Tag Archives: richie milton

117. RICHIE MILTON AND THE LOWDOWN “Pre-Katrina” (Right Track Records, 2016)

Pre-Katrina CD cover (Pic: Richie Milton)

Pre-Katrina CD cover (Pic: Richie Milton)

My regular readers will already be well aware of the name Richie Milton, in his capacity as one half of the popular Skiffle’n’Blues/Rockney duet Milton And Farrow. (See below for a list of my earlier reviews on this dynamic duo). But Richie of course, has another string to his bow; in the form of his own band The Lowdown.

At a Milton-Farrow gig recently, Richie handed me a copy of his own band’s new CD, Pre-Katrina (2016). This new collection has already received some critical acclaim; with airplay on none other than the prestigious Paul Jones Show on BBC Radio 2.

The Lowdown consist of Richie Milton himself (guitar and vocals); Linda Hall (vocals); Steve King (Piano and Sax); Ed Spevock (Drums); Eddie Masters (Bass); and Dick Hanson (Trumpet). As fine a group of musos you’ll ever listen to – each very impressive in their field.

This is a fifteen track collection of original songs; all penned by Richie bar one (Steve King’s ‘Ghosts On Rampart Street’). There was only one song among them that I previously knew – ‘Keep My Engine Clean’ (more on that later) – all others were new to me. Yet I felt as if I knew them all; for they remind me of family parties when I was a kid; because Richie seems to have accurately created a lot of grooves that are reminiscent of a late 50s / early 60s Juke Box – whilst still sounding original! (I’m guessing that Richie was a teenager around this time!) Song construction and lyric writing are superb. Many styles of period Pop / Rock’n’Roll are represented – there’s even a Ska instrumental (‘More Than You’ll Ever Know’).

I was particularly impressed with Richie’s vocals and generally with the fine Horn arrangements. I liked Linda’s vocals too – especially on ‘Things Ain’t Been The Same’ (an instrumental version appears at the end of the album too). My favourite track was the laid-back Jazz-Blues ‘How Come Baby?’ which is wonderful. And I’ve heard ‘Keep My Engine Clean’ with its bawdy euphemisms before; because it often appears in the Milton-Farrow live set – albeit this version in a kind of Zydeco-Ska form.  Other highlights for me were ‘I See Love’ with its walking bass line; ‘Ghosts…’ with its Latin vibe; and ‘Back To Rock’n’Roll’ which speaks for itself. Its all a lot of fun anyway!

The CD is available from Richie’s website (below); or from gigs. I recommend it – its a great album. PTMQ

Click here for a link to Richie’s website

Click for link to Paul Jones Show BBC Radio 2.

My earlier reviews of Milton And Farrow…

22. THE MILTON-FARROW SKIFFLE ‘n’ BLUES BAND Skiffleodeon EP (2014)

33. MILTON AND FARROW at ONAPLATE CAFE, Shenfiels, Essex. January 2015

63. MONDAY BLUES AT PEGGY SUE’S with MILTON AND FARROW. AUGUST 2015.

101. BILL FARROW at HAVERFOLK in “The Golden Lion” PH, Romford. Wednesday, 27th April 2016; + a few words about the club’s new venue.

(Photo: Peter Walters)

Big Bill Broonzy Farrow! (Photo: Peter Walters)

Preamble: When I saw Bill Farrow at a gig recently (see my review #99), he told me that he was booked to play Haverfolk, at their new venue, The Golden Lion, Romford, the following week. As this is very local to me, I of course said I’d come along.

The Venue: Haverfolk have recently been forced out of their previous venue, The White Horse, Chadwell Heath (see my review #78 for a description of the club and the old venue); over a dispute with the pub’s new manager. So the club have returned to their erstwhile home The Golden Lion just off Romford Market. Now I’ve been to many gigs at this pub over the last four decades (yes, really, 40 years!); but funny enough, not since I started this website. It is possibly the oldest building in Romford, dating back to at least 1440 – when it was a coaching inn known as Le Lion – and was once owned by Sir Francis Bacon.

