The Pewke Band follows Sunday lunch at Prince Of Wales, Ledbury
The Pewke Band, as many will know, is a long established local band that essentially perform ‘covers’ from a variety of musical styles. The rockers who make up the band have interesting and diverse backgrounds, but they let, what ever hair they have left, down, and have fun.
Paul, a sound journal editor, plays lead with vocals; Alan, a BBC film editor, is on bass and vocals; Uni professor, Tony, tickles the keyboard and plays guitar; whilst a retiring Keith, beats the drum.
The band cover a lot of classic pop, rock and blues, stepping back to the ’60’s starting with Spencer Davis’s, Gimme Some Lovin’, and straight in to Neil Young’s ‘Cinnamon Girl’. A bit of Free and The Stones from those early rock years before catapulting forward for a bit of ‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’. Tony takes to the Strat with a bit of slide for some Dr. Feelgood, and some grungy ’70’s blues. Hovering in the final years of that era, a nice bit of Pink Floyd, with Paul taking up a glass ‘bottleneck’ for the fabulous ‘Comfortably Numb’. ‘Is there anybody out there’, well yes, there were quite a number of us, basking in the ancient timber of the Prince Of Wales, with our memories and a glass of fine ale. A short break, before the band restart and Paul takes to his home made Gibson Les Paul Junior copy, fashioned from an old mahogany wardrobe, looking suitably stressed but with a rounded, warm sound. Plenty more from the Stones, maybe we all have a bit of ‘Sympathy For The Devil’, and painting everything black. The good Dr. was not far away either, dispensing his ‘Milk And Alchohol’. Its a non stop rock and roll-over into the early evening. The Pewke band certainly entertain, there repertoire is wide enough to keep all happy, and the band certainly enjoy themselves in the process. If they had perhaps, a full on lead vocalist, they could be dangerous. All in all, an early evening, with live music at a great pub, and ageless classics (and that’s just the clientèle) beats the hell out of ‘Flog It’, ‘Songs Of Praise’ and ‘All Stars Family Fortunes’!
Words and photos Graham Munn
Official Receivers at The Artrix 06/09
I was looking forward to a night of soulful music from one of the premier bands in the country, who not only play the part, but look the business as well. Not so fast, first we have to give consideration to an excellent support band, whom I would not have minded seeing in their own right. Not soul this time, but plenty of rock and blues, coming from Slowburner.
They have a 27 year pedigree, and have supported some influential blues and rock bands over that time. Slowburner is fronted by the charismatic vocalist Paul Bridgewater, Mike Bannister, looking serious on a mean guitar, Rob Newell, thumping out those base notes and just for the night, a drumfest performance from Dave Small stand in Denny Connolly. It must be said, Paul has an outstanding voice, purpose built for this style of electric blues, and certainly looks the part, bringing to mind Paul Rogers and Free. From ‘King Bee’ to ‘Bullfrog Blues’, via JJ Cale, Free, and Muddy Waters, this band play a smorgasbord of blues looking back across the last 50 years. That’s not to dismiss many of their own songs squeezed in to the roller-coaster rock show. Thoroughly enjoyable, those soul boys would have to work hard to better this.
Whilst not at capacity, there was a good crowd awaiting the Receivers, the cheer went up as they entered the arena. Slickly turned out and loaded with brass, the band strike up, front man Lenny enters,the open floor of the Artrix, tense with expectation, breaks into a writhing mass of born again teenagers, as ‘Soul Finger’, melds into ’25 Miles From Home’. Edwin Starr, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding and Booker T, are pitched at the auditorium. Whether your a Soul Man or not, you can’t help moving to these classics, helpless against the tide of songs washing over us, ‘How sweet It Is’, to be within the magnetic field of this dynamic, highly charged, band. They are a brass driven 8-piece, towering over the tuneful tubes is Chris on Tenor Sax, with Paul on trumpet, and a second Tenor, sitting squarely on Phil. Tucked behind are the building blocks of funk, Dave on bass, and Tony on drums. Only stalling for Lenny to mop his brow, the soul train rides on, ‘Geno’ almost enticed me to risk my well worn back, but I’m a pro, I had a job to do, sod it! ‘Mustang Sally’ caught me unawares, another week on Tramadol! Venturing up into the galleries, I found a similar picture, abandoned seats, floor space at a premium, you cannot sit still to this stuff. Rick gets carried away on a guitar solo, hinting at some serious rock demons, Simon throws in some nifty keyboard moves, Lenny needs an oxygen mask, time to Show A Bit of Tenderness. The evening is winding up, far too many wild eyed, middle-aged teenagers were about to be released into the Bromsgrove night, looking for more action. It had been a fabulous evening, intoxicating stuff, a superb Slowburner put light to the fuse, and the controlled explosion as the Official Receivers, drew us all in and released the force.
