The Milk Men Bringing Full Phat Blues To Your House
The Milk Men Bringing Full Phat Blues To Your House. This debut album produced by guitarist Adam Norsworthy is rich and creamy blues. Adam taking time out of driving wild horses with The Mustangs is now on a milk float with talented musicians. The Milkmen are Adam joined by Jamie Smy, vocals, Mike Roberts on drums and the son of Mick Green, Lloyd on Bass. This is no pedestrian milk float that The Milk Men are in charge of it is fully charged electric with a British fill as they deliver Full Phat Blues.
This debut is full of originals written by Adam or Jamie & Adam together. With a couple of tasteful covers, No Particular Place To Go, by Chuck Berry, Robert Johnson’s Dust My Broom and The Score by David Amy.
Opening with Make Mine A Double Adam’s smooth guitar hooks and builds up the tempo and then the vocals. Gruff full of swagger and attitude The Milk Men from the off are bringing a distinctive sound. Fresh and modern yet full of retro pizazz as they hark back to the gold top times of British R n’ B. This is a collision of Wild Horses of the open sea and land as Mustangs collide with Pirates.
The album walks you at a fast pace from the days of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates up the escalator to Dr Feelgood grooves then throwing in a heavy sound of rocking blues shaping the lyrical melodies around Rod Stewart. The Milk Men having absorbed the flavours shake the riffs, grooves and lyrics together creating Full Phat heavy blues with a twang of modernity, whilst never falling far from the rooted certainty of British interpretation of electric blues.
This is an album that makes you feel good, foot-stomping smiling with delight as those hands demand to be clapped. This is personified by Real Good Lookin and is returned to throughout the dozen tracks. Get down a groove with a funky hip-swaying milkshake on a Pocketful of Pennies. What does stand out is the smooth interaction between vocals and instruments. The guitar playing is sharp and the flow is balanced. No overlong self-indulgent solos this is a band playing music to be enjoyed.
The highlight of this smooth and tasty album is In The City. Sharp guitar opening syncopated and controlled, allowing Jamie’s vocals to power off the energy from Adam and the boys. As the album closes Dust My Broom reminds us of the heritage that the band is drawing from as we have an energised version leading into Wicked Lies to close the debut album. Slowing the tempo, changing the texture of sound we are left waiting to hear more music from The Milk Men.
Sunday 24th January Equals Rock & Blues – Skegness
Back to the Church of live music on Sunday the last day of Skegness Rock and Blues weekend and what a way to start; Babajack back on REDS after raising the roof last year with their unique talented re-working of blues roots music the Babajack way!
Feels strange to be listening to them at midday instead of late at night. Babajack are special they refuse to be pigeon-holed into any genre they just play the music they love with verve and excitement and Becky wins you over every time with a sparkling smile and voice that carries you into a world of music with emotional twists and turns. Babajack sum themselves up as – rooted in the passion of live music! Opening as a duo, Becky & Trevor fill the auditorium with deep chords and zinging energy that ignites with Hammer & Tongs. Then the tempo rises with an additional rhythm section Tosh on drums and Adam on bass. The creation of a four-piece frees Becky up to dance and sing with the freedom of not being the percussionist as well. It works every time I hear Babajack and they transport me into their roots fuelled energy bubble of music. Gallows Pole a British folk tune travelled to be reinterpreted by Leadbelly then back again for a Zep rock number. Now it is Babajack’s! the centre piece of their set. The new material from their forthcoming anticipated album sounds good, very good. Once again winning new fans and there were a few if the length of the queue at the merch desk is a measure. Staying in Reds for some heavy metal from part of the movement NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal ) Tygers of Pantang rocked REDS. A charismatic and grand entrance for this energetic visually appealing and musically heavy band. The Tygers deliver rock with an edgy rawness that connects, In-your-face rock always works. This is always going to be a band that fans of heavy rock are going to enjoy time and time again. This is heavy rocky and the guitar riffs rock through the vocals. I popped my head around the door and dropped into the jazz zone and to my surprised it was packed. Up front crowds were dancing smiling and delighted to be basking in the sound waves of Courtney Pine’s saxophone. What a diverse sound this afternoon Babajack, Tygers and then Courtney; shows once again music is a broad church and Butlins brings it all to a stage at Skegness over the weekend.
