CD Review – Go Forth and Multiply – Well Hung Heart

Well Hung HeartWHH - Cover-1
Go Forth and Multiply
Out May 5th sn GROWvision Records

Having seen Well Hung Heart, live at The Globe in Cardiff as part of The Hoax current tour I was more than a tad excited to be listening to the album – I had high expectations as I loaded the album, thankfully I was not disappointed. The opening track was straight in at a ripping rocky pace the title is ‘Big Plans’ and the album certainly has big plans when it comes to musicality and style. There can be no argument Well Hung Heart are avant-garde, delivering a live sound with minimal over-dubbing, that melds and welds together a full plectrum of sounds that can be plucked and strummed out of a guitar.
WHH - Cover-3

This is a whirlwind of genres swirled together, punk, grunge, rock and underpinning deep in the undergrowth of sound is the blues, not as anyone would instantly recognise but there is no doubt Robin has incorporated blues guitar into this eclectic mix. This is a band that refuses to be encapsulated in aspic but runs free to deliver music they love and want you to enjoy the journey with them. It is at times unbelievable that this is a trio the sound they produce reminds me of stadia rock and at times early ZZ top. The band is Californian based with Greta Valenti with her powerful vocals that can change from raunchy, belting out rock and then deliver the gentlest softest lyric, she has a wonderful range full of tones and complexities; at times reminding me of Bjork and Siouxsie from the Banshees. Mix this with the skills and deft touch of Robin Davey (The Hoax) playing both bass and lead guitar you have a powerful mix of musical skills and understanding of how to deliver an interesting sound with perfect timing and control. Joining the party as drummer is Phil Wilson who adds that driving dimension of beat perfect timing and delightful backing vocals adding another layer of sound. Every one of the eleven tracks are gems in their own right the vocals on ‘Made For Leaving’ are full of yearning with artful use of soul in the voice that is accompanied by gentle but persistent drumming, the tempo fills out as Robin joins in with some delightful guitar work such a contrast and unexpected it is almost a ballad. The feeling of anger, rebellion and protestation is bubbling underneath many of the tracks but comes to boiling point in ‘Rehab is for Rich Kids’! If John Peel was alive surely this would be part of his current play-list, musically complete, different and above all true to the artistry of the musicians who are Well Hung Heart. This may not be the Blues! but Go Forth and Multiply is an album of today full of relevant undertones and is cracking music and is addictive always a measure of a cracking album.

Line Up
Greta Valenti – Vocals, Keys, Lyrics, and melodiesWHH - Cover-2
Robin Davey – Guitars, Bass, and Riffs
Phil Wilson – Drums, percussion, and backing vocals

Bluesdoodles gives this CD out of five doodle paws a doodle rating of
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There is still time to catch them perform live and buy the CD

25th April The Cluny, Newcastle
26th April O2 ABC Glasgow

THE HOAX supported by Well Hung Heart & Federal Charm – The Globe, Cardiff 11th April 2014


The queue waiting outside The Globe for doors to open were full of eager excitement with two bands plus the The Hoax! Getting the three-course live music menu off to a rocky, bluesy start were Federal Charm, this young Manchester based band are winning fans whenever they play. The vocals are good but tonight the acoustics at The Globe were not their friend as the sound was loud but lacked clarity, turning it down does work sometimes, and the sound needs to be adjusted to the size and acoustics of the venue. This is a band with loads of potential and I hope they become more blues based and not go down the rocky road that just tips a hat at the blues. They have a nifty rhythm section, and the interplay between the accomplished a stylish guitarists Nick Bowden and Paul Bowe taking the lead up front is a delight to watch and listen to as they combine this with good vocals. This was a great band to open the evening delivering tracks from their début album The Album including Come on Down; as you listen to the band the influences are wide including Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzie and The Stones. This is a band that is touring far and wide honing their skills and developing their own charming style.

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Then next onto the stage are ‘Well Hung Heart‘ who toured with The Hoax in 2013; so to many they were not a new phenomenon this is a band that is proud to be different with punk influences and the lead singer from U.S.A they could be described as Ameripunk. Robin Davey is the guitarist, using effects to good purpose and has the opportunity to play lead rather than the Bass he is recognised as being a master of when playing in The Hoax. Greta Valenti on vocals is the energetic, charismatic fronts-woman of the band bringing a lively dynamism to every note she sings, she was at times quite Bjork like, but overall this is a band that is telling their own musical story with style and panache. Making up the trio is Alex Thomas on Drums, Percussion and backing vocals who has just joined the band for the tour so tonight was his second night, it didn’t show as the timing was tight and the interplay and communication between all three meant this was a tight unit of a band delivering authentic live music that was fun to listen to and the closing number demonstrated this perfectly with a unique take on Whole Lot of Love. They went down well with a vibrant sound and an expectant crowd waiting for the main act.

