Browsing all articles in rock

 

Mike Sanchez & Friends @ Kidderminster Town Hall 04/07

Mike Sanchez 4561

Just one more date on Mike’s tour calender this summer? Not so, Kidderminster Town Hall is his home town gig, a place where the many life long friends and fans were gathered to watch and hear, the smorgasbord of songs presented to them. Three different line ups that have been significant in the career of Mike Sanchez, gathered on the stage over the course of the evening, to take those fans back to the early years.

The Rockets were the first band, a collection of school pals, with Mike on guitar, Ian Jennings on double bass and Mark Morgan on drums. The band were listening and watching the music scene of their era, and decided to step back to earlier years for their inspiration. Songs from, the likes of Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and a version of Jim Reeves, ‘Please Release Me’ on speed, and a quick snatch from ’81 for ‘Tainted Love’, a song rooted in the early 60′s. A mix of R& B and good solid blues, were reprised from those early Rocket years.

Ricky & Andy Sylvester 4512

A break and a shuffle of the deck, and we stepped forward into the foundling Big Town Playboys, which brought to stage Ricky Cool, and Andy Sylvester. Mike moved onto the keyboards. Sanchez swings and Ricky rocks, as the band blasted through some great, rhythm & blues and rock & roll songs. Ricky moving from sax to harp for some good old Chicago Blues, with both Mike and Ricky swapping vocal leads. Out of nowhere, comes Guitar Junior’s, ‘The Crawl’, followed by some lovely harmonica, as Ricky takes on Billy Boy Arnold’s, ‘I Wish You Would’, superb. A bit of Ike Turner, and some nice Jimmy Rogers, ‘Walking By Myself’, definitely not alone this evening.

Mike Sanchez 3042

‘Hip Shake Baby’, preceded another shuffle and the final mix, bringing Mike’s current band to stage, Tom Ford, on guitar, Nick Whitfield, taking double bass, Pete Cook and Nick Payne, swing their saxophones, with Mike Morgan still sat behind the drums. Were all having a ball, the music swings on, ‘Hurting Inside’ no, but as Fat’s sang ‘I’m ready’, the band was willing, and certainly able. The music rattles out non stop, whatever comes to Mike’s mind to play, there is no plan but to see all have a good time. A few suggestions are thrown to the stage, The band oblige, Mike Sanchez is a walking library of R&B. Sarah Wynne, takes up the vocal lead, for some Jesse Mae and Lil Ester Phillips songs, with ‘Don’t Freeze On Me’, and ‘If Its News For You Baby’, followed by the excellent, ‘Each Day’.

Joining for a last jam session, Andy Sylvester and Ricky Cool add to the band, a superb evening in this lovely setting of the Town Hall, a venue with a history of hosting so many great bands of past years. From the earliest years of The Rockets, and playing in the back room of pubs in the area, Mike Sanchez has made music his life, laid out for all to read in the ‘Big Town Playboy’ biography. I’m sure there will be a few more chapters to add in the future.

 

Words & Photos Graham Munn

 

 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Blues At The Fold 05/07

Steve Morrison 4622

The 6th gathering at The Fold near Worcester, for this great one day festival. Fine ales, good food and some excellent wines were available to accompany the usual high quality line up at this now well established annual event. Steve Morrison had the honour of entertaining a crowd that reached 550. On this warm afternoon, he raised the temperature with some Canned Heat, ‘Lets Work Together’ and ‘Going Up Country’, worked his way through ‘Summertime’, with a sprinkling of engaging banter and good humour. A bit of JJ Kale, and Sonny Boy Williamson, with ‘Bring It On Home To You’, complete with train sounds that Ringo Starr would have been proud of. A brilliant start to proceedings from an engaging Steve Morrison.

