Category Archives: Gig review

169. THE TANYA PICHE BLUES BAND Album Launch Gig (+ Blues jam) at The Mill Beach PH, Maldon, Essex. Sunday, 14th May, 2017.

The TPBB in action (Photo: PTMQ)

Blues singer Tanya Piché had been asking me to come along to one of her monthly Blues jams at The Mill Beach PH, in Maldon, Essex, for a few months, but I hadn’t been able to get there until now. These jam sessions are held on the second Sunday in the month between 5 – 9pm, and have become very popular with local musicians. This particular jam was a special occasion though, as Tanya and her band have just released their debut album, the howlingly good Wolf Woman Blues (see my review #164), and they decided to use this session for their album launch. I arrived just in time to say hello to Tanya and the band members – David Warne (guitar); Nick Sherreard (bass); and James Digings (drums) – and get my name down on the performers list, before the afternoon’s entertainment began.

Howlin’ Wolf Woman! (Photo: PTMQ)

The plan was for the TPBB to play all ten tracks from the album in three mini-sets of three or four songs each, with jam sessions in the two spaces between (a kind of wolf-flavoured jam sandwich I guess you could call it!) So the Wolf Woman and her pack kicked off their first set with ‘Clawing At Your Door’, and proceeded to play the songs in the album track order.

Now Tanya is a very lovely lady of course, but it is when she gets on stage that she really comes into her own. She seriously gets into the vibe of her Blues – and it’s infectious too. On stage she is animated, and sassy – and you can’t take your eyes off her. Her characteristically unique voice and vocal style (that has earned her the sobriquet ‘Howlin’ Wolf Woman’), growled and howled out her lyrics to an appreciative audience; yet there is a tenderness to her vocal when necessary as well – and during ‘I Put A Spell On You’, she was just a bit scary too!

The TPBB’s Blues (as I said on the album review) are as authentic as you can get this side of the Atlantic; and a great salute to their classic Stateside heroes. Their live performance here was faultlessly true to their recorded album tracks too. This is a band that has been gigging hard for the entire two years of their existence, and they demonstrated a well-practiced set indeed. David’s guitar work was impressive, relaxed and effortless, in the knowledge that backing him up was a superb, reliable, and tight rhythm section in Nick and James. I couldn’t fault their performance at all; but I wasn’t the only one, because as they finished their third set with the mellow, Greeny inspired ‘why’, the applause was thunderous and demanding of an encore. This was duly given in the form of a track that hadn’t been included on the album, their spooky single ‘Good Morning Mr.Postman’, with its psychedelic, wah-wah rigged guitar part. (Incidentally, Tanya said that, Joe Green, Peter’s nephew who will be playing live with them as a special guest at The Owl And Pussycat, Basildon, on 4th June, sent a message of support from Greeny himself).

Apart from being the star of the show, Tanya was also the Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon, so she was the busiest person there. After the first set with her band, she had quickly organised and introduced some jammers for the first of several three-number sets. There were a good number of musos present; too numerous to name (I knew some), but all of a very impressive standard indeed. Many Blues/Blues-Rock classics were excellently covered, such as: ‘All Along The Watchtower’; ‘Statesboro Blues’; ‘Texas Flood’; ‘Crossroads’; ‘Brown Sugar’; and many more – and including a surprise rendition of Sweet’s old hit ‘Wig Wam Bam’. (Blimey, that took me back a few years!) Tanya had asked me to bring my acoustic and said she’d play harp for me on my ‘Mid-Life Crisis Blues’, which she kindly did – and really well too. (Thanks Wolf Woman!) It seemed to go OK but I offer no critique – except that Tanya’s Dad said he liked it!

Among the many guests present were Blues DJ  Jim McNeill, of Blues @ Rock Radio UK, and we had a good chat about Blues and other sounds. He recommended a few bands that I may need to check out sometime soon. Thanks Jim.

Big thanks to Tanya and her boys for inviting me; to all the excellent jammers; and to everyone there for a fantastic afternoon of Blues, Blues, Blues! The bar staff need a mention too – good service with a smile… and delicious pineapple sponge! Beer was good too! PTMQ

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168. FRANK STATESBORO (+MARTIN McNEILL & Open Floor) at RFC. Tuesday 9th May 2017.

