Review: The Bluesmasters – Volume Three

Posted on: Friday, Apr 25, 2014


The Bluesmasters – Volume Three

(Direct Music Distribution)

The Bluesmasters albums are created on a similar premise to that of Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings; a well known and more than capable musician of good standing in the musical community decides to invite a loose and flexible cross-section of like minded friends and individuals to come together and play all kinds of music with taste and distinction, finally, select a varied collection of original, known and possibly lesser known covers, sprinkle them with bonhomie, and then hopefully, you will have a recipe for good time quality music.

With Volume Three this premise is maintained, joining Tim Tucker; guitars, this time we have Larry Thompson; drums, Doug Lynn; harmonica, Kassidy (daughter of Tim) Tucker; bass, Mitch Towne; piano and B3 organ. Hazel Miller provides lead vocals for six numbers and Mickey Thomas, three, with an instrumental to complete the ten, of these, six are Craig Ericson originals. Also providing support are; Hubert Sumlin, Ric Ulsky, Aynsley Dunbar, Rusty Anderson, Eric Gales, Jake E. Lee and Bob Birch.

Hazel possesses a vocal range that is infused with a subtle mixture of blues, gospel and jazz that sizzles like an ignited fuse and has the explosive raw power of nitro-glycerine. This is amply displayed within the two numbers that start with a melancholic B3 on “Suspicious”, which sorrowfully oozes and pulsates alongside Hazels’ raw, remonstrating and disdainful comments on a soon to be ex-lover, as a fuzzing guitar and metronomic drum work extends the pain.

On the second, Hazel confidently and boisterously extols the virtues and requirements of being “A Good Time Woman”, a bouncing; starkly sharp harmonica joins energetically pounding drums in an effort, to keep up with Hazel.  The highly infectious, urging and strident instrumental “Colorado Boogie”, is a blasting Chicago fuelled and harmonica led floorboard pounder.

Two of the featured Mickey Thomas numbers are, well up, to his usual high standard with a splendid cover of the Jimmy Reed favourite “Baby, What Do You Want Me To Do?”  The rasping, sleazy, crawling harmonica dominates the airwaves with Mickey countering with a plaintive and strident vocal that shivers. The other one is Eddie Moneys’ “Baby, Hold On”, here, it is an exciting and pounding fast paced r&b stomper which certainly gets the blood pumping; it also happens to be an audience favourite of The Bluesmasters live set.



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Tonemonkey reviews Robert Cray

Posted on: Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

Must pick up a copy…

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An early shout for this one . . . the Hot 8 Brass Band from New Orleans are back . . .

Tickets: £17.50 – 7.30 pm-11.30 pm

Ticketmaster or

The members of the Hot 8 were all born and raised in New Orleans; many of them began playing together in high school. In 1995 they came together and began playing traditional New Orleans brass band music professionally. New Album, Tombstone, out Now from Tru Thoughts. On tour everywhere.


Our regular Lancashire correspondent, Rosy Greer, has been asked by the BBA to put a brief overview of one of the nominees for the Emerging Artist category, Brothers Groove . . . we are delighted to share it here:

From Birmingham, ‘The Brothers Groove’ have hit the road running with their debut album, ‘Play The Game’. Produced by the award winning producer Wayne Proctor, the album is a superb rendition of blues and rhythm & groove. Such a ‘cool’ and incredibly tight band in their performances, they are a ‘must see’ band live, to gain the full ‘Brothers’ experience!! Songs like ‘Another Girl’ will just blow you away, it is delivered with such passion. Whether playing to a festival audience or in a pub, they always give their all, for the love of the music.

They are, in my opinion, one of the best bands on the circuit at this time and are four of the most talented musicians I have seen for a long while. They are not on an ego trip, but having had a ‘vision’ while jamming together a few years ago, the three front men Shaun, Nige and Deano, decided to form a band. Shaun Hill, is an exceptional guitar player with passionate vocals. He has written most of the songs on their incredible album ‘Play The Game’, released earlier this year. Nige Mellor is another superb musician on guitar and vocals. Deano Bass who has been on the circuit for many years, plays groovin’ bass with some backing vocals. The newest addition and not one of the original ‘brothers’ is Jim Simpson on powerhouse drums. Jim is a seasoned musician and has played with Magnum and UFO, but he has slotted well into ‘the groove’.

