Review: Little Toby Walker + Tom Doughty at Liverpool Marina: 4th September 2008

Posted on: Sunday, Sep 7, 2008

This was Little Toby Walker’s third visit to Liverpool Marina, a repeat booking that was fully vindicated by a large, enthusiastic audience. The show opened with a lovely set from Tom Doughty, who accompanied himself superbly on lap steel guitar. Tom’s set included an excellent, original protest song about the disastrous events in Zimbabwe, a heartfelt tribute to his much lamented pet dog (the title track of his second album, Running Free) and “Maggie’s Pies”, an instrumental in praise of the said delicacies. The set was warmly received, not least by Little Toby himself.
Toby’s first set drew heavily on his latest album, Hand Picked, including a couple of instrumentals, “Hey, Good looking” and “Leon’s Little Girl”. There was also a generous supply of his trademark humour: “Big Meat Shakin’ On The Bone” extolling the virtues of the larger woman and “Better Luck Next Time” bewailing a lack of good fortune. In addition, the traditional blues treasury was suitably represented by “Bootlegger’s Blues” and a terrific version of Skip James’s “Special Rider Blues”.
The second set began with a requested favourite, the highly whimsical “Give Me That On-line Religion” (at G-O-D dot com). “It Should Have been Me” reprised the theme of lamented misfortune before the delivery of a beautifully played instrumental, “The Generosity Rag”. “Your Buggy Don’t Ride Like Mine” returned to the new album while “Hard Times” was prefaced by an intriguing description of how Toby searched for and eventually found the octogenarian bluesman, Jack Owens, in his remote abode near Bentonia, Mississippi.
Toby had already announced his final number of the evening as “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” when one of the strings on his borrowed and consistently recalcitrant guitar snapped. Having already condemned another borrowed guitar as faulty, he displayed admirable flexibility by switching to an a capella version of the old gospel song, “Walk In Jerusalem Just Like John”, for which he was joined on stage by his charming new wife, Carol, who enhanced the rendition with some fine harmonies.
It was another fabulous evening of blues music in keeping with the wonderfully high standard that organisers John and Lorraine Welsh never fail to maintain.
Lionel Ross
(photographs by Peter Young)

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