Review: Michael Burks – Overton on Dee – 12 Nov 2010
Posted on: Friday, Nov 26, 2010
Goin ‘ Up The Country Blues & Roots Club, Overton on Dee, Nr Wrexham
Friday November 12th
This was a double special occasion for the Goin’ Up the Country Blues And Roots Club – not only did it celebrate the 1st ever appearance in the UK of Michael Burks and his crack American band but it also was the 13th anniversary of the blues club, stretching back to its days of Hookers Blues Club at Wrexham Rugby Club.
In that time, the club had seen highs and lows from the occasion in Wrexham when only 13 people turned up to see Ian Parker, on the night David Beckham got sent off against Argentina in the World Cup, to the marvellous double sell outs in Worthenbury for the visit of Otis Taylor.
However, for this night the sell out signs went up well in advance in the marvellous old converted cinema in the village of Overton on Dee.
The day had started badly when the backline, ordered well in advance, arrived after the band arrived for their sound check. There was also some mild panic when it was discovered that a snare drum had not arrived, however an hour later after some frantic phone calls, two snares arrived and the sound check was completed successfully.
The band, with Michael Burks playing a Gibson Les Paul, was made up of the line-up seen by the bluesinthenorthwest away team at The King Biscuit Festival in Arkansas a month earlier, with Wayne Sharp on Hammond C3 organ (one that had actually been played by Ray Charles), Chuck “Popcorn” Louden on drums and Oscar Huguet on bass guitar, and after the cancellation of their opening gig the night before with the unexpected closure of the Charlotte Street Blues Bar in London, they were raring to go.
The band went for the jugular from the start as they tore into “Love Disease” from the Iron Man cd on Alligator records before moving on to “I Smell Smoke”, the title track from the first Alligator cd.
The tone mellowed for the instrumental version of “The House Of The Rising Sun”, a track that started slowly and quietly before moving into a rousing finale. This also roused the packed audience into rapturous applause which then continued throughout the whole show.
The brilliant track, possibly the best on Iron Man, “Ashes In My Ashtray” then demonstrated the superb guitar playing and soulful vocals of Michael Burks at its very best and also brought the comparisons to Albert King to the fore. An absolutely brilliant moment.
A number of superb covers were then delivered starting with their anthemic cover of Free’s “Fire and Water” from the Iron Man cd followed by a brilliant cover of “Hey Joe” and then Stevie Ray would have been very proud of the version of “Texas Flood”.
The tempo was electric and relentless as the band tore through a continuous two and a half hour set which got better and better as they really warmed to the incredibly enthusiastic crowd culminating in a great versions of “Got My Mojo Working” and “Tore Down”.
One encore was delivered in Albert Collins style as Michael mimed to the ladies in the front row with his guitar doing the talking before a second one was demanded. Michael then went back to the basics with “Voodoo Spell” off the Let It Rain cd, playing great solo blues before bringing the band back into one great finale.
It really was an amazing night with nearly three hours of music delivered in a style rarely seen in British blues clubs. The crowd loved it and demonstrated their satisfaction by buying nearly £700 worth of cds after the show. The band stayed and chatted and signed every cd, further endearing themselves to their newly won fans.
It was a fitting celebration of 13 years of blues in the Wrexham area and the great news that has since followed is that the band enjoyed themselves so much they have asked to return and a date has been pencilled in for September 10th 2011. My advice is – don’t miss it – it doesn’t get much better than this.