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47. MONDAY BLUES AT PEGGY SUE’S. 20th April, 2015. Host: MARTIN McNEILL; special guest: ROY METTE.

(Photo: PTMQ)

Mette and McNeill (Photo: PTMQ)

When the Essex Bluesman Martin McNeill first invited me to Monday Blues At Peggy Sue’s, back in January, he pointed out that every session is very different, depending on the special guest invited for each particular week. So my first visit in March  (See my blog entry #38), although excellent, may not have been typical. I can’t get there every Monday, but on this occasion I was not only available, but keen to see this week’s special guest, the inimitable guitarist, Roy Mette.

Now, I’ve been aware of Roy for some time, but occasionally I astound myself with just how ignorant I am! It was only when I looked at Roy’s website recently, that I realised that he’d once been a member of the NWOBHM band Warrior, who I’m sure I  saw at least a couple of times at the Ruskin Arms, East Ham; c.1979. So Roy’s been plying his trade for more than three and a half decades (I’m sure he won’t mind me pointing that out!) These days of course, he is both a Blues-Rock man and a bit of a Folkie too; and these styles influence his playing of the Blues. Normally he’s accompanied by his own band, but he’s equally at home playing acoustic – with or without an accomplice. And that is the guise in which we found him on this occasion – as special guest of Martin McNeill at Peggy Sue’s Music Bar, Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. (For a description of the venue, see my blog #38).

I arrived at the venue early enough, and Martin introduced me to Roy – who was tuning-up a fine-looking Gibson electro-acoustic. I’d never met him before. Like most musicians, he’s an approachable and friendly bloke; and seemed to be looking forward to the gig. Present in the audience were Dave and Brian of Touchline Live Music along with their better halves; and Kathy P with her husband, hoping to shoot some footage of the set. The bar was more full up than on my previous visit; and maybe that was a reflection of Roy’s presence at the venue; as he is well known locally. And so, we were ready to begin….

(Photo: PTMQ)

Roy Mette: Acoustic Blues Warrior! (Photo: PTMQ)

Martin warmed us up with three songs – including ‘Ramblin’ On My Mind’ – demonstrating his mastery of the bottleneck slide technique, for which he is renown. Without his Blues Harp sidekick West Weston present, Martin also showed that he is more than a fair harmonica player too.  It was a short warm-up, and Roy was soon up for his solo set.

Gibson in hand, he began with the Jazzy ‘Lady Sings The Blues’. And followed it with a variety of Bluesy / Blues-based numbers; showing a very good understanding of the genre in many of its forms. Among others, this solo set included a fantastic cover of ‘All Along The Watchtower’; the down-home style ‘Black Mountain’; a heart-felt version of ‘I Still Miss You So’; the laid-back ’12 Bars And The Blues’; a wonderful rendition of the classic ‘Wayfaring Stranger’; and finishing with ‘Train Train’.  At all times, Roy’s guitar playing was impressive; and complimented by his superb vocals. All in all, I couldn’t fault it – a bloody good set!

After a short break, both Roy and Martin returned for a duet.  With two guitars of course, there is far more scope for solos; and neither of our Bluesmen failed to impress. Taking it in turns to sing, they began with ‘Long Tall Shorty’; and then proceeded to play many a classic number; including a unique version of ‘All Shook Up’; a fine laid-back cover of the staple ‘Crossroads’; the coal-mining song ‘Sixteen Tons’ (I hadn’t heard this for yonks!); the ubiquitous classic ‘As The Years Go Passing By’; and finishing with a hybrid of ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Red House’, in which Martin’s slide-work excelled; and Roy’s vocals at times could have passed for  Chester Burnett!  It was another damn fine set. Both host and guest in fine form, and working nicely together. There was also some amusing banter between the performers and the audience – something you can only get in a small intimate place like this.

Once again a great night at Peggy Sue’s; and I’d recommend a visit if you love acoustic Blues. Many thanks to Martin, Dave, Lorraine, Johnny, and all present at the music bar for another Bluesy start to the week! PTMQ

Here is a link to Roy’s website…. http://roymette.co.uk/index.asp?mid=64

Here is a link to Martin’s website….. http://www.martinmcneill.co.uk/

Here is a link to Peggy Sue’s Facebook page… https://www.facebook.com/peggysueslivemusic

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