Mumbo 4679

Organiser Oliver Carpenter took to the stage with Mumbo Jumbo, an award nominated, easy listening, country band. With Chris Lomas, base & uke, and Fred Skidmore on keys, they took us gently through the afternoon, with Oliver looking rather green, flipping between trumpet, cahon and kazoo. ‘Riverboat Song’, ‘Three Cool Cats’ and an excellent ‘Cockeresque’, ‘The Letter’, a class rasp guaranteed to produce gravel rash to all in hearing distance. ‘Nice work If You Can Get It’.

Blues Duo 4732

A sultry afternoon was about to get warmer as The Blues Duo, Tommy and Johnny were welcomed to the stage, a few seconds later, the floor space was scattered with welly clad dancers, along with people old enough to know better! The songs rattle out like a long passing goods train, ‘Had My Fun’, ‘Steady Rollin Man’, ‘Must Be Jelly’, and those wagons are still passing through. Tommy put his feet up as Johnny took the scenic line with his blues harp, superb as ever. These boys never short change the audience, a full on, flat out, brilliant, blues blast.

Melvin 3176

A ‘Jack Daniels’ fuelled Vincent Flatts Final Drive, took over, with dynamic duo, an easy riding, ‘Bertie’, and marvellous, Melvin, fronting a band named after the handlebars of an iconic (British) motorbike. A few power bugs in the system did not dull the performance. Bertie knows how to deliver a blues, and a ‘flexy faced’ Melvin, loves to demo his Gibson in true ‘guitar hero’ style. ‘Boogie man’ and ‘No More Whiskey’ seemed particularly apt.

Wily Bo & troubadours 4833

Wily Bo & The Mescal Canyon Troubadours, brought plenty of funk, blues rock and a solid, tight band to stage. A good guitar section of Geoff Slater, with Tommy ‘Le’ Rhodes on bass join Max Saidi on percussion and deliciously dark Karena K on backing vocals and keys. Wily Bo is ‘ringmaster’ and vocalist, and takes on ‘Rattlin Bone’ form complete with top hat and skull cane to finish on the glorious ‘St. James Infirmary Blues’. The band having grooved their way through ‘Chattahooche Cooochee Man’, maybe some lost moments with ‘Did I Forget’, to decide it IS, ‘Time To Forget’, completely unphased by the troublesome power glitches. Maybe they had forgotten to switch on the lights!

Official Receivers 4954

9.45 in a cooling evening and an enthusiastic crowd were up for closing the day in style, they closed around the stage ready to dance away the night to The Official Receivers. Blues? No, but they know how to push everyone’s button when it comes to some fabulous soul classics. The glow of the stage lights point to the fire at the heart of the gyrating bodies, with a big horn section, driving drum, nice guitar and warm vocals we were enticed with songs from Wilson Pickett, Otis Reading, Edwin Starr and James Brown.

‘Be Young Be Foolish Be Happy’ was about the right sentiment, as they tried to ‘Hold Back the Night’. Nobody was going to leave this consistently grand little festival without a swing to there step and a smile on their face. The Fold is an exceptional setting, almost unaffected by weather conditions, a welcoming Café host, where if you really need to, you can go for a few quite moments, and enjoy some of the tasty temptations on offer. On a warm dry day we were able to spread out at our leisure, enjoy the open air refreshments and the fabulous music.

Visit www.bluesatthefold.co.uk for information on next year.

 

Words & photos Graham Munn

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

wychwood1

This year saw the tenth anniversary for, perhaps one of the most family friendly music festivals on the calender, as ever the organisers of Wychwood delivered an incredible weekends entertainment covering everything from comedy, children’s workshops and book reading to relaxing massages and spa’s and of course a diverse, intriguing musical program that brought together festival favourites to brand new buzz bands across a handful of stages and tents.

Like any festival it’s impossible to cover every performer and mention every event over the course of three days but I’ll try to break it down and give you a feel of the festival.

