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159. SAIICHI SUGIYAMA BAND (+ support JOE ANDERTON BAND) at The NCBC, Essex. Friday, 24th March 2017; including an interview with Saiichi.

Saiichi Sugiyama (Photo: Karen Rockingham)

The Saiichi Sugiyama Interview: Well I must admit my son James and I went along to the NCBC knowing next to nothing about Saiichi Sugiyama, but intending to see his set, having heard good reviews. Then Karen at the club suggested an impromptu interview with the man, which she kindly and quickly arranged for us. No matter that we hadn’t done any research, because after being introduced to him, he told us that he talked too much; so with a minimum of questions from ourselves, he proceeded to tell us all that we needed to know about himself and his music – and fascinating it was too..

PTMQ: We started by asking Saiichi about his work with Andy Fraser shortly before he passed away…

SS: ‘I met a chap who was the UK PR for Andy Fraser, and he was interested in managing me, so we worked together for a while, and Andy got to hear my music. My manager asked him: “Would you be interested in playing bass for Saiichi?”

I had this song called ‘Melting Away’ that I wrote some years ago. Free was very much formative Blues-Rock, and Paul Kossoff was somebody that I listened to a lot when I was young, but I had to stop listening because I didn’t want to be influenced too much. I was on holiday in Japan and I had this strange dream that Kossoff was in an afterlife in a beautiful place, and I came up with this song called ‘Melting Away’. I played it at a blues festival once, but then I thought “This is too close to Free!”, so I set it aside, until I met Andy.

(Image: Saiichi Sugiyama website)

He’d been working all these years to get away from Blues-Rock. So I said “I have a song that I’d love you to play… but I bet you will not want to play it because it’s so much like your old band!” Anyway, he had a listen for the six minutes, and at the end of it he said “Yeah, I’ll do it, sure”. Then I was even more greedy and said “Did you notice there is a section for a bass solo towards the end?” and he said “Yeah I noticed that… that’ll be a challenge!” So he took the song away to California, and a couple of weeks later I got this thing through. He actually worked on the bass, and added things to it. He added some voice operated synthesizer sounds on it. He chopped a few things and arranged stuff; and put reverb on it. His bass playing was very unique.

Somehow I suddenly had this idea of putting a string quartet on it. I loved the way that Motown orchestrated, so I ended up getting in touch with John Shipley, the Musical Director for Jack Ashford’s Funk Brothers. I said “This is not Motown, but can you write a string section for it?” What he sent me was not quite what I had in mind. So I went out and bought a keyboard and my ProTools had some samples, and that became the quartet part. I wanted Andy to hear that but then he went. So that was that’.

PTMQ: Saiichi then told us about his association with Pete Brown – poet and lyricist for Cream among others…

SS:  ‘I met him in early 2000 and he started off playing in my band, because he sings and plays percussion. He said we should record an album, so i said ‘OK if I’m going to record, will you write with me?’ He said OK, so I was quite thrilled to see my songs with Pete on them. I was brought up in Tokyo in the 1960s and I would buy LPs with Japanese liner notes, and they’d talk about Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton… and poet Pete Brown. So the name was very familiar to me’.

Saiichi with The Quill and James, son of The Quill (Photo: Karen Rockingham)

PTMQ: So how did you get into in Western music?

SS: ‘Initially I was very taken with American music. I started off with Crosby, Stills and Nash; and Neil Young; and that got me into playing acoustic guitar. Its acoustic but its not Folk, its Rock. I was really fascinated by the way they played guitar, and then Steven Stills had an album out with a couple of very Bluesy tracks. And it just spoke to me; it was interesting – something different. I wrote a song when I was about ten, and it was a 12-bar Blues number. But I didn’t know it was Blues! Then I got into Clapton – Derek And The Dominoes. Then I dug deeper, into Cream, which I loved more; then The Bluesbreakers’ Beano album.

That’s how I got into the whole thing; because we were going through a period in Japan when people were looking very outward to the West; now they’re very inward looking. Now the Japanese have developed their own style of Rock which is quite Punkish. It doesn’t wash with me. They like their stuff and they really dig into it. But they don’t like somebody like me coming over from England – “He’s Japanese, he can’t be any good!” [He laughs].

Then I had a renaissance with The Beatles when I was about 18, and I really wanted to come here because this is where it was happening. I wanted to see Paul McCartney when he came to Japan in 1980 to play the Budokan. I slept on the street to buy the tickets, but he was arrested for marijuana possession and spent time in jail! So I had to come to England to see him.

