Tag Archives: phil ericson

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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168. FRANK STATESBORO (+MARTIN McNEILL & Open Floor) at RFC. Tuesday 9th May 2017.

Bluesman 1: Frank Statesboro (Photo: G.Walker)

Well, with Frank Statesboro as special guest, this particular night at Romford Folk Club was bound to get a bit Bluesy. Add to that, Martin McNeill (the maestro of Monday Blues At Peggy Sue’s) contacted me the day before asking about the club, and I suggested he come along too. So with several of the regulars also getting into the Blues vibe, it was sure to be a memorable night.

The preceding Open Floor spots were very varied as usual – although rather Blues dominated. Best among them I thought were of course, Martin McNeill with his ‘Feel So Good’ and ‘Unchain My Heart’ (which I’ve heard him play several times at Peggy Sue’s); Jo Gregory‘s a cappella cover of ‘Cry Me A River’; and Jackie Gregory‘s fine version of ‘Matty Groves’. Of course, I played my ‘Mid-Life Crisis Blues’; and Vern Waldie asked me to accompany him for his own Blues number ‘My Love’ – which I didn’t know, but enjoyed playing.

Bluesman 2: Martin McNeill (Photo: G.Walker)

Introduced by Nora Kelson (MoC for the night), the man in black, Frank Statesboro took to the performance area and began with Crudup’s ‘That’s Alright’. His imposing physical presence was only outweighed by his gravelly vocal and aggressive strumming style, which is characterised by strong bass runs and loudly muted chords. He got through two great sets of Blues classics, including: ‘Got My Mojo Working’; and ‘Mean Ol’ Frisco’.

Other varied songs in his repertoire were ‘What A Wonderful World This Would Be’; ‘Handbags And Gladrags’; ‘Rockin’ Robin’; ‘If Loving You Is Wrong’; and ‘Heartbreak Hotel’.

Highlight of the evening for me though, was when Frank invited Martin to jam with him on a couple of songs. Now, these two are very experienced Bluesmen (albeit with very different styles); yet they had never jammed together before. No problem – they steamed into a pacey Rock’n’Roller: ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’, with Martin on bottleneck, duelling with Frank. They followed this with a fine cover of Greeny’s classic ‘Black Magic Woman’. Again extended improvised solos from both guitarists that is rarely witnessed outside of a Blues club. Excellent!

Statesboro and McNeill (Photo: G.Walker)

Frank also included an entertaining medley of disparate songs of various styles. These were segued within two halves of ‘King Of The Swingers’. They included ‘The Drunken Sailor’; ‘Mama Don’t Like No Music’; and ‘Valerie’. Bizarre – but it worked a treat!

Martin was invited to return to the floor then for a well deserved encore of Bo Diddley’s ‘Before You Accuse Me’. An excellent rendition it was too; and the show finished to great applause.

All in all, a great Blues dominated evening – one of the best Guest Nights I’ve seen at the club. I thoroughly enjoyed it; so a big thank you to Mr.Statesboro; Mr.McNeill; the club officials; and all those who took part in making it a memorable evening once again at RFC. PTMQ.

162. PHIL ERICSON (aka PHIL THE MUSIC QUILL) AND FRIENDS at RFC. Tuesday 28th March 2017. A review by Gemma Boyd.

Phil Ericson’s Feature Night at Romford Folk Club, The Sun pub, Romford, East London – 28 March 2017

From left to right: Nora Kelson, Phil Ericson, Jackie Gregory and Jo Gregory. Photograph by Charlie Martin.

Better known by some as Phil the Music Quill, singer-songwriter, guitarist and music journalist Phil Ericson’s feature night marked the last performance after 24 years at The Sun pub for Romford Folk Club members before their migration to a new venue; The White Horse pub in Chadwell Health.

Club regulars were out in force to support Phil, whose two sets featured a well-assorted choice of original songs penned by both Phil and others of his songwriter friends, much-loved classics such as ‘Wonderful Tonight’ by Eric Clapton, and a world premier! Especially warming was how Phil invited an array of his artist mates up on stage to join him, then served bread pudding to all with the introduction of his song (a personal favourite), ‘Nan’s Bread Pudd’n’’.

First up was ‘Mid-Life Crisis Blues’ by new retiree, Phil on vocals and guitar. His work is hallmarked by amusing but simultaneously poignant lyrics about his life and family, and for this number he was accompanied by Neal Price on Dobro. Neal’s stripped-down slide guitar solo added an authentic blues feel reminiscent of American Delta blues guitarist and singer, Booker White’s 1940 recording of ‘Aberdeen Mississipi Blues’.

Phil’s easy banter with the audience paved the way for his first ever performance of love song, ‘Two Hearts Become One’ (lyrics by Jose Gallindo-Herrador and music by Phil). This contained some pleasing modulations, an intriguing time signature, and was performed with real feeling.

For his song, ‘Grandad’s Seven Hats’, Phil added yet another layer of interest with his inclusion of comedian and author, Nick Barrett, who placed grandad’s seven hats on Phil’s head as he sang. You could hear a pin drop as the audience concentrated hard on, and resonated with his words: “Now I am a grandad and I wear an old flat cap. I look just like my own dad….”

‘Riding Thumb’ by Phil’s songwriter friend, Tony Partis, chugged along enjoyably, aided by Neal Price and Monzur Rahman on percussion. It’s a song about picking up a blonde hitchhiker who has “never-ending thighs” with a great twist at the end: The blonde turns out to be a mugger who pulls a gun on the narrator!

Following a round of cheering and thunderous applause from his audience, Phil concluded the evening with a fitting commemoration; his ‘Romford Folk Club Lament’, sung alongside Rod Standen on guitar and Glyn Protheroe on percussion. A ‘wet paint’ sign was hung on the wall behind them signalling the end of the club’s time in this soon to be commercially let basement.

One thing’s for sure, though – Phil Ericson and his music really put the ‘folk’ in Romford Folk Club, whose members will continue to meet every Tuesday at 8 pm to play acoustic folk, country and blues for years to come.

Gemma Boyd