Tag Archives: bill farrow

144. DENNIS HOMES “Sunset To Song Rise” (2017)

(Pic: Dennis Homes)

(Pic: Dennis Homes)

I ran into singer/guitarist/song-writer Dennis Homes at a gig last year (See my review #101); and he told me that he was working on a new album, which I said I’d be interested to hear; so recently he sent me a CD copy for review.

Dennis was of course once a member of late ’60’s psychedelic folkie band Synanthesia, whose eponymous album is apparently much sought after by vinyl collectors these days. Since then he has been writing and performing his own material.

Over the last few months I’d bumped into Dennis a few times at Folk/acoustic clubs, and seen him play a couple of songs from his new collection; namely ‘A Battered Old Guitar’ and ‘Bunjies, Cousins And Troubadour’. I liked them, so I was glad to get hold of the recorded versions.

Its a ten track collection of songs all penned by Dennis himself. There’s quite a variety of genres/styles embraced in the album, with influences from Folk to Rock’n’Roll; from Country to stage shows/musicals. One thing that is consistent throughout though, are the thoughtful song arrangements and the high quality of the clearly sung lyrics. It is obvious that Dennis has put a lot of time and effort into this collection.

I particularly liked the finished versions of the two songs that I’d already heard: ‘A Battered Old Guitar’ with its Duane Eddy-esque riffs; and Bunjies…’ which is of course about the three very influential London Folk clubs of the ’60s. I also liked the opener ‘Keep That Music Playing’ and the finale ‘The Night They Danced Under The Stars’ –  a wartime love story.

The CD comes in a smart card gate-fold case – the type with the disc pressed into the right-hand side. It has basic credits, photos and track list etc; but no lyrics or further info. I like the album because it is inventive and interesting, with great lyrics and fine arrangements. It is available from Dennis’ website, or Amazon. PTMQ

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117. RICHIE MILTON AND THE LOWDOWN “Pre-Katrina” (Right Track Records, 2016)

Pre-Katrina CD cover (Pic: Richie Milton)

Pre-Katrina CD cover (Pic: Richie Milton)

My regular readers will already be well aware of the name Richie Milton, in his capacity as one half of the popular Skiffle’n’Blues/Rockney duet Milton And Farrow. (See below for a list of my earlier reviews on this dynamic duo). But Richie of course, has another string to his bow; in the form of his own band The Lowdown.

At a Milton-Farrow gig recently, Richie handed me a copy of his own band’s new CD, Pre-Katrina (2016). This new collection has already received some critical acclaim; with airplay on none other than the prestigious Paul Jones Show on BBC Radio 2.

The Lowdown consist of Richie Milton himself (guitar and vocals); Linda Hall (vocals); Steve King (Piano and Sax); Ed Spevock (Drums); Eddie Masters (Bass); and Dick Hanson (Trumpet). As fine a group of musos you’ll ever listen to – each very impressive in their field.

This is a fifteen track collection of original songs; all penned by Richie bar one (Steve King’s ‘Ghosts On Rampart Street’). There was only one song among them that I previously knew – ‘Keep My Engine Clean’ (more on that later) – all others were new to me. Yet I felt as if I knew them all; for they remind me of family parties when I was a kid; because Richie seems to have accurately created a lot of grooves that are reminiscent of a late 50s / early 60s Juke Box – whilst still sounding original! (I’m guessing that Richie was a teenager around this time!) Song construction and lyric writing are superb. Many styles of period Pop / Rock’n’Roll are represented – there’s even a Ska instrumental (‘More Than You’ll Ever Know’).

I was particularly impressed with Richie’s vocals and generally with the fine Horn arrangements. I liked Linda’s vocals too – especially on ‘Things Ain’t Been The Same’ (an instrumental version appears at the end of the album too). My favourite track was the laid-back Jazz-Blues ‘How Come Baby?’ which is wonderful. And I’ve heard ‘Keep My Engine Clean’ with its bawdy euphemisms before; because it often appears in the Milton-Farrow live set – albeit this version in a kind of Zydeco-Ska form.  Other highlights for me were ‘I See Love’ with its walking bass line; ‘Ghosts…’ with its Latin vibe; and ‘Back To Rock’n’Roll’ which speaks for itself. Its all a lot of fun anyway!

The CD is available from Richie’s website (below); or from gigs. I recommend it – its a great album. PTMQ

Click here for a link to Richie’s website

Click for link to Paul Jones Show BBC Radio 2.