Bluesman 1: Frank Statesboro (Photo: G.Walker)

Well, with Frank Statesboro as special guest, this particular night at Romford Folk Club was bound to get a bit Bluesy. Add to that, Martin McNeill (the maestro of Monday Blues At Peggy Sue’s) contacted me the day before asking about the club, and I suggested he come along too. So with several of the regulars also getting into the Blues vibe, it was sure to be a memorable night.

The preceding Open Floor spots were very varied as usual – although rather Blues dominated. Best among them I thought were of course, Martin McNeill with his ‘Feel So Good’ and ‘Unchain My Heart’ (which I’ve heard him play several times at Peggy Sue’s); Jo Gregory‘s a cappella cover of ‘Cry Me A River’; and Jackie Gregory‘s fine version of ‘Matty Groves’. Of course, I played my ‘Mid-Life Crisis Blues’; and Vern Waldie asked me to accompany him for his own Blues number ‘My Love’ – which I didn’t know, but enjoyed playing.

Bluesman 2: Martin McNeill (Photo: G.Walker)

Introduced by Nora Kelson (MoC for the night), the man in black, Frank Statesboro took to the performance area and began with Crudup’s ‘That’s Alright’. His imposing physical presence was only outweighed by his gravelly vocal and aggressive strumming style, which is characterised by strong bass runs and loudly muted chords. He got through two great sets of Blues classics, including: ‘Got My Mojo Working’; and ‘Mean Ol’ Frisco’.

Other varied songs in his repertoire were ‘What A Wonderful World This Would Be’; ‘Handbags And Gladrags’; ‘Rockin’ Robin’; ‘If Loving You Is Wrong’; and ‘Heartbreak Hotel’.

Highlight of the evening for me though, was when Frank invited Martin to jam with him on a couple of songs. Now, these two are very experienced Bluesmen (albeit with very different styles); yet they had never jammed together before. No problem – they steamed into a pacey Rock’n’Roller: ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’, with Martin on bottleneck, duelling with Frank. They followed this with a fine cover of Greeny’s classic ‘Black Magic Woman’. Again extended improvised solos from both guitarists that is rarely witnessed outside of a Blues club. Excellent!

Statesboro and McNeill (Photo: G.Walker)

Frank also included an entertaining medley of disparate songs of various styles. These were segued within two halves of ‘King Of The Swingers’. They included ‘The Drunken Sailor’; ‘Mama Don’t Like No Music’; and ‘Valerie’. Bizarre – but it worked a treat!

Martin was invited to return to the floor then for a well deserved encore of Bo Diddley’s ‘Before You Accuse Me’. An excellent rendition it was too; and the show finished to great applause.

All in all, a great Blues dominated evening – one of the best Guest Nights I’ve seen at the club. I thoroughly enjoyed it; so a big thank you to Mr.Statesboro; Mr.McNeill; the club officials; and all those who took part in making it a memorable evening once again at RFC. PTMQ.

166. KADIA (with support CHARLIE LIMM + Open Floor) at LOUGHTON FOLK CLUB, Essex. Thursday 27th April 2017.

Kadia at LFC (Photo: PTMQ)

It’s always nice to get to see artists whose albums I’ve reviewed. So when I heard that Dorset-based Folk band Kadia were to play near to my home, at Loughton Folk Club, I was keen to get along to see them live.

Loughton Folk Club is held every Thursday in a pleasant upstairs room at The Loughton Club, a social centre in Station Road. (Check LFC’s website for details). It is run by Steve O’Donoghue (MoC for the night), and Carol Woodward, who are very welcoming (They had both recently come along to my Feature Night at Romford FC. See review #162). The club book a special guest every week, and have attracted some very well known artists. This particular night there was also a support set by singer/song-writer Charlie Limm. Floor spots are also usually available, and I was asked to do a couple of my songs too.

There were some very good Floor Spots; best of which I thought were Steve O’Donoghue singing his ‘Accident Of Birth’  – the second time I’d heard this in two days (See my previous review #165), but this time by the writer himself. And John Harris who sang and played a fantastic song about an Irish sailor (which I’m afraid I didn’t catch the title of, but I’m sure I’ve seen him play it somewhere before – RFC or Haverfolk perhaps?). I played two of my songs: ‘Nan’s Bread Pudd’n’ and ‘Mid-Life Crisis Blues’. Seemed to go down OK.