But before then I had my eyes set on California because my love was Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. So I went to America for a couple of summers and I loved it. Then I was encouraged by a friend of mine who said “You’ve got to come to England”. So I did and found it more to my liking. I came for three months, which became three years, and now thirty odd years!

I first came over here in 1980 as a musician. I went through a period when I was absorbing everything. In 1989 I met Mike Casswell, Clem Clemson and Zoot Money, and my first album came out in 1994′.

PTMQ: Saiichi also talked about his son Mune Sugiyama, drummer and musical director of the band…

SS: ‘My son was unfortunately brought up, poor thing, listening to all my music! He says: “You really spoilt my childhood playing all these old peoples songs!” But it turned out that he’s actually a good drummer. He had a school band but someone dropped out, so I played in his band which was like a kind of prog/psychedelic jazz type of thing. So we got to know each other musically. Then when I needed a drummer he would come in as a dep. He knows all the songs that I wrote but didn’t do anything about, and he said “look, you’ve got to record these”; and he ended up becoming my producer and musical director of the band. He is my partner in that sense. He tells us what to do. He’s a perfectionist. He’s very bossy!’ [He laughs].

PTMQ: Saiichi is a very friendly, forthcoming and informative man to talk to – and yes, he does like to talk a lot; but that’s a good thing because he told us just what we wanted to hear. So thanks for the interview Saiichi. All that remained was for us to see his live set…

Joe Anderton Band (Photo: Chris Richardson)

But first The Joe Anderton Band set:  Whilst chatting to Saiichi in the Green Room, we heard the support band begin their set; and although I wasn’t able to give them my full attention, they certainly sounded good in the background. When we got back to our seats in the auditorium, Joe and the boys were in full swing with a great Stones cover – ‘Dead Flowers’. They finished with ‘Down By The River’ which I liked very much. What I heard of their set was very good. A band to look out for, I think.

They consist of the excellent young guitarist himself Joe Anderton (guitar and vocals); Andy Hayes (guitar); Joe Fowkes (drums); and none other than Trev Turley (on bass) – a well respected bassist who has of course been mentioned on my site a few times before, not least of all when he played a great gig at the NCBC last year with some good friends (see my review #121; & review #126).

The Saiichi Sugiyama Band set: The headliners were soon on stage. They consisted of Saiichi himself, of course (guitar/ vocals); his son Mune Sugiyama (drums/Musical Director); his long term bassist Ben Reed; Sam Grimley on keys; dep rhythm guitarist Mark Wright; and the remarkable Monica George on lead vocals.

Saiichi Sugiyama Band (Photo: Chris Richardson)

We were soon listening to the opening number ‘Never Turn Back’, off the debut album. This was segued into ‘I Never Turn’ (the newer, up tempo version) on which we first heard Monica’s fine vocal. It was a good start; and immediately followed by the only cover of the night ‘Sitting On Top Of The World’, with a great solo.

Saiichi said that he liked to mix up the eclectic influences of his youth back in the 70s, which explained the next song ‘Just One More Time’, which is quite a fusion of styles. Next he introduced another from the debut: ‘What’s Going On?’, explaining that he was never fully happy with his singing on the original. So this has now been reworked for female lead vocal; and I must say that Monica shone on it. There was some intense solo work from Saiichi on his Les Paul too.

Continuing with the eclectic menu, the band then played a Folk-Rock number called ‘Bitter Ground’ – surprising, and surprisingly good. It was a la Wishbone Ash Argus in its vibe – and therefore, I liked it a lot! The Funky ‘Into Your Arms’ followed, and couldn’t be more different, being described as ‘a dancy number’. Then the Funk continued with a song from The Smokehouse Sessions co-written with Pete Brown: ‘Is That You Baby?’

‘Magic Wand’ – another reworked number from his eponymous album of ’94 – changed the vibe yet again; and ‘China Doll’, from the same collection followed, with its haunting introductory arpeggio, although quite significantly reworked from the original. Rather Santana-esque in its lengthy solo, this one. A newer song ‘Night Indigo’ followed – a moody number with another good solo.  Great drumming from Mune on this one too. More upbeat was the radio friendly ‘Its Up To You’ with its 60s Motown vibe which suited Monica’s vocal style perfectly.

