The Matt Schofield Trio + The Ben Poole Band

The Live Rooms, Chester: 18th November

It’s just over 12 months now since the excellent venue, The Live Rooms opened its doors in Chester, and in that time it has played  host to a vast variety of different kinds of music, and it’s great to hear that they plan to step up their presentation of top quality roots and blues music – hence a stop off for this national tour featuring two of our prominent guitarists – the fast-rising Ben Poole, from Brighton; and the more experienced and well-known Matt Schofield, originally hailing from Manchester.

A Tuesday gig attracted a decent, appreciative audience as both players led their trios through sets of high-powered blues, rock and more!

Opening the evening The Ben Poole Band delivered a short set featuring songs from their recorded output, including the brand new, “Live at The Royal Albert Hall”, from last year’s Bluesfest at the venue- recorded by the BBC and just out on Manhaton Records.

Ben Poole’s fluid guitar blazed on the title cut from his first studio release, “Let’s Go Upstairs”; and another highlight was a storming version of Otis Redding’s classic “Mr Pitiful”; also featured was the long, bluesy “Hanging In The Balance”, which saw some guitar ‘fireworks’.

Special mention goes to the excellent rhythm section, featuring Pepe Le Moko (bass) and Samuel Wade (drums).


Must admit I was caught on the hop a little with the Matt Schofield line-up, taking it for granted the trio would feature Hammond organ! But no, here Matt fronted a conventional trio and delivered a blazing set featuring works from across many of his albums.

Without the foil of the keyboards the show obviously featured a lot more of Matt Schofield’s guitar, but ably backed by again a quite exceptional rhythm section, comprising of Jamie Little on drums and Carl Standbridge on bass.

From the latest “Far As I Can See” a highlight was the both funky and shuffling “Everything”; a dip back for the title cut of “Siftin’ Thru Ashes” and also “Shipwrecked” from the fine “Anything But Time” release. Many songs were stretched out over a lengthy period giving Matt Schofield plenty of opportunity to show off his terrific playing, aided by the top rhythm section.

Great to see such a high-profile pairing stop off in Chester, and here’s to many more shows of similar ilk!


Video by Geoff Oldfield

Pictures courtesy of Friswell Photography



Warrington born and bred,  Peter Price is a guitarist/singer with brilliant international reputation following a musical career which has so far taken him to festivals and concert venues throughout the UK, Europe and North America. Having recently given concerts in Italy , Norway, Ireland , here is a chance to catch Peter and some special guests play in his home town.

“A gifted performer, his concerts and performances take the listener on strange and exotic journeys from the country blues style of Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, and Leadbelly, to Latin American dances , Celtic Pipe and Harp tunes, Hymns and Indian Ragas.

His performances  demonstrate a mind- boggling mastery of the acoustic guitar , a rich singing voice, and a relaxed yet compelling stage presence. Peter’s performances have delighted audiences worldwide and guarantee an evening not to be missed.”

“Mesmorizing-don’t miss !” South Carolina Bluesbash
“An acoustic blues virtuoso. The Guardian
“His music sends shivers down my spine…” Manchester City Life
“One of those wonderful British guitarists…..Peter Price is a great musician.” Eric Bibb

Ticket available from:

A rare North West gig for John Fairhurst next week in Manchester.

John Fairhurst truly epitomises the modern day wandering blues man. Stories of hunger, listlessness, roaming and reckless abandon are just a prelude to John’s story, something that can only be fully understood in the presence of the man. His magnetic raconteur style and guitar skills spurred him on to tour the globe and entertain crowds at illustrious festivals such as SXSW and Glastonbury to name but a few; his enigmatic stories relayed through his trademark howling vocals; think Captain Beefheart meets Tom Waits.

