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Larry rides The Iron Road @ Evesham 21/1/15

Larry Miller@Iron Road

The Iron road has been very busy lately laying a new track, and its going straight into the heartlands of Blues. The buffers were blown aside by the explosive guitar in the hands of Larry Miller, stalwart electric blues man, with a highly rated new album available, ‘Soldier On The Line‘. He finds his inspiration in great rock blues guitarists, like Hendrix, Gallagher (that’s Rory not Noel!) and Johnny Winter, but he stands in his own right as a truly talented writer and guitarist extraordinare There were fans from as far as Weston here at the Iron Road, their trip was not wasted. The rails were soon rattling to ‘Mad Dog’, as Larry’s Les Paul screamed as us. Not long before Graham Walker demonstrated his drumming heritage, ex Gary Moore’s side man, he was let loose on ‘The Girl that Got Away’, and no mistaking the thrumming bass notes from Derek White as he added to the rhythm.

Out came the White Gibson Firebird, brought back from a distant planet for Larry to play ‘Road Runner’, from his last album, On The Edge. It was back to his latest for the gloriously gritty, bite of blues, and ‘Mississippi Mama’, I’d buy the CD for that alone, superb hard hitting, ear bashing stuff.

Larry Miller@Iron Road

The Iron Road moved with the swell of Larry’s legion of devoted fans, I had last seen him in Upton Blues, but in this atmospheric ‘station’, Larry seemed more at home, plenty of cheeky comment and Del Boy attitude, as we eased into a second set. Taken from the Soldiers Of The Line album, (which is drawn from images of the first world war) ‘One Fine Day’, is a truly beautiful, soulful ballad, here, played in its stripped down form, it seemed even more poignant. A real thumping thrash with ‘Daddy’s Car’, before we listened to another stunning piece of music, Larry’s, stairway to heaven maybe, ‘Calling All The Angels’, is again another slow burner, this time from , Unfinished Business, gob smacking, moody, and marvellously melodic. As we neared the close of the day, Larry threatened, ‘Love Me Tender’, or maybe a bit of Cliff, but no, he decided to take on Voodoo Child, say no more!

This is the first time I’ve ventured over the door of this born again road house, and I have to say, for me, there is a mouthwatering selection on the menu as we move toward spring. The Fabulous Davina and The Vagabonds (just go), Muddy’s son, Mud Morganfield and Mike Zito, to name but few. What’s more, if you fancy a drink and are travelling from Worcester, its one of the few venues where you can actually catch a train home, opposite, and still have time to see the whole set, I for one will be travelling that track, along The Iron Road.

Words And Photos Graham Munn

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Trevor Burton Band @ The Prince Of Wales 18/01/15

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Trevor Burton has been ‘in the business’, for over half a century, surviving the heady days of the 60’s and 70’s, the Move into flower power pop; and brings his love of the blues for us all to enjoy. His band of stalwart musicians are Billy ‘The Brick’ Jefferson on drums, and Pez Connor on bass, and if you like your blues loud and raw, then you were in the right place. ‘Soft Shoulders and Dangerous Curves’, seductive blues portrayed by Trevor’s gruff vocals, ready to take ‘Little Rachel’, ‘Down The road’, taken from his Blue Moon album. Bill and Pez are keeping the rhythm steadily battering our chests, as Trevor switches to a bit of JJ Cale, and an excellent easy going, ‘Crazy Mama’. ‘I’d walk ten miles on my hands and knees’, why? It ain’t ‘Tuf Enuf’, thumped out loudly, a fabulous bluesy version of the Fabulous Thunderbirds song. A few more taken from Trevor’s album, with Dave Edmunds, ‘Down Down Down’, taking us to a break.

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Straight up to speed, and into the next gear, for a superb ‘Ain’t No Brakeman’, Trevor making good use of wah-wwah and some lovely riffs. No slowing down for an equally good, gritty, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, maybe Presley’s song, but its given extra gravitas by the band.

A change of direction, as the base note changes and the drums beat a different rhythm, unmistakably the sound of Jamaica, ‘Does Your Momma Like To Reggae’, hell yeah, its an intoxicating sound, easy to move, filling your mind with Caribbean vibes.

The band engage hyperdrive, Trevor notches up the pace, Hendrix is dusted off, ‘Hey Joe’, where you going with that gun in your hand’. We all want more, Trevor serves another curve ball, but its willingly caught, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, early Beatles in true rock and roll form, performed here by The Trevor Burton Band, and it was great.