Next the song that I had been particularly waiting for: the Andy Fraser collaborated ‘Melting Away’. Starting with a haunting arpeggio and pensive vocal from Monica, it soon erupts into an unashamedly Free-inspired extravaganza – slow, heavy rhythm riffs interspersed with the gentler arpeggio sections, then giving ground to a Kossoff-esque lead guitar part; a fitting tribute to one of Saiichi’s main influences and a fine memorial to both Kossoff and Fraser. Excellent!

Next up was ‘I Got News’, a song with an interesting lyric and a nice guitar part. The latest single ‘Somewhere Down The Road’ followed. This is of course the reworked version of the opening track from the debut album. The original was very good, but this make-over is excellent; with female vocal and a far more dynamic guitar part. Without a breather, the great rocker ‘A Cellar full Of Noise’ (also co-penned with Pete Brown) ended the the show to great applause. It is a shame that the show overran because I know that the encore (if played) would have included an acoustic version of ‘Crossroads’ which I would have liked to hear. But both James and I enjoyed the gig very much.

The sheer variety contained within Saiichi’s set appealed to me greatly. Little of it could be described as pure Blues of course, but most of it had an undeniable Blues base. Inevitably, Saiichi shone on lead guitar; and Monica was at all times impressive as vocalist. The rhythm section of the band were all tight and reliable throughout.

Farewells: We had another little chat with Saiichi at the Merch desk, and he generously gave me two of his albums – his excellent eponymous debut from 1994 on CD; and his acclaimed Smokehouse Sessions on vinyl; plus his two latest excellent CD singles: ‘Melting Away’ which we’d just heard all about; and the remixed version of ‘Somewhere Down The Road’, which we’d also just enjoyed live.

As we left the venue, we congratulated guv’nor Paul Dean on another great New Crawdaddy gig; and had a few words with Joe Anderton and Trev Turley too. On the way out we bumped into Rock aficionado Stuart Walsh and his lady friend, who were very pleased with Saiichi’s set. And thus ended another good night at the NCBC. Thanks to all performers; the club volunteers; Karen for arranging things and photos; Chris for photos; bar staff; and everyone who was there. PTMQ

Saiichi Sugiyama website

Joe Anderton Band website

New Crawdaddy website

143. LAURENCE JONES BAND (+THE HEATERS) at THE NEW CRAWDADDY BLUES CLUB, Billericay, Essex. Friday, 20th January, 2017.

LJ at the NCBC (Photo: Karen R)

LJ at the NCBC (Photo: Karen R)

My first visit to the New Crawdaddy Blues Club of 2017 was a good one to be sure: it was the superb Laurence Jones Band, with support from house band, The Heaters. I’ve seen LJ a few times before – as an impressive 21 year-old jamming with his mentor Walter Trout (May 2013. Just before I started my website); then supporting Coco Montoya (May 2014. See my review #14); and supporting – and jamming with – Otis Grand (November 2014. See my review #30), He had noticeably improved in ability and confidence each time. So having not seen him for over two years, my son James and I were wondering if we’d notice any changes this time. We were to see….

But first on stage was the club’s house band, The Heaters. I’ve seen them many times before, but they never fail to impress with songs from their vast repertoire of covers – some of which I hadn’t heard them play before. On this occasion they played such favourites as ‘Hideaway’; ‘I’m Tore Down’; ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘All Your Love’. But the highlight of their set was a fine rendition of Greeny’s ‘Fool No More’ featuring lead guitarist Chris Campbell. Excellent.

And so to the headline act. As the LJB climbed on stage, the first noticeable change was that band were completely different yet again. They now consist of Laurence himself of course on guitar and vocals; Phil Wilson on drums; and making his first appearance with the band, bassist Greg Smith. The LJB also now have a keyboard player in the shape of Bennett Holland. No longer being a three-piece opens up a lot more scope musically. This was the band’s first gig of 2017; and it was certainly a good start to the year.

(Photo: Karen R)

(Photo: Karen R)

The band immediately launched into the title track of the new album Take Me High. It was clear from the off that this new line-up were tight and confident together. A variety of Blues/Blues-based numbers followed, all on the Rock edge of the Blues spectrum, and all in LJ’s inimitable style. These were mainly songs from the last two albums, plus a couple from Temptation including ‘Soul Swamp River’; and a fine electric cover of the old Lead Belly tune ‘Good Morning Blues’ – nice use of wah-wah on this one. A good cover of ‘Cocaine’ was played too, with of course plenty of audience participation.

