Gigs: Ron Sayer Jr and band at Congleton

Posted on: Friday, Aug 28, 2015

Ron Sayer Jr brings his full band up from Norfolk for two gigs tomorrow at the Congleton Jazz & Blues Festival:

3 pm: The Young Pretender

9 pm: The White Lion

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Last minute reminder that veteran ‘real deal’ Mississippi blues man Leo ‘Bud’ Welch appears twice in the area over the weekend.

Tonight – Friday, 28th August – he is at ‘Goin’ Up The Country’ at Worthenbury Village Hall, near Bangor-on-Dee, North Wales.

Doors 7.30 pm for 8.30 pm show – tickets £15.

On Sunday, 30th August he appears at Bluefunk @ Poynton Legion, Cheshire.

Doors 7 pm for 8 pm show. Tickets £10 advance, £12 on the door!leo-bud-welch/c119u

Review: John Ginty – No Filter

Posted on: Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

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John Ginty – No Filter

(American Showplace Music: ASM5116)

New Jersey Hammond B-3 player John Ginty’s debut release back in 2013, “Bad News Travels”, was a most enjoyable affair, and it’s a pleasure to report that the brand new follow-up, “No Filter”, seems destined to raise his profile even more on this heady mix of blues, rock, funk, jazz and more.

As a sideman Ginty has always been in demand, playing with the likes of Santana, The Dixie Chicks, Ron Sexsmith, Albert Castiglia and more; and he was an orginal founding member of Robert Randolph and the Family Band. He has featured on hundreds of recordings with his dynamite keyboard work.

The core band on the album features John Ginty himself on Hammond B-3, piano, percussion and vocals, Mike Buckman (guitar), Paul Kuzik (bass and vocals), with drum duties shared between Dan Fadel and Andrei Koribanics. The guest list is pretty impressive and includes Cris Jacobs (guitar and vocals), Alexis P Suter (vocals) and rapper Redman.

The music gets off to an atmospheric start with Lou Pallo’s tasteful guitar intro on “Fredo”, which settles into a most engaging funk groove as Ginty’s Hammond kicks in. The lovely “Ball Of Fire” features some Santana-esque guitar from Cris Jacobs, who also takes the vocal. The band dig into some blues on the brooding “Old Shoes”, with a tough vocal from Alexis P. Suter and Jimmy Bennett on guitar.

The jazzy blues instrumental is another treat as John Ginty’s sparkling and fluid Hammond playing spars with Cris Jacobs guitar; the band composition “Rock ‘n’ Roll Sunday” fairly rattles along with nice soulful vocal from Paul Gerdts. The dark prison tale, “Annandale”, penned by Ginty, again features the excellent Cris Jacobs; that is followed by another gem of an instrumental in the shape of “No Jelly”, with Jimmy Bennett again prominent on guitar.

The penultimate track is the title cut, “No Filter”, a dark affair, with Ginty on dramatic piano and guest vocals from Cara Kelly, with impressive lap steel by Jimmy Bennett. A remix of “Fredo” ends this most enjoyable album, with Redman rapping on top of Ginty’s sweeping Hammond B-3 flourishes.

For all Hammond lovers out there this is well worthy of investigation . . . and it is a treat to hear this beautiful-sounding instrument out front on an album!!


It would be amiss of us not to mark the 25th anniversary of the passing of the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Here’s Stevie in acoustic mode . . . a lovely song and far removed from the high-energy electric playing . . . and of course, co-written by the equally sadly missed Doyle Bramhall.

Gig: Chantel McGregor adds Morecambe date to tour

Posted on: Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

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In addition to her September and October tour, Chantel McGregor has added a further North West date in December:

Morecambe, The Platform

Monday 14th December 2015

Box Office:  01472 349222

Tickets: £13.00

Old Station Buildings, Marine Rd W, Morecambe LA4 4DB

For full information:

(Picture: Ian Stafford)


Canned Heat – Songs From The Road

(Ruf Records: RUF 1218 CD + DVD)

The boogie juggernaut rolls on with a 50th anniversary CD/DVD live set recorded at the Harmonie Club in Bonn, Germany, in March. Canned Heat’s survival is paradoxically both a triumph against all the odds and no real surprise. They’ve been through so many line-ups and bust-ups, yet always manage to re-emerge, albeit with various degrees of success, to slot back into their well-worn groove.

