Review: The Hustle – BJ’s Blues at Hop Pocket, Chorley – 28 Jul 2011

Posted on: Tuesday, Aug 9, 2011

At this number one venue, the Hop Pocket public house on Carr Lane Chorley on the Thursday the 28th July, BJ’s blues club, music guru Lucas Campbell hosted an eight piece band from the Lancaster area The HUSTLE.

This band played their socks off entertaining the packed house at BJ’s.  Mike Atherton co founder, on lead guitar and lead vocal was the front man of this fantastic band.  He started forming the band in the late 80s along with Bill Roberts who at this time was playing electric piano in and around the Lancaster area in public houses and clubs.  The two of them then decided to form a band with a twist a blues band with a Jazz /Swing slant.

Over the next 23 years with a lot of blood, sweat and tears the band was formed.  To give the band a full jazz /swing sound they added a brass ensemble in the middle of 2006.  On alto sax was Gerard Mc Donald, on tenor sax Paul Froggatt and on trumpet Hugh Castle,  this well co-ordinated trio was just what Mick and Bill were looking for.  Just fantastic!

The engine room of the band, as I call it, the rhythm section, was taken up by Matt Black on bass guitar a man of experience in all types of music.  e.g. he was on the cruise ships backing all sorts of acts.  On the drums was Steve Hughes.  This duo kept a grip on the proceedings and drove the band on; it was an assured performance by both of these accomplished musicians.

I have said before in my reviews and I make no bones about saying it again,that I have the greatest respect for keyboard and piano artists and here we have two of them: Bill on the electric piano and on the organ Jake Jackson.

Jake put his soul into it, he played and changed the lead with Mike and backed when required, soft and loud. Magnificent!

Bill Roberts has been in the music business for a while, and so young too.  He has headed many a project, I saw him here in 2010 with a band called Electric MUD – he was mustard then – no change there then – he was just blistering – and that’s him being calm – they don’t call him Boogie Bill for nothing.  Sensational!

Mike Atherton has a great voice it just lends itself to this type of music. Echoes of Van Morrison.  His guitar playing is wonderful, he has his heart in the blues and it shows – shivers down the spine stuff.

I chatted to Mike after two encores, only two I here you say!  I asked him what next for the band, how does he see things for the future.

– “We like to be busy, we are playing in Barrow Saturday night and we try to play any where we can”.

– “We also are working on a new CD, we will probably use the same production team as before: Giant Wafer Studios in Wales”.

– “We all worked very well with the Bertha Lee (Bertha Lee Pate, blues singer in the 20s and 30s married to blues singer guitarist Charlie Patton) release, so things are fine at the moment”.

– “We love playing here it’s the best gig and we do appreciate the audience – there with us all the way which is fabulous.

This band needs now to push on, they have the skills required, so any budding Brian Epstein’s out there you could do a whole lot worse.

As always my thanks to THE HUSTLE and to the Hop Pocket also to Lucas Campbell.


Freelance Drummer and Music Reviewer for the Northwest.

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