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The stage went quiet and the anticipation rose within the audience as they waited for the drum kit to be dis-assembled and the stage re-organised for The Hoax, who soon were on the stage with a resounding cheer before a note was struck. I am writing this part of the review from memory – why I was so entranced by the band I just never put pen to paper that is what The Hoax does as they punch out the blues driven notes you are enthralled, drawn into the event. Reality takes a break as you live the moment relishing every note struck by the guitarists who have unfathomable depths of talent Jon Amor left of stage and Jesse Davey right of stage flanking Hugh Coltman with his vibrant harmonica playing and stunning vocals that are as clear as a bell. The bedrock of the band that allows the three up front the freedom to bend and shape the songs are Robin Davey laying classy Bass and Mark Barrett on Drums driving the tempo and ensuring this five-piece of individually brilliant and inventive players remain tight and anarchy never comes to the fore. The set was a mix of favourites from the early days of the Hoax including Bones, Groove Breaker and Feedin’ Time when they are renowned for being the most influential Blues Band of the last twenty years that resulted in a cult-like following and when they disbanded left a huge gap in the British Blues scene. Now back playing gigs and festivals here and in Europe they are gaining new followers and delighting everyone who remembers the gigs of the nineties. Every track was played with talent and they delighted in each other’s skills and talents, with Stick Around being played which was ironic as no-one in the audience was going anywhere, they did not want to miss a single note or any of the glorious vocals from Hugh. No wonder they are appearing across the categories of the British Blues Awards 2014, they are back on top of the crest of the wave they departed in 1999 and tracks from their latest album “Big City Blues” were all well received, such as Hipslicker and Give Me a Drink”. The encore did not include the signature event of Jon and Jesse swapping guitars the stage to small but never mind the chemistry between them all is awesome and we wanted them to play on and on the set finished far too soon and many favourites were not given an airing tonight. What an evening of entertainment, disappointingly for a Friday night in a capital city many Cardiff blues fans missed what could be the Cardiff gig of the year.. This is a reflection that there is not a gigging venue in Cardiff that plays the blues regularly… catch them if you can as the tour continues and hopefully they will be back in 2015.

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Rest of the tour:-

17th April – Norwich Arts Centre – The Hoax
18th April – The Picturedrome, Holmfirth – The Hoax
19th April – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham – Federal Charm, Well Hung Heart & The Hoax
20th April – O2 Academy, Islington – Federal Charm, Well Hung Heart & The Hoax

Simon McBride – The Garage, Swansea – 18th March

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Well that is a first! Arrived at the smashing venue in Swansea, The Garage and the new Blues evenings run by Richard & Carol. As normal said few hellos went to switch on my trusty camera and there was no power… nothing resulting in sheer panic then the realisation no battery in camera why? Still at home charging… hang face in shame! I am positive that there is a blues lyric in this tale somewhere.

mike-markey-nick-jones-heads-of-the-valleys_338x337 So no pictures breathing deeply I sat back and let the blues flow as local duo Mike Markey & Nick Jones entertained with an acoustic set of blues classics delivered with verve and their own distinctive approach with the blending of Mike’s vocals and blues harp with Nick precise guitar work whether dobro or acoustic. The set included Muddy Water’s ‘Can’t be Satisfied’ ; ‘Filthy Rich’ and the old 1926, ‘Fishing Blues’ covered by many and tonight M & J’s version. Then up to the 21st with an Adele track, If It Hadn’t Been for Love; originally recorded by the bluegrass band The SteelDrivers then back to more traditional with Woody Guthrie’s, ‘Dust Bowl Blues’
They certainly warmed up the musical atmosphere of The Garage on Tuesday evening whetting our appetites for Simon McBride.

What a contrast as Simon McBride hit the stage and a wave of heavy blues spread across the venue. From the first chord Simon was playing dynamic lead guitar he is no copy of great guitarist he is producing his own 21st century rock blues that demands your attention from beginning to end. He achieves what appears to be an effortless musical guitar sound combined with his melodic vocals thanks to the beat perfect talents of Paul Hamilton on drums combine with his box of tricks that loops in Hammond Organ, Horns when the song requires giving a perfect melodic backdrop that enables Simon to concentrate on vocals when required and Gareth Hughes on bass. The drumming is the driver of the band combined with the bass which provides a depth of sound and a complexity of the deeper sound; they are the engine house gives Simon a consistent rhythm that he can flow from. The licks come fast and furious no introspective guitar playing that goes on too long as they blend merge and bed effortlessly into the next melodic phrase or introducing the lyric that never get missed. The band plays for the joy of producing the McBride sound that is entrancing. The sound level and pace goes down and the talents of this young man sing out across the club and the voice takes centre stage.. Down to the River is a clever complexity of rhythms that entice so that you never want the track to end as you are absorbed into the music so that there is no beginning or end just the moment that you are relishing.
The set list was full of textures and contrasts with tracks sun as ‘Alcatraz’ with its jazzy slightly Latino beat that makes you sway and want to dance and ‘Fire Me Up’ about his favourite car a 1966 Mustang with a bluesy driving tempo that hurls you along the free-way.. free as a bird. Simon McBride was on fire with the music flowing producing the energy of a live performance no wonder he is compared with some of the greats of the past. Simon changed guitar – still a PRS the favoured make, and the tempo alters again this time the opening is low-key and for Simon and the band a more pedestrian pace ‘Standing Still‘ then opens up the throttle picks up speed and once again you are drawn deep into the sound that weaves and waves across the club. The band leaves and acoustic becomes the guitar of choice, the atmosphere becomes more intimate ‘Rock & Storm’ written and inspired at PRS Studio… this is a love ditty with a story of the static rock and roving storm followed by ‘Devils Road‘. Then Paul & Gareth return now we see the slide in action ‘Take My Hand & Hell Waters Rising’ a favourite duo of tracks that demonstrate the skills as a guitarist and they are full of tonal depth and musical colour.