Spoiler alert: This review contains a rant about drum solos.

Canned Heat have apparently played more festivals than any other act and sold more records than any other blues band. An incredible 50 individuals have passed through the band’s revolving door, some seemingly staggering through it as drink and drugs took their toll. Guitarist Henry Vestine joined the band no fewer than five times, as did bass man Larry ‘The Mole’ Taylor, though the fact that their later membership rarely co-incided does tell its own tale. With such a number, it is no surprise that there are fallen comrades, 11 of them in fact, Vestine included, plus of course originals Bob ‘The Bear’ Hite and Alan ‘Blind Owl’ Wilson.

So how many originals do we have here? Well, none. But we do have two members from the band’s first ‘classic’ line-up that charted with “On The Road Again” and the Woodstock anthem “Going Up The Country.” The Mole resurfaced in 2008 to join long-term keeper of the flame, drummer Fito de la Parra. Multi-instrumentalist Dale Spalding takes on Hite’s harmonica and vocal duties while guitarist John Paulus stands in for the convalescing Harvey Mandel, revered key figure in the 1970 line-up that spawned “Let’s Work Together.”

This is unsurprisingly a ‘best of’ set list with a couple of new numbers. Equally unsurprisingly, much of it lacks the youthful exuberance of the original versions but it’s a strong performance throughout from top musicians who have rocked around the block hundreds of times yet still have a bit of the hippie in them. The accompanying DVD (with two extra tracks) is essential viewing, not least to check who’s actually playing what, the sleeve’s credits far from telling the full story.

A nicely controlled “On The Road Again” kicks it all into gear, Spalding’s harp convincing but Fito’s falsetto vocal wavering a little as he stands in for Al Wilson, a task he has to repeat on “Going Up The Country” (cue a tale of the dangers of ‘brown acid’). Wilson also took vocal duties on the 1970 track “Time Was” but this single wasn’t well-know enough to trouble the charts and so Spalding can revive this with some aplomb above chunky guitar from Paulus.

Taylor hands the bass to Paulus for a few numbers, taking over lead guitar duties himself, particularly successfully on his own instrumental “Nighthawk” with Spalding’s harmonica again to the fore as the rest dig in with their own house rocking boogie, with fat Les Paul from Taylor, before the pace is interrupted by a neat bass solo from Paulus.

“Oaxaca” another instrumental, and penned by this line-up, has several changes of gear and is a fine showcase for Spalding’s wailing harp and features a mid-track funky underlay by de la Parra.

Amos Milburn’s “Chicken Shack Boogie” swaggers suitably, reprising well the sleazy boogie-woogie of the original, which, I believe, featured Little Richard’s backing band. There is great guitar from Paulus, also a feature of their reworking of 1970’s rock n’ rolling “Future Blues”, counted in with some deep drum play and on which Spalding dons guitar too.

Duke Pearson’s “Cristo Redentor”, here dedicated to Harvey Mandel’s recovery, is a tribute to both The Snake’s solo album take and the wonderful better-known offering by Charlie Musselwhite as it is both a very tasteful and neatly controlled harp spotlight from Spalding and straight-to-the-heart solo lead guitar from Taylor. Paulus then joins in with a neat prodding bass showcase, all the players inspiring warm applause in a real highlight.

The original “Amphetamine Annie” boasted one of Canned Heat’s finest moments with a wonderfully chewy power solo by Henry Vestine. Paulus has a different guitar style, here with sharp, stabbing guitar interplaying with rhythm from The Mole who also takes on vocal duties.

Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”, an early Heat highlight, works well as any track here with Spalding’s chugging harp again up front and, this time, slide from Taylor, also a feature of an almost convincing “Let’s Work Together”, though The Mole is no Harvey Mandel.

