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The Smoke Wagon Blues Band – Live In Hamilton

Now these guys are tearing up the Canadian blues scene and listening to this live CD, it is not difficult to understand why. Leader Corey Lueck has a warm, smoky voice (of course!) and provides some fine harmonica work (though perhaps not often enough), whilst the band is tight and powerful, able to rock out, get down and funky, or come over all jazzy in addition to playing the blues pure and simple.

These guys are confident – it takes courage to open a blues album with a lengthy and moody version of Bill Withers’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone’. Then there is ‘Barton Street Blues’, a country reworking of ‘Honky Tonk Women’ which may not be entirely serious… But the bulk of the album is blues, from the swinging style of ‘Hen House Hopping’ to a strutting cover of Muddy Waters’ ‘Blow Wind Blow’ – and it is all well worth a listen. It is nice, too, to find a band that concentrates on songs rather than solos.

NORMAN DARWEN

www.smokewagonbluesband.com

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The excellent Rag Mama Rag has an appearance at Wallasey Folk Club on 23 March 2014.

http://youtu.be/cI4aE21KWLg

Details here.

http://www.wallaseyfolkandacousticclub.co.uk/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

The usual sessions are open mic – I hear that a few blues players pop along – blues players and blues fans are always welcome.

Gigs: The Lol Goodman Band upcoming dates

Posted on: Sunday, Mar 16, 2014

The North West based blues outfit, The Lol Goodman Band, have the following upcoming dates, with most in the region:

Sat  29th Mar.  Duck & Drake Music Venue, Leeds
Sun. 30th Mar.  Barnsley Rock & Blues Club, Polish Club, Barnsley
Sat.  5th Apr.  Tilt Blues Bar, Nottingham
Sun. 20th Apr.  Nantwich Jazz & Blues Festival
Fri.  2nd May.  Belmont Bull, Belmont Village, Bolton
Sun.  4th May.  Peter Cowap Music Festival, Middleton Arena
Sat. 24th May.  Victoria Hotel, Withington, Manchester
Wed.  4th Jun.  Welcome Inn, Prestwich, Manchester
Sat.  7th Jun.  Queens Hotel, Leyland

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http://youtu.be/3cZreugRs54

Just a reminder that Simon McBride brings his classy rock/blues to Telford’s Warehouse, Chester on Monday, 17th March.

Full details here: www.telfordswarehousechester.com/2014/03/17/simon-mcbride

Review: .44 Pistol – Live At The Vaults

Posted on: Saturday, Mar 15, 2014

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.44 Pistol – Live At The Vaults

A get down and dirty, raw, rootsy blues band is how I would describe.44 Pistol. Hailing from the Stafford area their exciting live new album, ‘Live At The Vaults’, gives a great insight into the down to earth blues they produce.

Pete Wearn on vocals, harmonica and slide guitar, Ash Jones on guitar and backing vocals, and Mick Askey make up this interesting trio. Some of the tracks on the album are self penned or are traditionally arranged classic blues standards. The album was recorded live at Market Vaults in Stafford, engineered and mixed by Tom Wojtulewicz and mastered by Doug Rouxel.

First up ‘Help Me’, originally recorded by Sonny Boy Williamson, is a rolling mid tempo 12 bar blues. It is well performed with harmonica input. Next a self penned upbeat R&B number ‘Salvation’. This has a great guitar solo.

With harmonica, driving rhythms and raw guitar on this Slim Harpo’s up tempo 12 bar rocky blues, ‘Got Love If You Want It’ , the guys laid down a great sound which was one of my favourite tracks on the album. On to a Lighnin Hopkins standard ‘Let Me Play With Your Poodle’, an excellent rockin’ 12 bar blues.

The classic blues song ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ was reminiscent of the early works of Them. Followed by the self penned track ‘Born In The Borderlands’, which got ‘down and dirty’ with an earthy raw feel.

‘The Sun Goes Down’ , another self penned track, has a swamp rock earthy feel. While ‘Wish I Was In Heaven’, a classic Delta blues, has some great slide guitar, show casing the drums with some Bo Diddley rhythms and gusty vocals.

The traditional Elmor James number, ‘Shake Your Money Maker’, was a great rockin’ track with excellent harmonica. Some class slide guitar on the raw R&B number, ‘What’d I Say’ by Ray Charles.

