Category Archives: live music staines

THE ALI MAC BAND — Live in Staines

Original Birdman ALI MACKENZIE with his renegade pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll talent — Strawbs drummer Richard Hudson, Glitter Band bassist Bill Phillips, and Renaissance guitarist Simon Bishop — form the ALI MAC BAND.

They play good-time rhythm and blues, replete with soul-thumping harmonies and the tightest musicianship you are ever likely to witness.

We saw their sold-out show this February 16 at the STAINES RIVERSIDE CLUB.

Their perfectly handled recreations included many favorites from the American soft-jazz songbook ( like Little Feat’sWeed, whites and wine…” flavoured ‘Willin‘ ) and teasing blues pieces like Willie Dixon’s provocative “Hoochie Coochie Man” or intelligently voiced soul-hits such as Eddie Floyd & Steve Cropper’sKnock on Wood.”

THE ALI MAC BAND - the tightest musicianship you are ever likely to witness... Photo Credit @neilmach 2017 ©
THE ALI MAC BAND – the tightest musicianship you are ever likely to witness…
Photo Credit @neilmach 2017 ©

In the mid sixties THE BIRDS were the biggest rhythm and blues act in London.

They appeared on TV’s Ready Steady Go and released four hit singles including the Holland-Dozier-Holland number “Leaving Here.”

That Birds song went onto inspire Lemmy’s Motörhead [Leaving Here was their debut single — 1977.]

Famous for their vocal harmonies and exciting live performances THE BIRDS came close to becoming as big as THE WHO.

They first ventured onto the scene in 1964 as The Thunderbirds but decided to change their band-name to The Birds to avoid confusion with Chris Farlowe’s band.

But when “America’s answer to the Beatles” aka the folk rock band THE BYRDS entered the UK Singles Chart with “Mr. Tambourine Man” (1965) the British BIRDS were forced to take action to defend their “trading” name.

Surrounded by an excited buzz of media coverage, the BIRDS manager began to take legal steps to prevent the American upstarts from using their name. But the court favored the Los Angeles “Byrds” and by 1967 the British band had faded.

Ali McKenzie was the original leader of that particular ensemble (voice and harmonica) along with Ronnie Wood (guitar) Tony Munroe (guitars) Kim Gardner (bass) and Pete McDaniels (drums).

At Staines, Ali Mac’s band — understandably — distanced themselves from the compositions of Dylan and McGuinn. Instead they played some lasting rockabilly hits (such as Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” and Big Boy Crudup’s “That’s All Right”. )

With Simon’s effervescent guitar playing, Bill’s adventurous and tight bass and Hud’s precise rhythms, it was a night of class entertainment.

Ali’s remarkable vocal work — his mastery of tension and release — and controlled use of vibrato, was truly astonishing. It’s not often we witness vocal skills of this quality.

Another stunning show at Staines…

Support the RIVERSIDE CLUB and keep LIVE MUSIC alive…

Words & Pictures: Neil Mach 2017 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/StainesRiversideClub

PAPA GEORGE and MICKY MOODY — Live in Staines

Award-winning bluesman PAPA GEORGE and legendary guitarist MICKY MOODY played a live concert at the fabulous STAINES RIVERSIDE CLUB on Thursday night. Rock vocalist and talented composer ALI MAAS joined them onstage as a special guest.

The duo played a selection of blues, rhythm and blues, soul and gospel songs that included some choice cover songs as well as a selection of Papa George’s own first-class numbers.

Songs like Little Feat’s “Sailin’ Shoes” had the crowd swaying along with its indolent lurching pace — the lethargic guitars and fervent passion of the lyrics penetrated every moment.

George’s fine picking on “You Can Love Yourself” ( by contemporary Delta blues artist Keb’ Mo’) was praiseworthy. As was the liquid bottleneck slide work from Micky.

Here George’s voice was wood-tar and old brandy seeing him perfectly capable of producing cream-hazelnut highs — husky-textured but sweet, sweet, sweet — from those incredible vocal folds.

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Papa George at Staines Riverside Club — here with Ali Maas

Jesus on the Mainline”  ( Ry Cooder)  was finely picked.

This gradually evolving Gospel number is a crowd favorite.

Encouraged to sing, the crowd at Staines joined-in enthusiasticall with the good-natured call and response.