Charlie Limm (Photo: PTMQ)

Support Charlie Limm played two short but very good sets. Along with Emma Minihan , she is one half of a duet called Patchwork Skies, but tonight she was accompanied only by her roadie Sophie. Charlie, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, played some charming songs; including two from the duet’s EP Go Outside: ‘Through The Dark’ and ‘Country Kind’. Other songs were: ‘At Your Side’; ‘Farewell Lullaby’ (sung acapella); ‘In This Time’ (which I particularly liked); ‘Forget-me-Not’ (her favourite flower, and a song that we were encouraged to join in with); and she finished with Richard Thompson’s classic ‘Beeswing’. Lovely songs and very effective. Sweetly sung too. The LFC audience were certainly appreciative. Maybe we’ll see Charlie play there again, with Emma too next time, perhaps? Later, before she left she gave me a copy of the Patchwork Skies’ EP Go Outside, which I enjoyed listening to on the way home and shall review on this site soon (see my following article #167).

Headliners Kadia also played two excellent sets. The trio consist of: Chris Bailey (guitar/vocals); Lee Cuff (cello/vocals); and David Hoyland (uke/mando/vocals). (For a review of their wonderful debut album East Of Alexandria, see my review #91). They are making quite a name for themselves on the Folk circuit, for their quality musicianship, their impressive song-writing, and their superb harmonies. I have recently reviewed their new EP of trad songs – The Outlandish Collection (see my review #158). They are currently working towards a new album of original material.

Steve O’Donoghue with Guthrie-esque guitar slogan! (Photo: PTMQ)

They played many of the original songs from their debut album, and all five songs from the EP; beginning with the acapella ‘The Keeper’. It was a magnificent display of the three part harmonies for which they are becoming well-known – therefore they set the bar high for themselves from the very start.

Earlier, I’d had a chat with them before the evening’s entertainment began. I’d been playing their debut album whilst driving to the gig, and I mentioned that I particularly enjoyed ‘The Beast Of Bodmin’, so they kindly incorporated it into their set for me; seguing it into the trad song ‘The Wraggle-Taggle Gypsies-O’. A faultless performance it was too. Thanks lads!

Included in their two sets were songs from the Alexandria album such as ‘Silver Linings’; ‘The Navigator’; and ‘Origin Of Fire’. From Outlandish: ‘Captain Ward’; the instrumental medley ‘Cricketers Set’; ‘Randy Dandy’ and the wonderful ‘Lady Isabel And The Elf Knight’. Other songs played were: ‘Your Side’; ‘Sounds Of Earth’; ‘Rose In April’; ‘Annabel Lee’;  and ‘Old Dun Cow’.

Throughout the show, individual musicianship; tightness; vocals; and harmonies were, to be quite honest, faultless and impressive to say the least. In fact, a perfect display of their collective talents, and I’d highly recommend attending one of their gigs if you haven’t already.

I very much enjoyed the evening at Loughton Folk Club and I plan to get there again soon for a Daria Kulesh gig, among others. Thanks to all performers and LFC personnel for a memorable evening. PTMQ.

 

165. STEVE & HANNAH O’DRISCOLL (+ Open Floor) at RFC. Tuesday, 25th April 2017.

The O’Driscolls at RFC. (Photo: G.Walker)

I always enjoy whatever father and daughter duet Steve and Hannah O’Driscoll come up with when they do their turn at Romford Folk Club. So as popular regulars, they were asked to perform a set at one of the club’s frequent Feature Nights; and I think I can speak for all the club members by saying that we were all looking forward to it.

Their two-part set was of course preceded by Open Floor spots. Best this week I thought were: Alan Gore‘s cover of Steve O’Donoghue‘s ‘Accident Of Birth’; and Trevor Attwaters‘ two songs: the trad ‘Black Waterside’, and his version of McDowell’s ‘Write Me A Few Of Your Lines’. I played my ‘Nan’s Bread Pudd’n’ at the request of Mrs.Attwaters!

The O’Driscolls were introduced for their first set and were warmly welcomed by the audience. Steve plays guitar with intriguing alternative tunings that give a very distinctive sound. Hannah is in charge of percussion and sits on her Cajon drum box. Their vocals are unique too, and characterised by an (often) melancholy vibe and some very fine harmonies. Their songs often have London or Irish themes, inspired by their ancestry.