Les and Sandra Potts with Wag Porter (Photo: Peter Walters)

L-R: Wag Porter; Sandra Potts; Les Potts (Photo: Peter Walters)

Open Foor: Bill played a two-part set preceded by two Open Floor sessions. But being as the place was very full – due to the popularity of Bill – there was only time for one song from each of those who wished to participate.  As is usual in such Folk / Acoustic clubs, there was a great range of styles present, and quality was high. Mandy Tully started things off with a tribute to the recently deceased comedienne Victoria Wood – by singing her classic song ‘Let’s Do It’. Other highlights were: Peter Walters (of Haverfolk) who gave us a superb rendition of ‘The Star Of County Down’; Les and Sandra Potts (of the nearby Sail Loft Folk Club) – assisted by Wag Porter on fiddle – who played an impressive cover of Darius Rucker’s ‘Wagon Wheel’; and Dennis Homes (of 60’s Psychedelia band Synanthesia), who played one of his own songs, ‘A Battered Old Guitar’. (Dennis told me that he is currently working on a solo album, so that’s something to look out for). Several other people had a turn, and were all very good. I played my daft Cockney song ‘Nan’s Bread Pudd’n’.

(Photo: Peter Walters)

Let’s do it…let’s jam! L-R: Skill; Richie; Bill; Les; and Wag. (Photo: Peter Walters)

Bill’s Set: Its easy to say ‘You know what you’ll get with Bill’ – and in one sense that’s true, because you know you’ll get a great display of his own unique upbeat and amusing Cockney / Skiffle / Blues acoustic guitar songs, as well as some old classics – but he always surprises me by playing some stuff I haven’t heard him do before. And he taylors his set off the top of his head to suit the audience too. Add to that some funny banter between – and sometimes during – songs, and a fun time was had by all!

He played some of his old favourites; such as ‘Believe Me Woman’; ‘New Tracks Down An Road’; and ‘Canning Town Blues’. He also did some fine covers; including Josh White’s ‘Never Gonna Stop My Wanderin’; and as he is a Big Bill Broonzy fan, he of course covered his hero with an excellent rendition of ‘When Did You Leave Heaven?’

But Bill is not just about Skiffle’n’Blues. At one time he was a playwright and into Old Time Music Hall. From this period he gave us his clever and amusing song ‘Keep Yer ‘Air On!’ (From his album The French Can’t Make Mangles Like We Can). This is a funny song about a woman losing her rag at a fruit’n’veg stall (maybe Romford market!); and got plenty of laughs.

Towards the end of Bill’s second set, he invited some others to join him for a jam. Stepping up to the plate were Bill’s usual gig-mate Richie Milton (guitar); Wag Porter (fiddle); Les Potts (guitar), and Ray ‘Skill’ Skilton (also of The Sail Loft Club, on harmonica). They played ‘Lots Of Rain’; ‘Can’t Blame Me’; ‘Pullin’ All The Boozers Down’; ‘Odd Socks Boogie Blues’; and finishing with ‘Ain’t It Good’. Encore was demanded, and duly given in the form of ‘Number 23 Bus’.

There was time at the end for a chat with some of those mentioned, before I gave Bill a lift home…well I couldn’t leave him standing there waiting for that No.23 bus, could I? Its always a pleasure to see Bill play – and I have on numerous occasions, of course – but I think he was particularly on form this evening; maybe because he was in the company of so many good old friends (some of whom had driven a fair way just to be at the gig). Nice one, Bill! PTMQ

Check my Contents List for more articles on Bill Farrow and on Haverfolk.

 

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/

38. MONDAY BLUES at PEGGY SUE’S. 2nd March, 2015. Hosted by MARTIN McNEILL; with special guests STEVE WEST WESTON, and ROB GLAZEBROOK + a few words about the venue.

WESTON and McNEILL: Low down and dirty Blues! (Photo by PTMQ)

WESTON and McNEILL: Low down and dirty Blues! (Photo by PTMQ)

I bumped into MARTIN McNEILL earlier this year when he came along to the excellent MILTON and FARROW gig at the ONAPLATE café, Shenfield, in January just gone. (See my review on this blog #33). He told me that he’s regularly been hosting ‘Monday Blues at Peggy Sue’s’ in Leigh-On-Sea; and did I want to come along some time? Well I couldn’t say no to that! This particular Monday seemed like a good time to go there, as I wasn’t working or doing anything else; and I wanted to see his  special guests of the night who are both very  notable local Bluesmen. My journalist son James accompanied me too, as he’s something of a music fan as well.