Who likes John Lee Hooker?” cried Papa George. There was a yell of support so the musicians launched into “Crawling King Snake.

This a delta-blues song from the 1920’s that is almost always identified with Hooker. George’s voice on the piece was curmudgeonly and appropriately raw — but the guitarists had a whole lotta fun with the arrangement when they stumbled upon Muddy Waters’ “You Need Love” [the precursor to “Whole Lotta Love”]

The dynamic interaction and interdependence between these two consummate guitarists — plus their whiskey ‘n’ dry voices, with velvet textures — along with a canny song choice and the highlight ALI MAAS appearance — meant that this was a night to remember.

Words & Pictures: Neil Mach 2017 ©

Link: https://www.facebook.com/StainesRiversideClub/
SUPPORT LOCAL LIVE MUSIC

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STEVE MORRISON — Guitar Star Live in Staines

Since being on the telly [Guitar Star, Sky Arts 2015] the home-crafted bluesman STEVE MORRISON has become a bit of a draw.

We saw him and his band “Blues Abuse” [with Alan Hughes on drums and the legendary Alan Glen on harmonica] playing live at the superior RIVERSIDE CLUB, STAINES last Thursday.

During the first half of the electrifying show we enjoyed “Call Me the Breeze” JJ Cale [Naturally, 1972] which was rewarding, buoyant and appropriately transient.

Steve’s picking technique is impressive … he provides bass notes, chords and twiddles — often simultaneously.

Steve provides bass notes, chords and twiddles — often simultaneously... Photo Credit @neilmach 2017 ©
Steve provides bass notes, chords and twiddles — often simultaneously… Photo Credit @neilmach 2017 ©

Steve’s own composition titled “Love Has Gone” was gently set.

With baroque influences and a supreme lament-filled sob at the end, given up by Glen.

The sprinkle of finely chosen guitar notes fell like a confetti of anxious teardrops.

Another self-penned number, the “James Bond” theme called “Climbing On Top of the World” (“writing that was at the very top of my to don’t list…” Steve told the Staines audience) seemed crenelated and indented.

A fine blend of thrill, suspense and remarkable release.

In the second half, the happy crowd at the club were enlisted to join in with the choruses “just think of this place as a church… a church that sells beer…” we were told.       So we sang as we swayed.

Everyone from Elvis to Beyoncé via Suzi Quatro has covered Little Willie John’s “Fever.”

The Morrison version of this Peggy Lee favourite [penned by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell] had all the ingredients we’d expect from a bigger blues-band – tangy bass line [played by Steve] yummy guitar work, and an awesome voice filled with heart & heat. And the “sax” licks were deliciously handled by Glen.

Full marks to Steve and his buddies for an entertaining live show.

The night had a whole lot of memorable moments (not just virtuoso guitar work, but also great drum solos, some fabulous blues-harp flurries and not to mention many gossipy revelations from Steve’s “telly” work — ) this was just like a traditional British rhythm and blues evening.

Another night of incredible quality musicianship at Staines, brought to us by the highest calibre musicians imaginable.

Words & Photos Neil Mach 2017 ©

Link: http://www.stevemorrison.eu

CASE HARDIN — Live in Staines

You didn’t see it. You weren’t there. You can only imagine — You shoulda been there, man…

For those people who still support live music in Staines, last night’s show at the RIVERSIDE CLUB was a treat.

The terrific CASE HARDIN were in town — they are signed to Clubhouse Records, named after a character in Boston Teran’s thriller “God Is A Bullet” and onto their fourth album “Colours Simple.”

This was the standout gig of the year.

We had already seen this band [whose main songwriter Pete Gow has been described by Q magazine as “a songwriter like no other”] at the “Down By The Riverside” blue-grass night. Then we were totally immersed in the Vermilion River muddiness, and the sweetly drooled guitar. We thought their songs “convinced and anointed us...”

We have been looking forwards to the return of these Americana & country rock paragons.

Case Hardin - lyrics were filled with potential heartache. Every note shook us with emotion upset... Photo Credit: @neilmach 2016 ©
Case Hardin – lyrics were filled with potential heartache. Every note shook us with emotion upset… Photo Credit: @neilmach 2016 ©

After a rousing start, the band brought us into a private world of feverish imagination — “Fiction Writer” — one of a selection of numbers from the new songbook.

