Tag Archives: skiffleodeon

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/

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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’…….