PEGGY SUE’S PIANO BAR is in London Road (A13), Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. Its a small but very smart-looking café whose owners, Dave and Lorraine Austin, decided about six months ago, to host themed musical evenings on their premises. Johnny Thorpe was brought in to organise the music; and they now offer Jazz on Sundays; Blues on Mondays; a poetry evening called ‘The Spoken Word’ on Tuesdays (that’s very cultural!); sod-all on Wednesdays (because everyone’s entitled to a night off!); Open Mic on Thursdays; and booked acts on Fridays and Saturdays. Previous artists at the venue include the local country-pop duo, HOLLOWAY ROAD, who are currently flying high.  As I’ve said before on this blog, I very much admire anyone who goes out of their way to promote and support local talent and live music; so, much kudos is due to everyone at Peggy Sue’s. They have a licence; and a menu for the evening, but I can’t comment on that because I didn’t try anything (apart from a pint of Bombardier which went down very nicely!)  I heard that the food is very good though.

ROB GLAZEBROOK: Blues and Rockabilly purist (Photo by PTMQ)

ROB GLAZEBROOK: Blues and Rockabilly purist (Photo by PTMQ)

Martin McNeill is the regular Monday Blues host. He’d brought two semi-acoustics with him; and was setting up as we arrived. He welcomed us warmly and introduced us to the venue’s guv’nor, Dave; and to one of his guests for the evening, ROB GLAZEBROOK. Martin is a great aficionado of slide guitar, and has even named his band BOTTLENECK BLUES. He often plays with them at THE RAILWAY HOTEL, Southend-On-Sea; but he’s equally comfortable playing a small venue like Peggy Sue’s; just with one or two friends.

Rob Glazebrook is an accomplished guitarist too (and also a guitar tutor). He is a left-handed guitarist; and a member of two groups: THE BROADKASTERS, which is a Blues band; and THE HOUSEROCKERS, a 50s Rock’n’Roll / Rockabilly outfit. Rob is something of a purist; and told us that he loves to use vintage kit – guitars, amps and mics – to get the authentic sounds of the original artists that he and his groups admire and emulate – and this is true even when writing his own material too. He brought a Tanglewood acoustic and a ’68 Les Paul Gold Top to the gig – lefties, of course.

Martin’s other guest for the night was the renown  STEVE WEST WESTON – an acknowledged master of the Blues harp. He is an occasional member of Martin’s band, Bottleneck Blues; and often plays as a guest at Peggy Sue’s, and at The Railway Hotel. He’s also recently been head-hunted for a tour with MIKE VERNON & THE MIGHTY COMBO. Looking every inch the coolest of Bluesmen in his dark shades, and clutching his precious case of harps, West was invited by Martin to join him for the first of three sets scheduled for the evening.

Tres hombre - Weston, McNeill and Glazebrook (Photo: PTMQ)

Three Bluesmen – Weston, McNeill and Glazebrook (Photo: PTMQ)

Set 1 had Martin on guitar and vocals; and Steve on harmonica and vocals: Right from the start it was clear that these two fine musicians were very used to playing together. They played an impressive set of up-beat acoustic Delta / Down Home Blues covers; nine songs in all, including the SAM COOKE Blues ballad ‘Bring It On Home To Me’; and old classics like ‘Rolled And Tumbled’; ‘I’m Just Lucky That Way’; and ‘In The Mood’. Martin’s slide-work was superb; and Steve on the harp was faultless throughout.

Set 2 was Rob’s solo guitar slot.  Seated with his Tanglewood; he shouted out ‘All aboard!’ and immediately launched into ‘Mystery Train’ – a JUNIOR PARKER song from ’53. Unfortunately, the nut on his Tanglewood broke during the number, causing the 4th-string to slip up to the 5th-string slot. Very professionally, Rob carried on regardless; tapping his feet and singing while he finger-wrestled the D-string back into place. This  achieved, he continued, but the same problem dogged him throughout his set. He ploughed on though; masterfully playing some good ol’ Blues numbers, including LIGHNING HOPKINS’ ‘Someday Baby’; and ROBERT JOHNSON’s ‘Stop Breakin’ Down’. Excellent.

