125. ‘HEADSTOCK’ Music and beer festival at ‘The Nelson Head’ PH, Horsey, Norfolk. (Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th August 2016). With particular mention of THE MUDDY BROAD BLUES BAND; THE GEORGIA SHAKLETON TRIO; and THE MACARNOS.

Headstock flyer (Pic: Nelson Head)

Headstock flyer (Pic: Nelson Head)

I brought a few of Clan Quill up to the lovely English county of Norfolk for a few days break recently (not particularly looking for any music) but whilst in the Beach Café at Winterton-On-Sea, we spoke to the staff who recommended Headstock – a three-day music and beer festival taking place in the neighbouring village of Horsey (Friday 2nd – Sunday 4th August 2016). We had missed the first day’s performances, which (we were assured by the café staff) were excellent; but were able to see a little of the next two day’s performers – notwithstanding a couple of problems (on which more anon!)

The Nelson Head is a quaint old pub that looks like it hasn’t changed for decades – in fact, that is part of its charm. The Nelson theme is strong of course (as the great Admiral hailed from nearby); with nautical paraphernalia adorning the walls inside. My party had a good lunch there before crossing the lane into the field opposite which was the venue for Headstock. An articulated trailer was being used as a stage; and there were marquees put up serving beer, cider and hot drinks. As we arrived on that Saturday afternoon with rain threatening, the first band were sound checking….

The Muddy Broad Blues Band (Photo: PTMQ)

The Muddy Broad Blues Band (Photo: PTMQ)

The Muddy Broad Blues Band are a local five-piece outfit that have apparently been together for five years or so now. They played a two-part set of fine classic Blues numbers by various greats of the genre: ‘Baby what you want me to do?’; ‘Watch yourself’; ‘Before you accuse me’; ‘Key to the highway’; ‘It hurts me too’; and one of my all time favourites, ‘Hoochie coochie man’. I had a nice little chat with some of the members of the band and their manager after the first set.

But with the rain beginning to come down, and with the baby getting cold, we decided to decamp for the day, vowing to return on the morrow. As we left, the Muddys were starting their second set which sounded as good as the first. A shame we had to go, but needs must.

Arriving at the venue on the Sunday, with rain threatening again, my dog was immediately attacked by a monstrously large English Mastiff, allowed to run loose by a woman who explained afterwards that the brute was ‘normally a poppet’! ‘Poppet’ or not, it took myself, my son-in-law, and a brave fellow punter to pull the beast off poor old Jasper! He was unharmed however, although a little shaken; and the ‘Poppet’ was incarcerated in the woman’s car. Not a good start! (My thanks to to the unknown bloke who helped out). But as I’ve said before: that’s Rock’n’Roll… you never know what’s going to happen next!

The Georgia Shakleton Trio (Photo: PTMQ)

The Georgia Shakleton Trio (Photo: PTMQ)

The Georgia Shackleton Trio had just begun their set as all this kerfuffle was going on; so I didn’t get my head around their music for a short while. The three describe themselves as playing ‘…a blend of Folk, Americana and self-penned material’. The way I understand it, Georgia and her boys had stepped in to replace the scheduled band Sacred Nations who had cancelled at the last minute.

The trio played a fine selection of both their own and traditional songs – mainly those from their album The Dog Who Would Not Be Washed; such as ‘Coal Tattoo’; ‘The Devil And The Farmers Wife’; ‘Lonesome George’; Molly Vaughn’; War Pigeon’; Little Rabbit’; and the album’s title track. I’ll be saying more about these songs when I review the album – which Georgia kindly gave me whilst we had a chat after the set – very shortly. (Look out for this on my website soon). It was a good set, something different, and I enjoyed it.

headstock-macarnos-4-9-16The Macarnos  are a three-piece acoustic outfit. They were set up in the beer tent; which I didn’t think was a good idea because it started raining and everyone was trying to squeeze in to see them, and there just wasn’t enough room. They were good though. They describe themselves as playing ‘…upbeat covers and original music’. We heard them play some fine contemporary covers, but couldn’t stick around any longer due to the weather turning grim again. 

Its a shame I couldn’t spend more time at this nice little festival as I quite enjoyed it (aside from dog fights and rain that is!) The music, beer and grub that we sampled were all good; and the pub staff were welcoming and friendly. There was a great variety of musical genres from other bands/artists on the bill over the three days that I unfortunately didn’t get to see. I think all were fairly local bands. They included Jude Garrod; Chasing Tigers; Carly Ryder; Mammal Not Fish; Felix Simpson; Sam Coe & TLS; The Misfit Collective; Vic Allen; and Addison’s Uncle… the majority I’d not heard of before, but I’d have liked to have seen and learnt something about them. I believe Headstock is an annual event, so if you find yourself in the vicinity of East Norfolk it could be worth getting along there next year. I certainly will if I’m in that neck of the woods myself. But please only take your dog if he’s under control! My thanks to all concerned. PTMQ.

I attended a similar little festival – Hadfest – in Hertfordshire recently (see my article# 113)

The Muddy Broad Blues Band’s website.

The Geogia Shakleton Trio’s website.

The Macarnos’ website.

