I’ve been a bit quiet here for a while for a number of reasons, though I have been lurking! One reason was due to my annual “album in a month” RPM challenge, and due to pressures of work (another reason for absence, plus attendant stress levels) I decided to go back to basics and make a blues album, the great love of my teenage years which were spent poring over the works of Peter Green, Howlin’ Wolf, BB King, Ry Cooder etc al. So here it is, in all its Spotify glory (or there’s a free down load on Bandcamp). It spans all the stuff I like, and like playing, from acoustic through the early and later years and a spot of blues rock too for good measure. This one takes a wry look at how R&B used to have a quite different meaning to its modern definition!
Regular Afterworders will have heard me talking about Ballyclare bluesman Lonesome Chris Todd and his band the Hardchargers before. I’ve said it before but interest declared again: I’ve been helping Chris over the past year or so – and currently – towards a debut album (released last month) and furthering his performing opportunities outside of Ireland. I won’t benefit financially from any of this stuff – just an enthusiast for an artist wielding some contacts and loaning a bit of no-interest cash if needed. So, less a PR thread than an AW regular sharing one of his adventures…
Here’s the latest plank in creating that platform, the first of three live clips professionally filmed, by director Paul and his sidekick Jeff, at a show at Belfast’s Empire Bar on December 29th. Like most good things in rock’n’roll it was stitched together at an hour close to 11… or maybe 12…
We’d been introduced to Paul by NI film-making legend Michael Beattie. Paul was up for it – a plan to film three good quality live clips at the Empire show, to help get the message to overseas agents and promoters – in good time but reckoned, from costly past experience, » Continue Reading.
Lonesome Chris Todd, kingpin of the Ballyclare blues scene, was on Gerry Kelly’s BBC Radio Ulster show today, talking about hard times, paying dues and playing some blues. Regular Afterworders will know I’m a fan… so I cobbled together a slideshow to the new song he played, ‘Red Lion Yard’.
Last spring, Chris tried his luck in Blandford, Dorset – and found that (at that time) he didn’t have any. A week was spent sleeping in his van in Red Lion Yard, a pub car park. Ironically, during that period he did manage a few useful gigs – as sideman with Billy Boy Miskimmin, next on the bill to Jethro Tull at a festival on one occasion – and got a taste of playing shows in England after years of playing only in Ireland.
Still, you live and learn – and Chris got a great song out it, ‘Red Lion Yard’. To my ears it’s as if Charley Patton time-travelled from the Delta and found himself having existential car-parking issues in Dorset.
Hopefully, 2018 will work out much better in the Ballyclare blues world.
Regular Afterworders will know that I’m a fan of Northern Irish blues trio the Hardchargers and have been involved in helping them record and release an album. It was recorded late December 2016 and will be released on January 5th 2018. It’s a terrific album (well, I would say that…), but it’s certainly been a winding path.
A planned sabbatical for the first third of 2017, with frontman Lonesome Chris Todd moving to Dorset to work with Billy Boy Miskimmin’s band, was affected by Chris having family strains back home, an impossible landlady in Dorset, and winding up living in a pub car park for several days. And then it got really bad.
The trio’s drummer, Hodge, had become seriously ill in the interim, sharing the situation on social media and very bravely facing it down. There were a handful of gigs undertaken in the middle of the year, with Hodge in recovery, and things looked like they might be heading in a positive direction.
Chris, however, was heavily burdoned with a number of issues in his private life, which have taken a heavy toll, though a corner has definitely been turned in putting out those fires in the » Continue Reading.
Regulars around her will know that I’ve been involved in helping the Hardchargers – Irish blues sensations from the Ballyclare delta – towards a nationally released album. There have been a few bumps in the road – an inconvenient hellhound has been on the chaps’ trail this year in one form or another – but the album, ‘Scarecrow’, is but a Pledge Music campaign away from being pressed and will be released through Market Square Records (digital and physical) on November 17.
The Pledge campaign will start today -as soon as Lonesome Chris Todd has figured out how one sets a time limit on it. That’s no slight on Lonesome Chris – but on Pledge Music, which seems to have made that aspect of the page construction impossible to find. Maybe that’s the last bark of the hellhound…
I’ve had the pleasure of assisting Lonesome Chris Todd and his colleagues in the Hardchargers towards a debut album this year (nationally released on October 27).
Lonesome Chris has also been making occasional forays into solo performance lately, magically wrangling this 12-string beast and field-hollering his blues in unsuspecting bar-rooms around Northern Ireland.
