Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Otis Taylor Photos

Otis Taylor

Otis Taylor Photos

John Paul Grigsby from the Otis Taylor BandJohn Paul is a great name for a bass player......

Otis Taylor Photos

Jack Hadley from the Otis Taylor Band

Review : Otis Taylor - Worthenbury - 18 Nov 2005

As he promised Pete Evans sent in this excellent review; photos will follow.

Otis Taylor Band at “Goin’ Up The Country” Roots and Blues Club, Worthenbury, Wrexham – Friday November 18th with Tom Doughty in support.

This gig had attracted much interest and had sold out nearly a month previously thus ensuring the biggest ever night in the little village hall’s history.
It was Otis Taylor’s first tour of the UK although he came over to record for Blue Horizon in 1970 but left without completing a recording but since re-establishing his recording career in 1997 in the USA he has won 7 WC Handy nominations and numerous other awards.

However, opening up was the remarkable Tom Doughty who has quietly been building up an excellent reputation over the last few years. Following a traffic accident when a teenager which left him disabled, Tom plays with his guitar resting on his wheelchair like a lap steel. His prowess over the last few years has brought him to the attention of Woody Mann and Bob Brozman amongst others leading to bookings in the USA.
He opened with Banty Rooster and for the next hour kept everyone enthralled with his playing including Catfish Blues by Robert Petway, Brownsville Blues by Furey Lewis, a beautiful instrumental version of Eleanor Rigby and his own compositions Running Free and Koa River, the latter played on his Hawaiian guitar made from native Koa wood. All songs can be found on his excellent new cd Running Free.

A connection had been made with Otis Taylor by members of Hookers Blues Club (soon to be reinstated at Wrexham Rugby Club) at the Chicago Blues Festival in 2003 and the connection maintained since then, the common denominator being a love of rugby. For this trip, Otis was joined by Jack Hadley on lead guitar and John Paul Grigsby on bass guitar, two very fine musicians indeed, and whilst the main aim of the tour was to promote his new cd Below The Fold on the Telarc label, the evening’s set included songs from his previous four releases.

The opening track Feel Like Lightning was from the new cd and featured Otis on Banjo setting down a rhythm before Jack and John slipped into the groove of the song but as was the pattern of the evening the song then blended into a new number, the superb opening track Ten Million Slaves from the 2001 album Respect The Dead.

Respect The Dead was revisited then with Just Live Your Life featuring quiet, beautiful and sensitive Stratocaster from Jack. and was then followed by Hookers In The Street from the new cd which set down a pulsating rhythm enhanced by the request from Otis for audience clapping participation.

Although Otis does not generally play covers “When BB King plays my songs, then I’ll play his..” there then followed one of the best versions I’ve ever heard of “Hey Joe” again showcasing the superb guitar work of Jack – quite superb.

Otis had played Stratocaster on these tracks but then substituted it for the harmonica on the final track of the first set Hambone which resulted again in major audience participation of clapping and chanting as he went on walkabout throughout the hall.

The opening track of the second set was the haunting Rosa from the 2003 Telarc release Truth Is Not Fiction dedicated to the recently deceased Rosa Parks and featured Jack on lap steel guitar.
The next track featured Otis a capella on Hurry Home from the 2004 release Double V before the temperature was raised on Baby please Don’t Go, the Big Joe Williams cl;assic.
Next up was Please Come Home Before It Rains and featured Otis on electric mandolin. This superb track pulsates with African rhythms and also appears on Double V and again had the audience involved.
It was then according to Otis “time for me to get wild” with Didn’t Know Much About Education from Below The Fold and the two strats really cranked up as the song segwayed into Be My Frankenstein from Truth Is Not Fiction.

The evening then came to an end with a very long and exciting version of Black Witch from Respect The Dead which featured amazing playing and effects from Jack on the lap steel guitar with Otis laying down the rhythm which had a real North Mississippi / Fat Possum like feel to it. Again this song blended into another, Mandan Woman from Double V which again brought the audience to their feet .

