Review for CARLISLE BLUES & ROCK FESTIVAL @ The Venue, Carlisle – November 2014 http://www.carlislebluesfestival.com/

A rustle of excitement prevailed, as we headed for the new location at The Venue in central Carlisle, on Friday 7th November 2014, for the 8th Carlisle Blues & Rock Festival. This was an iconic step forward for the festival, as just six weeks earlier there were fears that it would not go ahead due to the immediate closure of the Swallow Hilltop Hotel, that had been home for the festival for the past 7 years. So, it was well done to Nick Westgarth for being able to secure a base for this year’s festivities – and what a great venue it was!

In this purpose built music venue, the crowds were well accommodated with a great ‘all view’ stage.

The first band to take to the platform and kick start the festival were ‘Sparo & The Yahs’. Hailing from Scotland, this was to be the last gig for charismatic front man Grant Dinwoodie, the excellent harp player and vocalist, of this high energy four piece. A great start to a great weekend and the band gave their all, giving hungry harp driven rockin’ blues. http://www.theyahs.co.uk/

Next to hit the boards were the ‘Little Devils’. A great blues combo from London, fronted by the amazing Yoka on raunchy vocals, super flute and great saxophone. It was nice to see them on a ‘full on’ stage performance, giving blues a fresh edge with hints of rock and funk – a confident and well-put-together performance. http://www.littledevilmusic.com/

The wonderful ‘Marcus Malone’ bought his own flavour of sound with a combination of blues, rock and soul. Originally from Detroit, he has a great voice and individual take on guitar. He has an easy presence and charisma with the audience. A superb set throughout with well played blues rock with a soulful edge. http://www.marcusmalone.com/

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A debut performance at Carlisle, for the talented Miss ‘Samantha Fish’, from Kansas City, this young dynamite performer puts herself firmly within the realms of ‘the women of blues’. Kicking off with cigar box guitar, then giving us some rockin’ slide and great guitar playing and vocals, she has an ease of playing and gave a wonderful performance. http://www.samanthafish.com/

For the last act of the evening, Mike Zito came with his own band this year, ‘Mike Zito & The Wheel’, for those remembering him with the Royal Southern Brotherhood at last year’s festival. From Missouri, he gives a Southern slant to his style of rock blues, with the true professionalism of a well established musician. He was also joined on stage for a couple of numbers by Samantha Fish. http://www.mikezito.com/

Saturday pm (Held in ‘Club Rock’ next door to ‘The Venue’)

A super start to the afternoon session in the crowded Club Rock with the ‘Bushman Brothers’. Having early roots in South Africa, this band, from Brighton, certainly gave a great performance with haunting blues rock at its best. http://www.bushmanbrothers.com/

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‘Blues Boy Dan Owen’ was up next. From Shrewsbury, he is fast becoming a legend at such a young age. He gave a masterful performance with plenty of stomp, slide and excellent guitar playing and only managed to break 3 strings! A true professional – continuing through Little Red Rooster, with a broken string, seamlessly changing guitar, midway through this Howling Wolf classic, and then leading beautifully into Stormy Monday. To complete the set, with a well deserved encore, the piece-de-resistance of the Ballad of Hollis Brown. Excellent! http://bluesboydanowen.com/

From Hampshire, the Mustangs brought to the stage some great ‘down to earth’ harp driven rhythm & blues in their own drivin’ style. http://www.themustangs.co.uk/

Some rockin’ blues from ‘Blues n’ Trouble’. It was a shame there was not enough room for dancing in the very hot Club Rock, as that’s what you wanted to do with this band! Some great up tempo rockin’ boogie. http://www.bluesntrouble.co.uk/

Saturday evening (back at ‘The Venue’)

Back in The Venue after a ‘cool off’ break, were the amazing ‘Sean Webster and The Dead Lines’ – what a great opener for the evening session. Sean, as always, gave the most awe inspiring performance, showcasing some of the tracks from his new album ‘See It Through’, due for release in the new year. With the most amazing voice and accomplished guitar playing, he played two of my all time favourites with such passion. The Etta James number ‘I’d rather Go Blind’, which when played at last year’s festival had most of the audience in silence and spell bound – with a similar effect this year! The final number, John Hiatt’s ‘Feels Like Rain’, was played to perfection – Sean Webster was certainly one of the highlights of the festival this year, for me! http://www.seanwebsterband.com/

