Review: The Tommy Allen Band at Lymm Cruising Club – 30 June 2009

Posted on: Saturday, Jul 4, 2009

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In keeping with those in the previous four years, the blues night arranged by Dave and Shirley Sawyer as part of the Lymm Festival was well supported by a very enthusiastic crowd. On this occasion, the music was provided by the Tommy Allen Band, two members of which, Tommy himself on Fender guitar, mandolin and bass drum and harmonica player Johny Hewitt, set matters running with a stimulating set of acoustic blues. The duo shared the vocals and, amid an array of variously-paced shuffles, they delivered particularly fine versions of “Mean Old ‘Frisco” and “Nine Below Zero”, with Tommy on vocals on the former and Johny on vocals and beautifully delivered wah-wah-drenched harp on the latter.

After a short break, the band’s splendid rhythm section joined the fray – Mickey Barker on drums and Chris Lomas on bass guitar. In full band mode, Tommy Allen delivered the vast majority of the lead vocals, starting with the rousing “Texas Love” and “Listen To Me, Baby”. Johny Hewitt provided the vocals for “Can’t Stop Loving Her”, which afforded him and Tommy the opportunity to strut their stuff with wonderful solos. The first set also included a couple of shuffles and a country-style ballad, but the pick of the session were two Robert Johnson numbers: a lovely rendition of “Milk Cow Blues” and a tremendous, extended version of “Walkin’ Blues”, complete with wailing harp and a cameo performance from drummer Mickey Barker.

The second set began with a medium-paced shuffle, followed by a couple of upbeat rockers, the first graced with a tremendous guitar solo and another taste of magical harp and the second featuring a splendid bass line from Chris Lomax. After a couple of slow blues, the pace was regenerated with “Livin’ In The Belly Of The World” and brought to a climax with a driving delivery of “Mystery Train”. An encore was loudly demanded and the band responded with “Johnny B Goode”, “Little Queenie” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”, topped off with a whopping dose of boogie, which saw the previously uninhabited dance floor awash with dancers. Without doubt, a blues night is now an essential feature of the Lymm Festival, and performances like this one can only reinforce that development.

Lionel Ross
(photograph by Gill Fox)

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