of timing, emotion and the soul that makes blues blend and bend around the lyrics. Read More HERE

With a short gap, we had time to eat and chat and listen t the music flowing through the venue this is what a festival is all about what every the weather the music is the force that binds us all.

The next double helping of blues from two renowned artists Kirk Fletcher former lead guitarist of The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Followed by Mud Morganfield, bringing to Bristol the legacy of his father Mud Morganfield.

Kirk Fletcher – The set was smooth a cocktail of blues guitar with a new song included with Kirk exploring the eternal question Wish I Had The Answer. This is blues that is full of the whole palette and warmed the hall up for the second helping on the double bill Mud Morganfield………..

The blues were hollered up in every shade with lead breaks and play from all the instruments in turn as hooks for Mud’s vocals as he delivered his father’s catalogue of classics. Mud Morganfield is the legacy that keeps the legend live on stages across the world. We definitely got our Mojo Working, as we met the Seventh Son and left with the Backdoor Man. Read More HERE

Photo Galleries captured the moment:-

Northsyde – HERE
Sari Schorr – HERE
Robben Ford – HERE
Kirk Fletcher – HERE
Mud Morganfield – HERE

Blues Shone Bright at Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival 2017

Blues Joins The Jazz Party in Bristol Festival 2017

Blues Joins The Jazz Party in Bristol Festival 2017

Blues Joins The Jazz Party in Bristol Festival 2017


Blues Joins The Jazz Party in Bristol Festival 2017From the 16th – 19th March Colston Hall is buzzing with lovers of live music with a mix of Jazz and a sprinkling of shimmering Blues.

People flock to the Lantern, Main Hall and while they wait can sip a coffee, enjoy refreshment to the acts playing in the foyer. Opportunity for Bristolians to meet friends and gain a musical Spring to their ears.  Did I mention dressing up in finery and Jiving it all happens over this joyous weekend.

If you think you know jazz and blues, you’re probably wrong! If you love music, you’ll love Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival. We’ve dipped into every genre and traversed the globe to bring you a line-up dedicated to the incredible musical legacy of jazz and blues.

Check out the full line-up of varied music HERE

A Trio of Blues Acts will excite with the energy and musicianship.

Thursday 16th March – The Lantern: Colston Hall

Double Bill: Sari Schorr & The Engine Room and Northsyde

New Yorker Sari Schorr with the her Engine Room is taking the world by a storm. Her Album Force Of Nature. With a voice that jolted legendary blues producer Mike Vernon (think Mac, Clapton and Bowie) out of retirement, it’s not hard to see why. The Engine Room is a musical powerhouse featuring the legendary blues guitarist Innes Sibun.

Northsyde has a vocalist Lorna, a true singing phenomenon and a Storytellers Daughter  fronting the band. Completing the Northsyde quartet  guitarist, Jules Fothergill and longtime friend Left-handed Ian Mauricio’s  unusual style (he strings the bass upside down) combined with Haydn  Doyle’s forceful grooves give the band a sound unlike anyone else on the rock and blues circuit today. Left-handed Mauricio’s unusual style (he strings the bass upside down) combined with Doyle’s forceful grooves give the band a sound unlike anyone else on the rock and blues circuit today. Bluesdoodles loved Story Tellers Daughter.


Tickets Available HERE

Saturday 18th March 2017 – Hall One: Colston Hall 

Robben Ford – 13.00 – 14.30

Robben Ford five-time Grammy nominated stage and studio legend back to his earliest roots as a performer, playing blues on hs current album Into The Sun; showcasing his distinctive guitar style that ensures Robben stands out from the crowd this weekend in Bristol.


Double Bill: Mud Morganfield and  KirkFletcher  16.30 – 18.50

What a stunning combination the voice of Mud Morganfield the first-born son of Muddy Waters – undisputed King of Blues  – was naturally drawn to music from an early age but it wasn’t until three years after his father’s death that he decided to pursue it as a career. He’s been wowing audiences worldwide with his charismatic brand of Chicago blues ever since. Mud is a tribute to his father’s memory and a fantastic songwriter in his own right. He’ll spend much of 2017 in the studio working on a new album, but not before doing us the honour of gracing our stage with his talent.