Enter the veterans of the blues scene! ‘The Climax Blues Band’. Changes have taken place over the years, but the very core of the music remains the same. As a six piece they gave a tremendous sound with brilliant blues and blues funk numbers with the all the professional stage presence, that goes with the calibre of this band – magic moments! http://www.climaxbluesband.com/

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From Liverpool, and the Queen of Blues in the north-west, ‘Connie Lush & Blues Shouter’ certainly made their presence known! Connie has been on the blues scene for many years, but you never tire of her lively and dynamic performances – and tonight was no exception. This evening she had Sam Kelly, drummer extraordinaire, standing in on drums, so bonus. Her rapport with the audience, and her amazing voice, sets her apart from so many of her counterparts. A superb performance – with raunchy blues at its best! http://www.connielush.com/

Glad I finally got to see ‘Rosco Levee & The Southern Slide’! From Kent, they have a brilliant sound – with gritty guitar and Hammond soaked rockin’ blues. Great vocals and guitar playing puts them in a class of their own. A superb performance from this relatively new band on the circuit. So, watch this space. http://roscolevee.com/

The final act for the evening, the ‘class’ Aynsley Lister. As a collector of blues awards, I need to say no more! With a plethora of talented musicians just waiting to get on the stage, the Jam Session is always exciting and momentous! http://www.aynsleylister.co.uk/

Sunday

Kicking off the final session of the festival, was the great acoustic blues player ‘Matt Woosey’ – who is now firmly embedded on the blues festival circuit. A superb performance and a difficult one too, first thing on a Sunday afternoon. http://www.mattwoosey.co.uk/

A tight combo next to take the stage, with ‘TC & The Money Makers’. Their blues style of Chicago and swing gave us a superb harp driven blues take. Hailing from Yorkshire they wowed the audience with their classic blues – the harmonica playing would equal that of the greats! A really superb set. http://www.tcmoneymakers.com/

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A young lady who has been gracing the festival stages for a number of years is Dani Wilde – who was appearing with her band. She played many of her own songs, giving us her individual take on the blues. She was joined later on the set by her brother Will Wilde, who is an excellent harmonica player and a performer in his own right. http://www.daniwilde.com/

An amazing moment was the monumental arrival of The Boom Band. A seven piece band, they certainly gave us the ‘wow’ factor. With the familiar faces at Carlisle of Marcus Bonfanti, Jon Amor and Paddy Milner the band took the place by storm – each member offering their own individual input. Certainly ‘super group’ springs to mind giving us a really memorable set. http://www.theboomband.co.uk/

The final act, at what had been a truly brilliant festival, were Ian Siegal & Jimbo Mathus. Giving us some roots and country blues, Ian continues to be a firm favourite and crowd puller at the festival bringing with him ‘friends’ from his travels. A great end to a great event. http://iansiegal.com/ http://jimbomathus.com/

Many thanks go to Nick Westgarth and team and all the volunteer helpers who have kept the festival alive at the last hour. A good job done!

Rosy Greer – Lancashire Blues Archive and Independent Reviewer www.facebook.com/lancsbluesarchive

(All pictures courtesy of  Jan Falkowski)

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Mike Zito & The Wheel – Songs From The Road (CD + DVD)

(Ruf Records: RUF 1206)

Here’s another excellent addition to the Ruf Records “Songs From The Road” series, featuring St. Louis-raised, Texas-based singer and guitarist, the much in-demand Mike Zito – a frequent visitor to our shores over the last few years, both solo and as a member of The Royal Southern Brotherhood. He’s caught live here at Dosey Doe in The Woodlands, Texas with his band The Wheel, with the show captured on a second disc DVD!

