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**REMINDER – THURSDAY, 24TH APRIL, 2014

Doug MacLeod is rightly acknowledged as a torchbearer of the acoustic blues. The man from St Louis, Missouri, is one of the last remaining bluesmen who learned from the old masters. He is highly respected for his superb song-writing, and several of his songs have been covered by many artistes including Albert King, Albert Collins and Coco Montoya.

Doug is also a great storyteller, who enthrals his audience with the tales that have inspired his songs. As a performer, he is renowned for his finger-picking and bottleneck guitar wizardry, his warm soulful vocals and his wit, which combine to produce unforgettable live performances. A measure of the high regard in which he is held is his nomination in no less than three categories of the Blues Foundation Awards 2014: best acoustic artist, best acoustic album (There’s A Time) and best song (The Entitled Few). Definitely not to be missed.

Link to Doug’s website: www.doug-macleod.com

Liverpool Marina is situated at Coburg Wharf, Sefton Street, Liverpool L3 4BP.

Tickets for the concert (£11 each in advance, £12 on the door) are obtainable from John Welsh on 0151-428 2855 or from www.johnnysbluesclub.co.uk. Please also visit www.bluesinthenorthwest.com for a fund of information on the region’s excellent blues scene.

Doors 8 pm: show 8.45 pm

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The great news for rock, live music lovers and aspiring musicians in and around Kendal, is that Chantel will be playing in her band at The Brewery Arts Centre on Saturday, 24th May and put simply; this will be a  fantastic experience and night to remember!

Winning four awards in the last three years is something that Chantel is very proud of and is indicative of her increasing popularity in and outside of the UK.  In an industry where male guitarists have been dominant and received most of the limelight on and off stage, what a refreshing change and a justifiable first, that a female artist was voted Guitarist of the Year!!

Jamming on stage with Joe Bonamassa on two of his tours so far, Chantel is a formidable guitar player, a very talented singer-songwriter and  her live performances are truly captivating!

A quote in Nightshift, Oxford’s music magazine, reinforces this, “Chantel McGregor deserves to be held up as a messiah of blues-rock and given her own mountain, she doesn’t strum or pick her guitar but almost bends and distorts it, as if she’s channelling the ghost of Hendrix through her fingers”

You can listen to Chantel playing two rocky numbers from her debut album “Like No Other” in her band at www.soundcloud.com/chantelmcgregor or on a quieter note, you can see and listen to a solo acoustic version of one of Chantel’s original songs at www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vz97YJDFrg&feature=share and her beautiful stripped back version of Bruno Mars “Grenade ” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKUV4QnR7Ls

Don’t miss out on seeing Chantel play + support, The Mark Pontin Group, at The Brewery Arts Centre on Saturday, 24th May

The venue is located at 122 Highgate, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4HE

Advance tickets are £13 and to book, please call 01539 725 133 or go online at www.breweryarts.co.uk/events/2014/05/24

To see, hear and find out more about Chantel and where she is playing next, please  visit www.chantelmcgregor.com

Don’t be late, doors open at 7.30 p.m.

www.facebook.com/chantelmcgregor.co.uk

www.twitter.com/ChantelMcGregor

(Picture: Howard Rankin)

Remembering Sean Costello

Posted on: Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014

The sad loss of the brilliant Sean Costello rocked the blues world with him passing so young. Today is his birthday and he would have been just 35; he passed away five years yesterday on 15th April, 2008.

http://youtu.be/WCMK10B7MR0

Review: Alex Danson – Making Tracks

Posted on: Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014

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Alex Danson – EP – Making Tracks

(Self-release – Digital release date: 31/03/14)

Alex Danson is a young, talented, singer/songwriter from the Preston area, with a lot of determination . The acoustic release ‘Making Tracks’ is an ‘easy listen’ and it gives a good overview of this young man’s capabilities. Having heard his live sets, he can also thump out a blues number with the best of them, so maybe we’ll hear some of these on his next album.

All the songs on the EP are written and played by Alex.

