Review: Jack Blackman – self-titled

Posted on: Saturday, Oct 5, 2013

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Jack Blackman – self-titled


Here’s a most enjoyable second full-length release from 19 years old acoustic guitarist Jack Blackman, with this self-titled album straddling both folk and blues, with the young man seemingly influenced by a whole host of musicians, such as the great British folk blues giants like John Renbourn, Bert Jansch and Davy Graham, whilst also having a distinctive Delta blues take on some songs, inspired by the classic Mississippi bluesmen.

This new release was recorded at the studios of Leeds College of Music, where he is currently studying, and was recorded and mixed by Ally Jowett – the nine songs are all Blackman originals and highlight his fine writing and lovely guitar playing – both fingerpicked and slide.

Highlights here are the opening “Moving Train” – very folky indeed with his aforementioned intricate guitar playing and a voice that perhaps belies his tender years; the gritty blues of “Whisky Grave” is firmly in the Delta blues field with some tasteful slide work; the delicate “Charles Walton Blues”, based on a witchcraft murder in Warwickshire, is a standout, with a classic British folk feel to it, reminiscent to the likes of the great Martin Simpson’s work.

Blackman ‘doffs his cap’ to the late blues great “Honeyboy Edwards”, on a song with that title, again featuring nicely picked acoustic guitar and some electric slide; the closing “Buddy Holly’s Ghost” is also a treat, and a fitting close to an album that shows great promise.

Definitely a young man to watch out for . . . both for fans of blues and folk, with an ear for nicely written and performed original songs.


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Sister of the legendary drummer John Bonham, this lady is diligently carving out her own pages in the history of blues rock. There must be something in this genetics malarkey.

Tickets £12, payable on the door

Further details: www,!gig-details-3/c22w7

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Blues rock guitarist Larry Miller will be at 53 Degrees in Preston on Friday night 11th October as part of his ‘Live & Outlawed’ tour, promoting his new live album. He is famous for his mesmerising guitar playing and high octane shows in the UK and around Europe, bringing his unique showmanship and energy to every performance.

He holds the record for the most encores at The Cambridge Rock Festival and playing to capacity crowds with standing ovations. Larry has been featured several times on BBC Radio 2 including a live broadcast of his performance at The Great British R&B Festival.

In ‘Classic Rock The Blues’ magazine readers poll for best CDs, Larry Miller’s latest studio CD  ‘On The Edge’,  was voted number 3 only to be beaten by Joe Bonamassa and Walter Trout. Radio Caroline called him “The new Gary Moore” and Guitar and Bass magazine finished a stunning album review with “Blues-rock brilliance”.

Larry will be playing songs from his latest critically acclaimed  live double album ‘Live & Outlawed’ which captures his incredible live performance plus songs from  ‘On The Edge’  and his back catalogue of studio albums. If you like Rory Gallagher, Joe Bonamassa, Gary Moore, Walter Trout or Jimi Hendrix, you’ll want to see Larry Miller!

Larry Miller is undeniably one of the must see blues/rock acts, so get your tickets for this amazing night of blues rock power by calling Action Records 01772 258809   or to buy online visit their website:  For more information on Larry Miller visit:

Review: Lewis Hamilton – Ghost Train

Posted on: Thursday, Oct 3, 2013

Lewis Hamilton CD Cover

Lewis Hamilton – GhostTrain

(Lewis Hamilton Music: LHMGT2013)

As demonstrated in the recent three-volume set under the title Jock’s Juke Joint, Scotland continues to produce a well-stocked production line of talented blues musicians. Lewis Hamilton is rapidly establishing himself in that illustrious group and this album provides good evidence of his burgeoning skills.

There are eleven tracks of expertly-penned original compositions, which Lewis delivers with the backing, on most tracks, of Nick Hamilton on bass and Ian (Santa) Wallace on drums. In addition, Rich Young plays Hammond organ and Pete Rabjohns plays drums on three tracks, Steve Hamilton plays keys on two tracks and Bruce Richie and Lyndon Anderson play trumpet/sax and harp respectively on one track each.

The album bounces into action with the funky “Lonesome And Blue”, followed by the steady-beating “Cheap Cigars”, which offers a swampy feel and some nifty guitar work. The title song returns to funky mode, this time with some slide guitar embellishment. The tempo is eased by the soulful “Trust In Me” and the slow and bluesy “By The Oak Tree”, on which Lewis Hamilton plays bass and drums as well as his customary guitar.

The excellent, fast-moving “Whiskey Boogie”, blessed with the exceptional harp playing of Lyndon Anderson, is matched by the Stevie Ray Vaughan-influenced “Down To The River”, complete with two sparkling guitar solos. The funky “Head In The Sand” leads on to the slow and bluesy “Breaking Heart”, which delivers another fine helping of bristling guitar work before the album is drawn to a close with Lewis in solo format on the gentle, medium-paced shuffle, “Sunrise”, and “Journey Home”, a beautifully-played Delta-flavoured instrumental.

