Review: D. A. Foster – The Real Thing

Posted on: Sunday, Mar 1, 2015


D. A. Foster – The Real Thing

(Shaboo/Vizztone: VTSH-001)

D. A. was for most of his early professional life, a promoter, although he started his professional singing career at the age of fourteen somehow or other he became detoured into the role of being the part owner of a club named the Shaboo Inn, which was a thousand seat capacity R& B and jazz night club, located in north-eastern Connecticut.

Over the eleven years he was there beginning in 1971 he oversaw and enjoyed the performances of artists such as: Willie Dixon, Howlin” Wolf, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, James Cotton, Koko Taylor, Big Mama Thornton, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt and the threeKings – BB, Albert and Freddie. He also invited onto the stage the likes of; Aerosmith, AC/DC, Hall & Oates, The Police, Dire Straits, Cheap Trick and Elvis Costello but, his passion for playing the blues still burned and during those years he learnt well from the masters and in 1979 formed the Shaboo Allstars with Matt Murphy (who was also his golfing partner).

The band toured extensively across America, during the years 1980 and 1981 and garnered rave reviews across the board. As time has passed D.A. has continued to combine business and pleasure; owning a company supplying instruments for live venues and booking / promoting whilst, also performing with his band. Although, he has over the years become a vital part of the blues world, it is only now that D.A. has had the opportunity to ‘lay some permanent tracks down’ for all to hear and enjoy.

There are twelve numbers here for your delectation, all delivered with D.A.’S comfortingly burnt-edged and deep soul infused, mellow vocals, providing the locked-in groove are The Phantom Blues Band; Mike Finnigan; Hammond B3 and piano, Tony Braunagel; drums, Larry Fulcher; bass, Johnny Lee Schell; guitar, Darrel Leonard; trumpet, Joe Sublett; saxophone Plus, David Garfield; piano, Josh Skliar; guitar, Lenny Castro; percussion and Lee Thorberg; flugelhorn, trombone and trumpet. Together they create an enticing mixture of rollicking R&B and rather mature and sophisticated laid back blues with large atmospheric chunks of smoke filled jazz.

A fine example of this is Don D. Robey’s “This Time I’m Gone For Good”, a tantalising mixture of  slowburning, swirling Hammond and dreamily picking guitar, playing against cool cocktail ivories, underpinning the almost languishing vocals of D.A. Another Robey number is “Ain’t Doing Too Bad”, which is a brassy horn led shuffler with a pulsating organ and B.B. picked strutting guitar that carries you on through. “Good Man, Bad Thing”, has a marvellous sixties horn led hook line with the organ and guitar swapping leads in picking and punching.

Charles E. Calhoun’s “Smack Down In The Middle”, is a strutting mixture of goodtime rolling piano, urging brass and girly chorus, all wrapped around D.A.’s roughly edged, swinging fifties crooning feel. Brook Benton’s “Lie To Me”, really brings out D.A.’s world weary and somewhat melancholy timbre, the handclaps and saxophone can but only emphasise the sadness and futility of it all.

Recommended and cool!


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It was with deep sadness that I heard this week of the passing on 24th February of Robert “Wolfman” Belfour – one of the last of the original North  Mississippi Hill Country  blues men,  at the age of 74.

He was born in Red Banks in North Mississippi, in a sharecropping family, and was taught guitar at an early age by his father, Grant Belfour. He then came under the influence and was taught by legendary Hill Country blues men R L Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. However, his father died when Robert was 13 and so then followed many years of hard work in the construction industry by which time he had married and moved to Memphis. It was not until he was in his late 40s that he began playing guitar again on Beale Street and it was in Memphis after a period of ill health and hospitalisation where he died.

I first read about him in 1998 in Robert Nicholson’s book “Mississippi – The Blues Today” and then I heard him on the compilation “The Spirit Lives On, Deep South Country Blues and Spirituals in the 1990s” released by eminent blues scholar Professor David Evans (no relation!) in 1994.

Following on from this he released two superb albums on Fat Possum – “What’s Wrong With You” in 2000 and “Pushing My Luck” in 2003. Both albums were highly regarded in the blues press. I first saw him live in 2006 in Clarksdale on the first BITNW trip to The King Biscuit and I was spellbound by the classic hypnotic rhythms of the Mississippi Hill Country style on such classics as “Black Mattie”.