The first track and the name sake of the EP, ‘Making Tracks’, is a well played slow acoustic number. A lovely track with great vocals and a superb acoustic guitar solo. Following this is a Dylan-esque, up tempo number ‘Persistence’, with a ‘folky’ feel. Alex has an excellent finger picking style.

‘Walking On’ is and easy listen number with a gentle bossa nova beat. It is beautifully played on the acoustic guitar and has some great lyrics. The final track on the exceptional EP is ‘Let Me Be Good To You’, showcasing some of the wonderful acoustic guitar playing from Alex.

An excellent ‘starter’ album and I’m sure we will hear more from this talented young man in the not too distant future.

ROSY GREER – Lancashire Blues Archive

www.facebook.com/lancsbluesarchive

www.alexdansonmusic.com

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To start the month of April off with a bang the band Hard To Handle  travelled from the Manchester area, debuting here in Chorley at BJ’s, entertaining an enthusiastic crowd with their brand of Southern blues/rock covers.

Max Cottam some eight years ago founded the band and has along the way played with numerous musicians, with his right hand man Martin Degaris on guitar and recently added to the rhythm section veteran bass man Karl Nadin, and on drums Stu Feilden – as a section they were spot on and drove the band with confidence and the bands overall musical ability was second to none.

Max Cottam, front and centre with his throaty vocals, was excellent and Martin Degaris with his guitar riffs and solos was superb. With a multitude of favourite covers the band rocked the joint with the likes of “The Only Thing That Looks Good”, “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Mustang Sally”, “Summer of ’69″, “Sharp Dressed Man” and many more to boogie to.

Hard To Handle is a hardworking band with great musicians and will always aim to please and will continue to raise the bar musically.

KEITH BLACKLEDGE

National & international music reviewer

YouTube: The JP Band

Posted on: Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Here’s Liverpool group The JP Band with “Way Down in the Hole”.

http://youtu.be/aG6F9gfDycI

Soundcloud: Kat and Co.

Posted on: Monday, Apr 14, 2014

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Jason Vivone & The Billy Bats - Eddie Ate Dynamite

(Self -produced)

Where bands like the B52’s focused on the attractions of pulp science fiction in the 50s and 60s, Jason and his merry band of Kansas City musical explorers, who are; Jason himself on vocals and slide, Paula Crawford; guitar and vocals, Joanna Berkebile; vocals, Rick MacIvor; keyboards, Ben Hoppes; electric banjo, Jeremy Clark; bass and Matt Bustamante on drums, take us further on than the Yellow Brick Road could ever possibly have gone; for they do not seem to have any aims, targets or destinations, simply a lust for life that includes everything from Loony Tunes, Hawaiian grooves and goodtime blues through to Raymond Chandler, Orson Wells dramatics and quips and quotes from Shakespeare.

Over the nine original and mind expanding numbers we sidle up close to the twilight zone of mirth and nostalgia.

With this firmly in your mind, all is normal, so, it is perfectly reasonable that numbers like “Analog”, take the shape and form of a solemn and deathly New Orleans funeral dirge, the slow rumbling lament of days gone by when all we knew was that great music had to be not only warm and mono but, also submerged our ears in snap, crackle and pop; oh, those were the days of innocent joy. The visual joys of “Eddie Ate Dynamite” are wonderfully described as the swinging slide hovers over lively dancing drum work, while the glutton of a tuba bubs and expands and the excited girly chorus eggs Eddie on to the potentially exploding finale.

“The Lady Doth Protest Too Much”, brings together lyrical quotes from the bard himself and through Jason, the grand dramatic directions of Orson Welles, as we enter the late night murky world of Philip Marlowe, slow and darkly slinky brushwork sidles’ up to a crisply tinkling, lazy, rolling piano while damsels in distress provide the sultry girly chorus. “I Can Never Say Goodbye”, is a wonderfully woven list of goodbyes set to a lonesome and dejected piano led slow blues, while Jason mournfully and dramatically lists his farewells to all and sundry.

“Cut Those Apron Strings”, is a foot-tapping jiving shuffler on the subject of parental control; Jason and Paula Crawford bouncily argue over ripe and juicy horns that are provided by Bryan Redmond and Chad Boyston, tropical drums and slippin’ slide weave and hip swing you and the song along.