This video was shot recently in the Toddfather’s apartment. Obviously, Chris himself lives not in a well-heeled plush environment but in a shotgun shack down a dirt road by a cotton plantation (actually, that’s not *too* far from accuracy…. okay, he lives on the sleepy far edge of a country town, down a cul-de-sac beside a marshy meadow…).
‘No Stone Unturned’, in an 11-minute smouldering electric form is one of the highlights of the forthcoming album, ‘Scarecrow’.
I’ve mentioned the Hardchargers around here before – a sensational blues trio from NI, with a national debut album due later this year. Here is their frontman and songwriter Lonesome Chris Todd doing his solo thing with 12-string guitar and slide. Enjoy!
Regular Afterworders might have noticed I’ve posted a couple of clips featuring the Hardchargers recently. The ‘Chargers feature ‘Lonesome’ Chris Todd (electric guitar/resonator/vocal), Richard ‘Hodge’ Hodgen (dr/washboard) and Dave ‘Laughing Boy’ Thompson (bass/ukulele bass).
They are the missing link between Charley Patton and the Who – well, I think so. Blistering, telepathic, intense rock with howling field hollers and skiffle technology. After seven years playing up and down Ireland in a status somewhere between semi-pro and pro, up to 80 gigs a year (which in Ireland, trust me, is some going – it has nowhere near the live infrastructure or opportunities of Britain or Northern Europe), the first five months of 2017 will see a short sabbatical in above-ground ‘Charger activity.
A devut album, however, is being recorded right now with engineer ‘Late-Night Tony’ Furnell in Belfast, provisionally entitled ‘Scarecrow’, to be released nationally in May, at which point the chaps will tour Ireland. Hopefully, by then, cunning plans having been (a) thought of and (b) come to fruition, opportunities to play further afield, including Britain, will have solidified.
The vinyl-length album will feature 8 tracks – 6 cherry-picked originals and 2 blues classics in ‘Chargerified form – » Continue Reading.
At the Twangmeister’s request, and for everyone’s convenience, here is Part 2 of the Afterword discussion on the blues – with a particular focus, once and for all, on that pesky ‘blues boom’ that never seems to go away. There may be men downunder who can shed some light on this matter.
Let us clear out that ‘blues boom’ cupboard here. Indeed, let us wake up this morning and dust out blues boom. And let us start with Steamhammer. I feel certain that Johnny C will be able to tell us of their London performances back in the day.
I’m off to Newcastle, County Down, tonight (and no, I’m not doing the accent…) to see the Hardchargers – Christopher, Hodge and Dave – blow those blues away with, er, a load of blues. Serious, no-nonsense, none-of-your-namby-pamby-airbrushed-Albert-Hall-residency-pap-here-matey blues. They’re the most exciting live act I’ve seen in ages, with a set that begins with resonator, washboard and ukulele bass and ends two and half hours later with edge-of-seat power trio workouts worthy of the late ’60s (including Alvin Lee’s thing with detuning E strings over the course of a solo that appears to last for days).
The track attached is a muddy Waters number, ‘I Can’t Be Satisfied’.
The chaps play roughly two thirds originals, a third covers. They record a debut album next month. I’ve every reason to believe it will be great.
In my search for an antidote to boredom I decided to learn about the first blues singers with an interest for the ones that few cares about (unless Crumb, but that’s a bad example). So, I started to search informations about the likes of Barbecue Bob, Doctor Clayton etc… That’s how a website called http://www.wirz.de/music/odditfrm.htm became quickly handy.
There is a part in that site where the meticulous blogger had saved the strangest covers, the most obvious mistakes (because there is nothing that looks more like an old bluesman with a guitar than another bluesman with a guitar, apparently) and sometimes real uncommon things that never passed the printing. Have you had the same difficulties with blues records or is it a common problem in record industry ?
A while back there was a thread of blues album recommendations but we have not had a detailed listing of people’s favourites of this core musical genre. For me it i the heart of all my music and the love affair goes back to the Stones Little Red Rooster, some 70s derivative Chicago blues and boogie by Aussie band Chain then getting into the heart of the matters with a compilation of early blues and the ripping slide guitar of Elmore James.
Live, the key event for me was seeing Buddy Guy and Junior Wells in about 1973 -first Afro Americans I had ever seen, Buddy in a red jump suit and Junior with a belt of harmonicas.Can still see them more than 40 years later.
