Tag Archives: Leon Russell

STEVE WHALLEY — Live at Staines Riverside Club

Here at AD PONTES we always said that STEVE WHALLEY is the zen master of cathartic liberation.

Steve Whalley – an interpretation that was incredibly perfect. Picture by @neilmach 2017 ©

There is no nonsense or schmaltz in his show, oh no!

He will tear your emotions apart before healing you with a frenzy of dramatic soul & rock numbers from the song books of heroes like Tom Waits and Dylan.

And at Staines Riverside Club last night, after an excellent start that included a stylish Leon Russell type “Youngblood” Steve tried some new material.

In fact he even produced a special guitar for the Ry Cooder number — Vigilante Man.

This is a dangerous tool ...” he alerted the audience. “I have to keep it set to stun, otherwise it will cause some serious damage...”

His interpretation was incredibly perfect. And although we know that Steve’s one of the best vocalists on the circuit, it was clear from this number that we shouldn’t underestimate his guitar skills either… His blues-picking and finger slides were remarkable.

Steve with Tat Whalley – Tat Whalley… ” he eclipsed my achievements many times” Picture by @neilmach 2017 ©

The incredible rhythmc finger-picking skills were evident again on the “Kingston Trio” style Bahamian folk song John B. Sails [aka Sloop John B.]

It was a sensational way to end a memorable night.

With his son Tat Whalley on bass (he eclipsed my achievements many times) and Bruvvers/Meal Ticket drummer Chris Hunt [he taught me everything I ever needed to know about music] this was one of the best concerts of the year.

And the amazing thing is that Steve suffered a nasty head-cold head all night long. And complained, often, “ I cannot hear a damn thing...”

We can’t imagine how good this would have been if Steve had been in ship-shape condition and didn’t feel “so broke up...”

If you missed the show, regularly visit the STAINES RIVERSIDE club for quality live music [every other Thursday] and most weekends. Please support your local live music venue.

Words & Pictures: @neilmach 2017 ©

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Pure Exhilaration from Blues Guitar Genius — STEVE MORRISON in Staines

The Tulsa Sound is sparse yet complicated and exciting. The smoky genre is espoused by the likes of JJ Cale, Leon Russell and Eric Clapton. It is a combination of rockabilly, country-rock and blues. Packed with precision riffs, intricate finger-picking style and lively rhythms.

This week we enjoyed this kind of genuine homecrafted bluesmanship at the Staines Riverside Club.

Brought to us by Steve Morrison’s band ‘Blues Abuse‘ (terrible name — great act) with Alan Hughes on drums and the legendary Alan Glen on harmonica.

Songs like “Call Me the Breeze” (completed at a frantic rate) were intricate and pure. Enjoyable, light and transient… like early morning snow on the Black Hills.

We loved the shuffling spirit of early rhythm and blues numbers, like ‘Easy Rider.‘ Steve’s voice was incredibly soft and smooth. Toasted oak and pine oil — it slipped down real neat and it suited his sharp-fringed guitar-work and the enthusiastic percussion from Alan Hughes.

Steve performed some self-written numbers. For example — Walking Blues (New Shoes) :

My wife is the Imelda Marcos of South London…” He told the audience.

“She has three thousand pairs of shoes … And we live in an apartment with 2 beds. Mind you, it’s not all bad… at least Shoes rhymes with Blues.” This was a light-hearted country-blues number with an easy lickin’ pace.

Blues Abuse - Steve Morrison, with Alan Hughes on drums...
Blues Abuse – Steve Morrison, with Alan Hughes on drums…

All songs were played with rare agility by the fast fingered Steve (who can hold down a bass-line and chords whilst simultaneously playing the most intricate highs… a rare gift.)

Songs were almost always soaked in juicy harmonica (from Glen) and kept in motion by Hughes (on drums) — he is probably one of the best drummers we have enjoyed at the Staines venue.

We sang the spiritual “Down by the Riverside” together (the Staines crowd needed a bit of flattery and coaxing — but in the end they were able to return the love.)