The track listing covers several of his fine back-catalogue, with just a few changes between the live audio and DVD . . . it is a mixture of roadhouse rocking, blues and funk, all delivered by Zito on guitar and vocals, with Jimmy Carpenter (saxophone and vocals), Scot Sutherland (bass and vocals), Lewis Stephens (keyboards) and Rob Lee (drums) . . . a top, top band for sure.

There is not really a duff track here, from the funky opener “Don’t Break A Leg” through to the autobiographical closer “Gone To Texas”. Zito’s voice and guitar soar throughout, with Jimmy Carpenter’s superb saxophone the perfect foil. Other highlights are the rocking “Greyhound” recalling when a drug-addicted Zito bought a one-way ticket to Florida in 2002, to get away and start afresh; a  nice take on Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” and a majestic version of his co-write with Cyril Neville, and title track of a studio album, “Pearl River”.

The blues shuffle of “Dirty Blonde” catches fire with a great performance from all present, which is followed by the funky “Subtraction Blues”, with sterling work from Carpenter and keyboard player Lewis Stephens.

As previously mentioned the second disc is a DVD of the show, with a couple of alterations from the audio – a highlight being the later-period Freddie King tune, “Texas Flyer”. Mike Zito’s profile is pretty high at the moment and all fans of blues, Americana and more will thoroughly enjoy this fine package.

GRAHAME RHODES

www.rufrecords.de

www.mikezito.com

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Review: 8th Carlisle Blues & Rock Festival 2014

Posted on: Friday, Nov 14, 2014

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The Boom Band

THE 8th CARLISLE BLUES & ROCK FESTIVAL 2014

In the word’s of MC. Mark Singleton, “six weeks ago this year’s Carlisle Blues and Rock Festival was dead in the water”. Less than two months before the event was due to take place, the Swallow Hilltop Hotel announced that it was closing down and would not be available to host the festival or provide any accommodation. The festival organiser, Nick Westgarth, was faced with two options: pull the plug on the event or find an alternative venue and accommodation. It is to his eternal credit that he chose the second option; and he and his team of supporters deserve the highest praise and gratitude of the festival’s performers and punters for what they achieved against all the odds.

The musical events were held in two town centre venues: on Friday and Saturday evenings and on Sunday in The Venue, and on Saturday afternoon in the Club Rock. Accommodation was provided in a number of town centre hotels.

Friday Evening

The musical extravaganza exploded into action with a highly energetic set from Sparo & The Yahs, a heavy rocking quartet from Scotland. With considerably more than a hint of Paul Rodgers in his hugely impressive vocals, Sparo led a tireless charge, which was commendably matched by his band members. The unenviable task of following the initial impetus fell to The Little Devils, who were admirably unfazed and delivered a polished performance. The rich, powerful voice of Yoka, who also contributed instrumental cameos on flute and sax, was suitably backed by a splendid trio.

Next up was Kansas City’s Samantha Fish, who has been earning warm commendations for her singing and guitar playing. She was backed by the rhythm section of Mike Zito’s band and her burgeoning talent and attractive personality were warmly received by the appreciative audience. The USA dimension was re-enforced by Detroit’s Marcus Malone, who led his excellent band in a programme of his own magnificent compositions, reinforcing his exceptional vocal delivery with his charismatic stage presence.

Mike Zito and The Wheel headlined the North American round up. Founder of the Royal Southern Brotherhood that graced the festival last year, Mike Zito is a considerable force to be reckoned with as a musician, songwriter and producer and it was no surprise when he and his band delivered a top quality set that fully demonstrated his excellent vocals and superb guitar playing. There was also a brief but welcome return to the stage by Samantha Fish.

Saturday Afternoon

I must confess that the somewhat stifling atmosphere of the Club Rock prompted me to flit in and out of the venue, which regrettably resulted in my not catching the performances of The Bushman Brothers and The Mustangs. On the plus side, I had the pleasure of witnessing the further development of Blues Boy Dan Owen, who powered his way through a terrific set of original compositions and a fine selection of covers that included a sparkling version of “Walking Blues” and marvellous renditions of Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” and Dylan’s “Ballad of Hollis Brown”. I also thoroughly enjoyed a fabulous set of Chicago-style blues by Blues ‘N’ Trouble, fronted by the highly personable singer/harmonica player, Tim Eliott, and featuring the considerable talents of guitarist, Sandy Tweeddale, and keyboard player, Angus Rose.