They began with ‘Our Young Lady’. It was a great start and was followed by one of their self-penned songs: ‘Brave Boys’, which was the first song that they played together a year ago, at RFC. It is a wonderful song about the life of London dockers in the days of sail. Other songs from set 1 were ‘Thames Rose High’ which is based on an old folk tale; and ‘Mrs.Mary Smith’ about a Victorian knocker-upper from Limehouse. They finished the first set with ‘The Bow Bells Bride’ to well-deserved applause.

Set Two began with two tragic old Irish songs, ‘Old Woman In The Woods’ and ‘Well Below The Valley’. ‘The Good Old Times’ followed. It is about Steve’s Grandfather who moved from Ireland to Poplar, and was always harking back to his past. ‘London Beer Flood’ is based on a bizarre but, Steve assures us, true story from 1814 when a massive beer barrel flooded the St.Giles area, and killed several people – what a way to go! They finished their main set with ‘The Jolly Tinker’. It is a popular song from their repertoire, and they do it well. I’ve heard them play it a few times before. Great applause ensued as they finished, and encore was demanded. They gave this in the form of ‘Nelly Hang On The Bell’.

All in all really good set which was made the more enjoyable by Steve’s informative and funny spiel before each song. As far as I know their songs have not been recorded – but they need to be!  Another great night at RFC. Thanks to The O’Driscolls; all floor performers and club officials. PTMQ.

160. MIKANORA (+ Open Floor) at RFC, “The White Horse” PH, Chadwell Heath. Tuesday, 11th April, 2017.

(Photo: G.Walker)

I have known the duet Mikanora (that is Mick Turner and Nora Kelson) for some time, as they are regular performers at (and involved with the running of) Romford Folk Club – now resident at The White Horse PH, Chadwell Heath. (For a description of the venue, but not the club, see my review #78). As is usual with RFC, regulars are often asked to perform an occasional Feature Night, and tonight was the turn of this popular duet.

The featured artists played a two-part set preceded by various Open Floor spots. Best of those this week I thought were The Rom Shanty Crew (now expanded to a six-piece vocal group) with their ‘Last Of The Great Whales’; and Gemma Boyd‘s newly written violin piece ‘The Boatman’s Mumbles’. I played a song by my friend, song-writer Tony Partis called ‘Riding Thumb’ with Rod Standen assisting on percussion.

(Photo: G.Walker)

Mikanora as usual had arrived armed with an array of diverse instruments: guitars; mandolin; mandola; concertina; bodhran; and low-D whistle. They began their set with ‘The Rout Of The Blues’, and included two of their amusing originals: ‘The Hermit’ and ‘South Of The Border’ (about US President Trump). Covers included: ‘The Bonny Ship The Diamond’; ‘Nancy Spain’; ‘Mantelito Blanco’ (a Spanish song about a tablecloth); ‘Donkey Riding’ (which is not about riding donkeys, but about logging); two Richard Thompson numbers ‘Crazy Man Michael’ and ‘Dimming Of The Day’ (‘You can’t have too many Richard Thompson songs’ said Mick!); and a fine version of ‘The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald’ on which Nora shone with concertina. A well deserved encore was called for, and given in the form of ‘Whiskey In The Jar-O’ which was performed with the aid of Gemma on fiddle.

It was another very entertaining evening at RFC thanks to Mikanora. Their set choice was varied, interesting and at times amusing. Thanks also due to MoC Smolowik; all the Open Floor performers; Garry Walker for the photos; and everyone at the club for organising the gig. PTMQ

159. SAIICHI SUGIYAMA BAND (+ support JOE ANDERTON BAND) at The NCBC, Essex. Friday, 24th March 2017; including an interview with Saiichi.

Saiichi Sugiyama (Photo: Karen Rockingham)

The Saiichi Sugiyama Interview: Well I must admit my son James and I went along to the NCBC knowing next to nothing about Saiichi Sugiyama, but intending to see his set, having heard good reviews. Then Karen at the club suggested an impromptu interview with the man, which she kindly and quickly arranged for us. No matter that we hadn’t done any research, because after being introduced to him, he told us that he talked too much; so with a minimum of questions from ourselves, he proceeded to tell us all that we needed to know about himself and his music – and fascinating it was too..

PTMQ: We started by asking Saiichi about his work with Andy Fraser shortly before he passed away…

SS: ‘I met a chap who was the UK PR for Andy Fraser, and he was interested in managing me, so we worked together for a while, and Andy got to hear my music. My manager asked him: “Would you be interested in playing bass for Saiichi?”