Come on everyone…” Steve Encouraged “ Imagine we are in a church. A church that serves beer! What is better than that? So let it all out …” The anti-war protest song proved to be a big hit.

This was an impressive evening of music from Steve and his Blues Abuse partners. (He’s got the ‘old blues‘ real bad!) What a wonderful experience!

Words & Images: @neilmach 2015 ©
Link: http://www.bluesabuse.com/

Elton John -Charity Concert at Royal Opera House London

Still Shining A Light

You don’t spin a successful career spanning four decades just by wearing comedy spectacles and high-heeled boots …. Elton John has been at the top of his game for the whole period – as a writer, singer and entertainer.  He may just be a piano player from Pinner, but he is very possibly one of the best showmen that there has ever been.

Elton has been heavily involved in the fight against AIDS since the late 1980s. Since 1992, when he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the foundation has raised over $200 million. And in 2010, Elton joined Cyndi Lauper in the launch of her ‘Give a Damn’ campaign to bring a wider awareness of discrimination of the LGBT community as part of her ‘True Colors’ Fund. But less is known of Elton John’s charitable contributions to young musicians and emerging music – but he is an equally generous contributor to young music and the arts and especially to the Royal Academy of Music – in London’s Marylebone, which he attended as a scholar when he was barely 11 years of age. Elton regularly puts on charity concerts for deserving causes, and last year he raised money for a music organ for the Royal Academy of Music. In Jan 2011 he put on another show at the Royal Opera House to raise funds for the organ for the Academy – well it is a ‘really big organ’ he told the audience. (2,921 pipes)

Elton is essentially a ‘one man’ show (though his Royal Academy of Music charity concert featured the much admired percussionist Ray Cooper.) The honky piano and the gospel-chords are played with astonishing power and overwhelming clarity. From standards like ‘Rocket Man’ to ‘Philadelphia Freedom’ we also had some wonderful lesser known (but no less loved)  numbers like ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ and also some very contemporary songs from ‘The Union’ album, his collaborative work with Leon Russell.

A perfectly punctuated ‘Levon’ [Madman Across the Water] allowed Elton to thank his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin (of 44 years) for his friendship and skills. Then we shimmied over some lighter numbers to reach “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” from the amazing ‘Blue Moves’ album of 1976.

Probably the most enjoyable song of the night and an all-round winner with the rather posh crowd at this premier venue was the g-g-great song “Bennie and the Jets”. Gigantic slabs of chord were churned out by Elton’s pudgy fingers and the whole sound was punctured, perforated and powdered by the aerobic air-doodling and artistic percussion from Ray.  Naturally, we also enjoyed “Candle in the Wind” and the now ever-present “Your Song”-  which sounds so fresh yet it harkens back to 1970.

Ray first started working with Elton in 1971 on ‘Madman Across the Water’ and joined the ‘Elton John Band’ later that year.  Ray has continued to perform and record with Elton sporadically since then. This ‘piano and percussion’ concert was perfected by the duo in 1994 and they have now played more than 50 distinct performances together.

Elton’s tunes are all accompanied with surprising speed and exhilarating virtuosity, by cascades of sumptuous notes. And I don’t mean tinkly plinkety-plonky notes either.  Elton’s notes are big fat man-sized slugs of sound. Generous slabs of noise. The musical equivalent of a homemade sausage sarnies – made with thick wedges of crusty bread. Big coils of rope to hang a hearty song onto.

And what also surprises you is the amazing clarity of his baritone vocals- especially the seat-shaking low notes. And when these brooding sounds are accompanied by darker, more soulful piano pieces, the effect is very mystical.

Elton John is proud to be able to support the Royal Academy of Music and, just like his musical forefathers Sir Henry Wood and Sir John Barbirolli, he also hopes to  create new audiences and gain recognition for this amazing musical institution.

© Neil_Mach
Jan 2011

Links:

To find out more about the Elton John AIDS foundation click here:  www.ejaf.com

The Royal Academy of Music is internationally recognised as representing the highest values of music and musical society.
Click here to donate:  www.ram.ac.uk/giving

Ad Pontes Staines- music arts & going out IN STAINES




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