YouTube: Leon Russell – Big Lips

Posted on: Monday, Apr 21, 2014

This week sees the release of Life Journey, the new album from legendary singer and pianist Leon Russell. Recorded at Capitol Studios, and Executive Produced by Elton John (with whom Russell recently collaborated for 2010’s critically acclaimed album The Union, Life Journey features newly-written original songs and fresh takes on classics that resonate with the two-time Grammy winner as important to his musical trajectory.Leon Russell has entertained the world for five decades, beginning as a session player before he began releasing his own albums in 1967. His latest instalment, Life Journey looks back at the musical touchstones that have inspired him, while presenting new songs of his own, such as the boisterous blues romp of ‘Big Lips‘, for an album that looks back with the love, loss, joy, and peace that’s collected during a life well lived.

A truly fantastic record representing the musical journey of a legend. Don’t miss out and order your copy now!

Available on iTunes:

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Travelling from the Midlands and making their debut here at BJ’s Slowburner entertained a packed house and played some vintage blues, sprinkled with original material penned by Paul Bridgwater – the founder, frontman and lead vocalist.

The band formed in 1987 but has had changes to the personnel over time, now with this present line- up of excellent musicians they entertain up and down the country to enthusiastic audiences.

From the very start you knew that they were a class act and found the groove from the first chords struck. Paul vocals were superb; he is blessed with a great range. Mike Bannister on lead guitar was a man on mission great riffs and licks a solid performance throughout – just a fantastic display.

The rhythm section – the glowing embers of Rob Newell on a slow burn funky bass; and on the drums and vocals the explosive powder keg that is Dave Small – this pairing has been cast in heaven.

With a wide range of covers like “Messin’ With the Kid”, “Walk In My Shadow”, “Stormy Monday”, “Midnight Train”, “King Bee” and many more – a volcano gushing – excellent music from a band that are just better than brilliant.


National & international music reviewer   


Adrianna Marie And Her Groovecutters – Double Crossing Blues

(Midnight Owl Records)

Adrianna’s parents were members of the folk group The Carolees who, during the sixties travelled as a family unit across the Eastern Seaboard of America entertaining people at many a venue. Due to this almost gypsy style upbringing Adrianna tasted the thrill of performing in front of an audience at a very early age. When the family were at home, the house was overflowing with music which ranged from the likes of Memphis Minnie and The Kingston Trio through to Louis Jordan; from the age of ten she started her career in the family business performing in summer shows throughout the length and breadth of New England. Always eager to spread her wings and strike out as a solo artist she left her home and moved to California at the age of 17.

After spending a good deal of her youth soaking up the sweat staining, nicotine thick and alcohol soaked atmospheres of the late night blues and jazz clubs of Bridgeport, Connecticut and New York City and indeed at one time, striding along the fashion catwalks; she began to focus on her singing career and in more recent times she has lent her vocal talents to recordings made by such artists as The Mannish Boys, Mud Morganfield, Finis Tasby and Kirk Fletcher.

Now, with her latest collection of numbers recorded with her band The Groovecutters, who consist of; L.A. Jones; guitars, Dave Deforest; upright bass, Ron Felton and David Kida; drums, Lee Thornburg; trumpet and trombone, Ron Dziubla; tenor and baritone saxophones and last but not least, Larry ‘Big House’ David Cohen; piano.

The 11 numbers merge seamlessly together in waves of warm gushing good time music, that ranges from Louis Jordan’s Jump and Jive to the big band sound of Glen Miller, interspersed with the late night martini clinking sounds of a very mellow late night Jazz club; on Louis Jordan’s “Is You Is, Or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” a smoky solo trumpet pleadingly wails and weaves in between a cruising cloud of syncopated saxophones that merely serve to underpin Adrianna’s slinky and velvety vocals that sensuously ask you, that very question.

Underneath a very sweet vocal refrain delightful swaggering, huffing and puffing saxophones take the lead on that lovely blues shouter “Cherry Wine”, while a very mellow piano and T-bone Walker inspired guitar lay a footappin’ trail.