Its easy to think of Trevor Burton, along with Bev Bevan, back in the burgeoning days of Birmingham pop, he has played with many of the iconic bands of that era, but he has always had an affinity with blues, he played with Steve Gibbons for many years, Robert Plant, toured with The Who, and generally ‘lived the life’. His biography on http://www.erndor50.co.uk makes fascinating reading. It has been another fine day spent with the Prince Of Wales, and his biscuits aren’t bad!

Words And Photos Graham Munn

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Firing Rockets At The Prince Of Wales 11/1/15

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A shift of tempo from the usual Sunday ‘groove’ at the POW, rockabilly filled the airwaves as The Delray Rockets made a welcome return to the confines of the ‘stage’. No room here for ‘throwing’ the double bass or climbing up its contoured walls. Showmanship had to take second place to musicianship, but that’s fine, the band have plenty of that on offer. Kick Ass Rockabilly, with attitude is the opening line on their website, and I can’t argue with that, so on with the show. An emphatic start, with ‘I’m Ready Willing And Able’, before calling, ‘C’mon Everybody’, to join with them for a ride in ‘A Brand New Cadillac’. The bass notes are being pumped out by Gaz, as Duke Delight keeps the rhythm racing along. Oz is playing his lovely ‘warm’ electro-acoustic Gretsch, it sounds magnificent in the confines of the POW and the grin on his face reflects the moment. There may not be much room for the normal animated antics of the band, but the music is infectious, and the tapping of feet, swinging of bodies, proof of it being an airborne virus. The band drop in a song born of Gaz’s own hand, ‘Rockabilly Fool’ is a frenetically charged, finger picking, rip reminiscent of the rhythm of a Harley Davidson roaring down the street.

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Naturally ‘Johnny B Goode’, is tailor made for the boys, Duke is having fun giving the drums a thrashing, that guitar is conjuring up images of Chuck himself, but there’s more to come before a break. Pulp Fiction is brought to life, as Gaz and Duke lay the frame work for Oz to conjure up an exotic Egyptian girl in ‘Misirlou’, magical stuff.

Time for an ale before, the band returns and ‘Please Don’t Touch’, hurls them straight up to speed. Nobody is leaving, the audience riveted by the rhythms, no real space available to shake rattle & roll, no matter the urge. The band are racing headlong through their set, the temperature comfortably warm, going on hot. ‘Beer’O’Clock Boogie’, seems a good opportunity to top up for some refreshment, before the ‘Mystery Train’ comes along taking us for a ride toward the ‘Stray Cat Strut’, a bit of ‘Burnin Love’ and an excellent ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, a distinct nod to the blues link that connects to Rockabilly, and very fitting for this venue. Van Morrison, of course, may have looked on disapprovingly, but we didn’t care. Somewhere along it slipped into ‘Radar Love’, before returning to close, a nice touch. We couldn’t do without a bit of ‘Teenage Kicks’, though for most present, its a distant memory, no matter, we could still, ‘Rock This Town’.

The end is nearing, the Delray Rockets are rattling through there remaining songs, seamlessly, compressing all into the final throw of the dice. It had been a ripsnorting, railroading, rockabilly ride, of an evening, the boys had one more double to throw, it bounced off the walls, and kicked the jukebox into overload, ‘Born to be Wild’, demanded response, we all did………there was a time……..!

Words & Photos Graham Munn

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Notorious Melvin Hancox Goes It Alone @ Gardeners Arms

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I really did not know what to expect when Melvin accepted this gig, which was designated an acoustic, in the compact area of the Gardeners Arms bar. I arrived to find he had brought a few close friends; by the name of Gibson. I have seen, and more importantly, heard him perform both with The Notorious Brothers and Vincent Flatts, where Melvin hands over the vocals to Bertie, and always in the company of his Les Paul Gibson’s, one Black and One Gold, both immaculate.

