Spotify celebrates the 20th anniversary of Alive Naturalsound Records with a special playlist featuring the Black Keys, Buffalo Killers, Radio Moscow, Lee Bains Iii & The Glory Fires, John The Conqueror, T-Model Ford, Iggy Pop & James Williamson, Left Lane Cruiser, The Nerves, Paul Collins & many other great alive acts.

Review: David Michael Miller – Same Soil

Posted on: Friday, Jul 3, 2015


David Michael Miller – Same Soil

(Own label)

David’s breakthrough album “Poisons Sipped” was well-received and this follow-up set, which has contributions from well-known and respected musicians like keyboards ace Jim Ehinger and sax player Jason Moynihan, certainly gets the thumbs-up from me once again.

Buffalo, New York based singer, guitarist, bandleader and songwriter David Michael Miller turns in a nicely eclectic blues album, with music ranging from the totally wild ‘Got Them Blues’, which shows just what David has learned from his association with sacred steel experts The Campbell Brothers (and he even has Carlton Campbell on drums) to the Muddy Waters styled stop-time blues of ‘Doing Me In, Doing Me Wrong’ via the cool, jazzy ‘Shoes To Shine’ and the southern rock sound of ‘If’in You Hear Me’.

All the songs are originals and tend to avoid blues clichés. There are some occasional bursts of truly fierce guitar playing, whilst ‘Too Early In The Morning’ is a lazily grooving number before the wildly rocking closing segment; the CD ends with the folky, moving ‘Man’s Got Things To Do’. Nice to note that David certainly doesn’t believe in playing it safe – and this set is an excellent justification for such an approach.


Bluefunk is developing such a strong affinity with the rich vein of fabulous bands from the Jersey Shore that I am half expecting a call from’ The Boss’ himself in the near future. And why not indeed? The wave sent out last night by Billy Walton and his utterly superb rocking blues outfit could easily become a tsunami by the time it finally reaches ‘Noo Joisey’.

Subject as they were to vagaries and tribulations of touring in the crumbling UK, this incredibly professional group of musicians set out from Peterborough giving themselves five hours to complete the journey to Poynton with an estimated drive time of three hours.

Having tangled with the A1 for an hour achieving one mile of progress it became obvious that the drive time needed readjusting. It turned out that five hours was just enough arriving around 6.30 pm which gave them enough time to set up quickly, grab a takeaway and eat it before the early birds started arriving at 7.30 (doors scheduled for 8 pm) The room was already a quarter-full when the band took the stage for a soundcheck.

Here was a pro band in action. Simon our excellent sound engineer had them line checked in five minutes and then Billy turned to his troops “I want a shuffle in E gimme what I need “ and away they went. Four sublime minutes of playing a shuffle with all soloists featured and the job was done.  The first excited applause of the evening set the mood for the evening. The band retired with a smile for everyone there.

They spent the next hour, amongst the punters while the room continued filling, then just a few minutes after 9 pm they quickly mustered on stage and started their first set in a high gear. The concentration from the excited audience was palpable. They were to a man and woman instantly sucked in to what was unfolding before them.

The opening offer drew to a close but before the audience could deliver their appreciation it quickly segued into another juicy offering robbing them of the chance. When that finally came to a close the audience quite frankly went ‘apeshit’ Many were instantly on their feet whooping and hollering as if they were begging an encore after a two hour show. Utterly extraordinary, I have very seldom seen a reaction of that magnitude to a band’s opening in my life. It boded well for the evening.

The sound was glorious, full on, brassy, funky, with the rumbling Hammond B3 style keyboards rolling out waves of liquid runs and stabs. Billy’s rhythm guitar style was as good as I have heard in a long while, locked in with the bass and drums driving us all along the Jersey shore, all 127 rocking miles, with a long stay at Asbury Park, the root of so much good music. Then when Billy stepped forward and cut loose he transformed instantly into a guitar hero, all the chops, all the licks and just the right amount of gadgets to kick in when he wanted to lift something to the sky, a complete player and one worthy of elevating to star status.

What of his band? Well you might expect a player of Billy’s excellence and pedigree (five years as an Asbury Juke with Southside Johnny) to surround himself with others of similar quality and so he does. William Paris lays a foundation on bass solid enough to support the Empire State Building and together with the excellent John D’Angelo on drums provides a backbone for the band so strong they could dance a fandango all over them all night long wearing pit boots and they wouldn’t skip a beat. For the most part you don’t even notice them which is the sign of a super high quality rhythm section in this kind of band. If they ever stopped, my God, you’d know they were gone.

