Tag Archives: Ruby Tiger

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

 

138. RUBY AND THE REVELATORS’ new single “Walk With me”

ruby-tiger-walk-with-meI always look forward to hearing what Sussex-based Blues singer Ruby Tiger has been up to with her band The Revelators. Their new single (released just before Christmas as a digital download only), is a wonderfully moody cover of King Rollo’s heartfelt ‘Walk With Me’. I mentioned Rollo’s original version when I reviewed his album Easy Street a  couple of years ago (see my review #52).

Rollo is of course a close friend of Ruby’s and was once a member of The Revelators himself. His original was a very good song which I liked a lot; but what Ruby and her band have done is elevate it to an entirely different level. Ruby’s soulful vocal on the number is superb – she really feels the song and gives it a generally emotive ambiance.  Musicianship from all the members of the band is wonderful – but especially the remarkable lead guitar from Louise (a little Blackmore / Greeny I thought on first hearing it).

I believe the band are currently working on a new album; and that is something I’m looking forward to hearing, I must say. All profits from the single will go to the charity Hand In Hand For Syria – a worthy cause. It is available from Bandcamp for only £1. A big thumbs up from The Quill. PTMQ.

85. “UK BLUES 2DAY” (Vols 1 & 2): Dave Spark Music Compilation Albums (2015)

(Photo: Dave Spark)

Volume 1 cover. Volume 2 is similar (Photo: Dave Spark)

Not too long ago, Essex Blues aficionado Dave Spark contacted me to say that he was compiling an album to promote new British Blues artists; and wondered if I could recommend some bands and review it for him when ready. It sounded like an interesting and worthwhile project – one that I was fully in favour of and only too pleased to help out with if possible. I suggested a few names and I’m glad to see that a couple of them are included. Dave has done an impressive job of it too. He in fact had enough material for two albums, and released them simultaneously. He also got it done pretty sharpish too! The collections are entitled UK Blues 2Day (Volumes 1 & 2); and they each contain 14 exceptionally good tracks.

I received the downloads from Dave recently, and I must say, I was very impressed with the sheer range of Blues styles that he’d managed to squeeze into the 28 tracks of the two volumes; giving a good selection of what British Blues artists are all about these days.

The whole gamut of the Blues spectrum is represented – from the traditional sounding ‘Uncle Walter’ by  Husky Tones; to the Rock end of the genre, courtesy of  Ali Clinton’s ‘The Lie 24-96’. There is the dulcet voice of Zoe Schwarz on ‘Beatitudes’; contrasting with the gravelly vocals of T Belly’s ‘Respectable Man’. We have the R’n’B of Rev. Ferriday’s ‘Red Painted Lips’; compared to the Country influenced vibe of Mat Walklate’s ‘So Long’. Several artists, such as The Della Grants; and The Blue Horizon, have a song on both volumes. And there is a lot more besides: Dave is keen to especially point out ‘Layla’ by FutureBlues: ‘…it is a strange bed-fellow with the other tracks…’ he told me ‘… but with a new twist on the modern side. I felt it deserved a place on the album’.

(Photo: Dave Spark)

(Photo: Dave Spark)

But being a big fan of female vocal, I was especially pleased to see that tracks by several ladies that I have been very impressed with lately have been included; ie: Ruby Tiger’s ‘Best Friend’; Tanya Piche’s ‘Blues Child Woman’; and Angela Lewis Brown’s ‘Ice Cold Tears’. Ruby and Angela were my recommendations; but Tanya was already known to Dave. (I have reviewed music by all three of these very talented ladies quite recently – see my List of Contents). In spite of the fact that there is lot of female vocal on these two albums (I’m glad to say); there is also some talk of a separate Women In Blues album too; so that sounds promising as well.

I’m recommending both volumes to long-term Blues fans; as well as those who are interested to find out what the UK Blues scene is all about. These albums are good samples of the genre as a whole. At the moment they are only available as MP3 downloads, but there is the possibility of a CD version of each in the future too. Downloads are available from Amazon.

(Photo: Dave Spark)

(Photo: Dave Spark)

Dave has also been busy compiling two similar collections entitled UK Ska 2Day (Also on Amazon). He asked me to review these too, but unfortunately I don’t feel qualified to do this. I’m sure he’s done a damn fine job on them too though. Dave has been promoting British Blues bands at gigs lately too; including the wonderful Malaya Blue gig that I attended a few months ago (see my review #64); and The Tanya Piche Blues Band have also appeared at one of Dave’s promotions recently.

Dave seems to have his finger on the pulse of the UK Blues scene, and is working tirelessly to promote some of the very promising artists currently emerging in the UK. So I’m wishing him the best of luck in all of his very admirable projects. PTMQ

81. RUBY AND THE REVELATORS’ : ‘LIVE’ at The Tuesday Night Music Club (EP) (2015)

(Pic: O.Stevens)

(Pic: O.Stevens)

I was pleased to receive this new Ruby And The Revelators EP from Ruby herself recently. She had previously told me it was in the pipeline and I know she was very excited about it. Having heard it I can see why!