My earlier reviews of Milton And Farrow…

22. THE MILTON-FARROW SKIFFLE ‘n’ BLUES BAND Skiffleodeon EP (2014)

33. MILTON AND FARROW at ONAPLATE CAFE, Shenfiels, Essex. January 2015

63. MONDAY BLUES AT PEGGY SUE’S with MILTON AND FARROW. AUGUST 2015.

101. BILL FARROW at HAVERFOLK in “The Golden Lion” PH, Romford. Wednesday, 27th April 2016; + a few words about the club’s new venue.

(Photo: Peter Walters)

Big Bill Broonzy Farrow! (Photo: Peter Walters)

Preamble: When I saw Bill Farrow at a gig recently (see my review #99), he told me that he was booked to play Haverfolk, at their new venue, The Golden Lion, Romford, the following week. As this is very local to me, I of course said I’d come along.

The Venue: Haverfolk have recently been forced out of their previous venue, The White Horse, Chadwell Heath (see my review #78 for a description of the club and the old venue); over a dispute with the pub’s new manager. So the club have returned to their erstwhile home The Golden Lion just off Romford Market. Now I’ve been to many gigs at this pub over the last four decades (yes, really, 40 years!); but funny enough, not since I started this website. It is possibly the oldest building in Romford, dating back to at least 1440 – when it was a coaching inn known as Le Lion – and was once owned by Sir Francis Bacon.

Les and Sandra Potts with Wag Porter (Photo: Peter Walters)

L-R: Wag Porter; Sandra Potts; Les Potts (Photo: Peter Walters)

Open Foor: Bill played a two-part set preceded by two Open Floor sessions. But being as the place was very full – due to the popularity of Bill – there was only time for one song from each of those who wished to participate.  As is usual in such Folk / Acoustic clubs, there was a great range of styles present, and quality was high. Mandy Tully started things off with a tribute to the recently deceased comedienne Victoria Wood – by singing her classic song ‘Let’s Do It’. Other highlights were: Peter Walters (of Haverfolk) who gave us a superb rendition of ‘The Star Of County Down’; Les and Sandra Potts (of the nearby Sail Loft Folk Club) – assisted by Wag Porter on fiddle – who played an impressive cover of Darius Rucker’s ‘Wagon Wheel’; and Dennis Homes (of 60’s Psychedelia band Synanthesia), who played one of his own songs, ‘A Battered Old Guitar’. (Dennis told me that he is currently working on a solo album, so that’s something to look out for). Several other people had a turn, and were all very good. I played my daft Cockney song ‘Nan’s Bread Pudd’n’.

(Photo: Peter Walters)

Let’s do it…let’s jam! L-R: Skill; Richie; Bill; Les; and Wag. (Photo: Peter Walters)

Bill’s Set: Its easy to say ‘You know what you’ll get with Bill’ – and in one sense that’s true, because you know you’ll get a great display of his own unique upbeat and amusing Cockney / Skiffle / Blues acoustic guitar songs, as well as some old classics – but he always surprises me by playing some stuff I haven’t heard him do before. And he taylors his set off the top of his head to suit the audience too. Add to that some funny banter between – and sometimes during – songs, and a fun time was had by all!

He played some of his old favourites; such as ‘Believe Me Woman’; ‘New Tracks Down An Road’; and ‘Canning Town Blues’. He also did some fine covers; including Josh White’s ‘Never Gonna Stop My Wanderin’; and as he is a Big Bill Broonzy fan, he of course covered his hero with an excellent rendition of ‘When Did You Leave Heaven?’

But Bill is not just about Skiffle’n’Blues. At one time he was a playwright and into Old Time Music Hall. From this period he gave us his clever and amusing song ‘Keep Yer ‘Air On!’ (From his album The French Can’t Make Mangles Like We Can). This is a funny song about a woman losing her rag at a fruit’n’veg stall (maybe Romford market!); and got plenty of laughs.

Towards the end of Bill’s second set, he invited some others to join him for a jam. Stepping up to the plate were Bill’s usual gig-mate Richie Milton (guitar); Wag Porter (fiddle); Les Potts (guitar), and Ray ‘Skill’ Skilton (also of The Sail Loft Club, on harmonica). They played ‘Lots Of Rain’; ‘Can’t Blame Me’; ‘Pullin’ All The Boozers Down’; ‘Odd Socks Boogie Blues’; and finishing with ‘Ain’t It Good’. Encore was demanded, and duly given in the form of ‘Number 23 Bus’.