Then, of course, the expected much-refried finale, now called “Euro Boogie”. Now, this is no ‘Hitler was right’ moment – but apparently the Führer did actually ban drum solos, seeing them as a threat to the moral purity of the citizens of the Third Reich. They were also a self-indulgent curse of many a late 60s/early 70s rock concert. There was that dreaded moment when the rest of the band put down their instruments and walked off the stage as the spotlight zoomed in on the man with the sticks. The bigger the kit, the longer and more off-script the solo. And if there was a gong, you were in real trouble.

Fito de la Parra never need to brandish a gong but Canned Heat did take the individual soloing thing to new levels with in-concert boogie-themed showcasing taking over two sides of one album in their 1968 ‘Living The Blues’ double LP set. They’ve concluded every gig swith something similar ever since. The individual solos are inventive and show off great skills but this job was already done here throughout the set, particularly on “Cristo Redentor.” Still, I suppose it was unavoidable on a landmark release such as this.

All in all, this is as convincing as a genuine Canned Heat retrospective can be in 2015. Spalding’s harp is the real deal, vocally he isn’t the growling bear that was Bob Hite but he is a good vocalist and an exuberant front man. Al Wilson is missed – but of course has been since 1970. The multi-instrument versatility of this line-up is a big strength with the worthy Taylor in particular putting in a big shift. John Paulus adds accomplished and varied guitars and Fito’s economical, occasionally powerful, drumming adds more than just familiar touches from decades ago.

That this band, so much a product of an era of excess, can still be around to nail its colours to the blues mast so convincingly is a triumph in itself. John Lee Hooker, Sunnyland Slim, Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown, Memphis Slim and Albert Collins were among those who once collaborated with Canned Heat. The present incarnation, while perhaps no longer quite a work in progress, is still living the blues. Oh…. and…. don’t forget to boogie!


YouTube: Guy Forsyth – Don’t Stand Still

Posted on: Monday, Aug 24, 2015

The excellent Guy Forsyth, from Austin, Texas, captured live at The Crossroads Cafe in Antwerp. Video by Walter Wouters.

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Blues enthusiasts can travel America’s legendary Route 66 in Lancashire at Colne’s R&B Festival this August Bank Holiday weekend!

Alan White, official photographer for the Great British R&B Festival, is opening the new exhibition in the upstairs galleria at Colne’s unique deli, La Dolce Vita, on Albert Road, between the Town Hall and The Muni.

The free exhibition – Route 66: Oddities along The Mother Road – is being shown for the first time and features the most famous road in America.

Nearly 2,500 miles long, Route 66 started in Chicago and travelled through Arizona to Santa Monica, California until it was by-passed by the interstate highway in 1985.

Alan became passionate about the blues as a teenager in the early 60s and recently fulfilled a life-long dream to travel Route 66, taking photographs along the way.

Alan White will be giving a free 30 minute talk about his experience on Saturday 29th August at 6.15 pm and the exhibition will be open Saturday 29th and Sunday, 30th August, – 10 pm and Bank Holiday Monday, 31st August, 11 am – 3 pm.

Alan explained: “I wanted to share the experience of travelling down the legendary highway, featuring some of the oddities which make Route 66 so special.

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“Route 66 is also called the Main Street of America or The Mother Road.

“It was built in 1926 as one of the original highways in the U.S.

“It was a fascinating journey and it took me four weeks to cover it, capturing pictures of the old gas stations, diners, motels and museums which make Route 66 unique.”

Alan added: “Route 66 is part of America’s history. It was the major route for those who migrated west during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and over its history, businesses along the route became prosperous.

“Now many states have adopted sections into a National Scenic Byway called Historic Route 66 or State Route 66. I hope my exhibition will encourage others to drive it,” he said.

Blues enthusiasts can visit one of the longest running blues websites, created by Alan in the year 2000:


Billy The Kid & The Regulators – I Can’t Change

(Own label)

I recall reading, many years ago, an article somewhere that talked about just how some of the roadhouse rock and blues club outfits in the States play at such a high level that it is difficult for us Europeans to fully understand it.