The brass section was dynamite, Tom Petraccaro-Tenor Sax and Matt Fischer-Trombone, two crazy guys who never stopped moving whether playing or holding. They were fantastic to watch and even better to listen to. On keyboards Sam Sherman was equally dynamic with his B3 soundalike rig he hammered and slithered along the keys and comedy danced around while sounding like Booker T with attitude. These three guys were just what the original excellent power three piece needed to be transformed into a full on Asbury Park, outhouse door banging, soulbluesfunkrock band. A party in a can.

You will often hear at a show – “the band were very tight.” This band redefined tight. Billy’s penchant for segueing classic tunes at the drop of a hat into whatever number they maybe playing at the time, keeps the band and audience alike on their toes ready for whatever is thrown at them. A brilliantly  entertaining ploy which delighted the audience and blew them away at the same time by the band’s ability to follow Billy’s every mischievous twist and turn with utter perfection.

This exceptional performance (well over two hours) comprised great original pieces, many from their superb recent release ‘Wish For What You Want’ (the title track is a belter), but the bonus with this band is they have the self confidence coupled with the ability to throw in random classics and nail ‘em to the wall. The ovation at the end was standing, obviously. Very loud and very long. People are already inundating me with demands to get them back very soon. I am thinking about it.


Just in from Pete Evans:

The next is gig is on Saturday, 18th July when amazing, powerful, driving trio, Moreland & Arbuckle make a welcome return after their superb gig last year. Having played at all the major American clubs and festivals, they have now started to win over the UK and Europe. Think along the lines of ZZ Top playing blues with a harmonica player in their line-up.

This gig is to take place in Overton Village Hall and the charge is also £15.

For all gigs, please check availability first by mailing or ringing 01948 770215. Cheques with sae to be made out to Hooker Blues Club and sent to Oak Cottage, Wallington Lane, Worthenbury, Wrexham LL13 0AL

YouTube: Datura4

Posted on: Wednesday, Jul 1, 2015

DATURA4 – Out With The Tide

Inspired by such early-‘70s Australian rockers as Buffalo and the Masters Apprentices, Datura4 aim to capture that same psychedelic boogie-woogie feel in their own brand of heavy rock. The band is led by former Stems frontman Dom Mariani and former You Am I guitarist Greg Hitchcock, and their new album Demon Blues is set to be released this summer. They’ve just completed a video for the groovy, glammy, psychedelic blues number “Out With the Tide”, which we’re happy to premiere today. We’ll be even happier if you crank this sucker.

“The video was directed by Robbie Harrold and shot at Electric City recording studios,” Mariani tells PopMatters. “The layers of black and white footage from different takes interspersed with vibrant colour compliment the high energy of the song. Lyrically it’s an observation on the state of the world right now. Corrupt governments and corporate greed have made the future uncertain. It’s also about the unifying power and freedom of rock ‘n’ roll, and how it brings people together.”


This excellent four-piece harp-driven blues band based in Leeds, ripped the roof off with some buzzing Chicago Blues. Frontman Paddy Wells on lead vocal and blues harp was inspirational as he and the band played to a packed house.

Lead guitarist Gary Whitaker was superb, with Frederic Hiebler on a fabulous sounding bass guitar, and new boy on the block is no other than session drummer Rick Lacey – who has over the years played with the cream of North West bands.

The band recorded six tracks in June 2014 at the Cottage Road Studios, Leeds and the title track entitled “Jumpin’” was aired on the Paul Jones R&B show on BBC Radio 2 recently.


The first set kicked off with “Jumpin’ followed by “Find Someone New”, “I Can Tell”, “That’s Enough”,” Checking on My Baby”, “Walking Through the Park” with the Etta James’s classic, “I’d Rather go Blind”, and finishing the first set with “Every day I Have the Blues”.

The second set started began with “She’s Dynamite”, “Born in Chicago”, “She’s Evil”, “Up the Line”, “Spoonful,” “My Babe,” “Heart attack and Vine”, “Some Days”, “Mellow Down Easy”, “Got My Mojo Working” and finally “Can’t Judge A Book”. An absolute brilliant show by a very hard working band who bring to the table an edgy, gritty, soulful Chicago Blues.


Independent, national and international music reviewer

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Connie Lush and Blues Shouter at Alexander’s, Chester – 25th June

For many years, Connie Lush and Blues Shouter have graced the stage at Alexander’s in Chester and it is fitting that they were chosen as one of the bands to lead up to the 25th anniversary of the club’s current owners. Singer/songwriter Connie was in top form and was superbly backed by Terry Harris on bass guitar, Steve Wright on guitar and Roy Martin on drums.

