Tag Archives: staines

JFK — Album Launch Show

JFK (also known confusingly as JFK Blues] is a London /Surrey five piece band that has been playing their rock ‘n’ rolling blues — spiced with jazzy manouche touches — for about a year or so.

If John Etheridge met Ray Davies at Le QuecumBar and they discussed a rhythm and blues project — this is probably how it would have turned out…

The band is composed of some very experienced musicians — PAUL BLOUNT on keys who once lived in L.A. and worked with Jeff Beck, SOL EZRA on drums [an early member of Talk Talk] gypsy-rock guitarist IAGO BANET ; LES ‘LEO’ VICTOR on bass [he played with the Blockheads] and the youngest member of the outfit — lead vocalist/guitar CHRIS ELLIOTT who they found busking at Covent Garden Tube and invited along for the ride.

Paul Blount on keys – they bring blues, jazz, pop and boogie to the people…
Picture by Neil Mach

We attended the “Rough Round The Edges” album launch show at the legendary 100 Club in London’s West End this week.

We enjoyed JFK’s beautifully crafted self-penned songs that began with “St Joseph” and had mellow, mid-tempo beats and instantly catchy melodies.

Chris Elliott’s poignant and cheery R&B voice on songs like “Shadowlands” reached clear trebles without too much difficulty — and this talent helped to take the sounds from blues origins and into pop-rock territory whilst still retaining the genre’s emotional content.

If we really had to designate their brand we would say the JFK sound is similar to that of the Alexis Korner band — in other words, they bring blues, jazz, pop and boogie to the people…

We’re not really a blues band…” Chris shouted to a passionate audience… directly before the band embarked on yet another raw-blues number — this one adorned with flinty peaks of guitar and a boogie underbelly.

We enjoyed the really excited rhythmic patterns and the cleverly woven guitar songs, such as “Having a Real Good Time.”

Often these songs had insistent backwoods blues-vibes that took us directly to those all-night parties down on 18th and Vine.

This was a poetic and vibrant show delivered by a pack of musicians who have clearly spent a lifetime entertaining their audiences.

Words & Images: @neilmach 2017 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/JFK4Blues/

See next:

The Old Ticket Hall, Windsor 14th April
The Bull’s Head, Barnes 1st May

Excited rhythmic patterns and the cleverly woven guitar songs…
Photo: Neil Mach

CURVED AIR — Back Screech Love? In Concert at Claygate

This Sunday we visited CLAYGATE — at the tail-end of their superbly organised MUSIC FESTIVAL week — to see the pioneering British progressive rock group CURVED AIR play live in concert at the Claygate Village Hall.

Their “Air Conditioning” album (1970) is still considered “essential listening” by the prog-rock crowd.

Retrospective – Anthology 1970-2009 – Best Of – (Remastered) – Curved Air

It was exciting to see a band — so famous — in what amounted to a village hall.

And the band have a strong Surrey heritage too [forerunner Sisyphus played one of their first performances at the Leith Hill Place Ballroom, Surrey] — so they were made very welcome.

After an extended instrumental introduction, the original “Hair” girl Sonja Kristina emerged onstage in a swirl of boho gypsy waftiness to get the crowd clapping along before the start of her distinctive low-dark, sexy vocal styling.

One of the first songs performed was “Stay Human” from the most recent album “North Star” [2014] with the “I am still your lover...” line.

This has strong riffs and thriving violin work from the “Sideshow Bob” lookalike Paul Sax on violin

(Fiddle-wizard Paul was one of the first participants at the Yehudi Menuhin School… and it shows.)

Sonja Kristina emerged onstage in a swirl of boho gypsy waftiness…

Screw” began with a two-tone riff played by the elfin “Legolas” Robert Norton on keyboards.

With clashing cymbals from original drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa and unfolding vocal drama.

This number sounded like an avenging angel — on the prowl and dangerous. The alarming shrieks from Paul’s violin added to the sense of urgency and impending doom.

In the Seventies the band were often referred to as “the British Jefferson Airplane” and with songs such as “Marie Antoinette” [from Phantasmagoria, 1972] it is easy to see why.

This number was full of delicious harmonies, expert twiddles, and a lot of punches and trills.

However, it was a protest song at heart, although misted in historical imagery. Back in the 1970’s the worlds of fantasy, psychedelia and new-age shininess could all be packed-together in one gorgeous song. And they still made social comment. How cool is that?

Paul was one of the first participants at the Yehudi Menuhin School… and it shows…

Sonja took an acoustic guitar for the popular folk-song “Melinda (More or Less)” [also from Phantasmagoria.]

This beauty is a fan favorite and shows the hippie principles of the band as well as their eternal affection for the folk-star Donovan.

Unfortunately the second half of the show was bugged by a very loud and completely unpleasant feedback squeal.

“We need to find that pesky mouse….” Sonja told the crowd.

The problem was temporarily fixed — but it didn’t stop a lot of people from wandering off into the night.

The show ended with the fantastic “Back Street Luv.”

This super-hit demonstrated Sonja’s slow vocal style, which still reaches those husky tenor lows where she seems happiest, though she breaks into expressive contralto register at times.

Chanting revolution, pop and psychedelia.

Progressive rock is never much better than this…

Words & Images: @neilmach 2017 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/CurvedAir/

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

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

Staines Moor — Talk by Earl Gray

Earl Gray, of the Association for the Preservation of Staines Moor, gave a talk this week to residents of Moor House in Staines.

