The Tasmanian Devil, Rob Tognoni, will be back on tour in the UK and Ireland in August and September 2017. All dates feature Gaz Rackham on bass and Mike Hellier on drums. “From Australia & introduced to Europe by blues master Dave Hole in 1994, Rob Tognoni delivers a 100% powerfully charged experience with every performance. There is simply no compromise, which is strongly evident in his music. After 30 years his explosive guitar playing and unique songs are now being compared with the greats of his genre and have firmly established him in the European venues & festivals as well as gaining many fans of hard blues rock worldwide.“
Bluesdoodles thoroughly enjoyed Rob Tognoni at HRH Blues 2016 we said “Sunday Brunch, was hardcore not for the faint-hearted this was rock heavy blues from the Tasmanian Devil himself Rob Tognoni. He tore up the main stage what a start to the second day of HRH Blues.“
Gráinne Duffy’s [pronounced Gron-yer] second album Test Of Time brings into your home some amazing singing guitar playing and the band. Many of the tracks included are on the set list when Gráinne and her band hit the stage and entertain you.
Test Of Time showcases her wonderful voice full of soulful sassiness, that make the lyrics fizz. The opening track may be called Everyday but there is nothing mundane about a single note, the opening introduces the power of the band before we hear her voice from our speakers for the first time with the lyrics and vocals full of nostalgia and will have you truly hooked on the message and sound being delivered.
We have a rocky number Rockin’ Rollin Stone full of blues and the guitar playing just shines through, the following track is a complete contrast with a swizzle of reggae beat added to the mix thanks to the drumming skills of Eamon Ferris and the guitar work of Paul Sherry keeping the lyrics on beat of Sweet Sweet Baby. This is a band that is so tight every note is made to count throughout this album of eleven songs written by Gráinne, Davy & John .
The album flows as the tempo and emphasis changes with the title track nestled in the middle of the album it is an upbeat number with a gravel and growl in her voice this is a track and album that means business and should be heard loud and often.
The horns opening Don’t You Remember is perfect for getting your attention as Gráinne’s vocals take a lighter approach full of optimism and joy, showing the range of her voice shaping the song to fit the mood.
Her vocals are warm and poignant on I Know We’re Gonna Be Just Fine; this is the diamond among the pearls that make this album work it is my favourite track with its endearing chorus and the piano from John McCullough hits the mark. Gráinne is a singer who plays guitar and the whole sound works as shown on the final track In My Arms; where every musician delivers music they love to play full of soulful and emotional musical intelligence.
The music created by Gráinne and her band is full of nooks and crannies of intriguing licks and chords, changes of tempo and textural tones creating an Irish rock-blues that is so much more with its inclusion of soul, country and even reggae vibes creating a modern sound that should be attracting a high following of everyone who is united in liking quality music, whether delivered via recording studio or on a stage and this album proves once again Gráinne delivers every time. So buy the album and go see the band live next time they are touring you will not be disappointed on both counts.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD NINE doodle paws out of TEN ….
2. Let Me In
3. Rockin’Rollin Stone
4. Sweet Sweet Baby
5. Test Of Times
6. Don’t You remember
7. Please Take Care
8. What More Can I Do
9. I Know We’re Gonna Be Just Fine
10. Falling For You
11. In My Arms
Gráinne Duffy: Vocals & Guitar
Paul Sherry: Second Guitar
Davy Watson: Bass
Eamon Ferris: Drums
John McCullough: Piano
Grainne Duffy and her band are on a perpetual tour but tonight was a continuation of their ‘Reason To Be’ Tour; starting off in Wales then dates in England, Wales and Scotland before heading off to Europe from 6th October which, with an expectant crowd, created an atmosphere which got this leg of the tour off to a cracking start.