Sunday’s Introducing Stage provided four bands that again reflected the difference in grassroots music across the country. Opening with Rainbreakers, I had heard and reviewed the album so looking forward to hearing them live. Rainbreakers delivered live a young band full of style and energy. Rainbreakers delivered a tight high quality set full of delectable riffs and licks. The stage craft was great and the vocals strong this was a set that got the crowds around the stage excited. They set the bar very high for the following three bands. Voodoo Sheiks followed performing amixed set of covers and their own material all getting the giving them ‘Voodification’ treatment. Dancers were delighted and stepped up to dance and this was blues that rocked with urbane panache. This was a popular band that certainly will always be a hit at festivals and clubs. From Scotland, The Brian Rawson Band, this was a solid set as they re-shaped classic blues, including On Top of the World. Tamira Herrebrugh up front, recently re-located from her native Amsterdam to Glasgow and is a perfect fit for this easy going blues band. The last of the 2016 bands playing for the chance to play on a main stage in 2017 were Derbyshire based These Wicked Rivers. Love the originality of the name. Unfortunately for me this rockier band missed the originality test. They played a rockier set with a big voice up front. For the numbers all merged the tone and beat did not have a contrast and thus the groove didn’t stand out enough in each number.
Sunday evening the end of the weekend and still so many bands to fit in. Opening on Centre Stage were The Della Grants. They won last year on the Introducing Stage so this was their moment in the limelight of a main stage. They stepped up, smiled and played their socks off. The Della Grants loved being on the big stage and the audience loved hearing them, hence the huge queue to buy the EP launched tonight. They opened with Lay My Head a harp driven ditty delivered with confidence and charisma. The majority of the set were their own numbers, the exceptions being Keb Mo’s Am I Wrong with change of vocalist from Max to Tom, and the classic Stones track Miss You. A magnificent set, enjoyed by the packed audience they played with aplomb and passion it was a fun ride to hear this band step out on a big stage. Joined by Steve Walwyn, guitarist from Dr Feelgood for Red Mist finishing the set in style. The atmosphere was electric what a thoroughbred R n’ B start to the evening. Bluesdoodles stayed for another helping of British R N’ B from Dr Feelgood. An evergreen band, always deliver the music that people enjoy whenever they appear and they often do in Butlins in January. They come back because they are popular people danced sang along and had pure festival fun.
Quick trip out of the heat of Centre stage and some welcomed fresh air to catch up with Martin Turner plays Wishbone Ash. Opening with a couple of new numbers then we were plunged back into the 1970’s back catalogue. The songs were near-perfect reproductions of the original numbers, Warrior was terrific. Wonderful prog-rock, where the music speaks for itself. Winding up with Jailbait this was a set of nostalgia rather than quality. Closing act on Reds was Wille and The Bandits, quirky is their unique selling point. This was a set full of drama and interest. The lyrics were strong and the music was full of textures and tonal shapes, with a mix of electric and acoustic instruments. The upright bass created a delight full sound as the bow was passed across the strings. The slide and lap guitar sound was rough and powerful that hits deep into your solar plexus. The vocals were full of gravelly tones adding emotion to the lyrics. Their version of Black Magic Woman was spellbinding. The whole set was quirky and controlled refreshingly different and who can resist a cow bell.
The last band for Bluesdoodles was Paul Lamb and The King Snakes, They produced a set that always worked the venue was packed and Paul’s harp curled around the stage and beyond. Like the Feelgoods, and Nine Below Zero they will always draw the crowds and have a loyal following. Why? It is quality blues that just leaves you with a smile on your face and spring in your step and the beat of music pulsing through your veins.