Highly Recommended!

BRIAN HARMAN

New Blues ’n’ Roots Festival for Shropshire

Church Stretton, in Shropshire is getting a new addition to the festival calendar. The first ever Blues ‘n’ Roots Festival will be held in the town on Saturday, 31st May, 2014.

The festival, which will be supporting MacMillan Cancer Support, aims to showcase some of the best singer-song writers on the blues and roots scene. The line-up features both national and international artists, as well as some fantastic home grown Shropshire talent.

Headlining the festival is ‘Blues Boy’ Dan Owen, winner of the British Blues Awards Best Young Artist 2013. Dan is a Shropshire lad, who is making huge waves in the music world.

Last year, his cover of Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of Hollis Brown” had over 455,000 hits on youtube.com. This brought him to the attention of Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac fame.

Mick is now acting as Dan’s mentor, describing him as being, “At the forefront of the new wave in British singer-songwriter talent.” This led to Dan being invited to attend Country Music legend Willie Nelson’s 80th Birthday Party in Nashville where he rubbed shoulders with Neil Young, Sheryl Crow and Norah Jones.

In June, he played at Glastonbury Festival, and then recorded with Grammy Award winning producer Vance Powell.

Powell has worked with such luminaries as Willie Nelson, Seasick Steve and LeAnne Rimes, and songs from this recording session reached the top two positions in the iTunes Store Blues charts at the same time.
Dan then finished last year being voted Best Young Artist at the British Blues Awards.

In March 2014 Dan uploaded a version of Howlin Wolf’s Little Red Rooster to youtube. The song attracted over 80,000 hits in the first five days and was released on itunes due to the phenomenal demand.

Gary Hall, influential Americana musician and former front man with The Stormkeepers, will be joining Dan Owen on the bill.

Gary’s latest album, Winning Ways on Losing Streaks, attracted critical acclaim from the blues and roots world and has been described as “The Americana album of the year”.

Polly Money is another artist on the rise. Polly has spent the last year touring and playing festivals all over the UK, Europe and the USA. She has played at such prestigious venues as The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, The London Acoustic Guitar show and London’s KOKO.

In June Polly supported Muse at The Stade de France in Paris along with Biffy Clyro and Dizzee Rascal. Her voice is sweet, warm and delicate yet soars like a bird as she takes you on journeys of teenage angst and love and loss.

A total of 12 blues and roots artists will be performing throughout the day and night. There will also be there will be musical workshops and activities for children.

A fully stocked licensed bar and food from around the world, will be available on site, at Rectory Field, Church Stretton.
Children under 14 are free. Adult tickets cost £20 and are available, along with other information, at www.bluesnroots.co.uk.

British Blues Awards 2014

Posted on: Sunday, Apr 13, 2014

Nominations are announced for some categories . . . more to follow.

http://www.britishbluesawards.com/the-nominees/4583989057

Review: Christina Skjolberg – Come And Get It

Posted on: Saturday, Apr 12, 2014

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Christina Skjolberg – Come And Get It

(Ruf Records: RUF 1198)

Christina Skjolberg is described as Norway’s best kept secret. She has now emerged with her debut album ‘Come And Get It’, released in March 2014. Providing a mix of rock, blues and funk , the influences of her music are clearly steeped in the 1970′s.

The line up on the album are Christina Skjolberg – guitars and vocals, Tore Slattsveen – bass and backing vocals, Min Miettinen on drums, Harri Taittonen on keys, Brynjuff Blix on Clarinet and Steinar Varnes on trumpet. All the tracks on the album are self penned.

The first track ‘Come And Get It’ and the name sake of the album, is a funky number with the use of wah-wah and fuzzbox and has a proficient guitar solo, with an added bit of Hammond in the background. Following this, a rock track ‘Runaway’, with heavier guitar playing, but perhaps the vocals could have been a little stronger to give a bit more ‘grit to this track. Some great 70′s style Hammond input.

