Review: Johnny Dickinson – creweroots – 11 Mar 2009

Posted on: Saturday, Mar 14, 2009



creweroots at Square One, Crewe: 11.03/09

It’s always a pleasure to get to a new venue, so it was a treat to check out again the superb Johnny Dickinson, appearing in Crewe for the very first time, organised by the CreweRoots guys in the intimate surroundings of Square One – with the Wednesday night gig attracting a healthy turnout to see this fine musician – playing his 12th gig in just 13 nights!

The amiable son of Northumberland – the fishing town of Amble to be precise – is a quite mesmerising live performer, being a virtuoso guitarist, all acoustic on this occasion, and also possessing a lovely voice – and his diverse choice of material covers many bases, with a lot of blues, traditional British music, and touches of World Music from around the globe.

Two 45-minute sets probably featured more covers than his own songs – but his covers take songs into all directions, sometimes almost unrecognisable, and he is certainly never shy of taking a chance musically. The first set contained a couple of fine blues – the opening “Ain’t No Way To Get Along” from Rev. Robert Wilkins, and probably better known as “Prodigal Son”; with the lovely rolling “Train Station Blues” by the legendary T-Bone Walker.

He showed his extraordinary guitar skills on a couple of traditional tunes – “The Cuckoo” and a song he recorded on his “Old Castles & Kings” release, “Black Jack Davy”, which he said probably was passed between Ireland, Scotland and American, called different things. The first set concluded with another highlight, a lovely take on Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Got To Move” – most famously covered by The Rolling Stones.

He confessed to being a fan of the late, great Nat King Cole from his trio days, and we got “Route 66” delivered in his style, before a lovely medley of “Nature Boy” and the timeless “Summertime” – breathtaking stuff indeed. It was back to traditional music on “Jock O Hazeldene”, with words by Sir Walter Scott, and music arranged by Dickinson himself.

This most enjoyable night ended with his unique cover of John Fogerty’s “Bad Moon Rising”, the Creedence hit given a real overhaul; with a richly deserved encore seeing some quite stunning slide guitar on Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was The Night (Cold Was The Ground)” – again, simply brilliant!

Well done to the CreweRoots people for attracting an artiste of such calibre to the town – and the good news is that he returns to the area in September to play Telford’s Warehouse in Chester.


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