BLUES NIGHTS always used to be about live music. We haven't had one of these for years, but didn't have the heart to delete this page.
Sunday 26th July 2009. Best BLUES NIGHT ever.
Things BLUES NIGHT learned at The Wheatsheaf on Sunday…
1. Mark Cavendish is well fast at riding his bicycle.
2. A laptop computer is an effective and infinitely more portable alternative to a pair of turntables, a mixer and a couple of boxes (alright, dozens of boxes if need be) of records, but has all the charm of, well, a laptop computer.
3. The new Wheatsheaf is not just (as the PUBLOG says) a good pub, it’s a very good pub.
4. Steven Finn is definitely worth staying sober for. Well, maybe not sober, but not so drunk that you can’t remember whether he’s any good or not. Because he is. He’s really good. His sound is so well honed, his songs so lean and fit, you’d almost think Mark Cavendish had written them on a laptop computer. No, hang on, that can’t be right. But he’s definitely really good.
5. D.L. Grant can sing even better when she gets someone else to do the guitar stuff. And by the sounds of the two of them, her band is probably really good. If we wait politely, she might even tell us when they have a gig.
6. Sometimes doing something quietly is a really good way of getting folks to listen. It was a special BLUES NIGHT moment when everyone fell silent to hear Luke Dunlea and his lovely nylon strings put the blues back into bossa nova, tango and waltz. And, yes, that was music on a stand in front of him. No, it’s not cheating. Loads of musicians do that, apparently.
7. Little Ghosts are well ace. In a masterstroke of scheduling contrast, they took to the stage moments after Luke had rapped the body of his classical with his big fingernails for the last time, and ripped into their opener. Everything about them is unapologetic and bullshit-free. BLUES NIGHT loves a band you can watch with a bloody great grin on your face, which is exactly what he, Mrs BLUES NIGHT and BLUES NIGHT’s Balearic Connection were doing as the first song closed like a tight little fist. At this moment, Hoohoopoojoglebloggery returned from Who-Knows-Where-But-It-Probably-Involved-Bicycles. “What did I miss?” He enquired. BN’s BC didn’t look away from the band as he answered as honestly as anyone could;
“You missed Black Mama.”
8. Laptop computers are also lying bastards. It’s probably not their fault, but they are. A great communication tool, yes, for BLUES NIGHT first heard of Pearl Handled Revolver when they got in touch via this website. From thence, the confusing barrage of information and moving things that is a myspace page suggested to BLUES NIGHT that PHR were pretty good and the sort of thing that might go down well at one of his soirees. Wrong. Pearl Handled Revolver are not ‘pretty good’. They are fucking awesome. We could try to tell you why, but instead we shall say Go and See Them. BLUES NIGHT will help by telling you when they’re playing in <city><place>London.
Well, that just about wraps it up. See you in hell.
Reviews - Sunday 27th July 2008
To give credit where it’s due, BLUES NIGHT should be proud of himself for remembering that Steven Finn definitely played his set, as the combined effect of having been in the pub since half three and having a bartab was by now undeniable. But Steve should take the credit for the fact that his set was memorable as a well-performed one, especially as he and his partner had arrived at the Sheaf at about four. Undeterred, he worked neat little riffs and rhythms into punchy songs. Some bloke (or possibly lady) who saw him at the Bristol Folk House said “as a performer, Steve doesn't just let his songs speak for themselves (which he could), instead backing it all up with crafted skill and dynamic delivery.” And we’re not going to argue with that, because a) he (or she) probably wasn’t as pissed as us, and b) it’s more or less correct. Check his myspace here.
With his blues credentials clanging together like a pair of jumbo castanets, David Atkinson played a stomping selection of old timey numbers with a couple of blokes called Paul and Steve on banjo and mandolin, but not necessarily in that order. Apparently BLUES NIGHT has seen the beginning of something serious, with the three of them planning to start a band together. Unless we have just cursed it. Keep up to date on developments here. He also said he saw one or two people taking photos or video while he was playing, and he’s not worried it will have stolen his soul (the devil’s already got that anyway) but he would be interested to see them. Are you the unsolicited photo-videographer? Contact us - he’d appreciate it.
Once again, D.L. Grant brought some much needed Ladyosity to BLUES NIGHT proceedings. She has a superb voice, brilliant phrasing, and no bottleneck, which on this particular BLUES NIGHT was almost a USP. Sure, she played quite a lot of the same songs as last time, but how many people were at both performances, and sober enough at each of them to have made this observation? Were you? Mail us with "It's about time she got some new material" in the subject field and we'll make sure it receives her attention.