Persistence, dedication and passion has paid off and 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!!!

ROSY GREER – Lancashire Blues Archive, April 2014

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Corey Harris

The Grand, Clitheroe

17th May, 2014

Corey Harris is a guitarist, songwriter and performer who is leading a contemporary revival of country blues with a fresh, modern hand.
He is a powerful and compelling singer and an accomplished guitarist whose musical artistry is complemented by serious explorations of the historical and cultural conditions that gave rise to the Blues.
Born in Denver, Colorado, to parents from Texas and Kentucky, he is a musician who has carved out his own niche in Blues, appearing throughout the Americas, Europe, West Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

He began his career as a New Orleans street singer, travelling throughout the southern US before leaving the States to live in Cameroon, West Africa, which had a profound effect on his later work.  He has recorded many old songs of the Blues tradition while also creating an original vision of the blues by adding influences of reggae, soul, rock and West African music.  Some of his imaginative compositions are marked by a deliberate eclecticism; other works stay true to the traditional blues formula of compelling vocals and down-home guitar. With one foot in tradition and the other in modern experimentation, Harris is a truly unique voice in contemporary music.

Doors open 7pm; stage 7:45pm

Tickets £15 adv / £12.50 conc

Review: Texas Slim – That’s Who I Am

Posted on: Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014


Texas Slim –  That’s Who I am

(Feelin’ Good Records: 024)

Texas Slim is his name and yes, he is a long, lean gunslinger from Texas (born in Dallas, in 1963, his family and friends know him as Robert Sullivan) and has been playing the blues for well over twenty years now and from the highly enlightening sleeve notes of Norman Darwen; we are reliably informed that he is also a well recognised artist playing regularly across Europe and his home country America, he continues to sharpen and hone his musical edges wherever he plays, especially so, in the clubs and pubs in and around the areas of his home town Dallas and Fort Worth.

This is his third album for the Feelin’ Good label and the 16 numbers here retain all the verve, vigour and raw enthusiasm found on his earlier recordings. Long time musical associates helping TS; guitar and vocals, to create this alluring and inviting music are; Bill Cornish; bass, Kenny Stern; drums and Brian ‘Hash Brown’ Calway; harmonica.

TS and the band successfully capture the same happy go lucky, live rocking spontaneous grooving atmosphere that Hound Dog Taylor famously displayed way back in the seventies, in fact due to the high level of energy infused into the performances only eight of them contain any overdubs. Virtually all the numbers are no holds barred solid blues rockers and moaners, with only just enough time between them for you to get your breath back.

Considering the singular fact that Dallas is very much inland some of the numbers such as; the Lonnie Mack and Albert King inspired “Attack of The Mosquitoes” and the Freddie King inspired “Rock Hauler”, contain some wonderful examples of tumbling surfing riffs that effortlessly segue into manically hypnotic sixties drumming while over the top the racing and screaming guitar of TS bestrides the crests of those waves.

The restless and breathless heads down Lightin’ Hopkins inspired “Lightnin’ Boogie” is driven by fasted paced foot-tappin’ drumming with a searing wasp stinging, raw boogie guitar riding scattergun! The pace is somewhat more relaxed and lyrical with the sweetly soaring and satisfying “Trouble Knockin’”, a slowburning shuffling slide driven carpet slider. The pace is yet again picked up with the splendid Frank Frost composition “Jelly Roll King “, a joyously swinging harmonica led shuffler that TS supplies some tasty twanging to.

The slowburning “Too Wild To Tame”, allows TS to bend those strings to heartbreaking effect while a melancholy and lonely drum and bass traipse along in the background.

This is indeed a bumper collection of varied and sparkling blues numbers that will entrance and entertain all that hear it.

Highly Recommended!


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Honky Tonk Shindig – Dave Taylor sings and plays classic Country and Western, Blues and Rockabilly. Dave’s got some of the great songs that tell about love, life, not to mention drinking- the real soul of Country, but without glitter or sentimentality. Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash- great singers and great songs- plus the exciting rockin sounds of Skeets McDonald, Ned Milller etc- and Ray Charles, Memphis Slim, T-Bone Walker, Fats Domino.

At Altrincham’s newest, coolest, friendliest bar- New York Lounge, 7/8 Goose Green, WA14 1DW (0161- 928 9955).

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

11. Howard Rankin number.5.jpg

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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