It was recorded at The Tuesday Night Music Club in Coulsdon, Surrey, UK, on 14th July this year; by Simon Taylor of EQ Audio. It is a five track EP of four covers and one original song.  It is the second EP from the band; the first being the excellent Vistas (2014).

Ruby Tiger of course is the vocalist; and the Revelators consist of:  Louise Maggs (guitar); Russ Grooms (bass); and Vinnie Lammy (drums). Between them they’ve jelled into a fine live band – as is apparent from this recording.  (Louise has recently moved from being bassist in the band to guitarist; replacing Ruby’s great friend and collaborator King Rollo).

The four covers are all well-known Blues staples: ‘They Call It Stormy Monday’; ‘Need Your Love So Bad’; ‘It Hurts Me Too’ (see my review of this Ruby single review #62); and ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’. These songs are so well-known that they need no introduction from myself. I’ve said before that I like covers that are not slavish copies; but rather fresh interpretations. I am not disappointed with these songs, as not only are they subject to Ruby’s genuinely emotional and singular vocal style; but they also benefit from Louise’s wonderful Jazz-orientated guitar chops, which makes every one of them a unique rendition. The only original number on in this collection is the heart-felt Ruby / Rollo penned, ‘Best Friend’ (from the Vistas EP). Again it shines because of vocals and guitar. The rhythm section of Grooms and Lammy are tight, reliable and competent throughout the EP too.

The CD comes in a simple slip case, designed by Ruby and Andy Gooding; with a photo by John Bull of Rockpix on the front. There is a lovely explanatory message from Ruby; and all the basic necessary info / credits etc. It is well recorded; and was mixed and mastered by Paul Long. My only (and very minor complaint) is that I thought the audience applause could have been mixed much louder to emphasise the live feel of the recording. Apart from that I think its a faultless piece of work.

All in all, its a very pleasing EP to listen to indeed, and I recommend it to anyone who likes their Blues on the Jazzy edge of the genre; or to anyone who appreciates great female vocal and fine guitar work. I’m looking forward to a full studio album from the band ASAP. PTMQ

For my review of the Ruby And The Revelators gig at The Chichester Inn, Sussex, in July 2014, see my article #16)

For more info on Ruby & Co (CDs, gigs etc) … http://rubytigersings.com/

62. RUBY TIGER’s new single: ‘It Hurts Me Too’; and a little about her forthcoming live EP.

I was delighted to hear that my friend, Blues singer Ruby Tiger had recorded a new single entitled ‘It Hurts Me Too’. I’d been wondering if she would be in the studio again sometime soon; because its been a year since the release of her wonderful debut EP Vistas. She invited me to the Vistas EP launch party in her hometown of Chichester, Sussex, at that time; and I was very impressed by both the EP and the live performance given by herself and her band, The Revelators. (See my Blog entry #16).

Ruby Tiger: It hurts me too (Photo by permission of Oliva Stevens)

Ruby Tiger: It hurts me too (Photo by permission of Olivia Stevens)

‘It Hurts Me Too’ is, of course, a cover of the old Blues standard first recorded by Tampa Red – and perhaps more famously by Elmore James. I like it a lot. My readers will already know that I appreciate a cover; but it has to be a fresh interpretation for me, not a slavish copy – otherwise I can see no point in doing it. The song has been covered by many an artist, with many a take, of course, but I’m glad to report that Ruby has given this old staple a fine new make-over; arranged in collaboration with her dear friend King Rollo, a veteran Bluesman and one-time member of The Revelators (and a name well-known to this Blog, see entry #52).

Ruby describes the song for herself very well indeed….

‘This was one of the first tracks that I began performing with King Rollo some 5 years ago. I found a version by 70’s troubadour Karen Dalton much admired by Dylan and fell in love with the more folky stripped back treatment, which lent the lyrics a more yearning affect…this is what I’ve striven to achieve; to draw out all the emotion that the song’s unique take on how it feels to love someone, evokes’.

If you download the track, I think you’ll agree that Ruby has achieved exactly what she set out to do with this song. Her soulful voice is a joy to hear. She conveys the emotion that she intended – yet remains controlled throughout. I think there is a great deal of Ruby herself in this song; and that’s why it works so well – its from the heart. Rollo’s guitar work is excellent, as we’ve come to expect; and there is additional Lap Steel Guitar from Nick Evans. The song was produced and recorded by King Rollo; and a fine job he’s done too. It will only be available as a download though (link below).

So what else does Ruby have in the pipeline at the moment? When I spoke to her on the phone the other day, she was excited not only about the release of this new single; but also about her forthcoming live EP. This was recorded on 14th July, at The Tuesday Night Music Club in Coulsdon, Surrey; and mixed by Simon Taylor at EQ Audio. It will contain 5 or 6 tracks from the Ruby And The Revelators’ set played that evening – which by all accounts was a great show. The new EP should be available by mid-September; and I’m certainly looking forward to hearing it.