Simon and the band delighted the crowd tonight with a stellar display of musicianship; there is no doubt that Simon is a superb guitarist and yes it is all too easy to compare him to fellow Irishman Rory Gallagher but for me Simon is his own guitarist with a modern twist he creates at times a sound redolent of sitar and Indian music and in the next beat heavy rock driven licks. He deftly melds and weaves a sound that is live energetic and his own. download (1) Gareth demonstrated his skill with a great bass solo with great intervention from Simon as the band joined in. One last track ‘Dead Man Walking‘ bought the evening to a close with everyone wanting more and for those who haven’t already got his CD’s could buy a bit of the magic to take home including his latest album ‘Crossing The Lines’.

The Garage and Richard Smith are certainly bringing great live music to Swansea and great to see so many enjoying music in the round… coming up is fellow Nugene artist the award-winning talented opening his latest tour in Swansea – Ian Siegal 3rd April – Gwyn Ashton, 1st May Hamilton Loomis – 5th June so keep supporting live music in Swansea at the Garage.

Photographs – Liz Aiken Simon McBride @ Guildhall Gloucester (Took my battery that time!)

Catch – Simon McBride on this tour

20th March – The Tunnels, Bristol
21st March – Fibbers, York
22nd March – HRH Blues, Pwllheli
23rd March – Whelans, Dublin
22nd June – Linton Festival

Set List
Lead us Away
Go Down Gamblin’
Down By The River
Alcatraz
So Much Love To Give
Fire Me Up
Starve This Fever
Take My Hand
Hell Waters Rising
Fat Pockets
A Rock & A Storm
(Acoustic)
Devil’s Road
(Acoustic)
Spanish Castle Magic
No Room To Breathe
Rich Man Falling
Down To The Wire
Don’t Be A Fool
One More Try
Encore:

Dead Man Walking

CD Review – T Rogers – Simple Life

T rogers CD

T Rogers – Simple Life – www.trogers.hu

This self-published gem of an album from Hungarian band T.Rogers is a breath of fresh air with the feel of good solid blues music, which knows no boundaries and refuses to be boxed in. They deliver on every track, whether one of the nine self-penned tracks or the two covers ‘Angelina’ featuring Keb’ Mo’ and Elmore James, ‘It Hurts Me Too’ . Simple Life is an album that is a great introduction to this band a lively six-piece band from Budapest who weave the sounds of the individual instruments into a timeless tapestry of sound with Ferci’s vocals adding some contour and texture. All the tracks are sung in English by Ferci Kovacks and yes there is an accent adding in my opinion to the tonal range and ensures the sound is a little bit different so that they will stand out of the crowd. There name is a play on the Hungarian word “troger”, meaning basically someone with a relaxed attitude towards life, who likes to enjoy each and every day and this attitude is reflected back in the music they deliver. There is no doubt that this is blending of electric and acoustic traditional driving blues beats with a swirl of European rock blues. The opening track ‘Far and Slow’ has a great introduction that makes you want to pick up your bags and join T.Rogers on the musical road trip they will take you on for the next 50 minutes, so kick of your shoes and let the music create a buzz and take you down by the delta. You will be treated to a little bit of country and a dollop of Rock on ‘Gotta Go’; whilst ‘Angelina’ has a Country feel due to the resonator and the harmonising between Keb’ Mo’ and Ferci. The title track has a balladic quality about it with the stripped down acoustic and the haunting harp that accentuates the slow lyrics, for 6 minutes you are on a sunny day watching a lazy river flow by.
Simple Life is an accomplished album that should see T.Roger’s profile rising like a Blue Star across Europe and I expect these tracks to be heard on the plethora of radio shows as T Rogers delivers a Blues cocktail of sound that reflects the listening demands of the twenty-first century blues lover, with music playing homage to the past but not set in a genre aspic jelly but free flowing and intertwining styles and textures to make the listening trip exciting and leaving you wanting to hear a little bit more.
The band is a complete unit made up from a laid back team – T. Rogers are:-
Trodgers2 (Custom)
Béla Baráth (drums); Stewart Hay (harmonica); Ferci Kovács (guitar,vocal)
Pál Sturmann (guitar); Zsolt Szatai (bass); Vince Széll (percussion).