There was time at the end for a chat with some of those mentioned, before I gave Bill a lift home…well I couldn’t leave him standing there waiting for that No.23 bus, could I? Its always a pleasure to see Bill play – and I have on numerous occasions, of course – but I think he was particularly on form this evening; maybe because he was in the company of so many good old friends (some of whom had driven a fair way just to be at the gig). Nice one, Bill! PTMQ

Check my Contents List for more articles on Bill Farrow and on Haverfolk.

 

99. THE VICTORY ARMS (+ BILL FARROW and others) at ROMFORD FOLK CLUB, in “The Sun” PH. Tuesday 19th April, 2016,

The Victory Arms at RFC (Photo: Garry Walker)

The Victory Arms at RFC (Photo: Garry Walker)

When I heard that The Victory Arms were to play Romford Folk Club, I was keen to go along and see them…firstly because I hadn’t seen them before; secondly because I haven’t yet written anything on their genre of music (which the band describe as ‘1940s Pub Singing’); and thirdly because I’ve recently written a couple of silly Cockney songs that I thought may be appropriate for the evening and I wanted to try them out at the RFC’s Open Floor spot prior to the gig – on which more later.

fter

The Victory Arms are a married couple consisting of Chris (vocals and miming); and husband Martin (ukelele and guitar). Some years ago they worked as a duet in Folk clubs, but Chris gave it up to bring up their children; whilst Martin continued to perform. But now they are working together again on this new project. Chris has a great interest in the Second World War; and it was whilst visiting relevant history shows that she realised that all the musical acts at these events were American in substance. The couple decided that this wasn’t good enough, and decided to put things right – and quite right too! ‘The golden rule of the act is that we’re not allowed to do any songs from after 1941’ explained Martin (ie, before the US involvement in the conflict). The result was The Victory Arms. (They do however break their rule for gigs such as this, and would do so tonight as we’ll see)

'When I'm Cleaning Windows' (Photo: Garry Walker)

‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’ (Photo: Garry Walker)

I’ll let them describe their act for themselves (from their Facebook page)….

‘A 1940’s Entertainment set in a fictional London pub during the blitz. Join landlady Joaney & her potman Albert in a right old East End ding dong!  Picture the scene. It’s the East end of London, 1940. Last night’s bombing has left everyone’s favourite local “The Victory Arms” a little bruised, but relatively unscathed. Joaney, the landlady is getting ready to call last orders whilst the general dogs body and pot man Albert is collecting glasses and chatting to the regulars. To cheer things up before everybody has to head off into the black out, somebody calls for a song.
Join Joaney and Albert in a right old East End ding dong as they lead their regulars (that’s you!) through the music and stories of the times. Armed only with a Guitar, a Ukulele and an Accordion they pay tribute to the wartime spirit of the people of the United Kingdom and their allies. Without whom, none of this would have been possible.’

'There'll Always Be An England' (Photo: Garry Walker)

‘There’ll Always Be An England’ (Photo: Garry Walker)

So ‘The Victory Arms’ is more of a show than a gig. Its an interesting concept – and maybe unique. We were to see a two-part set. The couple began Part One appropriately with air raid sirens and a snippet from Churchill’s Battle Of Britain Speech, and the content was strictly pre-1941. The second half was a mixture of the act; other wartime songs; and some of their own composition.

In some ways I got what I expected (and that is in no way a criticism); but there were many things that made it a bit different; and therefore more entertaining and amusing. It was obvious that Martin and Chris had put a lot of thought into the details of their performance, The props; Chris’s landlady Joaney’s actions and miming; the well-led audience participation; and the charming scripted dialogue between the characters, for example, were very good indeed, and enhanced the act no end. A few interesting facts were thrown in too; such as the sobering observation that on this very night in 1941, 63 people were killed in air raids on Romford and the surrounding area!