Ruby and her band are a great live act and I’d recommend going to see them. They’ve been gigging further afield than their South Coast homebase lately too – including London’s prestigious 100 Club in Oxford Street – and that is a measure of their increasing popularity. Forthcoming gigs are detailed on Ruby’s website (see below). Enjoy! PTMQ

Here is a link to Bandcamp where you can download the song…

https://rubytiger.bandcamp.com/track/it-hurts-me-too-elmore-james

Here is a link to Ruby’s website….

http://rubytigersings.com/

52. KING ROLLO “Easy Street” (Disques Classiques, 2015)

KING ROLLO's 'Easy Street' (Photo courtesy of King Rollo)

KING ROLLO’s ‘Easy Street’ (Image: courtesy of King Rollo)

I was immediately interested when I learned from the wonderful Blues songstress  Ruby Tiger, that her dear friend and collaborator King Rollo had just released a solo album entitled Easy Street. Interested because last July, I met Rollo when Ruby kindly invited me to  her debut  EP launch party in Chichester, Sussex (see my blog #16), while he was still the guitarist with her band The Revelators; and I was very impressed by his guitar playing style – he’s a really nice bloke too!

Now Rollo is a self-confessed Bluesman through and through – and told me at that same gig, that ‘…if its got more than three chords, I want paying extra!’ He was jesting of course; as there is far more to this veteran guitarist / singer / song-writer, than a  I-IV-V  12-Bar chord sequence! Anyone listening to the album would testify to that straight away.

Easy Street is a collection of eleven acoustic-based Blues / bluesy songs, mostly penned by the man himself, but with a few fine covers thrown in too. Rollo sings and plays all instruments (except drums on Track 10; by Dr. A).

The title track starts the album. Its an upbeat lively little number guaranteed to get your feet tapping; and has a nice electric lead. ‘Like A Dog’ follows. I’m guessing its a bit tongue-in-cheek lyrically – I liked it a lot. An arrangement of ‘Diving Duck’ is next. I’ve heard lots of versions of this old classic over the years – it seems everyone’s had a go at it – but Rollo puts his own unique stamp on it firmly enough, that’s for sure.

Rollo, king of acoustic Blues! (Photo: Alan White)

Rollo, king of acoustic Blues! (Photo: Alan White)

A cover of a JB Lenoir song ‘The Whale Swallowed Jonah’ is next up. Again, Rollo has made it his own to a great extent.  Then its ‘On The Road’ for Track 5. There’s a lovely bit of bottleneck slide-work on this one, which lends the right ambience to this hobo-ish song.

‘A Need’ is a beautiful little Folky tune with a Bluesy feel about it. Lovely slide again too. In contrast to this, ‘The Back Slap Boogie’ is a fun Funky number, which sounds a bit like a parody of ‘The Hokey-Cokey’! Its the longest track in the collection too.

‘Walk With Me’ surprised me with its Spanish guitar style intro. Its a song which sounds like its musical influences are from European Folk; yet still Rollo’s vocals have a Blues inflection about them that makes it unique.

‘You Gotta Move’ is another old Blues staple which has been covered by everyone from Mississippi Fred McDowell, through The Stones, to Aerosmith. (I don’t even know who wrote it originally!) But of course, each artist is singular in their interpretation; and Rollo’s version is unique too.

Mark Knopfler’s ‘Fade To Black’ is a wonderful laid-back Blues; and it has been given a right royal King Rollo make-over here; with some excellent guitar work – a fine cover indeed. Finally, the collection ends with ‘Time In My Life’. It is a Rollo tune; more in the style of a Chicago Blues than an acoustic Delta song. Nice electric lead work; and a great finish to the album.

I’ve not seen a hard copy of the album, having had only a download to work with, so I can’t comment on the CD case. The album was recorded and mastered at Crunchtime in Portsmouth; and produced by Rollo himself.  The very charming cover artwork is by Juliet Asher. All round; a fine job has been done on Easy Street.

This is the first of two excellent, and brand new acoustic Blues albums that I’ve been sent for review recently – the next being Martin McNeill’s Lately I’ve Let Things Slide which will be the subject of my next Blog: #53. (Coincidently, Martin also covers ‘You Gotta Move’).   PTMQ

Here is a link to King Rollo’s website…. http://www.king-rollo.co.uk/

31. A REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2014

A couple of my friends have recently asked if I planned to do a review of 2014. I’d like to; but time as always is against me! So I just thought I’d say a few words about the year with respect to my blog. Its been quite a remarkable 11 months since I kicked off with a review of the STRAWBS gig at TOUCHLINE LIVE MUSIC here in Essex. At first, I thought no one would be interested, but I was glad to see that’s not the case. Right from the off, I had quite a few followers. That first Strawbs review has remained one of the most popular too.