Highlights of the show for me were: the radio friendly single from the new album, ‘I Will’ (which I thought had a bit of a ‘Watchtower’ vibe about it). Also the Rock’n’Roller ‘Stop Moving The House’; and the obligatory slow number ‘Thunder In The Sky’ (apparently the first song that LJ ever wrote) – to which a couple of lovely ladies in black performed a cheeky dance – and why not? (I should have filmed it!) There was also a tasty bit of duelling between LJ and keys man Bennett on ‘You Wind Me Up’ too. Encore was demanded and delivered in the form of ‘Every Day I Have The Blues’ and ‘My Eyes Get In Me Trouble’.

(Photo: Karen R)

(Photo: Karen R)

Laurence and the boys are a fine young band, and I think they have a great deal more to offer over the coming years. The Blues genre needs young bands like this; and I noticed there were some younger people in the audience too – that can only be a good thing. If you like guitar-based Blues on the Rock edge, then you’ll enjoy their live performance if you haven’t seen them already.

Thanks to impresario Paul Dean and all the hard working volunteers at the NCBC who week in, week out, make this regular Friday night Blues club something special. Big thanks to Karen for the great photos too. PTMQ

 Laurence Jones’ website

New Crawdaddy’s website

126. TREV TURLEY AND FRIENDS @ NCBC. ‘Emotion & No Commotion: Live 12th August 2016.

trev-turley-cdThose Blues fans among my readers will no doubt remember my review of the excellent ‘one-off’ gig by bassist Trev Turley and Friends at The New Crawdaddy Blues Club, Billericay Essex, recently (See my review #121). Those who were present at the gig may already know that the show was recorded and is now available on CD (No doubt some have already obtained a copy).

There are eleven tracks on the album, which I think covers all the songs played on the night. The recording has come out far better than I thought it would – actually superb! Its always good to relive a gig that that you actually attended (at one of my favourite venues too), so I was very pleased all round with this CD. Sound quality and mixing are very good indeed. Yve’s vocals and all instruments are very clear; and if you needed a demonstration of the quality, tightness and professionalism of this fine group of musicians, then it is here.

The disc comes in a simple card sleeve with all the relevant info printed on it. It is a limited edition of 100 copies (mine is #56). There are apparently a few left, and these will be available from the second ‘one-off’ gig (if that makes sense!) which is booked for The Murderers in Norwich on 15th December. I probably won’t be there, but I can recommend it highly. PTMQ

121. TREV TURLEY AND FRIENDS (+ special guest MARK ‘BOWEEVIL’ HOWES and support from THE HEATERS) at THE NEW CRAWDADDY BLUES CLUB, Billericay, Essex. Friday 12th August 2016. A review by Ralph Carter.

(Photo: Karen R)

Bass man, Trev Turley (Photo: Karen R)

I spoke to bassist Trev Turley at a gig a few weeks ago; and he told me that he would be putting together a band of friends for a one-off show; and would I be interested in coming along? It sounded interesting so along I went… to The New Crawdaddy Blues Club in Billericay, Essex, to see him and his band-mates in action.

This band of friends consisted of: Trev Turley himself of course (bass); Andrew Walker (guitar); Simon Dring (drums); Andy Cooper (keys); Phil Marshall (sax); and last but by no means least, Norfolk-based Yve Mary Barwood (vocals). The more astute of my readers will have already realised – if they didn’t know beforehand – that these fine musicians were (apart from Yve), Malaya Blue’s erstwhile touring band.

Yve Mary Barwood (Photo: Karen R)

Yve Mary Barwood (Photo: Karen R)

I bumped into Trev outside the venue when I arrived on the evening; but he was keeping shtoom about what the Set List would consist of. I didn’t know what to expect but I like surprises, and this turned out to be a pleasant one… in fact a damn fine show!

First on the bill though was the NCBC’s excellent House Band, The Heaters. They usually – but not always – play support at the club, and I’ve seen them many times before. They play a good variety of covers; and they play them well. As Trev Turley described them: ‘The best band that never ever headlined at The Crawdaddy!’ Always good to see them. On this occasion I particularly liked their renditions of Freddy King’s ‘Hideaway’; and The Beatles’ ‘Come Together’.

(Photo: Karen R)

Sax man: Phil Marshall (Photo: Karen R)

It wasn’t long before Trev and co were climbing on stage. ‘Don’t worry I’m not going to sing!’ Trev reassured us! Right from the start it was clear that the friends were tight and well used to playing together, as they launched into their set. It was also clear from the outset that Yve is a fine vocalist – equally capable of sweetness and passion in her singing. I previously knew nothing about her, but I am now much wiser!