Apparently Otis doesn’t normally perform an encore putting all his energy into the last number, but the requests were overwhelming and so announcing that the song had a lot in common with the Welsh, he concluded with Lost My Horse from the White African cd which refers to A Navajo Indian who drank too much!

All in all, this was one of the best gigs presented by the organisers in their nine years of promoting blues in north Wales, and the possibility of a return tour next year is looked forward to with anticipation.

Pete Evans

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

the blues and then some: blues solos from texas

the blues and then some: blues solos from texas

Any Texas guitar experts who want to have a crack at identifying some of the great talent that play in and around thet great city of Dallas, Texas? Read the text then click the picture for the download screen.

Monday, November 28, 2005

James Harman - Strictly Live in '85 plus

Just ordered my CD copy of one of my vinyl favourites. Finally Pacific Blues released "Strictly Live in '85" by James Harman. It's a great live CD that I have loved for years. I haven't heard it for ages as I gave up the ability to play real vinyl records a few years ago. For goodness sake though --- don't tell James, he'll go bananas. He most certainly does not believe in CDs, he gave me a real telling off the last time we exchanged emails.

Ordered from those lovely people at RedLick. Even better news - this release has some extra tracks that were not on the original LP.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Walter Horton clip

Click the link for a clip of the great Walter Horton. To read about the clip click here.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Another Internet radio show

KZSU stream a broadcast in lovely 128k stereo MP3 with blues each Saturday from 9am to midday Pacific time - this is normally 5pm to 8pm UK time.

The DJ Byrd Hale has just played a fantastic Nick Moss tune from his new CD Sadie May - really chuffing good.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Review : Southside Johnny - Birkenhead - 23 Nov 2005

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes
Pacific Road Arts Centre, Birkenhead

Having always been a big fan of the music but never having seen the band live, it was a treat to see the nine-piece Southside Johnny & The Asbury Dukes at Pacific Road, as part of the 17th International Guitar Festival of Great Britain.

Nearly thirty years have elapsed since John Lyon founded the band amongst the bars of his native Asbury Park and it was evident he still has a passion for the horn-driven rhythm and blues that made him and The Asbury Jukes a force on the live scene.

A most healthy midweek turnout were treated to some trips down memory lane, some choice covers and a sprinkling of new material from the new “Into The Harbour” release.

The opening “Unchain My Heart” showed what the band are all about, with the four-man horn section firing on all cylinders, with Southside Johnny stalking the stage and singing with all his heart. With regular guitarist Bobby Bandiera away with Bon Jovi, the duties were in the capable hands of Ricky Byrd – every inch a rock and roller – from his cut-off Johnny Cash t-shirt, impressive tattoos and sticky-up hair!

The blues side of Southside Johnny have surfaced over the last few years, and he showed his fine harmonica playing on a version of Tom Waits “Gin-Soaked Boy” – and towards the end of the show on the timeless “Help Me”.

The vintage years of the late seventies and early eighties were covered with the superb “Love On The Wrong Side Of Town”, “I Don’t Want To Go Home” and a glorious cover of The Four Tops “Walk Away Renee” – all beautifully delivered and lapped up by the audience.

Veteran sax player Ed Manion was given a solo spot and vocal on the rollicking “Staggerlee”, with Ricky Byrd showing off his rock and roll licks on the rousing “Blue Christmas” – finishing the song off with broken string!

Bruce Springsteen’s “The Fever” was another highlight amongst many – just one of many song’s the great man passed on to his friend – and a staple in the band’s sets since the early days.

Encore time saw the whole room joining in on “Having A Party”, a self-explanatory title if ever their was one; with the show rounded off with the Rolling Stones “Happy” off the new release – complete with more excellent guitar from Ricky Byrd.