I had this song called ‘Melting Away’ that I wrote some years ago. Free was very much formative Blues-Rock, and Paul Kossoff was somebody that I listened to a lot when I was young, but I had to stop listening because I didn’t want to be influenced too much. I was on holiday in Japan and I had this strange dream that Kossoff was in an afterlife in a beautiful place, and I came up with this song called ‘Melting Away’. I played it at a blues festival once, but then I thought “This is too close to Free!”, so I set it aside, until I met Andy.

(Image: Saiichi Sugiyama website)

He’d been working all these years to get away from Blues-Rock. So I said “I have a song that I’d love you to play… but I bet you will not want to play it because it’s so much like your old band!” Anyway, he had a listen for the six minutes, and at the end of it he said “Yeah, I’ll do it, sure”. Then I was even more greedy and said “Did you notice there is a section for a bass solo towards the end?” and he said “Yeah I noticed that… that’ll be a challenge!” So he took the song away to California, and a couple of weeks later I got this thing through. He actually worked on the bass, and added things to it. He added some voice operated synthesizer sounds on it. He chopped a few things and arranged stuff; and put reverb on it. His bass playing was very unique.

Somehow I suddenly had this idea of putting a string quartet on it. I loved the way that Motown orchestrated, so I ended up getting in touch with John Shipley, the Musical Director for Jack Ashford’s Funk Brothers. I said “This is not Motown, but can you write a string section for it?” What he sent me was not quite what I had in mind. So I went out and bought a keyboard and my ProTools had some samples, and that became the quartet part. I wanted Andy to hear that but then he went. So that was that’.

PTMQ: Saiichi then told us about his association with Pete Brown – poet and lyricist for Cream among others…

SS:  ‘I met him in early 2000 and he started off playing in my band, because he sings and plays percussion. He said we should record an album, so i said ‘OK if I’m going to record, will you write with me?’ He said OK, so I was quite thrilled to see my songs with Pete on them. I was brought up in Tokyo in the 1960s and I would buy LPs with Japanese liner notes, and they’d talk about Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton… and poet Pete Brown. So the name was very familiar to me’.

Saiichi with The Quill and James, son of The Quill (Photo: Karen Rockingham)

PTMQ: So how did you get into in Western music?

SS: ‘Initially I was very taken with American music. I started off with Crosby, Stills and Nash; and Neil Young; and that got me into playing acoustic guitar. Its acoustic but its not Folk, its Rock. I was really fascinated by the way they played guitar, and then Steven Stills had an album out with a couple of very Bluesy tracks. And it just spoke to me; it was interesting – something different. I wrote a song when I was about ten, and it was a 12-bar Blues number. But I didn’t know it was Blues! Then I got into Clapton – Derek And The Dominoes. Then I dug deeper, into Cream, which I loved more; then The Bluesbreakers’ Beano album.

That’s how I got into the whole thing; because we were going through a period in Japan when people were looking very outward to the West; now they’re very inward looking. Now the Japanese have developed their own style of Rock which is quite Punkish. It doesn’t wash with me. They like their stuff and they really dig into it. But they don’t like somebody like me coming over from England – “He’s Japanese, he can’t be any good!” [He laughs].

Then I had a renaissance with The Beatles when I was about 18, and I really wanted to come here because this is where it was happening. I wanted to see Paul McCartney when he came to Japan in 1980 to play the Budokan. I slept on the street to buy the tickets, but he was arrested for marijuana possession and spent time in jail! So I had to come to England to see him.

But before then I had my eyes set on California because my love was Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. So I went to America for a couple of summers and I loved it. Then I was encouraged by a friend of mine who said “You’ve got to come to England”. So I did and found it more to my liking. I came for three months, which became three years, and now thirty odd years!

I first came over here in 1980 as a musician. I went through a period when I was absorbing everything. In 1989 I met Mike Casswell, Clem Clemson and Zoot Money, and my first album came out in 1994′.

PTMQ: Saiichi also talked about his son Mune Sugiyama, drummer and musical director of the band…

SS: ‘My son was unfortunately brought up, poor thing, listening to all my music! He says: “You really spoilt my childhood playing all these old peoples songs!” But it turned out that he’s actually a good drummer. He had a school band but someone dropped out, so I played in his band which was like a kind of prog/psychedelic jazz type of thing. So we got to know each other musically. Then when I needed a drummer he would come in as a dep. He knows all the songs that I wrote but didn’t do anything about, and he said “look, you’ve got to record these”; and he ended up becoming my producer and musical director of the band. He is my partner in that sense. He tells us what to do. He’s a perfectionist. He’s very bossy!’ [He laughs].