This is a well-varied and very enjoyable album, which is a credit to Lewis Hamilton’s songwriting ability and his impressive guitar playing. The quality of his vocals does not yet match his instrumental prowess but, still only 19 years of age, there is plenty of time for refinement in that department.


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Here’s a smashing half hour film of Dave Arcari’s debut US tour earlier this year . . . a great watch . . . well done Dave and Margaret.

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Just in from Raphael Callaghan:

Hello Everybody,

Details of the next Acoustic Blues Lounge at Engedi Arts in Colwyn Bay, N Wales, on Friday October 11th featuring special guest Bill Hackney.

Bill is a stylish guitar-picker and lovely singer with a wide-ranging bluesy repertoire.

Some of you may know him as a long-standing resident of the famous Bothy Folk Club in Southport. There he gets to do a couple of songs a week and has something of a cult following. I think he’s great and when I’ve booked him previously for a couple of my blues ventures on Merseyside, they come out the woodwork to catch Bill doing a rare full gig. You have been warned – get to Engedi on time for a good seat.

Doors open 7.30pm, adm £5. Bar and cafe, and there’s a chance to win blues CDs too.

Raphael Callaghan will kick off the night at 8.20pm with a set of his own brand of vocal, slide guitar and harmonica blues.

Engedi Arts is in the old Imperial Hotel building, opposite Colwyn Bay railway station.

Bill is coming all the way from Southport to play for us – come and see him on Friday October 11th.

All the best, Raphael

News: The Drivetones new website

Posted on: Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013

Whitchurch-based blues band, The Drivetones, have a new website, check it out here:

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Peter Green Splinter Group – The Very Best Of


The re-emergence of Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green in the mid-90s was one of that decade’s greatest musical surprises, as for the 20 years or so preceding it, Greeny had been the subject of endless speculation. So eagerly awaited was his comeback that he was given a standing ovation at his group’s debut show in Buxton just for walking on the stage.

That is quite revealing, as the early recordings prove – when viewed dispassionately – that Peter was not really anywhere near the standard of the guy recognised as one of the world’s best blues guitarists at his peak.

That was the problem – on his return to the public eye, he needed and took time to build and his voice initially sounded tired, so that the live recordings and Robert Johnson covers are just, well, OK (and Peter plays harp a lot of the time, leaving guitar duties to his buddy Nigel Watson).

But then, from the 1999 remake of “The Green Manalishi” onwards, he hits form. The band seems to really connect with him, guests include Doctor John, Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin, Otis Rush and Snowy White, and Peter sounds as convincing as he ever did right through to the end of this compilation.

Drawing 32 tracks from seven albums issued between 1997 and 2003, when the group dissolved, this double CD is ultimately an excellent, admittedly slightly flawed but instructive collection of modern blues that will do Peter Green’s formidable reputation no harm whatsoever.


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Video: Tonemonkey – rare Johnny Shines footage

Posted on: Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013

Some very rare Johnny Shines footage recorded 1975 in Vienna:

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News: Blind Pig Records latest releases

Posted on: Monday, Sep 30, 2013


American roots music label Blind Pig Records returns to its traditional blues origins with the release of terrific new titles from Shawn Holt and the Teardrops and Roosevelt Sykes.  Available now – see ordering info below.Shawn Holt & the Teardrops   “Daddy Told Me” Shawn Holt is the son of the late legendary blues master, Magic Slim. After twenty-four years and ten releases as Magic Slim’s label, Blind Pig Records is very proud to announce the debut recording by Shawn Holt & the Teardrops,Daddy Told Me.  Long-time member of the Teardrops John Primer is a special guest.

When the blues world mourned the passing of Magic Slim this past spring at a tribute at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago, Bill Dahl of the Chicago Blues Guidewrote, “‘A Night For Magic’ commenced in true torch-passing fashion with Slim’s guitar-wielding son, Shawn Holt, leading a second-generation lineup of Teardrops that proved conclusively he has what it takes to maintain the family legacy.”

Magic Slim & the Teardrops have probably been nominated for the Blues Foundation’s “Blues Band of the Year” award more times than any blues band playing today – including eight times in the last ten years. You can’t become a Teardrop until Magic Slim says you’re good enough.  Shawn Holt became a Teardrop last year shortly before his dad died.

The high energy, hard-driving sound of the Teardrops is still alive and well with Shawn, a chip off the old block, fronting his old man’s band.  Shawn’s booming vocal presence is more than a little reminiscent of his father’s, and his guitar playing, while similar to Slim’s, exhibits a broader mix of classic and contemporary influences. Combining a couple of his Dad’s songs and other songs associated with him with five of his own originals, Shawn shows himself more than capable of leading the Teardrops into a new era.