Bill Farrow: 'Ain't It Good?' (Photo: Garry Walker)

Bill Farrow …who’s Gibson is that you’re playing Bill? (Photo: Garry Walker)

A variety of early Second World War songs were sung (+ a few others outside the main act in Part Two). Some from the earlier Great War too, such as ‘Pack Up Your Troubles’ and ‘Long Way To Tipperary’. Numbers that you’d expect like ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’; ‘Kiss Me Goodnight Sergeant-Major’; and ‘Keep The Home Fires Burning’ were very well represented. Best of all I thought were a cover of the It Ain’t Half Hot Mum version of The Ink Spots’ ‘Whispering Grass’ (including a good impersonation of Windsor Davies as the Sergeant Major by Martin!); a beautifully sung and well-played cover of Vera Lynn’s ‘A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square’; and a fine impersonation by Chris, of Gracie Fields singing and miming the ‘The Thing-ummy-bob’.  

The show ended with a rousing rendition of the patriotic ‘There’ll Always be An England’; and a well deserved encore of their own composition ‘Standing On The Home Front Line’.

Each part of The Victory Arms set was preceded by an Open Floor spot of course. There was only time for those of us that wanted to perform, to do one song each – with the exception of Bill Farrow who was allowed two. (Bill will be headlining at the club later in the year). As is usual with these Open Floor spots, there was a huge variety of genre, instrumentation and quality present – each admirable in their way. Many of the club’s regulars were present – some I hadn’t seen before (although I must admit shamefully that I don’t get down there very much!) Best among the many good turns I thought, were Bill, of course, who played two of his own inimitable songs: ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ and ‘Ain’t It Good?’; Steve O’Driscoll who played his London themed song ‘The Bow Bells Bride’; and Rod Standen who played ‘Voices Of The Night’ off his debut album Poetic Force. (He later gave me a copy to review). And finally, I played one of my silly songs: ‘Nan’s Bread Pudd’n’; which got a few laughs and some compliments afterwards I’m proud to say – but I offer no critique on the subject!

Thanks to Garry Walker and the team (Chris; Mick; Nora; and Eve at the door) for organising and running the evening. A great night… me dear old Mum would’ve loved it too! PTMQ

Here is a link to The Victory Arms’ Facebook page

Here is a link to Romford Folk Club’s Facebook page

For some details about the Romford Folk Club and its venue The Sun, see my article #59

63. MONDAY BLUES AT PEGGY SUE’S, 3rd August, 2015. With MILTON & FARROW.

MILTON & FARROW at Peggy Sue's Music Bar (Photo: PTMQ)

MILTON & FARROW at Peggy Sue’s Music Bar (Photo: PTMQ)

I suppose that if I lived nearer to it, I’d be frequenting Peggy Sue’s Music Bar in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex a lot more often than I do. As much as I like the place, this was unfortunately only the third visit that I’d been able to make this year. (See my Blog entries #38 and #47 for reviews of the earlier gigs). As it is, I get there when I can.

My third visit to Peggy Sue’s this year was to be a bit different, however. I knew that the special guests this particular Monday were to be my old friends, the veteran acoustic Blues duo Richie Milton and Bill Farrow; but it wasn’t until Bill phoned me that afternoon that I found out that the usual host Martin McNeill was on holiday, and had asked the duo to act as proxy hosts – as well as guests. I saw Bill play a couple of solo songs at Romford Folk Club recently (see Blog #59); but I hadn’t seen the pair of them in action together since their gig at Onaplate Café in Shenfield back in January (see Blog #33).

Peggy Sue’s was fuller that night than I’ve seen it before. The punters present seemed to be mostly Milton & Farrow fans of course; and some among them were very good personal friends of the pair as well. I was introduced to some very interesting people who were there too.

You know what to expect with Richie and Bill: quality upbeat acoustic Blues; a good sing-song; and a good laugh too! They did not disappoint. In fact, this was the best gig I’d seen them play. As is usual with these two, there was no formal Set List; they just decided what to play as they went along. This very informal approach makes for a very warm and personal ambience – like having a couple of mates round for a jam. And the two of them fed off the enthusiasm of we, their audience, who lapped up everything they played.

I won’t go into a detailed description on this occasion; suffice to say that they played many of their own, inimitable Blues favourites (which are frequently amusing; and often with a Cockney flavour); like: ‘Believe Me Woman’; ‘Hammersmith & City Line’; ‘What Do I Do Now’; ‘Everybody Sang The Blues’; ‘ASAP’; ‘Odd Sox Boogie Blues’; ‘BBQ Chicken And Wine’; ‘Chicken In The Yard’; ‘Rain, Lotsa Rain’; and many others.