Day One. Friday

The rain had fallen and left the site with a boggy squelch underfoot, but despite the conditions the early entrants were ably warmed up by the likes of A Way With Words on the mainstage but our first port of call was over in the BBC Introducing Tent for a blistering set of guitar histrionics from Bromsgrove based blues rock heroes, Virgil And The Accelerators, creating an early storm with a dazzling flurry of riffs, solos and bombarding drums. A quick dash across to the mainstage to catch a bit of Newquay Times before heading into the Big Top for the first time for early highlight, skiffle blues band Railroad Bill who welded acoustic guitars, washboard, tea chest double bass and infectious tongue in check vocal harmonies to create a riotous take on the genre complete with a rock n roll attitude, gurning, hook-laden sing-a-longs and more foot tapping rhythms than most bands can muster in a life time. From there on in it was dash after dash across the site to catch further up and comers in the Big Tent and Worcestershire’s finest over in the BBC Tent, with the occasional pause at the mainstage. BBC Hereford And Worcester did a stunning job of showcasing the regions finest as many mainstays from the Introducing program graced the stage and gave their all, the likes of The Misers with their rootsy take on rock n roll, the ever dependable and uniquely contagious alternative pop rockers, Jasper In The Company Of Others and stage headliners, The Stiff Joints drew huge crowds in the cramped tent, whilst the brassy Collective 43 drummed up support outside drawing in further revellers to the sounds of Hereford And Worcester. Smashing Blouse were providing a party of their own over in the Big Top as they hosted a number of stunning, evocative sets from a host of newcomers. Whitechapel based trio Glitches made an immediate impression with a blend of dark electro-indie topped with a stunning almost falsetto vocal, cutting through the melancholic synth/guitar based backing to create a fragile, yet compelling sound. Lloyd Yates, provided a folkier, more organic sound incorporating acoustic and electric guitars alongside a deep baritone lead vocal, instantly bewitching the audience. back to the electronics (and a debate over whether using synths and computers makes the performers any lesser musicians, personally I love a bit of live electronica!!!) for the likes of the hip-hop/sax flavours of Benin City and the rather more moody but no less interesting No Ceremony. Inbetween bouts of electronic goodness, ventures into the sunshine provided wafts of the likes of Graham Gouldman and pals delivering acoustic renditions of Dreadlock Holiday and unwanted blasts (my personal opinion, though the masses love them!!) of The Real Thing. As the first day drew to a close we were treated to one of the sets of the festival. in the shape of Bipolar Sunrise, a chilled out soulful collective that effortlessly blended R&B, electronics and pop to create a stunning set that was rounded off brilliantly with aptly entitled mantra, Love More Worry Less. As we left the site on Day One The Stranglers were inciting mass sing-a-longs for the likes of the always punchy Peaches and No More Heroes, whilst Golden Brown had pretty much the whole site swaying along.