A weekend that was crammed with delights for your taste buds and musical ear and the weather was kind. Whether you like a hot cup of tea, a summer fruity jug of Pimms or real ale and cider the liquid refreshment was available on tap and consumed with relish by the number of empty barrels by late Sunday evening. The food was varied from falafel and all things veggie, curries chips and hog roast all served with a smile and provided a tasty appetizer between the music shows; then there were the hot sweet freshly cooked doughnuts to be dipped in sugar or cinnamon not licking your lips between the bites was impossible! Face painting and henna art were enjoyed by adults and children alike! Then at this friendly festival there was the music with so many highlights and acts that hit the spot it seems a tad unfair to select a few but they were the sparklers and cherries that stood out of the cocktail of delights that Julian and his team had artfully blended to form Blues On The Farm 2015. Friday was full of shows that just prove the diversity and depth of British Blues for me it had to be The Jar Family they add that dimension that make festivals fizz and sparkle closely followed by Layla Zoe, The Hoax and the final special moment the firework lighting up the sky Mud Morganfield and his authentic blues. The sparkle in Saturdays cocktail definitely shaken rather than stirred was Kaz Hawkins and her Band O’ Men and Sunday’s it had to be that act with a difference with fire in its cocktail mix Rodney Brannigan & John Pointer where beat box meets acoustic with a novelty trick or two thrown in. We are now counting down to the 25th Blues on The Farm 2016.
From Thursday evening through to Sunday night, the weather stayed fine, the sun shone, people had fun, food was enjoyed and the beer and Pimms flowed what more do you need to make everything perfect quality live music and that we all had with the twenty live acts and a drum workshop it was a full festival banquet.
Opening the event were two fine bands that got the crowds in the mood and the campers full of party spirit, with the surprise of an impromptu guest singer when Jo Harman joined Kokomo on stage. Friday afternoon the crowds swelled as the award of a Friday afternoon away from the office were rewarded by a talented young band Stark who a put the electric into rocky blues with a different way of playing the resonator and arrangements of classics including some Blind Willie Jefferson. They were fun and entertaining a young band with lots to offer. As ever this is the festival that rings the changes no band is ever the same as the rest on the set, with a quick sound check and the ever superb sound and lighting men had the stage ready for a five piece Owen and the Mockingbirds they knew how to entertain with their country blues with self-penned numbers that, despite at times lacking that magic that makes them different, the appreciative crowd enjoyed this knowing that the choice of beers and cider to be tasted throughout the weekend and then the lure of yummy doughnut rings would provide entertaining accompaniment.
Returning again this year following a successful debut at the festival in 2015 The Jar Family built up the tempo and added their unique, eclectic mix of folk, roots and a touch of Hartlepool Americana shaped into their music, which they call Industrial Folk. They certainly didn’t disappoint they were very good last year but the excelled in 2015, a team of six men make the jar full of music that fills the marquee, across the field and into the campsite beckoning everyone to get up dance, smile and enjoy this band that adds a spark to any festival. They delivered a spellbinding set as they all took turns to lead sharing vocal duties with their fine tuneful voices and songs that reflect the experiences of life of folk today, they took the roof off the marquee and no wonder an encore was screamed for and they happily obliged, as they left the stage the whole festival wished Lee a happy wedding day on the Saturday. How was Julian going to follow that act, easy for a man who has planned festivals for twenty-four years he follows up with three headline acts in a row, Layla Zoe; The Hoax and Mud Morganfield who just kept raising the excitement of the festival. Layla Zoe knows how to pull the crowd in close she has a voice that is full of emotion mirroring the drama she brings to the stage with her flowing hair and raunchy approach to her interaction with her guitarist and all the good things musically, the rhythm section is solid and the guitars solos were pure delight; she showcased her latest album Live At Spirit 66 and The Lily was a special moment in the set but the real tingling on the back of the neck was her a Capella encore of The Beatles Let It Be; follow that The Hoax. They certainly did returning once again to the farm having first performed at Pump Farm twenty-two years ago we were all so much younger then. The group is as popular today when they play a few special gigs when they can all get together. Jesse’s guitar work is sublime with Jon to match at the other side of the stage and Hugh as the frontman still draws our attention. They are still a British Blues super group the tent was crammed and the fans up front were transfixed as they sang along to every lyric they played our favourites and raised the roof with Feeding Time, Gimme A Drink and Shine On were mesmerising as the music cascaded up and down your spine they have the Hoax effect on audiences every time they step onto the stage. The sky was darkening as midsummer sun set on closing this night of festival delight was Mud Morganfield, with his authentic Chicago Blues sound, close your eyes and it is his father the great Muddy Waters on the stage. Leaving you wanting more and already wanting more music tomorrow beckons with another line-up of delights.