The guitar of Kirk Fletcher, creating licks, riffs and lead breaks infused with blues and darkened with soul. Raised on gospel and R&B, but equally influenced by the likes of Hendrix and Steely Dan, a rich mix of sounds informs the depth and quality of tone you can hear in both his guitar and his voice today.

Kirk spent three years as lead guitarist for legendary blues-rock band The Fabulous Thunderbirds before going solo and has now released one live and three studio albums with a fourth hotly anticipated and on its way. We’re extremely excited to welcome him.

 “Kirk is hands-down one of the best blues guitarists in the world.” Joe Bonamassa


Tickets available HERE

Beth Hart Fire On The Floor

Beth Hart Fire On The Floor

Beth Hart Fire On The Floor


The mood is set sultry, melodic, moody with Beth at her Piano  and her vocals that cajole you to get into the jazzy swing with Jazz Man. Opening Fire On The Floor is intimate setting the next forty-five minutes, it is a journey exploring the interaction between words, vocals and melodic lines underlying the texture of every song. The shape of the number changes, with a landscape created with the feel of a cinematic film score. This is a vocal painting of Love Gangster with a flinty edge and the driving instrumentation that never overpowers but adding layers of textures and tonal pathways. Throughout the album it is Beth’s vocals that are the lead breaks and the mixture of musicians carefully selected by acclaimed producer Oliver Leiber that are the foil for the majesty of Beth, the singer, songwriter extraordinaire.

Fire on The Floor is scorching hot as the range of genres are explored creating at the heart of the sound Beth, the reason the album exists. The mix of styles, reflects the vagaries of fire, white heat then cooler blue flames, the emotional wrenching of the red and orange flames that lick around the boots of the songs the lyrics.

The energy is both raw and controlled, rocking and reflective as Love Is A Lie, full of dark and deep undercurrents. Half way through and the path of Beth’s fire changes again with Fatman, with a rocking full on sound we are full of Beth’s energy.  The title track is ringing with western country vibe, the soundscape is huge and then the intimacy of Beth’s vocals. She is singing to you as an individual controlled and full of her own self-determination. We feel her pain and understand the journey as a relationship fades into the Fire On The Floor every emotion is smoldering with a purpose.

The whole album has a feeling of a solo album, yet it is the instrumentation that punctuates and adds shadows and colouring to Beth’s words. The band is superb empathetic to the feel Beth is creating with a carefully chosen mix of keys, guitars and percussion at times stripped down other times a fuller sound.  We feel for the emotions of a Good Day to Cry and Picture In the Frame captures a moment in time forever, the simplicity of the music lets the words shine like a fiery halo. Closing with No Place Like Home the piano and vocals are in perfect harmony they are as one as you are pulled deep into the lyrics.   We all can celebrate the wonders of home a place of love, warmth and dreams where we can be ourselves.

Beth, growls, cajoles, yearns is angry and sad these infections are the components. In this follow up to Better Than Home, we have an album that crosses genres celebrating the power of the song and the singer. Every track works there is a logic to the order. This is a personal album that is more than an introspective self-indulgent project, it is an album you will want to hear from beginning to end. The listener will cry, sigh and chuckle with Beth and throughout will have the  pure unadulterated pleasure of being in the company of Beth Hart an amazing artist.

Beth Hart, on Fire On The Floor has garnered together a dozen tracks that flow and warm up the speakers with a raw, charismatic and open delivery of intensely personal emotionally driven lyrics.  Fire On The Floor is a majestic album and will burn brightly long after 2016 fades into a memory. Must be a real contender for album of the year.