124. THE DEBORAH BONHAM BAND (+THE JO BURT EXPERIENCE) at TOUCHLINE LIVE MUSIC, Hockley, Essex. An interview and gig review. Friday, 19th August, 2016

The stage awaits (Photo: PTMQ)

The stage awaits (Photo: PTMQ)

Preamble: This is a gig that had unfortunately been cancelled twice over the last 18 months or so, due the star of the show, the wonderful Deborah Bonham, having a couple of problems….but as Debs herself would say ‘Shit Happens’! This evening was worth waiting for though, because the lady was seriously in form!

Third time lucky then… but even this show was not without its problems! I’d arranged with Debs and Dave Kitteridge of Touchline Live Music, to get to the venue at 6pm for an interview; but on the way I got a text from Debs’ husband and guitarist Peter Bullick, telling me that the band were seriously late and struggling through horrendous traffic; having been on the road for over five hours (they’d been expecting a two hour trip!) So the band turned up five minutes after myself; stressed from a nightmare of a journey, and in need of food, drink and a sound check! Debs charmingly also brings her two dogs, Fred and Kip, with her to gigs, and they needed a walk; so off she went with the pooches for a quick relaxing stroll.

Debs was soon back. My good friend Rambo turned up around that time, and we sat and watched the sound-check. The band went back-stage after that for some dinner. When she was ready, Debs came and invited us back to the Green Room for a chat…

Debs' dogs Fred and Kip (Photo: PTMQ; taken by Rambo)

Debs’ dogs Fred and Kip (Photo: PTMQ; taken by Rambo)

The Interview:  We began talking about Deborah’s dogs Fred and Kip – there they were snuggled up together on their bed in the Green Room!

PTMQ: Do they go everywhere with you?

DB: Pretty much… in the UK certainly. I haven’t taken them to France yet.

[This reference to France anticipated my next question].

PTMQ: I was going to ask about the French connection, because you sing in French and I know you have a fan base there, so I was wondering how that came about?

DB: I have no idea! I’m not bi-lingual but I do speak French. I was trying to get into France (and Europe) for quite a long time. We did a support tour with Foreigner about ten years ago… went down a storm in Paris… and Holland. Then we went back. We ended up playing some gig that somebody got us. Not well paid, but there was an agent there (who’s been our agent now for four years) – Laurent Milliet of 106 db (they even have my initials DB!) And he’s been brilliant; a great agent. He believes in us. He saw the band. Loves the songs – even has one on his ring-tone! He really pushed; and that has worked. So we play big shows there.

Debs with The Quill (Photo: PTMQ; taken by Rambo)

Debs with The Quill (Photo: PTMQ; taken by Rambo)

PTMQ: So the songs sung in French on your album Spirit were in tribute to your French fans?

DB: Pretty much, yeah. I did them as a thank you, really. Its a funny thing… Laurent doesn’t want me to get too good at French, because he likes the fact that I’m always trying. The audience love that. He said “Non, non, non! I don’t want you to do all ze songs in French.. zey like the English… but one in French!” And he loves the fact that sometimes I get my words wrong and say the most ridiculous things on stage, and the audience laugh!

Rambo: Are the songs written with singing in French in mind, or did you change the words?

DB: No; I didn’t do it! Laurent’s sister-in-law Natalie did it for me, because if you translate literally, its not very poetic. I gave her free rein to make it poetic and put it into beautiful French. She sent it to me and I said “Oh Goodness!” – [laughing] I’d love to take the credit for that!

Rambo and Debs (Photo: PTMQ)

Rambo and Debs (Photo: PTMQ)

Funny enough, ‘Take Me Down’ [or ‘Guide Moi‘] I originally wrote for a Fleetwood Mac film. I was asked if I’d write two songs by Phil Carson at the film company in LA. He’d worked at Atlantic Records for years when Zeppelin were there. He said “Darling, I need some Fleetwood Mac-esque songs, and you’re just the person to do it for me!” So I originally wrote it for that – and then the film didn’t happen! So when I was looking at doing the album [Spirit], I thought “I love that song”, so I resurrected it… had to change the lyric a bit though, because it was specific to Fleetwood Mac.

PTMQ:  Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the Spirit album?

DB: A couple of months before she died I took my Mum to see Robert Plant at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. We had a fantastic night. Then I got an email from Robert’s drummer Marco Giovino (from Band Of Joy), who said “To whom it may concern… I’m a big fan. Do you think Deborah would come and meet me after the show?” I laughed my head off at “To whom it may concern”! So I replied in a completely bogus name and said “I’ll be speaking to Miss. Bonham in a short while, and I’ll pass it on. I can’t guarantee… it depends what mood she’s in! She can be a bit temperamental!” So when I met him I said “What? Do you think I’ve got a lot of staff? My God! I’m playing clubs – not Madison Square Gardens!”

Sound check (Ptoto: PTMQ)

Sound check (Ptoto: PTMQ)

Anyway, he said he had the Duchess album and he was a big fan. I was really chuffed that someone other than my mum had the album! [Just for the record The Quill has the album too… its brilliant!]. So I booked Marco. He lives in Nashville; so I got him a flight over [to record the album]. But then my Mum suddenly passed away. He was due over two days after Mum’s funeral and I said “I’m not going to be able to do this!” So at the funeral Robert Plant said “Marco’s a great guy. Your mum wouldn’t want you to not do it. You’ve got to really dig deep and bring everything out in that record. So that’s why it became Spirit, because it took an awful lot of spirit to get through it. I think in my whole life I only had one year away from my Mum… she was my best friend. It was really, really hard.