Beer tent visited another ale sampled and Idlewood a young band with loads of potential got the blues tempo underway. There self-penned numbers showed the power of harmonising and had a British pop blues feel that certainly had a pleasing tone. The tempo was raised with a Memphis/Detroit take on the blues when Ricky Cool and the In Crowd stepped up onto the stage. They delivered an accomplished set of rock n’ roll with the twin sax and the hint of swing this was Saturday afternoon dance and party time as we heard some Booker T and so much more. Following the opening acts the vibe was good as the quartet of acts to follow beckoned, the first of this lucky four-leaf clover of blues was the effervescent Sam Kelly’s Station House. They are always a welcome sight on the stage and a pleasing cocktail of free-form eclectic music that stirs you from the sole of your feet to the top of the head. The whole set was perfect for a Saturday afternoon with a twist of funk; a dollop of bleggae and the delight of listening to a quintet of musicians who just love to play the music that sets them on fire. Spy on bass is the smartest player and Sam on drums kicks the band into action their version of Pink Floyd’s Breathe captivated and I Shot The sheriff was fun come back soon you are welcome every time to this friendly festival. Now we have some heavy blues guitar delivered with attitude Ben Poole strode on to stage and let his guitar do the talking, raising the volume and clear any cobwebs we had. Hey Joe is definitely his festival piece with the intriguing intro, you recognise then as you pinpoint the tune he launches into a full assault making this Hendrix number his own.
Who could follow that high voltage performance well a lady from Belfast could and did the one and only Kaz Hawkins & Her Band O Men. This is a high energy live act that focusses around the power and delivery of Kaz’s vocals with the added swish of petticoats, stomp of her bright red boots; on top of all that she can play guitar. None of this would be possible without the skill of her band O Men who play to her tune with skill and make sure they are keeping up with her random approach to her show. She has stage presence nay stage domination she is a flash of polka dot whose voice sings the blues with a gruffness, gospel with clarity and her rendition of Nina Simone’s Feelin’ Good the second of the festival was for me the best I have ever heard. The croThe crowd at times were rowdy but she dealt with them there is a no-nonsense approach to Kaz when singing her music and dealing with fools in the crowd, if you missed her this weekend check out the act and get to see her soon; closing with Etta James’ I Just Want To Make Love To You we were in heaven and wanted more. There was more music, this was time to refresh yourselves, put on your dancing shoes as the stage was set for The Jive Aces; a band coordinated in eye-catching yellow they swung into action with some jive and rock n’ roll numbers that were the perfect finale to party Saturday night away.