Saturday Evening

Back to The Venue where The Sean Webster Band cranked up the volume with a programme of self-penned, soulful compositions, with Sean’s expressive vocals supplemented by a fine young band. In contrast, the more mature members of the Climax Blues Band delivered a significantly more sedate performance, with Graham Dee’s excellent vocals beautifully embellished by saxophonist, Chris Aldridge, keyboard player, George Glover, and guitarist, Lester Hunt, all expertly underpinned by bass guitarist, Neil Simpson, and drummer, Roy Adams.

The festival then welcomed back one of its favourite performers, the incomparable Connie Lush, who was brilliantly backed by the impressively dexterous Steve Wright on guitar and the impeccable rhythm section of husband,Terry Harris, on bass guitar and guest drummer Sam Kelly. As ever, Connie’s extraordinary vocal delivery sparred for priority with her infectious humour as she paraded a splendid mix of top quality original material with her unique interpretations of a miscellany of blues standards. The icing on the already delicious cake was her spine-tingling version of “Feeling Good”, which is more than a match for any of that number’s many interpreters.

Roscoe Levee & The Southern Slide were next on stage with an entertaining set of upbeat blues/rock. The eponymous singer/guitarist fronted his excellent ensemble with commendable warmth and enthusiasm while Lee Wilson added an abundance of keyboard artistry. The evening was headlined by Aynsley Lister, another firm favourite of the British blues scene. Backed by a top class rhythm section, he delivered a highly sophisticated programme, combining smooth vocals with beautifully played guitar lines that had the enthusiastic audience purring in appreciation. A splendid close to a terrific day of British-based blues.

Another feature of the day was a well-deserved presentation made by Connie Lush to the long-standing organisers of the Barrow Blues Club, Bill and Joyce Harrison, for their considerable contribution to the promotion of blues in the UK. Further evidence of their commitment was publicly witnessed when, in defiance of their advancing years, they led the cries for more at 2.30 in the morning at the after-show jam session. Long may they thrive!

Sunday Afternoon

The opening set on Sunday afternoon has consistently showcased hidden gems. That tradition was upheld this year in the form of Matt Woosey, an acoustic blues singer/guitarist. A skilful songwriter and fine guitarist, Matt possesses an incredibly powerful voice, complete with a range that incorporates a very effective falsetto dimension. He captivated the audience with his talented delivery and his laid-back humour and set the scene magnificently for the rest of the day.

Another relatively unknown act then assumed the baton and continued the captivation of the audience. York-based TC & The Money Makers provided a master class in Chicago-style blues, mixing shuffles, slow blues and boogies with consistent panache. Tom Cocks is a gifted harmonica player, whose talent has been acclaimed by no less than Charlie Musselwhite. His vocals are also impressive and he is backed by the tightest of bands that boasts Karl Moon on guitar, Giles Checketts on bass and Mark Tyne on drums. This is very definitely a band on the rise.

The party atmosphere was maintained by singer/guitarist Dani Wilde, one of the UK’s leading, female blues exponents. Her powerful vocals were a perfect vehicle for her well-crafted songs and her bubbly personality set the tone for a well-received set. As a bonus, her excellent band was reinforced on a few numbers by superb contributions from her brother, Will, on harmonica.

There had been much publicity, which prompted considerable anticipation, in respect of the appearance of The Boom Band. The ensemble comprises an amalgamation of some of the finest British blues artistes – guitarists Jon Amor, Marcus Bonfanti, Mark Butcher and Matt Taylor and keyboard player Paddy Milner – with all five sharing lead vocals. The potential danger was that individual rivalry might undermine the corporate project. In the event, all band members openly demonstrated their enjoyment of the performance of their fellow players and indulged in light-hearted banter throughout the set. In short, it was a triumph and a delight and the undoubted highlight of the whole festival.