Band line-up, for those people who like to know these things: Southside Johnny (vocals and harmonica), Ricky Byrd (guitar and vocals), Bobby Lynch (keyboards), Muddy Shews (bass), Joe Bellia (drums), Ed Manion and Joey Stann (saxophones), Neil Pauley (trombone) and Chris Anderson (trumpet).

To summarise – a cracking night of proper music, played with skill and passion – I loved it and so did all those present!


Thursday, November 24, 2005

News from Grahame - Chris Whitley passes

Grahame Rhodes writes....

Sad to report the passing of slide player/singer Chris Whitley at the age of 45, due to liver cancer. The Houston, Texas born musician made some dozen albums - with his 1991 debut "Living With The Law" hailed as something of a classic - it's well worth checking out for his lovely guitar work and the production of Malcolm Burn - longtime associate of Daniel Lanois.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy birthday to Jerry

Jerry Portnoy is 62 today! Born 23 Nov 1943 in Chicago, IL.

My favourite Jerry Portnoy quotation: when asked if he would tell a youngster the secret of being a world class blues harmonica player he replied

"Sure kid! - dress like a pimp"

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Good news from Pete Evans - gig overview and look forward

Pete tells me that the Otis Taylor gig was "absolutely amazing" and that it's "at the top of all the gigs I've ever been involved with".

I couldn't make the gig so I look forward to a few words and maybe a piccie or two. Anyone there care to volunteer?

Pete reminds us all that the excellent Dutch bluesman Hans Theessink will be at Worthenbury village hall this coming Sat 26 Nov. Doors at 8pm. Music at 9pm.

Bad news from Pete Evans - Hookers Club

Pete tell me that the grand re-opening of Hookers Blues Club in December has been put back until the new year; he does not know the exact date yet. He has been let down by various contractors who I imagine are working (or not) on the building. Watch this space for details.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Happy birthday to me.....

Just remembered to post that today is my birthday. 43 today!

Had a nice bottle of red wine, listened to Jimmy Rogers earlier and listening to Freddie King as I type (that's the life eh?).

[blues content]
Today would also have been Duane Allman's birthday had he lived.
[/blues content]

Review : Paul Byrd- Warrington Blues Club - 18 Nov 2005

An excellent gig, an excellent review; I said that Grahame would come up trumps and write a proper review and here it is --- nice one mate, thanks ......

One of this year’s most eagerly awaited gigs for me, was the return of the superb Paul Byrd, from Fort Worth, Texas – and at Warrington Blues Club he again gave the crowd a magnificent display of ‘blues from the heart’ – with his top-notch guitar playing, coupled with his great, rich voice.

As ever the tour has been put together by Chris Lomas, who handled the bass duties, with the band completed by Fred Skidmore on keyboards and Micky Barker – on one of the smallest drum kits I have ever seen! No such problems about a dodgy pick-up band with these guys on board!

Two brilliant sets included several covers from the three Kings – BB, Freddie and Albert, along with songs from Paul Byrd’s latest release – “Without Further Adieu”. The all-round nice guy was on top form and by the end of the night had the dance floor in front of him full.

He knows how to pace his sets and early treats were the rollicking “Owe, Owe, Owe” of his own, and a great, funky reading of the chestnut “Key To The Highway”, done Freddie King style, with a glorious rendition of Bill Withers “Ain’t No Sunshine” featuring some stunning guitar and heartfelt vocal.

The pace was taken up for the rocking “Sugar Free, Sugar Mama” – probably the nearest he gets to a pure Texas shuffle in the show – with some sparkling playing from Fred Skidmore – who was give ample opportunity all night on both organ and piano.

Second set highlights included Percy Mayfield’s often-covered “Serves Me Right To Suffer” and an absolute stonking version of BB King’s “Sweet Little Angel”, with his black Les Paul firing out the BB-style licks. Nods were given to both Freddie King, with a take on his “Boogieman”, and Albert King, with a fluid, emotion-filled “I’ll Play The Blues For You”.

A top night was rounded off with a brace of encores, concluding with a romp through Louis Jordan’s “Let The Good Times Roll”, with the latter part of the song featuring some dynamic slide playing – recalling classic Duane Allman.