That statement popped into my head on hearing this CD from this six-piece Pittsburgh group led by singer and guitarist Billy Evanochko, augmented by a three-piece horn section on a trio of tracks, harmonica ace Jason Ricci on half of the ten numbers, impressive Columbus, Ohio guitarist Sean Carney on one track, and a couple of other guests, including the excellent backing singer Yolanda Barber.

This band came third in the International Blues Challenge in 2014, I’m surprised they were able to find two combos better than them! This is generally a high energy blues set, with some excellent original numbers sharing space with fine versions of songs from Jimmy Reed, Robert Johnson (whose ‘Me And The Devil’ is given an impressive acoustic rendition to close out the set), Little Walter – with ‘Who’ – and the Albert King-ish ‘Slender Man Blues’ written by the under-rated St. Louis born bluesman Dave McKenzie.

Throughout, Billy’s vocals are among the best I have heard recently, and the band match him musically.

One of those very rare sets that should satisfy both those looking for a fairly straight-forward blues set and the blues-rockers too. Let’s hope the CD title is true because more like this is certainly more than welcome!


Next weekend’s Great British R&B Festival at Colne in Lancashire, promises to be one of the best in a long while – with a host of American guests, and plenty of home-grown and European talent on show.

From the USA there is Billy Branch, Duke Robillard, Anson Funderburgh and Vaneese Thomas appearing, as well as an Alligator Records showcase introduced by label boss Bruce Iglauer himself, featuring two new talents in Selwyn Birchwood and Jarekus Singleton, and the explosive Tommy Castro. Also the dynamite Nikki Hill will be delivering her storming show.

Legendary producer Mike Vernon & The Mighty Combo will see some of Britain’s finest players in the band; with festival stalwarts The Animals & Friends and Nine Below Zero also appear.

This year’s Congleton Jazz And Blues Festival has a very strong line-up, over three days of the August Bank Holiday weekend, in the Cheshire town.

Saturday sees the brilliant Lyndon Anderson Band, all the way from the North East; the fast-rising 3Kings from Chester/Merseyside, with their unique take on the music of the North Mississippi hill country; and from Norfolk, the dynamite guitarist Ron Sayer Jnr . . . and that’s just to name a few.

The quality continues on Sunday with the likes of Alex McKown, Rhythm Zoo, Forty4, Dr Truth, Lucy Zirins and a second chance to catch the Lyndon Anderson Band.

Check here for full details:

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Jon Cleary and The Absolute Monster Gentlemen at The Band On The Wall, Manchester – 20th August 2015

Over the many years of our enjoying live music, a handful of gigs will remain in the memory for an eternity. This appearance of Jon Cleary and The Absolute Monster Gentlemen at Manchester’s Band On The Wall fits snugly into that category of events. The son of Kent with his all-American band simply blew the assembled throng away with a vibrant performance of New Orleans style funk of the highest order.

The groove that was established with the first few notes of the opening number, “When You Get Back” remained locked in for the rest of the show. The breakneck pace of “So Damn Good” was contrasted with “Beg, Steal Or Borrow”, the first number to be included from the band’s latest album, “Go Go Juice”, while “Superman Lover” afforded Derwin ‘Big D’ Perkins the opportunity to deliver a sublime guitar solo. A fabulous version of Professor Longhair’s classic, “Tipitina”, featured a superb cameo from Cornell Williams on his five-string bass guitar before the slow and bluesy “Smile In A While” brought the first set to a close, complete with excellent vocal harmonies involving all four band members.

The second set opened with a tasty fusion of “Fools Game” and “Just Kissed My Baby”, which maintained a stunningly magnetic groove. The energetic title track of the new album made way for wonderful renditions of “Cheatin’ On You” and “Help Me Somebody”, the latter featuring another splendid guitar solo and a some highly entertaining, instrumental interplay between Big D and Cornell Williams. The funky “Groove Me” incorpoated a superlative drum cameo from Jamison Ross before the set climaxed with two more numbers from the new album – the lively “Pump It Up” and “Bringing Back The Home”, a heartfelt tribute to the regeneration of New Orleans in the wake of the floods that wreaked such havoc ten years ago.