Add to this some fine covers of old classics like: ‘Glory Of Love’; ‘Corinna, Corinna’; and ‘Deep Elem Blues’; and you have a winning formula. There was some great banter between the songs too.  You can’t help but clapping, singing, and laughing along. All in all, a great evening’s entertainment. The great applause that ended their set was very well deserved.

Finally, a great big Thank You to Lorraine, Dave, Johnny and all the staff at Peggy Sue’s for hosting a great evening once again. PTMQ

A review of Milton & Farrow’s last EP Skiffleodeon is on my Blog entry #22

A review of Martin McNeill’s album Lately I’ve Let Things Slide is on my Blog #53

Here is a link to Martin McNeill’s website for future gigs at Peggy Sue’s …

http://www.martinmcneill.co.uk/

Here is a link to Richie Milton’s website for his own gigs and those with Bill Farrow …

http://www.richiemiltonandthelowdown.co.uk/

59. DEVONBIRD (+ BILL FARROW & others) at ROMFORD FOLK CLUB, in THE SUN (PH). Tuesday 7th July, 2015. + a few words about the club and the venue.

Devonbird at RFC (Photo: PTMQ)

Devonbird at RFC (Photo: PTMQ)

These days my friends Kath, Sophia and Rob of Folk band Devonbird are flying high, with gigs ever further afield than their Exeter home base. And this is a measure of their increasing popularity and success. They’ve been all over the West Country, and have ventured into Wales on occasions; but the nearest they’ve been to my neck of the woods is when they played Hadfest in Hertfordshire back in 2013. This was the first time that they’d been to the Romford area though. Actually, the band’s guitarist Rob was brought up not far away, and has played The Sun on numerous occasions in the past. As for me, I live local too, so there was no doubt that I’d be along for this gig.

My regular readers will know, of course, that I was down in Devon recently at the invitation of the band (see my previous two Blog entries #57 and #58), who were making a video for their song ‘Greenwood Tree’. It was nice to have them in my Manor for a change on this occasion though. Another person who came along to the gig and was delighted to see Rob was the Blues guitarist Bill Farrow who is also a local man. Rob was once in Bill’s band, simply called Farrow. Nowadays, of course, Bill plays in the Milton-Farrow Skiffle’n’Blues Band (see my Bog entries #22 and #33). He has also played The Sun many times.

Romford Folk Club has been held down in the basement function room of The Sun, on London Road, Romford, for almost twenty years now; and they’ll be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the club’s existence next February. The RFC meet regularly on Tuesday nights. Its usually an Open Floor; but sometimes a named band / artist is booked. This evening, of course, it was the latter. Micky Brown and Garry Walker who run the club were very welcoming and informative; as were all the regulars that I spoke to. For any level of talent, its a good place to try out a few songs – new or old – in an amiable and encouraging atmosphere.

Bill Farrow at RFC (Photo: PTMQ)

Bill Farrow at RFC (Photo: PTMQ)

The Sun itself I haven’t visited for some years, and the main part of the pub has been done up very smartly; so that I wouldn’t have recognised it. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the basement function room, which is in dire need of redecorating – or even a good clean up! I think the RFC deserve better than that – especially considering that there were more thirsty people attending the Folk Club than present in the main bar that night! The barmaids were very friendly and helpful though; so thank you ladies!

I arrived at the venue quite early. The band arrived soon after, and I helped get their kit downstairs and set up for the sound check. When Garry Walker arrived he explained that the evening would be in two parts: an Open Floor followed by Devonbird’s first set; and the same again for part two. After a little informal jam from Mick Brown, Paul Ballantyne and Richie Barratt;  we were ready to begin.

Several regulars were keen to do a turn for the first Open Floor section. There was a great variety of musical style, performed with varying degrees of talent – yet all admirable in their way – and it was nice to see everyone supporting and encouraging each other.  Best among them were Paul Ballantyne with a good rendition of Richard Thompson’s ‘Vincent Black Lightning’; and there was some fine fiddling from Richie Barratt.

Devonbird were on next. Starting with ‘The Snows’, they played several songs from their first album Hangman’s daughter; including ‘Velvet’; ‘Fairleigh Well Olde England’ and, my personal favourite from the debut album, ‘The Brae’. They interspersed these with fine traditional jigs, reels and slides from their repertoire. Also, from their eagerly awaited forthcoming album Turning Of The Year, they played the excellent title track for us.