Beth Hart – Fire On the Floor – Mascot Label Group:

Release Date: 14th October 2016

TEN pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

  1. Jazz Man
  2. Love Gangster
  3. Coca Cola
  4. Let’s Get Together
  5. Love Is A Lie
  6. Fat Man
  7. Fire On The Floor
  8. Woman You’ve Been Dreaming Of
  9. Baby Shot Me Down
  10. Good Day To Cry
  11. Picture In A Frame
  12. No Place Like Home
© Greg Watermann
© Greg Watermann


Sunday 13 November – Gateshead Sage
Monday  14 November – Glasgow O2 Academy
Thursday 17 November – Bristol Colston Hall
Saturday 19 November – Bournemouth Solent Hall
Monday 21 November – Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Wednesday 23 November – London Royal Festival Hall

Malaya Blue Will Never Leave You Heartsick

AlbumArtwork_HighRes 020316Malaya Blue Will Never Leave You Heartsick

Two of the tracks were released as a double-sided single last summer, Hope & Let’s Reinvent. They have survived and are included in the album, the band though that supports Malaya Blue’s distinctive voice has been all change. The band with stunning production from Paul Long, capturing the tone that suits Malaya as her career progresses. The walk towards soulful jazz with the shading of blues continues apace. The band for the album recorded in The Grange Studio Norfolk are Dudley Ross, with the guitar playing that makes every lead break zing with anticipation, and alongside Dudley is keyboard player Paul Jobson and the synergy between them is natural. Added to this is a rhythm section that keeps the beat on an eye of the smallest needle, Stuart Uren bassist and drumming Andrew McGuiness. The reality is this is all window dressing for the heart of the album, Malaya Blue’s vocals which are drenched in soulful anguish as the album explores loves sharpest facets. The harp playing like a mirror bright and clear reflects the vocals from the lips of Paul Jones on Hunny Little Daydream & Let’s Reinvent (Love). Another guest is Carl Hudson whose piano playing enlivens the track To Remain The Same.

Opening with Heartsick the beat is driving with an uplift the opposite to what you expect. Malaya’s voice though is definitely Heartsick as she explores a disastrous relationship ignoring what Mama said to her peril! With Dudley and Paul opening with a guitar and keys exploring the chords, the drum picks up the beat and Malaya’s voice clear as bell curls her tongue around Colour Blind. Her voice is polished with a sheen that reflects the bands melodic line. Half way through the eleven track album is an upbeat statement I Have Arrived, full of confidence with a mix of sounds to underline who Malaya now is with a second studio album under her musical belt. Now for contrast a rhythmic opening with Dudley’s guitar blasting the way through for a gentler wistful Malaya. This is a Strand of Gold that is full of country soul the instrumentation shapes the mood. Bringing the album to a close is Hope the single we have all got to know and then the finale. This is drenched in slow emotion as the soul comes back and is it the cure for Heartsick the opening track?

The album crosses genres and has a mainstream feel. Perfectly formed for radio airplay and getting Malaya Blue the attention she is demanding on this crafted album. For me, the album and instrumentation is just that bit too crisp. Like a starched shirt, it lacks at times a natural flow to the singing. I want Malaya to loosen up relax and show a rougher, dirtier side of love some sweet sugar bowl blues would have given the album a deeper range. That said, it is an album with sex-appeal from guitar licks through to the carefully modulated shaping of lyrics and the clarity of Malaya Blue as she shares her feeling of being Heartsick.

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

Track Listing
1. Heartsick
2. Hunny Little day Dream
3. Colour Blind
4. Let’s reinvent (Love)
5. To remain The Same
6. I Have Arrived
7. Strand of Gold
8. Share Of Love
9. Hope
10. Soul Come Back

The Road Not Taken Sings Adam Beattie

Adam Beattie-

The Road Not Taken Sings Adam Beattie


Adam Beattie may sing The Road Not Taken on his latest recording, and it is without argument that music was the only road he should travel. The Road Not Taken is not a journey of straight streets where the end is in sight. The music takes you on an intricate path through all the alleyways of mystery, small paths that open onto an amazing vista. This is achieved by weaving the melodies through folk, traditional and the twizzle of jazz beats creating tunes that engage and act as the perfect backdrop for the lyrics to drop on to like glistening diamonds.
The opening track The Man I’ve Become is full of sounds that twist and turn borrowing from the beats of French street music, jazz, and folk. The violins are counterbalanced by a deep percussive tone and above all, it is the lyrics that shape the song and lead you into an album you want to hear. The curve in the journey ends at the Middle East with a 5/4 groove of I’m On Your Side before the title track The Road Not Taken. This has a purity, the simplicity of the melody opens up the lyrics reflecting how choices are made. The harmonies between Adam and Brooke Sharkey shape the mood created perfectly. The following track is much darker with the music sharpened with a sinister edge again this is a ballad that tells the tale of You Only Kill The One You Love. The darkness is brightened with a Celtic folk lilting number The Family Tree. We have hints of blues on The Man Who Loves Too Much. The album draws to its finale with a title that tells the tale Catch The Biggest Fish And Let It Go an intimate ballad as Adam shares the lyrics with you. Closing with Welcome Home this is a warm track that leaves you delighted, intrigued and wanting to get to know Adam’s music.