Day Two. Saturday

So I admit it, I’m a wimp, but I just don’t do camping, sure I’m up at the crack of dawn but I’ve still had a good nights kip ready for another packed day of festivities.  As we hit Wychwood, Justin Fletcher was leading all the children on a merry song and dance on the mainstage, with the kids obviously lapping up the Mr Tumble/Gigglebiz performer we decided to hit the Big Top for first, a dance to Cuban big band Ran Kan Kan and then an introduction to something called Chap-Hop by the rather delightful Mr B The Gentleman Rhythmer, who took hip-hop, shook out all the posturing and profanity, added a banjolele and a heap of humour to create a gentleman’s take on the genre. Mr B’s history lesson of hip-hop took in snippets from the likes of Run DMC and The Beastie Boys along with Northern indie legends Primal Scream, Stone Roses along with Kraftwerk and the alike as he delivered a mirth filled set that left people proclaiming his genius (myself included!!), as his own song proclaims “All Hail The Chap”. Being an avid reader of R2 I already had great expectations for Wigan based folk rockers Merry Hell as they took to the mainstage and their set of high octane rockers and soulful laments captured the imagination from the outset. Their set had it all, male/female harmonies, biting social commentary (Love The Skin Your In), touching love songs (Lean On Me Love) and even a clanging slice of hammer and spade percussion (Bury me Naked) as Merry Hell showcased just why they’re so highly regarded in folk circles and beyond. By now the temperature down the front was rising and the multi cultural collective La Chiva Gantiva added to the sweaty humidity with a dazzling combination of Latin rhythms, Afrobeat percussion and funk-driven rock, driving the audience into all new frenzy as their undeniable groove took hold and their infatuating frontman revved up the intensity further. Bad Manners were welcomed to the stage as conquering heroes, Buster Bloodvessel and his energetic horn section delivered all the ska party favourites from My Girl Lollipop to Feel Like Jumping all the way to Special Brew And Lip Up Fatty inciting outbreaks of skanking and mass sing-a-longs along the way. Newton Faulkner took to the stage for an early evening slice of acoustic pop and after a couple of technical hiccups, seduced the audience with his deft finger picking and gentle croon delivering stunning takes on Teardrops by Massive Attack and his own effervescent Dream Catch Me along the way. With every festival you get the obligatory stage clashes, for me day two presented a couple to ponder upon do I see Reef or venture to the Big Top for Kyla la Grange? I originally went with the former, but after Place Your Hands and Come Back Brighter, my interest quickly began to wane and my feet to wander, in contrast Kyla was simply mesmeric, the blend of pop infused electronic/indie compels, whilst her vocals transcend you to another world completely, that voice is a bewitching thing of beauty that captivates anyone stood in earshot, whilst the songs themselves wrap their talons round both your head and heart….wow!!! Day two was completed with foppish indie dandy King Charles elegantly sashaying across the stage whilst The Levellers brought out a greatest hits set over on the mainstage featuring the likes of Hope Street and One Way Of Life among their supercharged setlist.

Day Three. Sunday

The final day of Wychwood’s birthday celebrations, the sun reveals it’s full potential, folk begin to look a little weary after two days of singing and dancing, yet still seem to be in high spirits as the first of the days band’s take to the stage. KSH & The Going Goods open the mainstage with a fine line of acoustic hip-hop (acoustic guitar. human beatbox, etc), the likes of Happiness with it’s hook-laden chorus and The Day After Friday soon entice the first sing-a-longs of the day as they end set to a great deal of acclaim. Polly And The Billets Doux continued to rouse a weary audience with an incredible, early afternoon set of harmony infused blues, soul and folk, complete with clever guitar work, throbbing double bass, harmonica blasts and powerful, passionate vocals that yank at the heartstrings, originals such as Money Tree and Black Crow instantly cast a spell over the audience, whilst their rendition of House Of The Rising Sun was not only a completely original take but also jaw dropping for the instrument swapping mid song. Baracka brought a delicious Caribbean stew to the proceedings with a combination of world grooves, reggae, soca and calypso vibes as the sun proceeded to shine brightly on, a now carnival like atmosphere. Whilst baracka were busy creating a sunshine state, Craig Charles dropped the funk bomb with a hot and sweaty DJ set to a jam packed tent for the second year in a row. Gabby Young And The Other Animals took to the stage and instantly demanded attention with a flash of red hair, circus swing, spaghetti western and off the wall rock n roll, the band’s flamboyant singer, Gabby proved to be a captivating focal point, not only did she had a rather unique style but also one of the most impressive set of vocal pipes over the festival, whilst the other animals ably backed her on the likes of I’ve Improved and the Morricone inspired Horatio (did I spot a Calexico influence?). Whilst Sadie And The Hotheads and the regular workshop showcase took up the main arena we retreated to the Big Top for a stunning set of glacial Sigur Ros meets Radiohead (with added trumpet) soundscapes from epic indie rockers Racing Glaciers, whilst over in the introducing tent up and comers Pretty Rascals delivered a Beatles/Oasis/Artic Monkeys inspired set topped off with a fantastic run through Come Together. Due The Champs have been picked for bigger and better things with their brand of acoustic harmonised indie folk and their set of Turin Brakes like originals did have a couple of stand out moments such as My Spirit Is Broken, but for me I would of like a little more variation, perhaps ones to look out for in the future. Back over on the main stage a one-two punch of ska with The Gentlemans Dub Club and Lee Thompson’s Ska Orchestra, with the former proving to be highlights with their dub fuelled rhythms and infectious ringleader commanding the audiences participation on the likes of If The Truth Be Told and the frantic Fire. All good things must come to an end and so be it with Wychwood’s birthday party but before we go there’s time for one more band, a legend perhaps….the crowd pushed forward for the arrival of Sir Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats, from the off, Bob strutted, pouted and gesticulated wildly, with the crowd lapping up every swing of the fake snakeskin clad hips, whilst his band pounded out the hits and what better way to finish off a perfect weekend of entertainment than a holler along to She’s So Modern and the obligatory I Don’t Like Mondays.

