Babjack meets Dave Arcari @ Re-con Club, Malvern on 20th April 2013

Dave Arcari -  Malvern April 2013_0160l Dave Arcari arrived with an impressive array of string instruments Banjo, his solid electric is a National Resolectric Junior, a shiny Silver National Style O and the one I describe as the black beast which is more precisely a National Delphi; both of these have been custom-made for Dave by National so they produce that Arcari sound the trade-mark of artist who in his own words delivers ‘Fucked Up alt. Blues! Delivering some exciting tracks from his excellent new album “Whisky In My Blood” including the fantastic track ‘Cherry Wine‘ showing a gentler side of Mr Arcari well know for his hell raising guitar playing and stage presence. Included in this opening set of an evening celebrating Trevor Steger’s 50th birthday in Babajack’s hometown, was some of Dave’s classics including Blind Lemon Jefferson, ‘Hangman’s Blues’ and ‘Stagolee‘.

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As ever Dave played like a lightning storm heating up the Re-Con so the temperature was definitely tropical rather than a mild British spring evening and the crowds were loving it. What made tonight’s performance was Trevor and Becky joining Dave with a fantastic performance of Johnny Cash’s ‘Blue Train‘ As the video demonstrates that this was a collaboration that produced a stellar performance and everyone was delighted, excited and entertained, this is a live music moment that though captured on camera you really needed to be there to get the full on effect of the energy and good-time vibe they produced.

Now for Babajack’s showtime tonight a new addition forming a trio with the addition to the line-up; electric bass player – Adam Bertenshaw; storming the stage as on home turf they were at their confident best full of energy, vim and vitality. The crowds were enthralled and delighted as Becky delivered heart stoppingly beautiful vocals whilst providing the trade mark out of Africa percussive rhythms courtesy of the stomp box, African drum and the cahon combined with the 2013 British Blues Awards nominated harmonica player, who also plays acoustic guitar and wine box guitar which he makes himself and provides great vocals Trevor and providing a layer underneath this was the bass addition provided by Adam. It is no wonder that Babajack is so popular where ever they play. No Babajack set is complete without their trademark songs from previous albums including ‘Money’s All Gone; Death Letter’s Blues’ and ‘Gallows Pole’; this is not a band trapped in the rut of tradition every rendition is given the Babajack treatment giving the songs a modern and exciting edge whilst remaining true to the very soul of early blues music; understanding what made the likes of Leadbelly so very special. Trevor’s vocals are always a delight and tonight there was a roughness perhaps picking up the gravel tones of Dave Arcari, and demonstrating why there is such a great synergy between these talented artists; this was especially apparent on ‘Burn All The Bridges‘ and definitely added another tier of emotion to this powerful song.

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Not only has Trevor been nominated for the British Blues Awards; but the title track of their last album ‘Rooster Blues‘ has been included in the final voting round of the Kevin Thorpe’s 2013 Award for Original Song – so Babajack will be celebrating long after Trevor’s 50th birthday is a distant memory. as well as old favourites interspersed throughout the set was tracks from their much-anticipated new album “Running Man”; this was an opportunity for Becky to thank all the contributors to making the album possible, this was received with a cheer as so many supporters were standing enthralled by the music at this sell-out show. A work song, ‘Hammers and Tongs’ was a duet with Becky on vocals and Trevor on harp, not a guitar in sight using a chain gang style, was effective and was for me the highlight of a wonderful set. Another new song from forthcoming album “Running Man”, ‘Falling Hard‘; followed by a dramatic rendition of ‘Skin and Bones‘. What an evening of full-on entertainment which included a rousing birthday song to Trevor; an end to a fantastic evening of music at The Re-Con in Malvern but  I am positive Babajack will be celebrating throughout 2013…

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Derrin Nauendorf & Rick Foot @ West End Club Barry

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Derrin Nauendorf and Rick Foot – 19th April 2013 – West End Club, Barry

Before the show, I had a quick chat with Derrin:

What was your first musical memories growing up in Australia?
My source was my Father’s vinyl collection BB King, Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix, it was all down to his good taste, opening my eyes and ears to blues and blues-based music.

Other than your Father’s Vinyl’s, who were your early musical influences in Australia?
Australia has a rich source of musical talent including Jeff Lang, Chris Wilson, Geoff Achison and Tommy Emmanuel, and in the days prior to the internet it was much harder to link up; but these three great guitarist; singer/songwriters showed me that I could make a living out of the music I loved.