A loudly demanded encore sprinkled icing on the already delicious cake to send an ecstatic audience home wreathed in smiles. Jon Cleary’s piano playing and vocals are absolutely top drawer and, backed by his three magnificent band members, the funkmeister never fails to deliver a world-class extravaganza. Pure Magic.


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John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon – Stone Cold Sober

(CastIron recordings: CIRCD 025)

Here’s proof the blues really can make you happy. Stannard and friends dish up superbly played and elegant jazzy blues with a joyful swagger that will get the foot tapping and bring a broad grin. Despite obvious roots elsewhere, all Stannard’s songs are delivered with a totally unaffected vocal that makes the whole job sound thoroughly English. Confidence and real style fills every track.

Backing duo Mike Baker (guitars) and Howard Birchmore (thoughtful harmonica throughout…and I mean throughout) add impeccable backing. In lesser hands some of this stuff may have sounded lightweight. Stannard takes centre stage on guitars, resonators and banjo.

“I Don’t Want You Anymore” and “Rum Ol’ Do” are the most ‘up’ of the upbeat with harmonica filling gaps and chugging the rhythm along. Mandolin king Simon Mayor guests on impeccable jazzy violin to enhance “This Rag of Mine” and the sassy slow blues “So Long” (featuring nice chunky electric guitar from Baker).

Mayor’s violin also helps make “The Story” sound like a 1920s standard before he returns to his instrument of choice to solo nimbly alongside Matt Empson’s barrelhouse piano which helps fuse the title track. “Poverty Blues” rolls along with Stannard’s resonator ringing above a dense instrumental sound, heightened by Nicole Johnson’s urgent backing vocal.

The only non-original is a triumphant, thumping and suitably rustic version of Blind Blake’s “Lead Hearted Blues” with ringing, ragtime guitar underpinned by more insistent harmonica.

Stannard is a veteran of folk band Tudor Lodge. This trio’s eponymous 1971 LP is one that older record store vets may remember cropping up in the racks while flicking past albums by the likes of Taste, Third Ear Band and Trees. If you do, you should have bought it. Not only is it apparently a delight but it’s the third rarest album released on the highly collectible Vertigo label and valued in this year’s Record Collector Guide at no less than £1,750 (though I’m sure you could persuade some sucker to part with it for a grand!). Meanwhile, Stannard has ensured Tudor Lodge continue as a duo with a handful of new CDs to their name. He seems to be having the time of his life.


Provogue Records / Mascot Label Group and Joe Louis Walker have announced an October 9 release date for Everybody Wants A Piece.  A Blues Hall of Fame inductee and four-time Blues Music Award winner, Walker celebrates a career that exceeds a half a century. His new album cements his legacy as a prolific torchbearer for the blues.  Looking back on his rich history, Walker shares, “I’d like to be known for the credibility of a lifetime of being true to my music and the blues. Sometimes I feel I’ve learned more from my failures, than from my success. But that’s made me stronger and more adventurous. And helped me create my own style. I’d like to think that when someone puts on one of my records they would know from the first notes, ‘That’s Joe Louis Walker.'”

Always an artist deeply expressive lyrically, Walker continues to write and sing about themes that are universal.  On ‘Black & Blue’ he talks about a love affair that’s falling apart, but there’s an effort to keep it going.  He offers, “The lyric ‘Let’s find a quiet place, A place out of town…We Need to talk this thru, Be honest & True’ says it all in trying to save the relationship.”  He cites the title track as a composition that might not have a deep meaning, but in presenting the thought, ‘Everybody wants a piece of your love’,” offers a double entendre that speaks for itself.  With a deep history and background in gospel, Walker looks towards ‘Wade in the Water’ as an instant all-time favorite.  He reveals, “The inspirational lyric ‘The water is deep, the water is cold, it chills my body, BUT NOT MY SOUL” is expressing my belief that the spiritual will carry you through when the physical can’t.”

