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169. THE TANYA PICHE BLUES BAND Album Launch Gig (+ Blues jam) at The Mill Beach PH, Maldon, Essex. Sunday, 14th May, 2017.

The TPBB in action (Photo: PTMQ)

Blues singer Tanya Piché had been asking me to come along to one of her monthly Blues jams at The Mill Beach PH, in Maldon, Essex, for a few months, but I hadn’t been able to get there until now. These jam sessions are held on the second Sunday in the month between 5 – 9pm, and have become very popular with local musicians. This particular jam was a special occasion though, as Tanya and her band have just released their debut album, the howlingly good Wolf Woman Blues (see my review #164), and they decided to use this session for their album launch. I arrived just in time to say hello to Tanya and the band members – David Warne (guitar); Nick Sherreard (bass); and James Digings (drums) – and get my name down on the performers list, before the afternoon’s entertainment began.

Howlin’ Wolf Woman! (Photo: PTMQ)

The plan was for the TPBB to play all ten tracks from the album in three mini-sets of three or four songs each, with jam sessions in the two spaces between (a kind of wolf-flavoured jam sandwich I guess you could call it!) So the Wolf Woman and her pack kicked off their first set with ‘Clawing At Your Door’, and proceeded to play the songs in the album track order.

Now Tanya is a very lovely lady of course, but it is when she gets on stage that she really comes into her own. She seriously gets into the vibe of her Blues – and it’s infectious too. On stage she is animated, and sassy – and you can’t take your eyes off her. Her characteristically unique voice and vocal style (that has earned her the sobriquet ‘Howlin’ Wolf Woman’), growled and howled out her lyrics to an appreciative audience; yet there is a tenderness to her vocal when necessary as well – and during ‘I Put A Spell On You’, she was just a bit scary too!

The TPBB’s Blues (as I said on the album review) are as authentic as you can get this side of the Atlantic; and a great salute to their classic Stateside heroes. Their live performance here was faultlessly true to their recorded album tracks too. This is a band that has been gigging hard for the entire two years of their existence, and they demonstrated a well-practiced set indeed. David’s guitar work was impressive, relaxed and effortless, in the knowledge that backing him up was a superb, reliable, and tight rhythm section in Nick and James. I couldn’t fault their performance at all; but I wasn’t the only one, because as they finished their third set with the mellow, Greeny inspired ‘why’, the applause was thunderous and demanding of an encore. This was duly given in the form of a track that hadn’t been included on the album, their spooky single ‘Good Morning Mr.Postman’, with its psychedelic, wah-wah rigged guitar part. (Incidentally, Tanya said that, Joe Green, Peter’s nephew who will be playing live with them as a special guest at The Owl And Pussycat, Basildon, on 4th June, sent a message of support from Greeny himself).

Apart from being the star of the show, Tanya was also the Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon, so she was the busiest person there. After the first set with her band, she had quickly organised and introduced some jammers for the first of several three-number sets. There were a good number of musos present; too numerous to name (I knew some), but all of a very impressive standard indeed. Many Blues/Blues-Rock classics were excellently covered, such as: ‘All Along The Watchtower’; ‘Statesboro Blues’; ‘Texas Flood’; ‘Crossroads’; ‘Brown Sugar’; and many more – and including a surprise rendition of Sweet’s old hit ‘Wig Wam Bam’. (Blimey, that took me back a few years!) Tanya had asked me to bring my acoustic and said she’d play harp for me on my ‘Mid-Life Crisis Blues’, which she kindly did – and really well too. (Thanks Wolf Woman!) It seemed to go OK but I offer no critique – except that Tanya’s Dad said he liked it!

Among the many guests present were Blues DJ  Jim McNeill, of Blues @ Rock Radio UK, and we had a good chat about Blues and other sounds. He recommended a few bands that I may need to check out sometime soon. Thanks Jim.

Big thanks to Tanya and her boys for inviting me; to all the excellent jammers; and to everyone there for a fantastic afternoon of Blues, Blues, Blues! The bar staff need a mention too – good service with a smile… and delicious pineapple sponge! Beer was good too! PTMQ

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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.

167. PATCHWORK SKIES “Go Outside” EP (2015)

(Image: Patchwork Skies)

I met singer/song-writer Charlie Limm at Loughton Folk Club recently, where she played a very good feature set as support for Kadia who had invited me to their gig. (See my review #166). She is part of a London-based acoustic Country-Folk duet known as Patchwork Skies, along with Emma Minihan (not present on this occasion).