The first set abounded with many of the favourite numbers associated with the band, notably “24 Hour Blues” and “Love Me Like A Man” and some self-penned gems including “Dog” and “Send Me No Flowers”. Connie’s exceptional vocals were at their superlative best while Steve Wright displayed his considerable mastery of the guitar, all expertly underpinned by the rock solid rhythm section.

The second set opened with “Blues Is My Business” and a stream of new, original compositions, including “Shine A Light”, “Falling Down” and “I Don’t Say Goodbye”. All the new numbers were brimming with quality and are in line for inclusion in the band’s next album. They were joined by the well-loved “Shoppin’” and a wonderful version of “Feeling Good”, which meandered in and out of “Summertime” and “Hit The Road, Jack”. As magnificent as that rendition was, it was topped by the encore – a stunning delivery of the Mike Reid/Allen Shamblin masterpiece “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, with Connie’s fabulous vocals brilliantly complemented by a sublime sequence of exquisite chords from Steve Wright.

It was another memorable performance from the UK’s Queen of the Blues, who continues to reign supreme in the face of serious competition from a queue of hopeful successors.


Review: The Mentulls – Reflections

Posted on: Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015

The Mentulls -Reflections

(ProgBlues Music: MENT002)

The Mentulls are a young (average age 20) UK three piece comprising Andrew Pipe on vocals and guitar, Jamie Pipe on keyboards and Nick Colman on drums – that’s right, no bass! But they create a big, big sound, occupying, despite their youth, that ill-defined space between the late 60s/ early 70s blues-rock sound and that of the early progressive rock outfits.

Expect to hear traces of Free, Deep Purple, Focus, Cream, Pink Floyd (the Dave Gilmour side of the band) and Wishbone Ash, plus some of the better acts of the new blues crop – Aynsley Lister even guests on ‘Time To Focus’ – and this set was produced by Wayne Proctor, who has also worked with Aynsley, Oli Brown and King King recently.

They have unsurprisingly gone down very well at most of the UKs major blues festivals. ProgBlues is the name of the label and they ain’t lying!


Royal Southern Brotherhood 2014(Misty Leigh McElroy)

When this news gets out, it will undoubtedly excite blues-rock enthusiasts, lovers of live music and aspiring musicians in and around Clitheroe!

Solid Entertainments is delighted to announce that Royal Southern Brotherhood will be playing at The Grand on Monday 20 July and with a very limited presence in the UK in 2015, this is most definitely one show not to miss!

Royal Southern Brotherhood is an American blues, rock, soul, funk, super group, consisting of singer and percussionist Cyril Neville, guitarist and occasional vocalist Bart Walker, guitarist Tyrone Vaughan, drummer Yonrico Scott, and bassist Charlie Wooton.

The past year has seen seismic change for RSB.  If you’ve read the rock press headlines, you’ll know that founder members Devon Allman and Mike Zito have now amicably departed to pursue their solo careers, following stellar contributions to 2012’s self-titled debut album, 2014’s HeartSoulBlood, and the tours that rocked twenty-plus countries across the planet.  Most assuredly, those are huge shoes to fill, but in 2015, Don’t Look Back proves the MkII lineup is up to the mark.

You’ve already met Cyril Neville: groove god, voice box extraordinaire and the beating heart of the Brotherhood.  From roots in The Meters, into The Neville Brothers and onto his solo career, Cyril’s hallowed status in his native New Orleans was rubber-stamped last year when he represented the city for Dave Grohl’s Sonic Highways documentary. As ever, he’s flanked by drum master Yonrico Scott and bass powerhouse Charlie Wooton: the backbone that drove the RSB from the start.  Your favourite band is in safe hands.

Now, the band dynamic that Cyril famously describes as a “gumbo” gets a fiery new pinch of spice with a fresh guitar partnership.  Blues-rock fans will know to expect big things from Bart Walker.  A head-turning Nashville gunslinger, Bart’s early dues were paid with Mike Farris and Reese Wynans, but he made his first real ripples with 2013’s Ruf debut Waiting On Daylight and that year’s Blues Caravan tour. For Don’t Look Back, Bart steps up as guitarist, songwriter and occasional vocalist.  “Joining RSB,” he nods, “was the best idea anyone had for me.”