Brett Marvin & Thunderbolts CD.jpg

Review for BRETT MARVIN & THE THUNDERBOLTS – CD – ‘Stranger Than Strange’ – Nov 2014 Sun House Records

Well what can I say? What a brilliant album from a multi mix of musicians. Brett Marvin & The Thunderbolts have pulled out all the stops on this CD, ‘Stranger Than Strange’. All Thundebolts, past and present, appear on the album, as does the superb musicianship of Mel Collins (King Crimson), Neil Hubbard (Roxy Music), Duffy Power, Les Davidson, Annie Whitehead, Jenifer Maidman, Tony O’Malley, and the famous Kokomo singers. A great extended line up that brings with it brilliant musicianship with a wide variety of instrumental input.

Describing themselves as having a “unique Delta influenced country blues style” I can definitely hear the influences of Captain Beefheart and the Rolling Stones giving us a mix of Southern Rock, Americana and rockabilly, with plenty of stomp, boogie and a dash of skiffle. Most of the tracks on the album are self penned.

The first track ‘Shot In The Back’ gives a great sound musically having an Americana flavour with superb vocals and slide guitar. Next a slow rockin’ blues ‘Thoughts Of You’, with a super guitar solo, great slide guitar and vocals. ‘Stranger Than Strange’ and the name sake of the album, is probably one of my favourite tracks. Full on washboard, slide and stomp, love it. A brilliant bluesy track with an essence of Beefheart and cacophony of sounds.

A track with a vaudeville feel ‘Blue Boar Inn’, gives us washboard, zobstick kazoo, piano and slide, superb. Then a classic Slim Harpo number ‘King Bee’, described as ‘swamp blues’ has a zydeco influence and a great sound.

Getting into the ‘stomp’ with a bit of bluegrass flavour, on the individual Skip James number, ‘If You Haven’t Any Hay’. Then we get ‘a rockin’ with some honky tonk rhythm & blues .. there goes that kazoo again … with ‘Keep On Moving’. A change now with a funky, jazzy number ‘The Night’, with some tight, tight percussion, killer bass, super sexy sax and a touch of full on Hammond. Great vocal renditions too. Love it!

Another funky number, done with a ‘tongue in cheek’, ‘Got My Mobile Working’ with some interesting percussion and great backing vocals and brass input. A change again on Skip James’s ‘Cherry Ball’ with acoustic slide, a super track giving us blues with a bluegrass feel. The penultimate track ‘So Tired’ is a slow, down to earth 12 bar blues with excellent piano, slide guitar, harmonica and alternative percussion, superbly raw.

The final track on this exceptional album is an instrumental with rockin’ boogie piano and great raw slide with the percussion keeping the tight rhythms with the bass. What a great end to an excellent album.

The band have a history going back some 46 years and a ‘Rockumentary’ is being filmed by Jack Slipper to plot their existence over the years and when working with such legends as Son House, Howlin’ Wolf, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup, John Mayall and Eric Clapton et al.

ROSY GREER – Lancashire Blues Archive and Independent Reviewer

Marcus Bonfanti appears at The Compass, City Road, Chester, tomorrow . . . Sunday, 23rd November.

This was a terrific show done by true, honest musicians who have over the years honed their craft and enjoy full houses where ever they play, and I am not surprised in the least.

The band travelled from their base in Stoke-on-Trent to perform at this ‘Chicago style’ shrine to the blues genre here in Earlestown, Newton–le -Willows and they took the place by storm. The bands approach is genuine and professional at every turn, nothing less, and it shows. As musicians they will probably pop up anywhere at any time helping out other bands, such is the calibre of these musicians, and their love of rhythm and blues.

The band’s frontman, lead vocalist and harp player is Rob Wilkinson aka ‘Cry Baby’, the way he makes that harp wail is magic. The ‘Governor’ who is Vince Cutcliffe on lead guitar and mandolin is a great guitarist he plays with an easy style but can ‘turn it on’ at the drop of a hat.