What a challenge to follow that. Well, for some performers perhaps but not for the day’s headliner, Ian Siegal. In conjunction with Mississippi’s Jimbo Mathus, the festival’s perennial mascot proceeded to engage the gathered throng with humour, anecdotes and his superlative vocals and masterful guitar work. He was matched by his equally talented guest, who also charmed the audience with his wit and supreme enthusiasm. The pair shared lead vocals and provided close harmonies on an array of songs from the folk, country and blues catalogues, closing with Ewan McColl’s “Dirty Old Town” and, as an encore, “The Ballad of Casey Jones”. It was a fitting end to a marvellous festival.

LIONEL ROSS

RIP: Johnny Dyer – 1938-2014

Posted on: Thursday, Nov 13, 2014

Sad to mark the passing of the fine Mississippi-born harmonica player and singer, Johnny Dyer, at the age of 75. He relocated to Los Angeles in the late 50s where he began playing with George ‘Harmonica’ Smith, and then with his own band backed the likes of Jimmy Rogers, J.B. Hutto and Jimmy Reed.

He suffered tough times in the 60s and left the music behind for a period, re-emerging in the 80s, working with the likes of Rod Piazza and Shakey Jake Harris; and recorded a couple of fine albums for the Black Top label in 1994 and 1995, with guitarist Rick Holstrom.

Latterly he was a member of The Mannish Boys and featured on several of the Delta Groove label releases.

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This bands new approach to the blues is one man’s vision, and that man is Mal Green.

Mal is a one man driving force for self-promotion, and music making, combining a fusion of genres with a blues spine and producing some great songs. Mal has his own record label Green Dog Records and gets involved root deep with other musicians that wish to pursue a career in the music business.

The band’s new album, eight tracks in total entitled “Strawberry” is a no-nonsense retro mono LP and a CD package this is by no means a raw production. The band gave us a taste of the new material from Mal Green, arranged and produced by BeetRootJam, recorded and mixed at Home Sweet Home Studios, Salford.

Mal has a prolific writing record an explosion of lyrics that keeps him pretty busy all year round. It does not surprise me that this new recording just tells you what he’s about.

The band members are Mal Green on lead vocal, harmonica and lead guitar. On an electric double bass is Dave Luvin, who hails from Kansas City, USA and has a history of performing here in England with several bands, and with new member Mark C Fitton on drums. In the studio was Brian Walsh on tenor sax, with Marnie Jayne Holdsworth Green and Toni Amanda Holdsworth completing the studio line-up.

This was an enjoyable gig all round, with excellent musicians, a great blend of music, a professional attitude from the word go and definitely on the money, all this from a premier music maker and a gentleman that is Mal S. Green.

KEITH BLACKLEDGE

National & international music reviewer

Review: The MacKenzie Blues Band – Slam! Bam!

Posted on: Thursday, Nov 13, 2014

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The MacKenzie Blues Band – Slam! Bam!

(Independent release: TMBB002)

This is the second set from this four-piece out of Ontario, Canada. Front-woman Tara MacKenzie has a big, strong, flexible voice – take a listen to her phenomenal performance on ‘On The Other Side’ which matches the band’s material.

And that material is blues with dashes of rock and soul (the latter as on the driving ‘Up! Up! Up!’, which shows off the skill of the rhythm section of drummer Mike Weir and bass player Joel Dawson to great effect), retro rock with more than a dash of blues, and on many tracks, as for example ‘Bone Cage’, ‘Burned When You Play With Fire’ and the eight minutes long ‘I Feel A Storm Coming’, with a darker edge.

The sleeve, mocked up like an old “True Detective Stories” comic, captures this noir perspective perfectly. Guitarist Trevor MacKenzie contributes rocking riffs, driving rhythms, menacing licks and intense solos throughout, but the dozen tracks offer consistent, thoughtful material slightly outside the norm from a band deservedly on the up, up, up.

NORMAN DARWEN

www.mackenziebluesband.com

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Beyond cool groove . . . from the Austin City Limits Tribute to Jimmy Reed . . . Jimmie Vaughan, Omar Dykes, Kim Wilson, Derek O’Brien, Ronnie James Weber and Wes Starr.