I’ve met a lot of helpful and interesting people during the course of the year – not just musicians; but promoters; writers; photographers; or just knowledgeable music lovers.  Some of those musos I have been a fan of since my teens  – MICKY MOODY and MARTIN TURNER to name but two especially. Its also very flattering when some of these musicians have personally invited me to gigs and sent CDs for me to review as well.

Anyway, here are just a few thoughts and facts on my blog’s year….

MOST POPULAR BLOG was #25, MTWA at Touchline Live Music. Second was The Move at the Boom Boom Club (#15). In third place was MTWA again (blog #5); and fourth. The Micky Moody Band at Coolham (#23). I’m glad to say that these entries are still attracting new readers through search engines too.

BEST ROCK ALBUM must go to VIRGIL AND THE ACCELERATORS for their superb second studio album Army Of Three. It was very flattering to be put on the Guest List by Virgil, and to meet and interview the band before their gig at the Touchline. (Blog #26). Looking forward to seeing what VATA will be up to in the new year.

BEST ROCK GIG for me was a difficult choice. I saw fabulous performances from THE MOVE; VATA;  and the THE STRAWBS. But I’d say MTWA at The Touchline just wins by a whisker (Blog #25). Nice of Martin Turner to agree to an interview beforehand too. This coming year, so far, I plan to see FOCUS and the PINK FAIRIES.

BEST BLUES-ROCK ALBUM. Difficult! Could be LARRY MILLER’s Soldier Of The Line;  BERNIE MARSDEN’s Shine; or  LAURENCE JONES’ Temptation; but I’d choose DEBORAH BONHAM’s Spirit I think. I was hoping for an interview with her too, but she unfortunately had to cancel her gig at the Touchline due to a chest infection.

BEST BLUES ALBUM: I enjoyed JAMES ANTHONY’s Some People Get It, which he sent from Canada for me to review. (Blog #24); and MILTON ‘n’ FARROW’s Skiffleodeon – also given to me by the band to review (Blog #22). RUBY TIGER’s Vistas was excellent as was MATT ANDERSEN’s Coal Mining Blues; but I took a shine to DANA GILLESPIE’s Cat’s Meow the most.

BEST BLUES GIG is another tough choice. Great shows by COCO MONTOYA (Blog #14); MICKY MOODY BAND (Blog #23); and RUBY AND THE REVELATORS (Blog #16); but the best for me, was the very special show put on for the BOOM BOOM CLUB’s 1,000th gig; which included superb performances from OTIS GRAND; ALAN DARBY; LAURENCE JONES and THE VOODOO SHEIKHS among others (Blog #30). In 2015 I’d like to see RED BUTLER and LARRY MILLER if I can.

BEST FOLK GIG  I attended during the year was OXJAM MUSIC FESTIVAL in Exeter. A great selection of West Country folk acts in one afternoon. I was invited by my good friends in DEVONBIRD who played a wonderful little set – as did every artist present. (Blog entry #28).

BEST FOLK ALBUM in my opinion was ANGE HARDY’s The Lament Of The Black Sheep. I’m hoping to review soon (see Blog #32).  Also in 2014, I heard ADRIAN NATION’s second album Fall Or Fly, which is excellent. As for 2015, I’m looking forward to the second DEVONBIRD album which should be released in the spring – they are recording as I write. For info on Devonbird, see Blog #4.

DOWNSIDES. I had a couple of negative comments made to me during the course of the year – one due to a misreading of my blog; and one due to a certain curmudgeonly singer-songwriter who wrote unpleasant and untrue things about me – even after I gave him a good review!  I never intend to cause offence – in fact, I’ve been criticised for liking everything! Well, I do seem to! (I suppose if I didn’t like something, I wouldn’t write about it). Anyway, the vast majority of those I’ve written about; and my readers too, have been very complimentary and supportive indeed; so I didn’t loose any kip over it!

REGRETS: ‘…..I have few, but then again, too few to mention’! These surround missed gigs. I was particularly peeved at missing LARRY MILLER; and TERRY REID because I couldn’t get time off work; and DEBORAH BONHAM’s gig at the Touchline was cancelled (as I said above) due to the fact that the poor lady had a chest infection.  I hope she’s well now and will play there soon.

FUTURE PROJECTS include a review of Ange Hardy’s Black Sheep album; an article on my friend, the song-writer TONY PARTIS; and continuing to go and see as many and as varied gigs as possible. I also plan to get into the studio myself to try to record some of my own songs (for what they’re worth!). And I shall continue to support and promote my friends’ projects too.