PTMQ: Reading the lyrics of the album, its very personal… it does seem that she’s with you as you write.

(Photo: PTMQ)

Barefoot lady sings the Blues! (Photo: PTMQ)

DB: Yeah, its the same with John, Michael and my Dad… they’ve all gone. She was the final one in the family. It took a lot for me to deal with being left on my own… and those four being together, as I see it. So its the spirit of all of them too.

PTMQ: You mentioned Robert. You had him as a guest on the album playing harmonica; but do you regret not asking him to sing?

DB: No. I think he would have said if he’d wanted to. We’ll just hang around for the next record! Of course I want to sing with him! I got to sing with him about a month ago. I’d sung with him before, but he came to one of our shows and he got up with the lads and did ‘When The Levee Breaks’; and then we did Johnny Kidd And The Pirates‘ ‘Shakin’ All Over’. But I got my ‘knee bone’ and my ‘thigh bone’ all muddled up! But it was brilliant. We just clicked – no rehearsal. So I’d love to… Gosh, he’s one of my heroes!

I’ve done a duet with Paul Rodgers too – several actually – one on a record and some at shows. That was a ‘pinch me’ moment, to be able to sing with Paul. I’ve sung with a lot of great people – like Dan McCafferty, when we opened for Nazareth once. He’s never done a duet with anyone before, but he walked on during our set and did ‘Stay With Me Baby’.

Jo Burt... a good experience! (Photo: PTMQ)

Jo Burt… a good experience! (Photo: PTMQ)

PTMQ: Do you have any collaborations planned?

DB: No, nothing planned. But we’re going to see Bad Company up in Glasgow in October.

PTMQ: So will you be back stage? Are you going to be invited on?

DB: I don’t know yet… could be! [She said coyly!] I usually get up and do a number [Take note if you have tickets for Bad Co’s Glasgow gig!], which has been great fun… but it always makes me “Aargh!” shake!

PTMQ: You still get nervous… even tonight?

DB: Yes! Before I go on I’m always really, really nervous. Once I go on I’m fine. But we do what we do… we have a Hell of a laugh. The lads are a great family really. I guess you can get that vibe from the dogs coming? Pete’s sister is here doing the merch too. We try to have a laugh because its a weird life… sometimes its hysterical.

Peter Bullick (Photo: PTMQ)

Peter Bullick (Photo: PTMQ)

PTMQ: So you had a five and a half hour journey and you’re all still laughing!

DB: Oh that journey was horrible tonight! That’s one thing that’s starting to take its toll on me. I really hate being in the tour bus on the motorways. I’ve seen people drive into the back of others. It really makes me nervous all the time.

PTMQ: How about the future? Are you planning another album?

DB: Yeah, next year; I’m writing at the moment… but you know, its a long process for me, because I just write and write and write; and then think “Oh that’s crap!” I do have a built-in ‘crap-ometer’! I only really want to put the songs on that I personally love. I listen and then I think “Yeah, that one passes… that one doesn’t”. I sort of know within about an hour of working on something with the band; and say “Are you getting this? I’m not!” Luckily not a lot of that happens but it does take me a lot of time to make the record.

It’ll be out around next Autumn. We’ve got a studio at home, and Rich [Rich Newman, Debs’ drummer – who had been chilling out on the couch in the Green Room throughout the chat], is going to set it up for us; and hopefully he’s going to do the recording.

Gerard 'G'Louis (PTMQ)

Gerard ‘G’ Louis (PTMQ)

PTMQ: So will it be more of the Rock / Blues / Soul vibe? Or are you feeling like you want to branch out a bit?

DB: Yeah, I think so. We’ve got a bit of a Funk thing going on at the moment… digging a bit of a Funk vibe which I rather like. We’ll still always have a bit of Mandolin and Acoustic… Rock ‘n’ Blues… there’ll definitely be some Blues in there because that’s in the heart of me. Rich is going to lay down some drum loops… just some grooves really; because once you’ve got some drum grooves going, its a lot easier to come up with ideas.

I’ve been asked to do all manner of albums. Years ago I was asked to do a Blues album by Sony Records. I think they wanted to call it something like ‘Lady Sings The Blues’. They’d just done a blues record with Paul Rodgers – Muddy Water Blues … Grammy nominated and all that. [Just for the record, The Quill owns this album too… its also brilliant!]. They heard me sing; came all the way across America; saw us selling out shows; audiences going crazy; and then had a big meeting in their office, and they said “Right, what we want you to do is this…”. And I thought “Hold on, I’ve just done all my stuff…I want to do mine!” “No, no, no… we want you to sing like Billie Holiday!” And I thought “Hang on, I’m a middle-class white girl… I can’t compare my life to what Billie went through! So I thought “Nah!” So didn’t do it; didn’t get the Grammy… and still haven’t! But I don’t regret it for one minute! [she said, laughing].