Did you always want to be a musician?
Once I picked up a guitar yes! I felt an immediate connection; I started off on electric when I was 15 and lucky for me it came easy, I naturally seemed to understand the guitar and developed my skill splaying in bands playing blues/rock for 5/6 years; at 16 I dreamed of being the ‘White Aussie Jimi Hendrix’. Then I found acoustic when I was 23 and this felt right, this is what I wanted to work with the acoustic guitar spoke to me and let me explore the areas of music that I connected to and spoke to people. The acoustic expresses feelings and personally the electric guitar cannot compete.

Who influenced your song-writing?
My song-writing has been influenced by many people and music and lyrics heard whilst travelling been about my own experiences; to name them all would look like a list but the two that definitely are at the top of the list of influences are Bob Dylan and Richard Thompson.


Are you considering bringing the Dylan project that you were involved with last summer to the U.K?

NO! in one word, it was great fun and sold lots of tickets and was very, very popular, we all had a great time, Ian Parker myself and Spanish guitarist Miguel Banon. The trouble with the project ironically was it was too popular; and we could quickly be tagged as the Dylan cover specialist and that would then be what audiences would expect from me every performance.

How Do You View the Current Live Acoustic Blues Scene in U.K?
The circuit is vibrant with plenty of good acts; and the use of social networking and the internet makes it easier to find gigging venues that are thriving and to connect with both established and new audiences that appreciate my style of delivering the blues. Having toured the U.K. since arriving here from Melbourne 10 years ago, I am busier than ever so no complaints from me; you do have to adapt with changing times and good promotion is vital with the growing importance of all the strands of social media.

Last Year also saw a new CD; how does this differ from your previous albums?
Yes, Distant Empires, this is different from my previous albums, it is less of an introspective on personal experiences it is more outward looking. Writing an album is a long process and has a world perspective and has been a good challenge. When writing for a new project I tend to get the chorus and music then build around this, though during the process the chorus often gets modified! The finished result is my latest album ‘Distant Empires which is a little bit different.

What plans do you have for the future?
Well going to take couple of months off over the Summer and then start touring with a band later this year, touring as a duo has been great fun but feel that it is time to change.

Now on with the live music event review.

The evening was kicked started by a stylish upbeat solo performance by the ever popular local talent John Lewis, who always delivers a foot stomping and lively set with his mix of self-penned and a selection from his vast lexicon of tunes that are the very best from Rock n’ Roll/Rockabilly discography of the 1950’s & 60’s. He has a wonderful tenor voice which brings passion and verve to the set, combined with skilled traditional engineering skills when his faulty amp played up a kick quickly resolved the issue and the show was back on track. This is what a supporting set should be great music, entertaining repartee and being left wanting more, whilst looking forward the main event of the show.

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A quick change-over and Derrin Nauendorf and Rick Foot were on centre stage, and from the off the audience knew this was going to be an evening of fine musicianship, with Derrin demonstrating the power of the acoustic guitar; he certainly uses the whole instrument getting a great percussive note out of the wood at the sides which amplify the words and emotion of this singer/songwriter’s superb songs. Adding to the emotion is the superlative Double Bass playing of Rick Foot whether plucking or using the bow, Rick gets every ounce of emotional tension out of the instrument as the growl and oft mournful notes grip your very soul and tug at your heartstrings. This is a duo that delivers a full sound that makes you feel good about live music and certainly gets those endorphins going – so it was no surprise to me that spell-checker gave me the option of endorphins for Nauendorf, a really fitting suggestion. The two sets delivered a mix of Derrin’s self-penned work from previous albums and his latest Distant Empires’ which since its release in October 2012 has been receiving critical acclaim; and into this heady mix some interesting covers.

‘Ghost Town’; gave Rick foot the opportunity to use the bow on his double bass creating such haunting sounds that perfectly complimented Derrin’s beautiful guitar skills and melded in and accentuated the lyrics and Derrin’s melodic voice. The other sparkling gems included ‘Shipwrecked’ and ‘History Repeating’ & ‘New World Order’ from Distant Empires, demonstrating how this album is different from previous recordings with outward looking lyrics and shows that Derrin’s skills are growing developing and changing. This is not an artist in a rut that he has formed and frightened or unable to get out, which is why every live performance is different and he will always put in something different and unexpected – tonight it was in the second set with an acoustic version of Rolling stones; ‘Wild Horses’; as Derrin said “Stones for a Tenner!” Also it was an opportunity for the audience to have a sing-a-long which was enjoyed by all. The next surprise was the totally mind-boggling awesome acoustic Hendrix/Pink Floyd medley. The Duo started with ‘Voodoo Chile’ which then melded into ‘Another Brick in The Wall’ and back to ‘Voodoo Chile’; illustrating what it is possible to accomplish by an acoustic duo when in the hands a pair of master musicians – wow the audience loved this.