Do you like good music, yeah, yeah, oh yeah
Words & photos Graham Munn
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Gloucester Blues Bytes 2014
Sampling what is on offer during the last week of July and into August, finds me at Café Rene for a Mike Sanchez solo. Waiting is his battered gig weary keyboard, more gaffer tape than body, but it seems to work for him. Mike is a travelling jukebox box of Rhythm & Blues, Do Wap, Boogie, Blues, Ballads and Rock & roll, taken from the world of wine women and song. A non stop whirling dervish of a show, someone had loaded a fiver in a 5p slot Wurlitzer, and Mike is the stylus. Café Rene was full, and song titles were tossed in the air to be caught and played, set list? never heard of them! Mike remonstrated his inability to play Louis Jordan’s, ‘Ain’t Nobody here But Us Chickens’, and then proceeded to sing it ‘a capella’ style. A fun evening to end Mike’s current UK visit, and the launch of his biography.
I returned to Gloucester for a Friday night double, Steve Ajao & The BluesGiants, with King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys, following them on to the open stage in Eastgate. A damp evening, with fine rain making for a reluctant gathering, venturing out from the covered areas. Though eventually, with no doubt a little fortification from the bar, KP managed to entice movement onto the green around the stage.
Steve Ajao, had opened with some good solid blues, as you would expect from this top notch Birmingham band, ‘Pride and Joy’, ‘Boogie Chillun’, and, ‘Travelling Man’, slip out easily, with bits of Hendrix, Whittaker and Clarence Carter, thrown in. Sadly the vocal mike did not seem well set to relate anything Steve talked about between these classic songs, a shame, as he does have a nice dry humour to bring to his gigs. KP and the lads, drew in the reluctant, sheltering crowd with plenty of rhythm and blues, swing, and even a bit of BB King for the occasion. ‘Everyday I Have the Blues’, crooned out to the revellers, in a full on blues style, reverting to lounge swing for such songs as ‘Oh Marie’. KP, with ‘Big John’, at his side, surrounded by one of the best R&B/swing bands around, can’t go wrong, a good way to unwind into the weekend.
Sunday, and some nice delta blues from Damon T, based in Gloucester, he is undoubtedly broadening his base with various festival spots throughout the summer. He ended on a Blind Willie Johnson song ‘Soul Of A Man’, played with soul by Damon T. A timing mix up meant a delayed start for Steve Morrison, so why not a bit more Damon to fill in, no one complained. The small hooded stage was reset for another, perhaps grittier blues man, Matt Woosey and his band. Matt , All the way from the Heights of Malvern is a well established acoustic blues artist, either solo or with his band. He grabbed attention with the lovely ‘Hook Line & Sinker’, the title track from his last album, but he could not get away from his claimed nemesis ‘Cruel Disposition’ a hard hitting Woosey favourite, fully fired up and certain to leave an impression.
Steve Morrison had found his way and was ready to go, a softer, approach after Matt, but an excellent performance that was much appreciated by the now crowded green. His well worn Fender teased us with superb finger picking and slide from the opening ‘After Midnight’ in the style of EC through to ‘Alberta’.
The Keith Thompson Band introduced a bit more rock as they played their Chicago and Mid America style blues, with the odd curved balls served up, like ‘Money’, the only cover on their Catch The Fire album. A nice bit of Hendrix in ‘Little Wing’ followed fast on the heels of Pink Floyd, the band gave a distinct change of style from the afternoon sessions.