Bluesdoodles gives this CD out of five doodle paws a doodle rating of
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Review of Steve Vai @ St David's Hall, Cardiff

Steve Vai - St Davids Hall - Sept 2013_0001l

Steve Vai - St Davids Hall - Sept 2013_0023l Very dramatic entry, opened the set of an extroverted showman, from the off we were being entertained by a band of three top-notch professional musicians then to complete the quartet Steve Vai the talented mega-guitarist. Steve Vai is all about the music and is less reliant on the backdrop of video images than fellow Ibanez guitarist Joe Satriani. There is no argument that Steve Vai is a real genius on the guitar using a plethora of guitars across the two and three-quarter hour set.

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He ensured that the changes were for a musical purpose every guitar had a different sound creating a variation in tonal textures and style from heavy rock, grungy rock and then a gentler tone and throughout it was the melodic major line that was important and lead the rest of the band as they filled in the gaps creating a swirl of sound that rose up to the rafters and across the tiers of seating in St David’s Hall.

Steve Vai - St Davids Hall - Sept 2013_0257lHe uses every bit of the guitar demanding every inch of the instrument to bend under his will creating squeals and chords whether playing up the neck with both hands reminiscent of Joe Satrinai, using his tongue, teeth and playing with one hand the guitar is an integral part of Steve Vai’s whole persona. Thus the guitar moaned, squealed, talked and Steve Vai - St Davids Hall - Sept 2013_0057linteracted at an electric level, there was no need for vocals this was complete musical communication the audience’s reaction said it all they were rapturous.

Steve Vai - St Davids Hall - Sept 2013_0241lThis was not an egocentric set all about Vai, his interaction with the band was open and honest this was a quartet of musicians who enjoyed the music they were playing and each other’s skills. This was demonstrated by a blistering bass solo by Philip using all of his six strings to brilliant effect creating the full gamut of sounds including a strong, loud and awesome funky interlude. Steve also interacted with the audience building an atmosphere, creating humour and a feeling of bonhomie, this was achieved by a microphone being bought into the stage and Steve directly talking to the audience, who interacted with him and took pleasure, if sitting in the front rows, from the number of plectrums he threw into the crowd. The use of keys played by Dave Weiner the second guitarist added yet another tonal layer to the aural experience that is Steve Vai. Steve Vai - St Davids Hall - Sept 2013_0206l

Then Steve left the stage for the first time of the evening for a costume change and were treated to an acoustic interlude provided by Dave Weiner, which was full of vim and passion with swirls of Spanish Flamenco using 2 capa; Dave is a skilful guitarist who adds so much to the show whether playing electric or acoustic adding little riffs of pure pleasure.

The next part of the show was opened with ‘Weeping China Doll’ with thumping drums courtesy of Jeremy Colson, dramatic chords and loud feeling of despair. There was a brilliant moment of Phillip on the bass and Steve harmonising creating a deep raw demi-duet whilst the drumming and second Steve Vai - St Davids Hall - Sept 2013_0098lguitar kept the who tune in the round so there was never a moment of self-indulgence.

Clangers came to town as Vai got the Cardiff audience to participate with noises that would have been at home with this popular show, but this was fun the audience was eating out of his hands, but there was still more surprises to come. The drummer went missing and Vai shouted for >him and with than he re-appeared with a mini-kit strapped on and came to the front, we were treated to some interesting drumming and interplay between Steve and Jeremy.

There was one vocal track Steve Vai’s ‘Rescue Me or Bury Me’; where sitting on a seat he sang for his supper in his own indomitable style this was sung as poetry, he is not a great singer but he knows how to perform and was accompanied by Philip Bynoe on a Piccolo Bass so another texture added for interest and our delight.

Cardiff, home to the Dr Who experience, was then treated to a monster shape that would have been at home with those exhibits as Steve Vai returned to a darken stage covered in laser lights that moved and changed colour as he played on entertaining the whole time the background of roving search-lights across and around the stage added to feeling that this was something from another time and place who had invaded our space with a wall-to-wall sound.

This was a dynamic show, Steve Vai was no static front-man but as he played the guitar he used the space on the stage dancing across and around generating energy, he never missed a beat, this was a show of electric music delivered at the highest level creating a stratosphere of sound that melded and blended and at times was contorted and forced into a melodic shape that created a wheel of musical colour with every shade incorporated into a complete organic musical fiesta.