The rhythm section of Chris Bevington on bass guitar and Andy ‘Motor’ Carr on drums, this is a great pairing, to put it simply they are damn good, no frills, just solid, as a cast iron backbone. The keys man was Mark ‘The ‘Reverend’ Hargreaves another great musician and gives the band that extra edge to the proceedings, his playing on the bands rendition of ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ was the best I’ve heard this year, just superb.

Playing to a packed house if you missed this one you don’t want to miss the next.


National & International Music Reviewer


Generation Blues Experience – Private Angel


The ultimate goodtime, feelgood, family orientated cinematic story of the blues would be that a child prodigy with serious musical leanings towards the blues meets with a group pensionable aged old bluesmen that are troupers to the last, still honking out their music with as much class and skill as anyone in their prime and together they go on to astound and conquer all the prejudices of society and rise to fame.

Well, you can now chuck that idea straight out of the window for, it really has happened with the G.B.E., for 80 old Jamie Bluesboy Powell, a formidable blues shouter and rhythm guitarist who has been playing with his 70 old good friend and notable harpist Sammy Lee for a good number of years in the South Central area of Los Angeles in a converted garage (that is now a convivial juke joint) were introduced to an amazingly gifted youngster named Ray Goren and as they say the rest is history.

Two years earlier a 12 year old musical child prodigy named Ray Goren (who now takes lead vocals and plays lead and rhythm guitar) who had been previously playing piano but, he changed his interests from playing Jazz on the piano to blues guitar at the ripe old age of eight and hasn’t looked back since.

The coming together of the old and the new came about when a well wisher asked Rays father if Ray would like to meet the real deal and they subsequently met at Bells Blues Workshop (the converted garage), when Ray stepped up onto the stage to play with the band the magic that was then created led to the forming of G.B.E.

Other members of this unique ensemble are; Lester Lands; bass and rhythm guitars, Albert Trepagnier Jr; drums, Tadg Galleran and Andrew Bush; keyboards with Terry DeRouen; rhythm guitar and on horns; Bobby ‘Hurricane’ Spencer; tenor saxophone and Dan Weinstein; coronet and trombone.

There are eight numbers here, seven originals and one cover. “Private Angel”, amply demonstrates Ray’s confident and resonating vocals along with his subtle and sharply concise guitarwork that most definitely evokes memories and positive comparisons with B.B. King at his most eloquent. The exquisite horn led, highly soulful “Rainin’”, creates a delicate, gossamer grooving Malaco atmosphere. “Crazy”, is a tumbling slowburner with a growling and screaming guitar that gives Jamie’s highly knowledgeable and experienced vocals full rein to express his emotions.

The piano and guitar led shuffler “Katrina”, encourages Sammy Lee to roll and tumble his vocals while bewailing and bemoaning the forces of nature that created that terrible New Orleans catastrophe. While the swinging and rolling horns of “Little Mama”, together with the country echoing piano allows Sammy to happily growl in between the richly picked guitar passages.

The infectious and sensuous harmonica that is sweetly entwined within the powerful slowburning guitar of “Sugar Mama”, is an enticing little gem, as is the live cover of Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine”, which contains blues and Jazz inflected surging and effervescing guitar runs and passages from Ray that butterfly like fly, soar, dance and cry and wail to everyone’s delight.



The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records

Posted on: Friday, Nov 21, 2014

Here is a great Open Culture piece on this amazing box set The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records.

Guitarist seeks to jam or form band . . .

Posted on: Thursday, Nov 20, 2014

We’ve had contact from guitarist Dan Jackson, who is looking to jam firstly, then possibly form a blues-rock band in the Lancaster/Garstang/Preston area.

Dan’s influences are SRV, Hendrix, Freddie King, Clapton, Buddy Guy, Howlin Wolf, Santana, and more….