Rich Newman is in there somewhere! (PTMQ)

Rich Newman… is in there somewhere! (PTMQ)

Rambo: What sort of things inspire you to write your songs?

DB: Life! Most of it is autobiography – things that have happened to me or how things have affected me. But sometimes it just gets a bit too heavy… you’ve got to find something to lighten it up a bit. Then I dig a bit deeper and see what other people are going through.

PTMQ: Finally, do you have any snippets of interesting info for my readers?

DB: Oh, I’m a patron of a charity in Scotland. Its for animals and vulnerable kids. Really worthwhile. Its an animal sanctuary and assisted animal therapy. [Link to Willows Animal Sanctuary].

At this point Debs had to get ready for the show, so after some quick photos we exchanged thanks . ‘Let’s hope you enjoy the show’ she said. We went back out to the auditorium. By then it was full; so we got ourselves a beer and took our seats at the front (kindly reserved for us by Trudie), and waited for the show to begin.

Rambo and I enjoyed chatting with Deborah Bonham. We found her to be welcoming and friendly; informative and open.  And throughout the interview she was laughing and optimistic – in spite of some sadness in her life. It is obvious that her music pulls her through the hard times, and it enhances the good ones too. A really nice person to talk to – down to Earth, fun and interesting… and with a profound spiritual side to her too.

Jo Burt (PTMQ)

Jo Burt on bass (PTMQ)

The Jo Burt Experience’s Set: It wasn’t long before Master of Ceremonies Brian Sangwin was on stage introducing the support: The Jo Burt Experience. This was a solo set from Jo, who of course is also the bassist in Debs’ band, so he had a lot on his plate this evening. He launched into a very good set beginning with ‘Angel Hurricane’ – ‘based on the idea of the Quarter-Back and the Cheer-leader’ he said.

Jo was once a member of (as he described them) ‘the most famous Heavy Metal band in the world’, Black Sabbath; so next he played his ‘Psycho-Country’ version of The Sabs’ ‘Paranoid’ off his solo album. I’ve heard this song covered a million times… but never like this! I liked it though. His song ‘The Night-time’ was played next. He described it as his ‘escape plan’; written some years ago, and based on the Cold War. It was very good. The ‘antidote to that tune’ was ‘Enough Love In The World’; and this was followed by his final number ‘I Wanna Be Free’. All told, a fine set.

The Deborah Bonham Band’s Set: Barefoot Debs and her boys climbed on stage to great applause. The band consist of Peter Bullick (Debs’ other half – on guitar and mando);  Jo Burt (bass and mando); Rich Newman (drums); and Gerard ‘G’ Louis (keys). Debs of course, is lead vocalist and also plays guitar a bit too. These are all well-seasoned musos.

(PTMQ)

(PTMQ)

MoC Brian Sangwin introduced the band and they immediately launched into ‘Shit Happens’. Debs is right… it does! But with an opening number like that you can forget your probs for a while! This was followed by ‘What We’ve Got’ off The Old Hyde album; and ‘I Need Love’ off Spirit. Both of these show-cased Debs’ remarkable Joplin-esque style vocal; with great solos from Pete on these two. It was obvious by then that the band are tight as a unit; with Joe, Rich and ‘G’ impressive and reliable.

Several other songs off the Spirit album were played: ‘Feel So Alive’ with Pete on Mando; ‘Pain Birds’ dedicated to Pete’s sister Belinda on the Merch desk; and ‘Guide Moi‘ (‘Take Me Down’) which Deborah sang in French just for me! That’s only the second time I’ve had a song dedicated to myself by a band in all these years! Je vous remercie, Debs, Je suis Honoré!

'Guide Moi'... merci madame! (PTMQ)

‘Guide Moi’… merci madame! (PTMQ)

It was also very apparent around this time that Debs has a relaxed and fun repartee with the audience and rest of the band – giving as good as she got in cheeky comments from both.  Her performance as a singer is as much visual as vocal – and in both she is exceptional.  She is animated and passionate, and feels every song – they are her songs after all; they are about her.

And the show went on with more from Spirit: the wonderful ‘Fly’ with Jo on mando; and ‘What It Feels’ with great keys from ‘G’. Three songs from Duchess followed: the great rocker ‘Grace’; then her homage to a certain spirit from Tennessee, ‘Jack Past 8’; and ‘Pretty Thing’ with tasty licks from Pete which reminded me a little of Kossoff. Next was a rarity: ‘Heaven’ – an ’80s song that has only recently been resurrected on the Looking Back At The Moon album. Its a Rock ballad, perhaps a little Heart-like in style, but that’s not a criticism! A powerful song that got great applause.

The Old Hyde was mined again for more gold towards the end of the show. She gave us ‘No Angel’, and sung it so well, along with an exceptional visual performance that seemed to come from her very soul. Pete also made himself very useful on this one too, with some beautiful Blues chops. Then it was one of my particular favourites, the rock’n’Roller ‘Devil’s In New Orleans’. Excellent!

(PTMQ)

‘No Angel’ (PTMQ)

Finally ‘The Old Hyde’ itself was introduced, which she preceded with a heart-felt speech that moved many in the audience. It is a song about hope, love and optimism; dedicated to those loved ones sadly gone. She thanked everyone for coming and began the song. She sang it with a genuine emotion, but was impressively controlled throughout the performance, in spite of being obviously moved by it herself. Marvelous. A standing ovation ensued.