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(Robert Belfour at Worthenbury Village Hall)

Little did I realise that in December of that year he would appear at our little club in Worthenbury which as it happened was his only gig ever in the UK in a blues club – though he did appear at Stamford Arts Centre and a church near Peterborough and a Memphis package festival at The Barbican in London.

On our return from Mississippi I was contacted by a friend of ours, Gerard Homan, who runs the legendary Shakedown Blues Club in Castor near Peterborough. He was bringing Robert over to play in Stamford and Peterborough and asked me if we would also like a gig to help pay for his airfare. We naturally agreed and Paul Taylor, Ian Williams and I drove to Stamford to hear his gig on the Friday before driving him back to appear in Worthenbury on Saturday, 16th December.

The gig was amazing and our regulars still refer back to the night with great fondness. The wonderful gentleman played for nearly three hours, allowing for a 40 minute break when on going out for a cigarette he decided to go for a walk and got lost! Luckily for us, he returned in fine form and his second set was one of the most memorable moments in all of years in presenting live blues.

We would see him on quite a few more occasions in Clarksdale as he was a regular at the famous old juke joint Red’s Lounge and at Roger Stolle’s Cathead mini festivals and every time, immaculately attired in a three-piece suit, he’d would come over and shake our hands and ask after our health.

A truly wonderful gentleman, he was a throw back to a sadly declining era of Mississippi blues and he will be deeply missed in the blues world .


Tour: Ian Siegal – two North West dates

Posted on: Saturday, Feb 28, 2015


Ian Siegal kicks off his latest tour at The Live Rooms in Chester on 17th March; and also has another North West date at The Railway in Bolton on 25th March.


Julian Burdock & Danny Del Toro – Double Dare


Here’s an enjoyable, understated gem from 24Pesos front man Julian Burdock (guitars and vocals) and Danny Del Toro (harmonica) – an 11 track collection of mainly blues classics, but including a couple of Burdock originals – recorded last year in their home cities of London and Madrid. The all acoustic offering shows two musicians totally at ease with their singing and playing and having a ball!

The material includes gems from the songbooks of giants such as Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, and no less than three Robert Johnson tunes – and beauties they are; “Last Fair Deal”, “Walkin’ Blues” and “Judgement Day” – all highlighting Julian Burdock’s fine vocals and lovely guitar work, with some particularly impressive slide playing.

“Double Dare” starts with a fine opening duo of two more ‘chestnuts’ in “If I Ain’t Got You” and “Can’t Be Satisfied”, which lead to a gorgeous short blast of Blind Lemon Jefferson on “Church Bells Toll” . . . less than two glorious minutes with some sweet harmonica from Del Toro and more nice slide.

Burdock contributes his own “Back On My Feet” and “Girl Don’t Care”, and both fit in a treat with the illustrious cover versions here – the latter a swinging, almost jazzy tune with fine performances from both musicians again, and more most appealing harmonica from Danny Del Toro.

A treat for fans of traditional acoustic blues and highly recommended! Danny Del Toro may be a new name to a lot of folk . . . check him out!


Gigs: Matt Schofield – The Return of The Trio

Posted on: Friday, Feb 27, 2015


Matt Schofield has three dates upcoming with his original trio, featuring Jonny Henderson on Hammond and Evan Jenkins on drums.

No North West dates unfortunately, but we’ve posted the shows in case anyone is looking to catch the gigs.



Come on and join the superb Lyndon Anderson Band for a night of ‘swampedelic soul’ and classic Chicago blues.

They will be playing a set dedicated to the ‘big boss’ and father of electric Chicago blues harp, Little Walter Jacobs.

Also will feature tunes from BB King, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Red Devils as well as some Stax soul, funk and a host of original tunes.

(Picture by Ian Williams)

Review: Ian Siegal – One Night In Amsterdam

Posted on: Wednesday, Feb 25, 2015


Ian Siegal – One Night In Amsterdam

(Nugene Records: NUG1501)

The prolific Ian Siegal, the award-winning British blues and roots performer, releases his second live album within a year – “One Night In Amsterdam” on 9th March – and whereas “Man & Guitar” was precisely that, capturing him in solo acoustic mode – the new release finds him on sparkling uptempo form with a superb young Dutch/German band at The North Sea Jazz Club, on 17th April last year.

The twelve tracks on offer revisit some previously recorded numbers that go back a good way, some songs by songwriting heroes of his and some new songs – he is in regal form aided and abetted by the brilliant Dusty Ciggar (lead & pedal steel guitar), Raphael Schwiddessen (drums) and Danny Van’t Hoff (bass), with guest vocalists on a couple of tracks, Tess Gaerthe and Joel Gaerthe, from the Dutch band Ashtraynutz.

