Review: Hans Theessink – Worthenbury -18 Sep 2010
Posted on: Monday, Sep 20, 2010
‘Goin’ Up The Country’ at Worthenbury Village Hall: 18.09.10
Some five years after his last appearance at the venue the Dutch master of the acoustic blues guitar, Hans Theessink, returned to Worthenbury Village Hall, and delivered a mesmerising evening’s entertainment comprising two lengthy sets of his own material and covers by his blues heroes and friends.
Now based in Vienna, Theessink has been on the road for a long, long time now, touring non-stop both in Europe and he is a regular on the American festival scene. At the intimate venue he wowed the audience with his mastery of the six and twelve string acoustic guitar, also playing harmonica, all topped off with his great voice and easy-going manner, often introducing the songs with a little story or anecdote.
He got through a vast number of songs over the two sets so it is only really possible to give a flavour here of a memorable night . . . with him kicking off the show with a brace of copper-bottomed blues classics, Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key To The Highway” and the equally well known “Mercury Blues” by KC Douglas, he then dipped into his recent “Visions” album for the excellent “Demons” – indeed, he is about to commence a lengthy tour in Europe with Terry Evans, who partners Theessink on the “Visions” recording.
On his “Lifeline” album he had a guest appearance from the late, legendary Charles Brown on the song “Love Sweet Love”, a jazzy swing tune, and he performed it with audience participation on the chorus. The classic “St. James Infirmary” was another first set highlight – a song forever associated with New Orleans, but which is thought to have originated in England, from the name of a London Hospital. Another of his heroes and influences was featured on “Big Bill’s Blues” . . . a doff of the cap to the acoustic bluesman, Big Bill Broonzy.
Some of the most thrilling playing of the night was when Hans Theessink was playing his twelve string guitar, which saw a marvellous “Blind Willie”, about the Georgian-born Blind Willie McTell, and a version of his “Statesboro Blues”. Another twelve-string legend, Leadbelly was covered with his “Bourgeois Blues”, and a truly beautiful “In The Pines”, often referred to as “Black Girl” or “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” . . . with Theessink’s brilliant guitar work and voice truly stunning.
Other highlights of many were his heartfelt “Six Strings Down”, the Jimmie Vaughan tune about the fateful night that his brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan, died; and “When Luther Played The Blues”, a tribute to Luther Allison, who was a good friend of Theessink. His own take on the ‘sold my soul to the devil at the crossroads’, “Johnny & The Devil” . . . evoked the images of the likes of Robert Johnson and other lost Delta bluesmen.