Review of the year – Grahame Rhodes

Posted on: Sunday, Dec 25, 2011


Top ten albums . . . .

Here’s my favourite ten of the year, in no particular order:
1.    Andreas Arlt – “All-Time Favorites”
2.    Josh Smith – “I’m Gonna Be Ready”
3.    Jon Amor Blues Group – self-titled
4.    David Philips – “The Rooftop Recordings”
5.    MonkeyJunk – “To Behold”
6.    The Soul Of John Black – “Good Thang”
7.    Chris Bergson Band – “Imitate The Sun”
8.    Henrik Freischlader – “Still Frame Replay”
9.    Big Mamma’s Door – “Handbagged”
10.   Becca Langsford – “Big Surprise”
I’ve also enjoyed releases from Paul Wassif, Mary Flower, Shawn Pittman, Hokie Joint, Eric Ranzoni, Retro Deluxe, John-Alex Mason, miXendorp, LR Phoenix, Andres Roots and more!

Top gigs . . . .

I’ve not really travelled far this year, probably due to a good few gigs in my home city of Chester. The newly-launched BBs Blues Club at Alexander’s saw one of the best sets I heard all year, from the excellent Paul Garner Band . . . I also witnessed fine evenings with Junkhouse Dog Blues Band, Forty 4, Fuschi3 (now 4!), The Armadillos, Russ Tippins Electric Band and Cry Baby & The Hoochie Coochie Boys.

The BITNW favourite venue, Telford’s Warehouse put on its usual quota of high-class blues, and I caught The Wildcards, my favourites The Cadillac Kings, Jon Amor Blues Group, and just recently the UK representatives in the 1st European Blues Challenge, 24Pesos.

The revamped Eric’s in Liverpool played host to a memorable evening from the exciting New Orleans funk of Trombone Shorty and his fine band; and for a contrast, a free lunchtime gig at the new Floral Pavilion Theatre Plaza in New Brighton saw an enjoyable hour in the company of the Chris Corcoran Trio, the three musicians delivering a mix of blues, jazz and swing.
Festival-wise I only ventured to the brilliant Worthenbury Blues & Roots Festival . . . . Dr. Evans and his merry men again managed to fix the weather and a superb value-for-money day was enjoyed by all . . . lovely people, fine ales and top bill . . . the best sets for me coming from local country rockers The Loving Cup and the exquisite Martin Harley Band.

Away from the blues, the afore-mentioned The Loving Cup continue to go from strength to strength . . . watch this space for a review of their third album . . . and Hampshire-based Micky Kemp . . . aka ‘The Human Jukebox’ and all-round great guy . . . came up to Chester twice and delighted all with his own songs and any cover you can think of!

Farewells . . . .

Sadly a year of great loss in the blues . . . farewell and thanks for the music and memories to, amongst others . . . . Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins, Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith, David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards, John-Alex Mason, Doyle Bramhall, Bob Brunning, Howard Tate, Bert Jansch, Cornell Dupree, Ben Andrews, Big Jack Johnson and Eddie Kirland.

Thanks . . . .

Firstly to Ken Peace for keeping this great site going . . . . long may it prosper after a rocky period! Many thanks to all our loyal supporters and anyone who has send a cd for review or gig details . . . and apologies for anything not reviewed as at times we have been swamped by the sheer volume arriving at Blues In The North West Towers. Special thanks to Betsie Brown at Blind Raccoon in Memphis, one of our longest and staunchest supporters; and also Golly Gallagher and Jim Soars, Clint Kaminska and Chip Schutzman at Miles High, and Bill and Mark at Alligator Records, also Andres Roots and The Cadillac Kings. Thanks also to that splendid chap, Mr. Lionel Ross for his reviews . . . and indeed anyone who has submitted a review to the site.

A big thanks to all promoters and PR folk out there . . . John and Lorraine in Liverpool; Lisa Southern; Jez and Stewart at Telford’s Warehouse; Mike Bowden, and all at Alexander’s; Pete, Paul and Ian at Worthenbury, Bangor and Overton-on-Dee and anywhere else they can blag a venue . . . and anyone who puts gigs on or publicises them in our area, well done all!

Finally could I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Photocredit – my good friend Andrew James Howe.



December 25th, 2011 at 14:36
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A couple of additions to the above: I didn’t include Big Pete’s excellent “Choice Cuts”, purely because I didn’t review it . . . it’s highly recommended, and great to see a European bluesman rubbing shoulders with the pick of the Delta Groove stable and other top, current American players . . . I would also like to thank Mike at Yellow Dog Records in Memphis for his continued support to the site.



December 26th, 2011 at 15:22
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Great review Graham, I especially like the David Phillips album and hope he gets to gig over here next year.

For anyone thats interested I have put together a playlist on Spotify of those albums that are available on Grahams Top 10 (11 really). I could only find 7 of the 11 but you can take a listen at


CK What

December 26th, 2011 at 16:13
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Well done Grahame! I wish you a very Happy New Year (Charles Brown style, definitely!!!).