For a classic straight blues show there is nobody to beat this guy – as I have said before he should be on main stages at the major blues festivals in this country – Gary Hood get to it!


Pictures from last night's gig

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Pictures from tonight's gig

Excellent gig tonight. The drummer was a little "British" at times but all in all, from Paul, a demonstration of what a real blues gig should be. I'm sure that Grahame will send a proper review, but in the meantime I'll just say that Paul covered a broad spectrum of blues styles from the 50s to the 00s. An excellent variation of material that kept the evening lively.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Sometimes wish I lived in Dallas

From the Blues-L mailing list.....

Anson Funderburgh will be doing a show in Dallas @ Sons of Hermann Hall with Kim Wilson this Sat the 19th. A small, cozy venue for a great show. It was to be a private party, but is now open to the public.

Damn! I bet that's good.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A nice little clip

I am just listening to the Internet blues show from the great harmonica player Dennis Gruenling. I notice that he has a nice little clip posted for everyone's enjoyment. His show seems to be on a bit of a Kim Wilson tip right now too. Very good. Will tune away in a few minutes and tune into Paul Jones.

Review : Ben Andrews at the Harbourside Club, Liverpool, Tuesday 15th November 2005

I couldn't make Tuesday's gig as I have a nightclass every week; aprendo Espanol. Luckily Lionel Ross was there and sent this review......

From start to finish of this magnificent evening of acoustic blues, Ben Andrews from Washington, DC, held a spell-bound audience in the palm of his hand, combining powerful, grit-laden vocals with superlative guitar playing, backed by a nice line in amplified foot tapping. He also shared his knowledge and vast experience of playing the blues around the USA through fascinating tales of his meetings with the many blues legends who have inspired his career.

He opened his account with an upbeat Texas prison song, penned in 1927 by Furry Lewis, and John Lee Hooker’s Ride ‘Til I Die, before singing his own Easy Rider, a slow and bluesy love song. He then delivered tremendous versions of Baby, Please Don’t Go in the style of one of his main mentors, Brownie McGhee, and Blind Willie McTell’s Statesboro Blues. His combination of slide and finger-picking techniques were simply superb on both six- and twelve-string guitars. He also demonstrated the range and versatility of his playing with Georgia Rag, Monday Morning Blues and a vibrant Leadbelly medley that he smilingly described as “the roots of heavy metal”.

The second set was equally wonderful, featuring three Robert Johnson numbers and a fabulous, earthy version of Willie Dixon’s Spoonful, which he dedicated to his sadly missed friend, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Yet more variety was supplied by a beautifully performed interpolation of mildly ribald humour with Bo Carter’s Your Biscuits Are Big Enough For Me and Mississippi John Hurt’s Candy Man. A John Fahey instrumental then gave the opportunity for another generous helping of scintillating dexterity with due deference paid to Leo Kattke, paving the way for Robert Johnson’s Travellin’ Riverside Blues to conclude the set.

Finally, a stunning delivery of the self-penned Gallows Pole fully justified the wildly demanded encore to end what was a masterclass from one of the world’s finest exponents of Delta and Piedmont blues. The huge success of the evening was a fitting credit to John Welsh, whose enterprise and energy had secured the extension of Ben Andrew’s original itinerary to include a highly appreciated appearance in the North West at a suitably excellent venue.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Review : Robin Trower - Pacific Road, Birkenhead - 12 Nov 2005

A review by Grahame Rhodes......
As part of the 17th International Guitar Festival of Great Britain, now established as one of the top annual music festivals, legendary guitarist Robin Trower rolled back the years at Birkenhead’s fine Pacific Road Arts Centre, in a show full of superb playing – mainly with songs from his heyday – with the venue’s acoustics making for great sound.