The standard blues ‘Forty Four Pistol’ and the name sake of the band, had some drivin’ slide guitar, as did ‘Shake Them Down’ which was a great rockin’ blues. I believe Pete Wearn uses his home made guitar for the authentic delta sound. An excellent sound whatever.

The final track on the album was the great r&r classic ‘Got My Mojo Working’, great for audience participation and especially for a live album.

I enjoyed the fact that the album wasn’t ‘polished’. It gave a ‘what you see is what you get’ flavour and the energy of the band was evident. A great snapshot into the live performance and I hope I will catch these guys at a gig in the near future.

ROSY GREER – Lancashire Blues Archive

www.facebook.com/lancsbluesarchive

www.44pistol.co.uk

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This band of five excellent musicians from the Liverpool area is now well established here in the North West. They were formed in 2007 and play to audiences far and wide in clubs, pubs and festivals, such is their growing popularity and style of play. The band brings to the table a unique blend of blues with a funky element, ‘rhythm and groove’ as they describe it and I like what they do.

The band last year put out a CD entitled “44 Minutes” with four covers and six original works penned by Neil Partington-  the bands lead vocalist and guitarist. The album’s first track, a cover entitled “Pack It Up” was given air play on the prestigious Paul Jones Blues show on Radio 2.

Paul Starkey on guitar, along with Neil Partington, have a telepathic understanding in the guitar department. They switch around when the need arises and both these men are exceptional guitarists. Glen Lewis is a master on the keyboard,s with a blues jazz influence here, but his style has many factors and is another gem of a musician. The rhythm section the engine of any band is Bill Price, on a solid sounding bass guitar, and on the drums, time-master Nick Lauro.

The bands mission is to take a piece of old music and make it new by adding the ‘Forty 4′ factor, then taking it to the world, a mission indeed but they are capable of it. The band covered “Hoochie Coochie Man”, “T-Bone Shuffle”, “Get Out Of My Life Woman”, and “I Don’t Need No Doctor” – just a small sample of what can be done with great music done the Forty4 way.

KEITH BLACKLEDGE

National & International Music Reviewer

www.forty4music.com

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Krossborder Rekords ‘Kompilation Vol 1 – The Best British Blues

(KBR20132)

A great album giving an over view of some of the best of British talent on the blues scene today.

The first track by the Little Devils – ‘Deep Inside’, is a slow number with super sax input and is a show case for the band at their best. Following this are Dove and Boweevil – ‘Outta Town’, a great rolling, upbeat blues. Innes Sibun – ‘Cold love’, gives us some up tempo R&B with class slide guitar and then onto more classic R&B rhythms with a great brass sound from Jackson Sloan – ‘Ghost Train’.

Changing the feel, Planet Graffiti – ‘Bad Advice’ are funkin’ it up, where as Red Butler – ‘Bringing Out The Devil’ brings in a bit of classic rock. Roadhouse – ‘Hell On Wheels’ are rockin’ it up Southern style with Dave Thomas – ‘Shotgun Blues’ giving us a funky blues, with some excellent blues harp input.

One of my favourite tracks on the album was Idle Hands – ‘Come Share The Blues’ , an up tempo number with superb acoustic guitar work, great stuff! The White Knuckle Blues Band – ‘It Might Just Be Too Late’ gives us a standard electric blues. Then on to another of my favourites, the Tom Gee Band – ‘Better Things To Do’, a cool blues track with a great sound and vocals and some class brass input.

Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion -‘Lucifer Is Blue’, is a rocky blues with great rhythms. Then onto an up tempo track with Hammond input, funky overtones and some great sax from The Sharon Colgan Band – ‘Alright Now Papa’. The young Alex McKown – ‘Gone So Long’, gives us an easy listen with a superb guitar solo. Following, is another easy listen track, with shades of the ‘Clapton’ school, The Roy Mette Band – ‘ Bitter Sweet’.

The final track on the album gets us rockin’ it up with a great guitar sound from Absolution – ‘Temperature’. A good ending to an interesting mix of blues based music and a showcase for some of the excellent blues bands on the circuit today.

ROSY GREER – Lancashire Blues Archive

www.facebook.com/lancsbluesarchive

www.bluesmatters.com/krossborder-rekords

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After a hugely successful opening blues jam, the next one will take place at Telford’s Warehouse, Tower Wharf, Chester, on Thursday, 3rd April.