A fine and eclectic set of mainly Blues, and Blues-based covers was played; including: an interesting version of Hardin’s ‘If I Were A Carpenter’; a blinding and faithful version of Winwood’s ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’; Johnson’s oft covered classic ‘Dust My Broom’; a wonderfully lengthy rendition of ‘It Hurts Me Too’ (which you can see here); Johnny Taylor’s ‘Who’s Making Love?’; a sweetly sung version of the Blues staple ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’; a stunning cover of Greeny’s ‘I Loved Another Woman’ (sax was superb on this); and a Funked up version of Clapton’s (in his Derek guise) ‘Got To Get Better In A Little While’, which included a fine drum solo from Simon. And that concluded the main set.

But an encore was then of course demanded; and they were joined on stage by special guest Mark ‘Boweevil’ Howes. Trev thanked everyone for their support and said that they’d play one more…. a cover of Joe Cocker’s, perhaps appropriately titled, ‘High Time We Went’ – inappropriate I thought, as we could have stood a lot more from this great band! This rendition included a lot of solos and duelling from the members of the group –  and amusing too, as one by one, the members of the band waved goodbye to Trev and left him alone on stage!  It received rousing – and well-deserved applause at the end.

The musicianship throughout the gig was exceptional, and its difficult to pick out anyone, because all of the friends were at the top of their game; but I particularly enjoyed Phil’s superb sax playing. He and Trev were also very entertaining too, which got a few laughs.

As I left the venue I saw Trev and remarked that he should definitely get this outfit together again – even if only for an occasional gig. He smiled but didn’t answer! But as I write this, it has recently been announced that the friends will play a follow up gig at The Murderers in Norwich. I probably won’t be there, but I can predict it’ll be a great show, so best get along there on 15th December and see for yourself what I’ve been on about! All the members are pursuing their own projects now, but I’m sure we’ll being seeing them back together again periodically.

Thanks to Trev and co for wonderful entertainment. Thanks to impresario Paul Dean and his fine team of volunteers, for hosting a great show once again; to Karen R for superb photography; and to Trevor Taylor for the video.

By Ralph Carter.

(photo: Karen R)

Thank you and good night Billericay! The magnificent seven (L – R):  Simon Dring; Andy Cooper; Mark ‘Boweevil’ Howes; Phil Marshall; Yve Mary B; Andrew Walker; and the main man himself, Trev Turley. (Photo: Karen R).

120. CHANTEL McGREGOR at THE NEW CRAWDADDY CLUB, Billericay, Essex. Interview and gig review (+ support from the House Band THE HEATERS). Friday 5th August 2016.

Chantel in conversation with The Quill (Pic: PTMQ)

Chantel in conversation with The Quill (Pic: PTMQ)

Preamble: Over the last couple of years friends and acquaintances have been urging me to go and see rock guitarist Chantel McGregor; so this is something that’s been on my wish list for a while now. Unfortunately, every time I thought I’d get to one of her gigs, something cropped up to prevent me from going! I’m glad to say that that is a situation that’s at last been put right, because my son James and I were able to get down to see her at the New Crawdaddy Blues Club, Billericay, Essex, on a very warm summer Friday evening recently – and furthermore, she kindly agreed to an interview beforehand.

The Interview was arranged rather hastily when we arrived at the club (thanks to Karen of the NCBC and Chantel’s team); and James and I were soon invited back-stage to the Green Room. Chantel is a friendly, approachable and modest Yorkshire lass from Bradford; and welcomed us warmly, introducing us to the band. These are: Colin Sutton (bass); Andy Mapp (drums); and keeping an eye on things as well as being van driver and ‘general dog’s-body’, Chantel’s Dad, Alan McGregor. All were chilling out with a pre-show pizza!

(Pic: PTMQ)

(Pic: PTMQ)

I’ve never written about Chantel before, so we asked her to tell us how it all began. (At this point my dictaphone decided to pack up; leaving me to take notes the old fashioned way; so I must apologise for the lack of proper quotes!) But she told us that she began playing guitar from the age of three. Her Dad Alan was playing rock gigs, so its something that she’s always known. At around twelve she was playing stuff like Metallica and Grateful Dead; and after concentrating on her studies she started gigging with her own band around Bradford at the age of 21; covering the likes of Trower and Tull, as well as ‘more obscure covers’; and developing a fan base. From the age of 25-ish she began penning her own material. She’s now 30 – so a good 90% of her life has been dedicated to guitar music!