Roosevelt Sykes   “The Original Honeydripper”

Considered by many to be the father of modern blues piano, Roosevelt Sykes enjoyed a career that spanned some sixty years. In 1929, at age 23, he was one of the earliest blues pianists to record. In the following decades he went on to became a very prolific recording artist, a highly successful bandleader and later, a popular solo artist. He was a pioneering pianist responsible for the classic songs “44 Blues,” “Driving Wheel,” and “Night Time Is the Right Time.”

The Original Honeydripper was recorded live in 1977 in the small basement blues club of the Blind Pig Café in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was recordings and performances such as this that led to the formation of Blind Pig Records. Originally released on LP, this re-issue, with improved sound quality, also contains two original outtakes, “St. James Infirmary” and “Don’t Talk Me to Death,” that have been marvelously resurrected.

The selections span the length and breadth of Roosevelt Sykes’ career and the times in which he lived.  Featuring Roosevelt’s own musical hybrid of ragtime and country blues piano, these solo performances capture Sykes as the consummate entertainer who truly delighted in singing and playing piano for lively, appreciative audiences.  As All Music Guide said, “This label can really be counted on to do a fine job on documenting an artist. For a recording of this artist in his later years, one can’t really do better than this set.”

For more information, to hear samples from these new releases, or to purchase them for $15 each, please click HERE.   Or, to get them for only $10 each, you can take advantage of Blind Pig’s special 5 CDs for $50 offer by clicking HERE

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A welcome return of this band from the Manchester area. They have been revamped and fronting the band now is the lovely and talented female singer/songwriter Jocelyn Knight. Her debut with Dr Truth was on the BBC Stage at the recent Colne Blues Festival. She is a great asset to the band. Her vocal range suits this genre of soul influenced blues and she makes her presence felt from the very off. Her song “25 years” is a cracker.

The band performed original material penned by the band from their CD ” Code For The Road” as well as some newly written material. Chris Roach on lead guitar was brilliant – he gave a cracking performance. As always the rhythm section was tight and spot on in every quarter. On bass guitar was Julian Latimer and on the drums was Rick Lacey, one of the most sought after drummers in the North West. He has performed in many bands and is a seasoned musician and is no stranger to the recording studios. On the keys was Paul Ashton. I enjoyed his performance interchanging the lead many times with Chris Roach – superb!

The new line up was just terrific, I enjoyed this band, music for the soul a tonic to pick you up, to be taken as often as possible I feel better already.


National & international music reviewer

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Doors: 7pm;  stage time: 9:30pm; entrance: FREE

Forty4 make a rare local appearance in the city at the highly respected Studio 2 located at the old Parr Street Studios this October.

Following the release of their debut CD, ‘44 Minutes’, which has had national airplay on the BBC Radio 2 Paul Jones show, the band are now receiving radio airplay in countries such as France, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Netherlands, USA and even Croatia!

As well as increasing their international audience, Forty4 have also caught the attention of a UK record label who have expressed interest in signing the band, making this an exciting time to catch the band on home turf!

Studio 2 is a venue with a room that is ‘tuned’ specifically (it’s an ex-recording studio) to capture the best aspects of musicians playing together, making for an excellent audible experience, as opposed to the standard quality music venues in the city.

Food is also available to order, though booking in advance is advisable on 0151 707 3727.

For more information about Forty4 please visit their website at:

(Pic: Rosy Greer)

Review: CD Woodbury Band – Monday Night!

Posted on: Saturday, Sep 28, 2013


CD Woodbury Band – Monday Night!

(Wild Willie Productions)

The CD Woodbury Band was formed by the pairing CD himself and the remnants of Tim Casey’s’ Bluescats at the Snohomish Blues Invasion in 2009, prior to that CD has had the distinction of playing in front of two American Presidents and on one occasion playing the music of  Jimi Hendrix before the Hendrix family.

CD’s invaluable Texas roadhouse experiences and his jazz and blues background has, over the years stood him in good stead; especially so on the meshing of the fine musicians that make up CDWB who are; CD guitar, lead vocals,   Don Montana; drums, lead vocals, Mike Marinig; lead vocals, saxophone, Chris Klienman; keyboards and last but not least Mike Fish; bass.

The device of varying who takes lead vocals has the advantage of giving greater texture and depth to the varied styles and types of music that is to be found on this album. The opener, “These Blues Keep Me Right Here,” has jolly, jaunting rolling piano and organ joining a rich and lusty guitar that shares centre stage with a panting saxophone, with the clean crisp vocals grooving over the top; while “Mean Jenny,” moves into a swampy piano boogie led mode that is not only compulsorily footapping but also, has a very catchy chorus.

