Tag Archives: mitch greaves

102. MONDAY BLUES AT PEGGY SUE’S 2nd May 2016. Host: MARTIN McNEILL; special guests: TIM HUSKISSON and PAUL WOODLEY

Tim and Martin (Photo: Karen R)

Tim and Martin (Photo: Karen R)

Another Monday trip to Peggy Sue’s Music Bar in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex, was rewarded once again by a display of some fine musicianship. Martin McNeill – the stalwart host of these regular Bluesy evenings – needs little introduction from me as my regular readers will already be aware of his dedication to the genre, and his skillful bottleneck slide-work. And likewise, this wonderful little venue itself needs no further description from myself. (There is a list of some of my earlier articles about Peggy Sue’s for further information, below).

At first there weren’t a great many people present (maybe because it was a Bank Holiday Monday); but there were a few friends in; including Karen of The New Crawdaddy Club who kindly took some photos for me. Quite a few more people turned up as the evening progressed however; including Mitch ‘Harp Hog’ Greaves of the Blues Spiders. (Sadly, although armed with his case of Harps, we never got to hear him play!)

Paul Woodley: Thames / Mississippi Delta Bluesman! (Photo: Karen R)

Paul Woodley: Thames / Mississippi Delta Bluesman! (Photo: Karen R)

Proceedings began with Martin and Tim’s first of two sets; during which they impressed us with some good old Blues / Bluesy songs including Big Joe Turner’s ‘Honey Hush (You Talk Too Much)’; Ray Charles’ laid-back ‘Drown In My Own Tears’; Dave Van Ronk’s ‘Tell Old Bill’; and due to Tim’s presence as a guest, Duke Robillard’s instrumental ‘Cookin’ – during which Karen remarked that its ‘nice to see Martin out of his comfort zone!’ Martin was as usual, adept with his bottleneck and on-form with his (what I refer to as) unique ‘English Blues’ style of vocals. Tim showed himself to be keyboard maestro, of course. I don’t know much about tickling the ivories myself, but its great to see and hear someone like Tim who certainly knows his way around the keys. He was superb.

To be honest, I didn’t know Paul Woodley was going to be at Peggy Sue’s on this evening until someone in the know told me on the way there! But I’m very glad I was there to see him. When Martin and Tim had finished their first set, Paul was introduced. Picking up his beautiful National acoustic (tuned to Open-G), it was immediately clear that he’d been doing his homework on some authentic Delta Blues! He launched into a few numbers that were very impressive indeed – close your eyes and you could almost be there! He talks with a typical Thames Estuary accent, but sings like a genuine Mississippi Bluesman. His slide-work was remarkable. He covered several classics including RL Burnside’s ‘When My First Wife Left Me’; and Hambone Willie Newbern’s oft-covered staple ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin’. I think everyone present was very impressed indeed.

Tim Huskisson: Keyboard maestro! (Phot: Karen R)

Tim Huskisson: Keyboard maestro! (Photo: Karen R)

Martin and Tim returned for a second set which was equally as good as the first. It included ‘Too Hot To Handle’; ‘My Next Ex-Wife’; ‘Take my word For It Baby’; and Tampa Red’s ‘You Can’t Get That Stuff No More’. And one which I particularly liked, which Martin described as ‘One of those pretty Blues numbers’: Taj Mahal’s ‘John, Ain’t It Hard’. And so ended another great evening at Peggy Sue’s. I love to get down there on a Monday night, but sadly my visits are few and far between due to one reason or another; but I’m hoping to be back there again soon.  PTMQ

Here is a link to Martins website for future gigs at Peggy Sue’s; and Martin’s other gigs

Here are some other of my articles about Monday Blues At Peggy Sue’s….

#87. 25th January 2016: Martin McNeill with guests Katie Bradley and Chris Corcoran

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

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

#38.2nd March 2015: Martin McNeill with guests Steve West Weston and Rob Glazebrook

Here is a review of Martin McNeill’s album Lately I’ve Let Things Slide (#53)

88. THE BLUES SPIDERS’ new album “Two” (2016)

(Pic: The Blues Spiders)

(Pic: The Blues Spiders)

At a Red Butler gig at the New Crawdaddy Club, Essex, recently (see my review #66), I ran into Russ Cottee of The Blues Spiders. He told me that the band would soon be recording their second album, and would I be interested in reviewing it when ready? Oh yes! So recently he sent me a pre-release download of the album; and the other day at Peggy Sue’s Music Bar (see my previous article #87), he gave me the CD version too. So here is my review…

The Essex-based Blues Spiders consist of Russ Cottee himself on guitar; Mitch ‘Harp Hog’ Greaves (Harp/Vocals); Paul Henshaw (Bass); and Bob Clouter (Drums). They describe themselves as a “Thames Delta Blues / R’n’B band (Real R’n’B, not the American plastic version)”. I think that’s fair comment! They are one of several good R’n’B bands currently making a name for themselves around the Home Counties. Influenced as you’d expect by local heroes like the Feelgoods / Wilko; and by classic Blues names such as Little Walter; Howlin’ Wolf; Chuck Berry “…and all the usual suspects”! My guess is that you’ve already decided if you’re going to like them or not! I certainly like ’em!

Two is a very good album. It never ceases to amaze me that there are still bands coming up with fresh ideas within the Blues / R’n’B genre. The Blues Spiders have achieved a good blend of the traditional with the innovative in this collection – and thus keeping the Blues alive and well. On the one hand its pretty much tried and tested stuff (and that’s not a criticism!); yet on the other hand, it has a few surprises up its sleeve.

There are eleven tracks on the album – mostly penned by Mr.Cottee; and some by Mr.Greaves. There is one cover (Elmore’s bottle-neck classic, ‘Shake Your Moneymaker’). Six are studio recordings; and five were recorded live at The Boom Boom Club, Surrey last August; and these give a good idea of the quality of the band’s on-stage performance.  They’re all good lively numbers anyway.

The musicianship is good too. There is some fine guitar from Cottee – including some tasty slide-work on ‘Devil In A Bottle’ which reminded me a bit of Johnny Winter, and a little of Micky Moody; and some great BB King-esque lead guitar on ‘You Don’t Get The Blues’.  Greaves’ vocals are very good, and well-suited to the style of the music; and his harp-work is excellent – especially on ‘Party Girl’; and ‘Great Expectations’ where he works well with Cottee’s guitar (which is also really good on this one). At all times the rhythm section of Henshaw and Clouter is tight, steady and reliable; driving the songs on both in the studio and the live recordings.

Another thing I like about this collection is the lyrics, which are more interesting than in yer average Blues song – particularly on ‘European Blues’ and ‘Me And Jimmy Reed’. The live section (tracks 7 – 11) truly captures the band’s ability to perform at gigs. I’ve said before that Blues is a form of music best heard and seen live. Capturing a good on-stage performance is not always easy, but The Blues Spiders have created a fine show-case for their live act with this album.

The CD version comes in a simple slip-case with a good basic logo design, and quite a lot of useful info on the back. No room for printed lyrics unfortunately, which is a shame because, as I said, these are good. Its available on iTunes now; or on CD at gigs for only a fiver. Its a recommendation from me if you like (as the band say) “real” R’n’B!  PTMQ.

For The Blues Spiders Face Book page (click here)

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