With a few hours’ sleep it was all too soon the final day many friends met and new friends made it was time for the music opening with Malaya Blue who coincided opening the last day of the festival with the launch of her single Hope from her forthcoming album. Following up from Bourbon Street, Malaya’s approach to the blues is very different form the energy charged approach of the two power divas Layla and Kaz. Malaya’s approach is gentler more constrained and it is fantastic to have three women heading talented bands one each day for the festival; this set-up is fairly new and building their presence on the circuit which will surely grow as we get to know Malaya’s brand of blues with soul. The next band, The Cajun Roosters, drew the audience away from the sun and into the stage area to hear Louisiana Cajun based music, with fiddle and squeeze box this was sunny afternoon music you have to dance and smile as the beat with its infectious quality as much of the set was sung in French patois. Now newt was something completely different, a duo of Rodney Brannigan and John Pointer. Rodney has entertained this festival before and today accompanied by a fellow Texan he added more to the always entertaining event. There was everything in the set some great acoustic guitar with the addition of percussive fingerstyle guitar pioneered by Michael Hedges, which captivated everyone listening this afternoon. The Stomp box was huge, the beat box was a stylish and the mix of instruments changed with a blink of an eyelid. This was a complex act for any sound desk with twenty-seven inputs but nothing phases BOTF who are never afraid to book acts that stretch your boundaries and delight every time . Closing the imaginative set with his trademark playing two guitars at the same time Rodney once again delivered what a festival needs some excitement this certainly pleased the crowds with its originality, energy and skills. Phew after that you need to draw breath and before you know it Champion Doug Veitch changed the groove again with a mix of Cajun swing with a brass section which added energy and that unique musical range. We saw some country dancing as the audience enthusiastically joined in with the musical delights, a real feel-good band playing music they love with the audience warming to the show with every song delivered. With just two bands left on the longest day that coincided with Father’s Day there were lots of happy people who were delighted to dance and join in the fun as Brilleaux from New Zealand delivered Dr Feelgood style music much of which were self-penned. In between they played some great early British R ‘n’ B from Yardbirds to Billy Fury. This was a crowd pleasing high energy set and the delight of the band and many of the audience was when John Potter key board player in bands with WilKo Johnson including Solid Sender, Wilko Johnson Band adding some authentic 1960’s vibe. This was a real festival moment that everyone present will remember for a long time leaving Brothers Groove to close this 24th Blues On The Farm Festival. This was the perfect set to bring a blues festival to a cheering, barnstorming close leaving everyone wanting more music and countdown to the twenty-fifth anniversary Blues on The Farm Festival; with Julian asking if we had any bands we want to hear next year, let him know and they will be considered!
What’s It Gonna Be Ruf Records
Release Date 13th April
Opening with the title track the self-assured opening guitar and vocals tells you this album is gonna be – a maturing Laurence Jones putting down on the recording the music he has been playing on the road and reflects the honing of skills touring with his band that has given him the poised confidence to play the rocky harder edge blues that he enjoys and we enjoy listening to.
The Rhythm section with stylish Roger Inniss on his six-string bass has given Laurence a fellow musician to bounce his intuitive riffs and licks off so that the sound is full with a quality of timing that you get when you understand the people you are playing with; and the drumming by Miri Meittinen is inspired with deft swipes of the cymbals embellishing the vocals on tracks such as Evil. The next track has a swampy southern feel that has a driving beat that is infectious and certainly gets the feet tapping the guitar work is impeccable and like the song touches moonlight.
We have the addition of the sparkling female vocals of Sandi Thom duetting on the single from the album Don’t Look Back. And as his career grows this is a young man who definitely has lots to look forward to. This is a gentler number that allows the guitar to bend around the melody line and the vocals blend together this is a track steeped in harmonies creating a sound that should get airplay across the stations. All I Need opens with drums and a deep bass line that allows the guitar and vocals to sing at a higher pitch, this is blues that has a popular appeal that will win him even more fans. We have a different tempo and texture with Good Morning Blues, with a spoken intro and then hard snake bitten driven blues guitar that pumps out the bottom line with his voice searing through the beat sets down a track full of energy, interest and certainly one of the highlights for me with its dirty feel and authenticity of timing and style.
Nearer the End is there going to be a gentle ending now we have another change in tempo and vocal direction as the second guest fellow RUF record artist Dana Fuchs joins the Laurence Jones party. This rocking number, Can’t Get Enough, has a chorus line that is infectious and live will get the crowds singing, Dana’s vocals are full of grit and blues moodiness that reflects the beat and then serenades with Laurence this is such a catchy R’n’ B number it oozes style and popularity.
Closing with a track always popular when you hear Laurence live is Stop Moving The House, ending a party of an album with stylish keys as Laurence begs the House to stop moving following a night out on the town. The track finishes the album on a high leaving you wanting more – easily remedied catch Laurence live at a town near you.