As ever Grainne hit the ground running with a powerful opening number from her latest album Test Of Time; ‘Let Me In‘; this band knows how to make a statement with a combination of talent, style and a fluidity in the music created that can only be achieved with a band in which all the members are delighted to be once again on stage and playing the music they love. This is a band that have played together for several years and it shows in the almost telepathic understanding they have between them creating that smooth rhythm and layers of sound that mesh and meld together giving the music an edge and timing that is immaculate. It is Grainne though, with her distinctive voice and guitar style, that is the Royal Icing that makes this a harmonious band a mixture of sweet and sour, lyrical and rocking. It is so easy to compare Grainne with Bonnie Raitt and it easy to see why but this does not portray the real Grainne who has her own style and take on every track she does and no more demonstrated in her rendition of I’d Rather Go Blind which she has made into her own song as a signature offering every attendee at a live show wants to hear. We were treated to a music overload of one quality track after another as the set list below shows with a selection of tracks from her début album Out Of The Dark and her latest acclaimed offering Test Of Time. Her empathy on stage is sublime with all the band members especially for tonight her right-hand man Paul Sherry on lead guitar is simply awe-inspiring and mesmerising to watch and hear; Grainne’s Les Paul and his Strat complementing each other chord for chord this is no competition but two fabulous musicians getting the best out of each other’s performance.
There is no doubt that this is a band that just keeps getting better as they set the bar higher and higher with every performance and crack the challenge they set themselves every-time. After a short break they leaped back on stage full of vim and vigour and Grainne’s guitar playing was firing on all six-strings. Highlight if there can be one of this set was ‘Sweet Sweet Baby’, with its fusion of blues and reggae, a really great delivery of bleggae led from the back by some pin sharp cracking reggae drum bits delivered by Eamann Ferras and complimented by some bass from Davy Watson, this was bass and drums Grainne’s way.
All to soon they were leaving the stage, but quickly they returned to meet the genuine demand for an Encore and they willingly obliged. With the fading of the last notes from the title track of her latest album Test of Time the whole audience including the self-proclaimed “Duffettes” – dancing at the back of the ballroom were more than satisfied tonight; they would have liked the band to have played on.
Lead Vocals & Guitar – Grainne Duffy
Drums & Backing Vocals – Eamann Ferras
Guitar & Backing Vocals – Paul Sherry
Bass & Backing Vocals – Davy Watson
Let Me In
What Am I Supposed To Do
Each and Everytime
Drivin Me Crazy
Be Just Fine
Don’t Know Why
Reason To Be
Fallin’ For You
Love Me Like A Man
Times Not Enough
Sweet Sweet Baby
Rockin’ Rollin’ Stone
I’d Rather Go Blind
Bad To Worse
This is an album drenched in the essence of the blues, that has been shaken and mixed up with a dash of a range of genres, country, Appalachian Folk, Funk and spoonfuls of authenticity creating music that is very very good. Quivira is the opening track and cleverly is the title track; short intermission for history lesson – this is the place first mentioned by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1541. He visited Quivira when searching for the mythical Seven Cities of Gold, and now thought to be central Kansas he didn’t find gold but farmers and I reckon a few musicians as well as this is the land Moreland grew up in – great track telling the tale with a country twinge that works.. Now back to the fabulous music that Moreland and Arbuckle are producing this is a strong album with 13 tracks of music that wants to be heard and will keep you entertained.
The tracks all vary, the common theme being a chugging driving rhythm section really apparent on Tall Boogie whose beat gets those hips moving and feet just have to follow the beat, as the rootsy boogie is unleashed and you get a full on blast of musical energy. Road Blind really rocks with garage blues, some grungy beats and zingy guitar work from Aaron Moreland that puts you in mind of ZZ top with some rough edges. Dustin Arbuckle’s vocals are full of colour as he sings every word in the story he is telling on every track Bite Your Tongue is a little bit slower has a country blues ballad feel and his voice drives the track with sarcasm and clarity. This is an album where the three musicians M&A and drummer Kendall Newby create a huge sound proving once again it is about energy and talent rather than the number of band members, they produce a crescendo of sound . This is apparent on tracks such as The Devil In Me with its country rock and Kow Tow which adds into the mix is a generous dollop of funk. Seven Cities is an album that keeps the energy levels high from beginning to end with a guitar that doesn’t dominate but has a big sound that blends and roars through the music so the vocals can shine with some precision drumming that keeps the men out front controlled and delivering rip-storming good music and when the last notes fade away… then listen again or one of their previous five albums.