PTMQ: Saiichi is a very friendly, forthcoming and informative man to talk to – and yes, he does like to talk a lot; but that’s a good thing because he told us just what we wanted to hear. So thanks for the interview Saiichi. All that remained was for us to see his live set…

Joe Anderton Band (Photo: Chris Richardson)

But first The Joe Anderton Band set:  Whilst chatting to Saiichi in the Green Room, we heard the support band begin their set; and although I wasn’t able to give them my full attention, they certainly sounded good in the background. When we got back to our seats in the auditorium, Joe and the boys were in full swing with a great Stones cover – ‘Dead Flowers’. They finished with ‘Down By The River’ which I liked very much. What I heard of their set was very good. A band to look out for, I think.

They consist of the excellent young guitarist himself Joe Anderton (guitar and vocals); Andy Hayes (guitar); Joe Fowkes (drums); and none other than Trev Turley (on bass) – a well respected bassist who has of course been mentioned on my site a few times before, not least of all when he played a great gig at the NCBC last year with some good friends (see my review #121; & review #126).

The Saiichi Sugiyama Band set: The headliners were soon on stage. They consisted of Saiichi himself, of course (guitar/ vocals); his son Mune Sugiyama (drums/Musical Director); his long term bassist Ben Reed; Sam Grimley on keys; dep rhythm guitarist Mark Wright; and the remarkable Monica George on lead vocals.

Saiichi Sugiyama Band (Photo: Chris Richardson)

We were soon listening to the opening number ‘Never Turn Back’, off the debut album. This was segued into ‘I Never Turn’ (the newer, up tempo version) on which we first heard Monica’s fine vocal. It was a good start; and immediately followed by the only cover of the night ‘Sitting On Top Of The World’, with a great solo.

Saiichi said that he liked to mix up the eclectic influences of his youth back in the 70s, which explained the next song ‘Just One More Time’, which is quite a fusion of styles. Next he introduced another from the debut: ‘What’s Going On?’, explaining that he was never fully happy with his singing on the original. So this has now been reworked for female lead vocal; and I must say that Monica shone on it. There was some intense solo work from Saiichi on his Les Paul too.

Continuing with the eclectic menu, the band then played a Folk-Rock number called ‘Bitter Ground’ – surprising, and surprisingly good. It was a la Wishbone Ash Argus in its vibe – and therefore, I liked it a lot! The Funky ‘Into Your Arms’ followed, and couldn’t be more different, being described as ‘a dancy number’. Then the Funk continued with a song from The Smokehouse Sessions co-written with Pete Brown: ‘Is That You Baby?’

‘Magic Wand’ – another reworked number from his eponymous album of ’94 – changed the vibe yet again; and ‘China Doll’, from the same collection followed, with its haunting introductory arpeggio, although quite significantly reworked from the original. Rather Santana-esque in its lengthy solo, this one. A newer song ‘Night Indigo’ followed – a moody number with another good solo.  Great drumming from Mune on this one too. More upbeat was the radio friendly ‘Its Up To You’ with its 60s Motown vibe which suited Monica’s vocal style perfectly.

Next the song that I had been particularly waiting for: the Andy Fraser collaborated ‘Melting Away’. Starting with a haunting arpeggio and pensive vocal from Monica, it soon erupts into an unashamedly Free-inspired extravaganza – slow, heavy rhythm riffs interspersed with the gentler arpeggio sections, then giving ground to a Kossoff-esque lead guitar part; a fitting tribute to one of Saiichi’s main influences and a fine memorial to both Kossoff and Fraser. Excellent!

Next up was ‘I Got News’, a song with an interesting lyric and a nice guitar part. The latest single ‘Somewhere Down The Road’ followed. This is of course the reworked version of the opening track from the debut album. The original was very good, but this make-over is excellent; with female vocal and a far more dynamic guitar part. Without a breather, the great rocker ‘A Cellar full Of Noise’ (also co-penned with Pete Brown) ended the the show to great applause. It is a shame that the show overran because I know that the encore (if played) would have included an acoustic version of ‘Crossroads’ which I would have liked to hear. But both James and I enjoyed the gig very much.

