Review: Big Dez – Cafe Populart, Madrid – 8 Aug

Posted on: Saturday, Aug 11, 2007

¡Que suerte! I was in Madrid again this week and once again there was a blues band on at the Jazz/Blues bar Cafe Populart in the centre of the city. The best part of the story is that the band was very good indeed.

Big Dez are a French blues band and playing in Madrid was the whole band minus the keyboard player. The band played a mixture of excellent grooves mixing up classics, shuffles, slow blues, rock and roll feel, minor keyed tunes and a good few funked up numbers. I was extremely impressed with the whole line-up.

UK Blues fans will have a chance to see the band later this autumn as they are lining up a UK tour. I’ll let you know if they stray into our region. If you love your blues don’t miss them. A CD review will follow in the next few weeks.

The band is led by Phil Fernandez who managed to make the night truly international by being French, singing in English and introducing the songs in Spanish. I later found out that he lives in Amsterdam. Phil is a talented guitarist, a good singer and a great band leader. Some of the arrangements were very strong – not too many 12 bar tunes and Phil managed to involve the packed club into the show. Phil’s guitar at times sounded very Albert King, at times very Texas and at times with a sweet stacato tone akin to Robert Cray or when Otis Grand plays the Strat. Phil also treated the centre of the city by going on a walkabout that took him out of the club into the busy Calle Huertas entertaining the many locals and tourists taking a late stroll through the city.

On second guitar was Rod Dumon who showed his skill by opening up each of the two sets with a great guitar instrumental. Rod is doubly blessed not only does he play great guitar but he’s also a handsome chap as can be seen in the Flickr photo below that was taken at the Cafe Populart gig and uploaded the next day. I didn’t meet the photographer but thanks Mr. Vicarius. I thought that Rod looked like a cross between Jude Law and Martin Vowles from The Wildcards – and that can’t be a bad thing.

As ever I always like to point out a great rhythm section and on this occasion I will not disappoint you – I confirm that these guys were great. On the drums looking like a younger, more stylish and much more handsome Joe Pasquale was Steph Minane who is one of the best shufflers that I have seen in a long time, finally on the rock solid bass playing it cool when required and funky when required was the excellent Chris Garre.

As well as delivering two sets of their usual self-written songs and strong covers the band were joined on two occasions by local guitar players. One unknown (to me) local guy led the band through a rocking “Talk to your daughter” a la Robben Ford. The band were also joined by local band leader Amar Sundy for two rocking tunes featuring Amar’s strong vocals and guitar.

What a great night. Madrid really is a fabulous city, it’s great without the music but when a top-line band are added into the mix the lure of the city is heightened. Roll on the next time.

Big Dez, originally uploaded by mr.vicarius.



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