Matt Milton is an enigma wrapped in sinew, wrapped in narrow clothing. While flexing less obviously bluesy songs than most of the rest of the bill, he somehow manages to be the bluesiest man on show, grinding his songs out through gritted teeth one moment and his nasal cavity the next. One highlight of the set was his twangy Parachute Woman, which chugged along like there’s no distracting extra jazzy little bit of fretboard sticking out halfway into the sound hole of his guitar. Check his CLUB SOMETHING, a new fixture at the Grosvenor in Stockwell.
After his first EVER gig, BLUES NIGHT was able to secure this interview with Spanish Terry.
BN: So, you got the gig at BLUES NIGHT No.3 after your mentor Blind Papa Eyepoke gave up drinking and playing the devil’s music. How is he surviving without the blues?
ST: To be honest, I don’t really think Eyepoke ever had the blues. He was probably just pretending.
BN: And so he’s happier now? Did he find a church to preach in?
ST: Dunno. He’s probably dead. But, to answer your initial question, yes.
BN: Apart from what the Blind Papa passed on to you, there are a lot of other very obvious influences upon your music - tell us about them.
ST: Oh yeah. If I only played the guitar as much as I listen to records, I reckon I’d be pretty good. I mean, I am excellent at listening to music, I really am. But all of that blues I listen to must go in somehow, even if it’s just subconsciously. I have an encyclopaedic blues knowledge. Well, maybe not like one of those massive twenty-volume jobs you get in libraries, but like a little encyclopaedia. Maybe a children’s encyclopaedia. Of the blues.
My subconscious is just soaked in blues juices. All the greats feature somewhere in my list of influences, and some pretty dreadful blues musicians too. In fact, bad music has been a more important influence upon my overall sound than good music has.
BN: Hmmm. I myself can hear extensive influences, from Young’s Special to red wine, but I think the most obvious is Staropramen.
ST: Yes, Star’s my Wifebeater of choice when I’m power drinking for a BLUES NIGHT. It’s just more appropriate than Stella, as it costs £3.55 a pint, which is enough to give anyone the blues.
BN: So, what’s next for El Tel?
ST: I can’t decide, so I am leaving that up to the public.
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Reviews - Sunday 13th April 2008
If you could put her voice in a jar, they would sell it in Selfridges Food Hall for about forty quid a pop. Rich people would spread it on their toast in the morning and the rest of us would think them sickeningly decadent for doing so. It was about the only part of the evening when the punters shut up for a few minutes, and they were mighty glad they did. Deb deserves a bigger stage than BLUES NIGHT provides, but when she is there one day, a privileged few will be able to say they heard her sing at The Wheatsheaf. She’s up for it next time, too…
BLUES NIGHT’s new best friend brought with him his National, his mando, a lady and his mate called Mark. He also brought some of the grittiest live country blues you’re ever likely to hear. After long hard hours of busking, his voice has developed into a very powerful instrument that compliments his driving resonator technique and throbbing foot-taps perfectly. When he swapped to mandolin and Mark joined him on a lovely 1930s reso, it produced a BLUES NIGHT highpoint that will stay with us as long as we have one lonesome brain cell remaining. The Blues is alive and well and living in South London.
Check him out at http://www.myspace.com/davidatkinsonblues
Despite having uttered the blasphemous words “moving away from the blues…” during his set, Matt treated BLUES NIGHT to a number of different angles, playing some strangely beautiful original pieces in a unique folk blues style. Coping admirably with his partner’s dreadful knitting error, he worked a lovely Django-style jazz guitar and steel mandolin for the hard-drinking and rather noisy assembly.
Blind Papa Eyepoke
Having regained his sight just days after appending “Blind” to his name, it would be appropriate now for him to replace that adjective, perhaps with “Forgetful” or just plain “Drunk”. After labouring through a turgid “Gallows Pole” in which he failed to complete a single full verse, it might be noted that being able to see his fingers on the fretboard, albeit several more of them than were really there, has not improved his playing any. A late switch to solo mouth harp for his signature piece “Norwich Train” smacked of inebriated desperation. If BLUES NIGHT No.3 requires a vaguely amusing sideshow act, we’ll select one that is intentionally so.