Thursday, January 26, 2017

Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen at Ronnie Scotts

Soho,London. Thursday 26-January-2016.

A birthday treat for Mary - some New Orleans jazz

The Times had this to say about Jon Cleary's first appearance at Ronnies:

"It was the kind of sultry, groove-drenched New Orleans masterclass you always hope the fabled voodoo master Dr John will deliver, but which, sadly, he seldom does nowadays. And, irony of ironies, it was an English expat from deepest Kent whooping it up at the keyboard.
Cleary himself, who has a confident blue-eyed soul voice, switched between electric and acoustic keyboard on songs that often slipped into a sanctified gospel beat. His version of Junker’s Blues gave him the opportunity to stretch out at the piano and demonstrate his mastery of the New Orleans tradition." [Full review...]

Happy Birthday!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Great British Rock & Blues Festival 2017

Butlins, Skegness. Friday 20-January-2017 to Sunday 22-January-2017

When we told people we were going to Butlins, in Skegness, in January our friends were startled. When we explained it was for the Great British Rock and Blues Festival 2017 they were a little more understanding. I was a little dubious myself. Those winds off the North Sea can be chilly - not for nothing is the slogan "Skegness is SO bracing".

It makes sense that Butlins have moved into the off season music festival business. There are no holiday makers, they have the accommodation, the restaurants, the venues all sitting empty otherwise.

We drove up with a boot full of food as we decided to go the self catering route. The timetable meant eating at slight out-of-sync times so we thought that would work best. The accommodation was far grander than I was expecting. Certainly not the cabins of yore and popular imagination. They were substantial two storey, terraced buildings albeit timber-framed and very commodious.

The seating was "night club" style. Lots of round tables with chairs, unreserved so you sat where you could and moved forward as people came and went between, or during, the acts.

There were three venues (Jaks, Reds, Centre Stage) and a stage in the main foyer (Skyline) for up and coming acts. We spend most of our time at the Reds stage which, ironically, was mostly dedicated to blues acts.

This is the full list of the acts we got to see, * for acts we liked, ** for acts we really liked.
Fri 20 Jan
Fran McGillvray Band (Jaks)
Giles Robson band ft Billy Branch *, Magic Dick, James Harman (Reds)
Snafu (Centre Stage)

Sat 21 Jan
Tom Walker Trio (Skyline)
Matt Edwards Band * (Skyline)
Southbound (Skyline)
Amy Eftekhari (Skyline)
Marcia Ball (Reds)
Catfish ** (Jaks)
Moreland and Arbuckle * (Reds)
Toronzo Cannon * (Reds)

Sun 22 Jan
Lil Jimmy Reed * (Reds)
Jo Ann Kelly (Jaks)
Dave Kelly and Paul Jones * (Reds)
Elles Bailey ** (Skyline)
David Knofler Band (Reds)
The Blues Band * (Reds)


Fran McGillvray Band:


Tom Walker Trio:

Skyline was the foyer stage for lesser known acts. The most voted for act got to be invited back next year to perform on one of the main stages.

Matt Edwards Band:

Amy Eftekhari:

Bruce Iglauer, founder of Alligator Records, did a fascinating question and answer session. Really interesting to here all manner of anecdotes about the musicians he has discovered and nurtured.

Marcia Ball:

Catfish were the discovery of the event. Very talented.

Moreland and Arbuckle:

Toronzo Cannon:


Lil Jimmy Reed:

Dave Kelly and Paul Jones: I learned that the best harmonicas in the world are made in  small village in Lincolnshire - by Antony Dannecker.

Elles Bailey: We liked her.

For proper reviews of the bands see one of the following:
More fun event than I had expected. So much so we have signed up 2018.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Claire Martin at Ronnie Scotts

Soho, London. Monday 16-January-2017.

With the James Pearson Quintet and the Tippett Quartet - celebrating Shirley Horn.

The Times writes:
"The best British singer of her generation brought together a quintet and a poised string section to pay tribute to the American singer and pianist.
Her Soho set, which brought together a quintet led by the house pianist James Pearson and a poised string section, was often more affecting than some of the overly lush recordings that Horn made in her final years." [Full review...]

Though obviously a class act in her chosen genre personally I found it a bit too schmaltzy, crooner ballad-like. Still you don't know till you've tried it.