Anyone interested please contact Dan via e-mail on

Gigs: The Paul Garner Band – North West dates

Posted on: Thursday, Nov 20, 2014

The very excellent Paul Garner Band have a few dates coming up, including two in our area:

Wednesday,  10th December – Alexander’s, Chester
Thursday, 11th December – The Marrs Bar, Worcester
Friday,  12th December – Matt & Phred’s, Manchester

Now preparing to mark its fourth year, this friendly festival, in the beautiful setting of Bowness-on-Windermere, can lay claim to a regular place on any blues fan’s calendar. Last year’s event was hailed a ‘a flagship for the very best of British blues’ by Blues in the North West.

Read Rosy Greer’s review here:

The headline bands performing on the weekend of 27th-29th March, 2015 will be David Migden & The Twisted Roots, an exciting electric five-piece, performing original material in a crossover of rock, blues and American roots; The Laurence Jones Band, fronted by a brilliant young guitarist who has been likened to Robin Trower and Eric Clapton; and Northsyde, a unique band, who combine blues, rock and funk with amazing vocals from the very talented Lorna Fothergill.

Next year’s programme will also feature some top touring acts such as Rosco Levee and the Southern Slide, The Robin Bibi Band, TJ and the Suitcase, Matt Woosey, Stark, Al Hughes, and The Blues Duo (Tommy Allen & Johnny Hewitt). From closer to home, there will be The Deluxe, Otherside, Buzz Elliott, and local favourites The Elderly Brothers.

And it’s not only about the music. Organised by the Rotary Club of Windermere, the 2014 festival raised over £6,000 for Automated External Defibrillators for the Windermere First Responders Team as well as other charities. The main beneficiaries from the 2015 event will be The Alzheimer’s Society and The Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Tickets are now on sale from the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, at: Tel: 01539 725133.

They are excellent value, and there is a special Weekend Early bird ticket offer (available until 31st December, 2014) at only £40.

After the 31st December deadline, weekend tickets will be on sale at £45, with Friday tickets at £15, Saturday tickets at £30, and Sunday tickets at £20.


‘I was very impressed with the venues visited and the way the programme was tailored so that most artists could be seen over the weekend.’

‘Just wanted to say what a brilliant weekend it was!!!’

‘Enjoyable festival, with a varied, well-chosen programme’ Blues Matters Magazine

‘A thoroughly great weekend’ North West Evening Mail

News: The Ben Poole Band + The Matt Schofield Trio

Posted on: Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014

The Ben Poole Band + The Matt Schofield Trio tour hit The Live Rooms in Chester last night, and we’ll have a review posted over the coming weekend; together with the Federal Charm + Rich Robinson Band show tomorrow.

Here’s a couple of great images from last night, courtesy of Friswell Photography




Legendary Merseyside band leader and ‘larger than life’ character Albie Donnelly brings Supercharge, to The Cavern Club for a show of high-powered r&b, blues, soul and more  . . . on Sunday, 30th November.

The show is a ‘double header’ with Afraid Of Mice opening proceedings.

Full details here:


Martin Harley and Sam Lewis at Fogherty’s Function Room – 14.11.2014

It was very nearly twelve months to the day when this fabulous double bill graced Liverpool Marina. Such was the impact of that previous performance that it was no surprise that there was standing room only in Fogherty’s Function Room for this eagerly anticipated return visit of the duo to the city.

Sam Lewis from East Nashville, USA, opened the proceedings with a splendid, laid-back set, which largely comprised his own excellent compositions. His wonderfully clear vocals and his lyrical guitar playing offered more than a hint of James Taylor as he charmed the audience with his friendly patter. He began with a number of gentle ballads including “Reinventing The Blues “ and “Waiting On You”, upping the tempo with “Things Will Never Be The Same”. “Never Again” bore signs of Willie Nelson’s influence while “Virginia Avenue” evoked warm memories of his grandma’s house before the splendid set was concluded with John Prine’s “Mexican Home”.