Encore! What can you follow a show like that with? Only a rocker from the Led Zep back-catalogue would do. What else but the classic ‘Rock’n’Roll’? It was delivered as near to the original as you are likely to get here in Essex, and I loved it!

Fin: We had a quick few words with Deborah at the end and congratulated her on a magnificent performance. There were several people I knew in the audience. All agreed that it had been a fantastic gig. So big thanks to everyone concerned – especially Debs – plus Dave, Trudie, Brian and Steve of The Touchline for once again hosting a fabulous show. (Dave even made us a welcoming cup o’ tea – a rare pleasure! Cheers Dave!) Lights; sound; organisation and hospitality were second to none as usual – that’s what you expect from the Touchline… and that’s what you get! Au revoire! PTMQ.

[Deborah Bonham website]

[Touchline Live Music website]

Thank you Touchline and good night! (PTMQ)

Thank you Touchline and good night! (PTMQ)

123. ANGE HARDY & LUKAS DRINKWATER “Findings” (Story Records, 2016). A pre-release review.

The 'Findings' package. (Pic: Ange Hardy)

The ‘Findings’ package. (Pic: Ange Hardy)

I was very pleased to receive a pre-release CD copy of the new album from prolific singer / song-writer Ange Hardy recently – this time working in full collaboration with the renown Lukas Drinkwater. Of course, I was keen to hear and review it….

The Findings CD came as part of a fine souvenir package. (As did her last album Esteesee – see my review #72). Apart from the disc itself in a deluxe sleeve (on which more anon), it included a lovely personal letter; a set of drinks mats (one representing each of Ange’s previous albums); fact sheets; and even a humbug in matching colours! And once again, all contained within a dedicated jiffy bag.

Both Ange and Lukas are well known to my regular readers; both quite remarkable multi-instrumentalists, song-writers and performers; and they have worked together before. Ange plays guitars, whistle, harp, and lead and backing vocals. Lukas plays guitars, double bass, and vocals. Some other fine musicians were drafted in as necessary too.

‘Findings’ we are told on the sleeve, are ‘The parts used to join jewellery components together to form a completed article’. I did not know that; but I can see its appropriate use to describe this album, as the theme throughout is precious family connections. It is a collection of 14 songs – 11 penned by Ange and Lukas; and three traditional tunes reworked by the duo. As I put the disc into the player, I was expecting Ange’s characteristically well-crafted, interesting songs; with delightful multi-layered vocal melodies sung in beautifully clear enunciation. I wasn’t disappointed, as I got exactly that… if anything, in some ways the album is better than even her last two albums. (See my reviews #32 and #72) So the input of Mr.Drinkwater on this opus has perhaps improved the already high standards of her earlier work – it has certainly modified it. Yet I’m glad to report that it retains a large measure of Ange’s typical styles and sounds which I love.

The album opens with the superbly woven multi-vocal harmony of ‘The Call’ – the first part of  a segued tripartite track inspired by the Somerset town of Watchet. Those remarkable vocal harmonies continue with ‘The Pleading Sister’; and this is followed by the beautifully arranged trad song ‘The Trees They Do Grow High’ (one of my favourites in the collection).

We are given a good variety of folksong as the collection unfolds. With subject matter ranging from the sea to the forests; from birth to death; and from traditional to contemporary; lyrically these songs are quite remarkable and fascinating to read. Other highlights for me were: ‘The Widow’ with its wonderfully woven guitar/harp parts; the excellent lyric and vocal arrangements in the Irish themed ”My Grandfathers / Bearded Ted’; and the poignant ‘Invisible Child’. All in all, a delightful and thought-provoking collection of songs from Ange and Lukas. It is a well recorded album too – sound quality is superb, and a joy to listen to.

The sleeve is a variant of the card gate-fold type with the CD press-fitted on the right, and the booklet fitted left. The book is a 20-page high quality, well-designed effort.  It contains all credits and thanks; as well as lyrics and much interesting information on the songs, including quotes from Ange and Lukas, that enhance the enjoyment and understanding of the opus. I expected as much from Ange. There are interesting rural photos printed too. Finally a unique (as far as I’m aware) game sticker is included on the rear of the sleeve; an explanation of which is too lengthy to include here…you’ll just have to buy the album! You won’t be disappointed in any respect anyway. Can’t fault it.

Finally, Findings is officially released on 14th September 2016, during a live session on BBC Radio 2’s Folk Show, which I unfortunately cannot attend, but hope to tune in to. PTMQ

Ange’s website

Lukas’ website

Further articles of mine that either feature or mention Ange and/or Lukas are:

#28. Oxjam Music Festival, November 2014 (Ange and Lukas)

#32. A review of Ange’s album The Lament Of The Black Sheep (Ange and Lukas)

#60. A review of Greg Hancock’s EP Comfortable Hatred (Lukas)

#72. A review of Ange’s album Esteesee (Ange and Lukas)

122. AMY GODDARD’s new charity single “Remembering Aberfan” (2016). A pre-release review.

(Pic: Amy Goddard)

(Pic: Amy Goddard)

I was only six years old when the Aberfan disaster occurred on 21st October 1966; but even at that tender age, I remember being horrified by the news footage – it probably stuck in my mind because of the shock displayed by my parents. For those who don’t know about it, it was when a slag-heap collapsed on the junior school in the Welsh mining village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. 116 children, and 28 adults lost their lives. Those children were of a similar age to myself. (Read more about it here)

Singer/song-writer Amy Goddard grew up in the neighbouring village, and although she wasn’t born then, would have been well aware of the disaster from an early age. Now, approaching the half century mark since the catastrophe, she has written and recorded a new single entitled ‘Remembering Aberfan’; with all proceeds to go to the Aberfan Memorial Charity.

