Youthful Stark delights The Convent
Friday 11th December 2015
Tonight we had blues with a difference, Stark are definitely not orthodox – that said they produce music that is authentic and delivered with verve and passion. Stark are a great young trio from Brighton with real potential to light up the British Blues scene and way beyond crossing artificial boundaries created with a world obsessed with genres and putting music into boxes.
Jamie Francis’s guitar of choice is a resonator played like an electric the sound is both interesting and musically spot on mixing well with his vocals and the trio’s interpretations of blues classics and self-penned numbers. Ensuring the band has rhythm, and another two voices, drummer Evan Carson controls the beat and creates layers of sound with carefully selected array of sticks including mallets, rods and brushes, and bassist Joshua Franklin. Team Stark describe themselves as alternative blues, the reality being that they a have blues running through their core like a stick of Brighton Rock, they just stir the pot up creating a sound that is contemporary and refuses to be trapped behind a label. They want to be heard and judged by the sound they produce not pre-conceptions (often misguided) of Blues in Britain today.
The set was full of power opening with Dylan and closing with a free-flowing version of Whole Lotta Love. Their interpretation of Robert Johnson’s, Crossroad Blues was very much up-tempo and it really did work once again demonstrating what a classic number this oft heard blues song is. In the mix was Jeff Lang’s Copper Mine a lively number, Big Shaky a Kelly Jo Phelps number and those from the lexicon of the blues foundations such as Robert Johnson’s If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day appropriate in front of the altar at The Convent and Blind Lemon Jefferson’s Rising High Water Blues a modern and fresh re-working hitting the high water line.
Stark are more than re-shaping classics, they obviously love, understand and are knowledgeable about the blues as reflected in the self-penned numbers from their current EP Stories From The Ground. Ball and Chain certainly stands out as exceptionally good both lyrically and musically. I Will Change and Feelin’ Good again demonstrate the trio’s talent, the audience was very appreciative and this is a young band to watch out for as they can only get better and the level is high at the moment!
The slide guitar playing on Son House’s Death Letter Blues grabbed your attention proving that Stark are a band of great depth and dimension with tonal layers that build themselves around the lyrics that are the heart of blues.
For me Stark are a trio of talent creating a sound that is distinctive and blues with attitude Bluesiana for the twenty-first century; they are definitely the combining of country and urban blues with a twist of youthful arrogance. If you have missed them when they played live then I recommend catching up with them via The Convent’s Netgig service.