One of the most satisfying aspects of the music here is that Adrianna’s voice is never stretched or strained beyond its natural limitations, where others might fail she just cruises through. The rolling, slowburner that is Johnny Otis’s “Double Crossing Blues”, strolls along with the reverberating elastic band sounding bass, underpinning a tinkling and quietly cascading piano with gently urging guitar for support. On “That’s A Pretty Good Love”, a nifty little rumba beat is well supported by Albert king inspired guitar runs while the saxophones keep the hips swinging.

Helen Hume’s “I Ain’t In The Mood”, possesses very strong elements of Chicago’s legendary Chess Studio atmosphere with Larry ‘Big House’ David Cohen nailing the classic harmonica sound to the floor, while Adrianna bawls out her dissatisfaction. “Sad Night Owl”, is an instrumental blast, lazy, hazy swaying brushwork carries a babbling brook of sweet vamping twinkling and shining piano while a deliriously smooth and enticing Les Paul inspired crooning guitar draws you into its serene pool of pleasure.

Highly Recommended!


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YouTube: Hound Dog Taylor

Posted on: Sunday, Apr 20, 2014

As posted on Tonemonkey

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Review: Mike Sponza – Central European Orchestra

Posted on: Saturday, Apr 19, 2014


Mike Sponza – Central European Orchestra

(EPOPS: 2014-001)

Now this might initially attract some attention because Ian Siegal guests (quite unmistakeably) on the track ‘Fire’, but there are plenty of other reasons to investigate this set from Italian singer/ guitarist/ bandleader Mike Sponza. Mike has a vision for the blues in Europe, and has long been an advocate for the European sound.

He has links to many of the continent’s top performers (and he also keeps in contact with some of the best American artists – he recorded with former Muddy Waters guitarist Bob Margolin a couple of years back).

On this set his mellow, controlled, jazzy, funky guitar and fine vocals are backed by big arrangements – besides Mike’s own band – sax, bass and drums – there are 24 horns and string players involved, a pianist, percussionist and three backing vocalists, plus three guest vocalists.

The results are fine smooth blues items, somewhat akin to BB King’s sound around the end of the 70s. It is one that certainly deserves to be far better known across Europe.


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Windermere Lake is a perfect backdrop for what turned out to be a magic festival. With an exceptional all-British line-up, the festival was a flagship for the very best of British blues.


Arriving in plenty of time on Friday afternoon, we settled into our hotel and had a few beers before heading off to the Hydro Hotel to catch North West band Blue Swamp. They played to a packed house as a trio this evening, with Mike Bowden on acoustic guitar, John Williamson on electric guitar and Big Vern on percussion, giving us the blues and a bit of storytelling. A great set from these lovely guys.


Headlining at the same venue, were Midnight Train, a blues soul band fronted by Debbie Giles, with the great Sam Kelly on drums. Playing to an overly-packed house, it got a bit too hot to linger, so we retreated to the bar and listened to the excellent set from there. A relaxing end to the first evening of the festival.

On Saturday we were up bright and early, ready to catch the first artist of the day, Dan Burnett, doing a solo set at the Burn How Hotel. Dan, from Harrogate, is a singer songwriter and master of the piano and keyboard. He played an amazing mix of sultry blues, soul, boogie woogie, a bit of Ray Charles and shades of Stevie Wonder. Dan has a superb voice and I’m sure we will be hearing a lot more from him as a solo artist and with his band when his debut album ‘Storyville’ is released later this year. An outstanding and memorable performance from this very talented musician.


We decided to hike up the hill early, to the Hydro Hotel, to get a seat and to catch one of the best bands on the circuit at this time, Brothers Groove from Birmingham. They play a mix of blues funk and are four of the most talented musicians I have seen for a long while. Shaun Hill, on exceptional guitar and vocals, has written most of the songs on their incredible album ‘Play The Game’, released earlier this year. Nige Mellor another superb musician on guitar and vocals, Deano Bass on groovin’ bass and vocals with Jim Simpson on powerhouse drums gave an amazing performance, all from the heart. The highlight was Shaun’s heartfelt vocals and playing of outstanding guitar solos on ‘Another Girl’, with such passion and emotion that you needed to get a hankie out. The band have deservedly been nominated in Blues Band and Emerging Artist categories of the British Blues Awards 2014, and all I can say is they are just brilliant!!!