How like Amy to be brave enough to tackle such a dark and tragic subject – and how like her to have bettered that self-imposed challenge. How like Amy to donate her time and effort for the sake of charity – and how like her to write a song that is as wonderful as it is sad. It is a simple enough song in construction – yet delivered in Amy’s inimitable way; with haunting arpeggios, her trade-mark moving lyrics and emotionally charged vocal melody. There are some well arranged backing vocals too.

There are two versions of the song on the CD. It comes in a simple but smart, well-thought out sleeve (again typical of Amy). There is plenty of info and the lyric printed inside. The song will be released on 3rd October – just before the 50th anniversary of the disaster. You can listen to the song now though, on Soundcloud. CD copies are available from Amy’s website. PTMQ

I have written several reviews of Amy’s work…

#79 Review of Amy’s debut album Burn & Glow (2014)

#86. Double A-Side singles ‘Near The Sea’ / ‘Alright Again’ (2016)

#94. Review of her album Secret Garden (2016)

121. TREV TURLEY AND FRIENDS (+ special guest MARK ‘BOWEEVIL’ HOWES and support from THE HEATERS) at THE NEW CRAWDADDY BLUES CLUB, Billericay, Essex. Friday 12th August 2016. A review by Ralph Carter.

(Photo: Karen R)

Bass man, Trev Turley (Photo: Karen R)

I spoke to bassist Trev Turley at a gig a few weeks ago; and he told me that he would be putting together a band of friends for a one-off show; and would I be interested in coming along? It sounded interesting so along I went… to The New Crawdaddy Blues Club in Billericay, Essex, to see him and his band-mates in action.

This band of friends consisted of: Trev Turley himself of course (bass); Andrew Walker (guitar); Simon Dring (drums); Andy Cooper (keys); Phil Marshall (sax); and last but by no means least, Norfolk-based Yve Mary Barwood (vocals). The more astute of my readers will have already realised – if they didn’t know beforehand – that these fine musicians were (apart from Yve), Malaya Blue’s erstwhile touring band.

Yve Mary Barwood (Photo: Karen R)

Yve Mary Barwood (Photo: Karen R)

I bumped into Trev outside the venue when I arrived on the evening; but he was keeping shtoom about what the Set List would consist of. I didn’t know what to expect but I like surprises, and this turned out to be a pleasant one… in fact a damn fine show!

First on the bill though was the NCBC’s excellent House Band, The Heaters. They usually – but not always – play support at the club, and I’ve seen them many times before. They play a good variety of covers; and they play them well. As Trev Turley described them: ‘The best band that never ever headlined at The Crawdaddy!’ Always good to see them. On this occasion I particularly liked their renditions of Freddy King’s ‘Hideaway’; and The Beatles’ ‘Come Together’.

(Photo: Karen R)

Sax man: Phil Marshall (Photo: Karen R)

It wasn’t long before Trev and co were climbing on stage. ‘Don’t worry I’m not going to sing!’ Trev reassured us! Right from the start it was clear that the friends were tight and well used to playing together, as they launched into their set. It was also clear from the outset that Yve is a fine vocalist – equally capable of sweetness and passion in her singing. I previously knew nothing about her, but I am now much wiser!

A fine and eclectic set of mainly Blues, and Blues-based covers was played; including: an interesting version of Hardin’s ‘If I Were A Carpenter’; a blinding and faithful version of Winwood’s ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’; Johnson’s oft covered classic ‘Dust My Broom’; a wonderfully lengthy rendition of ‘It Hurts Me Too’ (which you can see here); Johnny Taylor’s ‘Who’s Making Love?’; a sweetly sung version of the Blues staple ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’; a stunning cover of Greeny’s ‘I Loved Another Woman’ (sax was superb on this); and a Funked up version of Clapton’s (in his Derek guise) ‘Got To Get Better In A Little While’, which included a fine drum solo from Simon. And that concluded the main set.

But an encore was then of course demanded; and they were joined on stage by special guest Mark ‘Boweevil’ Howes. Trev thanked everyone for their support and said that they’d play one more…. a cover of Joe Cocker’s, perhaps appropriately titled, ‘High Time We Went’ – inappropriate I thought, as we could have stood a lot more from this great band! This rendition included a lot of solos and duelling from the members of the group –  and amusing too, as one by one, the members of the band waved goodbye to Trev and left him alone on stage!  It received rousing – and well-deserved applause at the end.