A SAD FAREWELL to those musicians who sadly passed away in 2014:  JOHNNY WINTER (See my blog #17); JACK BRUCE; JOE COCKER; PHIL EVERLY; ACKER BILK; PETE SEEGER; BOBBY WOMACK; TOMMY RAMONE; ALVIN STARDUST; and LYNSEY DE PAUL. These luminaries will be sadly missed; but leave us a fine legacy in their work which their fans will cherish for all time. R.I.P. (My apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone).

THANKS to all those who have supported; encouraged; offered constructive criticism; advice; photos; and other pics; and generally taken the time to read my blog. Those people are too numerous to mention but they know who they are; so thank you one and all! Here’s looking forward to more of the same in 2015.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! PTMQ

23. THE MICKY MOODY BAND (featuring ALI MAAS) at COOLHAM VILLAGE HALL. Sunday, 12th October, 2014; and a few words about TAME PROMOTIONS and the Sussex Blues scene.

An empty stage at Coolham Village Hall; awaiting The Micky Moody Band (Photo CGM)

In recent months I’ve become aware that there is a good healthy Blues scene going down in Sussex. (For those of my readers who are not too familiar with the geography of England; Sussex is a picturesque county of beautiful hills and quaint old towns on the south coast of England; only an hour or so drive from South London; and well worth a visit).   Now I hadn’t visited Sussex for some years, so I was totally ignorant of this burgeoning phenomenon, until I was kindly invited by Blues singer RUBY TIGER to one of her excellent gigs (in Chichester) back in July (See my blog entry #16), and was pleasantly surprised at how popular the genre has become down there.

A lot of credit for promoting Blues in the area should be attributed to the non-profit making TAME PROMOTIONS of Coolham.  GRAEME TAME – ably assisted by friends SARAH REEVE and RICHARD DONNELLY – have quite recently started booking Blues acts in the local village hall; and are starting to attract some big names.  In just their first few months they’ve already hosted: BEN WATERS; JO HARMAN; PAPA GEORGE; SAM KELLY; LARRY MILLER; RON SAYER; THE ALI MAAS BAND; and the brilliant BUDDY WHITTINGTON. Waiting in the wings for an appearance soon are: EDDIE BLUE LESTER; AYNSLEY LISTER; WILL WILDE; KATIE BRADLEY; and the remarkable LAURENCE JONES, among others.

So, a couple of months ago when Sarah Reeve alerted me to the fact that the formidable veteran Blues-Rock man, MICKY MOODY was to play Coolham with his band, I of course, immediately contacted Graeme Tame to reserve some tickets. This is a big name for Tame Promotions to get on-board; and is a measure of their current standing within the music business.

Mr.Moody sporting Flying Finn with thumb-pick and bottle neck (Photo: CGM)

Mr.Moody sporting Flying Finn with thumb-pick and bottle neck (Photo: CGM)

I’ve been a fan of Micky Moody for well over 35 years, now. He first came to my attention as a founding member of DAVID COVERDALE’s post-DEEP PURPLE band WHITESNAKE, back in ’78. Before that, he had, of course, been the JUICY LUCY axe-man.  Since leaving Whitesnake, he’s been a member of many a Rock and Blues band: THE YOUNG AND MOODY BAND; THE MOODY-MARSDEN BAND; 3M; THE SNAKES; COMPANY OF SNAKES; WILLY FINLAYSON AND THE HURTERS; to name but a few; and is currently part of the Rock group SNAKECHARMER who are currently flying high.  He has also worked with just about everyone of note in the music industry over the years – too numerous to mention here. Suffice to say that he is one of the most hard-working, consistent, and ubiquitous guitarists currently working in the UK – he knows his way up and down a fret-board just a bit too!

But his presence in Coolham this afternoon was with his own Blues outfit, THE MICKY MOODY BAND. He’d already played a gig at this venue the night before (along with support act, local band CATFISH – who wouldn’t be present for the Sunday show), which unfortunately I was unable to attend, but which apparently was a resounding success.

The band currently consists of some very experienced musicians indeed. As well as Mr. Moody himself on guitar; there is, ALI MAAS on vocals (who with her own band is making quite a name for herself on the local Blues scene); PETE REES on bass (From the late, great GARY MOORE’s band); and TOM COMPTON on drums (14 years with the recently deceased Blues leviathan, JOHNNY WINTER – see my blog entry #17).

I arrived at Coolham’s local pub ‘THE SELSEY ARMS’ (where the band were staying) with cousin Chas and my Missus in tow. Charlie is a bit of a photographer as well as a big music lover, and was more than happy to take photos as required. We had a meal booked for One O’Clock, with the band due on-stage at 4pm.  I’d arranged to meet Graeme there, and after a Sunday lunch of humongous proportions, we decamped to the village hall.