Backed by the top-notch band of Davey Pattison (vocals), Dave Bronze (bass) and Pete Thompson (drums), a packed house was treated to near 90-minutes of classic Trower – kicking off with “Twice Removed From Yesterday” – the title cut of his first solo album, way back in 1972 – his superb tone and control demonstrating that he has lost none of his chops over thirty years on!

The songs from the acclaimed “Bridge of Sighs” record still sounded as fresh as ever, and we were treated to a brilliant version of the title track – with Trower still feeling every note with passion – with other highlights from that era being the rousing “Day Of The Eagle” and “Too Rolling Stoned”.

The gritty vocals of Davey Pattison shone on the bluesy swagger of “Go My Way” and the fine “Another Time, Another Place”, from the recently remixed “Living Out Of Time” release. Pattison left the stage for the beautifully-delivered instrumental “Islands” – which featured another guitar masterclass from Trower.

The experienced rhythm section of Dave Bronze – often in employment with one Eric Clapton, and fine drummer, Pete Thompson, drove the music along in fine style, with the ‘guv’nor’ soloing on top. At his peak Robin Trower was often labelled a ‘Hendrix-clone’, but to these ears his playing has a lot more to it than that!

A fine show was rounded off with a brace of encores – with a dip back into the early days for the beautiful “Daydream” – showing the more delicate side of Trower’s playing.

Opening the show was the talented Jon Amor – now between bands, but in a 35-minute set the ex-Hoax man showed what a fine writer he is with some new tunes and favourites such as “24 Hours” and “Can’t Stand Up”. Armed just with acoustic guitar and effects he did extremely well, and I look forward to seeing him out with a band again.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Blues Humour

Nope! Not an oxymoron but a genuine bit of bluesy satire. Check out the link. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

News from Pete Evans - Worthenbury

Pete writes with a few snippets of news.....
Otis Taylor gig has sold out now on November 18th but tickets now available and selling steadily for Hans Theessink, the excellent Dutch acoustic blues guitarist who will appear at Worthenbury on Saturday November 26th.

News from Pete Evans - Hookers Club

Pete writes with a few snippets of news.....
Hooker Blues Club recommences at Wrexham Rugby Club on Saturday December 2nd. A great deal of money has been spent on the club and it has been completely gutted and refurbished with brand new bar, seating area and loos but still keeping the intrinsic character of the club. The re- opening night features the local release gig for Trafficker's new cd "Fade To Black". The cd is a great blues rocker with the comfortable rhythm section of Craig Bacon on drums and Barry Pethers on bass gelling superbly and allowing Tommy Allen to play with more freedom and conviction than on the band's previous two cds.
The night opens with Nantwich's excellent Big Blue House and will end with a jam from the two bands - certainly one not to miss.
Entry £8 coomencing at approx 8.30pm.
Incidentally, Tommy Allen guested with The Jimmy Burns band at Chicago's Buddy Guy's Legends, arguably one of the world's top blues clubs on his August honeymoon!

News from Pete Evans - Worthenbury

Pete writes with a few snippets of news.....
Finally at Worthenbury on December 9th Rod Clements , the voice and guitar from 70s roots rockers Lindisfarne makes his debut supported by Birmingham acoustic blues guitarist Paul Cowley promoting his new highly acclaimed cd. Tickets £8

||| Robson Fernandes - Official Web Site |||

I have just been pointed to this nice website of a Brazilian harmonica player called Robson Fernandes. It's great to see people all over the world into this stuff. He's not bad at all. Check out the wee video clips.

Clip from 2003

Clip from 2005

Monday, November 07, 2005

Review : Eddie and Frank Thomas at Alexander’s, Chester 03 Nov 2005

Lionel Ross wrote the following review....

This appearance in Chester formed part of the second tour of the UK by Eddie and Frank Thomas within the space of six months. The brothers from Iuka, Mississippi, received rave reviews from their first tour in the spring of this year and were in great demand to make a return visit. On witnessing this performance, it is not surprising that their talent, warmth and charm touched the hearts of so many people.

