Review : Bill Sheffield Worthenbury – Friday 28th July 2006

Posted on: Monday, Jul 31, 2006

Bill Sheffield at Worthenbury Village Hall, Friday 28th July 2006

This appearance of Bill Sheffield formed part of the very popular Going Up The Country series of acoustic blues gigs held at the village hall in Worthenbury near Wrexham. On this occasion, the man from Atlanta Georgia was admirably backed by fellow Atlantan Paul Linden on harmonica and Dave Saunders of The Producers fame on acoustic bass guitar.

To open the show, a couple of medium-paced shuffles were mingled with some brilliant Piedmont-style finger-picking on “Cherry Blossom Time” and Blind Willie McTell’s “Georgia Rag”. The excellent ballad, “13 Hours On The Highway”, was followed by “Back In My Baby’s Arms”, with some fine, lyrical harp playing from Paul Linden. The nicely varied set also included splendid versions of Tom Waitt’s “An Invitation ToThe Blues”, Duane Allman’s “Little Martha” and John Brim’s “Ice Cream Man”.

Bill Sheffield’s finger-picking style is heavily influenced by Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Blake and his slide technique by Blind Willie Johnson. Blake’s inspiration was showcased in a great delivery of “Diddy Wah Diddy”, which boasted extra helpings of wonderful finger-picking and excellent harp work from Linden. There was also a tremendous, rousing performance of “House of the Rising Sun” that gave full vent to Sheffield’s impressively powerful vocals. His beautifully controlled slide technique was at its best on “Hey, Romeo” and “All My Love’s In Vain” before the upbeat rocker, “Keep It Clean”, provided a lively finale to a terrific show.

Dave Saunders was, as always, highly effective, providing impeccable bass lines throughout the evening, while the richly talented Paul Linden’s contribution was fundamental to the success of the occasion. As an added bonus, the regular core of the consistently large audience was enhanced by the presence of young Amelia Lloyd, who, accompanied by her father, Adrian, was attending her first-ever blues gig. At eight-years of age, she can surely claim to be Bill Sheffield’s youngest fan. Who said the future of the blues is in danger?

Lionel Ross

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