‘Close The Door’ gives us a blues rock number with some excellent guitar playing from Christina. On ‘Bullet’ there is interesting ‘play’, combining guitars and with a solid rhythm section. A change with a funky blues number ‘Get On’, some great brass input. This track suited Christina’s voice. Easing the tempo down, ‘Moving On’ is a slower rocky blues.

The next track ‘Inspiration’ gives us a bit more ‘grit’ with this up tempo rockin’ number and ‘Hush’, a classic rock, has great rhythms. ‘I’m Back’ is an uptempo standard rock blues number with full on Hammond input. This leads onto a heavier funky number, ‘Mrs Funk’ , which has a full on good sound. The final track ‘Nag Blues’ is a rockin’ up tempo blues number with Hammond again and some effective use of reverb.

An okay album with some excellent guitar playing and general musicianship. Perhaps Christina might team up with another vocalist next time to add that bit of ‘earth’ to her more rocky tracks. But all in all a well done album.

ROSY GREER – Lancashire Blues Archive

www.facebook.com/lancsbluesarchive

www.christinaskjolberg.com

Photo: Bands .... Artists .... get in touch with Graham .... lets give it our all for a great show for Walter ....

Graham and Steve at True Blues Club are organising an all-day benefit gig/jam for stricken blues/rock giant Walter Trout, to be  held on Saturday, 17th May.

They are currently putting a bill together, and have a Facebook page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/benefit4Waltertrout?fref=ts

Also check out the True Blues website: http://www.truebluesclub.com/

Review: Joe Louis Walker – Hornet’s Nest

Posted on: Friday, Apr 11, 2014

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Joe Louis Walker – Hornet’s Nest

(Alligator Records: ALCD 4959)

Firmly established as one of the great bluesmen of the modern era, Joe Louis Walker brings more of his incendiary guitar work to his second release on Alligator Records, the recently-released “Hornet’s Nest”, a thrilling follow-up to his label debut, 2012′s “Hellfire”, again produced by the much in-demand Tom Hambridge, who also wrote and arranged the songs with Walker as well as contributing drums, tambourine, backing vocals and percussion!

The rest of a sparkling core band are the vastly experienced Reese Wynans (piano, Wurlitzer and Hammond B-3 organ), Rob McNelley (guitar) and Tommy MacDonald (bass), with the Muscle Shoals Horn section of Charles Rose (trombone), Jim Horn (saxophone) and Vinnie Ciesielski (trumpet) guesting on one cut; with the vocal trio of Ray Walker, Curtis Young and Michael Black contributing to two tracks.

As well as his stinging guitar attack Joe Louis Walker possesses a quite superb voice, with a most soulful edge, which is evident on the nine new songs and three covers, with the music off to an up-tempo start on the title cut, “Hornet’s Nest” . . . although quite rocky, it also has a funky guitar motif which carries it along; next up is the soulful groove of “All I Wanted To Do”, which features the afore-mentioned Muscle Shoals Horn section and also fine work from Reese Wynans Hammond B-3.

The pace is taken down on the laid-back “As The Sun Goes Down”, a bluesy strut with plenty of incisive guitar work from Walker and nicely pushed along from the rhythm section of Tom Hambridge and Tommy McDonald; the ‘roadhouse’ rocker “Stick A Fork In Me” takes the tempo back up and it fairly roars along, again with plenty of Joe’s burning guitar. “Don’t Let Go” is a curios hybrid of a gospel and rock ‘n’ roll tune – the gospel feel coming from the fine backing vocals of Messrs Walker, Young and Black.

The funky rocker “Ramblin’ Soul” is another stand-out, and it is followed by a Jagger & Richards cover in the form of “Ride On, Baby” . . . with some sparkling piano from Reese Wynans, on this tune hailing from “Aftermath”, way back in 1965. “Soul City” rocks hard, with some wailing guitar leads from Walker and an extended workout for his wah-wah pedal!