Martin Harley is an exceptional exponent of lap slide guitar, which he demonstrated from the start of his set on the upbeat, folksy “Cardboard King” and a hard-driven blues number. He switched to steel resonator guitar for “Automatic Life”, which he embellished with some superb finger picking, and for the Tom Waits-influenced “Drumrolls For Somersaults”. Back to the lap slide for “One For The Road” and a belting version of “I Can’t Be Satisfied” then to the resonator for “Winter Coat”, a performance of which had apparently reduced a hairy biker in Hastings to tears.

The fast-moving “Love In The Afternoon” was followed by the slow blues, “Blues At My Window”, complete with a terrific slide guitar solo, and, in direct contrast, “Honey Bee” in exuberant rag mode. Sam Lewis then returned to the stage for a lovely duetted rendition of Leadbelly’s “Goodnight, Irene” before the set was concluded with a terrific version of Tom Waits’s “Chocolate Jesus”, wonderfully enhanced by another stunning lap steel solo. Finally and all too soon, two encores – the slow blues, “Can’t Help Moving On” and the upbeat “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” – completed a magical evening’s entertainment.



Review for JOHN MAYALL + King King @ Southport Theatre, Southport

It was a strange feeling watching a blues band in a theatre, but King King did a great job getting the audience to their feet to liven up the mood. They played a great, if short set in the true King King style, finishing off brilliantly with the classic ‘Old Love’.

It was then time for the blues master himself to hit the stage. John Mayall, in his 80th year and a legend in his lifetime, is still giving it large, starting the set playing keys. Getting into a bit of Sonny Boy Williamson, with John on harmonica, the John Mayall experience continued, whether on guitar, harp or keys he had great support from his band. He gave us a mix of slow blues, up tempo 12 bar and even a funky number, all in a distinctive Mayall style with vocals that are his calling card.

Some excellent musicianship from his band, Rocky Athas on guitar, Greg Rzab on bass and Jay Davenport on drums, who are all class musicians in their own right. They were given the opportunity to ‘show off’ in individual solos, which they did to perfection.

A highlight of the set was an invitation for Alan Nimmo from King King to join the band on guitar for a couple of numbers. For the encore, a classic Mayall number ‘All Your Love’, Alan came back to play again. What a fantastic way to finish a great set, so hats off to this great man. A memorable evening was had by all.

Rosy Greer – Lancashire Blues Archive and Independent Reviewer

Review: Markey Blue – Hey Hey

Posted on: Monday, Nov 17, 2014


Markey Blue – Hey Hey

(Soul O Sound Records: SOSRCD101)

Nashville’s Markey Blue – aka Jeannette Markey – first came to our attention a few years ago with a fine 4-track EP that introduced her soulful vocals to us. I’m pleased to report that her first full length offering, “Hey Hey”, is a lovely mix of Memphis-flavoured soul and blues, with 12 original tracks mainly penned by the lady herself and guitarist, Ric Latina.

The playing is top notch with a large cast assembled, unfortunately too big to name them all here. The afore-mentioned duo of Markey Blue and Ric Latina produced the album at several studios in Nashville, with the legendary Steve Cropper endorsing the lady and band in the liner notes, and indeed helping out on production duties on one track.

The music starts in an upbeat groove with the very fine “When Love Comes Along (Hey Hey) . . . it could be the perfect accompaniment for the U2 and BB King collaboration “When Love Comes To Town” . . . it certainly has that feel to it; it is followed by the mid-tempo soulful strut of “I Can’t Let You Go”, with smooth vocals from Markey Blue and kudos here to a very nice brass section. “Feeling Blue” is a Southern soul-influenced number, with a “I Can’t Stand The Rain” theme running through it, and is a standout song.

Other highlights are the aching vocal on “With You” and the funky “Voodoo Do” with some slinky slide guitar work. The pace is taken up for “Ain’t No Angel”, with the band again on top form behind Markey Blue’s voice; the closing “Baby I’m Cryin'” has lots of that trademark Memphis-style rhythm guitar with some fiery leads and is again in a sort of soulful blues area.

Highly recommended for all lovers of classy soul and blues from a lady I suggest we will be hearing a lot more of.


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