CD Review – Mark Pontin Group – Days of Destiny

Mark P Group

Days of Destiny on Moochee Records is a début album that is delivered with confidence and demonstrates the raw, natural talent of this power trio led by Mark Pontin with his distinctive vocals. This confidence belies the tension that is described in the notes on the long and winding journey that has eventually resulted in a CD any band would be proud of delivering; throughout the nine self-penned tracks Mark has retained the authenticity of the group’s live sound. The title track ‘Days of Destiny’  sets the tone with its driving guitar and bold vocals this is a power trio that has a story to tell you through music and words combining rock and blues to make a wholesome honest sound achieved by some excellent production by Mark Pontin and Tim Hamill, (who also plays the Hammond organ on some tracks).

There is no doubt that this album demonstrates the full range of Mark’s voice that can be warm, then gruff, stern and mellow depending on the context of the lyrics. The guitar solos are not the long meandering lead breaks that stretch out the length of a track but add nothing to the texture and tone of the music, every one of Mark’s solos are there for a reason and add to the whole musical experience as demonstrated on ‘Outcast’. However, stylish the guy up front is he is nothing without the rest of the band and the rhythm section are simply superb providing a stable platform of immaculate timing from the combo of Alun Walters (Bass) and Christopher Baglole (Drums & Backing Vocals) The influences are there to be spotted throughout the album, with gentle nods to styles and approaches, the ghosts of Stereophonics and Stevie Ray Vaughan are captured within ‘Just One More Day’; creating a Pontin sound that I am positive will soon be as recognisable. ‘Traffic Lights’, one of my favourite tracks, has Mark’s growling out the lyrics; whereas the other stand out track has to be the slow blues intro on ‘Fallen Down Again’ followed by another song of strong lyrics with the opening lines of “ When I needed rain, All I had was on the line, I asked for holy water, You gave me holy wine…” and throughout that lovely blues melancholic sound produced by the whole band. The surprise sound, I was not expecting a Hoax sound within the collection but here it was on the penultimate track‘Forever On the Run’; what a glorious sound Mark has produced with the combination of powerful lyrics, vocalisation and that driving guitar sound phew definitely goosebumps-up-the-back time.
mark logo This is a debut that sells the band and it is definitely worth making a trip to see them, the promotion from this project should see the band at gigs and festivals throughout UK and Europe; though this does mean that they will be playing less often in South Wales – our loss will be your gain! On every listening this album reveals a little bit more about Mark Pontin and his band and is a sweeping zephyr of fresh Welsh air sweeping through the blues rock scene this is not jaded and a regurgitation of what has gone before – Days of Destiny is for me in contention for album of 2013, why it has it all, great song-writing, strong guitar sound, melodic backing vocals and a driving rhythm that melds and weaves together to create a live sound that you want to hear again and again.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD a doodle rating of
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Available at Mark Pontin Store

Catch the band live throughout the Autumn – check out the website and sign up to the newsletter click here for information

Abertillery Blues festival Saturday 13th July 2013

Saturday, the second day of the festival, was to provide twelve hours of solid entertainment. The show got under-way at Midday with a trio of local performers,

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starting with festival regular opening as an Acoustic duo Gordon Wride and Simon Gregory with an homage to early blues especially Robert Johnson. The Sam Andrews Band followed – today in a cut down format of a trio with Sam on slide guitar accompanied by Glen Dee on Acoustic Guitar/Bass and Leila Dee who had a lovely voice. This was a short but excellent set portraying their skills and proved to be popular with everyone arriving at the festival. They were quickly followed by The Breeze, who describe themselves as Southern Rock coloured Blue and straight out of the Newport Swamps. Their re-arrangements of Lynyrd Skynyrd numbers got the afternoon festival folk up on their feet and dancing, it was hot enough to be in the Southern States of USA. The band was tight and the vocalist’s voice suited the music they were delivering with a grizzly tone. This band knew how to entertain; this is a quality pub band that would delight the crowds wherever they played and their take on Led Zepplin’s classic ‘Rock and Roll‘ certainly gave everyone something with which to sing the afternoon away.

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With an efficient change of bands, the Marcus Bonfanti Band stepped up onto the stage in the mid afternoon heat. Did this slow the enthusiastic Marcus down? – no of course not. We were treated to a typically barn-storming performance which may not have raised the temperature on this hot July afternoon but did thrill the crowds with great self-penned numbers from previous albums and his recently released album “Shake the Walls” with the clever and relevant re-naming of ‘Alley Cat‘ to Valley Cat. Yet again he gave a fantastic performance and as ever his deep luscious vocal shone through, it is so easy to forget his guitar playing skills, I really do think he is underrated as a guitarist and plays in the top league of U.K. Artists today. The stand out song in this all too short set was ‘Honey‘ it was simply sensational, and the last song of the afternoon from Marcus was fittingly ‘Gimme your Cash‘ as he reminded the delighted audience that he had CDs for sell. There was then a change in the programme as Grainne Duffy and her band were delayed due to an accident causing massive tailbacks on the motorway.