On this album Adam Beattie is joined by Brooke Sharkey backing vocals, Marco Quarantotto whose drumming shines through. Piotr Jordan violin sears to the deepest heart of the music and the multi-instrumentalist Co-producer Fred Thomas plays the other instruments.

Adam Beattie understands the deep-rooted honesty of traditional music in its many forms. As he has woven them into a tapestry of sound of his making he has not over complicated the mix. The Road Not Taken Sings Adam Beattie; demonstrating a deep understanding of traditions made modern, kept fresh and the power of the word.

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


Adam Beattie – The Road Not Taken – Independent Release Date: 11th May 2016

Track Listing

1. The Man I’ve Become
2. The Same Sea
3. I’m On Your Side
4. The Road Not Taken
5. You Only Kill The One You Love
6. The Family Tree
7. The Man Who Loves Too Much
8. There’s No Postcard For This Town
9. Catch The Biggest Fish and Let It Go
10. Welcome Home

Mary Coughlan Songstress holds St David’s Hall Enthralled

Mary Coughlan WM-7167

Mary Coughlan Songstress holds St David’s Hall Enthralled




The stage was set, Grand Piano and a microphone. Tonight was entertainment from the first to the last dying note. The music interspersed with waspish anecdotes about ex-husbands, alcohol, drugs, and life in all its darkest glories.

Mary Coughlan sings with a husky voice that pulls every ounce of emotion from the lyrics from songs that are an ethereal mix of blues, folk and jazz. This is ethereal of real Fearie not those with gossamer wings but of dark tales. Ancient folklore often portrayed as powerful beings who could wreak havoc on the lives of humans. These and other ancient mysteries Mary seamlessly connects with and turns into modern day living nightmares. Here conversation flows through the night giving context to the sadness and heartbreak of the songs chosen tonight. We hear about her five children ex-husbands alcohol abuse as she sips water and says her last drink was in 1993. The combination of blues fuelled jazz is delivered with a mix of ironic amusement and at times a feeling that everything that happened was just ordinary. The result was an evening of a devastatingly engaging musical journey as she sung about betrayal, love lost and taboo subjects including child abuse, sex trafficking the dark underbelly of life that breathes emotion and gritty realism into the blues.

The selection of songs were shrouded in misery with some happier numbers as she explored her back catalogue and latest studio album Scars on the Calendar a collaboration between Mary Coughlan & Erik Visser. The music covered Billie Holliday and Joy Division and so much in between. Her version of Love Will Tear Us Apart is a re-working of the music stripped down raw and, like everything her tonsils curl around, is rasped with raw emotion. Every song was special and life-affirming Ancient Rain fell across an audience absorbed in the deep silence of appreciative listeners.

Mary is back with new projects including a musical of her album The House of Ill Repute, singing the title track and a couple of numbers from the album that explores life in a brothel there is no glitz, glamour or plush red velvet. This is hard, gritty and the reality of what women’s lives in a house of ill repute is like. The highlight was the emotional a cappella delivery of Antarctic, this is vocal purity as she sings of a “rotten, stinking cheat” her ex-husband.

The encore was her slap at the world as she sings Ain’t Nobody’s Business What I Do. Having conquered many demons through her life, her delivery and choice of songs are of a woman with powerfully views on the role of women throughout society. Roots Unearthed once again delivered an evening of musical delights as Mary Coughlan Songstress holds St David’s Hall Enthralled.