After that whirlwind performance we headed back down to the Lake District Boat Club, where another great Midlands band were playing. Slowburner are a blues rock four piece, fronted by outstanding vocalist Paul Bridgwater with Mike Bannister on superb guitar, Rob Newell on belting bass and the charismatic powerhouse that is Dave Small on drums. They played a brilliant set with some of their own material and some covers, blues rock as it should be played!


The Wheelhouse next door was filled to bursting with those eager to see the long awaited return of the amazing Sean Webster Band. Sean is ‘an inspiring guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. From all accounts he didn’t disappoint, providing the crowd with ‘class’ blues rock with his rich and poignant vocals and fiery guitar solos in his own individual style. A great way to end the day!


Recovery Sunday and a slow start for us today. At the Stag Head Hotel, The Swaps from Leamington Spa, gave an interesting set. Fronting the band is Beth and her wonderful voice, with James on acoustic lead guitars and the raw earthy blues harmonica from Tomo. With Chris and Dave on bass and drums, the band played classic blues, leaning towards folk in their own very individual style.

We then headed back to get in the ‘groove’ with some more of Brothers Groove, at the Lake District Boat Club. Just awesome!


For the penultimate session this afternoon, we braved the packed Wheelhouse to see the Marcus Bonfanti Band. He played to a full house giving us his own take on rockin’ blues and as always, he managed to give a one hundred per cent performance. Great vocals and guitar playing, as one would expect from this ‘class’ musician and was well backed by the rest of his band. Marcus has been nominated in the Male Vocalist and Acoustic Artist categories in the British Blues Awards for 2014.


The last stop today was the Hole in the Wall for the Blues Duo, who are Tommy Allen and Johnny Hewitt. They hail from the Chester area and played to a packed house for over an hour longer than they were booked for. They showed great showmanship with their Chicago style stomping blues interlaced with rock n’ roll. Tommy is the master of the guitar and added stomping drums, while Johnny is just the coolest blues harp player I’ve heard for a while. Just brilliant!

What a great end to a great festival. My only regret is that I couldn’t get to see everyone, so apologies for those who don’t get a mention in this review. Well done to all the organizers, volunteers and venues for putting the festival together, it’s a hard job, done well and may we all continue in ‘Keeping Live Music Alive’ and supporting live music throughout the region. Roll on next year!!!

ROSY GREER – Lanchashire Blues Archive

(All words and pics by Rosy Greer, except Sean Webster picture)

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Doug MacLeod is rightly acknowledged as a torchbearer of the acoustic blues. The man from St Louis, Missouri, is one of the last remaining bluesmen who learned from the old masters. He is highly respected for his superb song-writing, and several of his songs have been covered by many artistes including Albert King, Albert Collins and Coco Montoya.

Doug is also a great storyteller, who enthrals his audience with the tales that have inspired his songs. As a performer, he is renowned for his finger-picking and bottleneck guitar wizardry, his warm soulful vocals and his wit, which combine to produce unforgettable live performances. A measure of the high regard in which he is held is his nomination in no less than three categories of the Blues Foundation Awards 2014: best acoustic artist, best acoustic album (There’s A Time) and best song (The Entitled Few). Definitely not to be missed.

Link to Doug’s website:

Liverpool Marina is situated at Coburg Wharf, Sefton Street, Liverpool L3 4BP.

Tickets for the concert (£11 each in advance, £12 on the door) are obtainable from John Welsh on 0151-428 2855 or from Please also visit for a fund of information on the region’s excellent blues scene.

Doors 8 pm: show 8.45 pm

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The great news for rock, live music lovers and aspiring musicians in and around Kendal, is that Chantel will be playing in her band at The Brewery Arts Centre on Saturday, 24th May and put simply; this will be a  fantastic experience and night to remember!

Winning four awards in the last three years is something that Chantel is very proud of and is indicative of her increasing popularity in and outside of the UK.  In an industry where male guitarists have been dominant and received most of the limelight on and off stage, what a refreshing change and a justifiable first, that a female artist was voted Guitarist of the Year!!

Jamming on stage with Joe Bonamassa on two of his tours so far, Chantel is a formidable guitar player, a very talented singer-songwriter and  her live performances are truly captivating!