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Walter Trout at Glasgow

The continuation of the Walter Trout Benefit.

The only gig in the North West to host the Walter Trout Band benefit..

This one off performance features Jon Trout, Mitch Laddie, Laurence Jones and Andrew Elt

There are only 100 tickets  for this performance.

To be held at  The True Blues Club, 17/19 Earle Street, Earlestown,  Newton-le-Willows, WA12  9LW

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Just in from Dave Sawyer:

Hi everyone

Just a quick note to remind you all that the winter warmer blues night takes place this Friday at Lymm Golf Club starting at 7:30 pm.

Joining us as support for the night will be Midlands based bluesman Chris Bevington and Friends who will play an opening set prior to Makuini and the HooDoo Men who will be on stage from about 9 pm.

The evening has almost sold out but we do still have a limited number of tickets available for purchase online or over the counter at Lymm Electric. Any remaining tickets will be available for purchase on the door subject to availability.

This promises to be one of the best ever festival blues nights so make sure you get your tickets before it’s too late.

See you there!

Dave

www.lymmfestival.org.uk

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Gigs: The JP Band – Liverpool dates

Posted on: Monday, Nov 10, 2014

The JP Band have Liverpool dates on Thursday, 13th November at The Grapes, Knight Street, and then Friday,  21st November at Studio 2,  Parr Street.

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Review: Troy Redfern – Troy Redfern Band

Posted on: Monday, Nov 10, 2014

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Review for TROY REDFERN – CD – ‘Troy Redfern Band’ – 2014 http://troyredfern.bandcamp.com/ Self Release

An album of great raw rockin’ blues with super slide. A powerhouse of a band to get the adrenaline pumping!

From Herefordshire the Troy Redfern Band are fronted on vocals and guitar by Troy Redfern, with Stuart McDonald on bass and Phil Greenhouse on drums. All the tracks on the album are self penned.

The opening number sets the scene for the rest of the album with ‘It Stacks’, a high octane rockin’ track with plenty of wild slide. Following an up tempo rockin’ blues ‘The Other Side’ with hints of ZZ Top, a great take. Slowing the pace, another slide driven blues number ‘Salavation’, with a hard working rhythm section.

Back to the high energy rock with ‘Wildfire’, then an acoustic intro’ on ‘What Goes Round’ building up to a classic rock number. A haunting bluesy track, with great drum beat and some impressive guitar work on ‘War Cry’. Then a very George Thorogood style blues rock number ‘Backdoor Hoodoo’ with great slide, gritty vocals, and some class harmonica input, one of my favourites on the album.

Bringing in some authentic blues roots with ‘Lamb Of Zion’ and some great acoustic slide gave us an interesting change. Then rockin’ it up again with ‘Back Home’ and a heavier rock number ‘Running With Ghosts’, both great takes. The final track on this well put together album was ‘Survive’. It has a great intro’ with a pounding slow beat on this blues rock number. Some great musicianship from this formidable trio, that created a huge sound and exciting musical input. A great listen and well worth an airing.

Rosy Greer – Lancashire Blues Archive and Independent Reviewer
http://www.facebook.com/lancsbluesarchive

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Timetable of Events

Thursday 13th Nov.

Gary Boyle Band – Number 39. Start: 9:00pm

Friday 14th Nov

Shakatak – Library Theatre. Doors: 7:00pm Start: 7:30pm

*This is a ticketed event and is priced at £18.00 advance or £20.00 on the door

Gary Hall – The Belgrave. Start 9:00pm

Junkhouse Dog Blues Band – The Crown. Start 10:00pm

Saturday 15th Nov

Frank Patterson – Deli Carlo. Start: 2:00pm

The Unknown and Roosevelt Room – The Hub. Start 4:00pm

Steve Childs Band featuring Al Wood – Number 39. Start 6:00pm

Dean Casement Trio – The Black Horse. Start 9:00pm

Steve Sagar and Iz Buddies – The Belgrave. Start 10:00pm

Sunday 16th Nov

Ged Wilson with Frank Patterson and Brett Slater – The Hub. Start 2:00pm

The Jamil Sheriff Trio – Number 39. Start 4:00pm

The Tone Ranger – The Loft. Start 6:00pm

The Cottonhouse Shakers – The Crown. Start 8:30pm

via Darwen Music Projects: Jazz and Blues Weekend 2014.