The musicianship throughout the gig was exceptional, and its difficult to pick out anyone, because all of the friends were at the top of their game; but I particularly enjoyed Phil’s superb sax playing. He and Trev were also very entertaining too, which got a few laughs.

As I left the venue I saw Trev and remarked that he should definitely get this outfit together again – even if only for an occasional gig. He smiled but didn’t answer! But as I write this, it has recently been announced that the friends will play a follow up gig at The Murderers in Norwich. I probably won’t be there, but I can predict it’ll be a great show, so best get along there on 15th December and see for yourself what I’ve been on about! All the members are pursuing their own projects now, but I’m sure we’ll being seeing them back together again periodically.

Thanks to Trev and co for wonderful entertainment. Thanks to impresario Paul Dean and his fine team of volunteers, for hosting a great show once again; to Karen R for superb photography; and to Trevor Taylor for the video.

By Ralph Carter.

(photo: Karen R)

Thank you and good night Billericay! The magnificent seven (L – R):  Simon Dring; Andy Cooper; Mark ‘Boweevil’ Howes; Phil Marshall; Yve Mary B; Andrew Walker; and the main man himself, Trev Turley. (Photo: Karen R).

120. CHANTEL McGREGOR at THE NEW CRAWDADDY CLUB, Billericay, Essex. Interview and gig review (+ support from the House Band THE HEATERS). Friday 5th August 2016.

Chantel in conversation with The Quill (Pic: PTMQ)

Chantel in conversation with The Quill (Pic: PTMQ)

Preamble: Over the last couple of years friends and acquaintances have been urging me to go and see rock guitarist Chantel McGregor; so this is something that’s been on my wish list for a while now. Unfortunately, every time I thought I’d get to one of her gigs, something cropped up to prevent me from going! I’m glad to say that that is a situation that’s at last been put right, because my son James and I were able to get down to see her at the New Crawdaddy Blues Club, Billericay, Essex, on a very warm summer Friday evening recently – and furthermore, she kindly agreed to an interview beforehand.

The Interview was arranged rather hastily when we arrived at the club (thanks to Karen of the NCBC and Chantel’s team); and James and I were soon invited back-stage to the Green Room. Chantel is a friendly, approachable and modest Yorkshire lass from Bradford; and welcomed us warmly, introducing us to the band. These are: Colin Sutton (bass); Andy Mapp (drums); and keeping an eye on things as well as being van driver and ‘general dog’s-body’, Chantel’s Dad, Alan McGregor. All were chilling out with a pre-show pizza!

(Pic: PTMQ)

(Pic: PTMQ)

I’ve never written about Chantel before, so we asked her to tell us how it all began. (At this point my dictaphone decided to pack up; leaving me to take notes the old fashioned way; so I must apologise for the lack of proper quotes!) But she told us that she began playing guitar from the age of three. Her Dad Alan was playing rock gigs, so its something that she’s always known. At around twelve she was playing stuff like Metallica and Grateful Dead; and after concentrating on her studies she started gigging with her own band around Bradford at the age of 21; covering the likes of Trower and Tull, as well as ‘more obscure covers’; and developing a fan base. From the age of 25-ish she began penning her own material. She’s now 30 – so a good 90% of her life has been dedicated to guitar music!

Her influences are eclectic; but she particularly mentioned Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree as influencing her wonderful BBA nominated song ‘Walk On Land’; Sound Garden (for her ‘Your Fever’); Jeff Buckley (for ‘Eternal Dream’); and poet Nick Drake (for inspiring ‘Anaesthetize’ – her song about addiction). And she has what she termed as ‘Sponge Days’, where she chills out watching TV; reading books and poetry; and generally absorbing the world around her and all its arts. This inspires her music and lyric writing… and it seems to be working well, I must say!

(Pic: PTMQ)

(Pic: PTMQ)

We asked her about her recent jam with Joe Bonamassa. ‘I Emailed Joe, and he rang back’ she said. JB invited her to his gig in Manchester for a chat, and she ended up jamming on stage with him. She has also met Clapton; Raitt; and Fleetwood Mac. This hasn’t done her international profile any harm at all; and she now has a thriving US fan Club – but no plans as yet for a US tour.

So what has the lady got planned for the near future I wondered? She is planning an acoustic album at the moment; for which she has twelve pages of themes and lyrics written out already. This is a project that will be worth checking out, as she is as adept with the acoustic as with the electric; and various songs on her two albums can testify to that. Apparently just before we arrived, Chantel gave an impromptu acoustic performance after the sound check, for those in the audience who’d arrived early enough; after someone had asked about the chords she used for a particular song.

Chantel had also recently dislocated her knee after a bizarre accident at home; ‘…and I wasn’t even drunk!’ she laughed. She was strapped up in a leg brace. ‘I’m walking like a penguin’ she said. But to be honest it was hardly noticeable covered in her long black dress, and she carried on regardless.

(Pic: PTMQ)

(Pic: PTMQ)

We thanked her for speaking to us, and after a few photos, we returned to the auditorium. Whilst we’d been talking to Chantel, we could hear the House Band, The Heaters, playing their covers set. It sounded good, but we only caught the end of it unfortunately.