This latest album from Hamilton is alive with energy there is a zip of brilliance about the guitar playing, the band and the production of Give It Back. The vitality drives the tracks on that really should be getting repeated airplay on mainstream radio. The music is easy on the ear and heavy on blues with a dash of funk and twist of jazz and a generous dollop of freedom to bend and shape the sound to suit the mood of the music and lyrics.. This is music that is full of maturity tonal shades and deft guitar riffs and licks with searing undercurrents provided by the saxophone of Fabian Hernandez, inventive drumming from Armando Aussenac and completing th e rhythm section Dante Ware on bass with some tasty licks and grooves and a depth of character to every track.
In the opening track Stuck In A Rut Hamilton and the band definitely are not this it fizzes with a Texan funky groove this sets the tone he means business creating a Loomis sound across the 11 self-penned tracks and A Woman Like You by S Smith, this is a track that has a languid pace at times full of soul and influence from the master of a funky sound aka Prince. In the day of the discos this would have been a favourite request for the last track of the night and would have been a hit single. She Had Enough has a driving heavy rhythm which chugs along showing a darker side of the affable ever-smiling Hamilton, with drum and bass dominant and then the searing saxophone across the top. Hamilton’s voice is a little but gruffer and full of emotion giving this song loads of feeling.
This is an album where each track has its place and despite being recorded in a studio has a live feeling it gives you back energy; the title track Give It Back is a typical Texan Hamilton with some great backing vocals and interaction and a riff that makes you sit up and listen.
The closing track Peer Pressure has the riffs, licks and musical motifs that makes Hamilton instantly recognisable to his fans and this is a feel good instrumental where the voice would add nothing it is about the pressures of each instrument augmenting each other in the band and not letting anyone down; and this album certainly doesn’t do that. Give It Back is an album where the musicians are all giving the listener part of their souls so give back some love and go see him live, buy the album you will not be disappointed.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD out of EIGHT doodle paws a doodle rating of
Opening tonight was Bella Collins and The Blue, this Cardiff based band is becoming a firm favourite as a popular opening act for gigs in Cardiff and beyond. There is no doubt that Bella is gaining a following and beginning to create her own vocal style; delivering blues, gospel songs known by all. The is no doubt that Bella has power in her voice which she controls; I do feel that sitting down clutching her acoustic guitar makes the act a bit pedestrian she needs to develop her stage persona communicating with the band behind her and the audience out front excellent stage craft engages the audience making them feel part of the show, so open your mouth sing out loud and clear talk to the audience and this act could go from strength to strength, being more than a popular support band.
Lisa Mills and Ian Jennings hit the stage like a musical tornado; Sunshine bringing an energy to the venue drawing in the audience we knew we were in for some fun. Lisa has a wonderful stage persona as she shares anecdotes and tells you little tales about the music that makes you feel part of the show. Running on 3 hours sleep having played at Grand Blues Sassari Festival in Sardinia the previous day there was the incident of a song being played in the wrong key! Did that phase Ian? no he adjusted and the song played on… one wouldn’t have noticed if Lisa in her open manner hadn’t told us. It is as ever Lisa’s voice that stole the show, yes the guitar work is deft but it is when she opens her mouth so that all her music pours out like a fountain of sound as she sings Smiling you just have to find her beat and smile too. The interplay between her and Ian is that of chums having fun at the same time every note is played with feeling and every word is given the right cadence.