The opening “I Am The Train” postively roars out of the blocks, and is a dip back to the “Candy Store Kid” album from 2012; he goes back further for a funky “Brandy Balloon” from his ‘breakthrough’ “Meat & Potatoes” album in 2005. The first song featured from one of his songwriting heroes is the tough rocking “Writing On The Wall”, penned by local Nottingham legend Harry Stephenson, whose work Siegal came to appreciate when he lived in the city.


One of my favourite tracks from “Candy Store Kid” gets an airing here, the gorgeous “Early Grace” . . . referred to on the recent duo tour by Jimbo Mathus, as the “California song” . . . and it is beautifully delivered here by Siegal and band; best of all though is a third recorded version of Tom Russell’s masterpiece “Gallo Del Cielo”, where Dusty Ciggar shows he is a guitar hero in-waiting with a couple of quite stunning solos . . . who knew a song about cockfighting could be so enthralling!

Elsewhere he and the band go right back to 2002 for “Queen Of The Junior Prom” from his 2002 debut “Standing In The Morning”, before a superb coupling of songs to end this fine release – the classic, much covered “Love Hurts” and the marvellous country gospel-flavoured Rudy Lentze song “Please Don’t Fail Me”, with some lovely slide guitar – both with the backing vocals of Tess and Joel Gaerthe.

Ian Siegal is right at the top of his game now, and a UK tour kicks off in our backyard of The Live Rooms in Chester on 17th March, with twelve dates in total – needless to say the live shows and album come highly recommended for lovers of quality blues and roots music.


(Pictures by Will Ireland)

There is a slab of American rock and roll in Chester on Sunday night.  New York band The Dough Rollers will be playing live at The Compass, Chester. Hot off the back of a support slot with Billy Idol and heading for support slots with The Black Keys – this is sure to be a popular show.

It gets better – this is a free show – no cover.  However tickets are required from the following link.

Featuring the sons of two Hollywood stars (Harrison Ford and Gabriel Byrne) there’s sure to be some transAtlantic excitement.

Wait – there’s more.  Support for the event will be by favourites 3Kings – an uptempo blend of danceable Mississippi Hill Country Blues and rock and roll.

See you there kiddies….

A rare chance to see some blues at the Cellar Bar, Chester this coming Sat night as 3Kings bring their blend of uptempo Mississippi Hill Country Blues to this lively bar on the outskirts of the city.  10pm start.  Free entry.

Gigs: The Climax Blues Band

Posted on: Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015

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Stafford’s favourite sons, The Climax Blues Band, have the following upcoming gigs:






krossborder kompilation volume 2 album cover

Krossborder Kompilation Vol 2 – The Best British Blues

(Krossborder Rekords: KBR20151)

As the title suggests here is the second compilation from Krossborder Rekords showcasing 16 British blues acts . . . some very new, some firmly established and well known, and one, sadly, no longer with us! The first album was released in November 2013 and was in a similar vein, with the aim to showcase up and coming UK bands . . . and on this second offering their is plenty to appeal.

Space would permit a detailed mention for all, but rest assured the quality is high, with all styles of the genre covered. Highlights are the lovely spacy “On The Borderline” from the Welsh-born, Aussie-raised and now UK resident, the non-stop road warrior Gwyn Ashton, as he demonstrates his dynamite guitar work on this previously download-only track; British harmonica maestro Paul Lamb is here, with a track from the splendid duo album with long-time vocalist, Chad Strentz, “Goin’ Down This Road” – the Sonny Terry-style “The Underdog”, with trademark magnificent harmonica and Chad’s fine voice.

The rootsy “Silence Changed” from Jo Bywater has folk and Americana leanings, with her lovely voice and acoustic guitar; with the pace firmly taken up by Japanese guitarist Siachi Sugiyama on the roaring instrumental “Shimmy” – it’s almost a throwback to the glory days of the British blues boom, with additional guitar solo from the great Clem Clempson and equally legendary Zoot Money on Hammond organ – for all fans of Cream, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and the like.

The Mighty Boss Cats change the style again with a mix that is influenced by Dire Straits and JJ Cale, and their track, “I Need A Friend” is another gem here. Space Eagle, aka Paul Stanbridge, deliver “Cold Drawn”, with the rhythms of the Mississippi hill country – driving guitar and drums, with guest harmonica from Henry Greenwood. The album ends in a slow blues vein with the sadly now defunct outfit, The Bare Bones Boogie Band, with the soulful “Passion And Pain” from their “Tattered And Torn” album.