Set 3 featured all three of our Bluesmen. This time, Rob armed himself with his Les Paul, and the three of them launched into a fine set of eight more Blues classics including PERCY MAYFIELD’s ‘Walkin’ On A Tight-Rope’; and JOHNNY GUITAR WATSON’s ‘3 O’clock In The Morning’. This third set was more lively too; being more towards the Rock’n’Roll end of the spectrum. The evening ended to great applause from the small but enthusiastic crowd.

I very much liked both the gig and the venue; and I’d recommend a visit if you’re into listening to the Blues classics played live in a warm and friendly little venue. Future gigs for ‘Monday Blues at Peggy Sue’s’ include: RAMON GOOSE on 9th March; Milton and Farrow on 23rd; and pianist CHRIS KIBBLE on 30th.

For Martin’s other gigs, here is a link to his website….

http://www.martinmcneill.moonfruit.com/

For info on Peggy Sue’s Piano Bar, here is a link to their Face Book page…..

https://www.facebook.com/peggysuespianobar

My thanks to all who made the evening possible. PTMQ

33. MILTON & FARROW at ONAPLATE, Shenfield, Essex. Friday, 16th January, 2015; and a few words about the venue.

When I saw the notification on Face Book from RICHIE MILTON that he and band-mate BILL FARROW (of the MILTON – FARROW SKIFFLE ‘n’ BLUES BAND) were to play an acoustic duet set at the local café, ONAPLATE in Shenfield, Essex; I was of course very interested. Firstly because I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to see the lads play for some time; and secondly because STEVE WILMOTT and his good lady Sue of Onaplate,  are trying to achieve something very worthwhile at the venue of late which deserves to be known more widely.

MILTON AND FARROW - Acoustic Bluesmen! (Photo by PTMQ)

MILTON AND FARROW – Acoustic Bluesmen! (Photo by PTMQ)

My regular readers will already know that I recently reviewed the latest Milton-Farrow EP – the excellent Skiffleodeon – on an earlier blog (#22). Since then, the pair have been asking me when I would come and see them play live; and this seemed like an ideal time. I confirmed that the gig was indeed going ahead by phoning Bill, and proprietor Steve; and along I went!

Onaplate is a little café in Hutton Road, Shenfield, Essex;  which (to my shame) I must have driven past a hundred times and never even noticed!  Its a charming place that sometimes hosts small art exhibitions for local artists. I deliberately arrived early in order to have a word with Steve. He is a big music fan, and last March, he and his wife Sue hit upon the idea of holding a monthly music night on their premises – and in the future this may be extended to bi-weekly events. The purpose is to promote local musical talent; and this is a project that I think is very worthwhile indeed; and has my full support (for what that is worth!)  Milton and Farrow have played there before; along with local 19 year old singer-songwriter ANNIE MAY ADAMS; and Bluegrass band ONE TREE HILLBILLIES. The appearance of a Mexican Mariachi band is a possibility in the near future too, apparently. A good variety of acts then; and I wish Steve and Sue the best of luck with their project.

As I chatted with Steve and sunk a pint of Spitfire, Richie and Bill turned up with all their gear; and began setting up. I was interested of course, in their guitars. Richie brought his Epiphone semi-acoustic (Joe Pass model); and Bill had a lovely Taylor acoustic with him. Richie also brought along his mandolin; and I tried it out, along with their geetars too. Once set up, I chatted with the lads as they scoffed a tasty looking cheese platter each, provided by Sue. They spoke about their long and varied careers as musicians; and to be honest, there is enough material there for a separate article – they have about a century of experience between them!

Jug-Band Bluesmen, Richie and Bill. (Photo by PTMQ)

Jug-Band Bluesmen, Richie and Bill. (Photo by PTMQ)

Soon it was time for some Blues! I’d asked Bill if there was a set list. He showed me a sheet of paper with about a fifty songs written on it – about half of which I knew. But he told me that he and Richie generally decide what to play as they go along. They decided to kick off with ‘Ain’t It Good’; Bill on vocals. Good start. They followed up with ‘Running Out Of Dreams’ and ‘Believe Me Woman’ – both of which I particularly enjoyed.  Richie’s country-blues song ‘ASAP’ was next – we could have been back in the Delta! The boys then played they’re Jug-Band Blues song ‘You Can’t Blame Me’, with Richie playing his mandolin and singing scat. The mandolin got a further airing for a good cover of the classic ‘Deep Elem Blues’ with Bill singing.