I had a chat with Charlie and her roadie Sophie, and she kindly gave me a copy of the duet’s EP Go Outside. I said I’d have a listen on the way home from the gig (always a good time for me to listen to music); so by the time I arrived back at Quill HQ, I had the songs on the CD firmly embedded in my mind – and needing to write a favourable review!

It is a four track collection of original songs, all penned by Charlie (vocals/guitar/flute); and Emma (vocals/guitar). The tracks are: ‘Country Kind’; ‘Relentless’; ‘Through The Dark’; and ‘Star’. (You can buy or just listen from the duet’s website). I was struck by the nicely constructed songs, that are catchy and pleasant. There are a lot of  lovely well thought out harmonies; and the lyrics are good as well. I look forward to hearing more from these ladies.

The CD comes in a simple slip case with basic info/contact details etc; and nice artwork by Stella Limm. It is available at gigs or from the duet’s website). I haven’t seen the ladies perform as a duet, only Charlie solo, but I’ll keep an eye out for a gig some time. A nice EP for The Quill’s collection. PTMQ

Patchwork Skies website.

166. KADIA (with support CHARLIE LIMM + Open Floor) at LOUGHTON FOLK CLUB, Essex. Thursday 27th April 2017.

Kadia at LFC (Photo: PTMQ)

It’s always nice to get to see artists whose albums I’ve reviewed. So when I heard that Dorset-based Folk band Kadia were to play near to my home, at Loughton Folk Club, I was keen to get along to see them live.

Loughton Folk Club is held every Thursday in a pleasant upstairs room at The Loughton Club, a social centre in Station Road. (Check LFC’s website for details). It is run by Steve O’Donoghue (MoC for the night), and Carol Woodward, who are very welcoming (They had both recently come along to my Feature Night at Romford FC. See review #162). The club book a special guest every week, and have attracted some very well known artists. This particular night there was also a support set by singer/song-writer Charlie Limm. Floor spots are also usually available, and I was asked to do a couple of my songs too.

There were some very good Floor Spots; best of which I thought were Steve O’Donoghue singing his ‘Accident Of Birth’  – the second time I’d heard this in two days (See my previous review #165), but this time by the writer himself. And John Harris who sang and played a fantastic song about an Irish sailor (which I’m afraid I didn’t catch the title of, but I’m sure I’ve seen him play it somewhere before – RFC or Haverfolk perhaps?). I played two of my songs: ‘Nan’s Bread Pudd’n’ and ‘Mid-Life Crisis Blues’. Seemed to go down OK.

Charlie Limm (Photo: PTMQ)

Support Charlie Limm played two short but very good sets. Along with Emma Minihan , she is one half of a duet called Patchwork Skies, but tonight she was accompanied only by her roadie Sophie. Charlie, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, played some charming songs; including two from the duet’s EP Go Outside: ‘Through The Dark’ and ‘Country Kind’. Other songs were: ‘At Your Side’; ‘Farewell Lullaby’ (sung acapella); ‘In This Time’ (which I particularly liked); ‘Forget-me-Not’ (her favourite flower, and a song that we were encouraged to join in with); and she finished with Richard Thompson’s classic ‘Beeswing’. Lovely songs and very effective. Sweetly sung too. The LFC audience were certainly appreciative. Maybe we’ll see Charlie play there again, with Emma too next time, perhaps? Later, before she left she gave me a copy of the Patchwork Skies’ EP Go Outside, which I enjoyed listening to on the way home and shall review on this site soon (see my following article #167).

Headliners Kadia also played two excellent sets. The trio consist of: Chris Bailey (guitar/vocals); Lee Cuff (cello/vocals); and David Hoyland (uke/mando/vocals). (For a review of their wonderful debut album East Of Alexandria, see my review #91). They are making quite a name for themselves on the Folk circuit, for their quality musicianship, their impressive song-writing, and their superb harmonies. I have recently reviewed their new EP of trad songs – The Outlandish Collection (see my review #158). They are currently working towards a new album of original material.

Steve O’Donoghue with Guthrie-esque guitar slogan! (Photo: PTMQ)

They played many of the original songs from their debut album, and all five songs from the EP; beginning with the acapella ‘The Keeper’. It was a magnificent display of the three part harmonies for which they are becoming well-known – therefore they set the bar high for themselves from the very start.

Earlier, I’d had a chat with them before the evening’s entertainment began. I’d been playing their debut album whilst driving to the gig, and I mentioned that I particularly enjoyed ‘The Beast Of Bodmin’, so they kindly incorporated it into their set for me; seguing it into the trad song ‘The Wraggle-Taggle Gypsies-O’. A faultless performance it was too. Thanks lads!