What made this evening of live entertainment so special was the interplay between Derrin and Rick throughout the set served as an object lesson in musicianship of the highest order, which they combined with warm, friendly interaction with the appreciative audience. Then they were both happy to chat with the audience and sell the CD; one thing for certain this Duo is welcome to come back to Barry very soon; this may have been the first time the duo had played in South Wales but I am sure it will not be the last!

Henry’s Funeral Shoe @ Odins Rock Club, Ebbw Vale – 5th April 2013

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A packed house at, Odin’s Rock Club was geared up to be entertained once again by four acts, with Henry’s Funeral Shoe as head-liner. The evening started off with an acoustic act, Richard Gardner, the former ‘Circle Of One’ axe man who delivering powerful ballads delivered with an edge a mix of self-penned and surprising acoustic covers including AC/DC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’; this was not a soft and gentle set it had a deep down dirty feel to it at times. Richard was followed by two local South Wales Rock Bands. First storming the stage with a full-on sound are local act Dead Shed Jokers, delivered superb riffs and a solid sound, that showed this band were not joking about the delivery of rock that and twists of influences from Sabbath through to Muse that raised the temperature of the crowded venue.

They were quickly followed by another local band, ‘Fireroad‘, featuring Richard Jones as the band’s front-man, who played in his youth with Tragic Love Company the fore-runner of what became the Stereophonics. This band knows how to entertain delivering a class act that musically tilted their hat at the Phonics whilst have an originality that certainly got the crowds dancing to great songs from their album delivered with verve and energy playing great tunes by a band that really enjoyed playing together.


Then the head-line act that with a flourish this energised duo, Henry’s Funeral Shoe, stormed the stage with verve and energy that burned out of them delivering a high-octane mixture of their distinctive sound that defies pigeon-holing. They are definitely delivering spot-on music that is outside of the box whilst true to the roots of the sound they create they deliver song after song that is progressive blues rock with a large spoonful of attitude and a generous shake of punk. The brothers Aled on guitar and vocals and Brennig on Drums create an enormous sound that grows and grows as they shape their instruments to deliver a truly unique sound that pleases their growing following of dedicated fans. This is music that is different at times challenging but still accessible and pleasing to the ear, the pair are not different for the sake of it they are performing blues that is Welsh, edgy, rocky but still true to its original roots. Brennig’s percussive and powerful drumming leads the music on a journey that engages with the audiences with exciting use of sticks which he throws into the air catches and never misses a beat; he is the heartbeat of the band. Whilst Aled at the front displayed slide guitar skills that were simply awesome producing a swampy sound that merges with drum beat and at the same time soars above the rhythm section, which combines well with his gravelly rich voice adding texture and another tonal layer to this complex mix, that definitely does at times tip its hat to the Texan Blues/Southern Rock sound. Henry’s Funeral Shoe produces a full sound generating a quite unique take on the genre and is a band to watch out for and they are destined for success on the blues circuit having performed throughout Europe and USA and delivered two albums to date. These two a true showmen, who have drunk deep at the well of originality and merged this onto a solid backbone of blues that could only have been honed down at the crossroads; wow what more could you ask from a live act – stunning slide guitar and exciting colourful drumming hitting the right tempo every-time; no wonder everyone wanted more…. they could have played on and on and no-one would have complained.

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Abertillery Blues Rock Festival Friday 12th July 2013

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This gem of a festival is returning for its ninth year… once again in the majestic setting of Abertillery Park, deep in the valleys of South Wales under the shadow of the Arael Mountain. The now familiar tradition of a big top circus tent and comparing supplied by Bob and Norm from GTFM; famous or is that infamous for their Monday night blues show who last night previewed the line-up for what is going to be a fantastic weekend of music from Friday 12th to Saturday 13th July with TEN confirmed acts and a special mystery band to be announced in May…

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Another great Abertillery Blues Rock Festival line-up and a mystery guest which is all very intriguing and adds to a sense of excitement and anticipation so all very intriguing – the waiting game may be for the final act to be announced BUT that sold not stop you getting your ticket NOW as the line-up is already very exciting with a mix of local, national and international bands already lining up to entertain you. In addition to the bands the beer tent will keep you refreshed and once again Rhymney Brewery will be supplying Festival Ale; in addition to the beer tent will be food and hot beverages available throughout the weekend and camping once again as been laid on very near to the festival grounds. All this for a weekend ticket costing £40 (Friday and Saturday tickets are also available separately) and camping at £10 for the weekend including motor-homes.