Spikedrivers were to follow, they had won over many new fans at Upton a week before, with their roots style of Americana and blues, played out on scullery instruments by Constance and Maurice alongside the age worn acoustic guitars of Ben. Unfortunately, I was not able to see Connie Lush, much I would have loved to have, she is an iconic blues singer, with great presence and a killer voice. Overall, the week had been full of wonderful music in a variety of venues around Gloucester City centre, culminating in the weekend extravaganza behind Café Rene, the nucleus of the festival. It has established a firm hold on the week following Upton Blues just 15 miles up the road, often attracting many of the artists that have featured there. There is room for improvement, the stage is small and limited, the sound, probably not the best, but its certainly worth the visit, you will get to see some great bands, and be able to sample all that the Café Rene has on offer.
Words And photos Graham Munn
Four Shires Festival at Droitwich 15th-17thAug
An ambitious inaugural weekend festival materialised in Droitwich with a 3 day schedule with 44 sessions featuring with 39 different artists and bands listed. Included in the planned sessions were some interesting pairings, such as Abby Inez and Tina V, in fact Tina was popping up throughout the 3 days. I managed to catch most of Saturdays show, an impressive mix of local talent being showcased alongside the more experienced and full time musicians. The sound was excellent, the stages and facilities, impressive for for the first of what is hoped to be, a series of festivals over the 4 adjacent shires. Up and coming artists came from Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Shropshire and of course Worcestershire. They performed in the acoustic stage, between sets of the established bands on the main stage. There were few delays, the entertainment being almost seamless across the day. I managed to hear Aymee Weir, Alex Petrie, and Emi Mcdade perform opposite, Chicago Bytes from Kiddermister area, who gave us Springsteen, Stevie Ray and Rory Gallagher and the lovely roots blues of Damon T and Luke Philbrick from Gloucester. Plenty of slide, harp and Delta passion. Hannah Dallas and Sarah Warren fronted Haunted Souls, with such a powerful pair of vocalists how could you fail to enjoy the Americana country style of this superb band, complete with acoustic guitars, mandolin and fiddle.
Then a surprise package in Missing Sparrows in the acoustic stage, with their ‘unique sound of London Town meets Billie The kid’. I’m not sure about the description, but they certainly had some interesting lyrics, perhaps more Lilly Allen dates Gaz Brookfield. Either way, an impressive little set from from 14 year old Tallulah and 16 year old Niall from Worcester. An acoustic session from Damon T preceded Kidde’s Vault Of Eagles, a grunge rock band fronted by Mari on lead and Hetti on a bass that seemed far to big for her, with Scott sticking it to the drums. Some powerful stuff from this unusual line up, with a flavouring of Souxsie and The Banshees.
With barely time to draw breath, let alone sample a bit more of the excellent ale on tap, there is a short set from Abby Inez with her country pop style of self penned songs, mixed with a few covers. Its a short set as Jessica Rhodes prepares on the main stage. I have to say the Jessica Rhodes Band was outstanding, formed in 2013 between cousins Oli Luke and Jessica, they performed much of their own material, a lively cocktail of soul, pop, and a large dash of jazz, complete with ice, umbrella and cherry. They are the full package, with real stage presence, Jessica’s voice, with a slight Scots tinge, has a genuine quality, certainly a band to see again.
A switch to the acoustic stage brought us to Tina V, this pop balladeer, present all weekend, has been instrumental in encouraging some of the new wannabes to play at the festival. Closing with ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’, not a problem, the weather had held, the entertainment extensive, the bar was still open and Babajack were about to play the final set.
There is not much I can write about Babajack that I have not scribed before, the band is, for me, superb, they have tweaked up their stage performance (if you thought that possible) and they play truly wonderful roots blues music. By the time this goes to print, they could have collected more awards at the annual gathering at Colne. If Becky collects a third award, she will enter the ‘Hall Of Fame’. So suffice to say, if you have never seen or heard the band, find a CD or better, see them live.