The sheer variety contained within Saiichi’s set appealed to me greatly. Little of it could be described as pure Blues of course, but most of it had an undeniable Blues base. Inevitably, Saiichi shone on lead guitar; and Monica was at all times impressive as vocalist. The rhythm section of the band were all tight and reliable throughout.

Farewells: We had another little chat with Saiichi at the Merch desk, and he generously gave me two of his albums – his excellent eponymous debut from 1994 on CD; and his acclaimed Smokehouse Sessions on vinyl; plus his two latest excellent CD singles: ‘Melting Away’ which we’d just heard all about; and the remixed version of ‘Somewhere Down The Road’, which we’d also just enjoyed live.

As we left the venue, we congratulated guv’nor Paul Dean on another great New Crawdaddy gig; and had a few words with Joe Anderton and Trev Turley too. On the way out we bumped into Rock aficionado Stuart Walsh and his lady friend, who were very pleased with Saiichi’s set. And thus ended another good night at the NCBC. Thanks to all performers; the club volunteers; Karen for arranging things and photos; Chris for photos; bar staff; and everyone who was there. PTMQ

Saiichi Sugiyama website

Joe Anderton Band website

New Crawdaddy website

154. VICKI SWAN & JONNY DYER (+ Open Floor) at RFC. Tuesday, 14th March 2017

Dyer & Swan at RFC (Photo: Garry W)

Due to innumerable recommendations, I’d been meaning to get along to a Vicki Swan / Jonny Dyer gig for far too long without achieving this ambition. So when Garry Walker of RFC told me he’d booked the duo here at my local club, I didn’t even have to go far to see them… they came to me! The couple are based in Braintree, Essex (not a million miles from here), and have made quite a name for themselves in recent years – partly for their own noted performances as a duet, but also as much-in-demand multi-instrumentalists collaborating with others too.

Arriving at RFC on the evening and introducing myself, I was immediately struck by the sheer quantity and range of instruments that they’d brought along to the gig. In evidence were a left-handed 6-String acoustic guitar; what looked to me like a L/H 8-String Tenor guitar (which turned out to be a guitar body with a Bouzouki neck – how wrong can I have been?); Scottish Small Pipes; Swedish Pipes (I didn’t know there was such a thing!); several accordions; a flute; cow horn; swanee whistle; and of course Vicki’s trademark instrument, the remarkable Swedish Nyckelharpa (pronounced nook-uhl-hahr-puh) – an explanatory leaflet on which she kindly gave me, enlightening my ignorance by a few shades!

(Photo: Garry W)

Vicki and Jonny played an amazing and impressive two-part set of some very varied traditional arrangements as well as some of their own material. Introduced by MoS Alan Gore, they began with ‘Processional’ from their excellent last album Paper Of Pins (2016), a CD copy of which Vicki kindly gave me after the show. Some of their two-part set consisted of songs from this excellent album; and included: ‘Friends’; and ‘The Bold Fisherman’; as well as the title track.

Other tunes performed were ‘The Standing Stones of Stanton Drew’; the fun ‘Three-Cornered Hat’ (with actions); their amusing bus driver song; and ‘I’ve Lost My Cow’ (which featured some bizarre duelling between Jonny’s Cow Horn and Vicki’s Swedish Pipes); and others. The evening finished with an encore of a Swedish Polska, (not to be confused with a Polka). This was a fun tune in 3/4 time. And so the performance ended with much appreciative – and well deserved – applause.

At all times these tunes were performed with skill, professionalism – and a good measure of humour too. Vocals from both were excellent (although Vicki said she was struggling with her voice); and harmonies were likewise of superb quality. We, the audience, were encouraged to participate too. Its well worth going to see this duo if you can. I very much enjoyed their set.

Each of the Swan-Dyer half-sets were of course preceded by Open Floor spots; and all the regulars had a go. Best of all this week I thought was newcomer Cliff, who plugged in a Telecaster and played lead guitar over a 12-Bar Blues instrumental backing track called ‘Cascade’. Unusual to hear such a thing in such a club, but I love a bit of Blues, and Cliff played it very well – he even claimed that he’d not played to an audience before! Continuing with something in the same general genre – and celebrating my early retirement from work – when it was my turn I played my own acoustic number ‘Mid-Life Crisis Blues’.

Thanks to Vicki and Jonny; to the club staff; and all who took part. Another very good evening at RFC. PTMQ

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