The Micky Moody Band in full flight (Photo: CGM)

The Micky Moody Band in full flight (Photo: CGM)

Coolham Village Hall is a lovely little place; which apparently can only accommodate less than 100 people. That makes for a very cozy, intimate venue – not the sort of place you would naturally expect to find someone of the calibre of Micky Moody to play. (I saw him with Whitesnake at the READING ROCK FESTIVAL, 1980, in front of 30,000 punters!). But the fact that he and his band agreed to do so, is a measure of the respect they hold for their fans – whether they be present in large, or small quantities!  By all accounts, the night before had been a rockin’ success; but the place was far from full on the Sunday. Still, everyone there was keen to see the show.

As the band had played at the same venue the night before, there was only a little setting up and tuning up to be done. (during which Micky played the ‘Dad’s Army’ theme – and why not?) We had a little chat with the singer, Ali Maas; and then the band went back-stage to get changed. Micky had 3 guitars sitting, waiting on the stage; and I resolved to have a chat with him about them, later if I could. The band emerged after a good introduction from Graeme Tame to great applause.

Micky, armed with a blue Hagstrom guitar, bottleneck, and thumb-pick; immediately started proceedings by launching the band into a good rendition of ‘Same Blues’; with Ali in fine voice. Changing his three guitars (Les Paul; Hagstrom; and Flying Finn) frequently, Micky’s first-half set continued with various well-rendered covers: MAVIS STAPLES’ ‘Mississippi’; and  MUDDY WATERS’ ‘Brand On You’; ‘Taste Of Bourbon’ (which Micky sung);  and ‘Soon Forgotten’.  ‘Retail Therapy’, a newly penned song, followed; and it incorporated a few bars of ‘Day Tripper’. A nice version of The Stones’  ‘Gimme Shelter’ finished off Part One. It included a vignette of ‘Honky Tonk Women’ (well, if you’re covering KEITH RICHARDS’ slide-work in Open-G, you may as well, I suppose!) before reverting to ‘Gimme Shelter’ to the end. Excellent!

Moody and me: Half-time chat (Photo: CGM)

Moody and me: Half-time chat (Photo: CGM)

At half-time, I collared Micky for a chat. I’ve never met him before, but I wasn’t surprised to find that he is a very approachable and down-to-earth kind of bloke, who has the time to talk to his fans. He told me about the three guitars that he’d brought with him for the Coolham gigs: a Gibson Les Paul Gold Top (standard tuning); a lovely blue Hagstrom (Open-D tuning); and a beautiful Flying Finn ‘Micky Moody Signature’ (in Open-G). And why those particular three from his large collection of instruments, I hear you ask? ‘They were nearest the door when I left home!’ he quipped. He had them plugged into an Orange amp, and out to a standard 2 x 12 Marshall speaker; with the required FX (including wah-wah). We also talked about the British Blues scene. We agreed that it is currently in fine fettle; with young guitarists like LAURENCE JONES and OLI BROWN currently making a name for themselves. He also invited me to THE RED LION in Isleworth to see him play with PAPA GEORGE – now that’s an offer you can’t refuse!

Part Two kicked off with EDDIE BURNS’  ‘When I Get Drunk’. This was followed by an original Moody piece – written, he said ‘…in my Victor Meldrew mode!’  Its title: ‘Get Off My Back’; and he took the lead vocal while Ali did backing. It was more to the Rock end of the Blues spectrum than anything else played at the gig; and featured a superb wah-wah solo.

Two ETTA JAMES’ songs were up next: ‘Cry Like A Rainy Day’, which Ali sang beautifully, demonstrating her remarkable vocal skills; and ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ for which Micky used the Les Paul again with capo on the 3rd fret. This cleverly incorporated the old Whitesnake song ‘Lovehunter’ (co-written with ex-band-mates DAVID COVERDALE and BERNIE MARSDEN back in ’79); and featured another excellent wah-wah solo before returning to ‘Serve Somebody’.

Ali Maas: remarkable vocal skills (Photo: CGM)

Ali Maas: remarkable vocal skills (Photo: CGM)

MEMPHIS MINNIE’s ‘Girlish Days’ followed, during which Ali confidently sang (in part) unaccompanied. Great slide again from MM on the blue Hagstrom. Another old Whitesnake favourite followed: ‘Slow’n’Easy’ from the “Slide It In” album of ’84; again co-written with DC. Some audience participation was required for this one. Then It was time for another Muddy Waters song –  the oft-covered ‘Rollin’n’Tumblin’, which MM sang and show-cased his slide guitar skills. This was followed by  ‘BIG MAMA’ THORNTON’s ubiquitous ‘Hound Dog’ which finished Part Two to great applause.

Graeme Tame took to the stage again then; but the audience needed little encouragement to get the band back for encore.  They played the staple ‘I Just Wanna Make Love To You’. Ali gave it her all, like she really meant it; and when Micky’s Les Paul made love to the Orange-headed Marshall, a suitably dirty-sounding solo ensued! Our lust for good quality Blues satisfied, we applauded for the final time, as these superb musicians left the stage.

