Tag Archives: peggy sues music bar

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

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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)

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

 

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/

61. LARRY MILLER BAND at TOUCHLINE LIVE MUSIC, Hockley, Essex. Friday, 17th July, 2015. + a pre-gig interview with Larry; and a few words about the club’s new venue.

When I bumped into Dave and Brian of Touchline Live Music, in Peggy Sue’s Music Bar back in April (see my Blog entry #47), they told me that they had Larry Miller booked for July, and would I be interested in coming along? I was of course keen to do so, as I knew I should be available that night; and there  was the chance of an interview with the renown Blues-Rocker in the offing too. Also, I was keen to see the Touchline’s new home at Hockley Community Centre – or ‘The Commy’ as its known locally.

Sound-check completed, the stage awaits (Photo: PTMQ)

Sound-check completed, the Touchline stage awaits…(Photo: PTMQ)

The shennanigans that went on over the loss of the club’s last venue in Hullbridge, I’m not qualified to speculate on. The important thing is that the club has had a new home in Hockley, Essex, for the last six months. I have been unable to visit ‘The Commy’ since the Touchline moved in there, so I was keen to see what Dave, Brian and co  had achieved so far. My first impression was good – the car park alone is a vast improvement on the old place! And as I walked in, I was continually impressed by everything that I saw. The whole place is very smart; and the function room is excellent. (The stage is at one end, and was looking good – set up with Marshall and Warwick amps and speakers). To be honest, I liked the other place  – it was fine; but this venue is definitely superior.

I arrived early, and after being greeted by Trudie, Dave and Brian (and also having got myself a beer), I was introduced to the club’s guest star for the night, Larry Miller; who had kindly agreed to an interview with the Quill! I’d never met him before, but he is an instantly likable bloke with a genuinely warm handshake; and turned out to be quite a character – off-stage as well as on. Trudie suggested that we should chat outside on the patio; so that’s where we went.

We began by talking about Larry’s last opus: the excellent Soldier Of The Line, released late last year. Apart from the fact that this is arguably his best work so far, I was particularly interested in the story of Larry’s Grandad, a violin player who served in the Great War, which inspired the title track. This is because my Grandad also served in that hideous conflict, and played violin too. (I won’t go into that now, but there is more to say about it, so it may be the subject of a future Blog entry). At this point, my mate Rambo turned up and after introductions, joined us.

(Photo: Rambo)

Mr.Miller and myself engaged in a pre-gig conflab! (Photo: taken by Rambo)

I asked Larry if the superb title track (which I describe as a kind of Progressive-Folk lament), was to be part of a new direction for him: ie, experimenting with genres outside the Blues-Rock field of which he is a recognised master – bearing in mind that there is also an interesting and unexpected brassy, Jazzy ending to the opening track on the album, ‘One Fine Day’. Our man pointed out that we are all influenced by multiple genres – even those who claim to be purists in a particular field: ‘People always think that if you play one type of music, that’s what you’ve been listening to all your life….we all listened to the same things if you grew up in this country – The Beatles; The Stones; Abba; Mud; Sweet – what was playing in the charts. I can write most forms of music really’ he said ‘…but if you’re making a living (from music), you’ve got a fan-base; and you know what your fan-base want to hear. Some of them go to that (pointing to his new album that I’d put on the table) and think “Oh this isn’t Larry!” One bloke said he threw it away! Then he went back to one of my old records and thought “Oh I’ll give it another go”; and then of course he hasn’t stopped playing it since! Its a fine balancing act: you’ve got to move forward, but at the same time keep the guys who pay your bills happy!’ (Surely no one is unhappy with Larry’s last album, are they?)

‘Unless of course you are like Richie Blackmore’ I digressed, ‘…who never gave a toss about his fans anyway, and totally gave up Rock for Folk music without batting an eyelid – much to the chagrin of his fans!’ (Just for the record, I like some of RB’s Folky stuff). We then laughed about Blackmore’s infamous tantrums with Purple and Rainbow (I witnessed one of these for myself at Wembley back in ’79, – but that’s for another blog). Larry quipped that he was ‘…probably suffering from pre-minstrel tension!’

Back to the subject in hand, Rambo observed that: ‘Surely you’ve got to go where your heart takes you?’  Larry agreed: ‘Yeah, if you’ve got an ounce of creativity about you – you are an artist. I never did music so that I’d become rich – it would be nice though! Its like any artist, like Picasso. He never painted pictures to make a lot of money – that would be soulless’ . Its quite clear then that Larry wouldn’t do anything he didn’t want to do. And quite right too.