Informal jam at RFC (Photo: PTMQ)

Jamming at RFC (Photo: PTMQ)

After a short break, Part Two commenced in the same manner as the first, with various regulars doing a single song. Again very diverse in content and quality; but kudos due to anyone who had a go. It was nice to hear the duet, Martin and Jackie, because they played Fairport’s ‘Meet On The Ledge’ which I like but had totally forgotten about! So thanks to them for reminding me. Finally, the inimitable Bill Farrow played two of his numbers with a borrowed guitar: ‘Ain’t It Good’ which is great fun for a sing-song, and in which fiddler Richie Barratt busked along. Next he played his ‘Rain, Lotsa Rain’, which is inspired by the music of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Personally, I like a bit of upbeat acoustic Blues and I could quite happily sit and listen to Bill playing all evening; but tonight however was Devonbird’s night!

My friends from Devon began their second set with the oft-covered Sydney Carter anti-war song ‘The Crow On The Cradle’ which I haven’t heard them do before. And an interesting version it was too. They followed this with two more fine new songs from the forthcoming album: ‘Rose’ and ‘Mary’. I’m familiar with both of these new ones, and I think the latter is an especially good song. After another jig medley, next on the playlist was the title track from their debut album Hangman’s Daughter. Also from the first album, they gave us ‘Purty Jane’; the song sung in quaint Devonshire dialect. After another foot-tapping jig medley  they finished with the wonderful ‘Greenwood Tree’.

I’ve seen the band play on numerous occasions now, and I have followed their developing live set with interest over the last couple of years – near enough since their inception, in fact. In that time they’ve gone from strength to strength. They are very tight as a musical unit; which is a result of their constant gigging. This is especially noticable in medleys, where the trio move as one – shifting seamlessly through changing time signatures with ease. These jigs are also remarkable for the faultless unison of Sophia’s fiddle and Kath’s whistle. Rob’s vocal harmonies are also enriching the overall tapestry of sound on the songs to a great extent now too. All in all, a fantastic performance which went down well with the small but enthusiastic audience.

Set finished; it was time to pack away the kit and load up. After a little chat and some fond farewells, Bill and I left the band, and I gave him a lift home.

Devonbird’s second album will be released in September; and I’ll be reviewing it on this Blog as soon as its available; so watch this space. I’ve heard the finished product already, and I can reveal that its a corker – even better than their debut. PTMQ

For more on Devonbird, see my Blog entries #4; #28; #57; and #58.

Here is a link to Devonbird’s website…. http://www.devonbird.co.uk/

Here is a link to Romford Folk Club’s site…  http://www.romfordfolkclub.com/

38. MONDAY BLUES at PEGGY SUE’S. 2nd March, 2015. Hosted by MARTIN McNEILL; with special guests STEVE WEST WESTON, and ROB GLAZEBROOK + a few words about the venue.

WESTON and McNEILL: Low down and dirty Blues! (Photo by PTMQ)

WESTON and McNEILL: Low down and dirty Blues! (Photo by PTMQ)

I bumped into MARTIN McNEILL earlier this year when he came along to the excellent MILTON and FARROW gig at the ONAPLATE café, Shenfield, in January just gone. (See my review on this blog #33). He told me that he’s regularly been hosting ‘Monday Blues at Peggy Sue’s’ in Leigh-On-Sea; and did I want to come along some time? Well I couldn’t say no to that! This particular Monday seemed like a good time to go there, as I wasn’t working or doing anything else; and I wanted to see his  special guests of the night who are both very  notable local Bluesmen. My journalist son James accompanied me too, as he’s something of a music fan as well.

PEGGY SUE’S PIANO BAR is in London Road (A13), Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. Its a small but very smart-looking café whose owners, Dave and Lorraine Austin, decided about six months ago, to host themed musical evenings on their premises. Johnny Thorpe was brought in to organise the music; and they now offer Jazz on Sundays; Blues on Mondays; a poetry evening called ‘The Spoken Word’ on Tuesdays (that’s very cultural!); sod-all on Wednesdays (because everyone’s entitled to a night off!); Open Mic on Thursdays; and booked acts on Fridays and Saturdays. Previous artists at the venue include the local country-pop duo, HOLLOWAY ROAD, who are currently flying high.  As I’ve said before on this blog, I very much admire anyone who goes out of their way to promote and support local talent and live music; so, much kudos is due to everyone at Peggy Sue’s. They have a licence; and a menu for the evening, but I can’t comment on that because I didn’t try anything (apart from a pint of Bombardier which went down very nicely!)  I heard that the food is very good though.