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Sonic Gumbo spicing up music Mumbo Jumbo Way

Sonic Gumbo spicing up music Mumbo Jumbo Way

Sonic Gumbo spicing up music Mumbo Jumbo Way



Mumbo Jumbo, definition: language or ritual causing or intending to cause confusion or bewilderment. The band achieve that with these thirteen cracking tracks. The music refuses to be defined some tracks have a feel of Tom Waits others tip their hat at Chas and Dave! One thing that is certain the latest album Sonic Gumbo spices up music the Mumbo Jumbo way. This is a sonic sound space that is crammed with high quality phrasing, lyrics and musical interpretation that make your ears prick up and listen. Sonic Gumbo is the musical equivalent of Cajun cooking, full of spice and every earful is a tasty delight. The trio that are in the Mumbo Jumbo musical cooking pot are Oliver Carpenter, Chris Lomas and Phil Bond the music is eclectic acoustic harmonious music. They mix fun and pleasure with reflections on life.

Opening with a Second Hand Guitar Dealer, with a swirl of the six-strings Sonic Gumbo is underway with a song about six-string obsessives. This is an upbeat number that guitar players who collect can definitely relate too. The dealer has a Faustian approach to selling especially those on their own. The tone changes for a Tom Waits fuelled number Sail That Ship. A complex tale of ex-lovers living in the same house, the accordion piano mix gives the number a Parisian mystery. The instrumentation is varied and cleverly suits every track with another track of trumpet and vocals that reflect Tom Waits to begin with, on Ally Slopers Holiday. Expect the unexpected as the trumpet-led music leads up the East End for a knees up in the boozer around the old Joanna (piano) a song to make you smile as Tom Waits meets East End via Gumbo Sonic. Tom reappears with No Devil at the Crossroads. This is a song explaining that the devil stays at home comfy in his slippers as the music lacks originality at the Crossroads these days. I know for certain blandness and Mumbo Jumbo will never be heard in the same sentence. I have heard the devil has his walking boots on and walking to a crossroads near Mumbo Jumbo to get more Sonic Gumbo.

The sadness of trumpet calling and piano opens Those Frail Few the vocals slow and measured as a moment of reflection is taken. This is an honouring of old soldiers all over the world. Old age reappears with Hosedown, do not be fooled by the upbeat tempo. Hosedown has a dark and salient message about how we care for the elderly. Why does care have to be rushed without humanity and care? No answer but a thoughtful modern song. The tempo changes again as the trumpet fanfare a sunshine number touched with a reggae tempo a dancing smiling number Taking You Back. Closing with The Final Encore the music hall is full, brightly lit and fun is being had. A superb way to leave Sonic Gumbo.

Sonic Gumbo is a collection of thirteen original tracks. Mumbo Jumbo have woven together an album that is full of intrigue, emotions and is fun and thoughtful. The approach is modern stretching music into a Sonic Gumbo stew of sounds and textures. There is Jazz, Reggae, blues and traditional riffs swirl together with a Mumbo Jumbo twizzle stick taking us on a carousel of musical fun.

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

Mumbo Jumbo – Sonic Gumbo – Purchase HERE direct from the musicians.

Track Listing

1. Second Hand Guitar
2. Sail That Ship
3. Ally Slopers Half Holiday
4. Those Frail Few
5. Rejoice
6. Hosedown
7. No Devil At The Crossroads
8. Later somehow
9. Taking You Back
10. Hold On
11. Back To The Wheel
12. Too Many Days (Like That)
13. The Final Encore

Daniel Smith & friends deliver the Keys to The Highway

Daniel SmithDaniel Smith & friends deliver the Keys to The Highway

Keys To The Highway
Daniel Smith & Friends
Pinetop Records


Want a break from hot guitar lead breaks, vocals that dominate – then the answer is here Daniel Smith & friends deliver the Keys to The Highway – the instrumentation is lush with a gentle tone. This is Daniel’s tenth release and features two of Daniel’s keyboardists amongst the many friends shaping and forming the album. The friends include Peter Miles, Roger Cotton, Matt Empson, Alan Glen and Janelee Small. Daniel and his friends have created a wall-scape of sounds similar to an oil painting the more you study/listen the more you see and hear. The music takes a shape creating a narrative that communicates by the precise integration of the instruments being used on each track. Daniel’s piano playing is as ever full of intricate pathways of the ivories, from deepest blue to boogie moves and then with a jazz laid back intuitive feel.