Larry with '57 Gold Top (Photo: PTMQ)

Larry with his main guitar: a Gibson Les Paul ’57 Gold Top Reissue (Photo: PTMQ)

So I asked what Larry had in the pipeline? ‘I’m working on a double album right now’ he replied, ‘…The Sinner And The Saint. I’ve got about sixteen tracks on it. I consider it my best ever.’ ‘So when is this Magnum Opus due out?’ I asked. Larry couldn’t say yet. Nor would he be drawn too much on it other than saying ‘Its got my normal Blues-Rock content’, and that there’s ‘a mandolin track’ on it. Then he told us ‘I’m a Christian; so its going to be a spiritual one as well’. Larry had anticipated my next question here, as I’d planned to ask about the religious subjects / references that I’d noticed in some of his earlier songs – ‘Bathsheba’ for example. ‘American bands sing quite happily about these subjects but English bands don’t’ he said. That’s probably true enough; apart from The Strawbs, I can’t think, off-hand, of a British band that have handled religion (not including Occult obsessed HM bands!) ‘Everything I write comes from within’ he explained. Anyway, that’s an album I personally can’t wait to hear!

The subject of the young Blues-Rock guitarists came up then – again Larry anticipated the question, as I was going to ask what he thought about young guns like Virgil McMahon; Laurence Jones; and Oli Brown. ‘I know ’em – all nice guys’ he said. ‘Its great that they’re playing it, but I wish their mates would get into it. Its weird … they’re playing to all these old guys!’ I agreed. There aren’t a lot of young Blues fans; and this came up when I interviewed Virgil last October (see my Blog #26). Funny enough, I’m glad to report that my son James and a couple of his mates do love Blues-Rock, and he would  have been there with me that night if he hadn’t been lured away to a cricket match in Chelmsford!

I asked Larry about his forthcoming gig at the Forum in London, supporting Walter Trout for his I’m Back Tour. He is very much looking forward to it as you would expect. Larry didn’t know if Walter had specifically head-hunted him for the gig, but apparently someone close to Walter did say that Larry reminds Walter of himself as a young player – not that Larry is that young of course! But its quite a complement coming from an international giant of the genre like WT.

Mad Dogs! The Larry Miller Band at the Touchline (Photo: PTMQ)

Mad Dogs! The Larry Miller Band at the Touchline (Photo: PTMQ)

Next I asked about his guitars. ‘Ahh!’ he exclaimed seeming to relish the chance of some axe-chat! ‘I take it you’ll be playing a Les Paul tonight?’ I enquired.   ‘Yeah. Well, I’d always been a Strat man’ he said. ‘Because of Gallagher?’ I asked (Larry being a well known fan). ‘I guess so …but they just looked so awesome! I’ve had loads of Strats, but you see lots of Strat players with a slightly thin toppy, grainy sound. I liked Stevie Ray Vaughan’s sound, but …then I saw Bon Jovi at Wembley Stadium. He had all these guitars; and this one guitar sounded really lovely, and it was a Gibson Les Paul ’59 – it was obviously the best sounding guitar there. So I bought a Les Paul in 2002, but I could play a Strat faster, so it took me a while (to get used to it). Then people started to say “Oh you’ve got a great guitar tone”; well they never say that if you’re playing a Strat. But with the Les Paul its a brilliant thick, creamy sound. And if you back off the volume, then it cleans up like a Strat anyway. So now I’m a bona fide Les Paul Player!’ Larry now has three Les Pauls – one of which, a Gold Top ’57 Reissue is his main gigging axe. ‘Its absolutely wonderful’ he enthused.

What about acoustics? He said he used a 1931 National for slide work on the forthcoming album; and he’d be playing ‘just a crummy old thing’ later that night for ‘Soldier Of The Line’ (it actually turned out to be a good-looking, and great sounding Yamaha acoustic tuned to DADGAD). I said I’d be watching closely so that I could try to learn the song. ‘Its bloomin’ hard!’ he warned; then added laughing ‘…well I think so!’ Well if he finds it hard, and its his song, I don’t know what chance I’ve got at playing it!

Finally I asked Larry to sign my CD copy of Soldier Of The Line. He stared at the cover for a while deep in thought; then smiled and wrote ‘To Phil The Music Quill, from Larry The Music Mill’! As well as everything else, Larry has a great sense of humour! He went back stage then and Rambo and I took our seats, reserved for us by Trudie, on Table 1 – right in front of Larry’s monitors. And there we waited….