Him and the band get into a low down blues groove for “I’m Gonna Walk Outside”, with its slide-dominated guitar and Wynans tinkling ivories. This fine recommended release ends in nice style with more gospel and soul leanings on the lovely “Keep The Faith”, again featuring the trio of backing vocalists, but also highlighting Walker’s super voice and yes . . . more stunning Hammond B-3 from Reese Wynans.

Definitely another winner from one of the most essential modern bluesmen around!

GRAHAME RHODES

www.joelouiswalker.com

www.alligator.com

Colwyn Bay’s own Cherry Lee Mewis has a new album out very soon, “Catch My Drift” . . . here’s a video preview:

http://youtu.be/R-EaKM2iFmo

Free album: Live blues from Estonia

Posted on: Thursday, Apr 10, 2014

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“Trad.alt.blues”, the new live album by Andres Roots & Raul Terep, is now available for free download via http://www.andresroots.com. Recorded in February at the Blue Icicle Festival in Pärnu and at Rokibaar Underground in Tartu, Estonia, the album captures 2/3 of the Andres Roots Roundabout trio performing stripped-down versions of tunes from Roundabout’s last studio album “Three!”, a few favourites from their days with Bullfrog Brown, and workouts on a couple of traditional themes.

“Let’s call it an official bootleg – Antti Alanko of Finland’s Devil Box recorded the concerts with one stereo mic and just for kicks, but since we loved the results and had long been talking about releasing a more rough-sounding field recording, we decided to share it,” says Roots. “What you have there is a bit of blues, a bit of swing, a bit of rock – and one waltz.”

The duo gigs came about when Roundabout bassist Peeter Piik was hospitalized right before the band was due to go on the road with Devil Box. Reluctant to cancel, guitarist Roots and drummer Terep reorganized their set overnight, and while Roundabout is now back in action with Peeter Piik back on bass, Roots & Terep also continue gigging as a duo, appearing at Tallinn’s Buffalo Bar & Grill on April 19th. “Trad.alt.blues” will remain available for free download until May 8th, when Andres Roots Roundabout are due to appear at the Tartu Jazz Club as a trio.

What’s been said about Roots & his previous releases:
“Electrified jug-band blues shaking hands with The Rolling Stones.” – Blues Blast Magazine, USA
“A superb slide guitar player.” – The Shetland Times, UK
“An excellent example of how it should be done.” – Soundguardian.com, Croatia
“An absolute must to discover.” – Rootstime.be, Belgium
“Brings light into darkness.” – Blues News, Finland

Music samples: https://soundcloud.com/andresroots
Direct download link: http://rootsart.eu/MP3/Roots-Terep_Tradaltblues_2014.zip
Album front cover: http://rootsart.eu/EXPORT/trad_alt_cover.jpg
More on the album: http://www.andresroots.com/2014/04/frequently-asked-questions-about-new.html

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Once again at this shrine to the blues genre Graham and Steve have engaged the talents of another excellent band. I refer of course to The Dana Dixon Band who through their natural musical talents have wowed the crowds up and down the country on their latest tour.

Dana Dixon, lead vocal and blues harp, with her husband and lead guitarist Dave Dixon; with Craig Hunter on drums and Dan Wiseman on bass guitar, stirred the blues soup to perfection starting with a slow simmer original instrumental entitled “Little Walter Comes to Town”, followed by another original, “Good Rockin’ Mama”, which is the title track of their latest CD. This set the scene and with a plethora of blues classics they went about their business.

Dana and her authentic Chicago style harp playing was just superb – Mama Thornton (1926 to 1984) re-born! This is what I call the blues and I was blown away.

As they say if you were not there you missed a treat, “Thrill is Gone”, “Train Kept a Rolling”, “Let the Good Times Roll”, “Shake Your Boogie” –  just superb blues, and to end “Sweet Home Chicago” . . .blistering.

In July they are on tour with the legendary USA blues harp player and singer James Harman, playing at the Edinburgh and Maryport Blues Festivals plus the Blues Kitchen in London, The Flower Pot in Derby and Redcar Blues Club – all tip-top venues.

I enjoyed the show immensely and I can’t wait to see them again – cracking!

KEITH BLACKLEDGE

National & international music reviewer                    

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