Opening with the signature high-speed boogie, Three’s Company which has an energy level with boogie piano – tambourine with the drums kicking in and the tempo hardens. With a deft change of beat and sound the piano curls around the instruments on Forgotten Hero, then the horns beef up the sound on the title track with piano that hits the tone of the tune. Hey John changes the feel of the album with a blues beat and feel and the vocals act as a foil for the melody they are an injection of another textural tone keeping the interest and ringing in the changes. We have the only male vocals on Forbidden Fruit with piano playing that has a hidden mysticism there is a devilish beat to this tune that gets the feet tapping. The second half of the album once again is a pick n mix of styles Some Sunny Day has a moody intensity from the brushes on the drum skin through to the deep piano notes and the whole energy is slower and dampened as the sun drains the raw energy. The saxophone picks up the notes and it is sitting laid-back with the sun on your face mood. Then we have the teasing electric organ and soulful vocals as we play the game with Yo Yo; this is a fun number despite the lyrics that are more about the downs than the ups. Closing with Boogie Tequila you just want to party with Daniel and his friends you know it will be fun.

The three tracks with vocals that add that extra dimension, keeping the textures and tempo changing this is an album where the instruments rule and definitely never bore! The keys may be king on this highway but every other instrument from his friends comes a very close second on Keys to The Highway. Daniel Smith & friends deliver the Keys to The Highway, the music is complete and in addition proceeds from the album go to the MS Society.

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

Track Listing

Keys To The HighwayDaniel Smith & Friends – Pinetop Records

1. Three’s Company Instrumental
2. Forgotten Hero
3. Keys To the Highway
4. Hey John Vocals
5. Forbidden Fruit
6. Some Sunny Day
7. Yo Yo
8. Go With The Flow
9. Boogie Tequila

Kenny G on Tour with his Saxophone

KennyGKenny G, one of the most successful saxophonists in the world today, will tour the UK in June 2016.

Tickets go on sale from Friday December 11th HERE and the 24 hour box office 0844 888 9991. Tickets available directly from the venues.



24 HOUR BOX OFFICE – 0844 888 9991 OR Online HERE

Tickets: £47.50 / £42.50
Venue Box Office – 0191 443 4661


Tickets: £47.50 / £42.50
Venue Box Office – 0844 907 9000

Tickets: £47.50 / £42.50
Venue Box Office: 0121 345 0600

Tickets: £65 (box seats) / £57.50 / £47.50 & £42.50
Venue Box Office – 0207 589 8212


Kenny G is the only saxophonist to have sold 75 million albums, singles and videos, including the classic hit single Songbird. His trophy cabinet contains Grammy, American Music, Soul Train, World Music and other awards, and he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In a recording career that spans almost three decades and 23 albums, Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Kenny G has grafted elements of R&B, pop and Latin to a jazz foundation solidifying his reputation as the premiere artist in contemporary jazz.


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As if creeping from the Southern swamps and mist-soaked cotton fields, SIMO’s “Stranger Blues” is the perfect table setter for the Nashville power trio’s vibrant new album, Let Love Show the Way released on 29 January via Provogue/Mascot Label Group . The song is a blueprint for reinvigorating the fusion of jazz improvisation, downhome blues and classic R&B, as well as these genres’ psychedelic Brit Invasion and countrified Southern-rock manifestations. The rest of the record follows suit, a souped-up vehicle transporting the band on a deeply satisfying, off-the-cuff musical journey.

Cut entirely live in full, unbroken takes—vocals and solos included—the sound is primal, sweltering and immediate. “We live and die by the take,” says singer-guitarist JD Simo. “We don’t edit, and if there are overdubs, they’re minimal. I want it to be unaffected and pure. For me, the music that always resonates most is when a performance is captured. That’s what I love, and that’s what we go for.”