Chicago /Delta blues is at the heart of my interest, with lashings of harp and slide. I dont like it too polite so Big Bill Broonzy and his ilk interest me less.
So anyway here are the favourtie records from my collection. not necessarily the ones most highly rated. Their is no BB King at the Regal – BB said it wasn’t anything special ,it was just another night on the road that » Continue Reading.
Having just been in touch with the Pacemeister, late of this parish, I thought we should catch up with his activities downunder. Shane tells me he’s been doing really well in the Aussie blues chart with his Trio’s latest album, and his form band the Bondi Cigars have a comeback album on the go too.
Here he is in fabulous form a year ago. (There are plenty more recent vids on youtube, but I just loved the feel of this one, and it’s atmospherically filmed.) That Pacemaker – he’s a class act!
Songs for a bride on the cusp of a lifetime’s commitment. All for love.
I’ll start with something borrowed, a cover song, Charlotte Gainsbourg singing Hey Joe as reimagined by Beck. The subject matter, a warning. A warning of infidelity, murder and escape. Not very romantic, you may say, but, sometimes, the bride is understandably nervous.
I bet the Afterword can dream up many more, more appropriate songs.
It has taken Samantha Martin a little while to find the right musical vehicle for her astonishingly powerful, force-of-nature voice. She has worked within various roots music styles, taking a roots-rock approach with earlier group Samantha Martin and the Haggard. With current group Delta Sugar she has settled upon a soul meets blues meets gospel hybrid in which that voice is the key instrument.
Review from bluesinthenorthwest.com: Toronto based ensemble Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar have quickly been recognized as rising stars in the Canadian roots and blues music scene since the February 17th release of their exceptional recording Send the Nightingale. With extensive airplay and reviews from around the world, critics are hailing Martin as “a voice that comes along once in a generation” (Bob Mersereau) and “raw, urgent lead vocals that invite favorable comparisons to those of Bonnie Tyler.” (Duane Verh, Roots Music Report) Within a few weeks Send the Nightingale was featured on The Alternate Root Top Ten Tracks of the Week, and has reached #3 on the !earshot National Folk/Roots/Blues charts with several positions on top 30 charts from stations across Canada, showing no sign of slowing down.
Following his death, I’ve been listening to Don Covay. He was the epitome of party soul, typified by his biggest hit, See Saw. His backing band was aptly named The Goodtimers. Suddenly, he teamed up with The Jefferson Lemon Blues Band and released a full-on throaty blues album, The House Of Blue Lights. It was a completely unexpected musical diversion quite different to the rest of his catalogue. It was a musical hand-brake turn.
All the best groups develop their sound and some, such as Bowie, wilfully defy expectations but there aren’t many that do something out of character and then immediately go back to their usual delivery. I thought of Talk Talk and Spirit Of Eden. However, looking back, I can hear some of Spirit in their previous album and Mark Hollis continued to explore the Spirit style in his solo albums.
I’m convinced The Afterword can come up with more examples of the musical handbrake turn.
In the meantime, compare and contrast But I Forgive You Blues with See Saw. (The link to See Saw is in red underneath But I Forgive You Blues. I can’t seem to embed it).
I thought I would start posting my new musical discoveries on here and hope to see plenty of yours posted too.
I first heard Rebecca Downes on last night Paul Jones’ Blues Show on Radio 2 and have just listened to her 2014 album Back To The Start.
Below is bio info from her website:
Rebecca Downes is fast establishing herself as one of the star attractions amongst the new vanguard of blues performers in the UK, with her unique and powerful voice, drawing influences ranging from Blues and Soul to Jazz and Rock.
Rebecca’s voice and performances have been, quite rightly, likened to such legendary artists as the full on Tina Turner, the bluesy feel of Etta James, and the raw power of Janis Joplin.
Her passion for music comes from a deep belief in the power and authenticity of live music and a love for what she does.
Quote from Brewery Blues Club show organiser John Drummond; ” 5ft 2 in her high heels, but a pocket powerhouse with a voice which makes Janis Joplin sound like a choir girl”
Now she has taken this one stage further and produced an albums worth of original material, largely with » Continue Reading.
BBC 6 Music have repeated this documentary over the last couple of days. Just 2 episodes at 30 minutes each but well worth a listen if you like your blues and gospel. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b038bt1s
One of my favourite Youtube videos is of her performing on Chorlton railway station in Manchester back in 1964 – must have been a great gig to have attended