For further information, and if you wish to play, contact Charlie Broadhurst on 01352 755530 or e-mail charlie.goodfella@btopenworld.com

Review: J.J. Thames – Tell You What I Know

Posted on: Thursday, Mar 13, 2014

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J.J. Thames – Tell You What I Know

(De Champ Records: DC100214)

J.J. was born and brought up in the General Motors dominated working class area of Detroit, Michigan and her close knit family life was immersed in music of one sort or another, she started performing at the young age of nine and from then on she received formal musical training in classical, blues and jazz and by the age of 18 she was a fully fledged, blues-shouter.

After moving to Jackson, Mississippi, in the 90s she began to fully concentrate on her career by providing stalwart backing vocals for artists such as; Marvin Sease, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Peggy Scott Adams and Denise LaSalle. Although you may not realise it, you may well have heard J.J.’s voice before, when she provided the backing vocals for the reggae band ‘The Beat’ (of “Stand Down, Margaret” (Thatcher) fame).

Now, after spending a good deal of time in the background it is time for J.J. to step into the limelight and so she does with this spellbinding and captivating album that slinkily encompasses the blues, gospel and soul. You and your ears are immediately pinned down by the opener “Souled Out”, which has J.J. evocatively humming the introduction with only a solitary bass drum in the background, the lyrical solemnity and richness of her spiritually uplifting, pleading vocals recount trials and tribulations that go back to the dark evil days of Africa over a century ago.

All the numbers are originals apart from the Ray Charles standard “I Believe”, which is given the dark and dangerous big band treatment, while J.J.’s sensuous and enrapturing vocals enclose around a late-night nicotine stained tinkling and rolling piano.

Giving J.J. such tremendous musical support is; Celeb Armstong; guitar, David Hyde; bass, Vince Barranco; drums, Sam Brady; keyboards and production, the scintillating horns are blown by, Richard Beverly; trumpet, Todd Bobo; tenor saxophone and Mike Weidick; trombone, with J.J. on all vocals, the strength and spiritual passion in her voice has a pleasant similarity to Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Ruby Turner, which is used to great effect on “Hey You”, the swinging, scouring Howlin’ Wolf backbeat is in direct competition with an equally swinging and urging harmonica from executive producer Grady Champion.

An enjoyable mixture of Stax and Atlantic sounding horns accompany the raunchy “I Got What You Need”, while an understated harmonica keeps the wheels rolling. “My Kinda Man”, allows J.J.’s voice to create an intimate slow soulful atmosphere where she proudly tells the world about her very own soulmate.

The funkily groovy “No Turning Back”, takes us into woman scorned territory and without any doubt J.J. lets him have it with both barrels. “Can You Let Somebody Else Be Strong”, is a wonderful soulful blue slowburner, where J.J.’s vocals delicately and sweetly soar as she offers to help shoulder the load of her loved one.

There is no doubt that this is a powerful and hugely enjoyable debut, I look forward to more!

Highly Recommended!

BRIAN HARMAN

www.jjthamesmusic.com

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A varied line-up of gigs from Studio 2 in Parr Street, Liverpool:

APRIL STUDIO 2 LISTINGS

Thursday 3rd April

Funk and Soul band: please see http://studio2liverpool.com for further details

Friday 4th April

THE ROBERT MATHER BAND

Funk and Soul band, Studio2 Parr Street, Liverpool, doors 7pm for dining and drinks/ start 9.30pm, FREE ENTRY, book your table now, 0151 707 3727, http://studio2liverpool.com

Saturday 5th April

FLYNN AND TONICS

Funk and Soul band, Studio2 Parr Street, Liverpool, doors 7pm for dining and drinks/ start 9.30pm, FREE ENTRY, book your table now, 0151 707 3727, http://studio2liverpool.com

Sunday 6th April

STRINGS AND THINGS

Various bands, Studio2 Parr Street, doors 7pm, £2, 0151 707 3727, http://studio2liverpool.com

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Wednesday 9th April

IAN SIEGAL

Award winning international Blues solo plus support. Studio2 Parr Street, Liverpool. Doors 8pm. Tickets: http://studio2liverpool.com

Thursday 10th April

Please see http://studio2liverpool.com for further details

Friday 11th April

THE VIPER KINGS

Blues, soul, Rock and Roll revival band, Studio2 Parr Street, Liverpool, doors 7pm for dining and drinks/ start 9.30pm, FREE ENTRY, book your table now, 0151 707 3727, http://studio2liverpool.com