Review: Sabrina Weeks & Swing Cat Bounce – Live

Posted on: Sunday, Nov 9, 2014

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Sabrina Weeks & Swing Cat Bounce – Live

(Independent release: SCBCD03)

Well, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this release, the band’s third, but its combination of big-voiced Sabrina, Mike Hilliard’s excellent, driving but not overly flashy guitar playing, a kicking rhythm section and some fine material certainly won me over within the first few minutes.

This is an energetic show right from the off, with mostly original material powering along and Sabrina, sweet, sultry or sassy as required on a programme of mostly original and memorable blues – even Randy Newman’s ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’ gets a blues treatment thanks to Mike’s Albert King flavoured guitar fills, and the other borrowed items – Ike Turner’s 60s soul styled ‘Strange’, Ruth Brown’s stop-time boogie-blues ‘I Can’t Hear A Word You Say’ and the slightly funkier than usual blues readings of Big Mama Thornton’s ‘Hound Dog’ and Jimmy Reed’s ‘Big Boss Man’ – show more imagination than many other cover versions.

I was surprised to see that such a big sound is courtesy of only a four piece outfit (but then again, there are elements of ZZ Top in evidence here occasionally)! Sabrina and company are based in British Columbia, Canada, and this set was recorded before a very enthusiastic audience on their home turf. If I can make this observation of an outfit who have rather more than a half century of musical experience between them, Sabrina Weeks and Swing Cat Bounce are another worthwhile addition to the growing list of excellent Canadian blues acts.

NORMAN DARWEN

www.sabrinaweeks.com

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Barrence Whitfield & The Savages are out on the road on the back of their recent “Dig Thy Savage Soul” release on Bloodshot Records.

Manchester, Sound Control: Sunday, 16th November

www.soundcontrolmanchester.co.uk/events/barrence-whitfield-the-savages

Liverpool, East Village Arts Centre: Wednesday, 19th November

www.seetickets.com/event/barrence-whitfield-the-savages/east-village-arts-club-loft/799619

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John Cee Stannard & Blue Horizon – Bus Depot Blues

(Cast Iron: CIRCD 024)

Singer and guitarist John Cee Stannard was a member of the folky outfit Tudor Lodge, who recorded a number of John’s songs back in 1971 on the Vertigo label but he then put his song-writing skills largely on the back seat; just over forty years later, John got together with some session musicians and some new blues songs he had written, and recorded a solo album.

Touring soon followed and John has now made this very appealing follow-up. The sound is generally acoustic based, though there is a band on some numbers and Mike Baker plays second guitar throughout. Forget trying to sound American – John has a quintessentially English accent, as for example, on the ragtime inflected ‘I’ll Take Care Of Mine’. There are elements of skiffle to be heard here (try the title track for a good example) and a more generic “East Coast” fingerpicking based style, including hints of jazz in a couple of places, with the resulting recordings conveying – mostly – a sense of fun.

The only non–original is a chugging cover of Big Boy Crudup’s ‘That’s Alright” that owes a lot to Elvis, though Howard Birchmore’s harmonica playing keeps it grounded in the blues. ‘Flood Water’ relies on a heavy, electric slide guitar riff to create a menacing atmosphere, but most of the remaining numbers are less threatening and John’s sense of humour is in evidence. A very entertaining release…

NORMAN DARWEN

www.johnceestannard.co.uk

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Just in from Roger Kenyon:

There are still a few tickets (no admission on door) left for this event – but only if you’re quick!

Long time friend of the Village Hall, Stu Williams has got Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay, a brilliant duo from Austin, Texas on UK tour playing at Manley Village Hall on November 8th.

Concert starts 8.30 and doors open 7.45 and should be finished no later than 10.30. Tickets are £10 (advance only due to venue size) and are available to reserve through Stuart on 01928 732730 or stubanjo@gmail.com

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