The music will be provided by:-

FRIDAY NIGHT
Vincent Flatts Final Drive – The band originated in Birmingham, and from the sound they create you would be forgiven for thinking Birmingham, Alabama – not the West Midlands famous city! They blend together an energetic Southern Rock style with a swirl of ZZ Top all mixed into the blues cocktail shaker with a generous slug of Jack Daniels.

Mick Pini Band – Mick performing live is a genuine real deal he does not use pedals or effects, just plays his rare 54 Strat that strikes every emotion as he makes the guitar sing, squeal, weep and moan, this is smoking blues from a real master.

Jo Harman and Company – Is stoking up a musical storm and her reputation is growing which has been further enhanced by her debut CD Dirt On My Tongue Jo is a comet on the rise and will delight the crowds with her stunning rootsy blues voice and world-class band they will create a perfect storm of music that will have the festival seeing a real star of the future.

Headliner for Friday is the ever popular – Mud Morganfield returning to the festival by popular demand. Bringing to the festival authentic Chicago Blues, Larry “Mud” Morganfield, eldest son of the legendary Muddy Waters, who was naturally drawn to music from a very early age. close your eyes and it is difficult to distinguish between father and son so everyone is going to be treated to a legendary end to the first night of Abertillery Blues Festival.

Shrewsbury 2013

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
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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
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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 Legendary Slack 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.

 

Rag Mama Rag – Review @ Barry – March 2013

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Another evening of Acoustic delights at West End Club Barry, local acoustic artist Cal Newman got the proceedings going and the atmosphere warm before ‘Rag Mama Rag‘s’ set which promised from the off to be a little bit different as there was an array of instruments on the stage and a pair of musicians. Ashley Dow, (Henderson Acoustic Guitar, National & Dobro Resonator Bottleneck Guitars, Weissenborn Acoustic Lap Steel, Ukulele and Vocals) with Deborah Dow, (Harmonica, Washboard, Percussion, Spoons and Backing Vocals); they utilised the full plethora of instruments during the two set show demonstrating their skills and how each instrument adds something to the party of Country Blues or Back Porch Blues. This duo takes you back to a period when music was played to entertain without a myriad of effects and is Americana from the 1920’s and 1930’s with their mix of Mississippi Blues, East Coast Ragtime, White Country, mixed in with other regional styles delivering a mix of covers and their own compositions.

This accomplished duo did a great version of Skip James’ ‘Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues’ along with a range of songs from their wide ranging repertoire. The enthusiastic audience participation during a real sing-a-long number ‘No Matter How She Done It’ helped to create a great atmosphere. The second set opened with a Hawaiian Guitar 1860’s instrumental, ‘Rally Round The Flag’, displaying the intricacy of this instrument played with a steel bar creating its own unique sound. All the songs were performed with enthusiasm wit and passion but like their name ‘Rag Mama Rag’ was ragtime tunes which suited their instruments and voices so well as demonstrated in ‘The Hesitation Blues’ by Rev Gary Davies and the great audience participation by the very willing crowd at The West End Club who definitely had fun during the well known and much loved ‘Jitterbug Rag’. The set was very interesting and thoughtful & well structured with a mix of Americana styles including an Appalachian tune, hill music often gets neglected in many musicians set lists, the great dance number ‘Little Liza Jane’; was such fun to listen to and more acoustic acts should explore this rich vein of songs and tunes.

Once again Mike Duggan achieved a great live music event, with a packed room, great act, good choice of beers at the West End Club looking forward to the next gig already – Derrin Nauendorf with Rick Foot at The West End Club on Friday 19th April – contact Mike or on 07561143114.

A preview of what you can enjoy on the 19th April 2013:-

Chris Farlowe and Norman Beaker Band

Norman and his band started with a R ‘n’ B number, a great version of ‘My Baby’s Got The Blues’; as ever Norman Beaker and his band provided the perfect backdrop for Chris; demonstrating why they are so popular and reflected in the packed house at the Beaufort ballroom where this was a road trip of nostalgia for many, with music from their youth.

