Matt Schofield Shining A Lantern on The Blues in Bristol

Matt Schofield Shining A Lantern on The Blues in Bristol

Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival filling Colston hall and beyond with Jazz, blues, dancing and people having fun enjoying live music.  This year due to snow and other constraints Bluesdoodles crossed the bridge into England only once to visit the festival. Friday was a night not to be missed for a lover of electric blues guitar as Matt Schofield Trio were back in town for one night only playing the blues that filled the Lantern with pure pleasure.

We deliberately arrived early. The music in the foyer entertains and the buzz of the festival adds to the pre-gig excitement.  We were not disappointed. Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion entertained in the foyer on arrival. The show was early but already the hall was teeming with people and the dancers were warming up their dancing shoes. As ever Zoe and her band delivered classy blues that eased the stresses of the week, putting us in the mood for fun. Showcasing songs from their latest album, The Blues And I Should Have A Party including Chislehurst Caves.  Zoe’s vocals power through the songs that are melodic and bluesy. Her band Blue Commotion are inspiring, perfectly formed and executed guitar lead breaks, the intricacies of the Hammond and the bass lines combining with drumming that pulls the sound together. They delivered a harmonious set that pleased the foyer crowd immensely. Following on from this with the seats pushed back forming a dance floor for a short but exciting dance routine from the Bristolettes. Then a jazzy set of Paper Moon as they took over the foyer stage. Fronted by the second female vocalist of the evening Lucy Moon. This is a quintet that is full of swing and the dancing continued with rhythms that no one can ignore as I overheard ” A lovely way to chill on a Friday night”, so true the Foyer music and atmosphere was the perfect start to an end-of-week evening out.

Now for the main event for Bluesdoodles tonight, a rare opportunity to hear the wonderful guitar tones and playing of Matt Schofield. Now he has moved to the States his visits are far too few and far between.

The trio re-formed with Jonny Henderson’s Hammond magic, and Evan Jenkins’ wizardry on the drums added to the blues sorcery that Matt Schofield’s guitar produces on every outing. This is blues that shimmers and sparkles igniting your blues DNA with pure unadulterated joy.

The opening number was perfect the opening track from his album Heads, Tails and Aces – What I Wanna Know. The trio played as if they had never parted it was music to my ears. The music flowed with the trio having fun, the audience was having even more! We were totally immersed in blues that was a sparkling dancing mix of licks, riffs and rhythms this is blues that is pure and clean as a summer sky. The solos from Evan and Jonny were delightful. Above all the jamming between the three maestros was an ecstatic listening experience.

The set was replete with tracks from Siftin’ Through Ashes. The music was top-notch. The tones that Matt cajoles out of his custom Strat-styled guitar is sensational. This is top notch blues from a master craftsman. The trio cast their spell over us we wanted more, alas a short encore, Troublemaker closed out a night of blues that was simply electrifying.  The message from everyone in the audience was sincere and clear, come back soon Matt, a new album would be welcomed too.


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Matt Schofield Shining A Lantern on The Blues in Bristol

The Lantern Bristol Shines on Dan Owen’s Vocals

The Lantern Bristol Shines on Dan Owen’s Vocals.With a crowd full of anticipation to hear once again the vocals of Dan Owen with his twenty-first-century mix of singer-songwriter angst, blues and ‘modern man with a guitar’ sound. Before the main act of the night, the evening opened with a singer-songwriter behind the keyboards as Billy Lockett hit the stage. Billy set the scene for Dan with a set that may not have been exciting but was a solid start to the evening.  The set was full of romantic originals and into this indie mix, he covered Nirvana, definitely not Kurt Cobain but an interesting choice. Closing the short set the Northampton-born Billy Lockett with his easy smile finished off with Burn It Down.  The number that got him noticed when included on Made in Chelsea. Billy also has a full band which would pep up the numbers I am sure.


