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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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164. TANYA PICHE BLUES BAND’s debut album “Wolf Woman Blues” (2017) A pre-release review.

(Image: TPBB)

A few months ago I was privileged to be asked to sit in on the recording of three songs by the only female-fronted Blues band in Essex, the Tanya Piché Blues Band, at Basildon Recording Studio (see my article #111). The band cut three tracks that day towards their debut album; and I left with the conclusion that it would be a good’n. They have previously recorded a live EP Back at Ya! (see #111); and a couple of singles (see #80 & #116); but this is their first full album.

The clue is in the name with this unit: Tanya Piché Blues Band – they do exactly what their name suggests! But not only that; they play some of the most original and authentic-sounding Blues you are likely to hear from a band this side of the Pond. Formed in May 2015, they consist of the unique Howlin’ Wolf Woman herself, Tanya Piché (Vocals/harp); Nick ‘Smurf’ Sherreard (bass/harp/backing vocals); David Warne (guitar); and James Digings (drums). These are all well-seasoned musos. Tanya herself once spent some time hanging out with the late Robert Lucas of Canned Heat (see my article #65) – not a bad thing to have on her CV!

Blues purists they may be, but there is plenty of scope in their repertoire for originality too. Seeped in the classics of the genre, Tanya and her boys have certainly been doing their homework over a long period of time. When I listen to these recordings I hear the echoes of Waters, Hooker, Dixon, and of course Burnett – the original Howlin’ Wolf himself. In fact the album is dedicated to Burnett and Lucas – Tanya’s mentors. It is earthy, gritty, and authentic stuff – yet far more than a rehash; being fresh and interesting too.

Wolf Woman Blues is a ten track collection of mainly original numbers penned by the band themselves. The three songs I saw being recorded last year were ‘Big Joe’s Place’, ‘I Gotta Leave This Man’ and ‘I Said Please’. (For a description of these see my article #111). ‘Wolfhound Woman’ and ‘London And L.A.’ are a lot of fun; whilst the slow and moody numbers ‘Why’ and ‘I Said Please’ made me smile and nod in appreciation. But most of all I love ‘Clawing At Your Door’ and of course ‘Blues For Chester’. All in all, a good selection of some fine authentic Blues styles. There are a few sound effects included, like wolf howls and police sirens, and a soundbite of Burnett himself, which I think add to the enjoyment of the album.

Quality of musicianship is very high: characteristically unique, gritty vocals from Tanya; impressive guitar from David (especially some lovely slide work); with solid and reliable bass and drums from Nick and James.

At time of writing I do not have a CD copy, but I’m told it comes in a de-luxe tri-fold card case. Tanya is looking sexy, wolfish – and just a bit scary on the cover! I love the band’s logo and the claw marks too! There is plenty of info on the back cover (see image below).

This is a howlin’ good album, and I felt privileged to be present when some of it was recorded last year. It’s a big thumbs up from The Quill. Highly recommended if (like me) you love authentic-sounding Blues. The album launch gig will be at The Mill Beach PH in Maldon, Essex on 14th May. Check the TPBB website for more info. PTMQ

(Image: TPBB)

 

111. With the TANYA PICHE BLUES BAND in BASILDON RECORDING STUDIO. Saturday 2nd July, 2016.; + a few words about the band’s live EP “Back At Ya!” (2016)

M/s Piche at the controls! (Pic: Tanya P)

Pressing all the right buttons: Tanya at the controls! (Pic: TP)

Preamble: When Blues singer Tanya Piché invited me to hang out with her band in Basildon Studio recently, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. The TPBB were booked for a few hours on Saturday 2nd July for the purpose of recording three new songs that will eventually join some others already recorded, and a few more yet to be cut, that together will make up the band’s debut album due for release around November 2016. As I arrived, the boys of the TPBB were already set up and playing the rhythm track to one of the new numbers. But let’s just leave them jamming there for a minute and talk a little about the studio….

Basildon Recording And Rehearsal Studio is situated in Basildon Business Centre, Essex, and has been run by John Summerton since 2006. The more knowledgeable of my readers will maybe recognise the name, as he was once a member of 70’s boy band Flintlock (in the days when boy bands actually played instruments of course!); and you may remember the hit single ‘Dawn’ (1976); and appearances on TOTP etc. John is still committed to making music, although mostly on the other side of the mixing desk these days. It soon became clear that John is a dab-hand in the recording studio. He uses Logic Pro X software which was very impressive indeed. I also have to say that the hourly rates he charges seem very reasonable to me too. The studio is also associated with Basildon Music Academy for instrument lessons: guitar; drums; strings; vocals; etc.

