JW Jones Thunderbolt Blues Reaches High Temperature tonight on a cold Bristol November night. With lots of gigs on tonight, those with a discernible taste for Canadian driven Chicago Blues were definitely in the right place with JW and his band; on bass Laura Greenberg and new drummer Will Laurin a perfectly formed trio.
Opening with an instrumental that grabbed your ear’s attention you were hooked in with a great SRV styled guitar with the tone and but definitely not a clone! With guitar driven melody this was the start of the warming process we would soon be hot with the delights of blues via JW Jones and his Gibson Les Paul. Tonight was about his music and the opportunity to hear tracks from his stupendous album High Temperature what better way to introduce the album than with the title track a reworking of a Little Walter classic. His guitar playing certainly wooed and excited everyone in the room tonight with authentic electric blues. His music shaped by tradition but never trapped in a cul-de-sac even during the set taking us down the delta showing a different side of the blues.
He makes his gold Les Paul sing to his blues style with a deft touch and depth of feeling for the roots of the blues. The music is contemporary, touching and inspiring everyone with lyrics that told a story or shared emotions. The night was a mix of numbers from his previous album Belmont Boulevard and great covers re-shaped and perfectly formed. The textures and tones change but the quality of sound was constant as we heard BB King and Charlie Musslewhite. Both were stylish with JW Jones treatment of Charlie’s music was a real highlight his interpretation was inspired. The harmony of the chorus with Laura his bassist backing vocals on How Many Hearts gave the number a shape and context. The mood changed with a foot-tapping rockier R&B infused Watch Your Step,
The tempo slowed with a beautiful slow blues number. This was pure, blues crystalline in its purity the perfect contrast to what went before, even the siren of the emergency services on the A4 outside did not distract you and almost acted as a sound effect fitting into the groove. adding to the drama of another impeccable lead break the use of the drumstick as a slide. The blues flowed like a molten river through the venue the tempo changed the mood evolved as we fell under the spell of JW Jones and his band’s spell. Live music, intense, up-close and full of emotion. This connection you will never get at a larger venue. The Thunderbolt is small and perfectly formed and the beer is served at the right temperature and almost as tasty as the blues on offer tonight from the stage.
All too soon the set was drawing to the finale a medley, name that tune moment with the up-tempo fun-loving groove of Magic Westside Boogie. The number was fast upbeat lets dancing music with Bo Diddley licks, smoothly morphing into Voodoo Chile all part of a single lead break. Magnificent. This then gave the opportunity to shine the spotlight on Laura and Will. The ‘let’s add to a sense of fun and adventure’ vibe maintained as they played their own form of musical chairs. JW Jones left the guitar and picked up the drumsticks, Will the Bass vacated by Laura who was now up front on the Les Paul. The depth of understanding between the band was demonstrated as we then had a TomTom duel between JW & Will. Then the set was wound up with an incredible medley of Rock n Roll favourites, which smoothly morphed and some intuitive improvisation that saw the temperature and delight of the audience reach fever pitch. The end was a real show stopper as all three members of the band joined JW on his Les Paul. Tonight we had sparkling blues and real entertainment we all had fun.