Tag Archives: lately i’ve let things slide

87. MONDAY BLUES AT PEGGY SUE’S, 25th January, 2016. Host: MARTIN McNEILL; with special guests: KATIE BRADLEY and CHRIS CORCORAN.

(Photo: PTMQ. Katie herself chose this pic from those I took on the night)

(Photo: PTMQ. Katie herself chose this pic from those I took on the night)

My first trip to Monday Blues At Peggy Sue’s, this year, was a good’n to say the least. As usual, it was hosted by the inimitable Martin McNeill – this week with special guests: the incomparable vocalist Katie Bradley; and the impressive guitarist Chris Corcoran.

Now, Martin hosts his Blues night at Peggy Sue’s every Monday, and I must admit that I haven’t been there too often; but when I have, its always been very good indeed. But tonight’s show was, I thought, exceptional – even judged against the high standards I’ve seen set previously. It is a measure of Martin’s success at Peggy Sue’s that he is attracting ever bigger names from further afield. And long may that continue.

Katie and Chris, although both having their individual projects, collaborate often, and work very well together. Both are making quite a name for themselves in the UK Blues scene of late; especially Kate, who only last year won the British Blues Award in the Best Song-Writer category (for her work in collaboration with Dudley Ross); and was runner up in the Best Female Vocal category.

I arrived early and had a chat with the three performers and a few others of my acquaintance – including Russ Cottee of The Blues Spiders, (I’ll be writing about this band’s new album on my site shortly). All were friendly and approachable of course.  Katie and I had a nice little chin-wag. I found her to be a genuinely amiable lady; who is open and modest. Hopefully I can get a proper interview with her some time later in the year (watch this space).

Martin and Chris began proceedings by opening with ‘It Hurts Me Too’ and followed with ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin’. Then, with Katie taking up the mic and joining the boys, the trio launched into Jimmy Reed’s ‘Baby What You Want Me To Do?’ There then followed a remarkable set of (mostly) covers – Blues standards as well as lesser known numbers. They got through songs by such luminaries as Howlin’ Wolf; Willy Dixon; Memphis Minnie; Little Walter; Ray Charles; and WC Handy; plus others. A good selection of classics.

There was also; an excellent cover of Etta James’ classic ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ (which went down particularly well with the audience);  ‘Hey Now, Aint That The Blues’ by the uniquely named Rubberlegs Williams;  then one of Katie’s own songs ‘Be Careful With My Baby’; and a couple of instrumentals by the lads without Katie. But I particularly liked their renditions of Greeny’s ‘Need Your Love So Bad’; and Kansas Joe McCoy’s ‘Why Don’t You Do Right’ best of all.

At all times the performances by all three was classy and faultless. Martin’s slide work was superb as usual – which I have of course, documented before. To be honest, I wasn’t at all familiar with Chris before this gig. Katie said that as a guitarist myself I would like his work. She was right; I was very impressed by his consummate playing style, which seemed to accurately pick up on the vibe of the early Blues numbers that he covered. Add to this a good clear tone from his semi-acoustic; and some great lead guitar work too.

Katie herself sung beautifully – confidently and elegantly delivering Blues classics with ease for the small, but very appreciative audience. I never look for imperfections in anyone’s performance, but if I did, I’d have found none at all in Katie’s performance on the night! Both her voice and her vocal style are impressive. She obviously has a great knowledge of the great Blues singers of the past; but delivers in her own unique style too. She sings a little Jazz too, she told me; and I think that is discernible in her style as well. There is no wonder then, that she came second in the Female Vocal category at the prestigious British Blues Awards in 2015. She proved herself to be more than a bit useful on harp too – although she apologised for not bringing her best set of harps with her to the gig. We forgave her – she was fantastic anyway!

All in all it was an excellent little gig indeed – only marred by the fact that I had to leave early to go to work! Thanks to all the staff at Peggy Sue’s for fine hospitality as usual. PTMQ.

Click below for my other reviews of gigs Monday Blues At Peggy Sue’s, see…

#38. Martin McNeill; with Steve West Weston and Rob Glazebrook. 2nd March 2015.

#47. Martin McNeill; with Roy Mette. 20th April 2015.

#63. Richie Milton and Bill Farrow. 3rd August 2015.

For my review of Martin McNeill’s excellent album Lately I’ve Let Things Slide; click here.