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So a local duo from Ystrad Mynach took to the stage ‘Henry’s Funeral Shoe‘. As ever they produced a very full sound for a two piece pleasing their many fans and delighting those who had not met the brothers with ‘Gimme Back My Morphine’, with Aled’s great slide combined with his distinctive gravelly voice and as ever from Brenning on drum a solid rhythm combined with displays of frenetic performances there is more that a hint of Keith Moon in his performance. His antics and animated attack on the drums provides an entertaining backdrop for Aled. There was good use of effects combined with controlled feedback that was effective and was always in keeping with all of the self-penned numbers including a favourite with many ‘Dog-scratched Ear‘. This was a lively set that refused to be put into a straight jacket of traditional blues and was definitely full of rock energy combined with an edginess when something a little bit different is being experienced.

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After an unavoidable delay Grainne Duffy and her Band arrived, they were on stage in lightening quick time, with Grainne looking relaxed and as fresh as a daisy she went straight into her first number; a true professional, and any frustration in the crowd due to the wait was melted away as soon as they heard her sing her first note. Grainne, truly is the nightingale of the blues circuit at the moment with a clarity and superb articulation no mumbling of words when Grainne is on stage, her band provide her with more than just a solid platform they provide form, shape and texture that her voice can weave around creating a soulful sound that is magical. The set was a mix of tempo’s and opportunity for audience participation, a tribute to Bobby ‘Blues’ Bland and her now signature rendition of ‘I would Rather Go Blind’; the only disappointment with the crowds was that, due to time constraints, her set was curtailed and Grainne and her band had to leave the stage far too soon!

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Next to grace the stage were the re-formed Nightporters at the start of their short 2013 tour, this was a fantastic high-energy set of Rock n’ roll/Rockabilly music whose roots are drenched in the blues, producing an infectious racy beat and rhythm with the interplay between double bass and lead guitarist was entertaining enough to make you miss a beat in your dancing as the double bass was wielded across the stage to be used as a prop without missing a beat. The set included lots of favourites including ‘Shake Your Hips‘ & ‘Rolling and a Tumbling‘ that got the crowds participating by dancing on the grass, this was a high-octane band who were also extremely tight and every member interacted and added another layer of interest. Nightporters have been missed on the blues scene and it is great they are back again with some 50’s Memphis / Chicago blues tradition including the suits, harmonica, cleanish guitar sounds, no sophisticated effects pedals, upright bass and putting on a show. This was just the right band for this slot in a fantastic mix and varied approaches to the blues.

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Now followed the two top acts, many were waiting in anticipation for The Blockheads to take them back down memory lane to their teens. There is no doubt that Ian Dury is missed and this is a tribute to the great lyrics, what a songsmith, that he produced and keeps the music live and fresh. All of the songs people wanted to hear were included in this dynamic expose of a very British eclectic mix of styles creating their own distinct sound. Opening the set with ‘Sex, Drugs & Rock n’ Roll’ they had the audience eating out of their hands as people whistled and sang along creating a real summer festival after a hot day in the sun feel. Yes, we had classic after classic including ‘What a Waste’, ‘Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick‘ and ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful‘ and yes we had lots of reasons to be cheerful with an electric atmosphere great music and still an act to follow, they would have to be good to keep the crowd on its high that The Blockheads had produced.

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Lucky Peterson Band featuring Tamara Peterson… there was a palpable sense of anticipation, few people seem to have heard of Lucky Peterson and for those who had it was courtesy of albums and You Tube! No one should have been surprised by the quality of the headline act as Lucky has been preforming since the age of five and is the son of James Peterson so Blues is in his DNA and flows through his blood. Many of the festival goers were asking the question who could follow the Blockheads who had had the crowds eating out of their hands.. we soon had the answer Lucky Peterson Band. His band opened the proceedings which was to become a roller-coaster of musical delight. Canadian Shawn Kellerman took the front with his white Fender, with his choppy guitar playing, searing licks and provocative ripping blues straight from the hot southern States at its best; accompanied by the Rhythm section comprising of Tim Waites on his six string Bass and Cuban drummer Raul Valdes. The festival crowd were already enthralled when Lucky Peterson strolled on the stage and took his place behind the Hammond we were now going to enter the Church of the blues. This consummate professional calmly dealt with technical gremlins and got the lead changed on his mike – this was blues that soared over the valleys and melted in the hot evening breeze spreading and weaving its magic. Lucky Peterson had now shown his double threat stunning Hammond Organ playing and his powerful voice and the audience knew they were listening to the headlining act of the weekend that had just got even better! This was not the end as there were soaring mountain heights of musical delight still to be heard as Lucky stepped away from the keys and picked up is cool blue Epiphone; whose strap line is performance is our passion and Lucky Peterson was living proof that this guitar delivers a wonderful sound. This was going to be the set of broken strings Shawn, was playing with 5 strings, he had dug out a new string from bag and was looking for an appropriate moment to re-new the string when snap went the same string on Lucky’s guitar as he continued to sing from the front of the stage a distinctive, delightful version of ‘Little Red Rooster’ with a medley of blues favourites interspersed. What power to the voice as he sang without a microphone across the festival crowd as clear as a bell, with the Welsh always glad to sing-a-long and participate howled and barked into the clear night sky. Returning to the stage with the band filling in with its amazing combination of funk bass playing that was the best of the festival and there had been some amazing bass players; metronomic drumming and the glorious blues lead breaks from the guitar. Lucky resumed his seat at the keys and invited his wife Tamara to join him on stage as the evening just got better with her soaring funky vocals giving the late shift of the festival a high-octane boost. Then in a flash it was all over and the they left the stage… still always next year clear the diary as I am positive the team at Blaenau Gwent Council will be wanting to celebrate their 10th anniversary in style.