Ali soon returned to the auditorium. We had a nice little chat; and Charlie took some final photos. Graeme invited us to further gigs; so I hope we can get down to Coolham again soon. The drive back to Essex was a two-hour nightmare in the pitch-dark and pouring rain (I could have written a Blues song about it – I was in the mood after all!) It was a fantastic little gig though, and well worth the trip to Sussex. Thanks to the band, and Graeme Tame and his associates for providing us with a great afternoon. Cheers, all!

PTMQ

16. RUBY AND THE REVELATORS (+PACE COOPER) at the CHICHESTER INN, West Sussex. Sunday 6th July, 2014

RUBY AND THE REVELATORS - Classy blues!  (Photo by Sarah Reeve)

RUBY AND THE REVELATORS – Classy blues! (Photo by Sarah Reeve)

I was surprised and flattered when the singer RUBY TIGER contacted me out of the blue (or should that be ‘out of the blues?’) after having read my blog; to invite me to write a review of her debut EP launch gig at the CHICHESTER INN, West Sussex. I’d heard her name crop up from time to time, but I’d never met her before, nor heard her sing; so I immediately got onto YouTube for some research. What I saw and heard was impressive enough for me to book a motel room near the venue, pronto!

I made the 100-mile drive to Chichester from my base in Essex in two hours. I arrived early enough to sit in on a little of the sound-check; which enabled me to meet the band, and their friends and associates. Ruby (aka Olivia Stevens) is an instantly likable lady; chirpy and fun; confident; full of life; and full of character – just the kind of personality you need to cut-it as a successful singer. She apparently took her stage-name from the beautiful Ruby Tiger moth; and it seems to suit her. She cut her teeth as a singer in a funk band called FUNKY JUNCTION in which she did well; but she became drawn to the blues, and now she seems so comfortable in this genre, that you’d swear she’d spent her entire life on stage belting out blues classics!

Ruby’s excellent band, THE REVELATORS, consist of: KING ROLLO on guitar and occasional bass (another name that I’ve been hearing for a while, but again, never seen); LOUISE MAGGS on bass and occasional guitar (an experienced jazz guitarist and guitar tutor); and the highly capable PAUL WRIGHT on drums. These superb musicians were supplemented by blues-harp player DARREN WALLER (of CLAPTON WALLER RECORDS who had recorded the EP). The appearance of a sax player had also been planned for one song, but he was unfortunately ill. Undaunted, Ruby confidently decided that she’d sing scat over the missing sax solo.

Sound-check completed, Ruby announced that we should all temporarily decamp to the curry house next door for an Indian meal – a ‘Ruby Murray’ with Ruby Tiger! By the time we arrived back at the Chichester Inn, the music room was filling up nicely. Many of the audience seemed to be friends of Ruby and the band, which made for a very warm and friendly atmosphere. Many copies of the EP ‘VISTAS’ had already been sold, and Ruby got to work signing them. Before long it was time for the show to begin.

PACE COOPER - Pretty covers with fine harmonies (Photo by Sarah Reeve)

PACE COOPER – Pretty covers with fine harmonies (Photo by Sarah Reeve)

First up was the support act PACE COOPER. This is a local boy-girl duo, step-siblings CLOE BARRETT (vocals) and TOM LAWSON-BAKER (acoustic guitar) who played a few fine contemporary covers, beginning with Corinne Bailey Rae’s ‘Put Your Records On’. Now I feel I should apologise to Cloe and Tom for not giving their set my full attention as I am afraid I was at the back of the pub chatting away with the Revelators and their friends, but what I heard was very good – especially their version of the old blues classic ‘Cry Me A River’, which was soulfully sung by Cloe with competent guitar and harmonies from Tom. (I managed to see and hear all of that number!) Anyway, they were warmly received by the audience, and thoroughly deserved the applause. Good luck to them both.

After a short break it was the moment we had all been waiting for. Ruby and the band took to the stage to great applause before they’d even played a note. She announced that it would be a two-part set with a short interval. And that they’d start proceedings with the Esther Phillips classic, ‘Aged And Mellow’. I’d heard an earlier Ruby / Rollo duet version of this number, which was excellent, but with the full band it was exceptional; and a great opener. ‘You Gotta Move’ followed with Rollo impressing with his Elmore James-style bottleneck slide technique. Bluesy classics both old and new followed: ‘Lingers’; ‘You Know I’m No Good’; Curtis Mayfield’s ‘People Get Ready’; and Etta James’ ‘Damn Your Eyes’ (which is on the EP).

RUBY TIGER (photo by Sarah Reeve)

RUBY TIGER ‘With these blues I just can’t lose!’ (photo by Sarah Reeve)

Next up was one of Ruby’s own songs (again from the EP): ‘Me And My Tears’. For this jazz number, bassist Louise played guitar; and Rollo, bass. It is a well penned, interesting piece with changing time signatures. Ruby sang beautifully, and Louise’s superb jazz chops were well demonstrated. Rollo did a fine job on bass too. The sax player’s solo was barely missed with Ruby’s improvised scat singing, which proved her versatility on vocals. I spoke to Lou and Rollo at the interval about their role reversal. Lou explained a bit about the chords (but jazz guitar is something of a dark art to me!); and Rollo quipped that as a bluesman ‘if its got more than three chords I want payin’ extra!’