The first album ever recorded at Macon, Ga.’s Big House—the communal home of the Allman Brothers Band during their late ‘60s/early ‘70s heyday—Let Love Show the Way finds SIMO not just reveling in the hallowed space’s unique mojo and history, but taking it to a fresh and inspired place. As a musical unit, Simo, his longtime drummer Adam Abrashoff and bassist Elad Shapiro have an undeniable chemistry, taken to even greater heights with JD playing Duane Allman’s 1957 gold-top Les Paul for every track on the record. This is the same six-string heard on the first two Allman Brothers LPs, the same storied guitar that delivered the unforgettable riff on Derek & the Dominoes’ “Layla.” JD is now part of an elite group of artists—including Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and Wilco’s Nels Cline—who share the rare honor of having wielded this talismanic instrument.

“There’s definitely a magical element to the recording,” Simo says of Let Love Show the Way. “The vibe of the Big House, using Duane’s guitar, plus all the touring we’d done leading up to it, all the refinement of the material on the road—it was a perfect storm.”

Let Love Show the Way was not planned—results this potent are difficult to script. In fact, when SIMO headed down to Macon, the band had an entirely different set of songs already approved for release by its label, Mascot Label Group—this last-minute trip to the Big House was merely intended to yield a pair of bonus tracks for a deluxe edition. But with engineer Nick Worley at the boards of a stripped-down mobile recording unit, the band caught fire, burning through more than a dozen tracks in less than 48 hours. Once they heard the raw and electrifying intensity of the mixes, they didn’t think twice about abandoning the original plan and rolling with what suddenly felt so right.

“As the producer of the project, I couldn’t live with myself if we didn’t use these songs,” Simo says. “I just felt it was better than anything the band had ever captured—so we decided to scrap the original record and build this new one around everything we recorded at the Big House.”

This choice to record at this historic location is a nod to JD’s lifelong reverence and respect for the musical pioneers who have come before him. When he was just three years old, seeing The Blues Brothers and Elvis Presley’s ’68 comeback special changed his life. “I was transfixed,” he says. “With The Blues Brothers, you’ve got John Lee Hooker with Muddy Waters’ band, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, James Brown, Chaka Khan right after she made one of my favorite records of all time with Rufus, Rags to Riches. Not to mention some of the greatest rhythm & blues musicians to ever walk the planet—Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy from Chess, that incredible original horn section from Saturday Night Live, Willie Hall from Stax, who played with Isaac Hayes. I mean, it’s a comedy and it’s funny, but as far as exposure to some really heavy music—I wanted to be Steve Cropper, I wanted to be John Lee Hooker. And it was the same with the Elvis special—he’s in the black leather suit, still good looking and charming and singing his ass off. Seeing The Blues Brothers and that Elvis comeback special made me want to play music.”


While Simo is comfortable with his role as a bandleader, he’s never wanted to be a solo artist. “A band is something very unique and special,” he says. “You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. Adam is one of my best friends. He and I have been through the whole scope of the journey so far together. And now, with Elad—who has taken the band to a new level—we truly are a team. We’re brothers.”

It’s a sentiment that’s reflected in the band’s egalitarian/improvisational approach to songwriting, even in the way SIMO sets up for shows—in a straight line across the stage, with no member given more weight than any other. “I can’t emphasize enough how much I love these guys and what they bring to our sound,” JD says.” Adam is an absolutely immaculate improviser. He’s completely free and technically the best musician in the band. I’ve done hundreds of shows with him, and I still don’t know what he’s gonna do or where he’s gonna take things—it’s inspiring. And Elad, he completes my musical thoughts. He is full of passion and enthusiasm and authenticity. He has absolutely no filter, both socially—which is hilarious—and musically, which is always incredible. In many ways, he’s the heart and soul of the band.”

Together, they’re an adventurous rock & roll trinity, a thriving creative partnership completed by JD’s combustible guitar playing and soulful vocals, and Let Love Show the Way is a game-changing album from a band in the midst of an evolutionary breakthrough. “I’m a stranger here,” JD belts on the record’s opening salvo, all mysterious swagger and smoky, downhome grit. But for a band with such with such memorable songs, uncommon rapport and awe-inspiring musicality, SIMO can take solace in knowing the line won’t hold true much longer.

SIMO are:

JD Simo – vocals/guitar
Adam Abrashoff – Drums
Elad Shapiro – Bass

Upcoming Shows

Saturday 21st November – Forum, London supporting Walter Trout
Monday 23rd November – St Moritz, London