Abertillery Blues Festival 12th July 2013

Bob and Norm  - Abertillery Blues Festival - 12 July 2013_0312l On a very warm Summer’s evening, the 9th Abertillery Blues Festival was officially opened with Bob & Norm from GTFM Bluesshow announcing the first act of the weekend, Mick Pini Band.

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As ever Mick delivered a display of quality blues guitar playing, this was no blues power trio it was a quartet of fine musicians with Jools Grudgins playing quality keys that blend, inspire and added depth to the sound and a very solid rhythm section, Drums and Bass. A highlight was Mick’s rendition of ‘Catfish Blues‘ giving it a funky edge with great guitar licks and superb key playing by Jules. This was a band that understood each other and they bounced of each other perfectly forming a complete unit delivering a rocky guitar driven blues sound that was perfect to get the festival up and going with an enjoyable act with a set of great blues standards given the distinctive “Pini” treatment including ‘All Along The Watchtower‘ and ‘West Side Blues‘. Abertillery 2013 was up and running at a high-speed and quality from the off.

Mick Pini  - Abertillery Blues Festival - 12 July 2013_0070lMick Pini Band members

Mick Pini – Guitar & Vocals
Micky Barker – Drums
Paul Pryor – Bass
Julian Grudgings – Keyboards

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Then the stage was taken over by the ebullient character Vincent Flatts with his own take on Southern Rock, this may not be the blues but boy was it fun on a hot summers evening as he entertained the crowd with a combination of hard-hitting riffs and clear vocals delivering a bourbon-infused combination of tunes from their latest album and a wide range of artists. This got the crowd dancing and foot stomping, Vincent Flatts heard the sound of a Saxophone off-stage in the crowd and invited him on stage, this was a surreal first for Abertillery as an unknown guest musician from the crowd joined the act on stage and jammed as they did a number or two, this was no set up the band didn’t know him and having played a couple of tunes he left the stage. This was a great set – how can other bands follow the high-octane, bourbon fuelled act that is Vincent Flatts. With a brief break that gave the crowd time to fill our glasses and enjoy the cooling night air that seemed to have invited every gnat in Wales to come and enjoy the musical vibe!

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The next band, Jo Harman and Company has been receiving a lot of positive publicity regarding her latest CD “Dirt On My Tongue”. This was her first live performance in Wales so expectation was high. The Company are a tightly formed mix of musicians who provide Jo with the musical foundation so that her voice can soar into the rafters at any location. Jo has a powerful voice which takes you on an emotional journey of hopes and loss, love and tears. The Bobby Blues Bland number ‘Ain’t No Love‘ was a great choice and a fitting tribute to the great bluesman himself and she thoroughly enjoyed the impromptu singing as much as we did listening to her. The great licks provided by Scott McKeon, whose guitar skills are without doubt a little bit special whilst on the bass Phil Mulford’s skills added interest to each and every number also in the Company was Steve Watts on drums and Martin Johnson on keys. Jo Harman leads the band and they interact with her creating a very special bond which shows through as they play to please the crowd and not to build up their own egos. The set was populated with numbers from her excellent CD proving she can perform live as well as in the studio, in fact the live sound as ever added a little bit extra it had an edgier less polished feel, making them classier.
Jo may not have been everyone’s idea of the blues, though for some she was the act of the weekend or at least Friday night but she is a singer/writer who can perform and charm and whose reputation is growing all the time. She certainly made lots of new friends and fans at Abertillery. It was a great set delivered with lots of passion; Jo certainly deserves all of the positive publicity that she has been getting recently. All too soon the shadows were lengthening and it was getting darker and the last act of the evening was stepping onto the stage:-

Jo Harman and The Company - Abertillry 2013 - DSC_0286lJo Harman & The Company Members:-
Jo Harman – Vocals
Steve watts – Keys
Martin Johnson – Drums
Scott McKeon – Guitar
Phil Mulford – Bass

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Mud Morganfield with his backing band that are a talented group that deliver time and time again with tight playing and perfect timing and rhythm. The band consists of Mike Hellier (Drums); Double Bass; Ian Jennings, Blues harps-man Steve West Weston, guitar ? And Keys?. Together they delivered yet again at Abertillery scintillating authentic Chicago blues. Mud sings with a clarity stripping back the vocals so that the legacy of his father Muddy Morganfield shines through with clarity. The song that summed the set up was ‘The Son of The Seventh Son‘; no wonder he has been nominated in four categories of the Living Blues Awards. No one can have any complaints about the quality of the blues delivered by Mud and his friends. His performance delighted a delirious crowd as some great Muddy waters standards were sung across the marquee and beyond with the ghost of Muddy Waters echoing the words back from the Welsh hillsides.

