Review: Hamilton Loomis at Liverpool Marina – 7th May 2009

Posted on: Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hamilton Loomis

Several artistes have made a massive impact at the excellent blues gigs at Liverpool Marina but none more than Galveston-raised Hamilton Loomis. The extent to which he had transfixed the audience at his first appearance in Liverpool in 2008 was amply demonstrated by the venue’s first full house.

The singer/guitarist from Texas was backed by a fabulous band that comprised two sons of Louisiana, Stratton Doyle on tenor sax and Kent Beatty on bass guitar, and drummer Jamie Little from Birmingham – England, that is, not Alabama. They opened their account with an upbeat, funky instrumental, followed by the heavier beating “Whatever You Want” and the slow and funky “Legendary”. They then upped the tempo with “Working Real Hard”, which features on the Blues In Britain 2009 album.

A taste of New Orleans-style funk and a slow blues made way for a superb bass guitar solo from Kent Beatty before “The Best Worst day Of My Life” led into a heart-felt tribute to the sadly departed Bo Diddley, who had been a major influence on Hamilton Loomis’s development. The tribute was played on a red, box-shaped guitar presented to Loomis by Bo Diddley and suitably signed by ‘The Man’. Jamie Little played a blinder on a terrific version of “Roadrunner”, on which Hamilton used a selection of unlikely slides on his guitar including a mic stand, drums sticks and even Stratton’s sax. The set was concluded with “Take A Number And Stand In Line”, complete with another phenomenal bass guitar cameo.

The harmonica entered the mix on the opening number of the second set, with the main man showing that his instrumental prowess is not limited to the guitar. “In the States,” he declared, “this is known as a Mississippi sax.” “We call it a gob iron”, came the instant riposte from one of the punters. Credit is also due to the other band members for their versatility, as Stratton Doyle switched effortlessly between magnificent sax and keyboard all evening and the backing vocals provided by Doyle and Jamie Little were consistently excellent.

Favourite numbers, “No No No”, “What It Is” and “Bow Wow” were particularly well-received, with enthusiastic and impressive participation by the enthralled audience. “Bow Wow” also featured a peregrination around the room by Hamilton Loomis while “Voodoo Doll” set the scene for an entertaining instrumental shoot-out between Loomis and Doyle. “Slow Lover” delivered a fabulous harp solo before drifting in and out of an urgent boogie beat and ending with a heavy-rocking glimpse of “American Woman”. Wonderful stuff.

The wildly demanded encore came in the form of some Texas blues funk to complete a truly memorable evening. Hamilton Loomis is undoubtedly one of the brightest stars of the current blues scene, combining fine vocals and superb instrumental artistry with the priceless ability to work an audience. He is surely destined for a place on the blues top table.

Hamilton Loomis Website

Lionel Ross

Flickr photo from the always excellent Paul Webster.

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