Strapping the Epiphone on again, Richie sang his fine boogie number ‘Everybody Sang The Blues’.  One of my favourite old Blues songs BIG BILL BROONZY’s ‘Glory Of Love’ was covered next – an impressive performance by Bill it was too. He continued with another old classic: ‘Tom Dooley’. Richie’s excellent Delta song ‘T.O.K.Y.O. Blues’ followed – great guitar from Bill on this one, with his capo high on the 7th fret. The charming song: ‘I Get The Blues When It Rains’ soon followed.  ‘Blue Blonde Baby’ from their album Barefoot And Blue included a R’n’R-style solo from Richie which sounded great on his Epiphone. Bill did an fine instrumental next – another Big bill Broonzy number: ‘Hey, Hey’. Finally, the euphemistically titled ‘Keep My Engine Clean’ (one of those Blues songs with a cheeky lyric that would make your old Nan blush!), ended Part One of Richie and Bill’s excellent set.

During the break I chatted again to Bill, who introduced me to MARTIN McNEILL of Essex band BOTTLENECK BLUES, who had also come along especially to see Bill and Richie’s set. Martin and his band play regularly at THE RAILWAY in Southend-On-Sea; and at PEGGY SUE’S PIANO BAR in Leigh-On-Sea.  I intend to visit one or both venues soon. Bill tells me that he’s still playing at least one gig a week these days; but Richie is out every night – often with his own band THE LOWDOWN.

Part Two of the set began with Bill’s upbeat  ‘Pulling All The Boozers Down’, from the Skiffleodeon EP.  The lively vibe was kept up with the great old Rock’n’Roller, ‘Corinna, Corinna’; with another good solo from Richie’s Epiphone.   Bill’s song ‘What Do I Do Now?’ followed. Although originally penned by Bill for a play, it was actually recorded by JACKIE LYNTON first. Another song from Skiffleodeon was up next: Richie’s Rag: ‘Ms. Sippie Brown’ – a great song with a tasty solo from Bill. Then it was back to the mandolin for Richie, to play ‘Big Leg Woman’. This is  an old Country Blues song by LEAD BELLY that was originally entitled ‘Big Fat Woman Blues’; during which the lads had a fit of the giggles! They poured ‘Rain, Lotsa Rain’ on us next; which precipitated a deluge of applause!

Someone called out for ‘Alberta’, then. ‘I bet Bill knows it – he knows all the old songs’ said Richie as he strapped his Epiphone back on. Sure enough, after a little think, Bill was playing it; and Richie soon picked up the vibe too. A nice little song. Next they dedicated one of their own songs to their hosts at Onaplate: ‘BBQ Chicken And wine’. And the chicken theme continued with ‘Chicken In The Yard’ – both songs from the EP. ‘We’ve got a whole album out of chicken songs!’ Richie quipped. But Bill assured us that ‘No chickens were harmed in the writing of these songs!’ The lads shared vocals for ‘Careless Love’; before they drove headlong into ‘Too Many Drivers At The Wheel’ – a boogie with a fine solo from Richie. They gave us ‘Odd Sox Boogie Blues’ from Barefoot & Blue next (which has also been recorded by Mr. Lynton); and followed it with ‘I Wanna Do It All Again’ from New Tracks (Down An Old Road). Their final offering was the excellent ‘Midnight Special’. As they finished, some wag called out ‘Give us another chicken song!’

Well, what a superb little set,  from two very well respected local Bluesmen – in such a lovely place too.  I enjoyed it a lot. Its a shame that there weren’t more punters in; but its early days for this venue, and I’m hoping that Steve and Sue Wilmott can achieve their permitted full capacity in the near future. After a bit more chat, we all said our goodbyes; and I helped the lads load up their kit in Richie’s car. I can recommend Onaplate; its  a charming little venue. There was a modest, but appetising menu laid on for the evening, but I didn’t try anything – it looked good though; and Richie and Bill had no complaints, I know!

Here is a link to Richie Milton’s website for his band’s gigs;  and those he plays with Bill too: http://www.richiemiltonandthelowdown.co.uk/

Here is a link to the Onaplate website which details forthcoming gigs: http://onaplate.net/

Here is a video of the Milton – Farrow Skiffle ‘n’ Blues Band playing their ‘T.O.K.Y.O. Blues’ at The Bull’s Head, Barnes; last December….

