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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.

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