Included in their two sets were songs from the Alexandria album such as ‘Silver Linings’; ‘The Navigator’; and ‘Origin Of Fire’. From Outlandish: ‘Captain Ward’; the instrumental medley ‘Cricketers Set’; ‘Randy Dandy’ and the wonderful ‘Lady Isabel And The Elf Knight’. Other songs played were: ‘Your Side’; ‘Sounds Of Earth’; ‘Rose In April’; ‘Annabel Lee’;  and ‘Old Dun Cow’.

Throughout the show, individual musicianship; tightness; vocals; and harmonies were, to be quite honest, faultless and impressive to say the least. In fact, a perfect display of their collective talents, and I’d highly recommend attending one of their gigs if you haven’t already.

I very much enjoyed the evening at Loughton Folk Club and I plan to get there again soon for a Daria Kulesh gig, among others. Thanks to all performers and LFC personnel for a memorable evening. PTMQ.

 

165. STEVE & HANNAH O’DRISCOLL (+ Open Floor) at RFC. Tuesday, 25th April 2017.

The O’Driscolls at RFC. (Photo: G.Walker)

I always enjoy whatever father and daughter duet Steve and Hannah O’Driscoll come up with when they do their turn at Romford Folk Club. So as popular regulars, they were asked to perform a set at one of the club’s frequent Feature Nights; and I think I can speak for all the club members by saying that we were all looking forward to it.

Their two-part set was of course preceded by Open Floor spots. Best this week I thought were: Alan Gore‘s cover of Steve O’Donoghue‘s ‘Accident Of Birth’; and Trevor Attwaters‘ two songs: the trad ‘Black Waterside’, and his version of McDowell’s ‘Write Me A Few Of Your Lines’. I played my ‘Nan’s Bread Pudd’n’ at the request of Mrs.Attwaters!

The O’Driscolls were introduced for their first set and were warmly welcomed by the audience. Steve plays guitar with intriguing alternative tunings that give a very distinctive sound. Hannah is in charge of percussion and sits on her Cajon drum box. Their vocals are unique too, and characterised by an (often) melancholy vibe and some very fine harmonies. Their songs often have London or Irish themes, inspired by their ancestry.

They began with ‘Our Young Lady’. It was a great start and was followed by one of their self-penned songs: ‘Brave Boys’, which was the first song that they played together a year ago, at RFC. It is a wonderful song about the life of London dockers in the days of sail. Other songs from set 1 were ‘Thames Rose High’ which is based on an old folk tale; and ‘Mrs.Mary Smith’ about a Victorian knocker-upper from Limehouse. They finished the first set with ‘The Bow Bells Bride’ to well-deserved applause.

Set Two began with two tragic old Irish songs, ‘Old Woman In The Woods’ and ‘Well Below The Valley’. ‘The Good Old Times’ followed. It is about Steve’s Grandfather who moved from Ireland to Poplar, and was always harking back to his past. ‘London Beer Flood’ is based on a bizarre but, Steve assures us, true story from 1814 when a massive beer barrel flooded the St.Giles area, and killed several people – what a way to go! They finished their main set with ‘The Jolly Tinker’. It is a popular song from their repertoire, and they do it well. I’ve heard them play it a few times before. Great applause ensued as they finished, and encore was demanded. They gave this in the form of ‘Nelly Hang On The Bell’.

All in all really good set which was made the more enjoyable by Steve’s informative and funny spiel before each song. As far as I know their songs have not been recorded – but they need to be!  Another great night at RFC. Thanks to The O’Driscolls; all floor performers and club officials. PTMQ.

164. TANYA PICHE BLUES BAND’s debut album “Wolf Woman Blues” (2017) A pre-release review.

(Image: TPBB)

A few months ago I was privileged to be asked to sit in on the recording of three songs by the only female-fronted Blues band in Essex, the Tanya Piché Blues Band, at Basildon Recording Studio (see my article #111). The band cut three tracks that day towards their debut album; and I left with the conclusion that it would be a good’n. They have previously recorded a live EP Back at Ya! (see #111); and a couple of singles (see #80 & #116); but this is their first full album.

The clue is in the name with this unit: Tanya Piché Blues Band – they do exactly what their name suggests! But not only that; they play some of the most original and authentic-sounding Blues you are likely to hear from a band this side of the Pond. Formed in May 2015, they consist of the unique Howlin’ Wolf Woman herself, Tanya Piché (Vocals/harp); Nick ‘Smurf’ Sherreard (bass/harp/backing vocals); David Warne (guitar); and James Digings (drums). These are all well-seasoned musos. Tanya herself once spent some time hanging out with the late Robert Lucas of Canned Heat (see my article #65) – not a bad thing to have on her CV!