Peter Green’s iconic, laid-back ‘Need Your Love So Bad’ followed. This is often covered of course, but although still an unmistakable Greeny tribute, it was no slavish copy – Ruby and Rollo making it as much theirs as his. Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Love Me Like A Man’ livened the place up again; before they ended Part One on a high, with the fun Sugar Pie De Santo number: ‘Soulful Dress’.

Part Two began with just Ruby and Rollo (as a duet as they had played together many times). So the first few songs of this second part were like a charming cameo – a gig within a gig. Although Darren joined them on harmonica, the musical on-stage chemistry between Ruby and Rollo is obvious – genuine and deep. They began with another Elmore James song: ‘It Hurts Me Too’ with Rollo playing blinding slide again. ‘Georgia On My Mind’ followed before Lou returned to play another good original piece: ‘Payin My Dues’; and the classic ‘St.Louis Blues’. Then it was time for another of Ruby’s own songs from the EP: ‘Best Friend’. Its about her friendship with Rollo and is full of heart and soul. Great applause ensued.

The cameo completed, the full band let rip with the old 1928 Ma Rainey song ‘Big Feeling Blues’ (from the EP). Rollo shared vocals on this too, and played a great solo. Bobby Blue Bland’s ‘Ain’t No Love (In The Heart Of The City)’ followed. I haven’t heard a cover of this for ages – great song, good choice! Next it was time for another Etta James classic: ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’. This show-cased Ruby’s vocals, and whilst some may say that it wasn’t the Beth Hart / Joe Bonamassa version, I can honestly say that it was a close second!

Things were heating up in the audience now. ‘Real Man’ got lots of people up dancing. It was barely ended before the band finished with the lively ‘Shattered Not Broken’. This is the third of Ruby’s own excellent songs to feature on the EP. It went down a storm, and an encore was demanded! Perhaps another iconic song would do the trick? Jimmy Reid’s ‘Baby What You Want Me To Do?’ hit us like a sledgehammer! To paraphrase the song, Ruby had us doin’ what she wanted us to do! The finale was a fun medley that saw a standing ovation from an appreciative audience.

RUBY (Photo by Sarah Reeve)

RUBY had us doin’ what she wanted us to do! (Photo by Sarah Reeve)

Ruby and her band’s repertoire consists of a good selection of carefully chosen bluesy styles – from the jazzy, through the R’n’B, to the rock ends of the blues spectrum, both old and new – reflecting both the depth of the blues genre; and her ability to sing anything within it. At times her voice was mellow; sometimes gutsy; or sweet and soulful as needs be; but at all times palatable; beautiful; controlled; and above all, classy! Another thing I liked was that Ruby has a lovely speaking voice, and has a great rapport with the audience. She speaks to the crowd between songs, explaining them where necessary, and telling anecdotes. So what do I hear when I listen to Ruby? I hear Etta James; a little Janis Joplin; maybe Dinah Washington? But most of what I hear is Ruby’s own unique voice and style – she is creating her own niche as a singer. She has also proved that she can write good original material too. She’s quite a lady!

Now I wonder what the future holds for this blues diva? With performances like this; the excellent debut EP ‘Vistas’; and exposure to a wider audience courtesy of a great article by IAN McHUGH in BLUES IN BRITAIN magazine; the stars are indeed looking very auspicious for Ruby and the Revelators. Hopefully she will get some larger venues to play; and further afield too (having only been as far as High Wycombe); and I’d like to see her as a support act for more big names like the veteran GENO WASHINGTON who she supported recently. Personally, I think she’d go down a storm supporting JOOLS HOLLAND (Hootenanny, next year perhaps?)

Anyway, I think the lady has reached a genuine ‘take-off point’ – this is where an artist ticks over doing OK for X-amount of time and then something triggers a significant boost to their career. Now I don’t know how high this particular Ruby Tiger will fly, but I do know that the cocoon phase is over – the time has come for this beautiful blues butterfly to spread her wings and soar! Someone at the gig asked me if it had been worth driving the 100 miles to see Ruby and co; I quipped that I’d have driven thousand!

If you fancy seeing Ruby And The Revelators live, (and I highly recommend it) they’ll be playing at the Uckfield Blues Festival on Sunday 4th August at 6pm. Link below….

http://uckfieldbluesandroots.co.uk/

If you’d like to buy a copy of Ruby’s 5-track EP, here is a link….

http://rubytiger.bandcamp.com/

Here is a video of Ruby And The Revelators playing her own jazz composition ‘Me And My Tears’ at the gig….

Phil The Music Quill.