Her influences are eclectic; but she particularly mentioned Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree as influencing her wonderful BBA nominated song ‘Walk On Land’; Sound Garden (for her ‘Your Fever’); Jeff Buckley (for ‘Eternal Dream’); and poet Nick Drake (for inspiring ‘Anaesthetize’ – her song about addiction). And she has what she termed as ‘Sponge Days’, where she chills out watching TV; reading books and poetry; and generally absorbing the world around her and all its arts. This inspires her music and lyric writing… and it seems to be working well, I must say!

(Pic: PTMQ)

(Pic: PTMQ)

We asked her about her recent jam with Joe Bonamassa. ‘I Emailed Joe, and he rang back’ she said. JB invited her to his gig in Manchester for a chat, and she ended up jamming on stage with him. She has also met Clapton; Raitt; and Fleetwood Mac. This hasn’t done her international profile any harm at all; and she now has a thriving US fan Club – but no plans as yet for a US tour.

So what has the lady got planned for the near future I wondered? She is planning an acoustic album at the moment; for which she has twelve pages of themes and lyrics written out already. This is a project that will be worth checking out, as she is as adept with the acoustic as with the electric; and various songs on her two albums can testify to that. Apparently just before we arrived, Chantel gave an impromptu acoustic performance after the sound check, for those in the audience who’d arrived early enough; after someone had asked about the chords she used for a particular song.

Chantel had also recently dislocated her knee after a bizarre accident at home; ‘…and I wasn’t even drunk!’ she laughed. She was strapped up in a leg brace. ‘I’m walking like a penguin’ she said. But to be honest it was hardly noticeable covered in her long black dress, and she carried on regardless.

(Pic: PTMQ)

(Pic: PTMQ)

We thanked her for speaking to us, and after a few photos, we returned to the auditorium. Whilst we’d been talking to Chantel, we could hear the House Band, The Heaters, playing their covers set. It sounded good, but we only caught the end of it unfortunately.

The gig: It wasn’t long before Chantel was climbing on stage. Alone, She donned her acoustic and began to play the wonderful ‘Home’; followed by ‘Anaesthetize’. Then she was joined by the band for the haunting ‘Inconsolable’; half way through, seemlessly changing from acoustic to Strat for a lengthy and superb solo – the boys in the band providing a reliable framework for the lady to improvise at will. For me this was an early highlight of the show.

Time for some Hard Rock then! ‘Freefalling’ from the debut album hit us next. And this was quickly followed by the Sound Garden influenced ‘Your Fever’. Excellent! And the rockers kept coming: ‘Burn Your Anger’; and ‘Lose Control’ (the title track from the latest album); continued the vibe, before she played the bluesy ‘I’m No Good For You’ off her debut album Like No Other.

But another highlight was due…she played a Prog-Rock instrumental called ‘Summat About Flies’ which pretty much blew me away! It was this number more than any other which demonstrated her consummate fretboard skills; and I was very impressed by it indeed.  (Watch it here thanks to Paul Hawley). I was then left wondering how on Earth she could possibly follow that! ‘Shall we do err..’ she said ‘…’Purple “something?”… yes it was the old Prince classic! And what a sublime cover it was too. Probably the best cover of it I’ve ever heard – she made it her own.

Then Chantel introduced the band, and thanked all present, before launching into the magnificent BBA nominated ‘Walk On Land’. This provided the finale to the main set. Again a truly wonderful rendition with a fine solo; and an apt song to end on. Inevitably, ‘Encore!’ was of course demanded; and was duly given in the form of ‘Take The Power’ – the opening track to her latest album Lose Control. Phew!

Throughout the gig Chantel’s playing was very impressive; and matched only by her faultless vocals, which were clear and beautiful. She has a great confidence and repartee with the audience too, which is something I like to see and hear from performers. All in all it was a fantastic gig – and I now know what I’ve been missing out on! I’ll see her show again, for sure. So if you haven’t seen Ms. McGregor yet, don’t delay – buy the tickets ASAP!

Thanks to Chantel and her fine band and support team; and to Paul Dean and all the wonderful volunteers at The New Crawdaddy for once again putting on a cracking show. PTMQ

Chantel’s website

New Crawdaddy’s website

115. KATIE BRADLEY with THE CHRIS CORCORAN TRIO (+ support MARTIN McNEILL) at THE NEW CRAWDADDY BLUES CLUB, Billericay, Essex. Friday 29th July, 2016.