Blues purists they may be, but there is plenty of scope in their repertoire for originality too. Seeped in the classics of the genre, Tanya and her boys have certainly been doing their homework over a long period of time. When I listen to these recordings I hear the echoes of Waters, Hooker, Dixon, and of course Burnett – the original Howlin’ Wolf himself. In fact the album is dedicated to Burnett and Lucas – Tanya’s mentors. It is earthy, gritty, and authentic stuff – yet far more than a rehash; being fresh and interesting too.

Wolf Woman Blues is a ten track collection of mainly original numbers penned by the band themselves. The three songs I saw being recorded last year were ‘Big Joe’s Place’, ‘I Gotta Leave This Man’ and ‘I Said Please’. (For a description of these see my article #111). ‘Wolfhound Woman’ and ‘London And L.A.’ are a lot of fun; whilst the slow and moody numbers ‘Why’ and ‘I Said Please’ made me smile and nod in appreciation. But most of all I love ‘Clawing At Your Door’ and of course ‘Blues For Chester’. All in all, a good selection of some fine authentic Blues styles. There are a few sound effects included, like wolf howls and police sirens, and a soundbite of Burnett himself, which I think add to the enjoyment of the album.

Quality of musicianship is very high: characteristically unique, gritty vocals from Tanya; impressive guitar from David (especially some lovely slide work); with solid and reliable bass and drums from Nick and James.

At time of writing I do not have a CD copy, but I’m told it comes in a de-luxe tri-fold card case. Tanya is looking sexy, wolfish – and just a bit scary on the cover! I love the band’s logo and the claw marks too! There is plenty of info on the back cover (see image below).

This is a howlin’ good album, and I felt privileged to be present when some of it was recorded last year. It’s a big thumbs up from The Quill. Highly recommended if (like me) you love authentic-sounding Blues. The album launch gig will be at The Mill Beach PH in Maldon, Essex on 14th May. Check the TPBB website for more info. PTMQ

(Image: TPBB)

 

163. RUBY AND THE REVELATORS “Walk With Me” (2017)

(Image: O.Stevens)

It’s always nice to hear what Ruby Tiger has been doing with her band The Revelators. So I was delighted when she sent me the download to her debut album Walk With Me recently, followed by a CD copy.

I can’t believe it’s been nearly three years since I was invited to Ruby’s Vistas EP launch back in July ’14 (see my review #16). Since then, she and the band have released a couple of singles (see #62 and #138) and a live EP (see #81), but Walk With Me is their first full album.

Ruby And The Revelators are now a five-piece band consisting of Ruby Tiger herself, of course (vocals); Louise Maggs (guitar); John Whale (bass); Frazer Wigg (keys); and Paco Muñoz (drums). Various other fine musos were brought in as necessary for particular songs.

It is a ten track collection of songs that have been part of their live set for a while now, and therefore were honed to perfection before recording began. Most of the songs I didn’t know, and I was struck by the musicianship; the quality of the song-writing; the recording of them; and the sheer variety included – as Ruby herself says: ‘I didn’t want to be a slave to genre, I wanted the songs to come first, and the emotion behind them’. The excellent lyrics apart from the title track (which are by ex-band member King Rollo) are written by Ruby herself; and music penned by Ruby and various band members.

It is a mix of Soul, Blues and Funk with more than a little Jazz influence – yet a bright, fresh take on all of them with nothing jaded or rehashed. Above all it is a work of undeniable quality and class. These are well written songs that’ll either make you dance, cry, or just nod your head with approval.

Ruby’s vocals are exceptionally good, with her characteristic nuances and subtleties having got even better, and are a joy to listen to. Guitar work by Louise is eye-brow raisingly impressive I must say (I knew she was good but she really shines brightly on this album!)  Keys, bass, drums and other instrumentation are all excellent too, and contribute to a very impressive album.

I particularly liked the opener ‘When I See You’, but there are a lot of possible favourites to chose from in this collection. I love the Bluesy ‘Pity City’; the smoky Jazz club vibe of ‘Cold Cold Winter’; and the fun Blues-groove of ‘Find Me A Man’. I found the laid back ‘By My Side’ very pleasing too with it’s wonderful harp work; and the King Rollo penned title track ‘Walk With Me’ finishes the collection in a pensive mood with heart-felt vocal and beautifully sympathetic guitar. But let’s face it, the whole album is a winner!

The CD version comes in a standard Jewel Case with a booklet stating all the usual credits and thanks etc; plus great pics and all lyrics. Nice cover art too. My copy was signed and contained a lovely personal note from Ruby. It’s one of the best albums I’ve heard so far this year and I’m recommending it highly – worth the wait! Check the band’s website for more info. PTMQ