Soldier of the line - Larry Miler (Photo: PTMQ)

Soldier of the line – Larry Miller with his Yamaha acoustic  (Photo: PTMQ)

At about 9pm Master Of Ceremonies Brian Sangwin climbed on stage  and introduced the band. Larry casually strapped on his Gold Top and plugged in, and after a little banter with the audience launched into the rabid rhythm riffs of ‘Mad Dog’. Like a Rottweiler suddenly released from a cage, he hit us with a full-on display of axemanship and growling vocals! It was a howling success; and that set the pace and tone for the entire gig really.

From the very beginning, you can’t take your eyes off Larry – he is like a presence on stage. Not just because of his consummate fret-board dexterity, which left me open-mouthed at times; or for his powerful vocal style; but also for his on-stage antics: throwing himself about like a man half his age – even running around in the audience at one point! And he kept it up throughout the whole show too! He still has the enthusiasm he had as a fifteen year old – and its infectious! We, the audience, were lapping up everything he did. Clearly he is a man who loves what he does. Quite how he keeps it up night after night, I don’t know.

‘Our Time Is Coming’ was up next – again a power-packed rendition with breath-taking solos – and to paraphrase the lyric, ‘there was nothing we could do about it’! Great applause ensued, and Larry said ‘Really cookin’ isn’t it?’ Then the intro of ‘The Power You Have’ had us clapping along, before the distinctive rhythm riff burst full scale upon us. Another winner.

At this point, Larry introduced the rest of the band. The other members tend to be somewhat overlooked in comparison to the presence and antics of the main man. But they were there alright – and a superb performance they both gave too. On Bass was Derek White; Larry’s long-term gigging bassist. And on Drums, Graham Walker; ex-Gary Moore Band. These two proved themselves to be more than capable as a rhythm section; tight and reliable, and always there to provide the back-bone to the songs, and enable Larry to venture into lengthy abstract solos at will.

(Photo: PTMQ)

(Photo: PTMQ)

Things slowed down a bit then for the beautifully arpeggiated intro to ‘Calling All The Angels’. The angst-ridden lyric he sang with genuine passion; and the lead solo came from deep down in his soul. It was dripping with emotion!  After some more banter he said he’d do his ‘Rory tune’ – a Gallagher-esque Blues-Rocker that would have had his late, great Irish hero nodding with approval.  And thus ended the first set. Only five songs long; but as he explained ‘I can’t help doing solos that are 400 hours long!’ Time for a beer methinks!

The second half began as promised with ‘Soldier Of The Line’. Larry donned his Yamaha acoustic (the ‘crummy old thing’ mentioned earlier), tuned to DADGAD, and after doodling a little, began the very distinctive and beautiful intro to the song. And I must say, it did look difficult to play! But what a faultless performance it was; musically perfect, and sung with genuine emotion.

With his beloved Gold Top back in hand, ‘One Fine Day’ followed. This is the opener from the Soldier…  album; and one of the tracks that make that collection his best yet in my opinion. This live version did not disappoint either. No brass was possible for the outro, of course, so Larry just improvised a nice lead to finish. Only another good rocker from the same album could follow this. ‘Mississippi Mama’ hit us like a hurricane running amok through the Bible Belt! It went down a storm.

He gave us the pure Blues of ‘Missy Mango’ next. Its a simple but effective number that is a perfect vehicle for Larry to improvise over. Another excellent Blues tune followed this; and again Larry showed off his remarkable skills. ‘I Fight Myself’ ended the second half to rapturous applause and a standing ovation. It was well deserved.

During this part of the show, he had been quite brutal with his Les Paul. Volume and tone pots were roughly handled; the pick-up switch was singled out for a fair amount of abuse; but the low-E string was particularly brutalised when he used it to hold the unfortunate guitar aloft and shake it roughly! This all produced the most amazing sounds, and he was remarkably adept at it! In fact, given Larry’s normal string-bending technique – that often rendered at least two semi-tones – he had to frequently retune the thing throughout the gig.

The whole place was on its feet. Encore! was demanded – and duly delivered. Returning to the stage, the boys delivered more of what we desired, in the form of the SRV-esque ‘Rebekah’. Finally, the unmistakable opening riff to ‘Parisienne Walkways’ sounded out from Larry’s Marshall speakers. Teasing us with that searing sustained note made famous by another of his heroes, Gary Moore, Larry gave us a final flourish of his sublime axemanship. Phew!

Thanks to Larry and the lads for a superb demonstration of Blues-Rock at its highest level. I think this is definitely a contender for my Best Blues-Rock gig of 2015. Its difficult to guess who could possibly top it!  Finally, a great big thank you to Dave Kitteridge for arranging the interview; plus Trudie; Brian, and Steve the sound man; and all at the club and the venue for helping to make it a very memorable night indeed.  PTMQ.