PTMQ

22. MILTON-FARROW SKIFFLE ‘n’ BLUES BAND “Skiffleodeon” (Right Track Records, 2014) + a few words on their PHOENIX FM radio session, 9th October 2014.

MILTON - FARROW's "Skiffleodeon" (Photo: PTMQ)

MILTON – FARROW’s “Skiffleodeon” (Photo: PTMQ)

I’ve been quite familiar with the music of BILL FARROW for 20 years or more now. In fact since our mutual friend, ROB WHEATON (a one-time member of Bill’s BONNEVILLE TWINS, and currently the guitarist in folk band DEVONBIRD) lent me some of Bill’s CDs (including the quirkily named “The French Can’t Make Mangles Like We Can”); plus a recording of a Radio Essex session that he’d done in the early ’90s.

So I was pleased when Bill popped round to my place recently, along with his current collaborator RICHIE MILTON, en route to do another radio session (this time at PHOENIX FM, in Brentwood, Essex), and handed over a copy of their latest EP entitled “Skiffleodeon” (Right Track Records, 2014. RTR-S 08014).  I was honoured when Bill asked me to review it on my blog. ‘Be kind’ he asked – well, I’ll be honest, Bill!

Well, once they’d gone, I tuned into Phoenix FM and listened to the session. Their appearance was linked to another article running that day about the scandal of so many English pubs closing down lately. Farrow’s song ‘Pulling All The Boozers Down’ (from the new EP) was then, very appropriate. They’re performance was very good; demonstrating plenty of experience of playing live. Some amusing banter ensued; and later they played another track from the new EP: Milton’s ‘BBQ Chicken And Wine’. A good little session. I enjoyed it.

Later I played the EP. It is a collection of six new songs: three from Milton; and three from Farrow. Well I said I’d be honest; so here it is….. To be fair it was pretty much what I expected (but that’s not a criticism) – I think its a great little collection of original material. Anyone who knows me, knows that I like skilful guitar playing (regardless of genre), and interesting, clever, and/or amusing lyrics. I got all that with this EP, so I wasn’t disappointed.

The opening track ‘That Rock Island Line’ (penned by Farrow) is a kind of potted history of Skiffle; based on the oft-covered classic ‘Rock Island Line’. The lyric cleverly mentions many a famous British musician who cut his teeth as a Skiffle man in the ’50s and ’60s. Its a foot tapper – a good start. The same vibe continues on the second offering; ‘Chicken In The Yard’ (also by Farrow). It must be a tough ol’ life down on the farm in Dagenham, Bill! Its another good song with effective guitar work.

The next two songs are Milton’s: ‘Don’t Know Where I’m Going’  has some fine acoustic guitar; and Masters’ bass is very good. A great song.  And ‘Ms.Sippie Brown’ is a lively little rag. I haven’t heard a rag for ages, so it made a nice change for me to hear. Its a good’un too; made me smile in appreciation. Once again lovely acoustic geetar!

Feeling a little peckish? I recommend some ‘BBQ Chicken And Wine’. This is one of Milton’s too. This is another enjoyable song. I particularly liked Cotton on the  ‘Jo-anna’; the ‘cluckin’ guitar; and the retorted backing vocals.

Finally, the highlight of the disc for me is ‘Pulling All The Boozers Down’, by Farrow. It actually covers a very serious subject (as I stated above): the decline of the good ol’ English ‘watering hole’.  But its actually a lot of fun, with a simple but effective sing-a-long chorus –  the sort of song that is at its best, played live in a pub (assuming you can still find one open!); and the more real-ale you quaff, the more you’ll enjoy it!

The Milton-Farrow Skiffle’n’Blues Band consists of: Richie Milton (Guitar and vocals); Bill Farrow (Guitar and vocals); Alan Glen (Harmonica); Eddie Masters (Upright bass); Graham Hollingworth (Drums); and Roger Cotton (keyboards). Competent musicians all. Production and recordings (at Roundel Studios, Kent) are very good too. It has a simple sleeve with good basic info. I’m recommending this EP to anyone who has a broad interest in Skiffle’n’Blues. Best get down the pub now, before last orders!

Now, where did I leave me ol’ Mum’s washboard? PTMQ

Richie Milton’s website is here…… http://www.richiemilton.co.uk

Here’s a vid of the band in the studio playing ‘Pulling All The Boozers Down’…….