Mud Morganfield - Abertillry 2013 - DSC_0454lMud Morganfield & Band Members:-
Larry Williams (Mud Morganfield) – Vocals
Ronni Busack Boysen – Guitar
Eric Ranzoni – Keys
Steve West Weston – Blues Harp
Ian Jennings – Double Bass
Mike Hellier – Drums

Northsyde – Storyteller’s Daughter CD Review

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If you are not familiar with Northsyde or in their previous incarnation as Funkydory get out and see them now they are simply awesome as a live band. This latest recorded offering “Storyteller’s Daughter”; is the next best thing as they have captured in the studio the raw heady energy of a live performance and in addition there is a bonus of two live tracks ‘Mercy‘ and ‘Northsyde‘. Lorna Fothergill’s vocals drive the band forward with powerful, emotive, pitch perfect articulate and clear vocals. The band is a collective of fine musicians who blend and bend their talents to showcase Lorna’s voice and their own skills; whilst the superlative guitar playing of Jules Fothergill with spine tingling riffs is brought to the fore from the first track of the album ‘More’ – and having listened to the first track you are left breathless with delight wanting more and more and this is delivered over the next ten tracks. The band have the opportunity to shine while Lorna sits out on ‘Messing Around‘, with the melodic riff’s from Ian Mauricio’s fretless bass joined by precision guitar from Jules and the skillful drumming prowess of Hayden Doyle. This is a band that plays and delivers the music they enjoy – a mix of rock, funk, blues which they capture to create a quite unique sound. This album also shows that they are purveyors of excellent songs where the words stand out as they are delivered with clarity and the talented musicians ensure the music and the voice are in touch with each other whilst still having freedom that gives the whole CD a fresh free-flowing feel. The album is full of gems that have a variety of tempo’s and musical textures from ‘Can’t Stop The Bullet’, opening with a beautiful Julesesque riff in which he makes that guitar sing then wham straight between the lines there is Lorna’s voice, throaty and pure as she pours out “I Can’t Breathe” ; it truly takes your breath away then on quieter more controlled restrained numbers the blending of gentle guitar work and the soulful contemplative tone of Lorna’s vocals so that her singing has a prayer-like quality on ‘No Rocking Chair‘. This track is about despair but this is no droning monotone it is pure music with the blending of bass and clever use of delicate symbols for Hayden highlighting the essence of the song. This is definitely one of my albums of the 2013 and the live tracks really give the album that live feel.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD a doodle rating of
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CD Available at CD Baby; iTunes and Amazon

Abertillery Blues Festival Saturday 13th July

SATURDAY 13th July 2013 second day of live music in the sun starts Midday in Abertillery The signs have gone up – and here is a map or for sat navs postcode is NP13 1TZ

abertillery 1

You know when you are nearly there this is the sign….
abertillery nearly there

Midday today’s is the START of music, laughs, dancing and pure enjoyment!

Kicking of will be a trio of local artists a fantastic opportunity to showcase their talents:-

Gordon Wride from the Revelators

The Breeze

 

Sam Andrews Band

Marcus Bonfanti

Touring the country Marcus and his band are delighting audiences with tracks from previous albums and his latest acclaimed album “Shake The Walls”

Grainne Duffy

Grainne is a popular performer across the U.K. and Europe at festivals and popular gigging venues. Grainne has taking hold and made her own the classic blues number ‘I Would Rather Go Blind’.

Henry’s Funeral Shoe

Henry’s Funeral Shoe local band from Ystrad Mynach is a duo of talent brothers Aled Guitar and Brennig drums/percussion they are popular in the valleys and beyond having successfully performed in U.SA.

Nightporters

Nightporters are back touring! The kings of Rockin’ Rhythm and Blues – they are at Abertillery on the second night of the tour we are going to be dancing in the aisles and cheering them to stay if the reception from last night is anything to go by! see this clip

This is what they sound like from the archives:-

The Blockheads

The Blockheads are the penultimate act and they will raise the temperature even higher! They will be pumping out to the crowd pleasing tracks for the past intermingled with recent creations wow this will be fun 🙂

Lucky & Tamara Peterson

What a headlining act at Abertillery this year! Lucky Peterson is an awesome talent – delivering world quality blues when singing, playing the guitar or on the keys he is a one man band of excellence.

His live performances are electric and everyone will be wanting more and the festival not to end sadly it will but I am sure Abertillery Blues Festival will be back July 2014…

STILL TIME TO GET YOUR TICKETS FOR 2013 – @ Abertillery Blues Festival