Katie sings the Blues! (Photo: K.Bradley)

Katie sings the Blues! (Photo: K.Bradley)

Back in January, at a gig at Peggy Sue’s Music Bar (see my review #87), Blues singer Katie Bradley told me that she and The Chris Corcoran Trio would be headlining at The New Crawdaddy Blues Club, Billericay, Essex later in the year. That was, of course, a date I was eager to keep. But I had to rush from work to get there; and even so I completely missed the support act Martin McNeill (who of course is the host at Monday Blues At Peggy Sue’s); and I arrived just as Katie, Chris and the boys were beginning their set.

Katie of course often gigs with Chris Corcoran and his band; and they work very well together. Mr.C himself is a guitarist of great and unique ability; and he is aided by the remarkable and respected JJ Zarbo on Double Bass; and the highly rated Rob Pokorny on Drums.

Katie’s vocals are smooth and soothing; with charming nuances inherent in her voice. A joy to hear and see perform. And apart from being a fine vocalist, Katie is also a bit tasty with the Blues Harp too; and this was certainly in evidence tonight.

The four of them got through a single fine set of mostly well-known Blues covers. I like fresh interpretations of classics; and they didn’t disappoint in this – reworking several Blues staples with a refreshing zest; melding the familiar with the new. Luminaries such as Georgia White; Billie Holiday; Big Mama Thornton; and Muddy Waters; were brought back to life in Katie’s inimitable style. We heard Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘My Baby Caught A Train’; BB King’s ‘Three O’Clock In The Morning’ and ‘Every Day I Have The Blues’.

Chris Corcoran (Photo: Karen R)

Chris Corcoran (Photo: Karen R)

We were also treated Katie’s own ‘Be Careful With My Baby’ which featured a great solo from Chris.  Its only a shame that we didn’t get more of Katie’s own material, which (in collaboration with Dudley Ross) has brought her much acclaim in recent years – particularly at the BBA last year.

My personal favourite was the classic Kansas Joe McCoy’s old Jazz-Blues number ‘Why Don’t You Do Right?’. I’ve always loved this song, and I’ve heard many covers of it over the years – this being one of the best. It featured fine solos from all three of the band, and some particularly good vocals from Katie of course. Excellent!

Several people I knew present in the audience on the night had been looking forward to the gig for some time, and showed their appreciation by demanding a double encore. It was well deserved. If you like your Blues on the traditional side – yet with a spark freshness too – then I’d say get along to a KB gig ASAP; and you won’t be disappointed. I had time for a little chat with Katie and Chris after the show. They are working on a new album; so that is something to look out for.

Big thanks to: impressario Paul Dean of the New Crawdaddy for hosting a fine night of Blues yet again;  to Paul’s fine team of volunteers for making it run so smoothly; and to Karen of the club for supplying great photos once more. See my review (#66) of a Red Butler gig at The New Crawdaddy last year for basic info on the club; or see their website. PTMQ

Katie’s website

Chris’ website

100. THE CADILLAC KINGS at THE NEW CRAWDADDY BLUES CLUB, Billericay, Essex. Friday, 22nd April, 2016. A review by guest writers Karen and Del of the club.

When I went to the excellent Malaya Blue album launch gig at The New Crawdaddy Blues Club, Essex, a few weeks ago (see my review #96), I spoke to Karen Rockingham who works there. She is a big fan of the local band The Cadillac Kings who were booked to play at the club soon after, and asked if I was coming along. Unfortunately I was unable to get there for one reason or another, so I suggested that as she is a big fan of the band, that she should write a review, and I’d put it on my site. She agreed to do this in collaboration with Del Stoton – the vocalist of the club’s house band, The Heaters. 

I had been thinking of doing something a bit different for my 100th article on this site, but couldn’t really come up with anything in time, so what better idea than to introduce my readers to the excellent work of my very special guests, Karen and Del, and their review of this great band….

The Cadillac Kings (Photo by Karen R)

The Cadillac Kings at The NCBC (Photo by Karen R)

There was a certain je ne sais quoi, a sense of underlying excitement in the New Crawdaddy on Friday. You just knew that it was going to be a special night….well it was the Cadillac Kings…a band of enormous aplomb and experience, who have never failed to deliver exquisite, nerve tingling blues…with a divine tinge of gentle rock, tex-mex, Cajun, jump-jive and even an occasional  Appalachian feel.