Here at Droitwich, they were present, but also an acoustic Gibson, and a magnificent Gretsch 12 string electro acoustic, it sounded wonderful. Melvin’s set was truly varied, and naturally, as you would expect, the musicianship, not to mention a bit of showmanship, were there to enjoy. We had to start with some blues, first from Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac days, ‘Showbiz Blues’, and deep from the Delta, Son House’s ‘Preachin Blues’, played on the acoustic with slide. A bit more PG followed soon enough, this time an electrifying ‘Oh Well’, made to measure for a guitarist of Melvin’s quality. A quick move on to Hendrix before a change in direction took us to Dylan and ‘Mr Tambourine Man’, on the fabulous 12 string. A lovely, perhaps song of the moment, ‘Low Budget Man’, borrowed from The Kinks. And so the show went on, a smorgasbord of styles and sources, spread across 4 guitars and 5 decades, the room had filled out, and nobody was complaining, the air was quite literally electric, The Gardeners had never shaken like this before. An absolutely fabulous ‘Sabre Dance’, and a wild foot stomping ‘Cherokee Dance’, dragged up from the mid 50’s, the music only punctuated by ‘peace and love’, and sip of ale. More Dylan on the Gresch, before switching back to Gold, the guitar weeps and soars, the fingers working franticly along the neck, Melvin is a joy to behold, there are many fine guitarists around, but I would argue, none better, the whole house is mesmerised enjoying every chord, every bend and strike.

We are back with Ray Davis, and ‘Days’, neatly followed up with a superlative and fun ‘Lola’.

It had been an absorbing evening, Melvin Hancox, had pretty well ticked every box, there were a lot of smiles on faces, and calls for a return visit. For those who have yet to see him perform in one of his forms, I suggest you seek that opportunity, you will be seeing a master craftsman, working with cherished ‘tools’ of his trade. ‘Sinner Boy’, complemented with a touch of slide, saw us through the second hour, time to think of finishing, but ‘Just Between You And Me’, you can find more gigs he is playing in various forms, here; http://www.radioboss.co.uk

Words & Photos Graham Munn

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Roving Crows New Year Bacchanalia 2014/15

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This years celebration was destined again for Tewkesbury, spiritual home of the band, at the Park Hotel, Golf and country Club. At the start, the ‘murder’ of fans, gathered for a buffet in one of the restaurants. We were destined to move to the main function room and join guests who were enjoying a full dinner to be followed by disco dance. Much to their surprise, it was now going to become a bit more crowded and the music was to be live. A real bonus you might think, but there was a bit of confusion, before all settled down to what became an excellent New Year gig.

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The ‘stage’ was warmed by the engaging young Caira O’Neil , accompanied by dad, Martin on guitar, unfortunately, I did not catch their set, but from past experience, I am sure Caira has blossomed in her performance, the applause seemed to affirm that case. As I caught up, Cheltenham band, Hawthornes began. Now I had been fortunate to see them support 3 Daft Monkeys, only a few weeks ago, and they left an impression. Here they performed a much more expansive set, with a mix of self penned and ‘borrowed’ songs. It has to be said Louisa is a delightful vocalist, ably assisted by Jesse on cajon and Gordy on base, their genre is alternative folk/punk, sitting comfortably with the Crows. With songs from Elvis, Bob Marley and The Monkees thrown in, ‘Im A Believer’! Even an enthusiastic take from Outkast, ‘Hey Ya’, it was a great little set.

Not much delay before The Roving Crows kicked the evening up a gear, what floor space there was, soon choked, as any space found between tables became tributaries of bubbling rapids, feeding the wild waters of the dance floor. Trumpeter, Greg, bassist Loz, and Tim, on drums, were very much in the shadows, definitely heard if not seen. Paul and Caitlin lead the celebrations, its New Years eve, and the band are in their element, as the catalogue of songs pour out to the revellers surrounding them. ‘Your A long Time Dead’, so get up and party, the band implore us, ‘White Petticoats’ scorches the ground with its blistering pace, as feet struggle to keep up. This may be the zenith of the winter, but ‘Days In The Sun’ are not so far away, so why not bring in a little sunshine. The clocks nearing midnight, we hear the toll of the bell, Auld Lang Syne links us all together, along with our memories of last year and expectations of 2015. The show rolls on, glasses emptied and refilled, ‘Nancy Valentine’ keeps us all moving, but were nearing the end, Everyone calls for more, it has to be ‘Devil Went Down To Georgia’, Caitlin obliges in style as Paul calls the lines, superb, maybe not original Crow music, but what the hell, its superb. Into the New Year with style, Bacchus would have been proud of his name, given wings by the fabulous Roving Crows.

Words & Photos Graham Munn

 

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