When I went to the excellent Malaya Blue album launch gig at The New Crawdaddy Blues Club, Essex, a few weeks ago (see my review #96), I spoke to Karen Rockingham who works there. She is a big fan of the local band The Cadillac Kings who were booked to play at the club soon after, and asked if I was coming along. Unfortunately I was unable to get there for one reason or another, so I suggested that as she is a big fan of the band, that she should write a review, and I’d put it on my site. She agreed to do this in collaboration with Del Stoton – the vocalist of the club’s house band, The Heaters.
I had been thinking of doing something a bit different for my 100th article on this site, but couldn’t really come up with anything in time, so what better idea than to introduce my readers to the excellent work of my very special guests, Karen and Del, and their review of this great band….
There was a certain je ne sais quoi, a sense of underlying excitement in the New Crawdaddy on Friday. You just knew that it was going to be a special night….well it was the Cadillac Kings…a band of enormous aplomb and experience, who have never failed to deliver exquisite, nerve tingling blues…with a divine tinge of gentle rock, tex-mex, Cajun, jump-jive and even an occasional Appalachian feel.
The atmosphere bubbled and the anticipation was palpable as the lights dimmed and the boys took to the stage. The band ambled on with an air of mystical authority…local drumming legend Roy Webber; the fabulous Malcolm Barclay on guitar; mouth watering keyboard and accordion player, Tim Penn; and we must not forget the Cadillac Kings’ equivalent of John Entwhistle (The Who) on double bass, quiet enigmatic Paul Cuff…but then on saunters the maestro…40 years of smooth, charismatic, professionalism in the form of Mike Thomas, the epitome of cool (what a voice!).
We were treated to 90 minutes of fantastic, mostly original material, played by seasoned, sparkling musicians. All 5 sing and harmonise. Mike’s lyrics are cutting edge, painfully observational yet humorous. Mike plays excellent harp and enhances the percussion of the band.
The set flowed smoothly from track to track, embracing many genre’s and tempo’s, and the whole gamut of emotions…(mostly joy). Lots of dancing from the ecstatic crowd, together with enthusiastic applause, and a thunderous ovation at the end. In an evening of continuous highlights, we particularly appreciated Malcolm Barclay’s instrumental tribute to Lonnie Mack’s “Wham”. Do yourself an inordinate favour and get along to see these boys soonest!
Karen and Del… The Quells (nearest to The Quill). (Ha Ha! PTMQ)
Mike Thomas has very kindly provided us with a potted history of the band:-
“Back in 1998 I met harmonica player Gary Potts and was invited to join his Essex based blues-band ‘Third Degree’. After a couple of years and lots of gigs around the country, we decided to concentrate on a west coast swing-style of blues that appealed to the dance crowd on the retro scene. Another early decision was to try and play as much original material as possible. The next step was to change the rather downbeat name of the band to reflect our style and, since Gary was a huge American car fan, the name ‘Cadillac Kings’ was chosen. We recorded our first cd at drummer Ray Marquis’ studios in Upminster with Paul Morgan on guitar, Bernie Brewster on bass, and Gary Howard on keys. From the day of its release offers of work came in from across the UK and Scandinavia. This was always going to prove difficult for some members of the band to commit to, so in 2001, in addition to Gary and myself, Roy Webber took over on drums, Orlando Shearer came in on double-bass and Mike Adcock on piano & accordion. That line-up stayed together until 2004 when Oliver Darling took over on guitar and we recorded our second cd ‘Highway 17’. To our astonishment in December 2004 the Times chose it as their blues record of the year, and one of the top 24 releases of the year (alongside Morrissey, Brian Wilson, The Scissor Sisters etc etc!). By the time we recorded our third album ‘Trouble in Store’ in 2009 we had recruited Mal Barclay on guitar, whose terrific playing really energized the band. Canada’s main blues magazine ‘Real Blues’ rated it as the best ‘non American’ release of the year, and it stayed on the US Cashbox charts for many weeks. Around that time we made countless trips to Scandinavia, and Norway in particular, and appeared at festivals and clubs with amazing acts like the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Rod Piazza, John Mayall, Little Feat, Delbert McLinton, Magic Slim, Lazy Lester (and loads more!) The Norwegian connection resulted in a request for our fourth cd ‘Gonna Tell Your Momma’ to be recorded 100% live at Hamar in Norway, in front of 500 blues & swing fans. This was engineered on a fabulous mobile studio by Rune Nordal, engineer & producer to the band AHA. As many reviews have pointed out – it sounds about as close as you can get to being there. Not long after the album came out in 2012, CKs’ co-founder Gary Potts decided to retire from the music scene entirely and devote his time to his other passion – restoring vintage American cars and hotrods. Rather than try and fill the shoes of a fantastic harp player this seemed an opportunity to tailor the sound of the band to a more ‘Rhythm & Blues’ & ‘Roots music’ outfit. With Tim Penn on piano & accordion, Paul Cuff on double bass, Roy Webber on drums & Mal Barclay on guitar, we are now able to throw in a wide range of styles into the mix, from west coast swing to New Orleans R&B, from Chicago shuffles to Louisiana zydeco & swamp pop. This line-up has just completed the CKs’ fifth album ‘The Secret of My Success’, which is due for release in early June 2016.”
Here is a link to The New Crawdaddy’s website
Here is a link to The Cadillac Kings’ website