A quote in Nightshift, Oxford’s music magazine, reinforces this, “Chantel McGregor deserves to be held up as a messiah of blues-rock and given her own mountain, she doesn’t strum or pick her guitar but almost bends and distorts it, as if she’s channelling the ghost of Hendrix through her fingers”

You can listen to Chantel playing two rocky numbers from her debut album “Like No Other” in her band at or on a quieter note, you can see and listen to a solo acoustic version of one of Chantel’s original songs at and her beautiful stripped back version of Bruno Mars “Grenade ” at

Don’t miss out on seeing Chantel play + support, The Mark Pontin Group, at The Brewery Arts Centre on Saturday, 24th May

The venue is located at 122 Highgate, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4HE

Advance tickets are £13 and to book, please call 01539 725 133 or go online at

To see, hear and find out more about Chantel and where she is playing next, please  visit

Don’t be late, doors open at 7.30 p.m.

(Picture: Howard Rankin)

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Remembering Sean Costello

Posted on: Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014

The sad loss of the brilliant Sean Costello rocked the blues world with him passing so young. Today is his birthday and he would have been just 35; he passed away five years yesterday on 15th April, 2008.

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Review: Alex Danson – Making Tracks

Posted on: Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014

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Alex Danson – EP – Making Tracks

(Self-release – Digital release date: 31/03/14)

Alex Danson is a young, talented, singer/songwriter from the Preston area, with a lot of determination . The acoustic release ‘Making Tracks’ is an ‘easy listen’ and it gives a good overview of this young man’s capabilities. Having heard his live sets, he can also thump out a blues number with the best of them, so maybe we’ll hear some of these on his next album.

All the songs on the EP are written and played by Alex.

The first track and the name sake of the EP, ‘Making Tracks’, is a well played slow acoustic number. A lovely track with great vocals and a superb acoustic guitar solo. Following this is a Dylan-esque, up tempo number ‘Persistence’, with a ‘folky’ feel. Alex has an excellent finger picking style.

‘Walking On’ is and easy listen number with a gentle bossa nova beat. It is beautifully played on the acoustic guitar and has some great lyrics. The final track on the exceptional EP is ‘Let Me Be Good To You’, showcasing some of the wonderful acoustic guitar playing from Alex.

An excellent ‘starter’ album and I’m sure we will hear more from this talented young man in the not too distant future.

ROSY GREER – Lancashire Blues Archive

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To start the month of April off with a bang the band Hard To Handle  travelled from the Manchester area, debuting here in Chorley at BJ’s, entertaining an enthusiastic crowd with their brand of Southern blues/rock covers.

Max Cottam some eight years ago founded the band and has along the way played with numerous musicians, with his right hand man Martin Degaris on guitar and recently added to the rhythm section veteran bass man Karl Nadin, and on drums Stu Feilden – as a section they were spot on and drove the band with confidence and the bands overall musical ability was second to none.

Max Cottam, front and centre with his throaty vocals, was excellent and Martin Degaris with his guitar riffs and solos was superb. With a multitude of favourite covers the band rocked the joint with the likes of “The Only Thing That Looks Good”, “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Mustang Sally”, “Summer of ’69”, “Sharp Dressed Man” and many more to boogie to.

Hard To Handle is a hardworking band with great musicians and will always aim to please and will continue to raise the bar musically.


National & international music reviewer

YouTube: The JP Band

Posted on: Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Here’s Liverpool group The JP Band with “Way Down in the Hole”.

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Soundcloud: Kat and Co.

Posted on: Monday, Apr 14, 2014

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Jason Vivone & The Billy Bats – Eddie Ate Dynamite

(Self -produced)

Where bands like the B52’s focused on the attractions of pulp science fiction in the 50s and 60s, Jason and his merry band of Kansas City musical explorers, who are; Jason himself on vocals and slide, Paula Crawford; guitar and vocals, Joanna Berkebile; vocals, Rick MacIvor; keyboards, Ben Hoppes; electric banjo, Jeremy Clark; bass and Matt Bustamante on drums, take us further on than the Yellow Brick Road could ever possibly have gone; for they do not seem to have any aims, targets or destinations, simply a lust for life that includes everything from Loony Tunes, Hawaiian grooves and goodtime blues through to Raymond Chandler, Orson Wells dramatics and quips and quotes from Shakespeare.