The first set was a great mix of blues and Rock n’ Roll including Little Milton’s ‘Ain’t No Big deal On You’; a song penned especially for him by Mike D’Abo’s ‘Handbags and Gladrags’ for many the definitive version! Chris and Norman provided plenty of banter between numbers, engaging the audience and ensuring that this was wall-to-wall entertainment. They slowed the tempo down with great lead breaks from Norman and his guitar that suited this arrangement of ‘It’s Tough on Me, It’s Tough On You’ The band was a tight cohesive unit with their individual sounds shining through, Dave Baldwin on keys, provided a stylish melding into the guitar chords giving a depth of tone, and when released he gave the band, along with the superb saxophonist, Kim Nishikawara, a delightful alternative to guitar lead breaks that with some other artists can on occasions can become tedious and appear to be fillers of time. This is never the case with The Norman Beaker Band who use every moment to prove why Blues, Rock and Rock N’ Roll are timeless and never boring but a mix of tones, tempos and musical textures. The Rhythm section is the strong backbone of this band provided by John Price (Bass) and Steve Gibson (Drums) who may be in the background but they enable everyone else to soar to the heights and create the sound that had everyone’s feet a tapping and singing along with pure enjoyment.

The evening was a master class of what made the music of the sixties so fabulous including Chris Farlowe’s awesome arrangement if John Lee Hooker’s, ‘Stormy Monday Blues’ which wowed the audience as they drew breath collectively; and the audience participation during Small Faces ‘All Or Nothing’ was enjoyed by all and by now Chris had the crowd eating out of his hand with is witty asides, banter and above all his voice. Towards the end of the second set to everyone’s delight ‘Out of Time’ who everyone associates with Chris Farlowe, this was Number 1 in the charts when England won the World Cup in 1966, had everyone singing along creating a great atmosphere that is synonymous with live music of this excellence.

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Popular demand will surely see Chris Farlowe & The Norman Beaker Beaker Band back, as they show no sign of wanting to stop gigging and ‘The Voice’ is as strong as ever to hold the audience spellbound once again with every note, gesture and every song of this very difficult act to follow!
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Robert Cray – St David’s Hall, Cardiff –

Robert Cray – 6th March 2013 – St David’s Hall, Cardiff

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A packed audience filled the tiers that surround the stage at St David’s Hall, with its beautiful acoustics that swirls the sound around and around. The evening opened with Jon Allen, an acoustic act that played mainly self-penned numbers, this young man opened with an impressive set contrasting with the act to follow, it is no wonder he has had airplay on Radio 2 and Jools Holland has said “One of the most amazing voices I’ve heard this year”, with his wonderful finger picking style and voice that did captivate the audience that was waiting for Robert Cray. Robert started the evening off by interacting with the large audience with a reference to Cardiff and he held the majority of the audience in his hand from the first note in his familiar ‘picking strat’ style. The Hammond B provided the bedrock accompaniment and the rapport between them was excellent with Jim Pugh affectionately known on stage as Pastel Motif; the other band members providing the rhythm section were bare-footed Richard Cousins (Bass) and Les Falconer (drums). Robert played the favourites from his thirty-five year Grammy award-winning career, including ‘Strong Persuader’, ‘I Guess I Showed Her’ and ‘Smoking Gun’; with some great solo’s from Mr Pugh what a great sound he produces on the Hammond B. The one thing you can be certain with Mr Cray he always produces a consistent sound, with the songs delivered professionally and with a style that demonstrates why Robert Cray is so popular and loved throughout the world, where the vocals and guitar work using the minimum of effects is spot on. He is smooth and seductive and the audience listened with pure pleasure as he delivers his mix of rhythm and blues, pop, soul, traditional blues and a twist of rock, his music will never be boring. This was certainly demonstrated in ‘Sitting On Top Of The World’ with its times squealing high notes and an emotional guitar solo demonstrating how he shakes various styles, in a cocktail shaker of sound producing his own instantly recognisable style, this will certainly have pleased the Robert Cray fans in the audience.

Overall, I was to be fair in the minority, though I did notice people leaving early but felt rather underwhelmed by the concert which felt a little flat and old-fashioned blues, since I have been spoilt by all the modern exciting acts I have seen throughout the U.K. Robert Cray did receive a standing ovation from the audience at the end of his set and again after the encore so the majority went home delighted to be entertained by a master of the fender whether using the Telecaster or Stratocaster.

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All photographs – copy right Liz Aiken 2013

Catch him at these venues in the U.K.