As a primer to find out more about some of the artists here I would suggest checking out this fine compilation.


News: The Boom Band – debut CD available

Posted on: Monday, Feb 23, 2015

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The eponymous debut CD release from The Boom Band is now available to order directly from us, all orders will be dispatched at the end of next week (official release date 13th April). This ‘Deluxe Edition’ CD features 10 tracks of the album proper plus 4 specially recorded acoustic tracks from ‘The Boom Guitars’ – Jon Amor, Marcus Bonfanti, Mark Butcher and Matt Taylor. It has a 24 page booklet featuring song lyrics, track info and liner notes from esteemed music writer Jamie Hailstone and it all comes beautifully wrapped in a 6 panel card wallet.

In other news, in December we were asked by Paul Jones to be the house band for his Christmas charity shows at Cranleigh Arts Centre where we had the pleasure of backing guests Van MorrisonRobin Trower and Paul himself among others, as well as playing songs from the album. Below is a video from the first night and a great gallery of photos from Rob Blackham can be be found here, plus others on our website and Facebook page.

There’s more treats to be ordered from the website including vinyl LPs and t-shirts in a variety of colours so do have a look. We will be launching the CD at The Half Moon, Putney on 13th March, tickets can be purchased from the Half Moon website. We will also be launching the CD in the Netherlands with a gig at Paradiso on March 22nd, tickets here.

Review: Eliana Cargnelutti – Electric Woman

Posted on: Monday, Feb 23, 2015

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Review for ELIANA CARGNELUTTI – CD – ‘Electric Woman’ – 2015 RUF 1214

Eliana Cargnelutti is an Italian blues rock guitarist and singer songwriter. Her new album ‘Electric Woman’ gives a taster of what she is all about. With Eliana on vocals and guitars she was well assisted by Roger Inniss on bass, John Ginty on keys, Jamie Little on drums and Albert Castiglia on slide guitars. All the tracks are self-penned, bar three and the album is on Ruf Records.

The first track, ‘Why Do I Sing The Blues’ is a funky number with a nice drum intro. Following some classic rock, ‘Just For Me’, an okay track, but the vocals are a bit ‘sweet’ for heavy rock. ‘Street Corner Talking’ is a musically well put together classic rock blues number. Then one of the covers on the album, ‘Soulshine’, is a good try at Southern rock, but doesn’t quite hit the spot.

‘Show Me’, a pure rock number , on which I enjoyed the musical input, especially the rhythm section, but sadly the vocals didn’t quite do it for me. Some nice Hammond input on the next number ‘Everybody Needs Love’, a soul blues with a touch of rhythm and blues. The blues rock number , ‘I’m A Woman’ was not quite ‘raunchy’ enough for full impact. A change, with a touch of standard rhythm and blues with slide guitar on ‘There’s Going To Be Some Rockin”. Although the musicianship is good it didn’t quite get there.

‘Freedom’ is again a lacking rock number, but the penultimate track, ‘I Saw Your Eyes’ brought a slow ballad with bossa nova rhythms . A pleasant track which suits Eliana’s voice much more. The final number on the album ‘Eliana’s Boogie’, a rockin’ up tempo instrumental belting it out like ZZ Top, was a bit raw round the edges, but the drum and bass were working hard with good effect.

Although Eliana has great guitar expertise, she lacks the vocal power to carry off the sound of a blues rock diva. She came into her own with the slower more melodic numbers, which in my opinion suit her voice much better. It will be interesting to listen to more of this young lady, in a year or so, if she remains on the rockin’ road.

Rosy Greer – Lancashire Blues Archive and Independent Reviewer


Review for the ‘AFTER HOURS BLUES BAND @ BJ’s ‘Rock in the Blues’ Club, The Minstrel, Chorley – 19/02/15 –

A welcome return, after a year, of this local Prestonian band, the ‘AFTER HOURS BLUES BAND’, at the premier venue of BJ’s ‘Rock in the Blues’ Club at the Minstrel in Chorley.

The talented three piece play a mix of self penned and covers of blues rock, with a definite penchant towards Jimi Hendrix . Fronting the band on guitar and vocals was the talented Lee Wharton, with superb bass man Doug Long keeping that rhythm going with the excellent skin lady Ann Batty on drums.

