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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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Sons Of The Delta, Bring Blues To The Marrs Bar 23/01

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A Friday evening, and sadly, few people venturing out, after a cold day and a post Christmas bank balance. They missed something rather special wrapped within the Marrs Bar.

Accompanying The Sons Of Delta, was Gloucester, né New York blues man, Damon T. He may have been raised in N.Y. but his music is from the deep south rooted firmly in the Mississippi Delta. If you have not had the good fortune to hear Damon, then I suggest you seek him out in the near future, he does play some of the small festivals, as well as local venues. Straight off, the unmistakable blues rhythm is thumping in, as were, ‘Set Adrift’. Followed by the hauntingly lovely ‘Watching The Sun Go Down’, pure blues at its best. Damon’s set is short but very memorable, we move on to a few classics, Son House’s, ‘Death Letter Blues’, and with Mark Cole playing harp, a superb Blind Willy Johnson’s, ‘Soul Of A Man’.

Sons Of The Delta are a 4 man band, needless to say, playing blues, but thrown in a pot, melted down and remodelled to their own form. That form brings a bit of sparkle and fun to the set with Mark Cole back on stage, accompanied by Rick Edwards on an eclectic selection of guitars, Lyndon Webb playing bass and Martin Fitzgibbons on drums. Mark reminds us they’re ‘Just Trying To Make A Living’, before the metronomic ‘Time Marches On’, which brought the Animals to mind, from way back in the early 60’s. Updated lyrics fitted to an underpinning of Catfish Blues, morphs in to ‘Spaceman’, but That’s Alright. Now, apart from the recycled blues, with extra spring in its tail, there is this eclectic mix of stringed implements. A fine bass guitar, is partnered with a splendid stick base, looking like a folded down parasol. Various odd Japanese vintage guitars like the white, sensuously curved, Supro, sounding glorious with a slide, a neat violin shaped Teiso, and Ricks black and white Silvertone, aside from the generic Fenders and a Mandolin. The resulting tonal variations, whether chords or slide, added a touch of magic to the performance.

Songs were taken from the bands past albums, their more recent, Tasty

Nuggets, provided many, with ‘Down Home Blues’, bringing a short break, time for a beer. Chuck Berry provided a less well known song in, ’13 Questions’, needless to say, its all about the girl. A bit of Jimmy Reid next, before, the oddly titled, ‘Does My Ring Burn Your Finger’, divorce looms of course. Rick, standing in the shadows, was certainly noticeable, with slide and chord play, changing guitars between songs, Mark’s strong vocals dominate, whether with his harp in hand, the Supro or the mandolin. That mandolin put to use for a bit of Americana, in ‘The Weight’. Tampa Red, came to the surface for that wonderful blues song ‘It Hurts Me Too’, superb, sliding into our memories. An encore, bravely demanded by those present, brought a bit of Curtis Mayfield, ‘People Get Ready’, beautifully presented. For all those snuggled down in front of their fires, deriding the miserable TV offering, shame on you, you missed a brilliant evening, in the company of a talented Damon T, and a wonderful, musically entertaining, passionate blues band, Sons Of The Delta.

Words And Photo 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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Hattie Briggs

The last couple of months have been hectic around these parts, obviously I’ve had to endure another Christmas in the wonderful world of retail and then on top of that I’ve been (and now completed) moving house, so there has been little time for live music, but the one exception to that has been the Slap nights over at The Gardeners Arms in Droitwich, a once a month session, featuring the best live music has to offer. To date the pub has held host to a number of up and comers as well as a few established names from around the local scene.

December saw the turn of a bona-fide star in the making, sensational singer-songwriter and Radio 2 Young Folk Musician nominee, Hattie Briggs, a performer who’s already released a couple of critically acclaimed singles, performed across the UK and in recent times has been recording her debut album, which should see the light in the near future.

On this occasion the Gardeners had a smattering of people dotted round the bar, but as soon as Hattie opened her mouth and that stunning, soulful croon was omitted, everyone immediately focused their attention, at times during Hattie’s set you could hear a pin drop as she captured the imagination of one and all with her bewitching set.

Whether Hattie was using a sparse, strummed acoustic or accompanied herself with piano tinkerings, every song was filled with heart and passion, delivered beautifully by Hattie’s warm and tender voice. Originals such as Pull Me Down, Tilly’s Song and Old Eyes were lapped up with relish, whilst the hand picked renditions of Kathy’s Song (Paul Simon) and Fields Of Gold (Sting/Eva Cassidy) mesmerised, bettering the originals (in this scribes humble opinion) as Hattie breathed new life into weathered old material.

Hattie delivered a gorgeous, understated yet throughly engaging set, leaving the Gardeners regulars longing for more and once again proving that the regular Slap nights very much a monthly must see attracting only the very best in live music.

Since performing at The Gardeners Arms Hattie has been as announced as the main support act for folk royalty Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman’s forthcoming UK tour take a look at hattie’s site for all the details www.hattiebriggs.co.uk

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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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