Recruiting Tyrone Vaughan was another great idea.  Like his feted predecessor, Devon Allman, the Texas guitarist knows all about the double-edged sword of a celebrated surname: he’s the son of Jimmie Vaughan and nephew of the immortal Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Yet Tyrone has always walked his own path, coming up the hard way in Austin andproving his songcraft with the blend of rock, blues and country on 2014’s Downtime.  He’s the only man for the gig.

They said that rock ‘n’ roll was dead, but they were wrong.  Right now, there’s something in the air as Royal Southern Brotherhood drag their thrilling new brand of music and white-hot musicianship from the Southern States onto the world stage.  The South is rising again, come along for the ride . . .

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Earlier in the evening, Virgil and The Accelerators will be stepping on stage; a stunning band renowned for their incendiary and seemingly telepathic live delivery!

Virgil McMahon – a very rare talent, started playing his fathers Mandolin at the tender age of four and by his early teens, he was absorbing the sounds of Hendrix, Billy Gibbons, Joe Bonamassa and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Joining his fathers band ‘The Accelerators’, it soon became apparent that Virgil’s destiny was soon to change and it wasn’t long before the band was reborn, “Virgil & The Accelerators”.  Two years later in 2008, when 14 year old brother Gabriel McMahon stepped into the breach, he quickly developed into a powerhouse drummer and the seed was sown for the growth of a formidable band.  With the addition of Jack Alexander Timmis on bass in 2010, the final chapter was written and the dynamics, raw energy and emotionally charged power of this creative young combination exploded onto the music scene!

Fresh from a triumphant set the day before at Glastonbury, Mavis Staples and her excellent band delivered a most enjoyable 90-minute set in the grand surroundings of the newly-refurbished Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool. For decades an integral part of Stax records recording artistes, The Staple Singers, led by her father, Pops Staples, the diminutive in height, but ‘larger than life’ Mavis, was on fine form and the Liverpool crowd loved it!

Another reason that the show worked so well, was the sheer quality of the band – made up of three of the most in-demand West Coast-blues men, in the form of Rick Holmstrom (lead guitar and vocals), Jeff Turmes (bass and slide guitar) and Stephen Hodges (drums) – who between themselves have played on dozens of the best modern blues records about! Aiding and abetting on backing vocals were the talented Donny Gerrard and Vicki Randle.

The set contained some of The Staple Singers hit, some traditional tunes and also fine covers. Proceedings got under way with one of the afore-mentioned hits, “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me), and was followed by a lovely version of Stephen Stills’ Buffalo Springfield classic, “For What It’s Worth” – a song that befits Mavis Staples history as a voice of the civil rights movement back home in the USA. Both songs perfectly illustrated that she still has a voice to be reckoned with, and the prowess of the band – particularly Holmstrom’s lovely guitar work, both rhythm and lead, with not a note wasted.

We were treated to her dad’s “Freedom Highway” and a dip back into the Staples Singers songbook for the timeless “Respect Yourself”. Mavis took a little ‘time out’ to allow the band a couple of instrumental, that featured all three musicians, with Jeff Turmes delivering some fine Ry Coooder-tinged slide guitar. The main set ended in glorious fashion with audience participation on the big hit, “I’ll Take You There”, as the lady from Chicago worked the crowd with her infectious spirit!

Best of all on the night was a glorious encore of “The Weight”, penned by Robbie Robertson of The Band, and famously performed by The Staples Singers at their last gig, captured forever on record and film in “The Last Waltz” . . . with a nice touch being a verse each for backing singers Donny Gerrard and Vicki Randle, and also Jeff Turmes . . . a rousing end to a most enjoyable evening.

Opening up the show was the delightful local singer, Lizzie Nunnery, who played a lovely half-hour set, accompanied by Vidar Norheim on drums, guitar and vocals. Lizzie has featured in The Irish Sea Sessions at the same venue and has a most enchanting voice, and just back on stage after having a baby, she is definitely a talent to look out for.


The July line-up for BJs Rock In The Blues at The Minstrel, Chorley, PR7 3PQ

2nd: Papa Legba – (power rock blues trio)

9th: Feelgood – (Dr Feelgood tribute band)

16th: Ramshackle – (super blues rock band)

23rd: The Intercity Blues Band – (true, gritty blues band)

30th: Bridgewater Blues Band – (rockin’ blues band)



3Kings bring their lo-fi trance blues and rock ‘n’ roll to Alexander’s in Chester next Thursday, 2nd July, as part of the venue’s Summer Blues series.

They take the hypnotic trance blues of the Mississippi Hill Country, as popularised by The Black Keys, and add fat blues harmonica and a hint of rock and roll.