Eddie and Frank wonderfully combine their respective skills of musicianship and film-making to provide a riveting melange of music, history and geographical images around a journey along Highway 61 from Memphis to New Orleans. Eddie sings and plays the music and delivers a commentary on Frank’s sensitively compiled film, which depicts the Mississippi river, the railroad and Highway 61 itself and the cities and townships along the way. It also gives a flavour of the ancient and modern aspects of the cotton industry from the old buildings on legendary plantations to the current machinery that has replaced the labour-intensive cotton picking methods that inspired and nurtured the blues.

The musical element of the show fully demonstrates Eddie Thomas’s remarkable versatility, embracing fine vocals, intricate finger-picking on acoustic guitar, authentic slide on his 1932 National, occasional blues harp and some beautifully controlled artistry on muted trumpet. The first set of the programme, which began very appropriately with Rice Miller’s “Good Evening, Everybody”, included terrific versions of Charlie Patton’s “High Water Everywhere” Robert Johnson’s “Crossroad Blues”, and ended with some fine trumpet playing, most notably on a version of “Hotter Than That” in affectionate memory of Louis Armstrong.

The delight was undiminished throughout the second set, which featured music by Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup, Gus Canon, Bukka White, Big Bill Broonzy and Lonnie Johnson. In contrast, it also contained a splendid rendition of “Mr Jelly Lord” in homage to Jelly Roll Morton and Jimmie Rodgers’s “Mississippi River Blues”. Finally, this unique presentation of superb entertainment was brought to a close by Louis Jordan’s “Let The Good Times Roll”, which, in truth, was an entirely inappropriate and superfluous exhortation, as the good times had already rolled in abundance all evening.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Smokehouse Blues in Frodsham - 19 Nov 2005

The day after Paul Byrd in Warrington Smokehouse Blues appear at the Cheshire Cheese in Frodsham. These guys are one of my favourite bands ever from this part of the country so I hope that you can make it to this intimate and friendly pub in Frodsham.

My birthday is on the 20th so this will be a birthday celebration for me. Yes I will finally be 34 years old (well I got the numbers correct, I just got the ordering a bit wrong). I hope to be able to persuade Grahame to drive or maybe even splash out on a taxi and enjoy one or two well earned pints.

Paul Byrd at Warrington Blues Club on Fri 18 Nov

The next gig that I expect to be going to is Paul Byrd at Warrington Blues Club on Friday 18 Nov. Paul is a singer and guitar player form Fort Worth, Texas (home of the best blues club that I have ever been in). I saw Paul last year in Warrington and the year before in Chester and I really like him. He does an excellent set of blues dipping his toe in many classic styles whilst delivering his own well written songs.

Paul usually hooks up with Chris Lomas and friends while in this country and I believe that this tour is similar.

Some other news about Paul --- he married a beautiful looking lady this October, so my congratulations to him on that count. Mind you, I can't believe that he'd leave her behind so soon after the wedding. Paul also has a new haircut and funky looking goatee beard, maybe this look is down to the new lady.

Anyway --- see you all there eh?

William Clarke RIP

Today is nine years since the death of the great William Clarke. Here is an obituary and here is a link to Donnie MoreTone's tribute page.

If you are that way inclined and want to see more on the grave then look here.

Big Bill is still in my thoughts every week.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

**STOP PRESS** - Dennis Greunling's Radio Show today

For harmonica lovers Dennis' radio show is one day early this week and will focus on
the music of Rod Piazza. First featuring his own music, then original versions of blues he has covered over his addition to some new releases.

Check out the website for details available online 6pm UK time.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Johnny Moeller

... and thinking about under-appreciated Texas guitarists got me thinking about the excellent Johnny Moeller. He has an uncanny ability to lift any song that he is playing on.

When I try to think of othe people who are brilliant at this song lifting I think mainly of Junior Watson.


On several recommendations I am listening some Gary Clark Jr.
I am a lover of that Texas sound and to this guy sounds really good.