Saturday 12th April

NEW POWER SOUL CLUB

Funk and Soul band, Studio2 Parr Street, Liverpool, doors 7pm for dining and drinks/ start 9.30pm, FREE ENTRY, book your table now, 0151 707 3727, http://studio2liverpool.com

Sunday 13th April

Please see http://studio2liverpool.com for further details

Thursday 17th April

Please see http://studio2liverpool.com for further details

Friday 18th April

THE ROBERT MATHER BAND

Funk and Soul band, Studio2 Parr Street, Liverpool, doors 7pm for dining and drinks/ start 9.30pm, FREE ENTRY, book your table now, 0151 707 3727, http://studio2liverpool.com

Saturday 19th April

FLYNN & TONICS

Funk and Soul band, Studio2 Parr Street, Liverpool, doors 7pm for dining and drinks/ start 9.30pm, FREE ENTRY, book your table now, 0151 707 3727, http://studio2liverpool.com

Sunday 20th April

MUSIC IN THE AFTERNOON

With Steve MacFarlane, Studio2 Parr Street, Liverpool, doors 4pm/ start 5pm, FREE ENTRY, 0151 707 3727, http://studio2liverpool.com

Friday 25th April

RIOGHNACH CONNOLLY TRIO

Amazing acoustic Jazz trio, Studio2 Parr Street, Liverpool, doors 7pm for dining and drinks/ start 9.30pm, FREE ENTRY, book your table now, 0151 707 3727, http://studio2liverpool.com

Saturday 26th April

NEW POWER SOUL CLUB

Funk and Soul band, Studio2 Parr Street, Liverpool, doors 7pm for dining and drinks/ start 9.30pm, FREE ENTRY, book your table now, 0151 707 3727, http://studio2liverpool.com

Sunday 27th April

SOUL 4 SOUL

Soulful mix of live music, Studio2 Parr Street, doors 8pm, £4, 0151 707 3727, http://studio2liverpool.com

From John Welsh:

Hope you plan on joining us at Fogs on Saturday, 22nd March to see the welcome return of Simon and his band. Simon was kind enough to send me a link to a You Tube video of a great concert in Liverpool in 1989, when his friend, the late Steve Marriott appeared with his band. I hope you enjoy the clip.
Please let me know if you want tkts for the gig, as I need to let the venue know about the expected gate. Simon deserves to play to a FULL HOUSE.
Thanks,
John

http://youtu.be/JTavoGJsgeg

)

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Castro CD Cover

Tommy Castro and The Pain Killers – The Devil You Know

(Alligator Records)

Tommy Castro on vocals and guitar is backed by The Pain Killers (Randy McDonald on bass, Byron Cage on drums and James Pace on keyboards) and joined by a host of guest artistes across the album’s thirteen tracks, nine of which have been written solely or collaboratively by Castro.

The title track rolls and tumbles into action to set things off, followed by the medium-paced, slightly funky “Second Mind” with Jimmy Pugh on organ and Bonnie Hayes on Wurlitzer piano. Chris Youden’s medium-paced rocker, “I’m Tired”, introduces a heavier beat and boasts a splendid, trademark guitar solo from Joe Bonamassa. The temperature is raised a little higher by “Centre Of Attention” before Tasha Taylor’s vocals add a touch of class to JB Lenoir’s “The Whale Have Swallowed Me”.

The bouncy “When I Cross The Mississippi” has Tab Benoit on vocals and he and Mark Karan on guitar and benefits from some great keyboard work from Mike Finnigan. “Mojo Hannah”, an upbeat rocker with more than a hint of gospel about it, features Marcia Ball on piano and vocals. The equally rousing “Two Steps Forward” is embellished by some tasty harmonica from Magic Dick and excellent backing vocals from the Holmes Brothers.

The slow and brooding “She Wanted To Give It To Me” features a cracking Tommy Castro guitar solo before Mike Duke adds piano and vocals and Mark Karan guitar to the slow and bluesy “Keep On Smilin’”, the longest and arguably best track on the album. The fast-rising Samantha Fish graces the heavier-beating “Medicine Woman” with her very impressive vocals while the medium-paced rocker “That’s All I Got” delivers another superb guitar solo from the album’s main man.

Finally, the spiky-rhythmed “Greedy”, uniquely without a guest in sight, brings the curtain down on a most entertaining performance in which the highly talented singer/guitarist is brilliantly complemented by an array of distinguished collaborators.