The Lantern Bristol Shines on Dan Owen’s Vocals.Short break and Dan stepped onto the stage in The Lantern, Colston Hall. Dan Owen has been touring and shaping his craft. The bluesman who captures the tones of the seventies all packaged in an Indie delight. This is solo music that hits the mark with all ages especially the young who connect with the angst, his tales and manner that connects with the audience. His voice has always demanded attention and he got it.  Tonight as a duet his music was up close and very personal. Dan has certainly ‘come of age’ since I saw him last. As he opened with Parachute we knew we were in the assured vocal glow of Dan. The voice now has real controlled power, with a clarity of tone and delivery of lyrics. We flew with Dan close to the sun as he played Icarus. Wow!! Joining Dan on stage tonight was Lewis Cooper on Keys which provided an extra depth of tone and great backing vocals.  Dan’s latest E.P. Open Hands and Enemies is a snippet of his talent and a full album is long overdue.  From the E.P. he played What Is A Man and Moonlight, a slow burner that lights the auditorium.  The tone changed with Splinter as Lewis swapped keys for electric guitar with a twang of Country-meets-Americana and curls into British Indie. With that Lewis left the stage for a couple of solo numbers from the past as Dan, his guitar and harmonica collided with Bob Dylan, Cohen and the seventies with a swirl of blues with the added power of the stompbox. No longer a biscuit tin with wires, now neat smart and full of drumming power.  We were treated to a beautiful new song Hand That You Hold as he explored emotions with skill and empathy. Lewis returned to the stage and the set continued. What was noticeable the songs all had short intros the hallmark of songs today.  Made To Love You, written about a friend who he had a drink with to make a plan about his relationship. The song Made to Love You was written about domestic abuse experienced at the hands of a woman his friend had experienced while still loving her.

The Lantern Bristol Shines on Dan Owen’s Vocals.Dan Owen left the stage and quickly returned with guitar and harp with a rousing rendition of Willie Dixon’s Little Red Rooster. Lifting the energy and ambience of the venue. Blues just suits Dan’s vocals.


The Lantern Bristol Shines on Dan Owen’s Vocals, the set was accomplished. But just far too short, I was left wanting to hear more, get to know the musician.  So with that, the stage darkened and it was an early night as we left Colston Hall.


The Lantern Bristol Shines on Dan Owen’s Vocals.

James Hunter Six ~ Live in Bristol 2015

James Hunter 6- LAntern Bristol - July 2015_0072lJames Hunter Six entered the stage with their own infectious music a mix of British R’n’B with that added dimension Soul music, performed at The Lantern, Colston Hall as part of the Americana weekend in Bristol. It always amazes me that you can see him at intimate venues with the powerhouse of musical talent – it is a continuing mystery why he doesn’t play to larger audiences. That is the problem when you are, like so many other accomplished musicians a ‘best kept secret’. Everyone who loves live music should start shouting out loud and get James Hunter known throughout the stratosphere. Until that happens his many fans can enjoy the music that conjures up Sam Cooke, James Brown and Wilson Pickett up close to listen watch and enjoy the supremacy of live music played with verve and passion.

James Hunter 6- LAntern Bristol - July 2015_0016lJames Hunter writes great music and the other five members of the band deliver a deep rhythm that gets those dancing feet moving and the energy of music soaring through your veins. We were treated with music from his latest album the superb Minute By Minute including Chicken Switch, The Gypsy a clever tune and lyrics that pull you in and mesmerise you and Let The Monkey Ride. Intermingled in the high-octane set were tracks from his two Grammy nominated albums, People Gonna Talk and The Hard Way including Jacqueline and Believe Me Baby.

James Hunter 6- LAntern Bristol - July 2015_0011lJames Hunter once again delivered Rhythm and Blues that captivated, entertained and were an inspiring delivery that yes is classic but has a modern twist it is music that wants and should be heard far and wide. His vocals can be considered as he pours emotions into a ballad then on a turn of a sixpence he lets out that squeal the tempo picks up he is like a jack-in-the-box on stage full of bubbling energy and a stage patter that is cheeky and never sickly smooth he says whatever comes into his mind in the moment. There is a feeling that nothing is rehearsed it is being developed on stage, but this is no chaotic jam it is music that meshes the layers with James’ hypnotic high speed guitar and vocal range that defies description to his left we have horns that add to the feel that soul is in the air. The rhythm section of double bass and drums give him the solid platform so he can take a musical leap into the blues and play and the keys give him a foil to interact and play off as the keys mimic his chords. The mix is a magic musical soup that is full of tasty sounds and you just want the music to play on. Bluesdoodles says, go see him live you will be hooked.