This time out Joe has brought on Paul Nelson to produce his album which was recorded at his famed Chop Shop studio on the east coast. Nelson is a Grammy winning guitarist/producer who was rock/blues legend Johnny Winter’s guitarist, and who also appears as guest guitarist on two tracks on ‘Everybody Wants A Piece’.

A true powerhouse guitar virtuoso, unique singer and prolific songwriter, he has toured extensively throughout his career, performed at the world’s most renowned music festivals, and earned a legion of dedicated fans.  Walker’s 1986 debut album ‘Cold Is the Night’ on HighTone announced his arrival in stunning fashion, and his subsequent output has only served to further establish Walker as one of the leading blues men on the scene.

Born on December 25, 1949 in San Francisco, at age 14, he took up the guitar. Just two years later, he was a known quantity on the Bay Area music scene, playing blues with an occasional foray into psychedelic rock. For a while, he roomed with Mike Bloomfield, who introduced him to Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead. Walker even made a brief pilgrimage to Chicago to check out the blues scene there.  In 1975, burned out on blues, Walker turned to God, singing for the next decade with a gospel group, the Spiritual Corinthians. When the Corinthians played the 1985 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Walker was inspired to embrace his blues roots again.

He assembled the Boss Talkers, and throughout the 1990s merged many of his gospel, jazz, soul, funk and rock influences with his trademark blues sensibilities on recordings released by Polydor/Polygram. These albums feature Walker’s collaborations with a diverse group of first-rate artists including Branford Marsalis, James Cotton, Tower of Power, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Ike Turner and Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown.  Walker has steadily released recordings since the turn of the millennium, and recently signed to Provogue / Mascot Label Group.

NPR Music has called Walker “a legendary boundary-pushing icon of modern blues,” and he is already being referred to within the blues world as a living legend. However, at this stage of his life, Walker profoundly shares, “I’d really like to inspire younger musicians to carry on the legacy of blues/roots music. But play, and do it your way. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. There’s no right, or wrong way. Just the way you wanna express yourself.  And above all, ENJOY YOURSELF.”






Review: Hot Roux – Stranger’s Blues

Posted on: Wednesday, Aug 19, 2015


Hot Roux – Stranger’s Blues

(Hi Hat Records & Entertainment: HHE 3406)

Here’s a little gem that may stay ‘under the radar’ in the UK . . . a smashing album from South Californian outfit, Hot Roux. The band leader, Jerry McWorter is a fine singing drummer, and together with bass player Brent Harding have penned most of the ten songs here.

The duo have made a name in their native California as a top rhythm section backing such household names as Kim Wilson, James Harman, the late Lynwood Slim and more. Hot Roux often tour as a trio with guitarists Ed Berghoff or Tommy Harkenrider – and they are both present here; with some sparkling guitar too from the great Franck Goldwasser.

Rounding out the musicians on “Stranger’s Blues” are Pat McClure (guitar), Sam Bolle (bass), Steve Nelson (bass), Jacob Huffman (harmonica) and Bill Flores (saxophone) – all great players.

The music is just great from start to finish – all fans of the particular type of Californian blues will lap this up – straight blues and swing, some funky touches, and shades of rockabilly and Cajun.

A couple of standouts are the uptempo romp “Woman Where You Been”, with nice harmonica from young Jacob Huffman; the blues of “Seven Lonely Nights”, featuring Franck Goldwasser on trademark superb guitar; and Tommy Harkenrider’s contributions to “Tick Tock” – a 50s R&B blast, with ace saxophone from Bill Flores.

“Can’t Get You Off My Mind” gives Ed Berghoff a chance to show off his guitar prowess; and the closing “Another Seven Lonely Nights” has shades of New Orleans about it, with more fine guitar from Goldwasser.

All tracks were recorded ‘live’ in the studio and that certainly has helped capture the skill of the players and the natural energy of the songs. Well worthy of investigation, and highly recommended!


YouTube: Cold Turkey – Statesboro Blues

Posted on: Tuesday, Aug 18, 2015

Cold Turkey – aka Paul (guitar and vocals)and Pete Reaney (harmonica), with Martin Taylor on upright bass – “Statesboro Blues”.

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