Here is a link to Larry’s website… http://www.larrymiller.co.uk/index.htm

Here is a link to Touchline Live Music’s page… http://touchlinelivemusic.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

47. MONDAY BLUES AT PEGGY SUE’S. 20th April, 2015. Host: MARTIN McNEILL; special guest: ROY METTE.

(Photo: PTMQ)

Mette and McNeill (Photo: PTMQ)

When the Essex Bluesman Martin McNeill first invited me to Monday Blues At Peggy Sue’s, back in January, he pointed out that every session is very different, depending on the special guest invited for each particular week. So my first visit in March  (See my blog entry #38), although excellent, may not have been typical. I can’t get there every Monday, but on this occasion I was not only available, but keen to see this week’s special guest, the inimitable guitarist, Roy Mette.

Now, I’ve been aware of Roy for some time, but occasionally I astound myself with just how ignorant I am! It was only when I looked at Roy’s website recently, that I realised that he’d once been a member of the NWOBHM band Warrior, who I’m sure I  saw at least a couple of times at the Ruskin Arms, East Ham; c.1979. So Roy’s been plying his trade for more than three and a half decades (I’m sure he won’t mind me pointing that out!) These days of course, he is both a Blues-Rock man and a bit of a Folkie too; and these styles influence his playing of the Blues. Normally he’s accompanied by his own band, but he’s equally at home playing acoustic – with or without an accomplice. And that is the guise in which we found him on this occasion – as special guest of Martin McNeill at Peggy Sue’s Music Bar, Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. (For a description of the venue, see my blog #38).

I arrived at the venue early enough, and Martin introduced me to Roy – who was tuning-up a fine-looking Gibson electro-acoustic. I’d never met him before. Like most musicians, he’s an approachable and friendly bloke; and seemed to be looking forward to the gig. Present in the audience were Dave and Brian of Touchline Live Music along with their better halves; and Kathy P with her husband, hoping to shoot some footage of the set. The bar was more full up than on my previous visit; and maybe that was a reflection of Roy’s presence at the venue; as he is well known locally. And so, we were ready to begin….

(Photo: PTMQ)

Roy Mette: Acoustic Blues Warrior! (Photo: PTMQ)

Martin warmed us up with three songs – including ‘Ramblin’ On My Mind’ – demonstrating his mastery of the bottleneck slide technique, for which he is renown. Without his Blues Harp sidekick West Weston present, Martin also showed that he is more than a fair harmonica player too.  It was a short warm-up, and Roy was soon up for his solo set.

Gibson in hand, he began with the Jazzy ‘Lady Sings The Blues’. And followed it with a variety of Bluesy / Blues-based numbers; showing a very good understanding of the genre in many of its forms. Among others, this solo set included a fantastic cover of ‘All Along The Watchtower’; the down-home style ‘Black Mountain’; a heart-felt version of ‘I Still Miss You So’; the laid-back ’12 Bars And The Blues’; a wonderful rendition of the classic ‘Wayfaring Stranger’; and finishing with ‘Train Train’.  At all times, Roy’s guitar playing was impressive; and complimented by his superb vocals. All in all, I couldn’t fault it – a bloody good set!

After a short break, both Roy and Martin returned for a duet.  With two guitars of course, there is far more scope for solos; and neither of our Bluesmen failed to impress. Taking it in turns to sing, they began with ‘Long Tall Shorty’; and then proceeded to play many a classic number; including a unique version of ‘All Shook Up’; a fine laid-back cover of the staple ‘Crossroads’; the coal-mining song ‘Sixteen Tons’ (I hadn’t heard this for yonks!); the ubiquitous classic ‘As The Years Go Passing By’; and finishing with a hybrid of ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Red House’, in which Martin’s slide-work excelled; and Roy’s vocals at times could have passed for  Chester Burnett!  It was another damn fine set. Both host and guest in fine form, and working nicely together. There was also some amusing banter between the performers and the audience – something you can only get in a small intimate place like this.

Once again a great night at Peggy Sue’s; and I’d recommend a visit if you love acoustic Blues. Many thanks to Martin, Dave, Lorraine, Johnny, and all present at the music bar for another Bluesy start to the week! PTMQ

Here is a link to Roy’s website…. http://roymette.co.uk/index.asp?mid=64

Here is a link to Martin’s website….. http://www.martinmcneill.co.uk/

Here is a link to Peggy Sue’s Facebook page… https://www.facebook.com/peggysueslivemusic