The gig: It wasn’t long before Chantel was climbing on stage. Alone, She donned her acoustic and began to play the wonderful ‘Home’; followed by ‘Anaesthetize’. Then she was joined by the band for the haunting ‘Inconsolable’; half way through, seemlessly changing from acoustic to Strat for a lengthy and superb solo – the boys in the band providing a reliable framework for the lady to improvise at will. For me this was an early highlight of the show.

Time for some Hard Rock then! ‘Freefalling’ from the debut album hit us next. And this was quickly followed by the Sound Garden influenced ‘Your Fever’. Excellent! And the rockers kept coming: ‘Burn Your Anger’; and ‘Lose Control’ (the title track from the latest album); continued the vibe, before she played the bluesy ‘I’m No Good For You’ off her debut album Like No Other.

But another highlight was due…she played a Prog-Rock instrumental called ‘Summat About Flies’ which pretty much blew me away! It was this number more than any other which demonstrated her consummate fretboard skills; and I was very impressed by it indeed.  (Watch it here thanks to Paul Hawley). I was then left wondering how on Earth she could possibly follow that! ‘Shall we do err..’ she said ‘…’Purple “something?”… yes it was the old Prince classic! And what a sublime cover it was too. Probably the best cover of it I’ve ever heard – she made it her own.

Then Chantel introduced the band, and thanked all present, before launching into the magnificent BBA nominated ‘Walk On Land’. This provided the finale to the main set. Again a truly wonderful rendition with a fine solo; and an apt song to end on. Inevitably, ‘Encore!’ was of course demanded; and was duly given in the form of ‘Take The Power’ – the opening track to her latest album Lose Control. Phew!

Throughout the gig Chantel’s playing was very impressive; and matched only by her faultless vocals, which were clear and beautiful. She has a great confidence and repartee with the audience too, which is something I like to see and hear from performers. All in all it was a fantastic gig – and I now know what I’ve been missing out on! I’ll see her show again, for sure. So if you haven’t seen Ms. McGregor yet, don’t delay – buy the tickets ASAP!

Thanks to Chantel and her fine band and support team; and to Paul Dean and all the wonderful volunteers at The New Crawdaddy for once again putting on a cracking show. PTMQ

Chantel’s website

New Crawdaddy’s website

119. ALI MAAS & MICKY MOODY “Black & Chrome” (Armadillo, 2016)

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(Pic: MM website)

Well, you don’t have to be a genius to make an educated guess that an album with the names Ali Maas and Micky Moody writ large on the sleeve is going to be a winner. If you have the slightest doubt about that, then all you need to do is place Black & Chrome in the CD player, and within seconds your doubts would be allayed. For some time now, I’ve rated Ms Maas as one of several exceptionally good female vocalists currently working in the UK; and Mr.Moody has been on the Quill’s geetar maestro shortlist for decades! Furthermore I’ve met them both and they’re thoroughly nice people. (See my gig review #23).

Black & Chrome is an eleven track collection of original works penned by Moody and Maas themselves. It covers a good and varied range of Blues and Blues-based styles; and it is a tangible display of both the performing, as well as the song-writing skills of this remarkable pairing. They’ve been working together for some time now, and their collaborations are a joy to hear (and see live). They both have their own individual projects of course but have come together (as they often do) for this work, and have created something very special indeed.

Right from the wonderful opening track ‘Horse Or A Harley’, the bar is set high; but the excellent second offering ‘Why Does A Man’ (‘…who says he loves me, make me cry’?) fully rises to the challenge….and so it continues. From the acoustic beauty of ‘Hanging On A Chain’; through the Elmore-esque ‘Same Blues, Different Day’; to the soulful ‘A Change In Everything’ with its fine solo. From the shuffle ‘Taking Me Home’; through the raw Blues of ‘Do Some Time’; to the Country vibe of ‘Farewell To All The Sad Songs’. And from the heart-felt love song ‘Here I Stay’; through the Funky Blues of ‘Hell Bent’ with its Albert King-like guitar; to the final fun number ‘Now I Got My Mojo Back’; the quality is high, and the range of style/genre is impressively broad.

Ali’s vocals are wonderful throughout (as we’ve come to expect) – full of passion and drive. She conveys the tenderness or pain of love; as necessary with a controlled and impressive ease. Her backing vocals / harmonies are great too.

And Micky’s guitar-work is (not surprisingly) superb as well – thoughtful, inventive solos, and interesting rhythm parts make his input a joy to hear. But what I particularly liked was his trade-mark slide-work of which I have been an admirer of since the 70s. MM also played bass, mando, B-bender; and console steel guitars on various tracks too; as well as singing lead vocal on ‘Taking Me Home’.

M & M are assisted in their endeavors by some fine musos: Jimmy Copley (drums); Ian Jennings (bass); Ollie Parfitt (keys); Jon Buckett (keys); Alan Glen (harp); Nick Newall (flute / sax); and Micky Moody Jnr (percussion). All very impressive artists indeed.

The CD comes in a card tri-fold case with the disc fitted centrally. It contains photos and basic info / credits etc; but no lyrics unfortunately, which is a shame because the words to some of these songs are interesting and inventive. If you like a bit of variety within yer Blues, I’d say its a must buy album (and must go and see live) – you won’t be disappointed! PTMQ

Micky Moody’s website

Ali Maas’ website