I could go on and on about this year’s Wychwood, but I should sum up, if you weren’t there you missed out on perhaps the festival of the Summer, if you were there, you don’t need me to tell you how damn impressive this year’s shindig was, bring on the eleventh birthday!!!

 

Words Will Munn

Photos Graham Munn

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Chantel McGregor @ The Artrix 17th May

chantel3

Pocket rock dynamo, Chantel, returned to the Artrix with her band to play before a strong audience of young and, perhaps, more aged ‘head bangers’, and rock guitar lovers. It was loud, guitar gluttony, Chantel’s Bradford tones, sometimes a little indistinct from my position, as ‘Caught Out’, exploded from the stage. Having said that, there was an awful lot of head nodding and foot tapping going on, so its probably down to my old ears. Accompanying her on stage were her band of fellow ‘Northeners’, bassist Richard Richie, and new father, drummer, Keith McParthling, I hope he’s much more gentle on the new born than the skins of his drums. Chantel uses pick & mix from her album ‘Like No Other’, and a confection of blues classics. Hendrix had to stand aside for ‘Screams Everlasting’, a beautiful song that demonstrated Chantel’s vocal qualities. A voice easily overlooked as she is lined up for the numerous guitar awards that will, no doubt, be bestowed on her slight shoulders. That Ernie Ball Guitar was put to the test for the out and out rock blasting ‘Disco Lover Suicide’, as the thunderous bass of Rich joined Keith’s crashing drums, powered through, I need ear plugs! A lovely version of Sonny Boy Williamson’s classic ‘Help Me’ cried out, deftly played, as she kicked her heels aside, to feel the stage at her feet, the audience were already there, Chantel could do no wrong.

chantel2

A short break, she is out in the foyer, chatting and signing, comfortable with her fans, before returning to stage for an unmissable, short acoustic set. I was looking forward to this, to listen and reflect on this talented young artist, stripped from the power play and band. ‘Rhiannon’, is served as aperitif, a taste of Hendrix, ‘All Along The Watch Tower’, and the delicious dessert of Bruno Mars ‘Grenade’. Superlative, I could watch a whole set of Chantel McGregor playing acoustic, she is exceptionally good, and deserved winner of the British Blues Vocalist Award last year. The boys return to stage, ‘Daydream’, the slow burning Robin Trower classic, is played to perfection. ‘Fabulous’, is soon following, and is an apt a description of this show as you could find, Chantel is as fabulous as ever, an easy rapport with her audience, plenty of humour and completely at home on this stage. A brief moment of hesitation as the encore is demanded, no point in stepping back too far from the microphone. It came in the form of the excellent ‘Freefalling’. If Your a guitar rock lover, and have not seen Chantel, then make the effort, failing that find her album, she is ‘Like No Other’. Thank you Artrix.