(Pic by TP)

The boys of The TPBB (Pic by TP)

The TPBB consist of Tanya Piché herself of course (on vocals); Nick ‘Smurf’ Sherreard (bass); David Warne (guitars); and James Digings (drums). These four are all very experienced musos; and listening to them play I couldn’t help being very impressed by their tightness and professional attitude.

Recording the Songs:  The first of the three new songs being recorded was: ‘I Gotta Leave This Man’. This is a boogie-Blues number; ‘LA-style’. Lyrically it is based on an episode from Tanya’s life; and is a message to all women to elbow the wrong man in their life. This is the one the boys were playing as I entered the studio. Its quite a heavy piece with nice slide work from David. Its a good track to hear live; and this recording certainly picked up the vitality of the live vibe. In only a few takes it was done; with Tanya’s vocals to be added later.

(Pic: PTMQ)

‘I Said Please’! ‘(Pic: PTMQ)

‘Big Joe’s Place’ is an upbeat number with an SRV-esque groove to it. Its about Big Joe Turner’s club in Kansas. Its another great new song that will go down well on stage. It is due for release this month (July 2016). Again it was done in only a few takes. It was apparent during this recording and the next, that the band – especially Nick and David – are perfectionist in their respective crafts, and were determined to get it how they wanted it.

‘I Said Please’ is a slow moody, mellow Blues, and I liked it very much indeed. It is due to be released in August. For this number, Dave changed to his Cherry Sunburst Les Paul which had a lovely tone to it. Its a show-case for his lead chops. A lot more work had to be done on this number as regards to David’s lead solo. Personally I thought that the first attempt was a good’n; but the band weren’t happy with it, and it took a few takes before they were satisfied. And I must admit that when John played the finished article back, it was excellent.

His work done, drummer James split then, as he had a gig booked with The Resonators in Wivenhoe that evening. So finally it was Tanya’s turn to do her vocal recording. These are her songs so she knew them well; and she knew how she wanted them. After a couple of takes for each song, the task was done. Tanya has a very distinctive and unique voice. Those deep and sultry vocals seem to resonate through the music – no wonder she is known as ‘Howlin’ Wolf Woman’!  But there is a tenderness in her voice too, which is very apparent on ‘I Said Please’, which shows a softer side to her work.

(Pic: PTMQ)

Flintlock Man: John Summerton  (Pic: PTMQ)

All that was needed to be done was some fine tuning and to add the Blues Harp where necessary. Dave and Nick were due to return to the studio to sort that out the following week. Each of these songs is due to be released in a sequence during the summer – along with another newbie ‘Clawing At Your Door’ (a ‘down ‘n’ dirty Blues’ which I haven’t heard yet) – as tasters for the album in November. These are three great new songs that fans of the band – or fans of the Blues generally – will love for sure.

Back At Ya! review: As we said our goodbyes, Tanya handed me a copy of the TPBB’s new live EP Back At Ya! It contains six tracks – two originals and four classic Blues covers.  The originals are the spooky ‘Good Morning Mr.Postman’  (see my review #80); and ‘Blues Child Woman’ (the song featured on Dave Spark‘s compilation album UK Blues 2day see my review #85). The four classic covers are: Canned Heat‘s ‘Let’s Work Together; The Doors‘ ‘Roadhouse Blues’; Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Howlin’ For My Darlin’; and Rufus Thomas‘ ‘Walkin’ The Dog’. All oft-covered classics, but all with that special TPBB appeal! The EP is a good show-case for the band’s live set.

(Pic: PTMQ)

Tanya howlin’ the Blues! (Pic: PTMQ)

All in all it was a very rewarding afternoon for me; and a great honour to be asked to come along to the session by the band, as I was priviledged to hear and see some great new Blues songs being created. So a big thank you goes out to Tanya; Nick; David; and James of the TPBB; and to John of Basildon Studio for allowing me to sit in. I’m looking forward to seeing the band in action soon; and to hearing the finished songs on the album when its ready. PTMQ

Here is a link to the band’s website

Here is a link to Basildon Studio’s website

Here is a link to my review #65 – Tanya Piché / Robert Lucas: ‘Wang Dang Doodle’