Tonight – 13 March – Cadogan Hall – London
14 March – The Anvil – Basingstoke
15 March – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Last night UK Tour – 16 March – Sheffield City Hall, Sheffield

Katie Bradley She’s Ready (2012)

Celebrating International Women’s Day with Katie Bradley

Katie Bradley

This is an album that is alive with pure joy of excellent blues music that truly reflects the live recording of Katie Bradley’s, ‘She’s Ready’. This is a début CD of 8 tracks that take you on a roller-coaster of highs and lows, combining a mix of clever re-arrangements so that they fit into Katie’s style and self-penned tracks.

Katie fronts the band, showcasing her strong melodic vocals and playing blues harp, the rest of the band are not mere background to her voice but a quartet of top-drawer musicians, Paul Jobson, Keys & Vocals (Chaka Khan) and (Geoff Achieson & Soul Diggers); Sam Kelly, Drums, (Station House); <a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joe-Sam-Bass-Player/101692133233144″>Joe Sam, Bass (Gary Moore); and virtuoso guitarist Dudley Ross which all bring something special to the tracks.

The self-penned ‘I Hear a River’ is gorgeous with beautiful lyrics articulated by Katie’s soulful vocals that sends shivers down your spine; it is not surprising that this has been nominated for The Kevin Thorpe Memorial Prize; by Blues on The Marsh internet radio programme. This CD is receiving lots of airplay which is no surprise with tracks like ‘Damn Your Eyes’; and an interesting arrangement of ‘Hound Dog’; and will assure that Katie is definitely ready to have a successful future and should be gracing festivals and venues all over the country, as she delivers songs with a range of emotions from up-beat through to mellow blues. She never overpowers the lyrics but delivers with a clarity and delicate touch that tugs straight at your heartstrings.

This is the CD to sit back, relax and let the music wash away the strains of the day.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD a doodle rating of
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Chantel McGregor – Review Borough Blues Club event 2nd March 2013

With a packed and excited house once again Chantel worked her charm with the audience at Borough Blues from the first note she sang and chord played everyone sat back to be entertained. The band provided the rhythm section, a solid mastery provided by Rich Ritchie (bass) and Keith (drums) who played there instrument of choice with style and little bit of magic, Ritchie introducing some funky sounds and the thwang of the bass strings being slapped on his five string bass providing style and tonal depth. Whilst Keith McPartling was not a metronomic backline or the drummer that want’s to dominate, his playing was a paced, superbly timed and judged percussive performance, at times he had a surprisingly gentle touch for such a hard hitter. The band is complete with axe-woman extraordinaire Chantel, the bubbly young Yorkshire lass whose smile and delightful turn of phrase would brighten up anyone’s day.

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Chantel’s set included lots of tracks of her début acclaimed album ‘Like No Other’, and for many this was an opportunity to purchase their own signed copies, but for many others in the audience are eagerly awaiting a follow-up album, whose songs are currently being written. It is Chantel’s exceptionally busy gigging up, down and across the U.K. that is, unsurprisingly, slowing the process down! Opening the evening with ‘Fabulous’ she set the club alight with the cheerful lyrics, and a display of jaw-droppingly good guitar playing and this was just the first song of the evening. An interesting instrumental ‘Pink Sky’ was included in the first set, this was full of musical textures and tones that had snippets of chords and rifts from a variety of sources whilst absolutely Chantel’s own in style and flair, this instrumental gave her the freedom to soar with her guitar to places beyond your imagination, but she knew when to bring it to a close, so that like Goldilocks’ porridge the instrumental is just the right tempo and just the right length. Whatever song she is playing – whether her own compositions or well loved covers – she delivers them with ease making the whole guitar playing look simplicity itself; when we all know it is a display of virtuosity playing that is not self-indulgent but inclusive so no long overplayed lead guitar break, but a band that are a single unity keeping shape and delivering music you really want to listen to and enjoying each other’s skills and talents. Chantel delighted the crowds with requested numbers and despite no acoustic with her played acoustic style on electric with a stellar cover of ‘Bruno Mars, Grenade‘. This is what makes sets from Chantel so interesting you do not get the same covers, same set lists she changes and adapts to the audience. No wonder she sells out, people feel engaged with her, they love the way she remembers them and includes songs they love and a Chantel gig is a two-way, no, a three-way conversation Chantel witty asides and the audiences responses and delight and then the main conversation the live music which touched hearts, minds and souls of the audiences lifting the spirits on a cold March evening.

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