Overall, the festival appeared to achieve everything it set out to do, a good set up, with twin stages, allowing virtually non stop music. A showcase for up and coming performers from the surrounding counties, mixed with fine, well seasoned, quality, bands. Plenty of music for all tastes. This ‘prototype’ festival lack only one thing, and that was foot fall. The reasons are many, but the bottom line is that it was not possible to pre-advertise the event widely and early enough. A great shame, given the efforts and resource put into making this happen. I am sure that any future event will address that problem, all else was fine, there are always minor tweaks and changes that can be made, but the structure as a whole seemed to work well. People and tickets sales are the lifeblood to any festival, I am confident that the organisers will make this work, they will then have a festival to be proud of.
Words & Photos Graham Munn
Last year one of the major highlights of the local festival calender, for me at least, was Lakefest over in at Croft Farm in Tewkesbury. The festival proved to be a wonderful family affair with an impressive music program (Ocean Colour Scene, The Levellers, Duke Special, Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Roving Crows, etc) along with rides, face painting, zorbs and boat rides among many any other activities to keep the whole family entertained.
This years festival continued in the same rich vein with the aforementioned activities in place along as well as added silent disco and DJ lessons. Whilst the program of music reached further than ever before taking in a variety of genres as well as an intriguing combination of local and established acts, proving that the organisers have their fingers on the pulse.
The mainstage opened with the bouncy sunshine ska vibes of Sons Of Navarone, who provided the early revellers with collection of ska and reggae classics to get the feet moving. Following on, acoustic indie/folk act Bad Cardigan warmed up the crowd with a short yet infectious set before local favourites Young Kato (promoted from one of last years smaller stages) took to the stage like conquering heroes with their contagious set of high energy edgy indie rock, the six-piece welded hook-laden synths with serrated guitar and big sing-a-long choruses on the likes of Help Yourself, Light It Up and Sunshine. A diversion into the Floating Globe stage revealed the majestic harmony led No Good Nancy’s who delivered a wonderful set of soaring vocals and passionate covers of the likes of Natural Woman and You’re So Vain among others.
Back over in the main arena the crowds assembled for the high velocity ska punk sing-a-longs of Spunge. The band instantly took the festival by the scruff of the neck with a glorious bouncy set of long term favourites, the crowd responded to the likes of Jump On Demand, Ego, No Woman No Cry, Roots and of course Kicking Pigeons with high spirited dancing and hollering signaling the party had well and truly started. Over in the BBC Hereford Introducing tent Redditch was showcased heavily with the female fronted Byron Hare and indie four-piece Lost At Home both giving a good account for themselves, whilst multi instrumentalist and loop manipulator Ed Keane showcased his wares with a stunning sax/guitar/flute assisted instrumental that I think was entitled The Green Man.
Whilst people were reverberating to the sounds of 90’s dance act Snap and the legendary reggae/dub-man Lee Scratch Perry, I headed to a packed out Floating Globe stage for one of the highlights of the entire weekend in the shape of The Leylines, a violin/guitar wielding folk rock act that deliver hooks and contagious melodies aplenty during a thrilling set that even had the uninitiated singing along to the likes of Runaway and Run For Cover. The opening day was headlined by punk pioneers and festival mainstays The Buzzcocks who delivered an abrasive set of classics included, as you’d expect Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t Fall In Love With) and Orgasm Addict among others.
The first band to really grab the attention was a somewhat new look line-up of the Sarah Warren Band, that saw the big lunged blues/soul singer backed ably by the stunning guitar work of Melvin Hancox (Vincent Flatts Final Drive, etc), the band quickly drew in a large crowd with dazzling renditions of the likes of I’d Rather Go Blind, with Melvin’s guitar complimenting Sarah’s soul filled, powerful vocals effortlessly. The Jar Family followed on the mainstage with an intriguing and invigorating take on the folk theme, before Ade Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds took over with a mesmeric set of punk classics played on traditional folk instrumentation, mandolin and pipes combined to offer a completely original take on classics such as I fought The Law, Anarchy In The UK, Going Underground, Our House and Ace of Spades among others. if you’ve ever wondered what a new age folk take on a Sex Pistols or Clash classic would sound like, I highly recommend check Ade and the boys out at the venue near you!!!