This brushed across the room, soft yet edgy. The lyrics were filled with potential heartache. Every note shook us with emotional upset.

We also enjoyed “First to Know”  — the ever-building song from the “Every Dirty Mirror” album that includes the scrabble word “stanchions.”     The choppy texture of guitar on this number reminded us of Denny Laine.

After discussing the merits of Scottish gin [Isle of Harris is apparently taken with a slice of pineapple on the Outer Hebrides ] we savoured the hoppy upbeat number “The Streets are Where the Cars Are (The Bars are Where the Girls Will Be.)

This has super-efficient keyboard work from Roland and schmaltzy lines of guitar from the talented Jim Maving. This band’s sounds are distinctively dry with a peppery aftertaste and gooseberry hints. Maybe HARDIN CASE are the musical equivalent of a sip of gin on the bitter Western Isles

“Warren Zevon is a great inspiration and influence for us.”
“Warren Zevon is a great inspiration and influence for us.”
After the break the band returned to treat us to a selection of acoustic covers. They ventured “into the crowd” — up-close and personal. It was a moving experience. The first song they played was “Carmelita”.

Warren Zevon is a great inspiration and influence for us.” Said vocalist and frontman Pete Gow. “And if you don’t know who he is — then maybe the last hour has been a complete mystery to you…

This number was brilliantly performed and properly ardent.In fact, it was the most exciting song of the night. Tim Emery played upright bass [“Cor that’s a big one...” shouted one wisecracker) while Roland Kemp, the band keyboardist played timbrel and provided sweet backing vocals.

If you can imagine something like the poetry of Bob Dylan peformed with the heart of Tom Petty and, perhaps, the merest hint of super-dry Johnny Cash with the fruitful finish of Leonard Cohen, then you might get somewhere near to the angled beauty and detailed instrumentation of CASE HARDIN.

But, in reality, these guys are like nothing else …

It’s a shame — you were not there!

Words & Images: Neil Mach 2016 ©
Link:
https://www.facebook.com/casehardinband

 

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FRAN MGILLIVRAY BAND — Live in Staines

This week — still celebrating a “Month Montage of Blues” in STAINES — we went to the RIVERSIDE CLUB to see the FRAN MGILLIVRAY band (with Mike Burke.)

Fran is the bassist with the colourful and expressive voice who adds energizing structure to the blues-tunes she performs. Fran plays alongside the great talent of Mike Burke, on guitar.

Fran started playing folk, roots and blues music in the late 1970s with Mike Burke, and appeared at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1977 following the release of the album “Into the Light.”

Fran McGillivray curative simplicity and subtle reflection. Photo Credit: @neilmach 2016 ©
Fran McGillivray curative simplicity and subtle reflection. Photo Credit: @neilmach 2016 ©

The band have recently been mixing their new album [Riverside Club favorite Alan Glen is a guest on the recording) so we were pleased they chose to play a couple of songs from the upcoming release including “When, when, when.”

This is a song about looking back to a time before gadgets and smart-phones. When forming and maintaining relationships was perhaps easier (who knows?) This was a cool number, full of expression and a touch of yearning.

We loved the choppiness of numbers like “Hard Working Woman.”

Fran’s vocals on this song reminded us of Elkie Brooks during her Vinegar Joe days. We also enjoyed the fluency on tracks like the ‘Little Walter‘ standard “Blues with a Feeling” — although we could have done with harmonica for this one.

In the 1990s Fran and Mike formed the urban blues band “So Long Angel” and they played us the showy and vibrant “Ecstasy” from that period. It was filled with a fusion of jazz and psychedelia and was our favorite number.

In amongst the jazz-tinged songs and country-blues offerings — all played with nuanced voice and robust bass lines from Fran and expressive finger style from Mike — was a handful of rhythm and blues numbers, such as Rufus Thomas danceable “Walking the Dog” with sexy bass notes and flames of guitar.

We also loved the Fran McGillivray version of “Not Fade Away” with its rough sharpness, Bo Diddley beat (enriched by percussionist Roger Nunn) and very pleasant, languid voice.

This was a positive, upbeat and mellow show full of curative simplicity and subtle reflection.