LIONEL ROSS

www.tommycastro.com

www.alligator.com

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This band reformed last year from Magwitch to the Alan Kensley Band and have hit the ground running, with new drummer Ken Wright and bass player Trevor Blacow who hung up his sticks to fill the bass guitar roll, with Trevor’s brother Terry on rhythm guitar and on lead guitar and lead vocal the man himself, Alan Kensley.

Collectively they have taken their band experiences and perform the very best of popular covers from the 60’s 70’s and beyond, a mix of blues, soul, pop and good ‘ole rock and roll with the likes of Wilson Pickett, J. J. Cale, The Kinks, Clapton, Spencer Davis Group, Rod Stewart, Cream, Small Faces, and The Beatles and many more – hit after hit of popular music.

The band finished with an encore of “Coz I Luv You” by Slade, and The Rolling Stones hit “Spider And The Fly”, riveting stuff. This popular band will be forever recognised as a good cover party band for any pub venue. Thanks guys.

KEITH BLACKLEDGE

National and international music reviewer  

www.alankensley.wix.com/band

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Happy birthday . . . Ronnie Earl

Posted on: Monday, Mar 10, 2014

http://youtu.be/ehZFzfDxKfc

Happy birthday to the great Ronnie Earl . . . born this day in 1953. Here sitting in with the equally brilliant Janiva Magness and her band . . . doesn’t get much better!

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Review: The Trevor Sewell Band – Independence

Posted on: Sunday, Mar 9, 2014

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The Trevor Sewell Band – Independence

 (WAR082)

From the North East, The Trevor Sewell Band are well seasoned musicians with a raft of awards under their belt. Fronting the band, on this album ‘Independence’, is Trevor Sewell on vocals, guitars, mandolin and keys, Brian Emerson on bass, Steve Vine on drums with guests Georgina Biddle on electric violin and Lorraine Crosby on vocals. All the tracks are self penned.

The first track ‘The Train’ is a full on stomp with some ace slide guitar and harmonica and Trevor revealing his great ‘get down and dirty’ voice. This is followed by an atmospheric number, ‘Calling Me Home’ , loving the rhythms on this with great acoustic and electric guitar input.

‘Fade to Grey’ is an acoustic number which is one of my favourites on the album. Great guitar and harmonica with the excellence of Trevor’s voice. Following on is a well put together slow number, ‘The Moments Gone’ .

With the easy listen of the up tempo ‘DNA’ , to the violin infused acoustic track ‘No Future’ which has a definite Eastern European feel, it all makes for a variety of listening. ‘Home Alone’ with shades of Dire Straits maybe and the stomping up tempo track, ‘Talked To The Devil’ all adds to this.

Again another easy listen track, ‘Take These Chains’, with some interesting keyboard input and underlying raw guitar. There is a change on the next track ‘How Does That Work’ with the introduction of a raunchy female vocalist. A great up tempo track, a bit more rockin’, with mixed percussion input which works well.

I love the last track on the album, ‘One Wish’, some great Bo Diddley rhythms. Also an interesting mix of instruments and percussion, a great foot tapper.

The whole album has been brilliantly mastered, my only reservation would be, could they reproduce this great sound when playing live? I heard influences of perhaps Dire Straits, Tom Waits with a touch of Bruce Springsteen and John Hiatt but I think Trevor certainly has his own style and the album was a pleasing listen. Class musicians win the day!

ROSY GREER – Lancashire Blues Archive

www.facebook.com/lancsbluesarchive

www.trevorsewell.com

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http://youtu.be/XL9wUATZahc

Half Deaf Clatch (a.k.a Andrew McLatchie) is one man with a guitar, a slide, a stompboard and some songs. Playing resonator blues and stomping on a homemade amplified butchers block, he combines the influence of the Delta and Hill Country Blues of Mississippi with a contemporary alternative edge to produce some wonderful sounds. He writes, records and produces all his own work from home.

…in my top 10 albums of the year…” (Dave Raven, Independent Blues Broadcaster of the Year 2013)

For all gigs, please check availability first by mailing petevans@btinternet.com or ringing 01948 770215.

Cheques with SAE to be made out to Hooker Blues Club and sent to Oak Cottage, Wallington Lane, Worthenbury, Wrexham LL13 0AL

8pm for 9pm – £10

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