This mood is continued on “Been So Long,” which features a punchy guitar, rolling piano and drums alongside wheezy saxophone. On the numbers “Monday Night,” “Pleasures All Mine,” “Burn the Bridge” and “Two Wheels,” a refreshing change of mood is fully explored, that is the world of jazz and funk; from the classic strident James Brown guitar and brass riffs to the seventies soft, caressing, bubbling and burbling keyboards style, that is succinctly matched with an insistently exhilarant, brusque swaying saxophone which is neatly underpinned with nut tight, riveting,  urging guitar passages that takes the mood further on up the road.

The rolling piano led slowburner “Pawn Shop,” has building vocals and a grooving Jazz tinged saxophone while over the top a searing and scorching guitar wails away some painful blues. The equally mournful and melancholic mood of “SauBall Blues,” contains breathily drawling saxophone riffs that are coupled with Jazz tinged maudlin piano rolls, gentle brushwork lazily flows alongside rich sombre guitar picking.

Highly recommended!


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Thanks to Keith Blackledge for the October gigs at The Hop Pocket, Chorley:







Video: Southern Hospitality – Long Way Home

Posted on: Friday, Sep 27, 2013

“Long Way Home”

Blind Pig Records has released a new video from Americana roots music sensation Southern Hospitality, whom some critics have dubbed a “southern rock supergroup” reminiscent of Little Feat, The Allman Brothers, and The Marshall Tucker Band.

Led by a trio of young virtuosos, (Damon Fowler on lap steel, JP Soars on guitar, and Victor Wainwright on keyboards), Southern Hospitality has crafted a highly compelling mix of Southern soul, rootsy rock, and swampy blues with echoes of Muscle Shoals and Macon.  Their debut release, ‘Easy Livin,’ was produced by Tab Benoit, who said, “Damon, Victor, and JP are the future of roots music.”

The “Long Way Home” video, filmed at a live show in a Florida nightclub, features JP Soars’ performance of his own composition.  In its CD review Living Blues said, “Another highlight is the gravely voiced Soars’ ‘Long Way Home,’ which has classic southern rock written all over it, with grinding guitars and surging B-3 organ lines.” No Depression magazine added, “Soars’ ‘Come Back Home’ is a rollicking throwback that sounds like it tinkled out of Jerry Lee’s keyboard in the ’50s.”

To watch the video of “Long Way Home,” please click HERE

For more info and samples from Livin’ Easy, or to see more videos of Southern Hospitality, please click HERE.

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Gary Fletcher Band – Giant From The Blue

(Arone 1301)

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Gary Fletcher – In Solitary

(Arone 1302)

Here’s not one, but two new releases from The Blues Band stalwart Gary Fletcher . . . one with his band, and the other, as the title suggests, a solo offering – and very pleasant they are both are!

“Giant From The Blue” sees Fletcher with his band, namely ex-Dire Straits drummer Pick Withers; Jack Fletcher, his son, on bass; Steve Ling on guitar; as well as the man himself on vocals and guitar. The album consists entirely of self-penned songs, and he has called in some excellent guests, namely British jazz trumpet giant Guy Barker, Nine Below Zero harmonica man Mark Feltham and backing vocals from Kokomo. The tracks were cut in 2011 but only saw limited release then.

The music is a gentle mix of sweet, rolling melodic rock and blues, all beautifully played and sung with no unrequired histrionics from those involved. Treats here are the bluesy slide-driven “User Man”, enhanced by Feltham’s tough-toned harmonica playing; Guy Barker shows off his prowess on the lengthy “It’s Not My Call” . . . imagine a jazzy Dire Straits and you’re there! The driving “Can’t Live With, Can’t Live Without” recalls the heyday of The Blues Band, with some more impressive slide guitar work.

The album closes with the stripped-down “That’s My Way”, giving way to a ‘hidden track’, a long, rambling blues with more great trumpet from Guy Barker.

“In Solitary” by contrast was recorded ‘live in the studio’, with just Gary Fletcher’s acoustic guitars and vocals and as well as his own fine songs, contains three covers – two blues ‘chestnuts’ in the form of Willie Dixon’s “The Same Thing” and Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault” – highlighting Fletcher’s prowess on different tunings and also resonator guitar; the third cover being Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene”.

Things get off to a lovely gentle start with the heartfelt “If You Were Me”; the gorgeous finger-picked instrumental “Affric” is quite enchanting; and also among the original tunes the slide blues of “Delta T79″ is engaging; with “Fall From Grace Blues” highlighting Fletcher’s very fine voice, and with more nice finger-picked acoustic guitar.

Two very fine releases from a seasoned-pro of the British music scene, with fine, sympathetic musicians on the band offering, with strong and well delivered songs . . . and both well worthy of investigation . . .


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