Words and photos Graham Munn

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.5/10 (2 votes cast)

 

2014 European Blues Challenge, Riga, Latvia

Its the opening day of the 4th EBC at Riga, 18 countries provide the blues bands for two entertaining evenings. Held in Sapnu Fabrika, a glass factory turned event venue, the Latvian hosts have prepared a fine stage for the proceedings.

Finland

 

Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll, the first being provided by the sultry songstress fronting the, ‘Ina Forsman & Helge Tallqvist Band’, from Finland, not an eye wandered from the stage as Ina joined harp maestro Helge on stage. The drugs were in my pocket, paracetamol, the cold was taking hold! Rock and Roll was delivered in spades by Russian front man for the ‘Bomb Lane Band’, Alex Zagvazdin, he must have been studying video footage of Freddy Mercury and a young Rod Stewart. For me, the live outstanding bands of the evening were, the sharp dressed Italian, ‘Marco Pandolfi Trio’, Denmark’s acoustic Chicago blues styled, ‘Big Creek Slim & The Cockroaches’, and a full on electro blues blast from ‘Mike Seeber’s Trio’ from Germany. A good first night, great atmosphere and a polished, seamless, organisation.

Russia

A few hours sleep, and daylight hours to wander around a very attractive city, which also has some excellent live music bars dotted around. Fuelled up for a long evening of another 9 bands and the finale, I returned to Sapnu Fabrika. The UK’s representative, ‘Dave Migden And The Twisted Roots’, would be playing tonight, but they would have tough competition with standards set very high. Food and drink were in abundance (at a very moderate prices compared with back home!) Spanish Band, ‘Acontra Blues’, were first up, and what a massive stage presence. Two guitarists, Alberto and Hector, who new how to play to an audience, and fronted by man mountain, Jonathon Herarria, gifted with a fantastic voice, he opened with a gospel like solo, delivered in an almost rap style.

spain1

The Swiss band, ‘The Bacon Fats’, carried on the entertainment, great visual impact with lashings of humour as they enjoyed the occasion with their harp led swing, gypsy influenced, blues fusion. Very enjoyable, there were many moving and grooving to this band.

 

uk

Dave Migden took to the suitably darkened stage for the wonderful ‘Rev Jack Crow’, which was well received, a little different from much that was on offer. Phil Scragg on bass, seemed to be having a great time scooting around the stage, as Graham Mann slipped from keyboard to trombone. Things were certainly warming up as the evening progressed, another favourite took stage, Norway’s Pristine. Long haired Scandinavian guitarists and drummer were fronted by the flowing red locks of a charismatic Heidi Solheim. Another exceptional vocalist, Heidi knew how to take hold of an audience and mesmerise them, a fabulous performance, the judges were in for an unenviable tough time.

norway

During deliberations, the ‘Latvian Blues Band’, demonstrated just how high the quality of blues bands are in this part of the world. With a full brass section and an energetic singer guitarist, we didn’t much care if the judges took all night, the bar was still open and the band were great, on with the show.

lativia

Decision time by a mixed European panel taken from media, industry and artists. The awards, presented by Thomas Ruf, went to probably the outstanding vocalist led bands, Norway’s ‘Pristine’ took a well deserved runner up, top award was reserved for the hugely entertaining guitarists, diminutive drummer and giant front man of ‘Acontra Blues’, from Spain. Overall a superb two evenings of exceptional blues, from the guitar gurning talents of ‘John F. Klaver’ and Latvian ‘Lavrix’, the dark depths of ‘Rev Jack Crow’ to the extravaganza of guitar showmanship underpinning the Spanish performance, Riga was worth the trip. As ever, the EBC organisation is exceptional, 5 minute change overs for 18 bands, a well presented stage and sparse but atmospheric surroundings, roll on 2015 and Belgium!

 

Words and photos Graham Munn

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Latest Posts

Latest Releases

Rating

iTunes

PHOTOSTREAM

P1000710P1000699P1000702P1000695
MODx Hosting