The atmosphere bubbled and the anticipation was palpable as the lights dimmed and the boys took to the stage. The band ambled on with an air of mystical authority…local drumming legend Roy Webber; the fabulous Malcolm Barclay on guitar; mouth watering keyboard and accordion player, Tim Penn; and we must not forget the Cadillac Kings’ equivalent of John Entwhistle (The Who) on double bass, quiet enigmatic Paul Cuff…but then on saunters the maestro…40 years of smooth, charismatic, professionalism in the form of Mike Thomas, the epitome of cool (what a voice!).

We were treated to 90 minutes of fantastic, mostly original material, played by seasoned, sparkling musicians. All 5 sing and harmonise. Mike’s lyrics are cutting edge, painfully observational yet humorous. Mike plays excellent harp and enhances the percussion of the band.

The set flowed smoothly from track to track, embracing many genre’s and tempo’s, and the whole gamut of emotions…(mostly joy). Lots of dancing from the ecstatic crowd, together with enthusiastic applause, and a thunderous ovation at the end. In an evening of continuous highlights, we particularly appreciated Malcolm Barclay’s instrumental tribute to Lonnie Mack’s “Wham”. Do yourself an inordinate favour and get along to see these boys soonest!

Karen and Del… The Quells (nearest to The Quill). (Ha Ha! PTMQ)

Mike Thomas has very kindly provided us with a potted history of the band:-

“Back in 1998 I met harmonica player Gary Potts and was invited to join his Essex based blues-band ‘Third Degree’. After a couple of years and lots of gigs around the country, we decided to concentrate on a west coast swing-style of blues that appealed to the dance crowd on the retro scene. Another early decision was to try and play as much original material as possible. The next step was to change the rather downbeat name of the band to reflect our style and, since Gary was a huge American car fan, the name ‘Cadillac Kings’ was chosen. We recorded our first cd at drummer Ray Marquis’ studios in Upminster with Paul Morgan on guitar, Bernie Brewster on bass, and Gary Howard on keys. From the day of its release offers of work came in from across the UK and Scandinavia. This was always going to prove difficult for some members of the band to commit to, so in 2001, in addition to Gary and myself, Roy Webber took over on drums, Orlando Shearer came in on double-bass and Mike Adcock on piano & accordion. That line-up stayed together until 2004 when Oliver Darling took over on guitar and we recorded our second cd ‘Highway 17’. To our astonishment in December 2004 the Times chose it as their blues record of the year, and one of the top 24 releases of the year (alongside Morrissey, Brian Wilson, The Scissor Sisters etc etc!). By the time we recorded our third album ‘Trouble in Store’ in 2009 we had recruited Mal Barclay on guitar, whose terrific playing really energized the band. Canada’s main blues magazine ‘Real Blues’ rated it as the best ‘non American’ release of the year, and it stayed on the US Cashbox charts for many weeks. Around that time we made countless trips to Scandinavia, and Norway in particular, and appeared at festivals and clubs with amazing acts like the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Rod Piazza, John Mayall, Little Feat, Delbert McLinton, Magic Slim, Lazy Lester (and loads more!) The Norwegian connection resulted in a request for our fourth cd ‘Gonna Tell Your Momma’ to be recorded 100% live at Hamar in Norway, in front of 500 blues & swing fans. This was engineered on a fabulous mobile studio by Rune Nordal, engineer & producer to the band AHA. As many reviews have pointed out – it sounds about as close as you can get to being there. Not long after the album came out in 2012, CKs’ co-founder Gary Potts decided to retire from the music scene entirely and devote his time to his other passion – restoring vintage American cars and hotrods. Rather than try and fill the shoes of a fantastic harp player this seemed an opportunity to tailor the sound of the band to a more ‘Rhythm & Blues’ & ‘Roots music’ outfit. With Tim Penn on piano & accordion, Paul Cuff on double bass, Roy Webber on drums & Mal Barclay on guitar, we are now able to throw in a wide range of styles into the mix, from west coast swing to New Orleans R&B, from Chicago shuffles to Louisiana zydeco & swamp pop. This line-up has just completed the CKs’ fifth album ‘The Secret of My Success’, which is due for release in early June 2016.”

Here is a link to The New Crawdaddy’s website

Here is a link to The Cadillac Kings’ website