Over the nine original and mind expanding numbers we sidle up close to the twilight zone of mirth and nostalgia.

With this firmly in your mind, all is normal, so, it is perfectly reasonable that numbers like “Analog”, take the shape and form of a solemn and deathly New Orleans funeral dirge, the slow rumbling lament of days gone by when all we knew was that great music had to be not only warm and mono but, also submerged our ears in snap, crackle and pop; oh, those were the days of innocent joy. The visual joys of “Eddie Ate Dynamite” are wonderfully described as the swinging slide hovers over lively dancing drum work, while the glutton of a tuba bubs and expands and the excited girly chorus eggs Eddie on to the potentially exploding finale.

“The Lady Doth Protest Too Much”, brings together lyrical quotes from the bard himself and through Jason, the grand dramatic directions of Orson Welles, as we enter the late night murky world of Philip Marlowe, slow and darkly slinky brushwork sidles’ up to a crisply tinkling, lazy, rolling piano while damsels in distress provide the sultry girly chorus. “I Can Never Say Goodbye”, is a wonderfully woven list of goodbyes set to a lonesome and dejected piano led slow blues, while Jason mournfully and dramatically lists his farewells to all and sundry.

“Cut Those Apron Strings”, is a foot-tapping jiving shuffler on the subject of parental control; Jason and Paula Crawford bouncily argue over ripe and juicy horns that are provided by Bryan Redmond and Chad Boyston, tropical drums and slippin’ slide weave and hip swing you and the song along.

Highly Recommended!


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New Blues ’n’ Roots Festival for Shropshire

Church Stretton, in Shropshire is getting a new addition to the festival calendar. The first ever Blues ‘n’ Roots Festival will be held in the town on Saturday, 31st May, 2014.

The festival, which will be supporting MacMillan Cancer Support, aims to showcase some of the best singer-song writers on the blues and roots scene. The line-up features both national and international artists, as well as some fantastic home grown Shropshire talent.

Headlining the festival is ‘Blues Boy’ Dan Owen, winner of the British Blues Awards Best Young Artist 2013. Dan is a Shropshire lad, who is making huge waves in the music world.

Last year, his cover of Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of Hollis Brown” had over 455,000 hits on This brought him to the attention of Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac fame.

Mick is now acting as Dan’s mentor, describing him as being, “At the forefront of the new wave in British singer-songwriter talent.” This led to Dan being invited to attend Country Music legend Willie Nelson’s 80th Birthday Party in Nashville where he rubbed shoulders with Neil Young, Sheryl Crow and Norah Jones.

In June, he played at Glastonbury Festival, and then recorded with Grammy Award winning producer Vance Powell.

Powell has worked with such luminaries as Willie Nelson, Seasick Steve and LeAnne Rimes, and songs from this recording session reached the top two positions in the iTunes Store Blues charts at the same time.
Dan then finished last year being voted Best Young Artist at the British Blues Awards.

In March 2014 Dan uploaded a version of Howlin Wolf’s Little Red Rooster to youtube. The song attracted over 80,000 hits in the first five days and was released on itunes due to the phenomenal demand.

Gary Hall, influential Americana musician and former front man with The Stormkeepers, will be joining Dan Owen on the bill.

Gary’s latest album, Winning Ways on Losing Streaks, attracted critical acclaim from the blues and roots world and has been described as “The Americana album of the year”.

Polly Money is another artist on the rise. Polly has spent the last year touring and playing festivals all over the UK, Europe and the USA. She has played at such prestigious venues as The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, The London Acoustic Guitar show and London’s KOKO.

In June Polly supported Muse at The Stade de France in Paris along with Biffy Clyro and Dizzee Rascal. Her voice is sweet, warm and delicate yet soars like a bird as she takes you on journeys of teenage angst and love and loss.

A total of 12 blues and roots artists will be performing throughout the day and night. There will also be there will be musical workshops and activities for children.

A fully stocked licensed bar and food from around the world, will be available on site, at Rectory Field, Church Stretton.
Children under 14 are free. Adult tickets cost £20 and are available, along with other information, at

British Blues Awards 2014

Posted on: Sunday, Apr 13, 2014

Nominations are announced for some categories . . . more to follow.

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