Staines Moor is the largest Commons in the area. Earl reminded residents that the facility is only 100 meters from their door.

Photo Credit: Fr Philip Dyer-Perry; Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Staines
Photo Credit: Fr Philip Dyer-Perry; Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Staines

This 1,269 acre [513 hectares — the Site of Special Scientific Interest also includes the King George VI Reservoir] is a local treasure.

It’s home to 330 different plants, some species rare both nationally and internationally, also between 60-70 species of birds, especially waders, and lots of other unusual wildlife.

The grassland is home to one of the largest yellow ant colonies in Europe.

This important local habitat has a 1000 year history — the 289 acres of common land is dissected by the River Colne and The Bonehead Ditch and is bordered by the Wraysbury River — although the moor is much older, and was probably used by Neolithic man, detailed records go back to around 1500.

Earl explained that a Court Leet is still held frequently. The last year Court Leet was held in Staines-upon-Thames last year. This ancient court dates back to medieval England, when the Lord of the Manor exercised certain rights over his tenants concerning the administration of the manor and the moor. Twelve moormasters are appointed — they manage the grazing of the moor for the 200 ‘commoners’ who regularly use it. However, the moor is free for all visitors and is much loved by dog lovers and nature enthusiats. If you haven’t been yet — it is well worth a trip.

Earl suggested to the audience that the future of Staines Moor is precarious: the most obvious threat is the third planned runway at Heathrow and also the sixth possible terminal. He fears that perhaps 60% of our moor might vanish — lost in the construction of airport facilities.

Earl summed up saying that he has spent 47 years of his life protecting and promoting the moor. He hopes that this important conservation area will remain an accessible nature reserve for many future generations to come.

Report: Neil Mach 2016 ©

Links:

Staines Moor Preservation – APSM

Staines, Egham & Englefield Green Appreciation Group

Friends of The Elderly, Moor House Staines

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/

ALI MAAS BAND — Live in Staines

The excellent Staines Riverside Club is hosting a “Month Montage of Blues” — four Blues acts of high quality, hand-picked by the promoters, one for each Thursday evening during the month of September. You’ve probably seen the posters all around town.

This Thursday we enjoyed the Ali Maas band with Alan Glen and Micky Moody (guesting.)

The band more-or-less kicked off their set in Staines with Don Bryant’s song “99 lbs” (made famous by The Black Crowes — but actually first released by Ann Peebles in 1971.)

It’s a song-choice that reminded us that ‘Big’ Mama Thornton [she originally recorded “Hound Dog” in 1952] weighed a mere 99 lbs at the time of her death in 1984. This brings unexpected heartache to the songline: “Ninety-nine pounds of soul, oh, oh.

It is worth reminding ourselves that women blues singers like Big Mama, plus Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Lena Horne and, of course, “Lady Day” were among the most powerful and highest-paid entertainers of their day. These women ensured that the Blues remained a prosperous and potent art-form.

Ali Maas - wit and elegant passion in every phrase...
Ali Maas – wit and elegant passion in every phrase…

The soft-shoe number “Emotional Powder Keg Blues” was apparently written by Ali when she was going through a “bunny-boiler phase…” This number had pat-a-cake rhythms and expressive guitar-lines from Alan Glen.

One of Glen’s own compositions was the squelchy “No Time For You” whose rhythms and general 1970’s style reminded us of the bounce in “What’s the buzz?” That’s the song from the rock opera [Jesus Christ Superstar] that boasts the repeating percussive phrase: “Let me try to cool down your face a bit …

On the Alan Glen number the main voice from Ali was jazzy… With wit and elegant passion in every phrase.

The organ notes (Pete Whittaker) were talkative and blabby and delivered the goods along with guitar. This was a great number to introduce the skills of each musician. Roy Parsons’s bass was particularly memorable — a self-propelled jumble of electric jiggles.

After the break we had “Son of a Preacher Man” recorded by Dusty Springfield in 1968 but initially offered to Aretha Franklin. [Aretha turned it down, but her sister Erma recorded it for Soul Sister.]

Ali’s vocal performance reminded us of Dusty. She possesses a similar density of voice: with husky lows, followed by dashes to high places and heartfelt persistence when the song requires a big push. To sing the blues you need resolution and resistance. Ali has these qualities in abundance.

The"Million Dollar Sextet" here with Ali Maas [vocals]  Peter Miles [drums]   Alan Glen [harmonica]  Micky Moody [guitar]  Roy Parsons [bass]  Pete Whittaker on keys - out of shot
The”Million Dollar Sextet” here with Ali Maas [vocals] Peter Miles [drums] Alan Glen [harmonica] Micky Moody [guitar] Roy Parsons [bass] Pete Whittaker on keys – out of shot
Towards the end of this superior show in Staines Micky Moody came to the stage for the Muddy Waters number “I got my brand on you.” So, in effect, we had a “Million Dollar Sextet” in our club!

Who would not want to witness this incredible line-up and the resultant duel between the Yardbird’s blues harpist (Alan) and the lyrical guitar work from Whitesnake’s Moody?   And, of course, all this excitement was decorated with sweet care by Ali.

This was probably one of the best evenings we have enjoyed at this club.

Next Thursday Fran McGillivray (with Mike Burke) make their first appearance. Not to be missed!

Words & Images: Neil Mach 2016 ©

 

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