For Martin’s website, click here

For Katies website, click here

For Chris’ website, click here

For Peggy Sue’s Face Book page, click here

 

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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/

53. MARTIN McNEILL “Lately I’ve Let Things Slide” (Bottleneck Blues, 2015)

'Lately I've Let Things Slide' (Photo: PTMQ)

‘Lately I’ve Let Things Slide’ (Photo: PTMQ)

Martin McNeill is a name that my regular readers will know by now. His new album Lately I’ve Let Things Slide, is the second of two excellent new acoustic Blues albums that I’ve been sent for review recently – the other being King Rollo’s Easy Street  (see my previous review #52). In fact, I was pleasantly surprised when Martin said that he had an album on CD to send me, because I didn’t even know he’d been in the studio! Back in January when I spoke to him at a  Milton And Farrow gig (see my review #33), he said that he’d never really been too involved with recording – although he had released an earlier album about fifteen years ago (which I haven’t heard). Well I’m glad to say that his remarkable talents are on record once more with the release of this fine collection.

There are twelve tracks on the album – mostly covers; but every one reworked in Martin’s inimitable style. One song however, is penned by Martin himself. He sings all vocals; and plays all guitars and harmonica. The title is well-chosen, as bottleneck slide is what this opus is all about – Martin being a master of the art.

The title track starts us off. Its a sad, yet somehow amusing, Nick Lowe song that Martin has given a Blues-style make-over, with the bottleneck slide technique for which he is well known. It works well; and prefigures what’s to come.

The second track, the old Blues classic ‘You Gotta Move’, (an old classic made famous by Mississippi Fred McDowell), has coincidentally been included in both Martin’s and Rollo’s new albums. And as I wrote in the previous Blog entry, although many have covered the song, each has done so in their own distinctive way. Certainly, Martin’s version here, can also be added to the long list of fine covers of this old Blues number – but no; I won’t be drawn into which I prefer!

(Photo: PTMQ)

Bottleneck slide maestro Martin McNeill at Peggy Sue’s Music Bar, Essex in April 2015.(Photo: PTMQ)

‘On The Road Again’ is of course the old Floyd Jones song made famous by Canned Heat back in ’67. Martin has reworked it; and its good. And I must say I prefer it to many other versions (including even the Canned Heat one – because I never really liked the vocals!).

Keb Mo (real name: Kevin Moore) is the writer behind the next song ‘Keep It Simple’. I must admit I’m not too familiar with his work; but thanks to Martin I’m now a little wiser!  Lovely  sound on the lead on this one. And another old classic, the RL Burnside song ‘Going Down South’ gets the MM treatment next!

‘Pickin’ The Blues’ is a chirpy little instrumental; again covered by many – including the greatest of all slide guitarists – the legendary Elmore James. But Martin does the old master proud on this one. This is followed by two more oft-covered old staples: ‘Rain Down Tears’; and   ‘Waiting For My Baby’ (another McDowell number).

‘Mad With me’ is the one song in this collection that is penned by McNeill himself; and its the only chance we have of seeing how deeply all this Blues has entered his psyche! And to be honest, if i didn’t know it was a McNeill song, I’d assume it was an oldie that I didn’t know! So he has certainly showed himself to be a good song-writer on the strength of this one. He also demonstrates that he’s a decent Harp player too. It compliments the oldies nicely!

The Gary Nicholson / Guy Clark  penned ‘Leap Of Faith’; and another Keb Mo song ‘I’m On Your Side’ are up next. Both covers are well arranged and satisfying to hear – nice Harmonica again on the latter. Then finally two old songs are cleverly fused together: the haunting instrumental ‘Paris Texas’ by Ry Cooder; and Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ (without the lyric).

Martin’s vocals are unusual. He manages to pull off the most unlikely thing of singing Blues songs with an English accent – but still making it sound right! I don’t know of anyone else who can do this. He has a relaxing voice and easy, clear vocal style too. Quite pleasant to listen to.

The album was recorded by Jon Webber at JWS Studios. The cover is of the card and plastic gate-fold type which I prefer; with photos by Tim Hubbard and The Dim Locator; plus a basic track listing with writer credits.

If you like a bit of acoustic Blues, then you’ll love both this album and King Rollo’s too; and I can highly recommend them both. I’m looking forward to seeing both of these quite remarkable Bluesmen again at gigs ASAP. Martin regularly hosts Monday Blues At Peggy Sue’s Music Bar in Leigh-On-Sea in Essex with a different special guest every week. For all his other gigs (including with his band Bottleneck Blues), see his website…….

 http://www.martinmcneill.co.uk/

 PTMQ