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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)