From there it was a quick dash down the field to the BBC tent where Tyler Massey’s set of compelling folk was drawing to an end before Worcester’s serrated indie new wavers Skewwhiff delivered a jagged set lifted from their recent debut album, including such highlights as Gizmo and It Girl. Back across on the mainstage legendary ska man and original Rude Boy, Neville Staple and band produced a wonderful funky fun and lifting set drawing on his days with The Specials as well as his just released solo album, concluding with a mass crowd sing-a-long to Ghost Town following on from the likes of Message To You Rudy and Enjoy Yourself.
Saturday had the perfect one-two knockout punch with the final two bands on the mainstage. First up the Lightning Seeds weaved a magical set of pure indie pop nirvana with something of a greatest hits set. Grown men were seen arm in arm as the band delivered classic after classic. The tent filled with voices unified (mine included), gleefully singing- a-long to the likes of Never Change, Life Of Riley, Lucky You and Pure as if there life’s depended on providing harmony for Ian Broudie’s mob. With the crowd already at fever pitch and the numerous Brit-Pop T-shirts seen dotted around the festival the scene was set for returning 90’s heroes Shed Seven, the band could hardly disappoint drawing on their 94-99 heydays and top selling four albums the crowd rejoiced to the sounds of Disco Down, Chasing Rainbows and of course Going For Gold. Rick Witter seemed in good voice whilst every opening riff seemed to be welcomed with open arms, once again proving that Brit-pop thrills still speaks volumes to a generation of music lovers.
The rains drew in, the parking field became something of a hazardous bog during the morning and first part of the afternoon, but thanks to the staff and organisers the party raged against the elements and by the time acoustic troubadour Gaz Brookfield showcased his wares the seasons at midday the clouds began to lift, whether that was down to the nature of Gaz’s memorable set of hooks and guitar-work can’t be proven but I’m sure it helped. Sundays are generally a little mellower and time for reflection, only no one told The Whipjacks who still manage to rouse the weary early afternoon crowd with a fun packed set of celtic infused pirate punk shanties with thumping double bass, guitars battered and the odd bit of accordion thrown in for good measure.
By four o’clock the sun was beating down the crowd gained that all important second burst of energy and the fun filled, gloriously over the top Dr And The Medics took to the stage for a set of rock classics and pure entertainment. The only comparison you can make to a Doctor And The Medics show is that of a high energy circus, with the good doctor as ringmaster and his fellow band members as the various different acts. Imagine a riotous blend of molten riffs, hollered vocals, big hair, gothic capes, cloaks and ice maiden backing vocalists thrown together to deliver the likes of Love Shack, Kids Of America and the grand finale of Spirit In The Sky and Whole Lotta Rosie to a captivated and wonderfully receptive audience.
There are few bands that could follow the spectacle of Dr And The Medics, but one such band that can fill that criteria are Lakefest house band The Roving Crows, a band that are fast becoming the must see band on the folk/rock circuit with their unique blend of celtic fusion. The band open with the blazing violin introduction of White Petticoats before the band join in to deliver a glorious set including long term favourites Long Time Dead, Love Is The Finest Thing and God On Demand among others, with each song the audience responded with outbreaks of dancing, singing and raptious applause as strummed acoustics, fiery violin and bursts of trumpet blended to provide a stunning Sunday soundtrack.
The Fun Lovin’ Criminals were charged with bringing the festival to a close on a high and the funky hip-hop/blues/rock racketeers did just that with a collection of amped up classics. The band opened their set with Up On The Hill and from there on Huey and the boys had the crowd eating out of their hands, Loco (Gotta Be Crazy), King Of New York, Smoke Em were all dispatched by a band on top form, eager to display their instrumental chops to the appreciative masses, with Huey’s guitar-work and the harmonica of Fast particularly worthy of note. The FLC left the crowd baying for more by finishing up with the effervescent Scooby Snacks and the funk ridden ode to soul, Barry White bringing the end to another vintage year for Lakefest.
Words By Will Munn
Photos By Graham Munn