A great rockin’ opener to the evening, with the self penned ‘Driving Home’. This was followed closely by a Stevie Ray Vaughn classic ‘Pride And Joy’ and what a great take. A slow, self written number ‘Midnight Colour’ with a touch of ‘wah wah’ was next, with an After Hours take of the classic ‘Black Magic Woman’ with some superb guitar work from Lee to follow.

‘Tin Pan Alley’ gave us a slow blues with a ‘singing’ guitar performed with passion. Then the ‘Hendrix’ trademark of ‘All Along The Watch Tower’, finishing off the first set with their own version of ‘Crossroads’.

The second set brought us some upbeat slide guitar, a great version of the Stones ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ and an ‘epic adventure’ in the form of a Hendrix trilogy of ‘Voodoo Child’, ‘Machine Gun’ and ‘Red Patrol’. Doug did a great bass solo in this number and the whole track took us on a ‘long journey’ with Lee recreating the Hendrix passion.

A change in tempo, with an upbeat funky number giving us some mega guitar, – Ann and Doug were also working hard on this one. Back to some super slide guitar and rockin’ it up with the old classic ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ . To finish the set, an After Hours version of the Zeppelin classic ‘Communication Breakdown’ with an encore of a mixed tempo slide guitar driven 12 bar. A great end to a great set.

Doug Long on bass, will be leaving the band shortly, so this was his last BJ’s gig with the band. All at BJ’s wish him well and look forward to seeing the new line of the After Hours Blues Band next year.

ROSY GREER – Lancashire Blues Archive and Independent Reviewer

Really enjoyed the first episode of this new BBC series.  Reginald D Hunter’s Songs of the South.


The third date of the King King tour saw an amazing 450 sell out at The Live Rooms in Chester, with fans travelling from afar to catch Alan Nimmo’s outfit, who, with their third album imminent, are absolutely at the ‘top of the game’. The band’s thrilling mix of blues, rock and soul instantly won over the packed house who were treated to a near two-hour masterclass of songs from both current albums and some from the forthcoming “Reaching For The Light”, which is out in May, though available at gigs.

The band, apart from Alan Nimmo on guitar and vocals, comprises of Lindsay Coulson (bass), Wayne Proctor (drums and backing vocals) and Bob Fridzema (keyboards and backing vocals) . . . and what a ‘well-oiled’ outfit they are . . . and in Nimmo, surely one of the best front men around on the British live circuit, with his superbly soulful voice and terrific guitar playing . . . and some gentle Glaswegian verbal ‘jousting’ with the audience.

The highlights were too plentiful to mention here, but they kicked off in rousing fashion with the rocking “Hurricane”, from the new album; and two other gems featured from it were the excellent “Waking Up” and a beauty in the shape of the lengthy “Stranger To Love”, which reminded me of the great British outfit Free in their pomp, the song having the same feel and groove to it.


All the bands ‘big’ songs were played, with a stunning “A Long History Of Love” from the second album, “Standing In The Shadows” – on which Alan Nimmo’s afore-mentioned soulful voice shines; and the equally brilliant Frankie Miller tune, “Jealousy”, from the same album. The jaunty, poppy “Can’t Keep From Trying” was also very well received by the full house present; and also the swaggering rocker “More Than I Can Take”.

The band are all accomplished musicians, and in Coulson and Proctor without doubt one of the best rhythm sections around; who together with Dutch keyboard player, Fridzema, are the perfect foils for Alan Nimmo . . . a big man and a big talent!!

The set showstopper remains the cover of Eric Clapton and Robert Cray’s “Old Love”, presented here over a lengthy 17 minutes as Nimmo took the guitar down to a whisper and even, nearly, managed to get complete silence in the room, including the private party on the venue balcony . . . no mean feat with 450 people present. If you can get to catch the band on this tour I would heartily recommend it to you . . . a great band for sure!


Opening up the evening was young guitarist  and Ruf Records artist, Laurence Jones and his very fine band, comprising of Roger Inniss (bass) and Miri Miettinen (drums). Highlights of a very well received set included a lovely song dedicated to his late uncle, “Whisper In The Wind” – which featured some dynamic six-string bass playing from Inniss; a lengthy, Hendrix-style take on Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” – which also is on the recent “Blues Caravan 2014″ CD/DVD, performed by Jones, Christina Skjolberg and Albert Castiglia; and the tale of a drunken walk home, the rocker, “Moving The House”.

This young fellow has some 180 dates on the book for this year, so look out for him again!


(All photographs courtesy of Geoff Oldfield)

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