The album benefits from the addition of keys to the bedrock of the band; delivered by Jools Grudgings or Lewis Stephens and fine backing vocals from SJ Mortimer. The production by Roger and Laurence shows what all round talent this young man is with his superlative guitar work across the eleven tracks; vocals that emotionally engage with the lyrics, melody and listener as he delivers songs that highlight his songwriting skills. This third Laurence Jones album; What’s It Gonna Be is definitely the best yet with a continuing growth in vocal delivery augmenting the guitar playing he has always been recognised for. He is becoming the real deal when delivering British blues that rocks, rattles and pleases.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD NINE doodle paws out of TEN …. Track Listing
1. What’s It Gonna Be
2. Don’t Need No reason
4. Touch Your Moonlight
5. Don’t Look Back (Feat. Sandi Thom)
6. All I Need
7. Being Alone
8. Good Morning Blues
9. Can’t Get Enough (Feat. Dana Fuchs)
10. Set It Free
11. Stop Moving The House
Laurence Jones – Vocals and Guitars
Roger Inniss – Bass
Miri Miettinen – Drums
I always listen to an album a couple of times before I review, this one is no different and with every re-airing of Unfinished Business I find another quirky lick and hidden depths this is an album that delves deep into Mick’s musical lexicon of delights, with the music humming with influences including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Johnson, BB King and Mark Knopfler. The songwriting from Andy Littlewood, whether on his own or in partnership with Mick Simpson on the majority of tracks or M.J. McElligott are suited to Mick’s vocal range and his approach to Blues & Rock. Andy also produced and engineered the album which is really suited to Mick’s vocal ranges
Opening with Trouble Brewing is a driving mix of rhythm and blues guitar that certainly gets the juices running and this is an album that means business unfinished or otherwise. If you are unfamiliar with a British player who can deliver the chops and match them with some fine vocals this is a perfect introduction, though do not expect the rest of the album to be more of the same. I can assure you it is not Mick Simpson and the band have delivered and album full of tonal textures, variations in textures and at times almost a tribute to Gary Moore on some tracks, one thing is for certain he has the power and stature to deliver.
Half way through the album Shelter From the Storm is a cut down stylish acoustic number, with the co-writer M.J. McElligott playing the acoustic guitar and haunting keyboards from Andy Littlewood building the atmosphere, you can feel the coming storm.
We have the added bonus of the harp playing of Dave Hunt aka Harmonica Dave with his perfect pitch and timing on Left Me The Blues another Gary Moore driven track and then again on Travelling Man which is a throwback and homage to early blues, with a hint of country and wonderful slide-acoustic guitar you can even hear the clicks from a needle as when you played a vinyl or in the case 78 rpm shellac recording which builds the mood. Drowning In My Tears, is not a cover but the resemblance with Gary Moore’s Still Got The Blues is unmistakable, a true tribute to this bluesman who has been and still is so influential. The final track once again displays the scorching guitar skills that Mick shows throughout this album. This is a fitting final track to an album full of emotion, blues and superb musicianship, an album that will be a favourite within blues lover’s collections.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD EIGHT doodle paws out of TEN ….
1. Trouble Brewing (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
2. Stepping Out (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
3. Unfinished Business (Andy Littlewood)
4. Playing The Loose Hand (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
5. The Light In Me ( M.J. McElligott and Andy Littlewood)
6. Shelter From the Storm (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
7. 50 Miles To Memphis (Andy Littlewood)
8. You Gotta Change (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
9. For The Love of You (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
10. Left Me Blues (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
11. Chicago Blues (Andy Littlewood)
12. Traveling Man (Andy Littlewood)
13. Lonely Avenue (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
14. Drowning In My Tears (Mick Simpson and Andy Littlewood)
Mick Simpson: vocals, guitars, mandolin, banjo
Andy Littlewood: keyboards, backing vocals, bass
Alan Young: drums, percussion
Dave Hunt: harmonica on tracks 10 & 12
Michael John McElligott: acoustic guitar on track 5
Gill Hunter: electric piano on track 5
Steve Gillies: bass on track 5