We were treated tonight to a wide selection of blues, country and a mix of the two genres including You Are Not The Only Game In Town; written with help from friend George Borowski when Lisa was visiting Macclesfield and a lovely rendition of Texan left-handed guitarist Barbara Lynn a song about an ex called You’ll Lose A Good Thing. We were also treated to a selection of tracks from her current Album Tempered in Fire; including Tennessee Tears the opening track and it is those pipes that produced a turbo-charged voice, tonight we were treated to that live in Barry. The medley was cleverly constructed with little spoken interludes with Johnny Cash for her Dad and Elvis Presley for her mum… for the audience pure musical delight’
Lisa owns the stage as she enthralls the audience and entertains with Ian providing a superb bass – like enhancing and adding tonal colour to every song sung, there can be no argument that Lisa Mills is the real deal when it comes to Country Blues.
She is the mistress of the vocals they soar with power above the audience out of the open window and into the hot night air she was a nightingale that visited Barry tonight she bent a twisted and shaped the notes to fit the lyrics. The guitar and double bass played second fiddle to Lisa and her powerful vocal chords. Her beautiful rendition of Otis Redding‘s These Arms of Mine – this version really suits her vocal dynamics with 99% of the audience sat listening in awed silence BUT… then there had to be the few… why not leave and sit somewhere else there is a bar downstairs where you can talk as much as you like without ruining the moment for the majority.
That said the audience were delighted with the show we had the cake, delicious icing and now for the cherry on the top for the encore we had a very special version of Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing which I believe is going to be on the forthcoming album and a re-mix of I’m Changing. Lisa you didn’t need to change anything tonight you were just perfect…
The set tonight was a mix of covers given the Pontin treatment and self-penned numbers off his album, producing a flow of songs that delighted. It is the solidity of the rhythm section; Christopher Baglole – Drums and Alun Walters – Bass extending into backing vocals providing Mark with the perfect foundation upon which to build his lead work. The audience loved the mini jam and the tracks they love to hear him perform including Days Of Destiny, Chasing Blood and the Buddy Guy inspired Own It; his version of Albert King’s Cross-cut Saw always sets the scene and the set grows stronger and stronger every-time I hear it.
It was a packed house, the crowd waited with bated breath for the start of Hamilton’s set with his new band, Armando Aussenac (Drums) born in Mexico City, Fabian Hernandez (Saxes, Keys, Background Vocals) a Texan from Dallas and Dante Ware (Bass, Background Vocals) born in Trenton N.J and “My mom says I started playing the drums before I started walking.” Opening with Eternally, from his latest album Give It Back showed that Hamilton and the band were on fire and the great new line-up delivered this Texan style funky blues. Stuck in a Rut raised the temperature in the room and the band raised the bar even higher, this was blues played with verve, style and passion. The Hamilton Sound is all about ‘feel’ combined with a squeaky tight band that just makes you want stamp your feet and get up dancing. Smokin’ Gun always a favourite in any Hamilton set was heavy on the theatrics and very effective drawing the audience in as we watched every move and gesture and purred with delight at every note played. Numbers showcased from his latest CD including My Partner In Crime were a little rockier with loads of Prince style funk and it really works showing a style that can only be described as Hamilton Loomis. Bow Wow another of the many requests from the audience that Hamilton obligingly played got the house jumping as everybody’s favourite was performed with the customary leaping from chairs to tables and back again. It was an evening of funky blues in the Swansea Delta enjoyed amongst friends as we heard Best Worse Day and many more all too soon it was time for the band to leave the stage and not before an encore of Where We Started. As ever, the consummate professional and the backing band were stupendous, he just keeps getting better, I know that every-time I hear Hamilton Loomis play I know I am going to be entertained with great music, stage craft and it will be fun he is so consistent but I must say this band is the best yet! Why?..The band was in perfect harmony as they played off each other with the freedom of a jam, the timing was immaculate with silence and stopping dead together; the interaction between Dante on bass and Hamilton was spellbinding – blues in Swansea doesn’t get better than this on a Thursday night!
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.
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!