Dave Arcari arrived with an impressive array of string instruments Banjo, his solid electric is a National Resolectric Junior, a shiny Silver National Style O and the one I describe as the black beast which is more precisely a National Delphi; both of these have been custom-made for Dave by National so they produce that Arcari sound the trade-mark of artist who in his own words delivers ‘Fucked Up alt. Blues! Delivering some exciting tracks from his excellent new album “Whisky In My Blood” including the fantastic track ‘Cherry Wine‘ showing a gentler side of Mr Arcari well know for his hell raising guitar playing and stage presence. Included in this opening set of an evening celebrating Trevor Steger’s 50th birthday in Babajack’s hometown, was some of Dave’s classics including Blind Lemon Jefferson, ‘Hangman’s Blues’ and ‘Stagolee‘.
As ever Dave played like a lightning storm heating up the Re-Con so the temperature was definitely tropical rather than a mild British spring evening and the crowds were loving it. What made tonight’s performance was Trevor and Becky joining Dave with a fantastic performance of Johnny Cash’s ‘Blue Train‘ As the video demonstrates that this was a collaboration that produced a stellar performance and everyone was delighted, excited and entertained, this is a live music moment that though captured on camera you really needed to be there to get the full on effect of the energy and good-time vibe they produced.
Now for Babajack’s showtime tonight a new addition forming a trio with the addition to the line-up; electric bass player – Adam Bertenshaw; storming the stage as on home turf they were at their confident best full of energy, vim and vitality. The crowds were enthralled and delighted as Becky delivered heart stoppingly beautiful vocals whilst providing the trade mark out of Africa percussive rhythms courtesy of the stomp box, African drum and the cahon combined with the 2013 British Blues Awards nominated harmonica player, who also plays acoustic guitar and wine box guitar which he makes himself and provides great vocals Trevor and providing a layer underneath this was the bass addition provided by Adam. It is no wonder that Babajack is so popular where ever they play. No Babajack set is complete without their trademark songs from previous albums including ‘Money’s All Gone; Death Letter’s Blues’ and ‘Gallows Pole’; this is not a band trapped in the rut of tradition every rendition is given the Babajack treatment giving the songs a modern and exciting edge whilst remaining true to the very soul of early blues music; understanding what made the likes of Leadbelly so very special. Trevor’s vocals are always a delight and tonight there was a roughness perhaps picking up the gravel tones of Dave Arcari, and demonstrating why there is such a great synergy between these talented artists; this was especially apparent on ‘Burn All The Bridges‘ and definitely added another tier of emotion to this powerful song.
Not only has Trevor been nominated for the British Blues Awards; but the title track of their last album ‘Rooster Blues‘ has been included in the final voting round of the Kevin Thorpe’s 2013 Award for Original Song – so Babajack will be celebrating long after Trevor’s 50th birthday is a distant memory. as well as old favourites interspersed throughout the set was tracks from their much-anticipated new album “Running Man”; this was an opportunity for Becky to thank all the contributors to making the album possible, this was received with a cheer as so many supporters were standing enthralled by the music at this sell-out show. A work song, ‘Hammers and Tongs’ was a duet with Becky on vocals and Trevor on harp, not a guitar in sight using a chain gang style, was effective and was for me the highlight of a wonderful set. Another new song from forthcoming album “Running Man”, ‘Falling Hard‘; followed by a dramatic rendition of ‘Skin and Bones‘. What an evening of full-on entertainment which included a rousing birthday song to Trevor; an end to a fantastic evening of music at The Re-Con in Malvern but I am positive Babajack will be celebrating throughout 2013…