ROB GLAZEBROOK: Blues and Rockabilly purist (Photo by PTMQ)

ROB GLAZEBROOK: Blues and Rockabilly purist (Photo by PTMQ)

Martin McNeill is the regular Monday Blues host. He’d brought two semi-acoustics with him; and was setting up as we arrived. He welcomed us warmly and introduced us to the venue’s guv’nor, Dave; and to one of his guests for the evening, ROB GLAZEBROOK. Martin is a great aficionado of slide guitar, and has even named his band BOTTLENECK BLUES. He often plays with them at THE RAILWAY HOTEL, Southend-On-Sea; but he’s equally comfortable playing a small venue like Peggy Sue’s; just with one or two friends.

Rob Glazebrook is an accomplished guitarist too (and also a guitar tutor). He is a left-handed guitarist; and a member of two groups: THE BROADKASTERS, which is a Blues band; and THE HOUSEROCKERS, a 50s Rock’n’Roll / Rockabilly outfit. Rob is something of a purist; and told us that he loves to use vintage kit – guitars, amps and mics – to get the authentic sounds of the original artists that he and his groups admire and emulate – and this is true even when writing his own material too. He brought a Tanglewood acoustic and a ’68 Les Paul Gold Top to the gig – lefties, of course.

Martin’s other guest for the night was the renown  STEVE WEST WESTON – an acknowledged master of the Blues harp. He is an occasional member of Martin’s band, Bottleneck Blues; and often plays as a guest at Peggy Sue’s, and at The Railway Hotel. He’s also recently been head-hunted for a tour with MIKE VERNON & THE MIGHTY COMBO. Looking every inch the coolest of Bluesmen in his dark shades, and clutching his precious case of harps, West was invited by Martin to join him for the first of three sets scheduled for the evening.

Tres hombre - Weston, McNeill and Glazebrook (Photo: PTMQ)

Three Bluesmen – Weston, McNeill and Glazebrook (Photo: PTMQ)

Set 1 had Martin on guitar and vocals; and Steve on harmonica and vocals: Right from the start it was clear that these two fine musicians were very used to playing together. They played an impressive set of up-beat acoustic Delta / Down Home Blues covers; nine songs in all, including the SAM COOKE Blues ballad ‘Bring It On Home To Me’; and old classics like ‘Rolled And Tumbled’; ‘I’m Just Lucky That Way’; and ‘In The Mood’. Martin’s slide-work was superb; and Steve on the harp was faultless throughout.

Set 2 was Rob’s solo guitar slot.  Seated with his Tanglewood; he shouted out ‘All aboard!’ and immediately launched into ‘Mystery Train’ – a JUNIOR PARKER song from ’53. Unfortunately, the nut on his Tanglewood broke during the number, causing the 4th-string to slip up to the 5th-string slot. Very professionally, Rob carried on regardless; tapping his feet and singing while he finger-wrestled the D-string back into place. This  achieved, he continued, but the same problem dogged him throughout his set. He ploughed on though; masterfully playing some good ol’ Blues numbers, including LIGHNING HOPKINS’ ‘Someday Baby’; and ROBERT JOHNSON’s ‘Stop Breakin’ Down’. Excellent.

Set 3 featured all three of our Bluesmen. This time, Rob armed himself with his Les Paul, and the three of them launched into a fine set of eight more Blues classics including PERCY MAYFIELD’s ‘Walkin’ On A Tight-Rope’; and JOHNNY GUITAR WATSON’s ‘3 O’clock In The Morning’. This third set was more lively too; being more towards the Rock’n’Roll end of the spectrum. The evening ended to great applause from the small but enthusiastic crowd.

I very much liked both the gig and the venue; and I’d recommend a visit if you’re into listening to the Blues classics played live in a warm and friendly little venue. Future gigs for ‘Monday Blues at Peggy Sue’s’ include: RAMON GOOSE on 9th March; Milton and Farrow on 23rd; and pianist CHRIS KIBBLE on 30th.

For Martin’s other gigs, here is a link to his website….

http://www.martinmcneill.moonfruit.com/

For info on Peggy Sue’s Piano Bar, here is a link to their Face Book page…..

https://www.facebook.com/peggysuespianobar

My thanks to all who made the evening possible. PTMQ