An outstanding evening of quality musicianship.

Next to Staines Riverside Club: Case Hardin Thursday September 22
Words & Pictures: Neil Mach 2016 ©
https://www.facebook.com/franmcgillivrayband/

Chris Dowling And Friends — Live at Staines Riverside Club

The talented front-man of the Brainchild band and the ‘Eccentric Party’ candidate Chris Dowling has a huge repertoire of great songs. In fact, he is well known in the community as a “one-man jukebox”.

Chris never fails to amuse and entertain us at the Riverside Club and he is a great friend of this precious Staines venue.

This week Chris brought a few chums with him to play a session at this town’s most wonderful club. Chris did what he does best… He played a rough jam with his musical pals.

Chris never fails to amuse and entertain us at the Staines Riverside Club...
Chris never fails to amuse and entertain us at the Staines Riverside Club…

His smoky voice (reminiscent of Tom Petty or even Dylan) was emotional, if not particularly lively or animated. Maybe he was tired after his recent political campaigning.

But his guitar-playing was, as usual, excellent. And, although there was no proper set-list or rigid structure for the show, it was a pleasant and agreeable performance nonetheless. And a great way to spend some time.

Favourite numbers, for us, included Bolan’s “Life’s A Gas ” from the T Rex album Electric Warrior (1971 ). It was sung passionately and convincingly by Chris and in memory of our beloved Cilla, whose funeral was this week.

We also enjoyed ‘The Joker’ originally performed by the Steve Miller Band. It was fun-filled yet retained an edge. And the emotional Mike d’Abo number “Handbags and Gladrags” was also popular. This was made famous by Rod Stewart (first) and then the Stereophonics (later.)

Swinging songs, gritty rock ‘n’ roll numbers and urban blues. A slice of musical fun for a Thursday night.

Words & Images: @neilmach 2015 ©

Thrilling Classic Rock — Cry Wolf live in Staines

Sometimes we yearn for some classic rock.

And, there is really no finer band (in this land) than local lads Cry Wolf to bring us what we need so badly.

We saw the band at the superb Staines Riverside Club last Friday. It has been a while since the band played the venue, so audience members were animated right from the start. There was a sense of anticipation in the air.

Fans of Cry Wolf will know that all the band members played in pop-band Blackfoot Sue — famous for their wonderful 1972 hit “Standing in the Road.” These excellent musicians have also played alongside many other recognizable ‘household names’ in pop during the 1970’s, 1980’s and into the 90’s.

From their first number (T.RexGet It On‘) we knew we were in good hands.

Pars Everenos (lead guitar) moved across the frets, as if his fingers were on fire. I’m sure that even Bolan did not put so much effort into the complexity of his sparkling guitar-work.

Pars Everenos - His fingers were on fire...
Pars Everenos – fingers were on fire…

Not that this is just a ‘Pars’ show… The brothers Tom Farmer, Dave Farmer and Gary Farmer are magical musicians too!

Their harmonization was exquisite. But it was the thud, thump and grind on their songs like Bad Company’sFeel Like Makin’ Love” that made us sit up and holler for more.

This was an evening of covers, some were obvious and infallible audience rattlers like the Saints & Sinners classic sing-along “Here I Go Again” — (This was released in 1980 when Staines Riverside Club’s best friend and regular Micky Moody was on guitar, with Bernie Marsden, the co-author of this Whitesnake song.)

Other songs, such as Pink Floyd’sComfortably Numb’ seemed a little out of place in the midst of the ‘biker friendly’ numbers — all that studded leather sleaziness, chromium sparkle and sump-oil darkness. But the prog song went down well… and it allowed Pars to show off some more radiant guitar-work.

 

Tom Farmer, Dave Farmer and Gary Farmer - harmonization was  exquisite...
Tom Farmer, Dave Farmer and Gary Farmer – harmonization was exquisite…

After some sparkling rock covers (Def Leppard, Billy Idol, ZZ Top, Black Sabbath… to name just a few bands that were faithfully interpreted ) we finally finished with ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ the AC/DC number.

This was a night of tight, energetic and thoroughly exhilarating hard rock brought to us by some amazingly accomplished musicians.

Words: @neilmach 2015 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/Cry.Wolf.rocks