They are a highly experienced group of musicians with a musical pedigree – having played with artists as wide ranging as T.M. Stevens (James Brown), Jools Holland, David Gilmour, Lee Oscar and . . . Ken Dodd!

The band features three well-known musicians based in the North West – Chester’s own adopted son of Huddersfield, Ken Peace, on harmonica and vocals; Neil Partington, from Liverpool, on guitar and lead vocals; and the powerhouse drumming of fellow Liverpudlian, Lance Donnelly.

The inspiration to form the band came from Ken Peace catching the duo of Lightnin’ Malcolm and Cedric Burnside whilst on an American blues holiday . . . and indeed, 3Kings must be one of the few UK bands playing this great music!

This is electric roots music as stripped down as it can be – hypnotic rhythms and catchy hooks.

TICKETS; £4 advance, £5 on the door.

(Picture courtesy of Ian Williams Photography)

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THE LEGACY CONTINUES… and legendary producer releases his own studio album after 50 years in the business!

The legacy continues as The Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival
celebrates its 26th year of bringing some of the best R & B music to
Colne, Lancashire.

After 50 years in the business, blues producer extraordinaire and Blue
Horizon label founder Mike Vernon – who will be performing at the festival
as Mike Vernon & The Mighty Combo – has finally made his own studio album,
having been involved in making records produced by Eric Clapton, Roachford,
Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Level 42, Keith Richards, Muddy Waters, Rod
Stewart, Stevie Winwood, Dr. Feelgood, Christine McVie and Bo Diddley to
mention just a handful.

“I have always loved singing … then I took two opportunities during the
Blue Horizon days to have a go at making solo outings – with mixed success I
have to say”. Mike then produced, wrote and performed with The Olympic
Runners (alongside Pete Wingfield, George Chandler and Led Zeppelin alumni,
Joe Jammer) and in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, took on the task of
singing baritone with Rocky Sharpe & The Replays. ” I really miss the buzz
of working in front of an audience – so here I am, a born again rhythm &
blues vocalist.”

The new album from Mike Vernon is a homage to the r&b greats of the
’40s/’50s and is released on 3rd August and titled ‘Just A Little Bit’. “I’m
really looking forward the Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival”, said
Mike. And with a band of hand picked musicians that includes Steve ‘West’ Weston (vocal/harmonica), Martin Winning (tenor sax), Geraint Watkins (vocal/piano), Paul Garner (guitar), Ian Jennings (upright bass) and Mike Hellier (drums) -Colne is looking forward to the experience, too. MORE than ‘just a little bit’!

Back online…..

Posted on: Saturday, Jun 27, 2015

Apologies for the hiccup this morning.

We are back online.

Review – The Lucky Losers – A Winning Hand

Posted on: Friday, Jun 26, 2015


The Lucky Losers – A Winning Hand

(West Tone: WTR-1504)

There is an excellent, generally rather controlled feel to the blues on this set. The Lucky Losers are singers Cathy Lemons (from Dallas, Texas) and San Francisco’s Phil Berkowitz (who also plays harmonica) and much of the singing is in a duet format, which is slightly unusual these days and works well.

Recorded partly at the acclaimed Greaseland Studios by ace guitarist Kid Andersen (who also puts in some guest appearances) and with the likes of guitarist Steve Freund, keyboards player Kevin Zuffi and drummer Jay Hansen among the supporting musicians, this is a guaranteed success. Nice and moody for much of the time – try ‘Long Hard Road’ for a good example, one of two tracks with sympathetic horn arrangements by Michael Peloquin.

Phil’s harmonica playing is sparse and effective, and his and Cathy’s voices mesh well together, tending a little towards a 60s R’n’B/ soul feel (think Dinah Washington and Brook Benton – ‘Baby You Got What It Takes’ – perhaps Sam & Dave, or better still, Fontella Bass and Bobby McClure).

Maybe you want to jump around though, and if this all sounds just a little too low-key, lend an ear to the boogying ‘Detroit City Man’ which should get your feet moving. The overall impression left by this fine album is of a collection of 60s songs to be released on 45s – maybe with just a little pruning – and that is certainly a recommendation in my book!


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Just a little out of our region, but well worth a mention:

Keighley Blues Club end their 10th anniversary season with a visit from The Mud Morganfield Band on Friday, 10th July.

The eldest son of Muddy Waters will be backed, as ever, by his crack European band.

Support on the night comes from Gary Boyle and Roger Higgins.

Tickets are just £10.

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